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Thrawn X Sabine Fanfic: Aliit Vucon'ocir

Chapter Text

The two brothers were inseparable as they ran through a dark cave into the next alcove and through to another cave to get to their "ecometrics" class. They were ~2 years old, but looked 4 and 6 years old for human standards. The age for primary school for Chiss younglings. Raw who acts like the oldest, races through the caves faster than his brother, Ras, who catches up once he learns where Raw is going. By Raw's estimation, they had one more hard lava tube to cross before getting to the gold sand, and purple-green grassy knoll, with deep-purple-salty ocean waves on their homeworld, Csilla.

The two boys run up and down the purple grassy knoll hills until their sonic pitches sear in their ears. They stare at each other and nod to return to the caves and find their parents conversing with a large tripartite insect in regal attire. Raw races to hug the thoracic tail of the insect, a member of the Killik species, who swings playfully around Raw as he squeals and holds on for dear life. He squeaks about. “Come brother, ride it, too! She can hold us both.”

Ras shakes his head as he embraces his mother, a beautiful Cerulean skinned woman with a short blue-black hair with small braided purple silk sections on the sides, and a head band that pulls the strays back. Raw’s and Ras’s father, a strong dark Cerulean skinned male with a strong jaw lifts Raw off the tail as his red-in-red eyes glisten to coddle Raw. “Now, Raw, you know better. Amt is only here to harvest the purple pollen for her hive, and then she will leave with her people. She can’t play with you all day.”

A hologram appears from a planetwide transmission from the huge grid-locked underground metropolis, Capsla.

 

“The Ascendancy has interpreted the threat to come from the Killik hive that threatens our species. The Killiks have shifted the position of our sun away from Csilla. There will be further expansion methane sheet ice into an ice-age climate, including the equatorial regions. We give all Decadent Chiss, twenty-four hours to evacuate before we will start our Operation Anti-Chiss Genocide. Any Chiss who harbors an Anti-Chiss, or appears to be a Joiner, will be quarantined and under Chiss biological protocols.”

 

Raw’s and Ras’s parents glare that the transmission, and stare at one another in fear, and then show concern to Amt, the Killik, a part of the royal family. They cannot lose her. But Amt, blocks them and removes a proboscis and injects thousands of years of strategic and tactical knowledge that her pheromones contain into Raw’s upper back. She rises on her hind legs and flies out of the cave system and to her "ship" to leave Csilla before the harvest.

Raw absorbs the highly active neurologically mutating pheromones as his body bucks from the flow of information and increased strategic and tactical knowledge. His eye lids flutter as he is propelled into an indescribable dimension of thousands of planets and stars. He knows them. He speaks in tongues gibberish as he quotes these data of each of the universe that the Killik gave to him. Then he speaks his home tongue of mathematical equations and engineering tactical plans that a two year old Chiss would never know. Suddenly, he stops as his eyes go white and he collapses in his father’s arms, unconscious. His mother picks up Ras who cries unable to understand what happened to his brother, Raw. They cover Raw’s injections site with the lotion from the Killiks that consists of purple pollen algae and herbs, and quickly wrap Raw's back to minimize the swelling from his bug bite. They must hide it from the Ascendancy, who would kill him if they knew of the bite. His family immediately races to the transport canoe that contain their survival supplies to go to another location on the planet.

Raw still unconscious as his father carefully explains to Ras what he must say. “Ras, you are the oldest, and you have to help your brother. You must never tell Ascendancy what happened here. What Amt did to Raw. Promise me you will never say anything.”

Suddenly, rocks explode with flying debris everywhere and falling into the underground rapids waterway. Two hovercraft sized remote large war droids called, Kinetic Armed Laser Interrupter droids or KALI droids. They skim the water racing to townspeople to disintegrate them to ash. The father’s eyes widen then narrow evenly as they race to the canoe with survival supplies. More KALI droids appear and disintegrate people. The loudspeaker of the Chiss Ascendancy has deemed them as hostile terrorists.

“Daddy?” Ras whimpers. “I don’t want to leave Mommy and you.” His hand releases his mother’s as a KALI droid whizzes up to her, scans her and disintegrates her. Ras wails as he sees the ash fall and stares at the light plasma fill in the barrel of the gun. The father races to pick up a wailing Ras and throws him into the canoe rapidly as the hears the KALI droid search for them. His father stutters in fear and pushes the children into the cave river rapids.

At that moment, Raw jolts awake to watch the light of disintegration turn his mother into ash. He sees his father push them away, as the light disintegrates his father’s body as the ash blows downstream. No time to mourn, as a tactical thought enters in his mind. Raw hears Ras wail. He closes his eyes and envisions an attack plan. He reaches for the rocket launcher, arms it and fires at the stalagmites in the cave. The rock falls on the KALI droid toppling it but does not stop the chase. He raises the launcher to his tiny shoulder and looks up at the oncoming chasing KALI droid that chases, Raw fires into the stalagmite with extreme precision. It falls on the KALI droid before particles of disintegration plasma fire. Then Raw launches a small missile into an vacant area that causes a huge electromagnetic pulse to shut down all the KALI droids in a 200 meter radius as he and his brother ride in the canoe.

The rapids flow faster as a small eddy falls the canoe into a large river, down an embankment, then over a waterfall, to a pool of cold water near by another village, similar, but different from theirs. Chiss Soldiers of House Nuruodo gawk at the child soldiers as Decadent Chiss illegally used child soldiers.

A young officer, Captain Ar’alani steps forward, and examines the boys. She sees the rocket launcher on Raw’s shoulder, and glances at the whimpering Ras. The boys are thinner than normal, but seem healthy.

A Chiss Soldier reports. "Two stalagmites fell on the KALI droids that caused an EMP, Ma'am."

Captain Ar'lani mouth drops by Raw's tactical efficiency at such a young age and glares sternly at him and his rocket launcher. “I wonder who could have done that?”

“Ma’am, these anti-Chiss Joiners must be euthanized, immediately.” Announces a Chiss Soldier.

“Kill them? No, they are orphans, now. They can’t be held responsible for their parent’s terrorist acts or their parent’s choice to cavort with Killiks.” She looks at their gaunt malnourished bodies caused by an anti-Chiss lifestyle decided by the parents. All they have lived is a life against order. A life against progress. A life against the true "Founding Families" who discovered and tamed the planet, Csilla to make it the homeworld of the Chiss.

Captain Ar'alani believes that the Decadent Chiss and their desire for anarchy would kill the Chiss Ascendancy. Their radical ideas were strange to her. Their acts an admixture of several different animals: lions, goats, dogs, and hydra serpents. Like one bodied animal, but different distinct parts. Like a chimaera. The equatorial Decadent Chiss had a life that disrupts the cohesiveness of the Chiss Ascendancy. Their life brought chaos to the tranquil, clean ordered environment of the Ascendancy and in Captain Ar’alani's thoughts, were if she could reclaim the Decadent's children and possibly re-educate the official Chiss Ascendancy way, then Decadent Chiss could return to society as civilized for the greater good. All her calculations were exact within certainty. “Send the younglings to be tested for placement with the Houses after a health screening and vaccinations, since their parents refused to give them any and they do not have any, as of yet.”

She gets into her floating car with her entourage as two KALI droids follow to continue to the next Decadent Chiss village.

 

Chapter Text

 Itas

 

Mitth'raw'nuruodo slouches at his desk as the biology teacher sneers at him. "The Force is myth Mitth'raw and no Chiss will ever have that psychosis. Thank the Aristocra Ruling Family Sabosen for creating eugenics to wash that crazy neurological mess away from us!"

It triggers Raw as his brow vessels course his blood in his forehead ready to pounce on his dumb teacher. His other teachers gave him several warnings and threaten him with detention. His glare in his glowing eyes pushes down his brows and somehow, his mind ball flimsies and threw them toward the biology teacher to pelt her. She dodges a few them, but the flimsies and clips kept coming. She screams and runs frantically out of class.

Raw a scrawny young man in his standard cadet uniform rises from his desk and follows the teacher to stalk her down before reaching the main office. He rehearses his defense to the headmistress. But, he he felt a hand snatch him out of the hallway into the stair hall. He focuses in rage and realizes it is Rear Admiral Ar'alani that stops him. Surprise on his anger, and then relief eases his brow appears from a fading glow of his eyes. He smiles, then realizes Rear Admiral Ar'alani is on Chiss Defense Fleet business. His brow turns into a frown.

"Fortunate I am here, Raw. You are to report to House Nuruodo at 0800 in service of your duty the Chiss Ascendancy like we said when we permitted your temporary leave. If you are late, you will be brought up on charges of dereliction of duty and possible exile." As she strides away to her landspeeder the Rear Admiral Ar'alani swirls her hand as she points to Raw's throwing paper with his dying telekinetic powers and chides him. "Doubtful you'd be allowed on my mission after they hear about this incident. You must remain mindful of your disability, Raw. Most Chiss believe your disability a myth and Aristocra Nuruodo wants to keep it that way." She orders her soldiers to take off to the main military building in Csapalar on Csilla.

 


 

 

Raw closes his eyes and walks slowly to grab his personally affects when a hand green clay splotches hands him a blue plate decorated with gold inlays. He knows this light cerulean hand often covered with clay or paint. It was KALI'TA'SABOSEN and she rebels against her Aristocra by being creative. "Ta." His voice lightens with joy. "You steal this?"

"Yeah Raw. Just like you pelted Proctor Frach with clips and how they will bust you for showing you have the Force." Ta teases him. "Your powers won't be for much longer, though."

"Yeah, well. It doesn't matter, they'll still put me on furthest outpost where I'll languish."

"No you won't, because I'll be right there languishing with you."

"They don't need you where I'm going."

"Yes, they do. And this plate. I'll make a whole bunch of plates and cups and teach you how to behave yourself at formal dinners with the right utensils. You'll thank me."

He grins and then kisses her lips as she smiles. "So, did you get the documents? Are you ready to go to the Justice?"

"I don't know Raw. We could get in trouble. Our Houses disagree on literally everything. And..." She looks down. "Commoners like us have to be trial-born."

"Ravri'hah trial born. It is right. I know it."

"You just want me for one thing, Mitth'raw'nuruodo. Those bottom pleasure parties burned your brain out. Besides, I heard you pan anyway." She looks at him beguiling. "Does not matter, I am, too. Well, not yet. I don't go to pleasure parties."

Softly Raw speaks. "I don't either. Go to parties, Kali'ta'sabosen." He walks toward the window and stares to see Csaplar. "The equator on Csilla should be warm now. I'd like to stay there, afterward."

"And be vaporized by KALI droids? No. We stay here, in Csaplar until you leave for duty. That way, we stay in control of your -- disability. One last time. It should be for good reason to have the Rear Admiral hand you your orders and then leave." Ta watches Proctor Frach return angrily as her eyes beam on Raw.  

Raw stands stares right back at Proctor Frach as if to dare her to try correcting his logical ideas again. Ta grabs his hand and nods as she leaves the classroom. Raw grabs his materials with his eyes on Proctor Frach and then backs out the classroom to first go to House Nuruodo and collect his items for one last mission for Chiss Ascendancy, and then to marry Ta, to make the Chiss eugenic matchmakers angry. 

 


 

 

He enters the landspeeder that waits for him to take him to House Nuruodo special forces. The vehicle is resevered for high command dignitaries, but it is a benefit of his disability or the Force in other parts of the galaxy as it is called. Mitth'raw'nuruodo has waning Force powers. Chiss develop there powers roughly at 2-3 years of age, they peak at 5-8 years of age. Then they wane after adolescence and adulthood. Mostly Chiss girls have this power. Rarely do males have this power. But as Chiss age, their powers wane. At this time, Raw's powers have not yet faded. He has become a young adult with a disability. Raw with his powers concern many Aristocra. Will he become the very monster the eugenicists said they excised from the Chiss genome? Or the Mitth family carries too many mutations that lead to monsters? Emotionally, unbalanced, psychotic monsters that will destroy the tranquility of "PEACEFUL WATCHFULNESS" that will destroy their species?

The duplicity of the Aristocra is obvious. While they hate having their kind wielding the Force, they definitely loved them in battle to defeat all their enemies. They never did not have any Force users on their warships or have a way they can be useful in battle. And Raw knew this fact about his government and it disgusts him. They command him into battle, he would fight with his troops and beat the Chiss Ascendancy's enemy that have attacked first. The point of that military strategy is the enemies can fire first, but they will regret it. Since, Raw has a disability and should be remanded to milling work, he could never be announced as a hero to his people. Mitth'raw'nuruodo is a commoner with a gross neurological anomaly according to House Sabosen. He is incapable controlling his emotions and therefore, lacks the ability consent to full military duty.

The irony, his subordinates loved serving him and the Aristocra could never get service personnel on the record of Raw's misdeeds that his disability causes him. Troops often allegiant to him and his military strategies and tactics. In the midst of violent battle, Raw had several plans to win and did Raw win... Not only did he keep Chiss planets in the Chiss Ascendancy, he often had marauders running off scared to do battle with him.  The name Mitth'raw'nuruodo is well known to the enemies of the Chiss Ascendancy. And that is another that rakes the Aristocra. They hate Raw's ability to unify the Chiss from all ruling families on one accord or one hand. That is why the Aristocra commands House Nuruodo to keep all missions of Raw, top secret.

Raw is told to dress for immediate mission deployment. He puts on his newly acquired battle fatigue suit in dark khaki and his armaments. He sits in the meeting that quietly projects the outside interstellar space on the Tingel Arm. Huge build up of very strange ships move about as asteroids float faster than the normal ebbs and flows of the fabric of space.

As other warships approach these monstrous ships,  immediately each warship, not Chiss, are blown away. Only small starfighters could return. Rear Admiral Ar'alani spoke. "The Chiss Defense Fleet antennae collected this information from the Redoubt Cluster. At first we thought it was related to the start of this war in the interior of the galaxy. But none of the close range images we have said these threats are unlike anything we have seen."

A elder from House Irokoni asks. "How are they different."

"Long range telescopic resonance imaging suggests there is no metal." Ar'alani answers.

Raw studies the images and the suspended holograms. He sees large tentacle formations and quadrupedal flippers.  He raises his hand to speak and Rear Admiral Ar'alani acknowledges him. "They are alive. They are large biological living ships."

 

To be continued...

(work in progress)

Chapter Text

Dressed in his neat navy-black blue uniform, Mitth’raw’nuruodo expeditiously walks into Admiral Ar’alani’s office for his new assignment. She is 15 years older than Mitth’raw. At 42 years of age she has experience, but she appears to be similar in age to Mitth’raw. Whereas, Mitth’raw is 17 years old, but due to being an adult at 10 years age, he looks 30 years old. The length of his missions is commensurate of a higher tiered officer than his lieutenant rank. His helm of starships protects Chiss space. He mainly ran off the pirate race called Vagaari who pillage Chiss planets and their constant attacks were felt across the Chiss economy. Mitth’raw hopes to be by her side and end this foolish poaching by pirates.

The look on her face said the conversation is not about his promotion. Her scowl and hand gestures indicate a verbal battle with her superiors in regards to him. It is as if the echoes from that conversation reverberate in the room. The Vagaari hailed his ship. He fired on them without warning and destroyed their tiny fleet. His report to the Aristocra got him a public reprimand from one of the old leaders. Her old voice resonates.“The Chiss defend, we are never aggressive.”

Mitth’raw and his House Nuruodo taught him to protect Chiss space. Memories from some unknown entity fills his minds, as he sees that the Vagaari act with aggression against the Chiss for flying into their space. He closes his eyes to gauge her breathing rhythm, the smell of the pre-fabricated underground air of the increase anger in the room, and his tension and presence. He chose to remain calm, very, very calm.

“If you take the position along the outer edge of Chiss space, at Redoubt cluster with the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet, your rank will be Commander.” Admiral Ar’alani rose to be similar in height to Mitth’raw. She stares at his red-in-red eyes and his Cerulean skin, a develop blue than most Chiss. When she first met him as a little boy, he was light blue and sickly. She saw Mitth’raw as her son, her child, though the Ascendancy practices genetic modifications and eugenics.

In the Ascendancy, the difference between the genders are irrelevant. Male, female, means nothing to the genetic propagation of their race. Chiss men and women go to a clinic, donate their samples, and the clinic decides the best mating protocols for in vitro. Fetuses are grown in specialize fertilization cylinders within 4-6 months. No birth defects. No neurological questions. No concern for genetics. Blood bonds were could be decided later for families. The Chiss Ascendancy endorses it as the only way of the Chiss.

For a few Chiss, sometimes, there is a strong desire for family and motherhood. Admiral Ar’alani had that desire since she met Mitth’raw and Mitth’ras. However, different Houses, like theirs -- Nuruodo, were not created to feel familial tension. Raw and his brother Ras were temporary adopted by the Mitth Family, the Eighth Ruling Family. It appears that Ras was headed for becoming Trial-Born. Raw on the otherhand is another story. He disobeys even her orders. For Ar’alani, whenever she felt the need for family, she would break it and go on a sex tirade, sleep around promiscuously. Yet, her desire to procreate persists. While the Decadent Chiss, promote family, with parents and natural births, the Ascendancy found biological contaminants and hazards in that choice belief. Oddly, Mitth’raw and his brother, Mitth’ras’safis were procreated and born naturally, without technology and appear fine. They require no genetic background checks or more vaccinations. Both of them were strong natural Chiss males, prized for their natural, organic lifestyle, like slabs of fresh highly graded meat from a butcher. Whereas, lab created men and women smell artificial and fake to Ar’alani. Their sweat and pores did not stink, eugenic Chiss smell of prefabrication, like a watery gel with chemical additives to improve the scent. Mitth’raw smells and stinks sometimes until she introduced him to an outside Chiss space concoction she learns as a fragrant cologne. She made him use it. To her and other Chiss women, Raw smells manly, like he is from the outdoors and lives topside. She knew instinctively, he is not a man from the test tube or petri dish. He is a man that protects his people like a predatory animal and his musk stank.

Most of the Houses of the Ascendancy silently applaud Mitth’raw for his plunder of the Vagaari fleet. Congratulations came from his own, House Nuruodo. But publicly, they could not have his aggressive tendency infiltrate their ranks before the fallen Chiss who die from decadence. He may be the public’s favorite wild son. But Mitth’raw is still a Decadent Chiss, and the Ascendancy should lionize him rather than to promote him in rank to commander. The Chiss Ascendancy must stand for law and order for the enlightened and tranquil environment.

Yet, Mitth’raw made them feel safe from the Unknown Region threats. He could protect them and defeat their enemies. The Vagaari, the Killiks and any new nebulous threats. Such as some strange box like ships by a government calling itself the “Republic” powered by beings who use the Force, like the Sith. Then, there was another new threat: otherworldly beings who fly monstrous living ships in space from the Void between the galaxies. Mitth’raw made the discovery of these monstrous living ships after his battle with the pirates. He did not report it because he could not explain it, yet. While he had heard of these Republic ships, from a much larger galaxy with much more elegant weaponry, for the moment, the Vagaari were the main threat.

He listens to Admiral Ar’alani explain why she is placing him at the Redoubt Cluster installation.

“I did everything I could, Raw. But the Aristocra wants nothing to do with your incursion.”

“Despite my protection to the Chiss hyperspace lane?”

“Well, you do not know if they were after the hyperspace lane or a planet?”

“I said in my report--”

“Yes. You said they were in the hyperspace lane and they appear on your ship’s scopes as you are being fired upon by the Vagaari. But Raw, you know you can’t hold that kind of maneuver or position unless you planned to attack as an offensive maneuver.” She glares at him because she knew he put himself into that attack position to kill pirates, something the Ascendancy does not do. They are defensive. Fire only after they have been fired upon. “It is a pre-emptive strike and that is not the Chiss way.” She studies the datasheet and sets it down evenly at her desk.

Mitth’raw stood at attention.

“The Aristocra wants me to exile you. But House Nuruodo forbade it. Therefore, you are to go to Redoubt Cluster installation and serve out the rest of your duty there, Commander.” She throws his orders toward him on a fobchip.

Mitth’raw nods and awaits to leave.

“Dismissed.” Admiral Ar’alani turns away from him and returns to her work. Out of distance, she places her hands over her eyes and sighs.

 

***

 

Mitth’raw sits alone at the commissary, as he pushes his purple like algae concoction food from one side of the dish to the other. The table is smooth, cold, much like the Csillan polar ice caps. The walls are sterile white and metal gray. The floor is vinyl black. He takes a bite out of flesh-protein, and chews. No taste. No seasoning. No flavor. No juice. Nothing to savor. Like eating an organic processed machine. The walls have large screens that show Chiss Ascendancy approved mantras that zip across the screen and then transition to another for happy thought motivations. Thoughts that promote no passion or zeal for life. No vigor. No happiness. In Mitth'raw's mind all they promote is despair. Mitth’raw bends his eating utensil in anger, not for his punishment, but how much rage he feels building up and burns his neck. He calms himself to avoid the biosenory heatcams, and blinks for a moment, then goes into a blank stare as his body absorbs the frustration and the squander of his military talents. The Redoubt Cluster installation saw no military action besides an occasional meteor sling by with gravity clusters. It was worse than watching stupid fake memes scroll across the screens and call it artistic motivation. He wants more answers to what he really saw after the Vagaari ship explosion. Like why did the Vagaari suddenly have larger ships that seem to “breathe”? But he swallows the dried masticated flesh-protein as it tumbles down his throat and sinks to the pit of his stomach when his brother, Mitth’ras and his friends jumps into the bench table to meet him.

“Hiya Raw, we were just going over the court proceedings today that will declare that the Csillian Climate Ice Age claim by the Decadents was a hoax.” Mitth’ras speaks then rattles off to his two friends.

“Ras. I must speak to you alone. Tell your friends to leave, now.”

Mitth’ras stares at his brother. His brother’s pupils dilate and he looks to his friends and begs them to leave. They haw, but pick up their datapads to take off with their goodbyes to Mitth'ras. “Dammit Raw, you don’t have to be so cruel. No wonder you don’t have friends.”

Mitth’raw overlooks his brother’s chide and stares. “Mitth’ras’safis, I am being ordered to the Redoubt Cluster installation for the CEDF.”

“What? Why? See I told you about your aggressiveness. Didn’t I? I told you it was not the Ascendancy way -- right way.”

“I leave tonight. In three hours, to be exact.”

It dawns on Mitth’ras he may never see his brother again. “Raw, you promised Mom and Dad that you would take care of me. That we would still be a family. You promised.”

“And now you are an adult, now. You can take care of yourself.”

“Raw!”

“Please, Ras, not here. You know that is improper. The Ascendancy does not like it when we act like natural born blood brothers. There is no such thing as that here.”

“There’s no such thing as that anywhere in the Ascendancy.”

“Ras, there is. Just like what we had with Mom, Dad and Amt. I will find it, again. When I do, we will have a family again.” Mitth’raw thin smile creeps from his mouth as he attempts being earnest. He could see his brother’s eyes light when he said it. Mitth’raw misses his family. His parents. Amt the Killik. The warmth of the Csillan equator. The Redoubt Cluster with their suns, asteroids is cold, but the signal transmissions and receipt of outer Chiss space transmissions are strong than Csilla's reception. From there he could leave the safety of Chiss space by holotransmission, and explore the galaxy for warmer climates. It has always been a desire of his. The Chiss Ascendancy has no desire for personal enrichment. No personal wealth. No independent scientific inquiries. The Chiss Ascendancy believes in groupthink, not someone who may not enhance your personal well-being. The Ascendancy is xenophobic. Mitth’raw hates the xenophobia. He would take his punishment and be forced to serve at Redoubt, but it will be his way to no longer be a part of the Chiss Ascendancy, or at least the Aristocra, while still serving his people as his mother asked him to do. The Aristocra were too petulant, and he would find his success elsewhere to show them, and his people a new way. Not a way of isolation and antiquated order without evolution. But a way that expands the universe.

Chapter Text

All beings begin their lives with hopes and aspirations. Among these aspirations is the desire that there will be a straight path to those goals. It is seldom so. Perhaps never. Sometimes the turns are of one’s own volition, as one’s thoughts and goals change over time. But more often the turns are mandated by outside forces. It was so with me. The memory is vivid, unsullied by age: the five admirals rising from their chairs as I am escorted into the chamber. The decision of the Ascendancy has been made, and they are here to deliver it. None of them is happy with the decision. I can read that in their faces. But they are officers and servants of the Chiss, and they will carry out their orders. Protocol alone demands that. The word is as I expected. Exile. The planet has already been chosen. The admirals will assemble the equipment necessary to ensure that solitude does not quickly become death from predators or the elements. I am led away. Once again, my path has turned. Where it will lead, I cannot say.

Thrawn

Chapter Text

Sabine Wren mixes her color combination with her explosives for chemistry class project very carefully behind a shield barrier. She measures concentrations and volumes of the color combinations desired in the beaker designations, and then, slowly adds the precisely weighted explosives into her thermal detonator bomb device. She looks at each of volumes and metrics behind a thick shield with huge custom goggles she created and decorated herself with her art and bright colors. Several her nitrile gloves on top of one another cover her skin of her hands to not touch any explosive residue so that when she ignites the bomb her hands will not burn during the experiment.

Her final project. Her final experiment after several failed attempts and it is her final exam that droids set safely tucked in their compartments on the ceiling record her every step in her chemistry experiment. Her project is weapons manufacturing. She had another project that she is independent from this class that had to do with disintegration generator technology that she said her experiments were inconclusive. Her teachers told her to finish her class work, and then, return to the independent project.

She treats her weapons like her personal calling card. Like a hunter and Stormtroopers could use them. Her Imperial Academy committee enthused with her talent permitted her to play with explosives. Her original thesis presentation states she will add frightening colors to the explosive thermal detonators to strike fear into the hearts that oppose the Empire. But, mixing of the elements in her experiments failed to work as she had outlined.

All her experiments were failures.

The other students mocked her as being arrogant about her success of thesis presentation. Especially Nekarta Fianmax and her brother, Ashur. They corralled the rest of the 14 year old cadets to tease her of her failures and stole her materials to do experiments. They lied to the teacher about her progress and attempted to get her demerits. Sabine chalks the cruelty to be jealous brooding and continues. But, a few seniors said it is because Sabine's mother, Countess Ursa Wren was a part of Death Watch and did not side with this new Galactic Empire.

As Sabine is meticulous, she read and wrote to understand why her experiments failed. Daily, she would come to the lab early and repeat her experiments with tiny improvements. Daily, the other cadets gave snide remarks about her failures and her silly idea of blow colors in the sky with smoke bombs were no more than that of fireworks. But they stayed to watch her experiments fail because it was entertainment. Then oneday, a day of a critical experiement failed, Sabine overheard the leader of her bullying, Nekarta Fianmax ask an unknown teacher's aide. "How long will Sabine's committee permit her to fail?"

The male voice teacher's aide in a flirtatiously told the 14 year old cadet, Nekarta. "Only Sabine knows when she has had enough. C'mon let me buy you some ale. Oh, that's right, you are too young to drink. Well let's go to my apartment, then." 

Sabine thought they left.

 


 

 

Sabine gathers herself from the snide remarks and blocks them from her mind. She had a few more small improvements to made to her protocol.

One more slight torque to the safety restraining bold on the bomb device. Set all the tools aside by her behind the sheild.  Then, droid hands pull the lever down to ignite the fuse…

BLAAAMMMMM!

A loud sound rocks the building. Sabine looks at the shrapnel detonator.

Nekarta Fianmax shouts. “It blew up, but no color!”

As Sabine signals the droids for the lift, the color splats across her white lab coat in a straight spray pattern. The shield destabilizes after the blast. “NO! It is supposed to be purple, cyan and then magenta. Not yellow!” She slumps the side and puts her head down, as she tries to think where did she go wrong. "Another failed experiment."

“Hey Sabine, you know tomorrow is the last day to work on your project before your grade.” Nikarta Fianmax responds.

“Yeah, you know, you keep getting explosive around here, you’ll blow up the entire building.” Ashur Fianmax, her twin brother, flatly states.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah…Thanks I know.” Sabine replies with bitter sarcasm with two students whose project is to make better Mandalorian Ale. She mumbles to herself. “Like that’s hard.”

She places the shield barrier between her and the work area, and sets up to detonate a back up bomb. The droids light the fuse, but it fizzles out as colored smoke emits from the bomb device casing. In frustration, she hits the barrier with her fist and looks around to see everyone has left the lab, including the monitoring droids. She thinks for a moment and quickly grabs her lab datapad and scrolls through her various designs. She rings up another design and sets them side by side on a holoprojection. She smiles and quickly assembles a new creation for a test. It is getting very late. She will miss dinner at the commissary. Not mystery meat night. Something special. Unusually an indication that dignitaries were visiting. Sabine did not care. This discovery may be the break through she needs to prove that her experiment works. One more time. One more chance.

Sabine carefully places the detonator behind the ray shield and waits for the countdown with her goggles on. She hears the droids mechanical voice speak 3…2…1… Detonation! A bright light flashes, and then a loud sounding boom with a blastwave that throws her and several tools, equipment, droids and the recording droids to the back of the lab near the door. It happens within seconds, just as an entourage of Imperial Officers and dignitaries walk by to watch the class.

The transparisteel windows shatter. People in the vicinity hit the decks or run for cover to avoid the shards glass and debris flying by everyone. They cower in tearful cries who wonder if they are under attack.  Only one officer crawls through the shards of glass, unafraid and enters the room to grab Sabine to save her. He holds her shoulders to see if she is steal conscious. She is. He waits for her to come into consciousness.

Her sight blurry to see who grabs her as he hands her a handkerchief to wipe off the pain on her face. She sits in resignation upset that her experiment failed. That explosive art is a foolish idea.

“I failed.” She sighs. “I missed the color.” Her vision corrects when she sees cerulean complexioned hands and travels up to his face and notices he has red-in-red eyes. A Chiss. The first she has met.

His eyes wrinkle on it sides bemused by her woe as he wipes the paint off her face with his handkerchief. “Oh, I think your artistry is sufficient in destroying an entire laboratory.”

Her eyes widened wildly as she heard his soft soothing voice and grabs his elbows tightly to rise. “But did you see my explosion--” Then she sees his Imperial rank badge and he an Admiral. She drops her hands to her side. “I-I am sorry sir, I did not mean to offend you. You may have me arrested for - whatever.” Her jig was up. No more experiments. She almost killed an Imperial Admiral for something silly. Lab destruction, overuse of controlled explosives, all for an art project.

Stormtroopers rush into the area to save the Admiral. He wrestles their arms from him and straightens his attire. With a commanding voice he orders them. “Take our little saboteur to my office aboard the Chimaera so that I may interrogate her, fully.”

“Sir, yes, sir.” They grab Sabine by the forearms and drag her from the room down the hall to the shipdocks.

The Admiral casually strolls out and meets the others. Governor Pryce, Gar and Tiber Saxon, and Grand Moff Tarkin.

Governor Pryce chuckles at the Admiral’s formality. “I say there, Thrawn, you would think that the little pleb had destroyed an entire Star Destroyer with her playful childish experiment.”

“Never put that beyond a possibility, Governor. Always keep your eyes on the ones that go beyond what you teach them.” Thrawn looks into the eyes of Gar Saxon and his brother Tiber.

“Admiral, you must know, the problems we had on Mandalore and this sector are completely over. There is no Rebel uprising here. Mandalorians are all proud members of the Empire.” Tiber Saxon dryly replies.

“The Jedi did not think the problems of the Separatists were over before the Empire had to save the Republic from destruction. Let’s make sure there never will be another these uncouth ruffian uprisings, Clan Saxon.” Grand Moff Tarkin spoke casually with a slight nasal air to his tone.

Between Tarkin and Thrawn while they mutually agreed on everything about military power with few exceptions, Thrawn did not see the Mandalorians as unified. If anything, they were segregated into two classes. To Thrawn, Tarkin did not care about the Mandalorians and that its past was a footnote. The Mandalorian past was far from any footnote. Just like a Mandalorian girl who rather create art than war. Strange.

Thrawn plainly announces. "To see the first test of our might in this sector, I will reach out to the smallest and most insignificant in the Empire, such as this Mandalorian cadet."

Tarkin chuckles from his announcement as Governor Pryce crosses her arms and stays silent.

Gar Saxon walks behind as he mumbles. "This deal keeps getting worse every time."

Several sounds like tiny alarms ring on the wrist device Thrawn wears to remind him of his time. He stops the tour of Mandalore and its Imperial Academy with Clan Saxon as guides and gives notice to Grand Moff Tarkin and Governor Pryce. “Duty calls.”

 


  

Thrawn strides swiftly to his ship, the Chimaera with his detail of stormtroopers. He enters the brig and into ship's corridor to the interrogation room and keys his code to enter. The Mandalorian cadet sits quietly cold in the room. He grins widely. A petty officer hands him a datapad as he scrolls through Sabine’s data file. “I must say, it is not often I meet an artist on my tours throughout the galaxy. But you, Mandalorian, astound me with your creative genius.”

Sabine looks up at his red-in-red eyes in childlike fear as her tiny and scrawny 14 year old body shudders. “Am I to be punished?”

Thrawn’s left brow rises as he follows her logic to her conclusion. “Do you require a vacation?"

She fails to understand Thrawn's joke and remains silent.

Thrawn takes a step and asks. "Have you considered what you will do after you graduate? Will you join Clan Saxon's traitorous band of Imperial Commandos who all fail to serve the Empire? Or Mandalore? Or your own people?” He chuckles from his inability form a complete sentence without sarcasm as he knows the answer to that question. Gar Saxon is a warrior. He lacks leadership skills and is known to hate the Empire. Most Mandalorians agree. But it was a suggestion by the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) to place Clan Saxon in charge of Mandalore for they thought they could easily control a brute, which he was. The ISB also had leverage over Gar Saxon as a traitor to his people favoring this Zabrak Mandalorian leader, Maul, and the Emperor hated that fact.

For Sabine, Gar Saxon sickens her stomach. Clan Saxon held Clan Wren, her clan hostage. Her service to the Empire is the price she pays to keep her clan alive. But her brows furrow as she hears Thrawn's questions and his nasal arrogance. “Chissese, what do you want from me? You either punish me or you kill me. Then you can make up any story you want.”

Thrawn studies the paint splotches on both her hands with explosive residue under binders that held her. “Did your family teach you how to paint?”

Sabine haws rolling her eyes and leans into the wall to widen her legs like a 14 year old girl, then thinks better not to do it and closes them as she sits more - ladylike.

Thrawn closes his eyes at her quick frustration. Then he narrows his eyes to razor and his enunciates his words to make sure she heard his words. “I am too old for you, cadet and am only interested in your art. Call it a personal passion of mine. You graduate from the academy and for your career advancement you serve as an ensign under my command. I will see to it that you become the best at what you do, which includes your artistic endeavors.”

“Exchange my art for my service to be under your command after graduation?” She searches. “I’m sorry Admiral Thrawn, I can’t do that. You see -” She searches for the right words. “That was my senior project and I basically failed. From what I understand, I’m going to be out in the field, not on a ship or Star Destroyer. That’s not me. Special Forces is me. Pulling high command out in hairy situations. Understand?”

“And you created thermal detonators that spew color to leave your mark?” Thrawn smiles at the whole idea. “You will be safer on a Star Destroyer than on the ground, Verda. But you as an armored military special forces stormtrooper? I cannot imagine that." He shifts his position. "What I see is an artist that is a Mandalorian with quite a few wild ideas to leave her mark on her enemies. Question is, who are your enemies?”

“The Rebels!” She speaks proudly to give him what he wants to hear.

He frowns and rises and walks around his office. “No. The Rebels are a disorganized group of insurgents who lack unity. The Empire is held together with order out of that chaos. With unity among all of its Galactic citizens. We are the one Empire that brings this chaos from what the Jedi left when they tried to take over the Old Republic. But it is not the Jedi who we should fear, they are only the arbiters. It is other very serious threats. Threats far-outside this galaxy and the Force that a Jedi cannot manage.”

Her brow bends from confusion. The word "Jedi" is never spoken on Mandalore. None of her teachers ever told her about the disunity and chaos. The whispers of her parents never spoke of it. There were rumors of a Duchess Satine Kryze, but Sabine Wren barely knew about her than she caused kids to die from drinks, and the Empire fought bring order. She assumed that Clan Saxon had taken that charge to save her. But, there was a gap and her mother hushes her when she asks. Her reading had no information on any of it. She sits quietly and watches him move about the cell. Only 14 years old and he seems to appreciate her and her intelligence. But she did not want to continue the charade and promise him that she would join his crew. “Admiral, sir, I like short operations that deal with ground infiltration and attacks.”

He smiles proudly and places his hand on her tiny shoulder. “You will make a fine general, someday, then.” He inputs a few strings in his datapad. “There. Having spoken to you, cadet. I have delayed your sanctions contingent upon your service with Grand Moff Tarkin’s troops on Lothal. You will report to him within a month after your graduation. And, oh, I approved your thesis. So, you see, in the Empire, we take care of our own.”

Her eyes widen and looks at the datapad as she scrolls through the fine print. “I want a flimsi of this meeting.”

Thrawn grins. “This meeting is off the record and contingent upon your agreement to serve under the leadership that I have selected for you.”

“And if I don’t?” That is where the Empire roils her. Imperial officers are well known for their duplicity. Something she knew Clan Saxon desire to be the most and it sickens her. But, no one listens to a 14 year old girl to fix it. 

“Then you will flunk out of the academy and confirm to everyone that Mandalorians can never be civilized. But even I know that is not true. You’re an artist and could never been one the Imperial Commando Mandalorians.” His voice broke when he said it.

Sabine stood there for a long time. If she did not sign the datapad, she would be expelled and shamed from her people and her family alienates her. If she signs it, it would go against everything the Mandalorian Warrior Codes taught her by the elders and the injustices they fight. She looks at Thrawn in his eyes as if the redness pleads with her to stay. She presses her lips as her hand shakes to give the pad back to him, unsigned.

He quickly grabs her tiny hand and holds it tightly. Her cold hand to his huge warm and balmy hand touch as sparks between both them ignite. They stare into each other's eyes for a long time as if there is some familiar bond between them. He desires to tell her she will be throwing her life away and that she is his first cadet to do that before working together. He wants to save this girl from her track record of failure. But, he is not her parent. He knows he would not win in a standoff against a wily Mandalorian girl. Then he realizes he is panting.

She snatches her hands from him in shock as she shakes her head in shock. “Admiral, I’ve made my decision. If I’m under arrest, then I am ready to leave this cells at once.”

“Right.” He presses the button and the two Stormtroopers enter. “Escort Cadet Wren to her domicile.”

Sabine stares at Thrawn dumbfounded as she turns away from her stormtrooper escort. One last glimpse at him as she notices his strange look pleading for her to stay. She jerks from the stormtroopers and runs to him to hug his waist for 10 seconds. “Vor entye for trying to help me, Admiral Thrawn.” She looks up to him with a brief grin.

She runs back to the stormtroopers who escort her back to her domicile.

His mouth drops stunned by her sudden affection. He wants to grin, but refrains attempting to push her off. As soon as she leaves, he looks at the datapad when she handed back to him within the fine print. He reviews it: 

 

IMPERIAL ACADEMY CADETS MAY BE GRADUATED BY A HIGH-LEVEL IMPERIAL OFFICERS FOR SPECIAL TALENTS AND DUTIES, NOT COMMENSURATE WITH NORMAL SERVICE UNDER THE COMMAND BY AFFIXING ONE'S APPROVAL.

 

Thrawn grins having overlooked that tiny loophole. He just had to sign off on the list to allow her to graduate. He approves her project and her talent and even though Thrawn operates by the book, art made him passionate about life. A great private joy in his military career. The Chiss trained him to appreciate military precision. Taught him strategy and tactics, and an artful task to see in daily operation. To him, Mandalorians were just as good in battle tactics, strategies and many military forms, but they lack strategy overall in the galaxy because their culture never has been accustomed to the larger role in the galaxy. Mandalorians, like the Chiss, were xenophobes that live in the confined of their space. To fight them would be an honor, but their starships were ancient constructions. However, on the ground in battle to have Mandalorians to fight as an army might be worth it. He ponders these issues as he signs off on Sabine Wren’s project and thinks aloud. “But, Chiss have order and Mandalorians are too stochastic in battle. Fighting beside them is an honor.”

 


 

 

Sabine Wren wakes at the sound of her alert from chronometer. As she gets ready to face her professors at the Imperial Academy on Mandalore for expulsion. But she realizes she is not wrong in her original hypothesis as presented in her thesis. “The color adjuvant can be added to the explosive main chamber.” She rises with a huge grin and quickly puts on her clean formal Imperial uniform as she skips to her hearing.

Classmates, Nekarta and Azhur Fianmax who serve under Clan Saxon, slide next to Sabine as they walk her to her hearing to gloat over her failure.

Nekarta snips. “Well, I guess you might get a pass on your project since the Admiral saved you.”

Azhur chimes. “Yeah, you did blow up the lab and all, but having the Admiral save you, is like instant forgiveness.”

Sabine frowns in confusion. “What do you mean? I am sure I’m expelled.”

“Oh Sabine. How stupid can you be?” Nekarta tosses her hair about while she speaks. “When the only Chiss Admiral in the entire Empire risks your pathetic life for a stupid failed chemistry experiment, it is a big deal.”

She is not Mandalorian and knows nothing about Mandalore, Sabine thought. “What does him being a Chiss have to do with it?”

“Sabine, do you even know who Admiral Thrawn is?” Azhur says in shock.

“No?” She stares as she shifts her gaze between them both. “Should I?”

In unison. “Yes!”

“Sorry. I have never met a Chiss before and I do not know him. But he seems very nice and was really a gentleman toward me. He had impeccable manners, too.”

“My maker Sabine? He spoke to you?” Nekarta blurts.

“Yes. What is the big deal?”

“Maker Sabine, that is a huge deal. An Admiral of the 7th fleet helps you and you don’t know who he is?” Nekarta sneers. “I bet you refused his assistance after he asked you to serve under his command, huh?”

“Well, yes. I did. I did not deserve it and I do not want it. I want to serve in the field and--”

Nekarta interrupts. “Ugh, you totally sicken me, Sabine. His fleet is one of the hardest to get assigned to, and you just say no. Such a dykoot.” Nekarta’s poor attempt at speaking Mando’a to Sabine, fluent in several languages.

“Shut it Nekarta! You are just like your name, NO HEART!” Sabine retorts. “I am not obliged to him or anyone in the Empire, except the simple oath I made. If I was a sycophant like you with no demerits flirting with aides, I would have to sleep my way to the top!” Sabine stomps away to not hit this girl. Nekarta probably could not fight at all. Underneath her breath, she speaks. “Hut’tuun.” It means “coward” and most of cadets were cowards and did not comprehend war. Sabine becomes queasy as she thinks about this fact and enters her Expulsion Tribunal.

Chapter Text

Canon Background from the novel Thrawn

 

 

“Governor Pryce, a word with you in private, if I may,” Thrawn said.

Vanto and Yularen exchanged glances. But they collected their data cards and left the conference room without further comment.

“A question, Admiral?” Pryce asked when the other were gone…

“A statement, Governor,” Thrawn corrected.

“No.”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s not how you bring an accusation against a powerful member of the Imperial government,” she said. “For all your tactical skill, Admiral, you still don’t know the first thing about dealing with politicians.”

“Do I not?”

“You do not,” Pryce said… “Your entire career has been one of military triumphs and political bumps, and every one of those bumps has required someone with political skill to get you out of it...Le t’s lay our cards. Or rather, I’ll lay out my cards, since you’re not the card-playing sort. You clearly suspect me of knowing more than I’ve said about what happened on Batonn. Fine. Suspect all you want. But don’t lose track of the fact that you need me.”

“In what way?”

“To smooth out your future political bumps,” she said. “And trust me: There will be more bumps. You’re a successful admiral. That makes you a target for people who want to siphon off some of your power for themselves.”

“People such as you?”

She smiled again… “At least you’ve learned some political lessons. But no, I don’t want to take your power away. I merely want to direct it along a line that will do us both the most good.”

“Such as?”

“The face is that I have something of an insurgent situation on Lothal,” she said…”I wanted make my world the Outer Rim’s best and finest source of high-grade metals, as well as the premier manufacturing and military center for the sector. In the process, I may have pushed the locals a bit too hard. Regardless of the cause, we have a problem, and Admiral Konstantine has been less than effective in dealing with it.”

“You’ve spoken to the High Command?”

“The High Command has a lot of hot spots to deal with right now ... With more popping up everyday, I’ve had some discussions with Grand Moff Tarkin, and he isn’t any happier about the situation than I am. He’s especially not happy that our local rebels are starting to take their brand of annoyance to other places in the region. He’s made it clear that I need to find a solution.”

“Have you?”

“Yes,” she said. “You.”

“And what would my benefit be?”

“I already detailed one of those benefits,” Pryce said. “If you don’t think my political guidance is enough value, then consider the gain to your prestige from another victory or two. That’s all Coruscant values, you know: results...My sources tell me that Fleet Admiral Sartan of the Seventh Fleet is going to be replaced soon. Batonn is just the kind of victory that could put you in line for that command.”

“I am content with the Ninety-Sixth Task Force.”

“You’d be more content with the Seventh Fleet,” Pryce retorted…”On last card, a card I know you care about. The Seventh Fleet carries a lot of firepower. It’s sent to major conflicts, where there are powerful and desperate enemies. If you don’t command it, someone else will. Do you think there’s anyone else in the Imperial Navy who cares as much as you do about limiting casualties?”

“You make interesting points,” Thrawn said. “I will consider your proposal.”

“Do that...In the meantime, go have your meeting with the Emperor. Smile and thank him for whatever accolades or trinkets he heaps on you...Who knows? He might make you a grand admiral. The point is, get through it, and we’ll see each other soon.”

“We may indeed,” Thrawn said. “Farewell, Governor. Safe Journey.”

 

Chapter Text

The starship shuttle, ICONOCLAST, glides into the hangar bay of the Empire's secret base, "The Death Star". It is a large build, near a planet, which black soot snakes around the planet’s stratospheric winds. The soot originates from the Death Star as its construction toxic waste and exhaust pumps and dumps the poisonous gases into the planet's atmosphere. This dump shifts these greenhouse gases to cause the planet to be unlivable.

The shuttle door opens as the chief occupant, a high ranking Imperial exits and stands as his nose crinkles from the foul stench reeking from Death Star construction burnt metals. As he grabs the rail down to the floor, he stumbles as the area quakes. He speaks into his wrist band the following observations, “Unstable gravometrics on a ship this size?”

The workers ignore his presence as they rivet transparisteel walls in a high position with the aid of large float droids. Droids scurry across the hanger floor as stormtroopers maneuver to guard their posts. The Imperial grimaces from the disorganization and speaks more about his observations, “Imprecise calculations to set the orbit from the foul stench of the planet to the construction atmosphere.” He takes a handkerchief from the inside pocket of his uniform and covers his mouth. His blue skin and red eyes do not show his strangulation from the smell. As a Chiss named Thrawn,  he turns to his ship’s squad to determine if they were aware of the stench. They nod in agreement. Suddenly, they all quickly cover their ears from a clarion blare. A loud sensor alarm. “Toxins,” Thrawn remarks into his wristband as he moves to the security podium to deactivate the sound. Thrawn surveys the area, and the workers busy themselves without concern. The stormtroopers did not budge from their posts.

Thrawn puts his hands behind his back and eyes his men to arm themselves. He walks toward an exit to make a note of the incidents in the hanger. His thoughts focus on the discussion of the new military project and strategic goals of the Empire with the Emperor. Since inside Mandalorian space, his orders did lack optimization and disenfranchisement. Thrawn is Chiss and Chiss never complain, but the Empire requires discipline from the leadership with the few battles they have encountered with a criminal insurgent force that indicates Jedi leadership influences. These concerns bubble in his head as calculations to fix this unequal equation with every possible scenario to defend his actions to the Emperor. Another factor to consider is the Emperor's apprentice, Darth Vader. From Thrawn's last communique,  Vader will be landing on the Death Star within minutes. Many Imperial officers who met both the Emperor and Darth Vader tend to disappear except close confidantes. Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin is one of them. “I should have made those calculations with that rubric.  I should have used the other battle strategy at Batonn.” He muses to himself.

“Sir, we have we have identified the speeder car 723,” announces a squad member.

“Good. Thank you.” Thrawn replies nonchalant automatic response as his mind reels through his calculations.

“Sir, I am sending you the scheduled itinerary to your holo wristband. A squad will escort you through your tour, and then you will meet at the Throne Room.” The lights move across the Chiss HUD as the information translates into the Chiss language, Cheuhn.

Thrawn presses to examine the holoscreen from his wristband as it scrolls through his activities with no logistics. His red eyes glisten as they show little surprise. “Maps.” He speaks into his holoband as it records his note. As he passes a large hall, his eyes dart to the final pallets of shield generators and turbolasers at current construction at the Death Star equator. Thrawn places his finger under his nose as he holds his chin in the wonder of how the massive monstrosity propels itself through space. His anticipation was to see how the sphere drives itself through space while on his tour if that is what the Emperor and Darth Vader genuinely have in mind for him. He recalls his last mission with the Empire, and while he fulfills the Imperial objectives with the best Chiss training he had, there was more politics involved in the Empire. It frustrates him. In the Chiss Ascendancy, his government views him as aggressive and against their "peaceful" ways. They accuse him of murder without due process. He only wants to achieve a military objective without regard to the lives lost. By the time the Empire found him in exile on a remote planet, he had defeated the entire squad and jumped aboard a ship to fly back to his sector. But one Imperial officer begged him to stay.

If his past Imperial mission is a demotion, Thrawn thought, he will take his punishment in stride and lead a subsistence life near Chiss space, protecting it from invaders. He follows his men with a brisk walk when they halt, weapons drawn, aiming at his greeter, who is very late to their rendezvous.  Two stormtroopers accompanied her "bounce" in gleeful steps that dance next to Thrawn. Was the scheduled tour a social call rather than his review of the Death Star and military inspection?

“Grand Admiral Thrawn, welcome to the Death Star Platform. Pardon our construction zones, we work tirelessly to protect the galaxy from all threats and terrorists,” her voice sings as she grins with straightening and whitens teeth made to appear more human, and her lekku or head tails wag as if she dances her way in the Death Star repulsorlift. “Ready for your little tour, um, yeah, Sir?”

“Of course, cadet,” Thrawn disabuses himself from lashing out at the cheerleader and youthfulness of his greeter. He walks past the labor, most of them Wookiees and other aliens from conquered worlds of the former Confederacy of Independent System or Separatists. Aliens that serve as Imperials were few as most Imperials were human. The aliens peer to see a high ranking Imperial Naval Officer in uniform, who is blue-skinned with red eyes, a Chiss. He taught himself to ignore their gaze. Many of the laborers that slog on the hangers and docks stop and watch him in awe. He can hear them whisper, "Is that a Chiss?" as he walks past them. It was as if he was meant to see only aliens and not humans on his tour. The Twi’lek cadet catches his eye over her exuberance for a military tour on the Death Star and prompts Thrawn's inquiry. “How long have you been stationed here, Cadet--?”

Her eyes light as her head tails pique that she had his interest. “Cadet Kore Taa, Sir,” She salutes and clicks her heels.

Thrawn slight grin analyzing her military machinations. “Have you received orders for any missions under your commanding officer, yet, Cadet Taa?” His mind churns as to where he last heard that surname.

“Right now, I am with Imperial Loyalty Office to encourage the workers.” She pauses. “I’m a proud servant of the Empire,” she prattles on with her social schedule as she grabs the rail when the gravity becomes unstable. Thrawn catches her and pushes her aboard the hovercraft to fly through the Death Star platform.

Thrawn looks over the stormtroopers behind him and little security in the alien section. “Delays in comm,” spoken into his holoband and analyzes the Twi’lek that bounces into the hovercraft who seems to be less concerned with security. The oddness of the dichotomy is another mental tick mark he notes. Thrawn’s hesitancy rests on how not all workers from the laborers to the Emperor that seem lax in security protocols for a battlestation, like the Death Star.

The hovercraft jerks as Thrawn, Kore Taa, and two stormtroopers take off into airspace to line drive with other hovercrafts and supply transports. Thrawn’s conceals his emotions and takes mental notes unable to record in his holo wristband. The grey bars with rivet structures of durasteel and transparisteel that match in length with an uneven flush. A concussion missile can rip through the hull. The windows lack 100 ply separation versus the 50 ply of its construction.

Thrawn nods courteously to the Twi’lek who rattles the superficial histories of the galaxy to him without permission with a brief squeal of the battlestation’s best attributes. Her hard sell appears to be a forced rehearsed and poorly presented. As they turn the bend, he sees human Imperials and stormtroopers beat Wookiee laborers. They bludgeon one. Thrawn realizes that the hairy beasts are too docile for this kind precise engineering work. “Vargaari would be better suited as workers if you could mind control them,” he speaks into his holo wristband, while Kore's dull tone drone on unbothered by Wookiee punishment. Thrawn studies her and realizes her background as he interrupts her speech. “You are the daughter of the famed senator, Orn Free Taa of Ryloth, aren’t you?”

“Huh? What? No…I mean…yes. I’m one of his children. My mother was his eleventh consort,” her obnoxious laugh flutters like her head tails.

Thrawn's brow furrows as he finds her behavior strange when he realizes that it could be the planet’s toxic cloud in the new orbit the battlestation maintains. “Tell me, how many orbits has the station moved since you’ve been here?”

Kore’s childish shrugs reflect her nonchalance. Thrawn recognizes her euphoria, a characteristic of acute dioxis gas toxicity. Kore had no idea that her eyeballs had rolled back into her head, and she slurs her words. The hovercraft bump into a tunnel where Kore slings into Thrawn's arms with a loud chortle. When the hovercraft's headlights activate, they almost fly head-on in front of other hovercrafts and weave between them and dodges others. Kore tries to grab the stick to gain control but laughs wildly with a grin as the stormtrooper knocks her away. His eyes spark rage as he attempts to yank the hovercraft stick from her, but by then, the craft stabilized, and suddenly, they enter the restricted area that glows a soft fluorescent green. A wide berth of space opens as a million tons of crystals in vibrant colors from light green to bright purple light up the area. “Kybers?” Thrawn's mouth is agape. "I've never seen so many in one place in the entire galaxy."

“Yes, and we are getting more day by day from our hyperspace lanes from the Perlemian trade route. You know about these crystals, Captain - I mean - Admiral Thrawn?” Kore purrs not minding where the craft drifts.

Thrawn grabs the stick and stops the craft mid-air. As he examines her, he realizes her inebriation. “KARK! She’s drunk!” He rips her from her seat and orders the stormtroopers to hold her. “You! Watch her. I want to get off here because I've seen enough.”

The hovercraft rounds a corner. The stormtrooper holds Kore tightly and as she attempts to fight back. "Captain! What about the tour?" She bleats.

Thrawn narrows his eyes to show her he had enough for his inspection. "Cadet, you are relieved of your duty," in a stern but calm voice. His holo wristband buzzes him every minute with alerts of too many neurotoxic chemicals, which can hurt several species including Chiss. He inhales deeply to gather his remaining air in pride because Chiss toxicity limits are higher than most sentient beings. He examines the engineering structures that lead him to the top of the dish when he realizes that the massive hole is where the kyber crystals will be set to point to the private chambers of the Emperor. "It would be a hike," he states, but he had to get there.

The hovercraft parks several meters from the Emperor’s abode as its grand design glistens with red and black marble against the green light of the kyber crystals. Slate obelisks dot the entrance into the hall as the large durasteel doors that touch the floor to the ceiling remain shut. Imperial Guards with their Force Pikes are supposed to guard the entrance, but they were missing in action. Thrawn's mind reels that if he had been set up for assassination. But why a flippant Twi'lek cadet? He probably should kill everyone around him, but he sighs in despair and spares their lives. “Take her to the infirmary and return to wait on me.”

The stormtrooper unsure if heard Thrawn accurately. “Sir?”

Thrawn's sneer is rarely seen in Chiss as he chases down an Imperial astromech droid and throws him into the hovercraft with orders. “I am Grand Admiral Thrawn code 021297791, and I order you to fly them to the medical sector for Cadet Kore Taa.”

The droid toots in compliance once it realizes the identity of Thrawn.

As for the stormtrooper, his delight to finally see an Imperial officer to seize control from wild crises. “Yes, Grand Admiral, Sir!” He drags the cadet to secure her into the seat and orders the astromech droid to fly the hovercraft to the infirmary.

As they disappear from the distance, Thrawn unbuttons his uniform to remove a handkerchief to wipe dripping sweat from his decollete after his hovercraft accident. He shakes his head from how bad the problems he’s observed on the Death Star construction and calculates how much these problems were his problems. He fixes stray hairs from his forehead as he looks down from the balcony to survey structure. Alone, the sound was silent without the bustle from the equatorial trench - another problem. He walks a long gray grated galley plank that overlooks the green kyber crystals. The glow intoxicates him and blurs concentration. He stops and places his hands on his hips as he huffs. He looks at his holo wristband as its characters continual scroll not reaching any stable measurements. One number blinks off as he speaks, “One percent oxygen?” He thinks about the toxins and how they may affect him without a breathing apparatus or helmet. The site of red and gray marble seems to disorient him.  He reminisces one of several military Special Forces tests in Chiss space. The voice of his trainer echoes in his mind as he pushes young recruits further along the obstacle course in zero oxygen environments. He grins to himself that all that occurred before he was an adult eight years old. His red eyes burn like fire, and his belly aches in pain as he arrives at the Emperor's alcove. He feels the flood of oxygen permeate the area and inhales in the clean air as it trickles down his lungs filling out his bronchi heaving out the foul breath from his lungs. He repeats his breathing moments several times.

Then he feels a sting rip his back as a force pike from an Imperial Royal Red Guard pokes him. Thrawn unmoved and slowly rises to his feet as the Imperial guard primes his weapon. He glares into the red helmet as his hands rise to surrender.

“How did you get here?” The Imperial Royal Red Guard stunned as the first time seeing a Chiss.

Thrawn hears all the words and examines the build of the Imperial Guard and his red helmet as his mind speaks. “Small enough to take down by carotid collapse choke and grip,” he thought to himself. “The angle of thrust from the force pike suggest he is in pain from his thoracolumbar fascia tear based on his lengthy stance. A pressure point to that area should disable him seconds before his partner comes for backup.”

“Did you just come from that gangplank? It’s near vacuum, no air out there. Who are you?”

Thrawn needs to answer the Imperial Guard in a near normal voice, a bit raspy from the lack of oxygen. “I am Grand Admiral Thrawn summoned by the Emperor Palpatine at his bidding.”

The Imperial Guard rises to face him eye to eye. “There was no air out there. How did you?”

“Cadet Kore Taa, the Twi’lek girl, took me this way, and I assumed the way is accurate?” Thrawn decides to play dumb to see how much the Imperial Guard would believe.

A long silence exists between him. Thrawn could see the guard’s helmet was verifying his presence with Thrawn's code cylinders. Then the guard straights in shock as his voice quavers. “Uh, Sir, uh, you were to use the south entrance, not the north, as you can see, it is under construction, Sir.” The guard visibly nervous with the slur of his words, and his hands shook while opening the door.

Thrawn could utterly destroy him with his physical force or leave that to the disciplinary hierarchy. However, as his mind clears as he breathes clean air, his concerns resonate on his punishment for cutting his losses in a pointless battle that lost three Imperial frigates in a firefight with Rebels and former Separatist Holdouts near the planet, Batonn. He straightens himself to a command position and accepts his fate as an Imperial officer, which includes execution, though he thought it draconian. Of course, he could assign blame to his commanding officer that superseded him who ignored his observations, because his fleet admiral withheld Coruscant communications. But assigning blame is not the Chiss way, and the starships were under his command. He catches his mind wandering as he stares off into the distance past the Imperial Guard, and he comes back into real time. "The Imperial hierarchy decides action, not me." His thoughts betray him.

The Imperial Guard tilts his head and asks the Chiss again. "Sir? Shall I take you around the hemisphere to meet the Emperor?"

“That would be unnecessary. Show me where I am supposed to be, exactly?” Thrawn’s red-in-red eyes crease with a pleasant smile.

The Imperial Guard gives a little noticeable sigh of relief in his respiration, immediately unlocks the massive doors to the Emperor’s Throne Room with one black chair that overlooks a considerable window above a tube that created for a superlaser. “Sir, if you quickly go to the anteroom down to that location, and stand inside there to wait for the Emperor.” Thrawn proceeds and the guard stops him. “Uh, Sir? Please don’t come this way again or let my commanding officer know I let you through here. I'm dead as it is anyway.”

Thrawn frowns confused by his statement. “There seems to be a lot of fear of dying in service aboard the Death Star.”

A small balk-chuckle emits underneath the red helmet of the Imperial Guard. “We all serve at the leisure of the Emperor.”

“Of the Empire,” Thrawn nods then walks through the throne room, which he notices the sparse black soot decor with a booth chair and a holotable and he makes his way into the anteroom, aware of the prying eyes of the Imperial Guard. When Thrawn enters the anteroom, he hears the double clank of the huge metal doors and the whirs of the locks behind him. He places his hands behind him and studies his surroundings once more.

 


 

Thrawn sees a few brand new control consoles with clear plastiques that cover their new electronics as his sense of smell returns. He turns to a sizeable trapezoidal window that shows the fleet maneuvers of the Star Destroyers and transport ships in silence. He reassembles his uniform quickly from his reflection in the window to make himself presentable and equivalent of an Imperial officer and Grand Admiral of a starship. He presses his holo wristband that seems to reset its function and scrolls through the images as he ponders the concerns of his tour of the Death Star. He ruminates on if he should tattle on Grand Moff Tarkin, which could place him to serve duty on this technological terror. Thrawn ever so slightly grimaces at the dislikes of the place, which includes Tarkin’s doctrine of fear. The Tarkin Doctrine forces sentient beings into submission for the Empire. Thrawn knew it is a poor strategy, one that will lose the people and their loyalties to the Empire. Especially after his tour. “It will backfire,” he muses silently.

Then the hairs on his neck rise as he feels an eerie presence behind him.

The sound of air respiration releases and then uptakes one cycle. Thrawn turns to see a tall, armored and menacing black-robed figure. It is Darth Vader, the second in command of the Empire. Thrawn served with him on a secret mission to the Unknown Regions. Now, Darth Vader is in the Emperor's Death Star Throne Room. Vader's methods were brutal, and he slays his enemies.  Such tactics are a means to an end. Vader is a Force user -- a Sith, like the Emperor. Thrawn’s only interaction with Force users directly was Jedi. The strange creature on Atollan is one, also, made Thrawn angry, and Kanan Jarrus is not a Jedi because he ran away from his service when the Empire seized power. The boy, Ezra Bridger, held much energy and is useful, but was still a scared child. Thrawn did not fear the Jedi. He did not fear the Sith. Fear is a pointless emotion as Chiss military training drills into him to not overreact to fear. His expectations of Sith and their subversion requires more extensive study, time which Thrawn did not have.

Thrawn deals with the Force users like complex works of art in motion. His appreciation extends only to their usefulness from afar. But Thrawn has never seen Vader's mechanical suit, up close and Darth Vader is a masterpiece.  He is a cross between man and machine. He survives in the suit, but his Force powers exact from it. The chest buttons keep him alive for his physical nature, not his Force nature. Thrawn observes his aura of the color of burning red-orange flames – a tone of rage, which seems such a pity, because Vader appears to be trapped in his suit as a monster to level fear on all those who cross him, but desires to be good. That is when it dawns on Thrawn that Darth Vader was not who the Empire has come to know, he is a decent person, like a dead Jedi Anakin Skywalker.

Thrawn shakes his head of those thoughts, Jedi would not do what Darth Vader does. But between the two of them, they stood, Thrawn with his hands behind his back with raised brows and Darth Vader with crossed hand near his mid-section. Thrawn turns to him without emotion and nods. “Lord Vader.”

“I see your tour of this station is complete, Admiral. Thoughts?” His bionic vox reverberates through the air.

“My Lord?” Thrawn’s lifts his brow as if his disciplinary hearing had commenced.

“Your thoughts. Of this station. I can sense them...all of them.”

Thrawn grins internally as Vader gave him controls to this conversation, which is predictable. Moreover, the Sith Lord's pattern of respiration indicates an interest in his opinions. “Yes, I know,” he looks at Vader’s naked organic eyes through his visor. “You and The Emperor are Sith, practitioners of the dark side of the Force.” He turns back to the large window overlooking the ships as his right arm crosses over his torso and his left-hand moves his index finger under his nose while goes back into deep thought. In his calm, reflective thinking, he asks another question with profound earnest. “However, you, Lord Vader, your mannerisms are quite unlike that of the Emperor’s.”

Darth Vader is unsure of Thrawn’s question. “Explain.”

“Your diligence. Your walk. Your parlance. It’s a negotiation for you. You still reach for consensus with your subordinates,” Thrawn analyzes the movements of the ships in space.

Vader stands next to him as he respires to await his response.

After a long moment of silence, Thrawn voice has added irritation. “Pardon me, Lord Vader, might I inquire about something that perplexes me?" An even longer pause as a large Star Destroyer floats by in space. Thrawn turns to Vader with direct eye contact. "Do the problems aboard this battlestation annoy you, too?”

“How?” Vader chose to evade the second question. The inflection of his words has pain and masochism. The thrill is subtle that Vader enjoys pain infliction to cure past problems. “My transformation into the Dark Side is how I reconcile my past, Admiral.”

Thrawn did not let on he read the secret hologram of Darth Vader from the Jedi, that he was a little boy from Tatooine, named Anakin Skywalker. While some individuals, knew of Vader's childhood pain, their goal seems to be to dangle it in front of him to humiliate him.

Thrawn’s line of questioning causes Vader to pause when he realizes the second question with great interest. Curiosity from what Vader senses in Thrawn.

For the moment, Thrawn ignores Vader’s non-answer and proceeds to his primary concerns of the battlestation. “Just like a work of art, the greatness of this station has beauty. But this beauty has numerous flaws. For now, they’re blemishes that will only become apparent when the station is complete and fully operational. And by that time, these flaws will turn into huge gaping holes that will be too difficult to ignore. An artist must take it upon himself to learn from these setbacks when they are small and retrace calculated steps to correct any blemishes. My tour guide missed these small flaws, whereas I easily notice them as glaring artifacts that will worsen in time.”

Darth Vader slows his respiration as he listens. “What would you suggest?”

Thrawn turns to look directly into Vader’s eyes. “My Lord, if I can see these flaws, our enemies can see them, too. They might find weaknesses to unravel this art quickly slapped and woven together to destroy the entire piece.”

“I see.”

“But the Imperials will not listen to either of us,” his sigh of resignation has more to do with his frustration of Imperial bureaucracy, than a complaint. The memory of Orn Free Taa's offspring by dioxis gas shears his mind. “Our enemies will undoubtedly learn of these flaws, and when they do, if I were ever to be stationed here, I would have an exit strategy with clear means of evacuation.”

A comlink alerts Thrawn for the meeting with Emperor Palpatine as Imperial Guards enter the anteroom to admit Thrawn.

“My Lord, may I suggest that I am only critiquing art. Of course, all Imperial builds matter,” Thrawn’s voice light and airy as he searches for a facial emotion than his deadpan Chiss emotionless face.

Vader speaks after a long silence. “All art matters, Admiral.”

Thrawn nods and pivots to enter the Throne Room to meet the Emperor.

Chapter Text

The door closes after Thrawn as Darth Vader stands and watches him enter the throne room to be in the presence of Emperor Palpatine seated in a large black console chair. Thrawn sees a fragile older man with boils and wrinkles. Chiss did not age like humans, Thrawn thought. That’s if Emperor Palpatine is human.

“I am,” Palpatine’s sinister voice echoes throughout the throne room. “And I can tell you, Chiss that I am a Sith Lord, imbued with the dark side for a very long time,” his warped smile slithers across his grey wrinkled mouth.

“My apologies, my Lord. My thoughts seemed to have strayed,” Thrawn’s red-eyes lighten and slowly a mischievous grin enters his face for the first time after being around humans for a long time. He notes to himself to suppress his personal opinions and presents himself respectably before the Emperor.

“My guards tell me you walked across the catwalk in the absence of oxygen to arrive here in my throne room,” his grin widens.

“Yes, my escort was lax in her duties.”

“She will be dispatched for her oversight. Afterall, she is alien. I do not extend preferential treatment and I punish failure. My Empire requires superior candidates for Imperial officers.”

“Understood and agreed your Majesty,” Thrawn’s voice explicit in how to manage the lack of diversity in the Empire.

It made him eager to get to the meat of the discussion in the protection of the Empire. Talk about diversity felt tiresome and exhausting rhetoric. Thrawn has shown that a competent military is a must by the quality of ordered jobs, and it should be their best without the demands for representation or diversity. To Thrawn, most aliens that serve the Empire were only there for their title that splays across their planets and fearful of their Separatist connections rather than their duty to the Empire. His assessment of their actions or inactions is apparent in their behavioral response to his Admiralty questions. He found aliens require coddling and handholding. Thrawn felt that it was beyond his job description.  

While it saddens him that aliens fail to live up to standard expectations of the Empire, the Chiss could quickly fill in where other aliens left that gap. If he were to integrate a few Chiss, his near-human species as his Imperial aides to him would cause efficiency to increase several-fold. Chiss never complain. He could reach out to promising candidates as an opportunity to serve under his leadership.

He muses about how the Sith operate. They can work with anyone and the Imperials only work with humans. Humans are often too emotional. Humans segregate themselves further by skin complexion color, eye shape, and body variations. Thrawn has observed that when he trains humans, the best ones have faced discrimination, and perhaps, he would have the force he needs to defend the Empire. Then, Thrawn sparks to attention when he realizes his thoughts betray him once more.

“You may select the squad you need, Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo. But, first, let’s discuss a mission you must complete for the Empire,” he rises from his seat and glides down to a table like an apparition and activates the lighted holoprojection of a planet with a wave of his hand.

“Uh, yes, your Majesty,” Thrawn sees the lit table and analyzes the planet with the Auberesh written label and a series of datapoint that scroll around it. “A planet in the Unknown Regions. What about it?”

“My advisers tell me there is a treasure trove of strange starships on the planet’s murky smog-filled surface.”

“Starships?”

“Yes, strange ones. Ones built with equipment that responds to the Force.”

Thrawn crossed his arms as the lights of his red eyes dart from one position of the holoprojections to another. “Is there scientific proof?”

Palpatine moves a button on the holoprojector well to switch the image to starship similar to modified Corellian Engineering Corvette 1500 that the Rebels have been seen to have. “Long-range telemetry scans show what is called prototype ship model CEC YT-1300. It is a simple construction but contains a stygium crystal for cloaking a ship. More ships have similar technology, and I want to reclaim them and reverse engineering them with Sienar systems ships available to the Empire.”

“Who was the shipbuilder?”

Palpatine toothy grin glides across his face over Thrawn’s perceptiveness. “My former master’s master, Rugess Nome.”

Thrawn’s red-on-red eyes pierce into Palpatine’s yellow-red Sith eyes to gauge his seriousness. "Rugess Nome, the Bith? My people had a few interactions with him as he pandered for parts for our Chiss shipbuilding expertise. Archives state that he always answered to a tattooed Rutian Twi’lek. Of course, my family did not do business with him on Copero, and it was hundreds of years before I was born, but the Chiss Ascendancy would always leave the two empty-handed.”

Palpatine watches Thrawn’s assessment of the known data as he sees the Chiss as an intelligent being, but no longer in the Force. Thrawn's motivation lacks outward emotion. Tarkin is a womanizer and he has family problems on his homeworld, Eriadu. There was also Director Orson Callam Krennic, wholly causing delays to the prized Death Star. Tarkin’s philandering and Krennic's arrogance causes the Empire unable to protect its citizens from the looming threats in the Unknown Regions. The Emperor no longer wants to rely on spin and propaganda, especially with some pronounced “Tarkin Doctrine” and Krennic appearing on the HoloNet News. The Doctrine uses fear to coerce star systems to comply with Imperial demands. Krennic needs to complete the Death Star and then hand it over to Tarkin to lead. But the Emperor decides to implement another plan for on a backup advance weapon fleet in case both fail him. Those machinations in the Force requires him to sway Thrawn to assistance for this mission, and the Emperor uses it to his advantage. “I want you to recover the entire fleet once you identify the exact location.”

“When do I start?” Thrawn studies the Emperor without showing he suspects a ruse.

The yellow-red eyes enhance their glow as Palpatine’s sly grin enhances that Thrawn buys into this mission. He switches the holoprojector image to an abstract painting. Its hues of orange, purple and silver colors shimmer across the art like a blood vessel that pulsates in various directions from a center that fibrillates at a fast-paced alien heart. “The Visage Presage by Jaynor of Bith commissioned by Rugess Nome. The painting is a map of the fleet treasure trove.”

Thrawn’s eyes open more extensive as the painting seems to flex its skin when touched as the image rotates from holoprojection. He studies the forms of the art, then presses a few buttons to examine its 3-dimensional structure with current data obtained by sensor scans. The scans list the painting’s consistency. Thrawn's eyes glow as a response to the excitement with the complex analysis of art in digital holoprojections. He paces around the holoprojection table but never gets close to the Palpatine who tests him. After several moments, Thrawn stares at Palpatine to give his firm conclusions of the painting. Palpatine may have given the nod to proceed, but Thrawn's enthrallment to share his thoughts with the leader of the Empire felt compelled to provide a complete diagnosis of what he sees in the painting. “My Lord, the colors lack brilliance on the hologram. I would need to see the real painting. Does it still exist?” Thrawn thought Palpatine need not bother answering that question because Thrawn would interrogate the entire digital landscape to find every holoimage on the HoloNet of the Visage Presage and construct a full evaluation with cobbled Chiss technology he had built. His minds reel of the possibilities and the next steps as he continues. “But my cursory evaluations stem from the external components of the paint based on the sensory data. It is as if one of the components does not consist of paint, but is highly proteinaceous. As if--“

“As if, what? Blood?" The Emperor interrupts Thrawn. "Indeed, your analysis serves you well, Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo.” His swarthy grin returns. “Rugess Nome commissioned this painting and gave Jaynor the paints needed for this artwork. One of those components is the blood of the beings on this Unknown Region planet, which also include a long extinct Terentatek, a Force responsive being.”

Thrawn stares at Palpatine for a long time to comprehend what he stated. Jaynor, the artist, uses blood for paint. Blood of conquered people from a conquered planet, allegedly where a vast silent fleet rests. He places his finger under his nose and re-evaluates the painting as he shifts it from two dimensions to three dimensions. “Terentatek feast off of Force users and are similar in size to a rancor. They were genetically engineered by ancient Sith that used the Dark Side of the Force alchemy." Somehow, Thrawn suddenly recalled a memory he thought long faded in time as a child. He pivots to the Emperor. "You want me to use the painting in an expedition to find Nome’s fleet. You want this fleet to be intact. I will need a battalion for this expedition. Then, you want me to hand over this experimental fleet to Sienar Fleet Systems. Is that correct your Majesty?”

Palpatine stood across from him, then returned to his throne room chair to sit. He could order Thrawn to do this mission and have the same failures he is experiencing currently. Or he could give Thrawn a choice of a mutual interest that serves both of them. “Only if you want, Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo. A benefit I want to give you. But I can demote you because of human Imperial specieist laws and rhetoric. But if you return with my fleet, and you will, I will give you the benefit of protecting your homeworld, Copero with the entire Reverse Engineered Imperial Fleet from this find.”

“Your Majesty, you would ensure the protection of just my homeworld, Copero and of Chiss Space?”

“You are a Grand Admiral of the Galactic Empire. Your loyalties are between your attachment to your precious Chiss Space and your service to the Empire. When you leave here as an officer of the Galactic Empire, without a title of nobility, you will only have what I bequeath to you. But, if I give you a title, it will ensure the protection of your homeworld, Copero and other planets in Chiss Space. For the other planets, you will have to conquer them.”

Thrawn narrows his eyes in confusion and shakes his slightly. “Your Majesty, I do not aspire to such titles. My only concern is to serve at the will of the Empire and you, as my Emperor. I would have pursued this fleet to learn more of each ship’s construction out of curiosity,” Thrawn shows a thinly veiled smile.

“Indeed. I believe you would. The painting still exists. Thought lost for decades until it resurfaced from a private collector on Serrano. The caretaker appears to have suddenly died in a starship crash and perish,” his eyes glisten as he speaks. “Not many in the Empire know of its existence, and as a result, it is up for auction on the planet, Canto Bight.”

“The newly allocated gambling world? Who was the private collector?”

Palpatine smiles slyly. “The private collector was an alien of high Imperial Intelligence. He was deported to his homeworld and had an unfortunate accident that led to his subsequent death upon his repatriation.”

Thrawn would ignore the xenophobic comment accustomed to microaggressions. He would prove his strength on the battlefield. He stares at the painting as he ruminates on the mission. Then, he shrugs with a chuckle. “I was unsure if I should fully disclose this caveat, but your painting is a star map. But to know for sure, I will have to procure the painting and then find a way to interpret the map. I have a hunch that there is more to this map than this holointerpretation." He pauses to tilt the holographic image to see more pixels. "When is the auction?”

Palpatine presses a few buttons as Darth Vader enters with a few of his stormtroopers, as the holoprojector of the painting dissolves. “Lord Vader, give Grand Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo a crew of your Death Troopers based on his selections for an expeditionary fleet to Canto Bight and beyond.”

Darth Vader bows to Palpatine. “As you wish.”

Thrawn ponders the magnificence of this painting as a genuinely complex work of art and privilege to study it. He realizes the meeting is over as his new mission begins. But another thought pervades his mind, the Emperor's lure of giving him a title. It was a spark to set a free Chiss space similar to the Galactic Empire under the Emperor, but how to approach these Sith in regards to it, confounded him. Maybe that would change? He leaves the Emperor's Throne room respectfully and remains on his ship, the Chimaera.

“Lord Vader, my friend, what do you think of our Chiss? I foresee him as the Marquis of The Unknown Region sector who will defend the Empire and contain these threats there.” The Emperor grins to Darth Vader.

“My Lord, I think he will serve us well. Chiss have always been loyal to the Sith.”

Chapter Text

Thrawn’s flight back from the Death Star and the consideration of his title of nobility is of a routine. The added firepower to the Seventh Fleet is better than what Governor Pryce promoted, but there are solutions to all problems. His mind dwells on Commander, Eli Vanto as his “cultural attache” to Chiss Space with his Admiral Ar’alani. To keep them safe, from the Rebel insurgency. Along the way toward his Imperial Star Destroyer, he decides to customize his hull to that of his family’s crest, the CHIMAERA, a two-headed snake with tentacles like a hydra that crawl to port.  He needs his crew ready to fight for the Empire, for the Emperor, for Darth Vader and him. There were many lapses in basic naval tactics that require remediation the new crew members. Fortunately, his old crew from the Ninety-Sixth put in for transfers into the Seventh Fleet to teach the new crew members on the operations of Grand Admiral Thrawn, the first alien being to command an entire Imperial fleet. Those in the Seventh who refused Thrawn’s command reassignment is quick, but to jobs not on the battlefront -- positions on Outer Rim filled with the drudgery that check for the insect repellent.

Thrawn had a secret inspection of the incomplete Death Star build. He submitted his report to both the Emperor and Darth Vader since they asked him his observations. Thrawn wonders how Director Orson Krennic got such oversight for not being in military combat, but that is not Thrawn’s concern. He mulls how many infractions are made daily with enslaved aliens that assemble this monstrous battlestation behemoth.  But, fortunately, it is not his problem. However, a title of nobility? He shakes his head at it. It is what he needs to make the Chiss Ascendancy evolve like the rest of the galaxy. But will they listen?

His problem to visit Canto Bight for this Visage Presage then do his mission, and then deal with these Rebel insurgents in that sector.

Thrawn secret task to serve the Emperor’s request -- a painting that doubles as a map, which leads to an entire fleet of Rugess Nome, the Bith Ship Builder's starships and designs. Then by some archival holocommunique that Thrawn conjures up, Nome was a Sith Lord, named Darth Tenebrous roughly 200 years before the Empire. Allegedly, these ships respond by Force use; a Force sensitive pilot can bolster the power, navigation, and length in flight with their powers -- ozyly ecshembo -- sky walking. The Emperor discovered that Thrawn could read the blueprints, and reverse-engineer the ships with updated technology by Sienar Systems Aeronautics. If so, Thrawn’s plans to improve the engineering of TIE Defender could use these ancient blueprints and built on Lothal.

He is flying back to Lothal to retrieve her. Governor Arihnda Pryce. Her nosiness flares up again as to who Grand Admiral Thrawn suspect she wants more than to be her military adviser. She stops short of brandishing her human femininity that reeks to him. Its foul stench rankles his olfactory systems. His strong genetic constitution allows him to hide his disgust. He has not met many human women he finds appealing. She, by far, is the worst he has achieved. It seems that human men are more attractive for brief encounters, but fooling around in the ranks disrupts the Empire’s primary mission to bring the galaxy under its control to protect it from outside threats. He recites the agreed code that corresponds to his Chiss training:

 

 

The standard for what constitutes an inappropriate leader-subordinate relationship hasn't changed in the new GR 600-20 4-14b which states, relationships, (both opposite-gender and same-gender) are prohibited if they: -- Compromise, or appear to compromise, the integrity of supervisory authority or the chain of command; -- Cause actual or perceived partiality or unfairness; -- Involve, or appear to involve, the improper use of rank or position for personal gain; -- Are, or are perceived to be, exploitative or coercive in nature; -- Create an actual or clearly predictable adverse impact on discipline, authority, morale or the ability of the command to accomplish its mission.

 

 

Even a situation with Governor Pryce elicits an inappropriate relationship within the Empire, and Pryce must honor that boundary. However, the Outer Rim is less refined than the Core. Acumen is lax, and diplomacy is about “aggressive negotiations.” Thrawn rubs his forehead and his chin to process all these thoughts and then is dawns him about his profound loneliness. His memories of Jorj Car’das flow through his mind and all the plans made together, and then Jorj suddenly fell with aggressive cancer. Within 49 planetary rotations, he was dead.

Thrawn threw back his datapad on the side on his desk in his ready room aboard the Chimaera. Memories of Jorj had not surfaced since his arrival on Coruscant. His profound loneliness never impacted him until now, and why? A new level in his illustrious military career? What would it hold? Anxiety? A new emotional contagion by being around humans usually passes on to near-human aliens, such as the Chiss. Had he adopted too many human foibles? He exhales to move through this tiff when his hologram appears, announcing a guest aboard his ship.

“I will allow it,” Thrawn commands to his security Deathtroopers.

Enter, Governor Arinhda Pryce in a neat gray Imperial uniform that is form-fitting, purposefully and those deep blue eyes of hers piercing at Thrawn. His stomach curdles from his last meal as it wants to return to his esophagus and out his mouth if peristalsis operates by that mechanism. Her light whiny voice greets him.  “Welcome, Grand Admiral, I see you are coming along with the Seventh fleet, very nicely.”

Thrawn thought best to leave conversations with her in the vague and mundane. “Thank you, Governor Pryce.”

She smiles with an air of arrogance. “You have the data I sent to your ship from Lothal and several distant planets? I hope it proved useful?” She strolls to him with more datacards in her hand to show her hand not to have given him everything while he requested it.

“Yes, I’ve reviewed them all.”

“Good, Grand Admiral, the Rebels have shipping lanes along these routes,” She raises a holographic star map.

Thrawn quickly interrupts her. “Have you identified them or a possible a base of operations?”

Clueless in her answer. “No, we think they’re nomadic and hire mercenaries or smugglers to assist them. There’s no real threat to the great Lothal Center plans we have in mind, Thrawn.” She forgot his rank as a sign of disrespect. She ignored the chain of command. “You need to go block them immediately,” Pryce concludes in her orders to him.

“No.”

“What do you mean? Your mission is to stop the Rebel insurgency on Loth--”

“No, my mission is to find adequate uses for Lothal as a manufacturing base for the Empire, which is under fire of meager Rebel intrusion and to eliminate that threat, and not just in this sector, Governor.” More than what he wanted to tell her, but obviously, Pryce imagines she can recklessly rule over him while his fleet had full upgrades with the complete armaments. “Lothal is not the only planet under Imperial Navy protection in the Empire, Governor.”

Governor Pryce comes within a breath of his personal space. “Grand Admiral, what do I have to do to convince you that working with me is in your own best interests?”

Thrawn maneuvers around her behind his desk, standing holding his hand out to the seat across his desk. “Sit, Governor, please.”

She seductively sits and crosses her legs, batting her eyes with a smile. “You know, I’ve missed you while you were gone. Such exciting adventures we had.”

“Governor Pryce, I need you to compose yourself. I do not know what you think it is you and I had, but I am not attracted to you in any way. Right now, I have a duty to the Empire, and my goal is to fulfill my mission, as stated clearly in our holodocs. Let me send you another one in case you do not have it.”  His red-in-red eyes bore into to hers like a fierce predatory animal. He had never had to make this kind of command since he was a cadet in House Nuruodo when his brother, Mitth’ras’safis or Thrass, Thrawn's older brother, had been bullied. A deadly mistake on the bullies part.

Governor Pryce straightens up and leans back fearful. “Grand Admiral, I’m sorry. I thought we were a team, a power-couple on the Outer Rim.” She states lightly and evenly.

Whatever rage that roils Thrawn, his face is stone except for a slight clench of his jaw for a millisecond.  “I’m surprised you could think that far in advance.” The cruelty of Thrawn statement stung her into horror, but it starts to be the norm since his rise in rank to Grand Admiral. He places his fingertips on each other as he raised his hands to a triangular temple. “I will need TIE Defenders built on Lothal, I’ve identified the field locations, and all the resources I require are in transit as we speak. Your people will build them, and if they don’t, I will find new ways to motivate them.”

He stands. “Each of your assigned military detail requires my evaluation per the Emperor’s, Lord Vader’s and Grand Moff Tarkin’s request. I am to evaluate and assess the technical skills of these officers for combat and determine the extent of this Rebel threat you claim to have on Lothal.”

CLAIM to have?” Cried, Pryce.

“Yes, claim to have, Governor Pryce. I have seen any indication of transport blockades into Lothal. It seems your planetary defense and security is lax. There is no private demographic data on your planet, such as, who are your rich, business owners, or classes? Far as I know, Governor, you too could be part of this Rebel incursion with all the rumors that circulate.”

“What? Thrawn! But, you know me…”

He points his finger at her. “You remember the last criticism that you confidently shared with me? That you know better how to work with politicians better than me? I was ignorant of the way things work in government?” He mocks her and then flashes a grin as he watches her squirm. “You were salaciously flirt with me then as if I was your plaything or toy to order about--as if you do the same to Admiral Konstantine.” His guess about the Admiral Konstantine. Then he recognizes her facial gestures to indicate her insubordination of Imperial Officer decorum on Lothal. “Oh? So you do flirt with him in barratrous dereliction against the Empire?”

“No! That’s not true. Thra--I mean, Grand Admiral, you’re scaring me.”

“Stop it with this damsel in distress; you are not permitted to do that. Lord Vader himself was present on your planet and stated there were only 4-6 individuals that fit any Rebel profile. That your Minister Tua was culpable in the Rebel attacks and she was a minister you placed until they killed her. That an Ithorian bartender sold secrets to these Rebels to sabotage our Imperial efforts on Empire Day, which gets the Grand Inquisitor killed.” Thrawn shakes head in disgust. “Please, lie to me again, and I will kill you myself.” He places his gun on his desk.

Tears flow from Pryce’s eyes hurt by the bulk of information that Thrawn threw at her and hide from him until he requested it specifically. She had not considered there were other intelligence reports. She pleads. “I will never lie to you again, Grand Admiral if you can find a way to forgive me. Please.”

Thrawn finds a greasy towel and throws it at her with disgust from her phony sensitivity. “Now, go to the refresher and get yourself cleaned up. We have a meeting now to meet your inept officers with Governor Tarkin on the hologram.” He grabs her datapad and his. “You’re taking notes. Do you want to be my aide?  Prove yourself to me.” He leaves his office as he alerts the guards to watch her.

Governor Pryce chases after him after he cleans up and rides the elevator reticent of how cold he had become. But no colder than Csilla, the Chiss homeworld.

Chapter Text

Hera Syndulla, the pilot of her modified CEC YT-1200 starship, Ghost flies the crew into Canto Bight under stealth signals. The plan is to attend an art auction and for a painting heist, a priceless painting, from an artist, Jaynor of Bith. “Everyone, this is the Visage Presage by Jaynor of Bith. It is a priceless painting. Our contacts at Black Sun said if we get this painting for them, then we can finance the entire Rebel cause with ships and fleets and...” Sensors monitors sound. "We meeting Lando Calrissian. I sure hope he planned this heist."

In his young kid thoughts, Ezra Bridger speaks. “What’s so big about a painting?”

Sabine Wren searches for information on her datapad. “The paint is strange. It's like the pigment and resin are living?” Then a holovid appears that involves a commercial. “What this?”

Hera sits near her and watches. “What this?”

“A commercial from 200 rotations ago on the HoloNet, and I found more about the painting's contents. Bizarre.”

Ezra pushes up to Sabine eagerly to see. “What’s it about?”

“The commercial seems to be about some guy name Rugess Nome and his custom-made ships,” Sabine shakes her head in confusion.

“Well, at least we have a holo to watch,” Hera smiles. “Great research Sabine.”

“Who is Rugess Nome?” Ezra asks innocently.

“I don’t know? But the painting created by Jaynor of Bith is roughly 200 rotations ago. I really don’t see how this Rugess Nome is connected to this painting?” Sabine keeps searching for information on the HoloNet.

Ezra smarts off. “He’s probably no one.”

“Looks like we'll find out soon enough,” Hera interjects.

Sabine rises from the seat and grabs smoke bombs to plant in the location. “Ezra, we need to plant these party poppers for the auction.” She stuffs them into a satchel and she smiles. “Ezra, you grab the painting.”

Ezra he cracked his knuckles and smiles. “Sure thing.”

“I made fifty of them. They're distractors. Plenty of color and smoke mainly, no incineration.” She jumps on a speeder bike ready to go to the Canto Bight Grand Hall where the auction is to be held. “C'mon Ezra!”

“I’m coming. This is where the fun begins.” He hops behind her.

“Don’t get fresh, it’s a job for the Rebels.”

A holocom activates and Hera sees a familiar face of a famed smuggler come from behind her. “Lando, this is your idea, you need to be here.”

As Sabine revs up the speeder bike, she shouts to Hera. “We’ll be back and I’ll be in my fancy outfit when Lando slithers over here.”

Ezra sly grin shouts. “I’m not wearing anything fancy. I hope that’s ok?”

“Yeah, right Ezra, you’re not going to the ‘ball’, what do you know about art?”

“I know that there is a painting, and you paint and, what else is there?”

Sabine rolls her eyes and takes off to the main hall where the auction is.

  


 

 

When they arrive, Sabine climbs down the roof to the rafters with Ezra behind her. “Good, you need to stay hidden. I'm thinking we place the poppers, here and there.” With lithe like precision she moves between the rafters setting the smoke bombs on special places when she sees them. “Oh look, the Governor and stormtroopers.”

Ezra peers over her shoulder and sees Commandant Covfe scramble behind the Governor as he places the poppers in the rafters. “That’ll work. It looks pretty load-bearing.”

She hands more to Ezra and whispers. “Ok. We just place one, here!” She slips dust crumbs gently careen onto Governor’s hair.

Ezra stops her from slipping through the Force and pulls her back. “Whoa, careful.”

Sabine did not feel his hand and turns to him. “Thanks.” She peers down to see if the Governor notices and silently grins as nothing is suspected about the pile of crumbs on hair. “C'mon let's add the rest.”

Ezra looks at Sabine as he bites his lip and raises his brow. “Sure. But let’s try this instead. It is faster” he levitates the party poppers and places them on each beam, gently.

Sabine watches Ezra as her eyes widen with surprise at how strong he has become in the Force. “Ok. We need to get out of here. I got to get my ‘game-face’ on,” She rolls her eyes when a probedroid streaks by on routine patrol. “No!” She reaches for her pistol as she hates probedroids."

Ezra presses his hand on her hip when she grabs for her pistol. “Wait. We will be too loud. Probedroids have an automatic self-destruct. If I can trip that wire, we can escape and it will look like a malfunction.”

Sabine scoots closer to him. “Wait. How?”

With calm reassurance, Ezra closes his eyes and places his hand out to search through the droids internal mechanisms, and find the switch for self-destruct. “Just stay back and get ready to run,” he clips the wire through the Force, but the probedroid keeps moving with no alarm. “Blast, I can’t get it. Run!”

Sabine furrows her brow angrily and jumps atop the roof to get to the speeder in a hurry. A nearby probedroid attempts to scan them, but she fires her pistol at its eye knocking it out of commission. “Still a dumdum droid.”

Ezra ran behind her apologetic as he pleads with her. “I’m sorry,” a blast whizzes past his head and he concentrates on the probedroid to try a Force crush it, like Kanan Jarrus has shown him previously.

Sabine finds the speeder bike, jumps on the front seat, and revs it up. “Let's get out of here before our plan here is discovered.” She shoots the electrical box to the kill all the building's lights and the entire block darkens. “That should keep them busy for a while.” She hears Commandant Covfe screaming over the comlink.

“Yeah, let’s get back to the Ghost.” Ezra is sullen that his powers are not as strong as he thought when he needs them.

Sabine shouts to Ezra and turns away from the Ghost in a different direction. “Hold on!”  She set a few smoke bombs 10 blocks away that is no way near the Ghost with a smile to throw off the chasing speeder bike patrol Imperial Stormtroopers.

Ezra watches her precision. Her greatest aspect that does not require the Force and he realizes her actions for a distraction. “Good call, Sabine.”

She laughs. “They're going to be angry,” she slings through traffic hoping no one is chasing them.

“We're fine! Keep going.”

They finally arrive at the Ghost and jump off the speeder bike. “Well. Now we have our distractions and the Imperials are off chasing stray animals.”

Hera crosses her arms in the messiness how young people could make matters worse. She looks at Lando Calrissian in frustration that he would risk them.

Lando gives a confident look at Ezra.“Just be ready to swing that saber if things get dicey. You ready, Sabine?” He snakes into his Stormtrooper armor from a guy he killed days ago. “How do I look?"

Everyone gives a thumbs down.

"Okay, Hera I know I have a debt to pay. It will be repaid. The market is hot for this one. Easy money.” He flashes a reassured confident smile.

Hera uncrosses her arms and ignores Lando, while she determines if the coast is clear. “Alright. Sabine, Ezra, are you ready for the operation?”

“We know where it is. I'll get it as soon as the lights go out.” Ezra speaks up for a long moment of awkward silence.

Lando announces. “Alright, Sabine. Let's make moves. They aren't going to make themselves. Wish us the Force everyone.”

Sabine huffs as she exits to her room on the Ghost and prepares. After what seems a long time, she wears her formal attire for the auction. A formal length gown that Lando gave to her. “Lando, I hate this. What about this gown says retrieval team to you?”

Ezra's eyes bulge from Sabine transformation. “Wow! You look nice, Sabine!"

Hera smiles pleasantly as if Sabine left for her rites of passage and debut. She gives Sabine a strong hug to reassure she was stunning. “We do have a mission to do. Let's get that painting.”

“Thanks, Hera,” as Sabine smiles then turns toward Lando with a glare. “We're leaving, and Ezra, Vor'e.” She walks to Lando’s borrowed old dented landspeeder.

“Hurry. I don't feel like running into any Imperials. I deal enough of them when I fly.” Hera frowns with a wave like a worried mother over her daughter that is going to prom, her first dance.

“I'm coming,” Ezra shouts as a last minute thought. “I need to escort Sabine, you know to keep her safe.”

“Ezra, you're staying with Hera?” Sabine looks up to Lando if Ezra would countermand her order, as he clunks in his Stormtrooper armor.

Lando stands proud. “Yes, Ezra you should stay with Hera. We need a small group for as much anonymity as possible.”

“Thank you, Ezra, for keeping me company for this part of the mission,” Hera smiles as she wraps her arm around his shoulder. “You can help me look out for Imperials, when Lando and Sabine return, we can leave.”

Ezra sighs hopelessly as he watches Sabine’s lithe form in the landspeeder become a huge distance from him. His heart opines at the loss to devote his time to her and grow with her as kids to adults. He drops his head and looks at Hera who hugs him with a grin on her face to reassure him that one day it will work out for them both.

Chapter Text

"An art auction!" Lando Calrissian flings his arms wide as he clunks into the grand hall of Canto Bight city on planet Cantonica for the first formal "Imperial Art Auction." His misshapen white plastoid armor clunks past attendees to disguise himself as a "real stormtrooper." Where he got the stormtrooper armor is another story, but with hundreds of stormtroopers and their Imperial charges present, no menace to the Empire would ever dare enter this event.

 

Lando's E-11 blaster is in the ready-fire position, held down to shoot at any party crashers. He takes his pretender role seriously until he exclaims, "They're auctioning art in Canto Bight!"

 

Imperials glare at him as they return to imbibe their cocktails, and then they ignore him.

 

The Empire in Canto Bight has priceless trades in weapons and warships. Warring beings pay to negotiate rules of engagement to fight skirmish battles that benefit the Empire. They pay with whatever they can by diverting munitions in transport ships to Imperial systems throughout the galaxy—posh nouveau riche gamblers, players, and creditors from shell corporations that launder proceeds for the Empire hive in this art auction hall. The whole place reeked with pretense and deception. And the conflagration of miscreants gathered at an auction of stolen art from subdued planets by the Empire. The official story is that criminal organizations like Black Sun and terrorist enclaves like Alderaan had art confiscated.

 

Lando studies the vista to notice new construction cranes for private starports and personal star-yachts and starships. He sees the floating billboards drone in the air with overblown real estate listings for private residences in Canto Bight. The dull voice of HoloNet News propaganda broadcast overanalyzes Rebels as a terrorist and their smuggler allies stealing starships and munitions. "Censorship with many lies," he mutters underneath his helmet. The Empire claims they have caught all the Rebels on the Mokivj corridor, and the Stormtrooper involved shooting deaths of these thugs make it safe of business because new hyperspace lanes are now open and safe for travel the protection of the Empire. Lando tries to scoff but cannot due to pulling off this mission.

Lando sees the Imperial Star Destroyers parked in high orbit as the Imperial shuttles land nearby and passengers in drab black, grey, and khaki formal uniforms -- the colors of burnt metal, smoke, and puke exit to attend this art auction. He wonders if they knew how disgusting they appear. Lando did better to be in a white Stormtrooper's armor than to wear those Imperial officers' formal uniforms.

 

To take his mind off his churning stomach from the Imperial fashion faux-pas, he glances toward his charge as she descends gracefully with glamour—a young resplendent Mandalorian woman with a disguise made by his beautiful design. Sabine Wren appears far from her Mandalorian armor outfit. In fact, in this opulent place, she is unrecognizable. Lando grins underneath his helmet when Sabine strides with confidence across the entrance and scans the torrential sea of Imperials. She is not afraid of these sycophantic dignitaries of the galaxy, but there were no Mandalorians. They craft their secret deals by outwardly fighting than sneaking around. Then Sabine recognized Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin far across the hall. His presence in a lascivious city like Canto Bight for an art auction seems questionable. Both Lando and Sabine spot his phoniness with twisted mouths ready to spit but remain focused on their primary objective - locating the painting  Visage Presage by Jaynor of Bith.

 

Sabine clasps her hands below her stomach and pinches her thumbs at the spectacle. Then the air of majesty of this place hits her with a dizzying array of royals she recognizes from several core planets, like Scipio, Thyrsus, and Ailon -- known enemies of Mandalore. She reaches for her sidearm pistols -- and they are not there -- her feminine form-fitting, the tight formal gown could not hold anymore.

 

Lando reminds her with a look. "You must be perfect for this event to pull off our mission objective." He leans over to whispers into her ear with his smooth baritone voice. "Stay cool. The goal is to take the  Visage Presage painting. It is all for a good cause, right?"

 

She grips her thumbs tighter as she descends the grand stairs. "Quite the high-brow event for all these Imperials."

 

It is not her little quirks that would blow her cover. It is her dress. A very different and unique experience for Sabine, entirely. The Imperial women wore muck gray-to-black-to-khaki formal military attire. The best that the Empire could provide for Imperials in Canto Bight. However, Sabine's dress -- no woman could pull off that dress designed to fit her perfectly. Lando's formal dress design from the best Canto Bight seamstresses who sew the gown to befit royalty, like Senator Bail Organa's daughter, Princess Leia of Alderaan, who happens to be in attendance, albeit briefly.

 

Sabine's poise as royalty has to be believable for everyone in attendance to divert the Empire's gaze toward her. Sabine's gown is an exclusive design by Lando Calrissian. A concoction of a milieu of dress patterns to create her gown that he crafts together from various systems, like the pleasure planet, Zeltros, to the exquisite haute couture of the Daystar Casino on the gambling planet, Ahakista. The Empire bans its Imperial officers from these planets due to their sinful lures to malfeasance with great irony.

 

Sabine's gown has rose-gold inlays with navette purple amethysts woven into the Chantilly lace eyelets of the satin-silk fabric. Purple silk-chiffon underlays the gown's slip until a left leg cut opens as she walks. The amethyst navettes shift the gown's color from periwinkle to a light apple green and then back to a magenta purple when viewed from different angles. It wards off a good holocam scanner description. She also walks in 16-centimeter sky-high heels that expose her leg. A steady walk, he made Sabine practice. When she walks, she commands an audience who admire her physique, never imagining she is a Mandalorian warrior. For if the Imperials learns she is Mandalorian, her execution is immediate on-site for terrorism. Sabine sways her hips to walk in her shoes as Lando taught her. Her strides cause the refractive light from the gemstones to mesmerize her onlookers. As she sleeks by her admirers, their eyes follow her gown and then to the lines on her backside. Their clumsy trips cause them to race to grasp her attention and assist Sabine in any way they can. Sabine looks like new grown-up royalty to the Imperials, and these admirers feed directly out of her hand. She is exotic, new fresh meat to devour. Lando designed this gown to be an aphrodisiac in motion, and her spell enchants anyone who sees Sabine with little effort. But this gown is tailored for Sabine as a Lando Calrissian Design exclusively.

 

Then, there is the crown jewel of the dress.

 

The sweetheart neckline cups Sabine's well-endowed breasts. Her voluptuous decolletage bubbles from the gown's bodice. Usually, Sabine hides her chest under her Mandalorian armor, and no one ever sees it. But for this mission, Sabine surprisingly became open to show her toned physique, although her body image means nothing to her as taught by Mandalorian culture. She likes her body but never viewed it as womanly. Gender has little meaning in her culture except during her times of menstruation. Mandalorian women are not feminine. Suddenly, when she wears this formal dress, she becomes acutely aware of her femininity and the Imperial gaze. She knows her gown is provocative, but she has never worn a formal gown. The Ghost crew never gave her a gown, and she never thought she would wear one, though having seen a few famous Mandalorian women wear formal gowns on the HoloNet, she never imagined herself wearing one. Their gowns were not like hers, either. The Imperials profound attention on her felt like stings from flies. The more their eyes gawk, the more they confound her. "What is the big deal? It seems like the Imperials have never seen a woman in a formal gown before?" 

 

The sweetheart neckline causes some admirers to stop mid-stride and sneak a peek looking down her bubbled breasts. Then some would stare and gawk. Some Imperials would stop to ask her dumb questions, like where to get more rose petal-aurodium champagne, and she would reply innocently to hand them a champagne flute. Her Imperial Academy education taught her how to speak intelligently. But during her academy days, she had the body of a 14-year-old girl, not the physique of an adult woman. Her gown is for a woman in color, which accentuates her features and draws attention to her presence in the grand hall.

 

Lando beams with pride for his choice as it is one of many formals with Sabine he hopes to attend for future missions. The way she seduces her audience with her huge eyes and youthful looks, the sexy formal gown is the icing on a very delicious creamy cake. It removes the attention from him and gives him the time to complete the mission objective: grab the painting underneath the very noses of the Empire.

 

Sabine claws her thumbs more as she feels some phantom hand pat her backside and disappears in milliseconds. Then she glares at Lando in his Stormtrooper armor as her upper lip quivers. "I put on makeup and perfume for this?" She felt cold from the salacious gaze, ready to pounce and eat her. "You know, Lando, I even had Chopper depilate my nether-regions, just like you told me for this hut'tuun event." She starts to curse in Mandalorian while her voice rises.

 

A few Imperials' brows rise, and Sabine shirks into Lando as he scoots her around to view a famous artwork. "Oh? So I guess the Imperials appreciate art, now?" She coughs cavalierly as her throat dries like sand.

 

Lando watches the Imperials, mildly amused at Sabine's sudden embarrassment. He stands closer to her to ease her nervousness. "Yes. Enjoy the art, my fair bird. You may never see some of these again. For instance, this lovely image." A static hologram of many timepieces that shift their times across the eye line aligned with the hyperspace lanes representation in the artwork. The artist may have drawn an optical illusion.

 

"That's no, Jaynor. This art is holographic. I didn't know this was a multimedia show." Sabine's loud voice rises because her hands shudder from all the Imperials.

 

Lando whispers into Sabine's ear in a stern voice. "Try not to make eye contact with these arrogant slatterns." He shifts his blaster to protect Sabine and says calmly, "Of course, there are several pieces for this auction. What do you think of this one?"

 

Sabine views the image, and then her eyes widen, and her cheeks blush with embarrassment. "'Dances in Water' by Hoʻoipoipo, the Mon Calamari erotic artist? What are the Imperials into these days?" A colorful naked Calamari swims in an ocean playfully as the eye flows to other naked Calamari preparing for a mating ritual. "Pornography?"

 

Lando laughs as he tilts his head to the changing forms of the Mon Calamari dishabille. "Perhaps someone here has a heart for art as trophies from his or her rampage of destruction." He crosses his arms, drawn into the shimmery forms of the painting. "I can't call it. I hear that the Empire scours systems they conquer for cultural artifacts before they destroy planets."

 

Sabine balks. "You could say that, again!" A few Imperials stop mid champagne sip as Sabine fidgets with her hands again. She grabs a flute of champagne and imbibes it to quell her nervousness.

 

Lando's concern for their mission elevates. Sabine is the decoy for this event, and she may be too nervous, but if she is going to freeze on him, they may have to scrap this mission. He may have done his job too well by putting this beautiful young woman in a provocative gown, which keeps all eyes on her and not him. He grabs her elbow gently and leans into her ear. "Thirsty?"

 

Sabine discovers her neckline is lower than her modesty allows. She wraps her arms across her chest and whispers. "I'm nervous without my pistols." She drops her hands and lifts her torso for these admirers to get a good look. They blushed when she caught their gaze. "Why don't we separate and mingle with the others to find our target?" She stares into Lando's eyes underneath his helmet.

 

Reluctantly, Lando agrees. "Fine, dear. I will blend in to see if I can find this Bith painting." He sees why her neckline and bust intoxicates the Imperials and thinks --  it's her grit.  He watches this sexy woman in a beautiful gown walk away from him, and he grins in admiration of her tenacity and thinks --  It's the gown. 

 

Sabine ignores the admirers' smiles and demurely grabs another champagne flute, sipping when she trips in her heels. An Imperial ensign and lieutenant race to her to assist her. "Oh? Thank you, clumsy me, all day."  I am such an idiot, she broods.

 


 

Grand Admiral Thrawn's Imperial shuttle lands outside the hall on the platform reserved for high command dignitaries. A wave of Death Troopers down the landing ramp of the Imperial shuttle. Five Death Troopers align left and right with rifles across their chests as Thrawn with Vader had just defeated a Rebel spy enclave from a nearby planet. He passes them ceremonial pomp to enter the hall until he was stopped by low-level security agents demanding Thrawn's planetary card identification. The appearance of Deathtroopers nor Thrawn's blue skin and red eyes were not enough. If he muttered "xenocentric chauvinism," no one heard it, as he removed his newly attained Imperial code cylinder that held his Galactic All Access signed and verified by the Emperor to the low-level agents. They ran his cylinder through the screen, then looked up at him in great fear as they hurriedly escorted him and his entourage through the gates.

 

 

"Sir, uh, Grand Admiral, I beg your forgiveness. We were just doing our job as ordered..." The lead agent begs as Thrawn strides away to search for friendlier faces to socialize with humans on art.

He makes his way to the new Commandant Covfe Frant, the director of city security, and waits until the director on a holocomm with what seems excessive. Slowly, the director turns with a glare that sizes up Thrawn as another dumb alien. Thrawn's sly grin knows Frant's alien hatred is his weakness and tells his men in the Chiss Language, Cheuhn, to back off. They turn, and Thrawn's red eyes narrow into a devouring predatory look with a terse tone. "Director Frant, the Governor, assured me to expect a welcome from you, or proper city security agents at least. There was no one on the landing platform."

 

Commandant Frant points at the minions in their final setup stages for the event and yells at the stormtroopers pacing the area. He tilts his head because of Thrawn's Chiss blue skin with his Imperial badge as he rolls his eyes at another alien, Prima Donna. "Admiral. I see you've found your way here. Ready for the abundance of art?"

 

Thrawn's red-in-red eyes search to find a less chaotic security nightmare and utter disorganization. But he had an objective. "Are you ready for this art show?" It questions how much Frant knew about the pricelessness of the  Visage Presage.

 

The crowd rouses to applause from the hall when Grand Moff Tarkin enters. The nouveau-riche of Canto Bight race to take selfies with their miniature datapads and tiny probe droids. Two beautiful, scantily clad human women accompany him, neither of which were his wife. He surveys the area and looks for the detail of the Death Troopers who surround him. His brow furrows. "A security nightmare."

 

Thrawn searches the hall with his red-in-red eyes to identify all known targets and exits. He prepares for any violence should the Rebels decide to attack per his calculations and predictions. His blue skin makes him stand out in times of Imperial xenophobia and speciesism. He attempts to grab the attention of Tarkin with a look from his line of sight, and then, Tarkin raises his arm, beckoning him to come over to his VIP area. A grand admiral is a ranked position in the military. A Moff is an elected position. But Thrawn's politicking helps him play this human supremacy game as he salutes Tarkin, although it is not required.

 

Tarkin waves off the salutation and shakes Thrawn's hand with a firm grip. "Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Emperor, did not tell me of your arrival in Canto Bight, or we would have had a parade to salute your last mission with Lord Vader. Is the Governor with you?"

 

"Governor Tarkin, the Emperor has allowed me to have some R' and R.' I only serve at his will." He nods in deference.

 

Frant announces in a regretful tone. "The Governor regrets her tardiness, Sirs."

 

"I see." Tarkin's voice irritation could only make his tone drier. "But, isn't this the Governor's show?"

 

Frant receives another call on his comlink and excuses himself from the high command officer's presence.

 

Tarkin watches Frant with disdain and glances over to Thrawn, undisturbed by the change of events.

 

Thrawn clears the coolness by asking a mood-lifting question. "Grand Moff Tarkin, will you be bidding on any of the art?"

 

"Me?" Tarkin balks. "No. Dull events such as these will never be on my homeworld, Eriadu. I came here to make sure everything runs smoothly on the Emperor's playground, given this Rebel situation."

 

"Ah, yes. Well, the Empire will prevail as we stand at the greatness of its leadership." Thrawn's diplomacy endears Tarkin to him, predictably. Other Imperials that surround them watch Thrawn's calm demeanor.

 

Frant yells into his comlink to ensure security with sternness. "What? Confiscate the paintings? I don't think so. Where are the Governor's people? Is this not the Governor's deal."

 

Tarkin straightens his attire and prepares to leave as he glares at Frant. "I've seen enough, and I must bid you goodbye, Grand Admiral. Come, ladies." The women trot off like equine-ducks that follow their mallard.

 

Frant stands dumbfounded in shock. He first sees Tarkin and Thrawn together in conversation, and then an abrupt exit by Tarkin.

 

Thrawn's eyes light and shift from one person to the other with their unspoken exchange.  They know one another from a previous mission. Fascinating.

 

Frant shoulders fall when Tarkin leaves without an acknowledgment. Then a blue hand fell on his shoulder. It is Thrawn's who nods with a slight grin as he understands Frant's sleight by Tarkin. He tilts his head within return, and for a moment, and feels the camaraderie. Then his xenophobic hatred roils inside him and jerks Thrawn's hand away to get back with his squad and stormtroopers.

 

Thrawn chuckles as he watches Frant's predictable actions. Frant squirms because of his fearful, xenophobic, chauvinistic specieism.  How easy to defeat him because of his ignorance.

 


 

Thrawn flew into Canto Bight for relaxation, but his visit seems more about Imperial business than his need to rest or relax. He has no companions and no current or ongoing art projects, and he spends time in a hooded cloak to meander the main city streets and outdoor markets like a tourist without his Deathtrooper detail. Canto Bight is a haven for most non-humans due to the Empire's unspoken high human cultural laws. Thrawn gets past these laws because of his genius around the Imperials. It irks him that Imperials show their implicit bias toward him even slightly because he is an alien. Canto Bight allows his blue skin to appear similar to the Pantoreans, and he covers his Chiss red eyes with sunglasses while on his incognito walkabouts. 

He avoids the Governor at Imperial events like these because they are a waste of time. Her superfluous activities push for unwanted romance when he explicitly stated he does not want any of that. A non-human man with a human woman? He is her superior, and she is his subordinate. If investigated by the Loyalty Commission, there would be a scandal. As her superior, he orders her to return to his ship, but the Governor fails to comply with his orders because she thinks she can coerce him into some kind of bizarre rendezvous and tryst -- that riles him. He could care less about her feelings, and if she gives him the silent treatment as her revenge, it would be an improvement on the silence.

These thoughts roll through his mind as he wanders around the grand hall until he concludes,  Why am I here?  After all, it is an auction of stolen art from the galaxy that the Empire acquired, and the Governor appears to be absent in receiving him as a guest. He could claim that he felt cold abandonment, but that feeling leaves him clasping his jaw in frustration, met with champagne strolling and watching the room as he wastes time. He watches the humans, especially the couples and thrupples argue and fight with their frail human emotions.  Are these passions contagious?   Negative. His brow furrows slightly to remove such thoughts from his mind. He tastes a swig of his champagne, then drinks all of it. His Chiss tastebuds feel sweetened ethanol as hot and spicy. He tries to frame his mind on how the alcohol will impair his sense of smell but not erode his rationality. Eventually, champagne due to the bubbles does cause a slight buzz in him.  Perhaps, it was the rich flavor from the fruits and grapes of this particular brand?  At that moment, as he watches the warm sunset and rise of the moons. He sips his champagne to identify the flavors. "Ah, a dry, melon taste. Meiloorun, perhaps? Decent. I shall order a pallet to share with the Chiss Defense Fleet."

 

He strolls to view the various art hanging for auction.  Black and white print, okay, I didn't expect a multimedia show. Oh my, Ho'poipoi'o, the Mon Calamari erotic artist. Fascinating. He has seen them previously on the HoloNet for auction as in his data archive. Then he enters a dark alcove set away from the crowd. A single art piece is in this room with one beam of light that illuminates the painting. He hears whispers that come from the art to compel him to come closer. The drab black, gray, and green colors turn into vibrant blues, reds, oranges, and yellows and brighten the paint's curves. They form a script that appears in the Bith language and then suddenly switches to Cheunh, his native Chiss language. His brows rise in surprise at the strange occurrence, and the words on the painting seem unclear to him.

 

 

As he draws near the title, a young woman in a stunning gown twinkles past him, equally drawn to the painting. Unable to conceal his grin, he wonders if she is his competition who will bid on his painting. He watches her bend over seductively as an audience ogles her ass, and she deciphers the same text he did, but in the script is in — Mando'a? The same colors flow in the curvature of the paints as they did for him. He crosses his arms to see her hips sway, oblivious to his gaze. Then, to her salivating audience, she pops up as her admirers quickly turn to pretend not to gawk. Everyone ignores her except Thrawn, who laughs at her intentional flirtation. Suddenly, her line of sight meets his as a stinging shiver runs down his spine that she knew he was gawking at her, too. She crosses her arms until a champagne flute droid rolls by and grabs another champagne to guzzle it. She lifts the flute toward him with a grin and a salutation. Then, she playfully turns away from Thrawn and sways her hips for her salivating audience, which now includes Thrawn. She re-examines the painting to read its ghostly inscription.

 

Thrawn walks over to speak to his Commodore Karyn Faro, who has just arrived from the Chimaera with the high command officers and Deathtrooper guards. Faro drools at the juicy hip sway from the woman stranger. 

Thrawn interrupts her trance. "That young woman in that stunning gown - err - the one who studies the painting, does she seem rather odd to you?"

"Of course she is not!" Faro spouts being brought back to reality by her commanding officer.  "Perhaps, Sir, we should check her invitation?" Faro does not take her eyes off Sabine. "She looks stunning - I mean, we should know all our guests at the auction. I shall speak to her, myself personally."

 

Lieutenant Yogar Lyste grins as he notices the lovely young lady in the stunning gown. "Vaguely familiar, but I can't place her, Sir. I'll deal with it."

 

Faro glares at Lyste but chooses not to make a scene at this high command event.

 

Lyste races to Sabine and yanks her bicep. "Excuse me, miss. Do you have an invitation?"

 

"Uh? My Stormtrooper has it." Sabine blushes. "Um, that Stormtrooper over there." She flits her hand that points to a crowd of Stormtroopers cavorting together.

 

Lyste caught on to her ruse, and he narrows his eyes with a stern voice. "Please come with me, miss, as I inquire about your detail."

 

Sabine searches for Lando, unable to see him within the crowd of putrid white armored Stormtroopers. Pulled by Lyste, Sabine discreetly does not make a scene.

 

He yanks her bicep and pushes her over to a Stormtrooper, who appears to be Lando, as he stutters a command from his insecurity being an Imperial officer. Insecure by his fear of white armored Stormtroopers with blasters. Lando smiles underneath his helmet, knowing he can push over Lyste. "Excuse me, trooper, uh, operating number, TK-74-66, you will display this woman's invitation at once."

 

Lando reaches into his pack in a smooth and cool move and then hands the flimsi to Lyste as he stares coldly through his helmet visor into Lyste's eyes. Lyste slightly backs away as Lando replies to his question without prompt. "Yes, Sir. Here are her credentials. She is the Princess Selen Yasor, daughter of the distinguished Lord En Saba Yasor of Bespin."

 

Sabine wrestles her arm away from Lyste with an icy glare. She sways her hips away from his angry frown. Slightly flush as she returns to the painting that enraptures her attention.

 

Sabine notices that the Bith script switches into Mando'a font and spells  VISAGE PRESAGE. She desires to touch the lines, the curves, the circles, and the shapes. The painting calls to her when it dawns on her; this is the Jaynor of Bith masterpiece. Her throat goes dry as she mouths quietly. "Ner'Manda." She takes two steps backward to distance herself from the painting, then bumps into a hard muscle-toned body that causes her to trip and fall to the floor. Her eyesight blurs for a moment. Then she recovers to see black leather boots with white pants tucked into them. She follows the hemline to a white tunic, gold bars on the shoulders, and an Imperial Grand Admiral badge insignia. Her eyes blink as the strong chiseled jaw with high cheekbones, blue skin, and red-in-red eyes pierce into her soul like daggers. "Grand Admiral Thrawn," Sabine mouths as she scrambles, inadvertently tips her champagne, accidentally spilling it on his boot. Her champagne flute dings the floor. "MY MAKER! I am so sorry, Sir," she dabs off the champagne from his boot with her gown, but the fabric fails to absorb any liquid.

 

Thrawn gazes down to his boot with a slight smile.  Her mistakes are a diversionary tactic, and why would a Stormtrooper carry her documents, which suggests a forgery.  Thoughts roll through his mind.  Bespin is not a world with a monarchy. More like anarchy. Who would sneak into an Imperial art auction?  As he surveys her body form and then stares at the curvature of her endowed breasts.  A perfect physique like a toned warrior.  He inhales deeply to savor his sneak peek and then quickly averts his eyes from her chest, unfazed by her naked exposure. His jaw flexes momentarily with a very slight embarrassment that he enjoyed the sight. Then he frowns with his red eyes to intimidate her into seeing if she tips over again. But her big gold-brown eyes plead with him to be discreet. He shifts his stance and admires her sun-kissed brown complexion that glows as a reminder of her innocence.  She is a young woman at her first event and very anxious, a virgin.  A barely discernible grin slides across his face as his voice projects with grand admiral authority. "It's quite all right, young lady." He places his cerulean hand out to lift her as she stands very close to him, face to face. Her beauty nearly topples him as he steps back, slightly. He decides to be flirtatious. Usually, human women are not attractive to him, but Sabine wore a stunning gown, and the way she moves in it is very provocative. Then this famous priceless painting that intrigues them both, he had to know more about her. He states pleasantly. "Are you enjoying the art auction?"

 

Sabine stares into his red eyes. "I uh?" Then Lyste snatches and grabs her bicep to detain her. She regains her confidence without taking her eyes off Thrawn's pupils. "I would enjoy this art auction if your henchmen would unhand me, Brigands!" She made sure everyone heard her strong voice that sounds like a royal objection, now.

 

Lando races to her side and nudges her gently in a whisper to calm her. "Who's the blue face?" He slightly gestures to Thrawn.

 

Sabine waves Lando away as she mouths slowly. "Grand Admiral Thrawn." She turns her back to Thrawn to gesture to Lando the new plan. "Comm Hera, now."

 

Thrawn studies all the non-verbal communications surrounding him, primarily as Sabine's hips sway, leading him to watch her backside. He takes another sip of champagne. Thrawn's curiosity about Sabine causes him to intervene in Lyste's security action. "It's all right, Lieutenant. I'll be with her. Give her to me. She will be my responsibility." He smiles more as her familiarity resolves in his mind as he pretends to ignore her Stormtrooper's unethical, un-imperial comment about his cerulean complexion.

 

Sabine's grin widens as she laces her arm into Thrawn's as if they were the oldest of friends. Surprisingly, Thrawn allows it out of sheer amusement. He is in Canto Bight to relax. They stand before the  VISAGE PRESAGE.

 

Imperial security leaves them.

 

Sabine holds his hand as her fingers move across his blood vessels, which pulsate calmly underneath his blue skin. He is a Chiss in the Galactic Empire and is a high command officer. "Sir, you're an Imperial Grand Admiral." Then she looks around to see if her audience gossips around them; they do as they lean into each other's ears, staring and evaluating both of them. "Do you like art?"

 

Thrawn smiles at the complete innocence of her very specieist comment. "Of course, I am an Imperial Grand Admiral in the Galactic Empire. Who would dare impersonate an Imperial officer?" Her surprise is understandable after all non-humans in Imperial ranks were absent. "I do enjoy art. Though, only a few truly take pleasure in understanding it." He releases her hand and moves closer to the painting. "What do you think of this painting here?"

 

Sabine bites her lip, moving around him. "The lines are strange as if the binder in the paint is discolored. It is not a traditional painting by Jaynor."

 

He tilts his head, a little impressed by her art history and knowledge so far. Most individuals knew nothing about art, especially not the name of the artist. "I believe Jaynor of Bith created this piece in his younger days. And while its patterns are odd, they do mean something." He studies the young woman's hand wringing and accent, which confirms that she is Mandalorian. "What do you think this piece means?"

 

She hesitates to see if Lando starts the heist mission to grab the painting. She reminds herself that Lando gave her thong panties that vibrate. He said it would signal when the heist begins. He made the device intimate to confound the Imperials, should they search her body. They would not dare put their hands on her private parts. But Sabine had no clue how to wear a thong, and Hera did not know. Lando had to put it on her. If her crotch vibrates and she would wiggle. Thrawn would undoubtedly discover the Rebel's ruse and act accordingly. But his icy stare pounds back on her as if this was the test to distract him, a high-command Imperial officer. He might be creepy xenophobic Chiss with his red-in-red eyes, but she realizes his brow rises, intent to know her answer. She gazes at him and found his pleasant, gentlemanly stance as he held hands are behind his back, and his smooth, even-toned voice coaxes her to engage him in his discussion. She realizes as her body first tingles throughout and then relaxes that he is actually quite attractive for a Near-Human alien. His chest protrudes strength, which causes her mouth to water.  He is exceptionally handsome for an alien male Chissese.  Her eyes drop down his body as she sees his muscles flex underneath his tunic. Her lips part to hold a goofy grin, and when she realizes her schoolgirl behavior, which could scrap her mission. She snaps out her teen girl's giddiness to answer him intelligently and confidently. "The patterns are odd, Sir. That is what this painting means."

 

He took a breath before he spoke. He resigns himself that no one galaxy could discuss art with him and delivers an art lecture. "The Bith by culture are natural scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. They pay a lot of attention to detail. When examining this piece, you have to believe that every strike, every speck, has been intentional, and the circles are scattered, the colors: purple, red, yellow, and blue. Its true meaning lies in its past the Nozho–Weogar War of Bith before Rugess Nome, of course." He trails and smiles toward the painting as if he made a discovery. "Jaynor of Bith captures this civil war itself in his painting. The red describes the blood spilled, and the purple describes the painful bruises. The blue and black describe a transition. A transition from the Bith system planet from its clear blue skies to the dark, polluted atmosphere. Those circles there, those describe the opposed biological weapons that destroyed the planet and their impact." Pride lifts his chest with this discovery, and he had someone show off his knowledge of art that left him in thought. Am I the first person to figure out the true meaning of this painting?

 

Sabine shifts her hips to stand back and walks past him. She leans into the painting to get a closer look to confirm her observations and analysis. "While you have given the basic primary and secondary colors of this painting, their shades suggest color wavelength of 700 nanometers for red, 590 nanometers for yellow, 425 for cyan blue, and 390 for the violet. There is very little gloss in the paint itself, yet the colors are vibrant. That could mean either degradation of the paint over time if you say it is the age that it is. A plant-based paint preparation did not create this painting, and it is not an organic biologically based oil paint, making it either an acrylic-oil-based paint or tempera-based paint. I know it is not tempera because as the painting ages, the paint would flake, and the image does not appear to be damaged by sentient being movements." She bumps into him accidentally as she nearly swoons the solid musculature of his body. She looks into his eyes from his gaze as his mouth opens in shock. "My apologies, Grand Admiral; I don't know why I keep bumping into you like that." Her fake giggle could not cover her examination of the painting. "While this painting is a private collection, the droids either used proper archaeological protocols, which requires excessive programming and intuition, and they aren't capable of keeping the colors brilliant or shiny." She shakes her head and then frowns. "Or this painting tells us the coordinates of the Bith planet where this war took place from the emitted wavelengths."

 

Thrawn strains himself from grabbing this young woman and devouring her with kisses before the Imperial elites. The Imperial gossip ruminates through his mind --  Cold Blue Chiss Has Softspot For Unknown Young Woman  -  Let's give them more rumors about me today.

 

 

Suddenly, background music stops, and loud music blares, breaking the speakers. The Governor invited a disc jockey to play dance recordings. The time to dance is now. Thrawn looks at her, still enraptured by the painting.  Could Sabine dance? He would be impressed if she could. Couldn't she possibly dance?  He mulls the thought over to stop him from asking her. Most women of means in the galaxy could not discuss art and dance. Somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, something told him to test that theory as he extends his hand with his most flirtatious voice. "Would you care to dance, milady?"

 

Sabine blinks as the chords of the song play. Her face pales as she hears the tune. "The Zeltron Tango?" Her voice breaks as her eyes widen, staring into red-in-red eyes. She remembers when the Zeltron dancers at the Imperial Casino club taught her how to dance during her bounty hunting days. Easy money for each dance. Drunk and grimy consumers who would pay to touch her tiny body. At that time, she could not dance. She hated this dance, but after she ran away from the Imperial Academy on the planet Mandalore, she had to work for credits to survive.

 

She glares at Thrawn, ready to deny him, but the light in his eyes bounces eagerly. She changes her mind with a pleasant smile as her feet met the dance floor. She could not blow her cover as she assumes the first position. The room full of Imperials size her up and stare at her alone on the floor. The whispered needles of their gossip about her in a sexy gown, and she seduced the Grand Admiral, who suddenly seems to have disappeared, causes her heart to sink. Hurriedly, her eyes dart around the room as she searches for Thrawn. Her mind is full of dread.  Did he renege? Maybe he thinks I can't dance?  She pants furiously. Then she feels a large hand wrap around her lower back, and another large hand clasps her open palm.

 

Thrawn pulls her close to him and whispers calmly into her ear with a soft command. "Just follow my lead if you don't know how to dance. I can be spontaneous when I want, and I apologize for being so forward." He catches her eyes to assuage her shaky nerves.

 

On the high beat, he pushes forward as she immediately follows his steps. Thrawn moves to the music, and Sabine carefully avoids his toes. They flow across the floor as her gown flares from Sabine's twists as her gown rises. The audience is surprised by her toned legs and exposes her sylphlike body under his control.

 

The melody takes a different chord as he stops for her part of the dance. The way her hips gyrate, she drops as she shakes her backside to the ground underneath him. She pops to face him with a look of prey. He gasps and has a momentary loss of control by stepping off-beat while she whips around him on her part.  The Zeltron Courtesans taught her well. 

 

The Imperials watch as they gasp while Thrawn and Sabine dance the - Zeltron Tango - a dance of seduction. The more he feels her body dance, the more excitement he feels in his body. A pleasurable sensation tingles across his skin. His libido quickens, which causes an erection. Fascinating thoughts swirl in his mind as he twirls Sabine with his lead hand. His excitement causes him to skip another beat. Thrawn regains control, if not for his own body, but hers in this dance. With a stern frown, they float over the floor with a few more low jump steps. Then finally, he dips her lithe body onto the floor. She arches her back and lifts her hands above her head accordingly as she swings her leg near his ear. His eyes focus on the largeness of her breasts as he salivates to kiss them. He sees her breathless limp body as she tries to catch her breath.

 

The sight of her causes him to become lightheaded, and then he grins as he lifts her gently back into his arms. Her chest heaves when she catches him staring at her. The corners of her mouth turn up into a smile following him. Thrawn is smitten with Sabine. His crew and a few other Imperials drop their mouths while he dances well with an unknown young woman. He has never been outwardly personable and friendly. The perception of Thrawn is socially dullard and stoic. Who is this woman that got Thrawn to become personable?

 

This tango exposes him and the private enjoyments to understand human culture. He squeezes his eyes to shut out the mental critiques in his mind until he senses Sabine giggles happily and wiggles her body capturing his gaze again. Her eager eyes shine with fun because of him, and his heart rate slows while the noise of the gossip silence like they were alone in the hall. Suddenly, reality returns to the loud applause as he watches Sabine wave and curtsy to the audience. He waves his free hand imitating Sabine as he grips one of her hands. This feeling is far from his quiet, solitary life. A spotlight shines on him as fear and dread enter his body with a huge gulp of air. But he kept his eyes on Sabine where he felt safe, less nervous, less on edge, and more willing to risk extroversion, and the most lasting impression in his mind -  She can discuss art and can dance with me. 

 

His broad smile causes his eyes to glow naturally.

 

 

 

Thrawn stands before the young woman in the stunning gown. Several Imperials nod in deference like a gentleman's wager about who will seduce the unknown young woman in the hot provocative dress. Thrawn did. Gossip reverberates as to what his relationships were. He had heard all the rumors: He had a wife in Chiss Space and left her. All aliens are pansexual and polyamorous. He violates the Imperial military code by having sex with his subordinates under his command. The most egregious rumor is he had no sex organs and is in love with the Emperor and Darth Vader.

 

Rumors and lies.

 

Those lies hurt, and while the Chiss train to not react to others' emotions, it is hard to ignore the constant whispers of Imperials who hawk and misjudge his effectiveness at his rank and of him. Consent given freely is essential to him, but he has not found anyone to voluntarily consent to him or to whom he had any romantic attraction until tonight. Until he formally met this young woman, Sabine Wren, she hides her true self. Whether she is a spy or a beautiful decoy for the Rebels, he still needs her consent. As a Chiss man, it is mandatory. He must let everyone see his impeccable behavior toward Sabine while he imagines what Darth Vader would say about this very young attractive woman in a sexy gown? He laughs at the very thought as he snakes his arm around her back. "Sabine, would you like to go outside for a breath of fresh air?" Unaware that he divulges her real name.

 

Oblivious, Sabine grins as she skips to the balcony. Her mind reels from her hate of the spotlight. All eyes on her made her self-conscious and especially when the whole of Empire watches is on her to evaluate her. Thrawn enchants her into dancing the Zeltron Tango, which she can dance. Her hands wring if Rebel agents saw her dance. No Rebels knew she could dance, especially not like a Zeltron cultural dance for sexual seduction. One dance. If any of the Mandalorians saw her dance like known prostitutes, what would they think? She coughs as the fresh air fills her lungs. The gown needs to come off as she sways her hips. Then, she realizes that Thrawn lingers behind her.   Is he looking at ner'shebs?   She turns back to see as he averts his red pupils from her backside. "Slanapir! Every last Imperial," she says aloud.

 

"Pardon, milady?" Thrawn clasps her biceps with his large hand.

 

Sabine's brows rise in surprise as she lies to him about her comment. "I uh - the air is fresh. That - dance - I thought you hard - erect - Imperials - stiff?" Thrawn causes her to stutter and be tongue-tied as she feels his red-in-red eyes that glow gaze on her.

 

Thrawn nearly spits out his champagne when he hears Sabine say hard, erect, stiff Imperials. The pain from his stiffness hurts. Then he discovers that she thought Imperials do not relax. After a few more gulps to clear his throat, he answers. "Not all Imperials are stiff, and we like to dance. Many of us can dance formally." He laughs, unable to take his eyes off her with seductive thoughts he rarely has. He reminds himself that Chiss do not behave in this manner, but a perverse thought invades his mind,  I'm going to get Sabine out of that stunning gown.

 

Her chest lifts when her eyes become starry as she watches his sculpted muscles flex next to her body. The intense beam from his eyes wanes, and she notices his analysis of her ceases as if she passes his inspection. Maybe it is the champagne, or perhaps he needs R and R. The air from the top floor, nearly 100 stories high, overlooks Canto Bight's cityscape. Her mouth sanguine as how Imperials gentrified poor neighborhoods, then raze their homes for new expensive structures. Sabine hides her rage when she catches Thrawn's gaze of admiration with a smile. She thinks.  Why does he keep looking at me like that?  Then she angrily asks him. "What?"

 

"Where did you learn about art?" His motive for that question is to show Sabine his holoart collection in his private residence.

 

"Oh? My family, here and there." She sheepishly smiles as she sips her champagne. She sees his champagne flute is empty. She ventures a return ask. "How about you? Where did you learn about art?"

 

He exhales as he reminisces his first few doodles in class and his admonishments by his teachers. He chuckles as no one has ever asked him. "Same." He nods his head and grins. "I collect art. Holographic art. Unfortunately, I cannot keep these serious art pieces on my Star Destroyer, the  Chimaera. "

 

"You have a Star Destroyer?" Sabine's voice pitch rises with a cheesy grin. Of course, he had one. He is the Grand Admiral of the Seventh Imperial Fleet. She had to throw him a bit off about her, especially since her people would steal the  VISAGE PRESAGE. However, he threw her off when he slid his colossal arm behind her, and his other massive hand grazed across her hand that rests by her hip. She could feel his breath on her skin. She could hear his heartbeat. She dares not to look into his eyes, but she can feel his stare of desire. She quickly thinks.  I have to throw him off some more.   How could I make his -- hard body -- less attractive without my imagination run wild?  She closes her eyes and thinks of Thrawn as old, but his body is rock hard, solid, and lean.  He has an eight-pack.  His cologne, which is gentlemanly for a non-Human, intoxicates her as her body sways to the scent of it.  Chiss does not have pheromones, do they?

 

He notices Sabine sizes him up physically. "I have a residence planetside, too. I would be honored if you would come to see my art collection. One art lover to another."

 

"I'm not an art enthusiast. I am an artist. A painter. Modern pop iconography. graffiti--." She exclaims, glaring at him, and then stops when she realizes she blew her cover.

 

Thrawn sips from a full champagne flute as his brow rises in confusion. Art on walls to deface them? He has an inside chuckle.

 

Maybe he won't notice? Osik! Chiss physiology and alcohol. I'm a bit intoxicated.  She hiccups.  WAIT! Is he FLIRTING with me? Oh, I don't know?  Panic sets in her eyes as she tries to see if she should punch him and run from the hall from her stupid fatal error.

 

Thrawn tilts his head. "Have I seen your art? You must show me your portfolio. Perhaps I could sponsor a gallery show here in Canto Bight? The possibilities are endless." He grins as his imagination and creative thoughts roll through his mind.

 

His words do not reassure her as she sorts in her mind how to cover up her vast error. She watches his movements and recalls her time on Zeltros. Some of the dancers were also sex workers. They often spoke to Sabine and her bounty hunter friends about partaking in that aspect of the business. They would recruit the clients to the sex worker house parties, and after the parties, all the proceeds would be collected and doled out. Sabine and her friend Ketsu Onyo refused. It did not stop the Zeltron workers from teaching them the trade tricks, such as coerce clients at the most reasonable time.

 

Thrawn flirts with her, she knew it from his body language, and this is the opportune time.

 

Sabine should make her move on him. Go to his residence to see his art collection. How much of it she sees is up for speculation. As an Imperial, he should is bound by duty and honor. As a military man, formerly trained by the Chiss like Mandalorians, he would follow the military process.  He is an Admiral in the Imperial Navy, and he should hold to that, or what if he is horny?  Sabine knew when males were horny, but never for her, except one, and he is like family. Sabine studies Thrawn's eyes. They were vacant as if he has profound loneliness. She hears the tenor in his voice as if she already rejected him like a rejection in relationships. Sabine deduced that human Imperial women reject him because of his blue skin. Typical xenocentric chauvinism.

 

She looks at his disarming deep red-in-red eyes, and they lack brightness compared to the sparks seen when he discusses art and dances. Sabine peruses his body and then sees the stiffness in his crotch. Her eyes widen as she cannot take her eyes off his size. He lobs out of his white trousers-- a considerable bulge. She nearly snorts her champagne out through her nose.

 

He turns to face her to help with a handkerchief from an inside pocket. It had tiny purple, orange, and yellow paint spots on it. "Are you okay? I hope you did not guzzle down the champagne as I did. You can be impaired. Good thing I'm not on duty today." He laughs at his joke.

 

Her hands hold his hands that wipe away the champagne with his handkerchief until one hand falls on his chest and slides down his tunic. She felt his body - solid muscle. Her lips quiver into a slight grin as she looks at his stern stone face. He catches her hand from any further moves and softens his facial expression. He held her hand gently in his warm hands. "Now-now, Sab'ika. I exhibit an excessive amount of personal control. After all, I am a Chiss and a Grand Admiral for the Galactic Empire, and I must maintain control. I will not move forward unless you desire and consent to it."

 

Sabine's eyes widen. No male asked for her desire or consent. She had to beat them down to stop them from groping her and taking liberties. Thrawn sounds sincere, sweet, and respectful.  Wait. Did he just call me Sab'ika?  The thought burns through her mind. "I-I don't know what to-to say, Sir."

 

"I figured out who you were when I entered the hall. It is my job, after all." He flashes his smile. "But, that analysis of the Jaynor of Bith painting and your ability to dance like Zeltron Courtesans--" His voice drifts. "Before I arrest and interrogate you, I still would like for you to see my holoart collection. Please say yes. I would feel remiss on missing out on this opportunity among art enthusiasts like us."

 

Sabine frowns from utter confusion. How did Thrawn craftily, cleverly, and intelligently trap her? In all fairness, he did not immediately kill her or Lando. After a long moment in silence, she quips. "At least I will get out of this gown for prison clothes."

 

 

--may change without notice--

Chapter Text

Grand Admiral Thrawn wraps his arm around Sabine Wren's waist and escorts her to his luxury landspeeder waiting for them at the Canto Bight Art Auction. They enter the passenger cab that smells new blond leather from some off-world bovine beast and sits comfortably in the back seats without buckling their seat belts. A quick jolt of the landspeeder and rises vertically above the coastal line of Canto Bight. Driven by one of the Grand Admiral's security detail stormtroopers, purple sea pines wisp in the wind as they surround waterfalls that dot the cityscape. They fly past sparkly purple seagrasses that glow from the east. The first moon with rings rises in the far distance, and the light shines on the seagrasses, and they dazzle a spectacular gold. Sabine gasps in amazement at the shiny reflection of the sea plants. Thrawn without looking remarks casually, "The seagrasses do that when day turns into night."

The scenery's natural bioluminescence reflects off her golden-brown eyes like an enchanting lullaby sung to her by an adult who comforts her. But Thrawn is the adult. That enchanting tune changes when the landspeeder flies past large cranes and building droids, building single-family dwellings in a construction zone. Droids trim alien green manicured lawns and bushes for the newly built homes. Giant floating signs advertise for new homes for the Empire, particularly the Imperial Elite Families. She realizes there is a difference between the natural growth foilage versus the alien-imported landscape for this subdivision. Sabine ruminates about how the Rebels are not building similar homes as her brow furrows past the Imperial dull gray duracrete with a dab of color on the stucco walls and metal balcony with railings like inside the bowels of an Imperial Star Destroyer. "Perhaps, they should live in Star Destroyers," Sabine mumbles.

Suddenly, Sabine feels a big, warm hand grab her knee and moves to caress her thigh. She turns her head to see this blue hand and follows the line of sight to the curvature of a white tunic up to Thrawn's face, who smirks. He licks his lower lip quickly as if he has no idea what Sabine thought and attempts to inquire because she is quiet. Most of his captures plead for their lives and beg for their freedom or became chatty dullards that stall for time. For a Mandalorian and his few experiences with Mandalorians, Sabine's silence intrigues him. His eyes light with excitement, and his mouth eases into a satisfactory grin because he knows his wants, exactly.

Thrawn wants to reassure Sabine and tell her that she is safe. It is of utmost importance. She knows art, and her intelligence intoxicates him unexpectedly. Then, he notices her hand fidget as if she is nervous. Expected. Most of his captures squirm when caught. But, Sabine stabs her fingers as if she tries to stifle the pain of being caught by him. She jerks when he touches her and realizes she has not made eye contact with him since getting into the landspeeder, but her hands are not sweaty, like most of his captures. Perhaps Sabine felt safe, but Thrawn could see her lip corners twitch and her chest move faster by belabored breathing.  Does she not trust me?  Thrawn could tell by her gasps as her nostrils flare to inhale more air. To comfort her, he leans over as his other hand cups her ear as his lips softly nip at her neck. The unexpected titillation it gave her causes her head to rise, and her eyes glower. That bothers him.  Am I mistaken?  He slowly opens his red-in-red glowing eyes because she did not return his ministrations. Then like a low-toned musical instrument, he asks in song-like command. "Are you uncomfortable, ch'ain't?" 

Sabine's internal voice sings like in repeat staccatos how Imperials lie to get what they want. She stares into his eyes directly and discovers they are brighter than previously. She realizes that the Imperials were about to know more about her private life than the Rebels. She knows she has not been discreet with Thrawn, and that is when she starts to fear him. One dalliance, one night, and this one man could destroy her reputation, her leadership in the Rebels and the Mandalorians. Discovery of her indiscretion, her life would be over. He could squash her like a bug because of art and her curiosity of how Imperial high command lives. She worries her naivete and lack of sexual prowess could cause the Grand Admiral to lash out at her more than any Imperial torture program endured at the Imperial Academies at Mandalore or Skystrike. Her mind wanders to wild delusions.

Thrawn sees her eyeballs wildly flutter as she broods about what seems like her "experience" with a man. He wants to tell her that in his mind, her lack of experience in seduction is not what attracts him. No. What captivates him, a Grand Admiral of the Galactic Empire, is her art. Her knowledge. Her experiences. She is an artist, like when she painted his Noghri guard, Rukh, and sent him back unconscious with her graffiti on his entire body. Or like when she confidently demonstrates her artistic knowledge of the  VISAGE PRESAGE  painting. The infatuation of Thrawn compels him to meet Sabine and learn more. His attempts to know more about humans, and this one in particular -- a relatively tiny human who is a Mandalorian warrior with an equivalent martial arts ability to his fighting skill, is an artist. If he learns about her intimately, he could learn how to counter and conquer her. But conquering Sabine could preclude a war with the Mandalorians, which he understood all too well. Per his Chiss Ascendancy House Nuruodo training, no Star Destoyers or lightsabers can defeat understanding this fidgety young woman who sat beside him. At this moment, what she thinks, says, and does cause him to have grave concerns about her consent, and perhaps he should arrest her and torture a Rebel for useful intelligence.

"Ni chaab gar," like an orchestral accent, Sabine blurts in Mando'a. 

He unclasps his hand from her cheek to pull away as his eyes hold their brightness, and he watches the new construction high-rises on the outskirts of Canto Bight's city's center. Her words -  I   fear you --  decrescendos an echo in his mind.   He lifts his hand underneath his chin in confusion.   His interactions with other spies knew what to do when they were with him, intimately and immediately. It did not matter were Chiss spies, human or otherwise. Then, Sabine Wren enters his vehicle without resistance and takes his physical moves quickly. He could remove her from his vehicle and send her to the brig aboard his ship. Or because he is a sapiosexual, he could try to understand. She is human and young, and she is inside his landspeeder wearing a very sexy formal dress with a tight bodice lifting her bosom that begs for an intimate invitation. At his rank and ability, what he wants no longer matters, and he is not going to risk his illustrious career to seduce an unwilling girl, especially with a young woman who is unsure of what she wants. He wants to know for sure because if she is not in his custody, she faces execution for a Rebel being in Canto Bight. "The Rebels must not have thought this mission through if they sent you to deal with me, Sab'ika?"

Sabine sat silent. "I like art, Sir. I am an artist. Where else would I see Hoʻoipoipo art?"

Thrawn absorbs her comment for a moment, then chuckles. "What do you know about erotic art, Sab'ika?"

"What do you know, Grand Admiral?" Sabine bites her lip and crosses her legs toward him.

Thrawn does not answer the question but stares at Sabine's movements.  Must she know she has thoroughly beguiled me?

 


 

The landspeeder lowers as its landing gear touch the landing pad at the back door private entrance reserved for Imperial dignitaries. He speaks into the microphone as the holocam secures his identification. The automated security protocols comply with his voice and recognize him to compare it with his facial identity, which his uniform's code cylinders have links. They exit the landspeeder as Thrawn scans around his surroundings with a visual perimeter check. Sabine's eyes do not wander from his back, but she has done her perimeter check for exits. He stops at the large glass doors and waits for them to open to the turbolift. It would take them to his penthouse suite.

 

The open glass doors' swoosh blows a cool breeze on them as Thrawn clasps her hand quickly helps her enter the lift. Sabine replies in Mando'a, "Vor entye." Meaning "thank you."

 

Thrawn tilts his head slightly at her friendliness and replies in Cheuhn, "Nah tsuntahn, Sab'ika."

 

They hold cheesy flirty grins between one another as the rose-colored glass lift arrives. Thrawn presses his secret code to unlock his penthouse level on the 800th level. The lift moves past the lower floors rather quickly. Thrawn watches Sabine forlorn like captured prey that knows its death is imminent. He could see she bites her lips and fidgets more as she is unsure as to what the plans are.

 

 

Grand Admiral Thrawn has several plans. He watches Sabine fidget and finds something to take her mind off her nervousness. "Sab'ika, remember asking me about erotica? I have early renditions of Hoʻoipoipo's paintings." He clicks his code cylinder to activate a few holoimages. Sabine turns her head to look at the holoimages until--.

Suddenly, the lift stops abruptly at level 250. Sabine stumbles into Thrawn's arms, and her eyes widen and shake wildly --  He said the penthouse on the 800th floor - this floor is too low.  She stares at him in fear as her heart lobs out of her chest -  So he will kill me here, where no one will find me.

His sultry voice speaks softly. "I stopped the lift, Sab'ika." He caresses her cheek and presses her chin upward gently. He leans to graze his lips over hers. Then the lights flicker on the lift as he snaps to attention and realizes the holocams recorded their movements. He processes that he has a momentary loss of control as a Grand Admiral in the Galactic Empire in high command due to passionate outburst. He pushes Sabine, gripping his forearms off him, and crosses them as he presses the security code to restart the lift.

 

 

Sabine, thrown into a corner of the lift, hyperventilates as it flies past several levels higher. He could have thrown her out a window and claim she leaped to her death. Or she could be collected later by his guard detail and say he had shot her. Then, she realizes that she needs to act now. --  Do I want to make a move?  She recognizes his loss of control as she sees he avoids her eye contact. --  Right time, yeah, the right time is now. I can try it, and if he throws me out of the lift, then I am wrong. But, do I want him? Yes.  -- She raises her boobs high as she can in this dress, and his gaze rises to meet hers. Within milliseconds, she tackles his body and forces his arms to carry her. She does what the Zeltron Courtesans told her to do as she recites their mantras in her mind --  Take him fast when you know he wants it. Stick your tongue down his throat and devour him. Grind your hips on him and force him to make a choice.

Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Galactic Empire had every right to execute her on the spot. But in Sabine's mind, all she wants to do is fuck the hell out of him. To ride him, hard. She did not care if she saw daylight again. Or if the holocams caught her and the Imperials broadcast her as a Rebel spy scum, it would be because she would die to fuck Thrawn.

Thrawn held her in his arms as he stumbles to regain his stable footing as the lift flies to his penthouse. His eye widens in surprise by Sabine's sexual response. It overpowers him, and he returns the act kissing her passionately. A long-time desire he covets but never made happen landed on him. He could take her in that lift and continue to have sex in his residence. He knew the holocams were on, and it would sate the rumors about him:  "Cruel Blue Alien Chiss With No Emotion."

The fact is he did not care what anyone thought about him. His desires for Sabine have been nearly a quest of his. She is his crush. She infatuates him. While she is relatively young for him, his dry season waiting for her ends today. High Command would see it as a conquest, and the Emperor and Lord Vader would overlook his indiscretion.

 

 

Her sweet kisses slide down his neck and drive him wild with lust. He closes his eyes to savor her taste. His hand reaches toward the front of her body and digs in her crotch, and she is wearing lace panties, completely shaven. Very few human women still wore panties, and it delights him. He pulls them down Sabine's thighs and discovers she is completely bald in her feminine nether regions. He nearly gawks at her as he has never seen a human woman without pubic hair --  Did the Rebels plan for him? How would they know what I like?

He pulls her back, nibbling her neck until he hears her moan. He notices his hand feels a sticky goo as he rubs her slit that edges his fingers further inside her as his other hand grabs her well-endowed breast. His voice murmurs a slow moan from enjoyment. He pushes his index and middle fingers deep inside when the lift slows to a smooth stop to his penthouse. He stares at her closed eyes and determines that he would take this young woman and "interrogate" her to the fullest extent of the Galactic Imperial law.

He feels Sabine's tongue entwine with his against the lift doors, and then they open to his enclosed vestibule. Darken wood doors with gray duracrete walkways covering small moats filled with water enter a large decorated living room. Shiny off-white tile with comfortable sofa unit and cream-glass table with items from Canto Bight trinket stores. Droids whiz by to prepare for Thrawn's arrival with beverages.

He stumbles and staggers off the lift as he carries Sabine. She slides on the duracrete as her wetness slid across his hand, and to his surprise, his cock got more challenging. He gazes at her as he places his hand out to lift her as he slightly slurs his words. "Sab'ika, I'm your superior officer." He stutters through his lucid moment of rationality. "Is-is this what you want? No matter the repercussions? I can't commit. My allegiance is to the Chiss -- err -- Empire."

 

 

"How about freedom, Grand Admiral?" Sabine rises and walks backward toward his grand vestibule. Her gown drops to the floor, and she is naked save for her lace panties as she runs through his home. Several holographic statues stood of naked humans that stand in nobility. It is as if the holographic art show commences.

 

 

He chuckles and commands the grand doors to his home to open to the living room. "Ch'itkashn." As they open and Sabine runs into his penthouse to see more of his holographic arts that appear before her. She kicks off her sky-high heels as her breasts bounce while wearing lace panties. He attempts to take control over his heightened sexual response by stiffening his jaw and grinding his teeth; his body betrays his noble Chiss restraint as he feels his genitals opine for a whisper of freedom. "Good girl."

"You know my nickname. What's yours?" She toys with Thrawn as she enters the spotless refresher facilities like no one ever used the place. "WAYII! You have a pool in here?"

"No. That's the bath. Do you see the refresher?" He rushes to his desk to check his messages, which he will not answer as he activates his "do not disturb" code. "It's  'Raw' …the name my parents and brother call me."

"Okay then,  Raw …" Sabine laughs at his name. "Loras, that's your name in Mando' a. Answer me this? Why am I naked, and you're still stiff in your stuffy uniform?"

He bursts into laughter as he unbuttons his top jacket and removes his belt. He removes his undershirt to show his hulking blue-skin alien chest with well-formed muscles as if he works out heavily. He unbuttons his trousers. He wore boxer-briefs. He slips off his underwear while his huge penis unfurls into its largess as he tilts his head. "You know about Chiss men. Like a snake, our genitals hood when we're excited at orgasm."

Sabine's eyes gawk as she ogles him, watching his penis hood like a cobra, then wraps around like that food item at fiestas. "I gather you have fucked a lot of humans?"

"I am older, Sabine. Normally, I would never sleep with anyone I just met, no matter how attracted I am to them. But - " He walks to her and holds her hips as she wraps her arms around his neck. "Art? Tango? Where have you been all my life?"

Demure, she states. "Being born, old man."

He laughs. "I only look old. I'm only a few years older than you. At ten years old, Chiss appear as adults. I have been an adult longer than you. But for Coruscant years, I am 40 years old."

"I like older men, Chissese." She holds his attention then wrestles from his grasp as she searches for his bed. "Do Chiss sleep?"

"No…Yes…What?"

"Bed and bedding?" She shrugs.

He speaks. "Tet, btavah" The bed lowers from the ceiling with sheets, pillows, and comforters. "I sleep, Sab'ika. But I thought we would look at my holographic art--."

She silences him. "Naked analysis of your Holo-art collection?" She dances around him as she loses her inhibitions. "We could fuck while you tell me all about your analysis of each piece."

"I-uh…" That tongue-ties Thrawn. A beautiful naked woman runs through his domicile and wants to discuss art while they have sex. "Sabine, slow down for me." He catches her arms. "I want you…I want you…" He shakes his head from his confusion. "I want you to ride me as hard as you can." He points down to his private parts, and he cannot believe he asked her that.

 

Sabine giggles, then watch him flex his erect cock again in awe and pushes him down to his bed. He grabs her ass and squeezes it to make her jump to his erection. The amount of champagne she drank causes her to be woozy while she rises to the top of his cock. Her hand grabs his erect cock and smooths down over her crotch made wet with excitement while she was in the landspeeder. Thrawn coils his fingers around the strap of her panties and snaps them off, throwing them somewhere. He pushes her hips up atop his tip as he enters her pussy to push hard inside her. She squeezes her eyes in a moan as he is barely inside her. "You're fucking huge!"

 

"Mmm, you are so tight. It's been a long time for me." Thrawn voice becomes raspy.

 

"Long time?" She quips and opens her as he slides deep inside her. Her eyes roll back as she thinks --  Thrawn is not this tiny little playboy as Rebel intelligence reports . She moves to open her pelvis as her pussy accepts him deeper inside her piece-by-piece. Then her face meets him with a huff. 

 

He stares at her carefully and flips her hair bangs to the side gently. He grabs her hips and moves them in a clockwise rotation to cause her to grind on top of him. She groans from the passion of the new feeling as she vocalizes with each grind. When he could no longer take the titillation, he lifts her body to bounce up and down on his cock and scrotum. She rides him slowly to feel every vein pulsing on the sheath of his cock. Her pussy widens with each downward slide. Sabine clasps his biceps quickly, and he responds by lifting his torso as her breasts jump in his face. He feels her warm wet inside slide down his thirsty shaft. A thought pervades his mind as he fucks her --   It is   Sabine's first time.  

She moves faster as her pussy muscle clamp on him. It nearly causes him to cum as he moan-exhales, "Sab'ika…Mmm… Ch'acah-Love. Slow down." He squeezes his eyes tight to stop his ejaculation. Then he feels his torso drop to the bed, and her hips rock forward to pound him hard. His eyes widen to stop her. "Ch'acin't, go too fast, and I'll drop my load inside you."

She bends down and bites his ear in a whisper. "Do you want to be free, Grand Admiral?"

He flings his arms around her torso and slams her back to the bed as his arm muscles flex, which causes her to groan louder. Thrawn looks around to see if his Stormtrooper detail could be alerted. They could not.

He grabbed her neck and flung her legs wide onto his shoulder. He thrusts his hips forward hard as he goes in balls' deep. She groans again while her eyes stare at him with his tremendous strength. The light in his red-in-red eyes afire as he thrusts more as his hand tightens around her neck, "You feel that? I am inside you deep, and I am going to cum ribbons in your - vicen. Do you want that?"

 

Sabine's breaths were shallow, and Thrawn held her head, unable to shake it. But it felt so seductive that a tingling sensation quivers her insides with each new thrust. "You could," She manages to squeak in protest. "But, ner'papurgaat is ready for harvest, Loras."

 

 

He slows to understand what she said in Mando'a --  her fruit is fertile  -- he should stop, but his desire consumes him. He wants to breed. He wants to breed Sabine, specifically. This desire is instinctual for Chiss, and it is the most pervasive in emotional control that Chiss suppress with training, drugs, and eugenics. This desire to breed overcame Thrawn. A wave of emotions thrills his carnal desire that felt unnatural because this craving is extinct in Chiss. Right now, Thrawn felt all of these evolutionary survival emotions, and he is going to do it to go against everything he knew to be moral. His warm breath brushes across her cheek as he exhales a laugh. "Ch'ain't, I can do whatever the kriff I want with you, and you cannot stop me."

 

 

She felt a tremor go through her body, and her pussy clenches his cock at the thought. She releases a loud moan of ecstasy. Ultimately, she is at his mercy.

 

 

He exhales in amazement. "Hmm? It seems you like my idea." He sank himself deeper into her and looked down their entwined bodies, and then he partially hoods. She groans loudly to feel her pussy become sopping wet. "Maybe I'll take you raw all the time until I get you pregnant. You want this freedom, Mando'verda. Does it include fucking? Because my Chiss Imperial raw cock will cum into your tight pussy and directly into your womb, Mand'ala." He grins slyly while his eyes are on fire.

 

 

Her legs stiffen as she cries as she orgasms, and her goo cascades like a waterfall on his cock. She spasms uncontrollably. His thrusts pick up pace as his flaming red-in-red eyes narrowed their focus with his carnal desire. Then he stops his thrusts, shudders his eyes, and hoods fully as he releases a groan as he has never had one this intense. Then a broad grin slides across his face as he drops on top of Sabine. She still felt orgasms reverberate as she felt Thrawn's warm cum slide deep inside her unprotected womb.

 

 

He relaxes his grip on her neck, and her legs collapse onto the bed. He examines her movements and how well he bred her. "Indeed, it looks like I have my answer as to what you want."

 

 

"Yes-Yes. Admiral." She breathlessly says as she looks upon his happy face. "Ahh. Mmm. Yes, Loras - Ni gai." She cries from the pain and the ecstatic joy of multiple orgasms --  He knows it was my first time, right?

He closes his eyes to savor the thought that his seed fills her womb. He leans into her to suckles her gorgeous breasts and relishes how his pent-up stress and negative energy needed dissipating. Her breasts taste sweet as his mind dwells on freedom. He stares while her tears fall from her eyes. He unlatches. "Sab'ika, we will continue this when you have regained your strength."

"You are too good for me." She pants as she notices his satisfaction with lovemaking.

He kisses her lips to keep her focused. He gently cradles her head on his fingertips. "Let's take a bath. Are you hungry? You feel dehydrated. I'll order something for you to eat." He lifts her from the bed and carries her to the small pool-sized bath. He lays her gently inside the tub as he sits by her. The lights activate as tiny flying droids add the bath accouterments. Small bubbles emit as the bath doubles as the spa. Her back lies upon his chest. She tearfully cries on his legs. "Sabine, why are you crying?"

"They called you evil. The Rebellion calls you a villain. But you treat me with--" In Sabine's mind's eye, she can see a wave of purple and gold lights move past her like the seagrasses. It is her orgasms, and they were multiple. All she could manage is moan in pleasure.

 

 

"If you do not want this, I'll stop."

 

 

"I want more, whatever it is." Her voice rises. She had no idea her orgasms would be this vibrant. She hyperventilates as she laughs from the sensations that pulsate throughout her. Thrawn is a man who treats her like a woman, and it is her first time. "I am a Mandalorian woman. I don't deserve this."

 

 

"Let me worry about what you deserve, okay. You are now mine. My vesen. My woman." Then it dawns on Thrawn as his hand reaches down to her crotch, and he lifts out his fingers to see blood trickle down his arm. He smells it, tastes it, and his eyes expand, and then narrow when he realizes it is Sabine's blood.  I did take her - veshasi, and now I may have -- indeed, I did.  He shakes his head to process what he has done in this lovemaking and its repercussions. It does not lessen his newfound fantasy of total freedom with Sabine by his side.

 

 

--may change without notice--

Chapter Text

Sabine feels the hot and robust morning sunlight beam on her face from partially open blackout curtains covering the window. Her nose twists as her jaw flexes. Her arm hangs off the bed as her head turns to the side. She purr-snores then stops her breath. She flips her head to the other side to snore at a new tempo. The sheets twist around her naked body as she lies on her stomach as creates a sound like her purr-snores. Her sleep sounds like a lost kitten who seeks its littermate for warmth.

 

 

Thrawn gazes at her body form while he watches her. He sits in his linen white lounge pajamas that he put after his interlude with Sabine and white sport slides on his feet. With his legs crossed, he scrolls through his datapad to read the latest Imperial news reports. He scrolls through the HoloNet commentary about the Canto Bight Art Auction and the news about the Visage Presage painting's theft at the hands of Rebel insurgents. He hears a noise stir from Sabine as she moves her other hand onto the pillow. He watches her ass underneath the sheet as her torso lifts. She pushes herself up and sits dazed. She attempts to regain her bearings. The sheet drops to expose her back and the top of her ass crack. While he examines her machinations, Thrawn finds her movements oddly seductive and his desire to call to her beckons. Instead, he clears his throat to speak softly. "You need hydration, ch'acin't."

 

 

A droid rolls in the room with a glass of water for her. Thrawn stands and stretches his arms, cracks a few joints, and then walks to his closet to put on his Imperial Grand Admiral uniform. "I have an impromptu meeting about the art auction. It seems someone stole the  Visage Presage. Do you know anything about that, Sab'ika?"

 

 

Sabine does not drink the water; she fears it is poison or narcotics. It could be a trap set by Thrawn to kill her because of her involvement with the painting. It could be her fears are her paranoia. Her rational mind reasons she had sex with him all night. Thrawn. A Chiss man. Her first sexual experience. She is a woman, now. She is no longer this ditsy, whimsical girl. She chose to fuck Thrawn the entire night, and he still treats her like a gentleman than a courtesan. If she stole the painting, she is still alive, for now, despite her Rebel affiliations.

 

 

A droid whizzes by her and opens the curtains wide on the window. The morning sun blazes through to her retinas. Her eyes burn. She rises quickly as the sheets from the bed drops from her naked body. The sun warms her naked body as she registers Thrawn's questions and refuses to answer. She meanders to a blue velvet-like sofa hidden in the dark, plops down to sleep some more to quell her hangover from the champagne last night.

 

 

"Sabine?" Thrawn enters the room in his full-dress uniform. He grins as he walks over to her and sits to kiss her shoulder. He holds her chin as he stares into her eyes. "You were here with me the entire time, understand? I am responsible for you, understand? You are my vesen - my woman, under my protection, understand?" His hand cradles her cheek as he leans over to kiss her lips. He exhales slowly and apologizes. "I'm sorry, but this meeting came up, and I must go to it although I am on leave. I suspect it will be about this heist and with Rebel operatives being in attendance at the auction, undetected. I want you to stay here at my penthouse, where you will be safe. The droids will bring you whatever you need until this whole thing blows over."

 

 

Sabine stares into his red-in-red eyes and grabs his neck to kiss him tenderly, leaning him back into the arm of the sofa. Thrawn stops her to ask for an answer. Sabine answers smartly. "Yes, Grand Admiral. You want me to stay in your domicile like I'm your slave girl until you get back. Right?"

 

 

Thrawn smiles. "You are not my slave girl, and you are free to go. But if you want to stay, the priceless painting's heist is a serious concern for Canto Bight -- err -- the Governor. She spent a lot to have a cultured event on this planet, only to have it become a security nightmare and lose a high-powered private collector's priceless painting to the Rebels." He says glibly. "Now, I have to hear her bitch about it all day while I'm on vacation." He shakes his head as she snickers when he gazes into Sabine's beautifully shaped almond eyes. "And if she discovers your presence--." He chuckles in amusement at the very thought and then pulls her close to speak into her ear softly. "In this short time, I feel connected to you than I ever have with anyone, and I-I am discreet about these kinds of affairs should you choose this." He stares at her, then drops his focus to search his pocket to remove a bubble pack of pills. "Oh, and these are for you, ch'acin't."

 

 

Sabine takes the pill pack and studies the silver bubbles. "What are these?"

 

 

"Morning-after pills." Thrawn does not look at her. "I know we got a little randy last night, and perhaps, my better judgment was impaired." His red eyes flash as he gazes into hers. "Sab'ika, please tell me you remember what happened last night?"

 

 

A long moment of silence passes as she watches his hand draw down her skin before she speaks. "Do you want me to take these? Because I will if you insist. But I do not like taking anything given to me like this. I did not get these pills on my own."

 

 

His head tilts while he watches her mouth move. "I am not insisting you take them. Only take them if you want. But be realistic, Sab'ika; my only concern is for you. You are mine - err - my vesen -- my responsibility."

 

 

"Well, I remember everything that happened last night, and my better judgment is not impaired. If I did not want this to happen, I would not have done it. This event is my first -- my first formal dance as—" her voice trails to admit her naivete. "My first time I had sex with you -err- a man."

 

Thrawn palms her chin gently and slowly admits. "I know."

 

 

Sabine gazes into his eyes. "You do?" Her face blushes, and she quickly changes the subject. "Yes, well—it was my first formal gown. Where is it, by the way?"

 

 

"At the dry cleaners." Thrawn grins slowly. "But, Sab'ika, I--" His brows rise as he clasps her hand. "I enjoyed myself, too. It was exciting and pleasurable. I-I don't know what overcame me last night. I had to breed you. I knew I had to seed you after analyzing the painting and that dance--"

 

 

"What do you mean, breed? We had sex." Then it dawns on Sabine as her eyes widen, and she shifts position in a quiet voice. "Oh? Contraception." Her face goes pale as her stomach growls in hunger. Her modest brown eyes meet his glowing red eyes again.

 

 

He kisses her and then separates from her lips to hold her. "I should have stopped myself, but I can't." His voice holds concern for their futures. "I made a choice; I hope you did, too. Did you?"

 

 

"You know exactly what I am. I have not lied to you. I'm a Mandalorian. I'm an artist, and I'm a part of the Rebellion. I live with passionate risks."

 

 

Bemused, Thrawn scoffs, "You're reckless, and you are better than that. Let me show you a better way, ch'acin't."

 

 

"What does 'ch'acin't' mean?"

 

"'Sweetheart' in my language, Cheuhn."

 

"Oh?" Sabine processes his words. "Will you kill me when this, whatever you call it, is done?"

 

"What? No! Do you know what you've done to me?" His voice rises an octave as his brows rise. "Sab'ika, you asked me to be free, and I took that risk. I've never felt more alive. If I could, I would take you to Chiss Space right now to meet the Chiss. Do you understand? I never bring anyone to meet my people." She needs to meet them now because we've bred.

 

Sabine blinks, unsure what he meant by visiting his people. She looks around the area and sees neatly folded white linen clothes for her and white flip-flop sandals. She unfurls the top and puts it on, then steps into the sandals as they click her heels when she walks. "May I go outside, Loras? Or is that forbidden, too?"

 

 

He watches her edge to the large window as she gazes out to the patio where a partially covered outdoor pool as the water inside gleams wantonly. A shield covers it for protection from blaster laser attacks since Thrawn is a high-value target for his enemies. Above them is a landing pad for shuttles that he can summon to take him wherever he needs to go. A couple of landspeeders and a squad's worth of speeder bikes inside a hanger near the landing pad, overlooking the pool. From his penthouse, the entire city's landscape is incredible, but he never enjoys it. The outdoor part of his pool has chaise lounge chairs, a cooking station, and a table for twelve to entertain guests. But they are all covered in plastic. Not because he is too busy, but strangely, he has no desire to entertain guests. He recognizes the splendor of his penthouse palace when Sabine asks him permission to go outside. "Unlatch the windows; lets some fresh air flow through here." The droids comply and open the windows. "Sabine, as long as you promise me you will not sabotage my place or try to escape."

 

Sabine has a mischievous grin on her face as the doors complete their opening and plops on a chaise lounge chair. She removes her top and retires in the chaise, and faces the sun. "I only want to get some sun." Sabine covers her eyes from the sun's glare. Grand Admiral Thrawn hovers over her to block her sunlight. She removes her arm and glares at him. "I knew it! You want me out!" But his blue hand gives her green sunglasses. "What's this?"

 

"Eyewear protection for the sun's ultraviolet light. I would not want you to burn out your retinas and not see our--yeah, right."

 

"They're yours?"

 

"Yes. I have worn these only once. The shopkeeper said they were the 'latest trend.' I hid my red eyes where I would look like a Pantorean while running the streets on the upper levels of Coruscant."

 

 

Sabine balks at the thought of Thrawn behaving like a ruffian on the streets of Coruscant. His Imperial Academy days?  "Nah, It can't be true." She felt like Thrawn treats her like a child who does devious things, and he is the stern adult. She snatches the glasses from his fingertips and puts them on as the only piece of "clothing" she wore. "Whoa! The lenses are dark. The only reason why you'd get lenses this dark is if your eyes are red because you're high on spice."

 

 

Thrawn, unfazed by her comment, leans over and kisses her forehead. "You will need clothes. The fashion sense here is probably not to your particular Mandalorian tastes, but if you select a few items, I will pay for them, ch'acin't." He hands her a datapad.

 

 

Sabine looks through the array of selections. "Imperial uniforms? BLEECH!" Thrawn shakes his head with amusement as she looks through the Canto Bight local custom dress. "Oya. The clothes here are better than before, but I'm not wearing pointy hats. I will not be your maid."

 

 

"Then be my Mandalorian maid," Thrawn replies with a laugh. "Amazing how the Empire improves the distribution of goods across planets."

 

 

When she sees essential Mandalorian wear, Sabine's eyes widen the Iron Heart designs that the Empire has fabricated as a cultural appropriation. "Okay, Loras, find me Rebel attire." She glares at him.

 

 

Thrawn scrolls through and shows the oldest attire from the Rebels that appears more Jedi-based than the Starbird icons she paints. "There, my dear. The Outer Rim creates all kinds of scum." His voice snickers from the sight of the available items, which are few in design.

 

 

Sabine frowns and returns to the Canto Bight's maid's clothes, selects a few conservative pieces, and returns the datapad. "Here."

 

 

"Is that all? Such drab colors for such a feisty, young and exuberant lady. That won't do." He scrolls around and looks at her body more intently. "I will choose appropriate attire for you. You will be accompanying me to Imperial functions."

 

 

"Wait? What? What are you saying?"

 

 

Thrawn bores into her. "After this meeting, I will have social functions to attend, and I want you to accompany me. It would require you to stay with me for three days until I return to duty aboard my ship."

 

 

"And then what?"

 

 

"Then, you return to your Rebel scum life. Call it punishment for stealing my painting." Thrawn chuckles. "You didn't think I'd forget? Three days with me, or I hand you over to ISB agents right now, and you will rot in some Imperial prison."

 

 

Sabine cuts her eyes from Thrawn as she discovers his ultimate goal. What are her options? Leap to her death from his penthouse; kill him, and then every Imperial ship enters Mandalorian space for war. Or suck it up for a comfortable life for three days to live it up with a high-command Imperial Officer to gain his trust. Or the dingy dirtiness in an Imperial prison to never be seen again? Of course, she opts for a comfortable life for three days. But how much sacrifice did she make already? One night with Thrawn fulfills her sexual fantasies with a handsome Chiss man. Thrawn sweeps her off her feet and whisks her away from this war. A military man is not the roughnecks at the Mandalorian Oyu'baat Bar, drunk all the time, fighting and cheating all the time. It is different from her relationship with Ketsu Onyo. Sabine loves her, but Ketsu left her to die in some medbay, and then Hera Syndulla saved and recruited her. Sabine's feelings for Ketsu have changed. Then Ezra Bridger, whose love for her is an infatuation like his true love is with the Force.

 

 

Thrawn is very mature for her. Sophisticated. He fights for the wrong side, the Empire, but he is responsible. His red eyes burrow deep inside her as she tries to explain her feelings rationally. "I guess you can already tell I accept three days with you, but I need assurances from you that no other Imperial will pursue me and put me in prison after our 'affair' is over. I want it on record. I want my records expunged from all Imperial files. I suspect you have the power to do that?"

 

 

"I will draw up the agreement." He rises to leave. "I'll be back; hopefully, this will not be a long meeting, and you need to hydrate and eat. The droids will take care of you. I promise, ch'acin't." He smiles and leaves with his detachment of Deathtroopers.

 

 

Once the door closes, Sabine exhales and leans in her chaise lounge wearing Thrawn's sunglasses and basks in the sun. A droid rolls in and sets down seltzer water and breakfast snack bar. She sips the water to clear her throat. "Vor entye droid! Now, if I can call the Phoenix Squadron." The droid shakes its head in the negative, and she sighs and slowly falls asleep.

 

 


 

 

 

Sabine wakes to the sound of the shuttle that lands on the pad above her. She flips over on her stomach to reach for her top to put it back on, then flips on her back. She hears Thrawn's footsteps race down to her, and then he sits next to her on the chaise. He smiles and holds her cheek to kiss her gently. She could taste the dryness of his mouth in comparison to hers. "You should drink more water, Grand Admiral." She hands him a canteen of water.

 

 

Thrawn drinks the entire contents and clears his throat as he answers his comlink that sounds off notification alarms. "Yes, bring up the pieces. She will need one tonight." He turns to Sabine and smiles. "I must say, most women I know leap at the chance when I take them shopping, but you, I guess you miss your beskar'gam and buy'ce. I cannot re-create those yet."

 

 

Sabine licks her lips. "You bought me clothes, Loras?" The doorbell chimes as the clothing droids race into the area. Five outfits race into the living room.

 

 

Thrawn barks orders to the droids. "Move here and scan this gorgeous woman. I want accurate measurements. I ask for all these data to be kept private." He turns to Sabine. "Please, Sab'ika, stand here. Do not move until they tell you to move."

 

 

Sabine walks into the laser light cross on the ground as she watches Thrawn inhale lift his torso to convince her to do the same. She lifts as she shows the heaviness of her breasts. The laser lights are green, blue, and red, move along every millimeter of her body. She laughs. "Help me, and a very stable genius is feeling me up."

 

"Measurements complete." The droid speaks in a mechanical voice.

 

"I expect alterations for all clothing immediately. I expect the work done in an hour--" Thrawn turns to watch Sabine remove her top and jump into the pool for a swim. "Make that two hours."

 

 

"As you wish." The lead protocol droid responds and takes the dresses to tailor them to Sabine's size, steam clean, and iron them. The droid parade leaves the premises.

 

 

Thrawn presses his "do not disturb" signals for his security detail and comlinks. He races out of his tunic, and he removes his boots at the same time, then drops his pants and removes his undergarments. Sabine swims her laps when Thrawn dives in the pool and catches up to Sabine's strokes with his bulky arms stopping her forward movement. They laugh as they play in the pool. He pecks her over her neck and cheeks.

 

 

Sabine feels his arms as she laughs. The canoodle of her neck as she attempts to go underwater and maneuver around him. He follows her to keep her above water. An easy prediction for him. "Loras, you caught me." She rests in his arms on his lap. "How soon will I be a foregone conclusion and dismissed?"

 

 

Thrawn stares at her then makes an honest suggestion. "Your hip movements are too flashy. Then, your left leg turns outside when it should be on the inside. It is easy for me to follow your flit."

 

 

Sabine kisses him as her hands wander underwater to find his cock and yanks it with a snicker. "How's that for flit."

 

 

Thrawn closes his eyes for a moment in confusion. "I'm not human. It does not hurt - that way." He relaxes his arms to let her go, and then his red eyes meet her. "I'm willing to try something new. You want to yank me, do it with that mouth of yours?"

 

 

Sabine gazes into his glowing red eyes and sinks underwater below him and wraps her mouth around the tip of his cock. She inhales him deep into her throat and sucks. She could feel his abdominal muscles stretch as her tongue swirls around his shaft. He moans as it is a different feeling for him. His mind absorbs it and does not try to comprehend how Sabine knows how to suck his cock.   Be free rings through his mind, and it makes it more enjoyable than his fantasy imagination. Then she opens her mouth wider to engorge his entire shaft to the back of her throat as his veins swell inside her mouth. She could hear him groan and his hips buckle and splash the water. Thrawn looks at her submerged head and stops himself from ejaculating. He lifts her above water and prefers not to cum inside her mouth. He is breeding her, a different kind of sexual enjoyment and satisfaction. Yet, this day had been stressful, and Sabine's fellatio alleviates his stress quickly.

 

 

She stares at him to see his satisfaction. "How's that?"

 

 

Thrawn grabs her and gives her a quick kiss as he flips her on her stomach. He spreads her legs and slides his cock into her pussy as he stands there for a long moment before he thrusts into her hard. Her exhale evokes a guttural pleasurable vocalization when he pushes inside her. He slides out and pushes deeper as he grunts each movement. As two songbird's harmony, they become louder. His hands grip her shoulders as he thrusts harder, picking up the pace. He hears Sabine's breathless groans. Then his cock hoods with ribbons of ejaculate enter her womb. He stops his hard thrust and lets his seed flow from his gans to her womb as he pants from the intensity. He breathes with a commanding voice. "Excellent ch'acin't."

 

 

Her torso rests on the patio as she pants heavily and quivers from orgasm as Thrawn's cock still swells and pulses inside her. He whispers. "Sab'ika, what are you doing to me? Please, do not kill me like the Mandalorian you are." His cock slides out of her pussy, as she stumbles out of the pool. He extends his hand to help her exit the pool. "Come, let's shower. We need to get ready for this event."

 

 

Sabine ignores his comment, holds his hand, and follows him to the showers as his arms pull her into his. He grabs the sudsy liquid cleanser and a sea sponge and then washes her body to foaminess. Thrawn kisses her and suds himself similarly. He adds more soap to her backside to make her slippery, slides his cock into her pussy, and thrusts hard against her into the shower glass door. The water rinses the soap off her back when he is about to cum, and he stops his orgasm. "We need to conserve our energy, Sab'ika." He turns off the water and grabs a huge bath towel to dry her thoroughly. He slathers lotion over her body and retrieves a comb for her hair. 

 

 

Sabine stops him. "Loras, I know how to groom myself. I can also paint - myself with make-up." Sabine shakes throughout her body every time Thrawn touches her. His touch reverberates across her skin to multi-orgasmic titillation. It made her desire him more and forgo any event plans he has for her. Her focus blurs with each orgasm and then stops for a moment until he reaches orgasm. Sabine believes all men can't control their orgasms.  It seems   Thrawn can.

 

 

Thrawn gives her a kiss on her lips that causes Sabine to tremble and sway onto the floor. He catches her, sits her on a chair, and speaks evenly to her about the event's seriousness. "Sab'ika, as you know, we're going to another Imperial event. I need for you to act more elusive than you did at the Art Auction in Canto Bight. You do not have to speak to anyone, and please do not be afraid. But do not discuss our relationship with anyone because it is none of their business. Promise me you won't show off your Rebel scum views at this event."

 

 

"Why? You sound worried." Sabine interrupts, slurring her words.

 

 

Thrawn's eyes dart to hers. "You are more discerning than most I have dated. Have many underestimated you, like the Governor? You know she will be there. Use your perceptive abilities with intention, especially at this event." He holds her chin as the droid enters with one of the tailored gowns as he acknowledges its presence. "Oh, you're done. Thank you." He turns to Sabine. "I hope you like this gown I picked out for you, my ch'ach Sab'ika."

 

 

The gown is an off-white silk crepe formal that crosses at her breasts with tiny gold fleck gemstones throughout the gown. Gold gemstone sequins surround the edges. She puts it on and turns to Thrawn with a weak smile. Sabine became very aware of her body in this gown.

 

 

"Beautiful." To Thrawn, she appears like a goddess as he smiles and kisses her. He wore a different formal uniform with a royal cerulean sash with gold embroidered edges. He wore black patent shoes than boots, and his tunic did not have a belt, a different style for Imperials. Both his tunic and pants are the same off-white as Sabine's gown. He wore his rank insignia badge.

 

 

He opens a jewelry box that holds a lightning black opal pendant on a chain and puts it around her neck. Then he hands her opal earrings, unsure if he needed to put them in her ears. "Your ears are pierced. I was not sure?"

 

 

"My family pierced my ears as a baby," Sabine adds the black lightning opals earrings into her ears. "There." She stares at him. "Where did you get these gemstones?"

 

 

"They were my mother's."

 

 

"Oh?" Sabine felt undeserving of such an honor.

 

 

"They go beautifully with your gown, and I felt you should have real gemstones to wear," Thrawn said.

 

 

"Well, you look handsome, Loras." The only awkward response Sabine felt she could say.

 

 

Thrawn flashes a smile as he coifs the last few strands of his hair. "Thank you, ch'acin't. And you look exquisite."

 

 

"I'm still concerned that the other Imperials will be able to identify me. I am without my weapons, and if I fight, everyone will know I'm that Mandalorian -- the one they are looking for."

 

 

"You and I will have to trust each other. We will complement each other. Besides, your only concern is the Emperor, Lord Vader, and maybe your friend, Grand Moff Tarkin." He looks into her eyes. "You are my vesen, my woman. They can't hurt you because, if they do, they will have to hurt me."

 

 

"Grand Admiral, don't you think that's rather rash?" Sabine stares

He goes to his bureau for his credentials and documentation code cylinders. "No. You don't want to go to this event?"

 

 

"Not really, but I must do my duty, right?" She says uneasily. "Besides," She uncrosses her hosiery legs in her sky-high heels that match the dress and stands. She is still shorter than him. "I'd rather meet your 'people' Mitth'raw'nuruodo, tout suite."

 

 

Thrawn grins. "I see why that gambler dresses you with discount Canto Bight, fashion designers."

 

 

"Pardon?"

 

 

"The designs of your original gown are similar to a stolen one from a high-end fashion designer in Canto Bight. The sizing of said gown, which is rare to reproduce by pure luck, he either stole that gown with faulty fabrics or smuggled a similar dress from one planet, and the added upgrades. But, ch'acin't, the reason why you look seductive is solely a natural talent. I only enhance it by those fashion designers who created your original gown." Thrawn explains. "No Imperial woman would wear a gown from Canto Bight. They are too expensive, and one needs to be styled specifically to one body and measurements. The Canto Bight fashion designers are artisans and therefore very selective about who they allow wearing their gowns."

 

 

Sabine blinks a few moments, unable to understand what Thrawn told her. Pompous haute couture and glamour are not her things. But, what is Thrawn saying? Her concerns are to avoid this travesty when she returns to Krownest in Mandalorian space if he does not kill her first. "If I don't go, I'll go to prison. Well, let me say, I could handle prison. I could handle the spice mines of Kessel, Grand Admiral." Sabine eyes even.

 

 

"And I cannot handle this event without your elusive mystery to keep the gossips at bay and them away from destroying my military career." Thrawn stares at her as the tone of his voice sounds even with a tinge of frustration. His eyes dim, and the red color dulls. Sabine blinks as she discovers the glow in his eyes indicates his mood. For a fraction of a second, he re-sparks the glow. "I need you to be my glamorous decoy while I tend to serious Imperial business. I do not need to worry if I failed to speak to some Imperial human wannabe, man or woman that only wants me for sexual conquest and trophy." He mumbles. "Ravri'ihah fetishization."

 

 

Thrawn's words stun Sabine's heart. He sounds truthful with disgust and hurt. She attempts to make light of his anger with a jibe. "Ah, Loras, but you are so tasty." She rises and walks to him as he sits in his chair while the droids complete his final grooming. "I am labeled, too. Often. But at this event, if they learn I'm a Rebel, well, you know, they will execute me. No trial. No detainment. And you..." She carefully adds his final code cylinder in his tunic's side lapel.

 

 

"You're beautiful, Sabine. Do you know that? Like a work of art." He places his hand on her ass, lifting her gown, then he pauses with a grimace. "If I start, I won't be able to stop, and none of us will make this mandatory event tonight."

 

 

The Imperial Lambda Shuttle arrives on his rooftop.

 

 

Thrawn wraps, a pale pink cashmere stole around Sabine's shoulders. "I got this for you."

 

 

"Vor'e Grand Admiral. So - where is this event?"

 

 

He grins for a moment, hesitating, then tells her in flight. "We are going to an Imperial Construction Module, actually in upper orbit of one of Catonnica's moons."

 

 

"Are you taking me to a rave party, Loras?"

 

 

"A what?"

 

 

"A rave party, where they tell you the location at the last minute and anything can happen. They have them on several planets: Zeltros, Ord Mantell, Nar Shaddaa -- though those locations are more adult. Then there is Coruscant in the lower levels. You didn't go to one when you were on Coruscant?"

 

 

"You party, Sab'ika?"

 

 

"Well, no. I can party, but no. Mandalorians aren't allowed into raves. Something about rowdiness and disintegrations." Back to her chatty self.

 

 

Thrawn puts his hand on her leg. "My rowdy vesen." He chuckles. "Woe to anyone that attempts to suppress or tame you, ch'acin't. Art does not suppress; it is there as a treasure."

 

 

Sabine could tell Thrawn had modulated his voice to sound soothing and hypnotic. It calms her before her "execution" to an event with the Emperor. While she believes he truly does support the arts, then the rumors were true. Thrawn held a collection of her art. However, a tingling sensation buzzes in her ear.  Believe some of what Thrawn says, but not everything.  Then dutiful thoughts pop in her head, and she needs to find a way to report to Phoenix Squadron immediately.

 

 

For the moment, Thrawn did not treat her like a Rebel, and it gnaws at her. It is as if he listens to her and values her comments. But her questions are not rebellious, and his comments are not Imperial like General Hera Syndulla's reports on him. Sabine's comments are exceptionally provocative, and Thrawn answers her questions honestly. Why would he lie to her or not answer her questions? She has had sex with him every 4 hours since they first met.  Am I being bred by Thrawn?  She thinks.  Am I okay with that?   Then it dawns on her that she is okay with him breeding her and her bearing his younglings. Why? He would keep her and the Mandalorians safe from the Empire, mostly if the rumors of threats in the galaxy were true. A vast ship's threats can destroy entire planets and some odd, asteroid-like ships that eat metal hulls, per Canderous Ordo's legendary report. She squeezes her eyes to wipe away her ruminations and stay in the present and leave cares and worries for tomorrow.

Chapter Text

They arrive in high orbit, but it is not an Imperial Construction Module, it is a very large prototype ship the size of 2-3 Star Destroyers. Sabine fidgets her fingers when she sees it and glares at Thrawn when stands in awe of the ship.

Thrawn smiles as his private research proves his theory that these ships will be in the arsenal of the Empire as he recites. “Executor-class Star Dreadnought, with at least 5000 turbolasers and ion cannons. Two pits, 13 hull thrusters, and an entire city substructure to protect personnel.” He grins as he watches it. “Amazing they brought the prototype here.”

“Sir, you are being hailed. Grand Moff Tarkin.” One of the Death Troopers announces.

“Patch him through and deliver our landing codes,” Thrawn announces.

A huge hologram of Grand Moff Tarkin appears. “Grand Admiral Thrawn. I must meet with you, immediately when you land before the event. Is the Governor with you?’

“Yes, let’s meet, and no, the Governor is not with me. Perhaps I should contact her for you?”

His eyes dart to see who is with Thrawn. But Thrawn blocks his access to see his, “date”, conveniently. Thrawn’s hands behind him, send universal signals to Sabine. Thankfully, Sabine understands them as a Mandalorian warrior. She dims the lights of the passenger area as she glares at the Death Troopers daring them to announce her.

Grand Moff Tarkin is unaware that this display was happening stares at Thrawn. “For her sake, I expect her here, too. There are new developments afoot that we just discovered. I will contact her.”

“As you wish, Moff Tarkin. We are in the tractor beam and we will be docking, soon.” Thrawn says.

The lambda shuttle enters the new docking bay, not filled with TIE fighters or other ships. But the bay will soon be filled with a complement of them. Sabine unbuckles herself and exits the landing plank on the arm of Thrawn. He gives no indication that this part of the game has started, Sabine pinches him lightly and he smiles as his red eyes spark in a nod to her. The game has started -- all the reassurances she needs and her hips sway like Lando told her to do.

Tarkin enters the hanger with his Stormtrooper detail and a couple of Imperial assistants. His swarthy warped grin is not for Thrawn, it is for the sway movements of Sabine as he recognizes her from the art auction. He realizes that Thrawn got his rest and relaxation. “Grand Admiral Thrawn, I see you made it safely with a very special friend.” He nods to Sabine.

Sabine knows about Tarkin and the rumors about how problematic he is -- his misogynistic patriarchy. She curtsies low enough to see if he would sneak a peek at her bust. The Imperial idiot gawks at it. She grins lightly at his assistant, a woman follows her curtsy with her eyes. She gawks at Sabine’s show, too. Sabine nods kindly to them in deference but knows everything thing she needs to know about that hangar bay, what is in it, and how to leave.

Thrawn pretends he does not understand human genuflection for the moment and says with strong military emphasis. “Indeed, her name is...well...hmm? What is your name dear?”

“Me’ven? Me’copaani? Kebiin Tal’hu’kaat Sur’haisse?” Sabine states in Mando’a with a very thick Krownest accent.

Thrawn closes his eyes to not laugh because he actually understands Mando’a, though he cannot speak it, yet. But he knew that Tarkin did not speak the Mandalorian language and his assistant did not, either. Only a language protocol droid could understand and one is not present.

Tarkin looks at Thrawn with a cheeky grin and pulls him away from Sabine. “For whatever it is you are doing with her, let’s hope it does not require her to speak,” Tarkin states evenly with a small lined smirk as he places dibs on knowing Sabine more. once Thrawn is done with her. They leave.

Tarkin and Thrawn leave Sabine alone with two Death Troopers from Thrawn’s security detail. The Death Troopers look at her to escort her to the event. She looks up at them in fear. She hates abandonment, but fortunately, she found a way to make explosive detonator spikes she wore around her thigh for protection. She built them during Thrawn’s meetings in the refreshers away from his droids from one of Thrawn’s sidearm ammunition, and a few other implements she could scrounge up in the kitchen, like the silverware still in the wrapping left unused. Weapons are a requirement for Sabine, they are her first step in protecting herself.

Sabine stares at two large inconspicuous doors in the absence of fear as the Death Troopers grip their blasters tightly. The chill down her spine increases when she realizes these doors were her demise. She decides to fall with dignity, an explosion on a new Imperial ship. As she gets ready to go through with the act, the Death Troopers open the doors to the room and--.

 


 

Thrawn heart sank when he left Sabine alone in the hanger, but he listens intently to Tarkin. Tarkin’s proclivity to desire attractive women that could be purchased. Tarkin would have identified Sabine immediately if she spoke Basic. Then execution of both of them. But when Sabine spoke Mando’a in an unfamiliar accent, Thrawn knew that Tarkin’s xenophobic bias would explode and end his quest to learn who Sabine really is.

Tarkin did not care about the loss of the painting, his focus is on the prototype Star Destroyer Dreadnought. Two more are being built. Grand General Tagge would have one, and Tarkin searches for another Imperial officer to command the second ship. “I want you to command this second ship. I think you will make an excellent addition, Grand Admiral Thrawn.”

“Sir, I prefer the 7th fleet and I thought those decisions are usually made by the Emperor.” Thrawn admonishes.

“Look at this ship, Thrawn! These threats you speak of in the Unknown Regions could never overcome the power of this type of ship along with the Death Star.” Tarkin attempts to convince him.

Thrawn places his hand on one of the bulkheads and smiles. “It’s a massive ship, but truly, I must decline.”

“Can I ask why?”

Thrawn sighs. “Honestly?” He sees Tarkin nod his head. “You have the Death Star, and I was hoping--”

“To be stationed on it?”

“No. Sir. Permission to speak freely?” Thrawn stares at him to wait for Tarkin’s approval, which he gives. “It’s the Governor, my mission in that system is over, but she wants my fleet of TIE Defenders to be her private military. Truthfully, I think she secretly communicates with the Rebel insurgency.”

Stone-faced Tarkin is unmoved and not surprised. “A backwater sector. She is fortunate to have gotten as far as she has.” He stares at Thrawn and chides him. “In fact, I had placed her with me aboard the Death Star after you complete your missions in that sector, pending any mishaps, like Batonn.”

“I was awarded the rank of grand admiral after my victory on Batonn, Moff Tarkin,” Thrawn replies.

“Yes, I know. The Emperor is aware of your situation, fully.” Tarkin’s smile warps if only slightly. “But, if you’re willing to kill insurgents with some collateral damage, then you would do more by commanding this second dreadnought.”

“You know, I never ordered those deaths of innocents, Sir. I suspect you know who did. All rights and privileges should go to that person. That person is the hero in all of this.” Thrawn's red-in-red eyes that gurgle in blood follows the cold steel blue eyes of Tarkin.

“She is not military trained. She has not moved her way up the ranks within any formal military training, nor has she organized troops on her own planet. That would be the first step in leadership if she had done that. She has milked all the resources of her system to buy her way to the top.” Tarkin snorts.

“Then name another in her steed.” Thrawn advocated.

Tarkin stipples his fingers for a long moment. “Have you met Natasi Daala?”

“I know of her, but I have never met her. Is she rated to run a ship like this? If so, then I would support your efforts, pending verification.”

Tarkin stands and nods to Thrawn. “Grand Admiral, I am glad to have gotten that out of the way. I appreciate your honesty. Now, let’s get to this event and let’s not keep our ‘wives’ waiting.”

“Your assistant is your wife?” Thrawn asks incredulously but does not correct Tarkin on his assessment of Sabine. He follows him to the repulsorlift as it takes them to the event area.

Chapter Text

Grand Admiral Thrawn enters the lodge aboard a prototype Imperial Executor-class Star Dreadnought and views a 50 Imperials milling about in it. A false fireplace glows as its flames dissipate. The smooth wood panelling wraps the walls and columns with moldings made from the planet Alderaan for its dark mahogany lumber. The Empire logged all the Alderaanian mahogany timber only for the shavings for the wood panelling made popular by Imperial interior decor. Too bad the entire planet's mahogany forests' ecosystem collapsed.   

Thrawn notices that the bar and furniture were of the same mahogany, and the style is a fern bar similar to the bars on the planet Corellia, several palm green plants from the planet Scarif, and green leaded glass lamp with a mosaic design that dimly lit around the area. Along the walls were taxidermied heads of creatures from various systems that hung around, from terentereks of Drommand Kaas slaughtered by the famed military leader, Grand Moff Odile Vaiken in 3600 BBY, to the five-kilometer wingspan of the pilotta Thrantas of Alderaan. Several coral alabaster pedestals from the planet, Savareen display Krayt Dragon pearls of Tatooine and large kyber crystal shards of Ilum. Thrawn sighs, knowing that the Empire destroys planets by taking all their raw materials for starships and arrogant opulence as demanded by its Imperials. He knew he is a part of the Imperials, but he is Chiss, an alien; his people of the Chiss Ascendancy deplete raw materials from planets. They would never do it because his homeworld Csilla suffered a cataclysmic event, and his people survived by conserving their resources. Then, they expanded into their space to bring balance to the star system and its wonders. To change the hoarding of the Empire -- he is only one person, and he could feel his heart sink as he stands to survey his surroundings.

Thrawn could see an alien advantage in the ultraviolet light spectrum that humans did not have and realize that a yellow-green vapor flowing through the lodge. His heightened sense of smell tells him that he is from the planet, Lothal, where he is building his TIE Defenders. Lothalian greel-wood sap is made into a narcotic incense that guests inhale to inebriation to relax and coerce them to divulge information. His brow rises with a smirk because any good interrogator would create an atmosphere to target those more amenable to reveal secrets. And Thrawn is a Chiss, which his metabolism is different, and the narcotic incense only causes him a slight buzz. Then, his jaw shifts tightly to an indiscernible flush of his Cerulean skin when he becomes aware that Sabine is not immune to its narcotic incense. And he could not see her in the lodge. His buzz wanes from his worry that he tries to conceal when he needs her to remain sober to pull off their ruse.

He walks around in the lodge at an imperceptible fast pace, and he sees various Imperials that wore formal uniform attire, dissimilar to the art auction. The chief of the Imperial Navy, Conan Antonio Motti from the planet, Nixor, wears a red and black sash across his chest to suggests he is royalty. He is not. Thrawn could recognize that Motti thinks he is topping secrets off to Director of Advanced Weaponry, Orson Callam Krennic, who Thrawn has seen in holograms, but already distrusts because Krennic tries to pass off false data to the Emperor. But to play their game, Thrawn has to show deference because they only see a blue-skinned alien near-human that should not be on this prototype ship. But to Thrawn's chagrin, they do not care to acknowledge his presence. Thrawn smirks as he walks past them, thinking they are -- xenocentric chauvinists.

Thrawn quickly passes by Grand General Cassio Tagge in a standard Imperial khaki uniform with a yellow sash of his nobility. Tagge family are nobles. He converses with Colonel Wulff Yularen, who wears his off-white Imperial tunic and long Jodhpurs breech flared black pants. They actively discuss armor and blasters points as if they were going to hunt for one of the beasts of some planet to place it on the wall. Thrawn stops and nods in deference to them.

“Ah, Grand Admiral Thrawn." Yularen's voice welcomes him. "I was just mentioning a new kind of blaster cartridge for those Tusklan beasts told us about in the Chiss Ascendancy space. That the way you hunt them is from all different directions, correct? Do you have time to explain it to us again?” Yularen voice commands Thrawn to stay for confirmation in the debate.

“Is that true, Grand Admiral?” Tagge studies Thrawn’s eyes cautiously. Tagge does not want his reputation sullied by cavorting with an alien, but Thrawn is exceptional at what he does, so he has heard. Tagge shifts his chin slightly with the expectation of an answer in a secret hope that perhaps he will work with Thrawn.

Thrawn stops his tracks to answer the question respectfully. “Grand General Tagge, and Colonel Yularen, I must say your debate is fascinating. No. We had several weeks ago in the board meeting, and I said that it depends on your weapon's bore. You can choose how you want the pelt. If you want to hunt and kill the Tusklan quickly, then you use a large bore weapon. But the first shot better count to kill the Tusklan, or it will kill you upon its charge. But if you want to attack all sides, you use tiny stingflies. The stingflies kill the beast slowly. However, the pelt is damaged. The point to the cadets which we," Thrawn looks to Yularen, then back to Tagge, "Is to teach patience in the process of hunting, and therefore, strategic battle planning.” Thrawn nods and steps quickly. “If you would excuse me, I am looking for my--someone.”

Yularen glances at Tagge to see he accepts Thrawn's answer. Indeed, the impression left by Thrawn on Tagge is favorable with his nod. Then when Tagge prepares for another question, Thrawn is gone. Tagge stares back at Yularen, whose head turns to follow Thrawn's path.  "Is the Grand Admiral married?" Tagge asked.

Ashen into surprise on the look from Yularen's face as if he knew what Thrawn does privately. "I -- he has an exemplary and respectable record that does not allow for such," His voice quivers slightly. "Things." He blinks, trying to make sure his secret weapon against the underhanded Imperial machine of blindsided backstabbing. Yularen knew Thrawn could easily unravel Imperials' intentions, and for whatever reason, Thrawn would tell him about his results. But, in Thrawn's office, he describes the Rebel Sabine Wren's painting and the discovery that Kallus is the Rebel spy, Fulcrum. Yularen's brow furrows slightly during Thrawn's description painting. By the inflection of Thrawn's voice that seems like he is happy to share with the ISB Director. Is Yularen's perception correct? How could Thrawn have feelings for this girl? Yularen brushes off any rumor-mongering as he stands with Tagge.

Tagge, unaware of Yularen's close connection to Thrawn, shrugs. "It would seem Thrawn has a relationship the way he is looking for this person. I know I do that when I have lost my wife in a crowd. She will be fashionable late as usual to this event. Let's hope it is before the Emperor and Lord Vader arrive."

A voice interrupts the discussion that picks up on the tail-end of the Tusklan discussion. "I think families bring stability that we desperately need in the Empire." Baron Leon Danthe of the similarly named Mining Corporation on the planet Gorse with drinks. "The Chiss is off in a hurry, isn't he. Let's hope he is happy. Cheers."

Thrawn does not complete his sentence and walks past Admirals Screed, and Rancit wears gray double-breasted long jackets with button hangs. They gobble down hors d'oeuvres still alive as the server droids bring them more. Thrawn nods to them, respectfully and they nod back. Disgusting eaters.

Admiral Garrick Versio enters the room with his entourage as Thrawn searches hurriedly for Sabine. Thrawn is in a panic and turns to search for her. He wears his off-white Imperial tunic with his Jodhpur flared black pants. He touches Thrawn to pull him aside. “This ship is huge--” He sees Thrawn’s rank and the sash that represents his people. “I’m sorry, Sir. I--.”

Thrawn nods for Versio’s oversight. “It’s quite alright; I’m looking for a woman in an off-white and gold crepe dress -- she can’t speak Basic yet.”

Versio’s brow frowns, then turns to a laugh. “Oh, yes, the young woman you met at the art auction. My - she is one helluva a looker. A woman like that does not need to speak much Basic, Grand Admiral. Good luck finding her before some other Imperial does.”

Thrawn smiles as he winces at that comment and continues his search. He notices that not many spouses of the elite Imperials are at the lodge. Moreover, he does not see many women, Imperial officers, or otherwise. It confounds him. There is more gender diversity at the art auction than at this formal ship launching event. These invitations must be very selective.

Grand Moff Tarkin walks up to him with a young woman captain in a short green jacket with a long skirt with a front slit. “Grand Admiral Thrawn, I would like to introduce you to Commander Natasi Daala.” His swarthy smile moves even across his face.

“Grand Admiral Thrawn. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard great things about you.” She grins as she extends her hand to shake Thrawn’s hand boldly.

Thrawn shakes her hand with a firm grip and stares directly into her eyes. “Commander. I hear you are an expert slicer. You cracked the codes of our--” He mouths. “Rebel insurgents?”

She titters at Thrawn’s compliment and humility of his rank. “I doubt you can say all that. I just programmed on the com that predicts the Scum’s maneuvers.”

“Pardon? Scum?” Thrawn blithely asks as he scans the room for Sabine.

“Oh?” She laughs and says casually. “Rebel scum. Everyone uses that term. Sir? Are you looking for someone, Grand Admiral?”

Then in a corner alone, Sabine stands in front of a piece of holographic art. She removes purple and orange spraypaint bottles and paints over the Imperial art quickly. Thrawn gawks internally, but his face did not show it as Sabine vandalizes the art with her graffiti. She paints over the landscape and animal life paintings. She thinks she is hidden. He wonders how long it will take the Empire to learn it is her, for he already knows. Then she looks around to see if anyone is watching her as she scans the room. She catches Thrawn’s red-in-red eyes that glow with ire when she sees him. Sabine shifts her jaw in pride for her vandalism in front of Thrawn as he puts one hand in his pocket. She works through the crowd and enters into the group as he speaks.

With a smile, Thrawn grins as his eyes slightly flick toward Sabine and her compliancy. “I believe that currently, we have to try several tactics to pound hard against the Rebels’ backs with heavy thrusts - err, I mean - threats.”

“How do you plan to do that without expanding the military,” Daala asks.

“Yes, Thrawn, we have several concurrent projects.” Tarkin chimes.

“Managing them one individual at a time, vigorously to dismantle their defenses, but only after intense study.” Thrawn bores into Sabine’s eyes. “May I uh, introduce you to - my date.”

Tarkin and Daala tilt their heads at the same time to learn her name.

“Ni gai Sabine aliit Wren,” Sabine says rapidly in Mando’a with a thick Krownest accent.

Tarkin and Daala stare at her attempting to follow her and then look at Thrawn.

“I’m a Chiss; I have no idea what she said.” Thrawn laughs.

Sabine looks up at him as a droid server doles shots of whisky. Thrawn grabs two, one for Sabine and one for him. “Watch it; it burns your tongue,” Thrawn warns her, sticking out his tongue to show her and then downs his with a grimace from the alcohol burn. He watches Sabine imbibes her similarly, without a grimace. Tarkin and Daala drink theirs and grimace from the alcohol burn.

Tarkin speaks. “Whisky’s good. Where’s it from?”

“One of Canto Bight's moons.” A new voice enters the fold from the Governor. “Governor Tarkin. Commander. Guest?” She turns to Thrawn with a slight sneer. “Grand Admiral. I provide the best when I hear the Empire brought me a Dreadnaught prototype to my system.”

“Yes, well, after all you have been through in this last system rotation, it seems that you would hardly have time to attend a function such as this,” Tarkin announces.

Daala presses Tarkin inquiring what he means. He whispers in her ear about the art auction fiasco. “Oh? Her?” Daala exclaims with another titter. Then she sees a friend and rushes to catch her. It was Assistant Director Ysanne Isard in an off-shouldered burnt orange dress that fits her form perfectly.

Both men, Tarkin and Thrawn, slightly grin as they gaze at Daala's and Isard's large asses leaving them. Then they turn back with a gaze at Sabine, who wears a deep low cut neckline bustier. The neckline on the dress lifts and plumps together voluptuous breasts, which often are concealed behind her Mandalorian armor. In truth, both men looked down at her dress to see them jiggle when she moves with their discretion not appearing on their faces. 

The Governor glares at Daala and Isard and then to Thrawn, who ignores her when his hand falls to pats Sabine on her ass to draw attention. “I must say we caught the thieves, but they destroyed the painting.”

Sabine jumps slightly from Thrawn's pat on her ass and then releases a gasp because what the governor said is not true. She knew that her team knows the pricelessness of the painting. Unless the ditzy Governor covers her ass to explain her security nightmare at the art auction, after all, Sabine was able to enter without much scrutiny. But then, of course, she had an idea why. She diverted the Imperial's attention as they gaze upon her in a provocative dress, and her body lifted to appeal to them sensually. It worked for Thrawn, did it not? 

Thrawn knew the Governor is lying.  He notices Sabine tugging with her big beautiful gold-brown eyes to indicate she needs to use the refresher. “Yes, but no dawdling.”

Tarkin whispers. “How does she understand what you’re saying, Thrawn?”

Thrawn shrugs. “You know, I do not know?  It is truly a pleasure to have that communication than to hear nagging.” Thrawn and Tarkin watch Sabine walk away, swaying her hips with her large ass that bounces to the refresher.

The Governor interrupts. “I hate to interrupt your patriarchy, but honestly, Tarkin, your commander? And you Thrawn, you got an escort from Zeltros to fulfill your needs?”

“That will be quite enough!” Tarkin speaks up. “You are fortunate that this Rebel plot does not implicate you.”

“I had nothing to do with it!”

“But it was your art auction event, and you lost a piece of the Emperor’s collection.” Tarkin chides.

“Revise your report, Governor. You know that the Rebels did not destroy a priceless painting.” Thrawn glares into her wide eyes. Then he sees in the distance a young Loyalty Commission Officer, Sinjir Rath Velus. With a slight grin, he offers an alternative in a lowered tone. “The Rebels stole the painting, and you may know them, personally. We confirmed the presence of the CEC-VCX-100 light freighter in high orbit. If you confirm this intelligence, the Empire might absolve you of this indiscretion.”

“No, Thrawn! You do not get to tell me what to do. No one will. We could have created a technology center of the Empire happen. But you thought it better to exclude me from your little plans when you brought that-that -- little whore!” She snarks.

“Then Governor, why don’t you explain it to the Emperor when he and Lord Vader arrive,” Tarkin states flatly. He catches another shot of whisky to drink.

“What? The Emperor will be here?” She shouts, so every Imperial present heard it.

The Imperials in the room stop, and all eyes were on her; she slows her movements and glares at Thrawn, but Tarkin blocks any more verbal attacks on Thrawn.

 


 

.

Daala chats with Isard in the refresher as she interrupts Daala's blathering about her position again. “Pardon me, Natasi. Is that the System Governor who broke poor little Ottlis Dos' heart? She's such a floozie?”

“I think so, too. The Governor has no military training and somehow hurts a gorgeous intelligence agent who has -- uses." Daala says 'uses' not meaning missions but for other nefarious uses too pornographic for civil society. "I heard she could fight, but rumor has it that some little Mandalorian girl electrocuted the mess out of her in an Imperial detainment facility.” Daala cavalierly answers.

Sabine exits the refresher. She acts like she cannot understand the full conversation as she washes her hands. Then Isard holsters her tiny side gun to her thigh. “Oh. I thought we were in here alone? Look, we know you understand Basic, courtesan, so hear this: do not tell anyone here of my weapon, and I won’t kill you. Understand?”

Sabine moistens her lower lip and follows Isard's fear in her shaking eyeballs. Isard is 5 cm taller than Sabine in her sky-high heels. Sabine opens her purse and adds some lip gloss to her lips to expose her personal self against Thrawn's warning to handle these bitches as they should be. “You need to place the TX32 barrel toward your outer thigh, so when you grab for a shot, it will improve your aim. You only have six shots and two lethal targets on a body. But I’m sure you know that Director Isard.”

Both Natasi Daala and Ysanne Isard's eyes widen then they turn to each other and laugh profusely. “YOU. LITTLE. FAKER!” They say in unison.

Isard quickly washes her hands and races to Sabine. “Are you an assassin? Because I’m hiring, and I must say - You. Are. Gorgeous. None of these Imperial assholes would suspect you -- too busy looking at your tits and ass.”

“You know, in the galaxy, we girls must stick together.” Daala chimes. “You are on a highly secure base. Do the Rebels own you? Because the only way you’d know about that gun is if you are one of them.”

Sabine stops to look at them with a sly grin.

Isard looks as Daala, then offers. “Your secret is safe with us. But good luck fucking that Blue alien admiral if he's your target. I guess that’s your thing. Just know he’s not human. He can't give you the kind of life you desire with a human male in the Imperial Patriarchy. Chiss are devoid of feeling anything worth your effort.”

Daala says. “Hey, don’t feel bad; sometimes, you have to fuck who you want to get ahead in this place. I am.”

Isard blurts. “You are?”

Daala says. “And he’s damn good.”

They laugh together and then look at Sabine. She closes her eyes to draw an image of what it be like to punch these bitches faces into the mirror. It is a fleeting second, and she hates gossip. Thrawn’s warning about Imperial xenophobia proves to be true. She slowly opens her eyes and stares into Daala's and Isard's eyes with a huge grin. “Oh, what do I know? Canto Bight designers fashion my gown, and I can dance the Zeltros Courtesan Tango.”

Isard and Daala chuckle staring at her body, grinning at one another.

Sabine fake giggles as she exits the refresher hurriedly but bumps into the chest armor of an Imperial. She follows it up to his face and sees the Loyalty Officer Sinjir Rath Velus, who drinks whiskey on ice in a lowball glass.

Daala and Isard follow her but sees the Loyalty Officer's Imperial insignia. They look at him and hug one another, not wanting to cross swords with a Loyalty Officer, a nascent agency in the Empire, for fear of an investigation for treason and handing it to ISB. They stop their bullying of Sabine and quickly leave in separate directions.

Sabine stares in the middle of his chest with his Imperial cog emblem. She looks up at his lightly tan face.

Sinjir takes a whiskey drink as the ice cliques against the lowball glass and smiles slightly at Sabine. “Your graffiti on that holographic art is perfect. It adds color and vibrance to this dull-drab place.”

“So, another Imperial that likes like art, too? I ought to give art lessons if they were legal.” Sabine mumbles.

“Does Grand Admiral Thrawn know who you are, Sabine Wren? Exactly who you are?” Sinjir counters.

Sabine nods.

Sinjir closes his eyes to process his next comment. “Everything that you are? Meaning, no one here can harm you in the Empire despite your -- silly past alliances?" He draws out the 's' in his comment and then quickly shifts his eyes at Thrawn speaks to Imperial officers. "Or dalliances?”

Sabine narrows her eyes in confusion. “What is your name?”

“Loyalty Officer Sinjir Rath Velus from the Loyalty Commission.” He places his hands behind his back.

“Ranov’l’alor?” Sabine asks in her heavily accented Krownest Mando’a.

“With the little Mandalorian I know, then yes, the Imperial Secret Service under ISB.” Sinjir prides himself on his translation skills and knowing what Sabine spoke. He takes a more somber look. “Have these Imperials learned who you are?”

“Ner’aliit naka’mir.” She looks away.

Sinjir puts his hands on his hips. “Well, girl, how are you going to get yourself out of this mess you cooked up? Will you shoot us all?” He chuckles at his joke.

Sabine realizes his inflections and genuflection. She stands on her tiptoes and lends Sinjir's ear to whisper. “Grand Admiral Thrawn's thrusts are quite vigorous, and I like fucking him.”

Sinjir gives a strange look to wonder what the hell would Thrawn see in her to fuck her like wildly that? He studies her body. Thrawn was a boob and ass man. Thrawn is a sapiosexual who loves it when certain women wear sky-high heels to strut around privately. Sinjir read Thrawn's dossier. Not one blemish of personal indiscretion on his record. But his love of art what unprecedented. No one knew why until Sinjir looks at Sabine's dress Thrawn obviously purchased for her -- Thrawn is a boob man and probably has a lactation fetish. He likes to assert his dominance over sugar babies. 

At that moment, off in the distance, another Chiss woman enters the bar with a pregnant belly and an Imperial man with the rank badge of commander. Still, he wears another military uniform with a Chiss sigil. Sinjir tilts his head and starts to piece together the picture as the circumstances unfold. “How much do you know about the Chiss?”

“Other than recent events? Nothing. Myths and stereotypes spacers tell. You are secret service; you tell me ?” Sabine replies.

“Do you know that -- Chiss?” Sinjir points toward the Chiss woman.

“Nayc.” Sabine looks to see her and then looks up at him.

“Something is going on.” Sinjir takes a deep sip of his liquor. “Thrawn better have your best interests at heart because if he does not, the Empire will have Hell to pay, and it all started with this Chiss invasion. Are you sure he knows everything about you, Sabine?”

Sabine shrugs. “He says he does.”

“The Emperor and Lord Vader will be here in minutes. You must be with Grand Admiral Thrawn to pay homage to His Majesty and Lord Vader. None of this Rebel Scum osik. Understand?” Sinjir orders.

Sabine stares at him and complies with a grin. “Okay.”

“I will find a way to get you back to Mandalorian Space. It might take 2-3 days before I can do that. But I’ll find some way.” Sinjir thinks.

Sabine presses her lips and admits. “I did not steal that painting. It’s a weird painting, though.”

“I know. I saw both of you. I know who stole the painting. The Governor did not steal it, but she lied about it. I don’t know why she does this, and she has been  warned.”

Sabine raises her brows in confusion and then rolls her eyes as she pieces the Governor's ignorance together. She scoots across the crowded pub between filthy Imperials.

Sinjir watches Thrawn from a distance. Thrawn approaches the other Chiss in congratulatory gestures and hugs of joy. “Sabine, do not discuss our conversation with Thrawn.” He gently presses Sabine’s side and pushes her toward this Chiss as they speak their language, Cheuhn. Thrawn sees Sabine enter their circle to welcomes her.

In a lowered tone, Thrawn introduces Sabine to Vah'nya with pride. “Sab'ika, you are free to speak Basic here." Then he turns to the Chiss woman, "Nizehin'ci Vah'nya, Sabine Wren of Krownest, Mandalore Space.” Thrawn shifts and stares into Sabine’s eyes. “Sabine aliit Wren, this is Navigator Vah'nya.”

Sabine bows her head and looks at the Chiss woman incredulously due to her pregnancy. “You have a huge belly, Navigator.”

Vah'nya's confusion as her Basic is limited. Eli Vanto whispers to her what Sabine said, and Vah'nya laughs, rubbing her stomach. "Yes. So tired. Swollen."

“Sabine, this is Commander Eli Vanto. He helped me get accustomed to lesser space.” Thrawn introduces.

Vanto places his hand out to take Sabine’s hand.  “Hi, Sabine. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Sabine places her hand carefully on Vanto, and he lifts it to his lips to kiss the back of her hand. The astonishment on her face causes her to squeak. “Why, Commander, so formal.”

“Formality is my duty, milady.” Vanto smiles.

“You’re from Wild Space?” Sabine asks innocently.

“How could you tell?” bemuses Vanto.

“Much to say about Wild Space Hospitality toward Mandalorians.”

Thrawn intervenes. “Eli, I wonder if you are flirting with my vesen?”

Vanto replies succinctly. “Veah tuzir Ch'ah ch'acen'bocat veo Ch'ah csarcican't cart ch'a ticsi bitbo.” Clear and concise Cheuhn.

Vah'nya laughs, holding her stomach as she looks at Sabine approvingly, like a sister who likes her brother’s new girlfriend. “Ch'ah ch'acacah len, Mitth’raw’nuruodo.”

Thrawn smiles. “Ch'ah k'ir, cssi.” His arm drops down Sabine’s back gently as his hand rests at the small of her back. “Sab’ika, are we okay?”

“Lek, Jatne Vod.” Sabine says in her strong Krownest Mando’a accent.

Vanto adds. “And she’s Mandalorian, Grand Admiral?  You must love taking huge risks.”

Thrawn smiles. “Calculated risks. Sab'ika is no problem at all. Besides, I’m a Chiss exile from the Chiss Ascendancy.”

Everyone laughs aloud except Sabine because she did not know what they said. She could see how friendly they are with each other. Whenever she had a chance, she would teach herself the Cheuhn language. She fidgets again as she felt the hairs on her neck rise.

 


 

 

Behind her, a new group enters the room. Royal Red Guards march in as they surround the Emperor. Then Darth Vader comes with his 501st Stormtroopers. Her stomach churns with nausea suddenly for no reason. She looks at Vah'nya, who holds a calm demeanor, and Sabine tries to be like her. The Emperor goes to an assembled throne and sits as all the Imperials kneel. Sabine feels a tug of Thrawn’s hand telling her to kneel as his brows narrow slightly. Sabine kneels and looks around for any new people who enter. Secretively, a young woman, roughly Sabine’s age, is present with traditional hair buns on each side of her head. It was Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan. Barely a sigh of relief from Sabine as she is no longer the only Rebel operative aboard this Imperial vessel.

Then the Emperor lifts his hand. “Rise.” He looks around the room.

The Emperor’s royal crier speaks. “His Majesty, the Emperor, and his apprentice, Lord Vader, are ready to receive your homages to him.” The Royal Red Guard, Death Troopers, and Stormtroopers rally the attendees into a line for every Imperial Officer to offer their homage.

Director Orson Krennic is the first, and he kneels before the Emperor, who speaks a few words to him. Krennic bows his head a moves to Darth Vader, and proudly appears before him. Vader nods, and Krennic scampers off to his ship to go back to work. The royal crier calls “Director Orson Callam Krennic.”

Admirals Screed and Rancit walk together and kneel. The Emperor says a few words to them, and they move past Vader.  They leave to their ships to get back to their work. The royal crier calls “Admiral Terrinald Screed and Admiral Dodd Rancit.”

Grand General Casio Tagge with his wife bow and curtsy before the Emperor, and he smiles approvingly, and Vader nods accordingly, and they move into the back of the room near the bar and food to stay longer. The royal crier calls, “Grand General Casio Tagge and his lovely wife from the planet Nixor.”

Then Grand Moff Tarkin, with Commander Natasi Daala and Director Ysanne Isard, bow and curtsy before the Emperor. He smiles approvingly, and Vader nods. They move to the back of the room near the bar and food to stay longer. The royal crier calls, “Grand Moff Tarkin, Commander Natasi Daala, and Director Ysanne Isard of the Outer Rim and Coruscant.”

Admiral Motti kneels in a cocky manner before the Emperor. As he spoke a few words, Motti stands and stares at Vader, who does not nod. Motti moves to the back of the room near the bar and food to stay longer. The royal crier calls, “Admiral Conan Antonio Motti of the planet, Seswenna.”

Thrawn’s brows rise because the protocol is varied. Those who stay and those who leave are stochastic. He studies the pattern longer.

Princess Leia Organa kneels before the Emperor, who speaks to her quietly. As she studies Vader, she felt a cold statue appear toward her. Princess Leia is allowed to stay, and she did; however, she thought she should leave. As she views the line, she sees Sabine waiting with that Chiss officer. Her desire to speak to Sabine to check on her status. But she knew she should not, or it could jeopardize their cover. The royal crier calls, “Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan and her court.”

This game calculates to pretend nothing happens and keep with the flow. Leia goes to her most common threat, which at the time is Tarkin. She speaks to him about the weather on Eriadu, given the global droughts they were having due to the sentient being-made unstable climate.

The Governor goes to kneel before the Emperor, who speaks to her. She rises very quickly and runs to her ship in tears without acknowledging Vader. Unbecoming behavior of an Imperial Officer. The royal crier calls, “The Governor.” The crier stops abruptly.

Thrawn crosses his arms, unsure if he should console the Governor or take his chances before the Emperor with his date, Sabine. He looks to the doors that the Governor ran through and flinches to rise as Sabine’s hand grabs him, and she shakes her head in the negative.

Sabine’s stare is as deadly as her whispered sneer. “Nayc, Mitth’raw’nuruodo. She has done wrong and must pay for her mistakes, just like the others who left.”

Thrawn feels Sabine’s icy stare that sends chills down his spine but opts to stay with her and knows, whatever happens, it will have to stay. He has met the Emperor and Vader before, but there is a chain of command and hierarchy. Why feel fear now? He is a warrior. Fear is of no use to him.

Then Thrawn saw Sinjir Rath Velus walk by himself and kneel before the Emperor. Sinjir looks up to the Emperor’s eyes, which has superstitions in what not to do. Sinjir rose in pride and nods to Vader. He walks carefully to the back of the room near the bar and food. The royal crier calls, “Loyalty Officer Sinjir Rath Velus of the Loyalty Commission of Coruscant.”

Yularen is next and can pass and stay. The royal crier calls, “Colonel Wulff Yularen of the Imperial Security Bureau of Coruscant.”

Then, Thrawn’s and Sabine’s turn. Sabine clings to his arm tightly as they both kneel. She could tell the Emperor’s eyes bore down upon them, and then he speaks to Thrawn. “You captured her in a manner unexpected. Your position and qualifications are superior to most assembled here, Mitth'raw'nuruodo.” Thrawn looks up at the Emperor in confusion. “Oh, you thought you brought a Rebel spy before me?” The creaky laugh of the Emperor becomes louder. “Rise, both of you.”

Thrawn rises faster than Sabine to help her. Once on her feet, the crooked hand of the Emperor touches her stomach. Sabine falls backward in a dizzy spell as the wind is knocked out of her from an invisible gut punch. Thrawn narrows his red eyes and catches Sabine. He carries her in his arms. Then, the Emperor cackles and murmurs to Vader. “Mandalorians willful, unlike any other.”

Darth Vader, who hardly speaks at these events, responds to the Emperor. “A different kind. These bloodlines can be of great benefit to our plan.”

Thrawn hears their words in wonderment. Did we meet our demise? He looks to Eli Vanto and Vah'nya, who kneel before the Emperor. Then he realizes Sabine and the royal crier had not made an announcement.

The royal crier announces, “Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Chiss Ascendancy, and Countess Sabine Wren of Mandalore.”

Thrawn stops and, in shock, stares at Sabine, who awakes from her stupor. He puts her feet on the floor as she stands slowly and grips his shoulder. The rest of the Imperials stare at Sabine Wren in confusion as Thrawn with shock.  Thrawn asks Sabine softly. “Countess of Mandalore — MiLady?”

“Yes.” Sabine looks at him as she stretches from what felt like a long slumber, then avoids his gaze. “Ner’aliit -- my family told me to be silent about my title. Guess the Emperor and Lord Vader knew about it and decided to announce it.”

“Sab’ika -- my apologies, MiLady. You never hide these facts from me--err--I mean, the Empire.” Thrawn concedes quietly. He grabs the back of her neck carefully and kisses her lips. “You have to go back to Mandalore, and I will have to request to escort you back there.”

“What? No. I have to stay for my--” Sabine says in shock, and then she whispers to him. “I can find my way back to Mandalore.”

Princess Leia Organa touches Sabine's shoulders and interrupts. “Countess! I am so glad you are here. I’ve been waiting for you. I hologrammed the Regent when she told me you were visiting this system.”

Sabine shakes her head, still groggy. "Ba'vodu Bo'ika? I mean Regent Bo-Katan Kryze?”

“Yes. I know the Regent of Mandalore.” Leia nods to convince as sleepy Sabine to leave with her,

Tarkin speaks. “Grand Admiral, I want you to take this Star Destroyer and escort the Countess back to her homeworld without incident. As for your fleet--”

“Belay that order." A booming mechanical voice speaks. "The Grand Admiral will take the Chimaera and the 7th fleet to Mandalore, Grand Moff Tarkin.” Darth Vader steps forward with a new order.

“Lord Vader, we need the other ships to protect the asset and any incursions at that vault.”

“The Grand Admiral needs his fleet.” Vader turns to Thrawn. “Countess, we extend our assistance to Mandalore, should you ever need it.”

Vader’s mechanical voice box jolts Sabine's bones as she backs into Thrawn. “Yes, Lord Vader.”

Thrawn holds Sabine's hand. “We will leave Canto Bight immediately, my Lord.” He backs away from the group with Sabine to board his shuttle. Thrawn walks briskly as he tightly grips Sabine’s hand as she trots behind him. Thrawn's calculations have to change as thoughts roll through his head. Sabine being royalty and Mandalorian royalty, changes his plan for her. Harm to a member of Mandalorian royalty could cause endless war beyond any threats in the Unknown Regions. A loose coalition of Mandalorian Military Forces with guerilla surprise tactics against the Galactic Empire could destroy this entire galaxy.

Chapter Text

Before they get to shuttle, Sinjir Rath Velus aims a gun at Thrawn. “We meet again, Grand Admiral. This time you have abducted a member of Mandalorian royalty. Don’t you know Mandalorians do not take kindly to outsiders. Especially aliens, and in particular, Chiss. Let me see. I can see the HoloNet News now, ‘A Chiss Assaults A Member of Mandalorian Royalty’. That is some hellfire fury that the Empire does not need.”

“What do you want Officer Rath Velus?” Thrawn calmly asks.

“You will need my help. I’m in this strange mission you’ve concocted.” Sinjir exclaims.

“Why do you wish to help me?” Thrawn evenly looks at Sinjir.

“I’m not helping you. I’m helping the Countess.” Sinjir smiles. “And don’t worry, it is not about stealing your woman.” He stops as he wonders if he should share his sexual orientation. “Oh, blue is definitely not my color.” He walks up the shuttle ramp and takes a seat.

Thrawn narrows his eyes, and then studies Sabine giggling as she follows Sinjir. Thrawn straps Sabine close to him into the shuttle seat and stares into her eyes, deeply. “I guess you got paroled and are free from your punishment.”

“Your punishment is harsh according to your two Sith Lords.” Sabine replies.

Sinjir shifts positions and chuckles.

Thrawn glares at Sinjir and studies Sabine. “How do you know that’s what they are?”

“A Mandalorian knows. We’ve been tracking them for nearly two decades. But, the Emperor loves power more than you Imperials do.” Sabine said staring at Sinjir.

Thrawn shakes his head from Sabine's rebel traitorous logic that conflicts all that he knows about Mandalorian culture. It was a short flight from high orbit space to Thrawn’s penthouse on Canto Bight.

As the shuttle lands, Sabine exits first. Thrawn asks Sinjir a few questions. “This is my home while I am stationed on Canto Bight. I must migrate my computer data to my ship. It will take a few hours. Then I will return Sabine back to Mandalorian space.”

Sinjir stands and crosses his arms.

Sabine races back into the shuttle. “Do you have a place to stay? I ordered groceries. Apparently, Thrawn says he knows how to cook like a gourmet and well...I kinda convinced the Deathtroopers to steal a slat of whisky.”

Thrawn mouth drops. “You want me demoted?”

“Raw, you have all this space with the latest technology, and you’re never here. Besides, I’m sure Sinjir has more work to do on Canto Bight, right?”

“I am to return you to your home, Countess.” Sinjir replies.

“Call me Sabine, and whoops, you already returned me to my home, for now. Mandalorian space is crazy and you have to like ale. I saw you imbibe hard liquor. Ale is not your thing. Besides, most of the guys stink on Mandalore, big lug-heads. At least on Canto Bight, most of the guys here bathe.” Sabine explains.

“Countess, my dating life is not--”

Another shuttle lands next to Thrawn’s shuttle. Two people exit the ship. Commander Eli Vanto and Vah’nya. “Shh! Raw, I invited them, too. Now you have to prove your culinary skills.”

Thrawn in shock leaves to his closet to change into more casual attire. He grabs Sabine around the corner and quietly speaks to her. “Ch’ain’t, you should have asked me.”

“Raw, you are wound up." Sabine unclasps his uniform and palms his face. "I’m not planning an intergalactic kegger. If I was, there’d be Mandalorians. It’s just a small dinner to calm everyone down before a hyperspace jump.” Sabine looks up to him. “It's just a very tiny party that will unwind them before hyperspace travel. My father told me that Tarkin’s father use to have parties like these on Sojourn, a strange planet that no one can find on the maps. They will relax for a few hours, then, well...just to relax. Besides, a Chiss woman is here, one of your kind, and she’s huge from being pregnant, she needs to rest before the flight back to Chiss Space.”

“I was going to contact Eli when I unwound to see if they wanted to go into the city.” Thrawn speaks.

“There’s no safe places in the city, Raw.” She rolls her eyes and sighs. “I’ll cook if you don’t want to. I’m not such a bad cook.”

“No, ch’ain’t.” Thrawn takes off his uniform and puts on heather gray athletic loose pants with a black t-shirt with a white Imperial emblem. He wears his slide sandals. He calls for his droids. “Assemble another room for all our guests. A couple in a  single-sized bed, and an individual in similar sized bed.” He stares at Sabine as she takes off her clothes slowly not realizing how seductive it appears to him. She wears a black wrap dress that is for lounging, and flip flops. “Make sure the rooms look comfortable and homely with simple flowers.”

The droids nod. “As you wish.” They race away as ordered.

Thrawn looks at Sabine, who is bent over to lotion her legs and he grabs her and starts kissing her passionately against the wall. “I’ve been waiting to do that since I learned you were countess.”

“So, you kebiin troan tal’hukaat Chissese, you only want me for my title?” Sabine smiles.

“This cerulean-face, red eyed Chiss will take your title as I bend you over this bed here, and thrust hard inside you.” Thrawn’s attempt to talk dirty to Sabine.

She laughs and pecks his cheek. “We have guests and we should entertain them. I’m amazed your friend the Governor did not try to do this.”

“Never. She wanted everyone to see us together as an item. She had to be a galactic actress.” Thrawn puts his hands on Sabine’s hips. “Please don’t tell me you invited her?”

“Maybe I did to make it more exciting for your Navigator and Commander. They need some comedy given there will be lots of crying soon, once their baby is born.”

“You know, Vah’nya will be the first Chiss woman to have given birth in a millennia. Normally, Chiss don’t give birth. It is all in vitro fertilization and ex vivo placenta and artificial cylinder releases.” Thrawn replies.

“Oh? Then how can she be pregnant?” Sabine looks over his face.

“Pregnancy and birth from a woman is natural and healthy for younglings. Birth from women stabilizes infant development.” Thrawn admits evenly. “Let’s hope we have conceived.”

Sabine kisses his lips as she pulls away she searches his eyes to see that he is serious. He embraces her, tightly. They exit their room, as they held hands together.

Chapter Text

The Rebel Strike teams stalk into the Ghost under fire as the ship jumps to hyperspace after saving Bo-Katan, the famous Mandalorian Death Watch leader from prison on Mandalore. Sabine Wren, Zeb Orrellios, and a new Jedi they picked up, Ezra Bridger watch in shock as Bo-Katan sneers at Fenn Rau. Rau takes the brunt of Bo-Katan’s vicious words.

“You knew the clones were chipped when you trained them on Kamino and you told us nothing about it when Ahsoka Tano arrived to capture Mandalore back from Darth Maul? How could you do that to us, Fenn? I am not talking about a Death Watch matter or a Protector matter. It was about freeing Mandalore at that time.” Bo-Katan presses Rau's armored chest pushing him back into the wall.

“Bo, you have to understand, I no longer worked for the Forgotten Ones. That was a long time ago.” Rau pleads. “I did not know about the chips.”

“Shut up Fenn, you knew from the start. The Kaminoans add everything purposefully, and you made it incumbent upon yourself to not notify the Death Watch command because of some outmoded petty code from a war that we no longer fight! How could you be so stupid, you idiot!” Bo-Katan pushes him only. Ezra and Zeb grab her arms to hold her back. “Let go of me. This is a Mandalorian matter; it has nothing to do with Jedi or-or -- big purple cats.”

“Lasat.” Everyone chimes in on correcting Bo-Katan.

“Fine, whatever. But you put everyone risk Fenn over that pettiness, and that is not the Mandalorian way. It is no wonder Mandalore fell to the Empire.”

Zeb Orrelios intervenes. “We should table this discussion for another—“

Both Bo-Katan, Fenn Rau and Sabine Wren speak. “Shut it!”

“This is a Mandalorian matter, Lasat, warrior to warrior -- abstain from speaking, or we'll kill you,” Bo-Katan announces to him sizing him up with her wild killer eyes that would fight a Lasat if it came to that.

“Okay -- I’m out of it.” Zeb walks to a crate and sits, quietly.

“Sure, fine job you left your traitorous past, Lieutenant.” Rau eek out.

Bo-Katan backhands Rau hard as she bloodies his lip with more sneers. “Fenn do you have any idea what I have had to contend with? I doubt you would care. My pacifist father that fought for your side, a sister who sold Mandalore out to the Black Sun for drugs, and then the Republic, and a Jedi -- no offense.” She looks over to Ezra.

“None taken.” Ezra belts out as Hera Syndulla places her hand on his shoulder and shakes her head not to respond.

“And do you know what it is like to be choked by a Sith, Fenn?" She does not let him answer. "No, you do not. You would never know what it is like to fight the Sith because you never have. You have not had the faintest idea of what they can do to your entire operation. Well, I do. I had to watch Commander Pre Vizsla be beheaded because of our old warrior codes. I had to watch a Zabrak make a pitiful Mandalorian leader to speak blasphemy about all that is Mandalorian.”

“But, that is how you traitorous Mandalorian Death Watch members do it.”

Bo-Katan races up to him grab his neck to chokehold him higher than her height. Remarkable for a scrawny convict escapee who starves as a torture mechanism.  Her words seethe through her teeth each spits her rage at Rau. “Sundari burned so Mandalore could eradicate those Maul idiots, and then hear that coward Saxon hand the planet to the Empire. This fight was never about the Death Watch or the Protectors.”

“It was about Mandalore, Bo.” Rau manages to squeeze out his words through the choke.

Bo-Katan drops him in a solemn voice. “No Fenn, it was about all of us. Our ways - Mandokarla. It is what my father, my sister the Duchess, and several Mandalorians fought and died for…” She turns to Sabine, who sits fearfully and does not look Bo-Katan in the eye. “Like Sabine’s mother. Following the codes for the Mandokarla so that we may live.”

Rau places his head into his fingers and absorbs what he has been told. After a long moment in silence, he speaks. “I apologize Bo. Please accept my words. I ask for your forgiveness. Warriors do forgive, right?”

“They can,” Sabine speaks up when she feels queasy suddenly and quiets sipping on her fizzy soda.

Bo-Katan turns to look at both of them and frowns at Sabine’s mannerisms. She looks at all the other Rebels and their faces filled with cheesy grins, bright and happy to accomplish a simple goal of conferring her release from prison. The Twi’lek pilot named Hera Syndulla walks toward Sabine with another fizzy soda and stands across from Bo-Katan. Bo-Katan feels Hera's eyes sizing her up. It was not to fight her, but much like her sister’s look, like the Duchess Satine Kryze's look, a look of dismay. Hera's lips slightly frowned because she still loves and approves Bo-Katan's actions, though she does not like her tactics. Maybe it was the fresh spring greenness of her eyes and skin color. Maybe it is how Twi’leks are known to be seductive. Bo-Katan lowers her shoulders and sinks her posture to relax and exhales her breath loudly. “Okay Fenn, Protectors win. We must save the Mandalorian Way your way.”

Rau could not grin larger than his smile. “And kill Clan Saxon's forces?”

“Not our problem.” Bo-Katan enunciates tightly as she looks to Ezra.

It is as if Ezra felt Bo-Katan’s eyes melt right through him. “What? Why do you look at me like that?” Her glare nearly topples him.

Bo-Katan smirks and shakes her head at Rau to watch Ezra Bridger squirm under interrogation pressure. Rau glares at Ezra and realizes what Bo-Katan is doing to him in astonishment. “No!”

“They reek of the Force. The Mandalorian Way, right? You know Fenn. We must return to just that. A power that the Commander had before Maul stole it.” Bo-Katan crosses her arms walking to Ezra as she watches remnants of his eyeballs dart from left to right.

Fenn Rau thought about his Force User Hunter training in the Mandalorian Way. Out of practice. A lost art in the martial arts forms the old warrior Mandalorian codes taught. The more interactions a Mandalorian had with Force users; the training would lose its acuity and strength. Like muscle memory, Force User Hunters had to exercise and strengthen their abilities. Mandalorian martial arts were the best in training how to become Force User Hunters and subduing prey. Since the Mandalorian Civil War, martial art and its practices died for no more war causes odd jobs to leave Mandalore to the surrounding galaxy. Then the pacifists, like Duchess Satine, ban the old warrior code that includes Mandalorian martial arts. Only Commander Pre Viszla made some preservations, but not it entirely.

Fenn Rau studies Bo-Katan from her reactions and wonders about her skills. He recalls the rumors: Bo-Katan’s mother was a Death Watch Assassin and trained under Meltch Krakko; or the rumor that Bo-Katan is a latent Force User, but hides her feats in the Force; or more specific, others would know, such as the Jedi she encounters to save Mandalore.  Another rumor is that Bo-Katan, on her mother’s side, is a descendant of the Mandalorians that fought the Force User in the Old Republic times and her family held the “biblical text” of how to defeat Force Users. None of that is true. For now, Fenn Rau knew Bo-Katan knew of the Force Users and their weaknesses.

It was Sabine Wren who squawked first. “Yes. Maul has been on this ship and he—“

Bo-Katan raises her hand for her to stop. “Where is he?”

“You had Maul on this ship?” Rau yells to the Ghost crew incredulously. His anger builds as he sees Maul as the destroyer of Mandalore. One of the main facts that the Death Watch and the Protectors agree, wholeheartedly.

“Where is he?” Bo-Katan sneers as she enunciates it.

“He took off in his ship claiming 'he’s alive’ from a holocron meld that we--” Ezra stops when he feels the glares of Bo-Katan and Fenn Rau on him. “We do not know where he is or where he has gone. It could be an Outer Rim planet that has twin suns.”

Bo-Katan frowns in confusion. Rau stares at Bo-Katan to see if she wants to prepare. Bo-Katan studies Sabine Wren and how she avoids her gaze and fails to speak to her. “That fool spoke to you, didn’t he? Sab’ika?”

Sabine perks and sees Bo-Katan’s eyes light in a fiery rage. “Yes, ma’am. But I had no choice.”

Hera interrupts. “He had us under threat.”

“Ma’am, if he laid one hand on Sabine, I would have killed that Zabrak,” Zeb announces.

Bo-Katan spoke to Sabine. “What did he say, Sab’ika?”

Forlorn and distant Sabine spoke. “He said ‘you of all people should trust me. Did I not once rule your people?’.”

“How come you never told me this, Sabine? I would have joined you had I known.” Rau replied.

“Because you should want to join more than survival. You should want to join because you want to, Rau.” Sabine retorted.

Bo-Katan presses her shoulder, then Rau’s. “Today, we bring Mandalorians together as free people, in this very room on this ship. No more are we of a traitorous past or a forgotten protector. No more are we lost future. But today, we are one people. We are Mandalorians.”

The three nod heads and shake and yell a battlecry together. “OYA! KANDOSII!”

 


 

 

Bo-Katan re-enters the cargo hold of the Ghost firing at the Stormtroopers from the latest heist of the Imperial Depot. She yanks Sabine by her collar. “C’mon Sab’ika, move your butt. You have been slow all day.”

Fenn Rau pushes the stolen crates of weapons and armaments into the Ghost. His brow furrows as he huffs watching Sabine. “You have been slow. What is wrong with you?”

Ezra Bridger and Zeb Orrelios jump aboard the ship with their armament crates as Ezra blocks bolts from several Stormtroopers with his lightsabers. Hera Syndulla closes the cargo doors and flies the ship out of the atmosphere. She sees the Star Destroyers converge upon her starship. Immediately, all the Ghost crew races to their positions as Sabine sits to assist Hera.

Bo-Katan listens to transmissions as a hologram appears. It is Grand Admiral Thrawn. His torso emits a darker blue light a she looks around the area. “General Hera Syndulla, you did not think I would let you escape that easily?”

Hera raises her upper lip in disgust as she sneers to Thrawn. “It will be easy enough, Grand Admiral.”

“Doubtful. And Lady Bo-Katan of Clan Kryze. It would be more honorable if you’d surrender to Imperial forces, now. I am sure we can avoid a trial and get you a light sentence, being that you are the leader of Mandalore.” Thrawn's plaintive voice states flatly.

“I'll show you a light sentence, you blue-skinned devil. The metal ore to build these armaments were stolen from Mandalorian Space.” Bo-Katan retorts.

“Oh, Bo, your accusations wound me terribly. But no matter--" Thrawn entire demeanor changes when he sees a voluptuous Sabine enter the cockpit. A pleasured grin grades across his face in a sympathetic, loving tone. “Sab’ika. Tell me if the Rebels are holding you hostage? Remember, I meant what I said should you ever require my help, I will assist you." He flecks his hands, ordering his TIE Fighters to standby for his orders, the stares at her for a moment with a highly sing-song, sweet, compassionate voice. "Turn your Rebel friends over, and I can assure you of your safety. It would break my heart if anything were to ever happen to you.”

All eyes were on Sabine, and she could tell why. She could not stop her ruddy blushing from Thrawn's sweet comments, but that did not prevent the queasy churns inside her stomach. Her hands tremble as her lower lip quivers. There was nothing she could say to Thrawn without tears that would slide down her cheeks. Her entrapment chokes her ability to breathe, and while she agrees it would be best to turn themselves into Thrawn's custody, and then escape later, she knew the Ghost crew, the Rebels or Bo-Katan would not appreciate that. But she shuts her eyes and shakes her head side-to-side. “My name is Countess Sabine Wren to you, Mitth’raw’nuruodo, and you will refer to me like that, or Countess, when you address me formally.”

Bo-Katan frowns at how fearful Sabine’s hands shake and the quaver in her voice. 

Then to refer to Grand Admiral Thrawn by his full name in Cheuhn, the Chiss languages causes Thrawn to flex his brows for a moment, and then narrow them.

Sabine's stern and paradoxically immature comment is not like any officer's in anyone’s military would sound. Indeed, not an answer Bo-Katan would have taught Sabine to say. Bo found her comment personal.

Bo-Katan chimes. “If you had a heart Grand Admiral, you would let us go.”

“And let me show you what that looks like, Grand Admiral.” Hera chimes in as she jumps the Ghost to lightspeed, and away from Thrawn's fleet.

The Ghost watches the starpoints slide past them into the light tubes of hyperspace to a location away from Thrawn's converging Star Destroyers.

 


 

 

They head for their return to their base, Yavin IV moon to stockpile pilfered munitions from the Empire. Bo-Katan rises and yanks Sabine by the ear out of her seat and into the galley. Bo-Katan backs Sabine into her “Phoenix Starburst” painting and leans into her. “What is your malfunction, Sab’ika?”

Fenn Rau enters in the area and stops Zeb and Ezra from pulling Bo-Katan away from Sabine. “Stay out of this.” He comes into the personal spaces of the two Mandalorian women and speaks in low murmurs. “What is going on, Dalayc? Sab’ika, you were slow in your return fire and blaster accuracy. Those are rookie mistakes. Care to explain?”

Sabine wails, unable to say anything as her hands shake more. “I feel--I feel very sick.” The only statement she manages to squeak aloud. Then she vomits into the trash.

Ezra races to hand her a fizzy soda. He glares at Bo-Katan and Fenn as they frown in confusion and dismay.

Bo-Katan recalls the discussion with Thrawn. “Why would Grand Admiral Thrawn call you ‘Sab’ika’?” She takes the fizzy soda away from Sabine while she glares at Ezra daring him to interrupt. Ezra backs off, but not far. She looks into Sabine’s eyes as she cups her chin carefully then pats her down for contraband. A small hard bulge in her inner pocket shows a long-acting multivitamin patch. Bo-Katan studies it with a frown as to why Sabine would take such medications, and then shows it to Fenn Rau. “That side trip you and Ezra took, is this what the med-droid placed on you? A long-acting multi-vitamin patch?”

Ezra attempts to answer as Rau stops and snaps. “Let her answer.”

Sabine shrinks into her position and mouths her affirmation. “Yes.”

Bo-Katan closes her eyes and nods her head as she nods her head and counts to ten. She re-opens them directly on Sabine who has tears rolling down her eyes. “How far along are you, Sab’ika?”

Rau’s arms are crossed as he shifts position as hears Bo-Katan’s comment. Then it dawns on him what nature the questions Bo-Katan was asking Sabine. “What? No!” He states loudly. “How Sab’ika?” He gawks and throws up his hands and places them on his hips and glares at Ezra. “Is it his? Because I swear, I will kill him, right here, right now.”

“No. It’s not Ezra's, Rau.” She belts backward. “I’m 15 weeks, Manda’buir—“

“How long have the others known?”

“I knew after five weeks, Bo,” Hera replies.

“And I knew only recently.” Ezra follows behind Hera. “It’s not mine. I'm not--but—“

“When you rescued me? You knew then?” Bo-Katan sighs as she punches the wall. “Who’s the father, Sab’ika and don’t lie to me.”

“It’s not Ezra," Zeb speaks very calmly. "I found out recently, too. Ezra can sense the Force inside Sabine.”

“No. Zeb. Please.” Hera shakes her head in fear of what Bo-Katan will do to everyone aboard the ship.

“You mean to say that her child has the Force?” Rau asks in shock.

“Did he hurt you, Sab’ika or is this what you wanted?” Bo-Katan interrogates Sabine.

“No. He never hurt me.” Sabine states sheepishly. “I chose it because it is what I wanted, so I thought.” She rubs over her bulging stomach.

“Who is the father, Sab’ika?” Rau asks calmly. “You can trust us. Tell us.”

Sabine's eyes widen more as tears drop from her eyes unable to speak. Her eyes fill with water as she pleads with Bo-Katan for her to guess. None of the crew of the Ghost knew for sure. But none asked. Only Bo-Katan, her "godmother" could ask, because Sabine would later have to tell her mother, Ursa Wren. Sabine had to share this secret with a Mandalorian woman who would understand. Understand the fight; understand that female Mandalorians trudge the same mud. She desperately wants to share.

Bo-Katan hugs Sabine tightly. “Sab’ika, I will always love you, ner'Manda'adi'ika. But you are going to have to tell me who the father is of your baby--.” She voice cuts off as she sorts it out from all the catch up in life talk they have done. “It’s that Imperial, isn’t it?”

“Who? That Captain we met?” Rau belches.

“Ner’Manda, Sab’ika! Could you have not chosen anyone less important in the entire galaxy?” Bo-Katan throws up her hands in astonishment.

“No! You don’t mean--” Hera replies and stares into Ezra's eyes in fear. “How strong is the Force in this child, Ezra? Can you sense that?”

Ezra follows the conversation through the Force as he learns who the father of Sabine’s child is. “If the child can be sensed, then the child has the Force.”

All Sabine can do is sob aloud. How could she get out of this situation? It is what she wanted. But not messy like this as it was. Zeb Orellios sat next to her embracing her with his soothing voice. Then Bo-Katan sat on her other side.

“That Kebiin Tal'Surhaisse Chissese will pay for this. If he finds out you have his child and his child is Force-sensitive, the Rebels will expel you, and the Mandalorians will never trust you after your second chance. Is this what you want?” Bo-Katan studies her tearful face. “The Chiss Ascendancy kills Force-sensitive children and especially mixed-species children. They have anti-miscegenation laws in the Chiss Ascendancy. And no offense Ezra, but the Jedi Order is no more, and the Inquisitors would identify this child and take it for their uses.”

“We could hand the child to some other Force Users,” Ezra suggests.

“No. I will never give my baby to anyone.” Sabine snaps. After a long moment, she speaks quietly. “I want rectification.”

It was not a word Ezra wants to hear, but he understood what she meant and why she would want it. “Where can you get rectification in this Imperial galaxy?”

Hera speaks softly to Sabine. “Is that what you truly want, Sabine?”

“I can go to the Hapes Consortium with some decoy Imperial escort ship that can pilot around mist-asteroids,” Sabine states flatly. “I have done my research and looked at all of my options. I was going to do it after this mission.  Charter a trip not to put any of you out. Just that, I do not have all my pieces.”

“Sabine, you were going leave me going to this 'Hops' place? Why did we go to the med center?” Ezra whines.

“Because Ezra, I do not have all my pieces and well--.”

“You thought you might have to through with the pregnancy and try to explain it to Thrawn.” Bo-Katan completes the sentence. “You know it will be hard to raise the child as Mandalorian if the child appears Cerulean skinned with red-eyes. Lekku and head tails can be explained, but blue skin from a known Mandalorian enemy?”

“Mandalorians have never gotten along with Chiss. Chiss have always served the Sith.” Rau states.

“Well, didn’t we when Maul governed our people?” Sabine pleads.

“Chiss have found a way to outsmart the Sith even without the Force,” Ezra replies. “But there were Chiss Jedi killed during Order 66. Still, Grand Admiral Thrawn is the father.”

Sabine starts to sob again. “How could I have been so stupid?”

“There-there. What other pieces do you need? I will get you there. I will get you to the Hapes Consortium.” Bo-Katan asks as she holds Sabine in her arms.

“I need a ship. Not the Ghost. A smuggler-type ship and I can’t find Ketsu Onyo, anywhere. And I need an Imperial that can help me that won’t tell Thrawn. And I need this tiredness and exhaustion to go away.” Sabine sobs as she ticks down her list of possibilities.

“Isn’t Lando Calrissian a smuggler?” Ezra asks.

“Who?” Rau asks.

“Lando, a smuggler,” Hera speaks. “I would not use Hondo Ohnaka. He is a pirate and would betray us to the Imperials at first chance.” She thinks about the possibility. “If I understand the Hapans, they are a matriarchy and ruled by women.”

“Yes, they are. The only reason why they would accept smugglers, and they're xenophobic. But they'd do the procedure on Sab'ika because she is a human who was impregnated by an alien.” Bo-Katan answers matter-of-factly. “Which is why you did not want to use the Ghost or Hera being that she is a Twi'lek.”

Sabine nods.

"The Hapans might extend special circumstances for their selective reproductive choices and protections for you,” Rau replies.

“As much as I hate xenophobia, I do understand why,” Zeb announces. “Is there something we are missing?”

Bo-Katan takes over and orders them. “Contact that Lando guy and see if he has a pilot and fast ship.” She looks down and then looks at Rau to see what his thoughts were.

Hera interrupts. “NO! We can use Fulcrum. He will do it. Besides, he owes me. But we still have to put his head on the line and force him not to speak a word of it.”

“Who is Fulcrum?” Bo-Katan asks. “No matter, he flies with this Lando. But we still need a pilot. So who?”

“Wedge could do it. He's my friend. Very trustworthy.” Ezra volunteers.

“Wait, kid, these mists are like an asteroid field but gaseous turbulence. That is why no one can get into the Hapes Consortium. The Hapan Matriarchy has developed technology to open it up and have permitted women in need to travel there in freedom for years, but only if the women can navigate these mists.” Bo-Katan snips at Ezra. “No, I will ask for a suggestion from this Lando guy about a pilot.”

Ezra’s brows rise. “But who? We have the best pilots.”

“I was imprisoned because I too was in the same position she is in now.  The father -- well, I can’t tell you that, but he said the Inquisitors would kidnap my daughter. I seriously considered rectification at the Hapes Consortium, but I chose to give birth. When I returned to Mandalore, I was arrested, charged, and imprisoned by the Imperial Commandos and Clan Saxon. The rest is history. I don’t know where my daughter is.”

“Where is the father, now?” Zeb asks.

“The Inquisitors sensed your daughter, didn’t they?” Ezra asks.

Bo-Katan nods and speaks softly to Zeb. “He is on the one planet that Vader will never visit.”

“He’s the father, isn’t he?” Ezra asks.

“Jedi -- I should be mindful of my thoughts, huh?” Bo-Katan irritated.

“Why didn’t you?” Ezra asks and wants to learn more. “Nevermind.”

Sabine starts to smile and looks to Bo-Katan. “Vor’e Manda’buir.”

“Always trust your family and those that love you, Sab’ika. We want the best for you.” Bo-Katan holds her in her arms. “But one day you will have to tell Thrawn about this fact. He will hate you for it. He may not be the outward emotional type, especially on personal matters, but the Chiss never struck me as caring or compassionate. Just logical. This situation, Sab'ika, are you sure you want to rip his heart out like this?”

Rau added. “He finds out about this plan; his entire fleet will destroy the mists and expose the Hapes Consortium. Understand Sab’ika? Because of any second thoughts, you feel you might have, you must tell us, and this entire plan will stop.”

“I understand.” Sabine answers. “I want a rectification. I want a reproductive choice. I want an abortion.”

Chapter Text

Thrawn hurries to his quarters before the new ship embarks into the Chimaera. His concerns dwell on the last report from the Emperor’s office announcing the Death Star’s destruction by Rebel forces, all on the battlestation were dead, Tarkin, Yularen and numerous other colleagues. His fleet was stationed out in the edges of space and remains intact. Then Darth Vader activates the secret beacon Thrawn gave to him, and he requires Thrawn’s assistance. Sure, it was fine any other time, but this time – the new  Countess of Mandalore, Sabine Wren, is in his direct custody, and she is not his prisoner. She is his lover – which different for him. He has undertaken a responsibility for a human due to profound loneliness. He mind mulls over his concern for Sabine. “She agreed we would separate after the Hapan incident. But she is here now in my quarters.” If his sweat drips from his brow, the sight is unapparent.  

“Made it.” He enters his quarters furiously searching for her from partition to partition. “Sab’ika? You must go to–-” He stops in his tracks to see her stare at the holograms of her art from Lothal.

“How long have you had these holograms, Loras’ika?” Her transliteral name for “Raw” from Mitth’raw’nuruodo.  

“Since the ball. C’mon, we’ve got to go, Countess.” He reaches for her hand and holds her as he yanks her out of quarters. “This is my mistake. I should have never permitted you aboard my ship. I should have told you to meet me planetside. But I doubt you would have come.”

Sabine says nothing and runs with him in her formal royal attire. She had no time to change into her armor when Grand Admiral Thrawn arrested her for Rebel criminal acts on Krownest. Her family, the Dowager Countess Ursa Wren her mother, and Aldrich Wren her father, with the Lady Bo-Katan Kryze’s forces made vows to recover her from the Empire. The Mandalorians said they would report the Imperial kidnapping of royalty within the hour. 

But that is not why Thrawn took her. He took Sabine to place her under Imperial law. That way, their son would be under Imperial law, and have legal rights to Thrawn’s Imperial property. Sabine quietly agreed to marry Thrawn, in secret, for citizenship. The problem is they could not refrain from the passionate sex. It sates their desire for each other. But, right now, the desire is to hustle Sabine off the Chimaera.

“Kicking me out so quickly, Loras’ika?” She snort laughs. “How do you expect me to free myself from this without contacting the Rebels?” 

Thrawn turns to her with a glare. “If they are planetside, they will be dealt with, severely as you will be.”

Sabine wrangles her hand from his grip and stops running. “You would kill me after all we have been through? After all the fucking we have done?”

Thrawn separates a distance from the hangar bay. “No! You know how I feel about you. Don’t you know how important you are to me and our son, Sab’ika?” His voice breaks. “If you go planetside, I will be down as soon as I can after I deal with this new situation. We will find someone to help us. I promise. Please trust me.”

She stands angrily while she hears his plea.

Then she feels a strong dark presence rise behind her baring down her neck. She sees Thrawn’s face go from an impassioned plea to one of utter horror as the respirator exchanges air. She turns to see a huge monstrous black figure barrel down over her and immediately recognizes the beast as Darth Vader.

“How do you need help, Grand Admiral Thrawn?” The mechanized voice reverberates in silence between them.

Thrawn’s face goes from horror to straighten uniform and a stone face. He voice and mannerisms are calm and indicate of his cruel Imperial officer coolness though his heart breaks for Sabine. A long moment passes between all three people present in the hangar. Then Thrawn speaks. “Lord Vader, the Countess Sabine Wren and I want to be married, but no one will solemnize the marriage for us. It is because I am an alien and there are anti-miscegenation planetary laws. We need to marry–or rather I need to marry her under Imperial law for our son, and the other baby on the way. Sir, my Lord.”

Sabine says nothing. She cannot believe that Thrawn would mention their son, and possibly another child to Darth Vader who would soon as kill them both with his laser eyes where they stand. But, how would Darth Vader know about her? She eeks out her comment.  “He would know, the Empire does not allow contraception.” She stares into the eye lens of Darth Vader to see if he could see her. She felt naked before him although she wore heavy formal attire as the new Countess of Mandalore. If Darth Vader kills her she surmises, the whole of Mandalore and other Mandalorians will rally behind the Rebel cause. She closes her eyes and barely opens them when he speaks.

Darth Vader senses Thrawn has told him the truth. The young woman, Sabine Wren, the new Countess of Mandalore is pregnant. Her mannerisms were very much like the old Duchess of Mandalore Satine Kryze. Darth Vader knows he cannot stop them from breeding. He also owes Thrawn his life. The least he could do is to give both of them some minor satisfaction in their lives. “I know of a place. Set your coordinates to Naboo.” 

Darth Vader leaves them as he senses a hug between them and enters a private area to contact the Emperor. The Emperor appears in hologram.  “The Marquis and Marchioness have commenced and they take their positions in the Empire, my Master.” 

"Good. You have done well, Lord Vader." The Emperor hisses.