Meet the Twi’lek Parents (Ayy’shiri, Kaliper Akanth, SWG)
Three minutes. Had her family joined the Rebellion? Did they leave Kala’uun?
As the minutes passed in silence, Kaliper remained focused on the controls, occasionally fighting a strong gust of wind to maintain a steady heading in the massive freighter.
Four minutes. “Ka’re, if they don’t respond to us in the next minute, follow these coordinates…”
She gave precise instructions in Basic that were spoken with the click of her fingertips chiming in the coordinates to Joreinka; a city only a few klicks to the west.
Five minutes. Kaliper nodded as Ayyda gave him the alternate landing coordinates, and was preparing to adjust course when a voice suddenly rang out.
“AYY!” An near saccharine shrill of a woman’s voice came over the comms.
Hands twitching on the controls, Kaliper nearly rolled the ship on its side in his surprise. There was a dull thud as Ayyda’shiri planted her face against the console and reached out to hit the transmit button on the communications relay. “Hi, Misha.”
The Zabrak now struggled again to right the drifting ship, nearly oblivious to the high-pitched torrent of Ryl that began pouring out of the commlink.
“Did you hear about your father? Did Linn find you? What is this Backfire? Where are you landing? Where have you been? Are you staying long? You’re not the registered owner of this ship, who is Kaliper Akanth? What is this I hear about you selling Qua—“
“MISHA!” She yelled to interrupt the rapid fire questioning of her mother. “Can we land first?”
There was a pause before the console on the arm of the captain’s chair beeped with the confirmation of landing coordinates. “Oh. Right. Who’s the ‘we’?”
“…Just meet us at th—Wait, what happened to Papa?”
“I’ll tell you when you land, what do you think this is? A public communication channel?”
That thud could be heard again, a telltale sign that Ayy’s head had once again met the edge of the console. Reading the new landing coordinates, Kaliper brought the ship out of its holding pattern and nosed it down toward the surface.
Through the blowing dust and sand outside the viewports, a gaping hole suddenly appeared in the side of a rock wall. Boosting extra power to the ship’s oversized repulsorlift array, Kal turned to flash a grin to Ayyda as he wedged the giant ship into the cavern’s entrance.
“Betya didn’ know yeh was gonna see th’Hutt Ballet t’day, did ya?” He was about to say something more, but snapped his mouth shut as a terrible grinding squeal shook the ship. He winced as a shower of rocks bounced off the viewport above his head and clattered to the cavern floor.
With a sheepish smile, he eased the ship into a mooring station and powered down the engines. Hopping down from the pilot’s chair, he grabbed up his pack and scooted over to give Ayyda a quick kiss on the top of her head. He took her by the hand, and made his way to the airlock. As he lowered the boarding ramp and the dry, dusty air of the cavern began to seep in,
Kaliper turned to face Ayyda. “S’that’s yer Misha, eh?” he said. “She sounds… nice!”
“Nice…” She mumbled, trying to stifle a chuckle as she shouldered her own pack. There was a soft clicking sound when the butt of her rocket launcher nudged against the edge of the pack.
“That’s one word for her. She tends to talk fast and she hates to repeat herself, my best advice if you don’t follow her, smile and nod.” Ayy punctuated the sentiment with a quick smile and an even quicker nod. “Welcome to Kala’uun, Kaliper.”
A thin cloud of dust picked up when the boarding ramp set down on the mouth of the cave floor. The torrents of storms outside were lost within the large cavernous city. Kaliper looked around with wide eyes, taking in all the activity of the starport. “S’quite th’place!” he said. “Ain’ seen nothin’ th’like.”
It was true. He had set his ship down more times than he could count, on platforms carved out of giant trees, or in ray-shielded asteroid craters, or even in the middle of an empty plain with only a temporary beacon for guidance, but a starport carved into an vast cavern was a new one for him. Kaliper found his eyes wandering up the side of his ship to where a bent and mangled panel was dangling precariously, and he cringed. He looked away quickly, hoping that no one would notice.
Ayy’s fingers tightened against Kaliper’s hand when she saw the tall and fairly rotund aging Tolian woman standing before them. There was no denying the Shiri genetics on her face, the high cheek bones, strong jaw. She was source of Ayy’s beauty.
“What is this heap?!” the woman exclaimed in Ryl, her voice edging on exasperation.
“It’s not a heap, Misha, this is the Backfire and her captain, Kaliper Akanth.” Ayy looked to
Kaliper, her smile radiant with affection and pride. Kaliper smiled and squeezed Ayyda’s hand as he watched the reunion, his eyes darting back and forth between the two Twi’lek women.
Shavi’Shiri canted her head at the curious display of her previously asexual and work obsessed daughter. “Does he speak Ryl?” She was quick to ask and pleased when she got the quick response of a negative shake of the head.
“Kaleepur Ahkant,” Shavi tried to wrestle the name in basic, “Ah’m Shavi’shiri, de mothah of dis pikne.” She motioned to Ayy with hands as small and tapered as her daughters despite her plump form. “Et es a pleasuah te meet jou.”
“S’pleasure t’meet yeh too, Miss Shavi’shiri,” he said when the older one spoke to him directly in her heavily accented Basic. “An’ thankya f’lettin’ us put down in’ere.”
Shavi switched back to Ryl quickly, her gaze narrowing over her daughter. “You look at him like a lover.”
Shavi blinked and for a moment was only able to stare at the two.
“Misha, when you’re done fumbling over your response, will you inform your crew that we lost the tertiary bumper panel in the east side cave entrance; we’ll need it replaced before we leave.”
“If I delay the work order does it mean you’ll stay longer.”
“No, it just means I’ll do it.”
The elder of the two Twi’leks pulled her datapad from a pouch on her toolbelt and regarded
Kaliper with curiousity as she entered in what was presumably a work order for the Backfire.
“De Stahpot was built te…” She let her words drift off and looked to her daughter with a snap of her fingers.
“To protect against the heat storms that come through the Lonely Five.”
“Jes, dat. De five ah de mountains dat dis es built undah. Et es na mine, ah onleh tend te de… zoom.”
Ayy mumbled in basic, “The hyperdrives.”
“Jes, dat.” Shavi tucked her datapad back into the pouch and kissed Ayy on the cheek before offering a warm smile to Kaliper. “He looks like a pirate.” She muttered in Ryl.
Ayy grinned and gave Kaliper’s hand a light tug. “He is.” She responded in Basic. “I’m going to take him home, we’ll see you there when you’re done with your shift. Do you need us to grab anything for dinner?”
Shavi quickly shook her head before she raised a finger. Her jaw set with a light click as she looked over the two. “Na, jou fathah should have everehting alreadeh.”
“What happened to papa, before I forget.”
Shavi only chuckled and waved a hand. “Go see.”
Ayy only shrugged and guided Kaliper through the bustle of Kala’uun Starport and into the cavernous passages that unfolded to create the massive capital city. Slavers, slaves, Imperial guards, people of all species and genders making their way around the echoing passages. Scents of all manner of food drifted up mingling with the incense that wafted out from the many temples of Kikka’lekka. The various lights of the different signs tinged the cavern walls, casting shadows in a myriad of colours.
As they wound their way through the maze of caverns, Kaliper’s head turned this way and that, trying to absorb all the sights and sounds. And smells. More than once, he would have wandered off in the direction of a delicious aroma, but for Ayyda’s gentle yet insistent tugging on his arm.
A Darian begger on a corner held his hand out, begging for whatever kindness the pair wished to impart. Ayy handed him a chit as they passed and explained that he had been on that corner for twenty years and actually owned three of the ships in Kala’uun’s drydock.
They walked through the city, weaving in and out of the crowds for a nearly an half an hour before the influx of bodies began to taper down to a few drifting wanderers. The cavern passages had become much more narrow and in turn, Ayy’s pace slowed to a far more relaxed stroll. “This is the Tolian passage, a bit of a misnomer as we’re hardly the only race that lives in these halls. But for the most part, it is our district.”
She motioned to the doors of the Temple of Fire as they passed. “Most Twi’lek’s believe that when Kikka’lekka cried, five of her tears fell to the land to create the five clans. Tolians, my people, are born of fire. We like to believe we’re her strength, her warriors. Honestly, I tend to think we’re just the most stubborn and troublesome.”
“I used to have faith in her, I think at one point I wanted to become a Kiva but now…” Her voice drifted off when she opened a blastdoor into a large home just beyond the Temple. A bustle of noise and footsteps, the giggle and shrieks of children immediately greeted her as well as the effeminate figure of her father standing just beyond the doorway with a radiant smile painted across his rouged lips.
“But now her science has proved her religion to be false.” Ven’shiri finished his daughters sentence in clear basic and gather up the front of his robes to saunter over to the pair. Without even offering a name he took the moment of Ayy’s stunned silence to greet them both with a pair of kisses on each cheek. “Your misha told me you’d be coming with a grungy spacer and she didn’t lie!” The tall androngenous man glanced over Kaliper, his smile not disappearing.
“She didn’t say he was beautiful under all the grunge! We must clean him up!”
“…Papa…” Ayy finally coughed, her words weak in what was obvious shock.
“Yes, my progeny?”
“Don’t worry about it, my beautiful Starsong. Your misha and I decided it was time that I stop hiding so the grandchildren don’t get confused.”
“Ambiguity is hardly confusing.”
Ayy pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes; a motion that earned a raucous cackle of laughter from her father.
“Papa, this is my Ka’re, Kaliper Akanth.” She said finally when she lowered her hand. Ven’shiri was quick to grab his daughters hand and study the cybernetic fingers a few moments before he dropped it to grab up Kaliper’s cybernetic hand.
“And Iridonian! You know what they say about Iridonians don’t you, Starsong?” Ven’shiri grinned as he watched his daughter pinch the bridge of her nose again. “It’s a pleasure, Mister Akanth. I’m Ven’shiri and you… look like you were raised in a Kusak den. Lets get you cleaned up before you’re mauled by my horrid collection of grand-parasites.”
Ayy mumbled and shook her head, “Grand-parasites. That’s charming papa, I wonder what Zarhuda and Gida will say about you referring to their children as Parasites.”
Ven shrugged and began trying to lead Kaliper away. “They try their best not to speak to me beyond, ‘Take them.’ I really should’ve just had your mother weave their legs together so they couldn’t breed. If only we forsaw the future!” He waved a hand behind him dramatically.
Ayyda’shiri stood in the front room of her childhood home pinching the bridge of her nose. Again.
Ven lead the grungy spacer into the lower levels of the cavernous home, stopping by one of the many rooms to collect a stack of clothing. He looked over Kaliper no fewer than three times, seeming to size the Zabrak up with just a gaze before he settled on a particular set of garments. “My progeny has fantastic taste,” the aging Twi’lek stated. With the clothing in hand, he pulled Kaliper back down the hall to a room that seemed to be little more than a large sauna.
“How many artificial intelligence units has she created? She only had three when she left Ryloth, but that was a year ago. My wife, for all the brilliance that she has within her lekku, was an idiot and ran Starsong off. Not that I could blame her with the Tukian that Shavi was trying to marry her off to.” He huffed, obviously annoyed at the idea and set down the stack of clothing on the edge of a counter within the room.
“How many droids? Kri- uhm, I lost count around a hunnerd some odd,” Kaliper replied, eyeing the bundle of clothing a little apprehensively. “Wait, y’mean Ayy ran away from’ere?”
“Mm. The droids sadden me. The fact that she hasn’t mentioned being chased away from Ryloth by her own misha trying to marry her off does not, but nevermind that! There’s been a joy to her voice since she met you.” Again, he waved a hand dramatically. “Perhaps now she’ll stop trying to live for two and just for herself. She was a twin, you know? They were both stillborn, she and Poy. They were able to bring Starsong around, but unfortunately, not Poy. She knows this, it’s never seemed to obviously effect her, but it’s in the little things she does. She does everything in two… you?”
Ven’shiri exited the fresher before he looked back and smiled widely, radiantly back at Kaliper. “You’d be the first thing she’s done for herself.” After a moment he raised a finger and took a deep breath. There was the scent of something acrid in the air, burning. “She certainly isn’t trying to burn our dinner for her sake!” The fabric of his robes rustled when the old Twi’lek raced from the fresher to cease whatever horrible thing Ayyda’shiri had managed to accomplish with his prized thakatillo.
When the Twi’lek dashed off to rescue the dinner, Kal was left standing in the fresher with the clothes in his hands, and Ven’shiri’s words in his ears.
Ayyda’shiri, in fact, stood over the stove her eyes wide with surprise when her father came up from behind her and pulled her quickly away from the now ruined lump of what was certainly an amazing thakatillo. “All I did was touch it!”
“All she did was touch it!” Came the response in a chorus of the nine Twi’lek children behind her. Ven looked over his shoulder and shushed the chorus of giggles from his grandchildren and turns Ayy around to look over his daughter.
“Please, for the love of all your Quantum theories and strings and stars, tell me that he cooks.”
“Food comes in packages, Papa.” Ayy grinned.
It was Ven who pinched the bridge of his nose this time before he flailed his arms at the ten other Twi’leks in the room with him. “Go now my minions! Take your shenanigans elsewhere! The Doctor is in to fix this travesty!”
Ayy laughed raucously at her fathers’ display and ushered her nieces and nephews back up the stairs to their playroom. She would be able to entertain herself with them for hours, playing with many of her own toys and telling them tales from around the Galaxy that she had collected.
Despite all her words against breeding, there was something that clicked within her, a maternal aspect that danced without restraint at the time spent with the children of her siblings. Ven smiled to himself hearing the happy chatter and choir of laughter that filtered down the stairs as he tried to save his prized thakatillo.
Ven’shiri managed to save the dish he had toiled over. And for the work his youngest daughter had done to help destroy it, he made her up a small bowl of munch-fungus and various cut fruit; knowing that she wouldn’t touch the thakatillo as it was. The aging Twi’lek had just set the dish onto the stone table in the middle of the main room of the house when he heard the bustle of his youngest son and daughter come in the door. “Pops!” Zarhuda’shiri called out, not expecting to find his father staring up at him and no more than ten feet away.
“I’m right here, Zar.” He answered flatly as he regarded the younger Tolian man and smiles sweetly at the Corellian woman by his side. “Zulie, a pleasure as always darling!”
The human woman beamed up at her father-in-law and brushed her blonde hair from her face. “Ven, radiant as always.”
“Where’s the pikne? Gida sent us to gather her lot up as well.” Zarhuda’shiri responded to the polite salutations with a bristling demeanor.
“Upstairs with Ayy.”
Zulie Inama-Shiri looked up at her husband, her expression wrought with the same surprise she found to be plastered across his face. “…Ayy’s home?” Zarhuda asked after a moment. Ven’shiri simply nodded and continued on with settle the table, he glanced up briefly to the pair.
“That’s what I said, ‘They’re upstairs with Ayy.’” He said, quoting himself. “Are you two staying for dinner? Or are you taking my grand-parasites from the void in which they came?” The elder Twi’lek couldn’t help but to smile wickedly at the furrowed brows and angered looks that came as a response to his terminology for the children.
“If you’re going to word it like tha–”
“It’s a great term, actually. Truly fits the personalities of your brats at least.” Ayyda’shiri quipped as she bounced down the stairs with the youngest of the nine Twi’lek children on her shoulders.
“I’m not a brat.” Nema’shiri mumbled low, wrapping her hands around her Aunts’ lekku.
Ayy looked up and back at her neice and grinned, “No, but you belong to Gida. That’s the difference.”
Zarhuda stared at his sister with the same angered disbelief in which he regarded their father. “Not even a hello? No, ‘Greetings ans Salutations, Brother!’ Just going to jump into insulting me and my family.”
“If I wanted to insult you, I’d just call you a schutta-faced chi’aki.” She replied, the child on her shoulders gasping at the rough language.
“Says the woman dressed like some sort of pirate trash.”
Ven’shiri laughed. Despite his effeminate nature, the laugh was a deep rolling sound of pure mirth. “Ayy – One. Zarhuda – Zero. Please, continue now.”
Zarhuda growled and strode forward to pull the young Twi’lek girl from his sisters shoulders. “You don’t need to be influcing our children with your tales.” He muttered, hosting the girl to hold her against his side and leaned over the railing of the stairs. “The rest of you! I’m taking you home!”
Ven’shiri and Ayy exchanged looks as they came to stand beside each other, Ayy beginning to pick up the extra place settings that her father had laid out for children, her brother and his wife. They worked in silence only exchanging a few mischievous glances while Zarhuda and Zulie gathered the children’s belongings and began the process of herding them out of the house.
“See you in another year, Zarhuda! Zulie!”
Neither said their goodbyes to Ayy or Ven; an action that just made the two of them giggle as if they were children themselves. It was into this giggling that Shavi’shiri came home and looked between the two of them curiously. “I’m going to presume this display has everything to do with a flustered son I just ran into.”
They could only nod.
“Where’s that Zabrak you came with?”
“If by Zabrak you mean, charming Irido-” Ven began to correct his wife only to be corrected Ayy.
“He has horns on his head and a tattoo on his face, that makes him Iridonian.”
“Except that if you take the time to consider that Iridonian might also be a culture.”
“It’s the planet he’s from, isn’t it?”
Ayy pinched the bridge of her nose. “No, he’s from Lok. That would be why I call him LOKIAN. Do you understand the Basic that’s coming out of my mouth, Papa?”
Shavi looked between the two of them, her brow raised. “Why are you both speaking basic?”
“Kaliper.” They responded in unison.
“And you both have failed to tell me where he is.” Shavi stubbornly replied in Ryl, not wishing to stumble over her words unless absolutely necessary.
Kaliper wandered uncertainly down the hallway toward the sound of voices, squeaking a finger in his freshly-scrubbed ear.
“‘m both, actually,” he said, as he poked his head into the common room. “Lokidonian, I s’pose y’could say.” He grinned, adjusting the bright blue robes from Ven that were just the right size, and stepped into the room. Shavi gave a flat expression which seemed to indicate his response did not help clarify the situation in any way whatsoever.
“Lokidonian it is then!” Ven’shiri exclaimed happily, offering Kaliper what was nothing short of a beaming smile.
“You’re going to amuse him?” Shavi cooed to the aging man.
Ayyda’shiri laughed, looking between the three. Her gaze lingered over Kaliper, smiling approvingly. A smile she punctuated by a shirt wolf whistle.
“You could be respectful and speak basic. Unless you want to be a pissant schutta.” Ven’s response was nearly dripping with venom.
Ayy’s smile and she looked between her parents, “Are you really going to argue over this?”
Ven looked to his daughter slightly dumbfounded, “She didn’t tell you?”
Ayy nodded slowly.
“We’re divorced now.” Shavi explained, simply.
Ayyda’shiri’s face met the palm of her hand with a rather loud smack before she looked to her father, “You two are still living together though, when did you divorce?”
Ven rolled a shoulder back before drawing his lanky body into one of the chairs at the table. “Thakatillo is getting cold.”
Kaliper plopped into a chair and started helping himself to the Thakatillo. As he shovelled the tangy green curds onto his plate, he said “Dunno if m’folks are still t’gether. M’real folks, that is. Sorta dumped me inta th’clutch w’all th’other younglins, y’know?”
Shavi bristled at this idea, she had tried her best to provide her daughter with suitors fitting for what she percieved her daughters interest to be. After casting a disapproving glance down at Kaliper she came to sit beside her former husband and offered him a smile as he served her a bit of the thakitillo. Ayy watched her mother with a slight sense of disbelief before sitting beside Kaliper and in front of the bowl of fungus and cut fruit her father had provided.
“Jou do na know who et es dat jou es born from?” The elder struggled with her broken basic, beginning to slowly pick at the green curds.
“Not really, nope. Couple’a Zabs in th’crew, coulda been any of’em,” Kaliper said between mouthfuls. “I know it weren’ none of th’Rodians, at least.”
Ayyda looked over at Kaliper, trying her best to mimic the facial expressions of a Rodian but failing quite miserably at it. Her mother watched her as if watching a cruiser crash into the side of a planet. Ven could only smirk, when he put down his fork he pushed himself up from the table to retrieve a bottle of Alderaan wine Ayy had brought home years ago on one of her infrequent visits. He returned to the table once the bottle had been corked and filled each of the glasses before he sat back down. “What is a clutch, exactly?” He inquired.
Raising his glass with a smile and a nod to Ven, Kal began to explain. “In a crew, clan, what have ye, ain’ really got time f’folks t’be spendin’ raisin’ their li’l snot-drippers, eh? Work t’be done. So y’toss all of’em in t’gether, an’ crew pools t’resources. Food, creds, alla that.” He took a drink of the wine and continued. “Y’get th’older ones t’mind th’younger ones. Minders, call’em. Soon’s they’s old enough t’walk an’ carry stuff, yeh send’em out combin’ th’wastes fa supplies, scrap, whateva th’crew might be needin’.”
The aging Twi’lek let out a boisterous guffaw. “That’s brilliant! Shavi, why didn’t we think of that when we were raising our parasites?”
Shavi didn’t respond, she sat there smouldering. Her hazel eyes were affixed on Kaliper and Ayy, unwavering in their stare of disbelief. She did however, pick up the glass of wine to nearly drain it with the first drink. A motion that in turn earned a hiss from Ayy. “Misha, if you’re going to gulp down any booze, get some t’ssolosk. Don’t waste this.” She looked to her father, cramming another chunk of munch fungus into her mouth. “What is the occasion for the wine?”
“You came home.” Ven’shiri beamed and clasped his hand against his wife’s back. “Not only did you come home but you brought us a Twi’resha! For all the marvels of this Galaxy I never expected to live to see this day, Starsong!”
Ayy and her mother both stared at Ven, their mouths agape.
“Brought y’a what, sorreh?” Kaliper looked over his glass of wine, an expression of curiosity on his face.
“Twi’resha. It means…” Ayy began to explain, her regard still focused on her father. “Really, Papa?”
Ven laughed again and raised his glass of wine to his daughter first, then his wife and finally to Kaliper. “You. Brought. Him. Home.” He said with a wink before taking a drink.
Ayyda pinched the bridge of her nose. “Papa.”
Shavi pushed herself up from the table, “If you’re going to encourage this, Ven, then you really do need to talk to your daughter. She’s throwing away her mind with this nonsense.” The aging and rotund Twi’lek woman grabbed a bottle of t’ssolosk off the shelf along the wall as she passed it to head up the stairs.
Ven’shiri let go a sigh of relief once Shavi was gone only to find his daughter still staring at him in disbelief. “What?”
Ayyda sighed and picked up her glass to take a few sips of the wine, closing her eyes with subconscious response before she looked to Kaliper. “Basically, what my father has said is a term used for non-Twi’lek’s who are brought into a family by marriage, adoption, what not.” She looked to her father again quickly. “You do know we haven’t even known each other that long?”
Ven chuckled again and shrugged. The orange hue that now brightened his cheeks making him look like a jolly little troublemaker. “It doesn’t matter. In the end, time means nothing. Look at you both.”
Ayyda stared, unsure of how to respond to any of this. Her glass hang between her fingers precariously.
Kaliper flashed a wide grin and raised his glass to clink against the one Ayyda held in her hand. She tightened the grip on her glass and looked to Kaliper with the same stare of disbelief before she brought her glass to her lips, her cheeks turning a bright orange hue. “You’re both trouble.” She mumbled under her breath.
Ven couldn’t stop grinning as he looked between the two, “I do believe this is where I ask how the two of you met in the first place, as you are an unlikely pair.” He halfway inquired, taking another bite of his meal.
Taking a drink of wine, Kaliper began, “Well, I was a’ this club on Rori wi’ some sithin’ stellar dancin’ gals-”
With a quiet cough, Ayy looked to Kaliper and blushed, “I was looking to contract out for astroidal resources, I happened to overhear Kaliper talking about just that.” She sheepishly looked back to her father and took up another piece of the cut fruit to eat.
“Don’t be rude, Ayy. Let him finish.” The elder chuckled, still grinning as he looked between them.
“Tha’s more or less it. I was there tryin’ t’find a buyer f’m’cargo. An’ then Ayy pipes up from the, uh… stage,” Kaliper gave Ayyda a none-too-subtle wink, then continued, “tha’ she was lookin’ t’nab ore f’some construction project of’ers.”
“The stage..” Ven leaned back in his chair, having finished his thakitillo and cradled his glass of wine in one hand. “You do know that I was perfectly aware of what you were doing to pay for your education, don’t know, Starsong?”
Ayy sputtered having just taken a drink of her wine and flushed a near bright orange colour, a reaction that made the old Twi’lek laugh almost gleefully and regard Kaliper with a mischievous glint in his eyes, “She was stripping then?”
Kaliper quirked a lopsided grin. “No sense sneakin’ about it, eh? She was. An’ damned good at it too. I’ll admit I was more’n a li’l flabbergasted t’hear she was runnin’ a biz buildin’ ships.”
“When she was in university, she had a client who was one of the top engineers at an artificial intelligence center. He nearly had a heart attack when he attended a lecture given by the same girl who was giving him blow jobs under hi–”
“PAPA!” Ayy cried out in embarassment; again, only earning her a round of raucous laughter from her father. “Can we not discuss this? And how did you know about that?”
Ven smirked and took a sip of his wine, “He flew into Ryloth on his way back to Alderaan a few months before the destruction and had the displeasure of meeting your misha.”
Kaliper took a long drink from his glass, trying to hide his own smirk. He cast a glance to an absolutely mortified Ayyda and the smirk faded quickly. “So…” he began, casting about for a different topic. “How was Alderaan? Neva had th’chance t’see it m’self.”
This time it was Ven who gave Kaliper a mortified look and waved a hand at the Zabrak quickly. “I should tell you both of my…”
“It’s alright, Papa.” She smiled softly, a trace of sadness in her eyes. “It was beautiful, to put it in the simplest of terms. Living on a planet that had a full four seasons, a variety of terrains and a population of people who appreciated the world they lived on as well as the different cultures that people brought it. The tattoo I got was to remember the simplicity of sitting under the cherry trees that lined the sidewalks of the engineering department at university. I used to take my lunch there in the first weeks of spring. It’s also the fragrance I wear.” Ayy sighed and took another sip of her wine, “I don’t honestly know if I would’ve left had it not been destroyed.”
“I s’pose I wouldn’ go so far as t’say I’m glad it was destroyed, then,” Kaliper said, with a hint of a smile, “but I AM glad yeh didn’ stay.”
Ayy set her glass down and leaned over to kiss Kaliper’s cheek. “I’ve this feeling I’d have met you regardless.”
Ven raised his glass again, but this time remaining silent despite the thoughts that filled his brain on the demonstration. “So! Darlings! How would you feel about giving my old pair of lekku a ride with you?”
Kaliper paused, about to return Ayyda’s kiss, then shrugged. “Don’ see why not. Where ya bound?”
Ven shrugged, “Anywhere you two are going. Shavi has always known that I was homosexual,” He smiled at Ayy when she nodded in agreement, mumbling that it was a bit odd growing up with that knowledge. “My business competition, however, was not too pleased when I ended our less than professional relationship. They’ve sent a good share of Hutt thugs to my shop and to my home. I figure with all this glorious drama of Kala’uun Turning, it’s time to see what the Galaxy has to offer before I leave it myself.”
Kaliper gave Ven a nod. “Mind startin’ wi’Rori, then? Someone I gotta talk to there abou’ signin’ some papers. Yeh migh’ like Narmle.”
Ven nodded slowly, “Anywhere.”
Ayy looked first to Kaliper and then to Ven before she blinked and shook her head, “Wait. Wait. What?”
Ven pinched the bridge of his nose, “I stopped fellatating my competition. He is chasing me with an army of hired scissors. You understand that, right, progeny?”
Ayy facepalmed, hard.
“I had no idea yeh was in such a cut-throat line o’ work,” Kaliper said, sounding impressed. “What is it yeh do, again?”
“I was a musician until a jealous Chi’aki broke my hands. Now my darling Lokidonian, I am an engineer of fine domestic goods!”
“Siith me. Soun’s dangerous. I’ll stick t’flyin’, thankya. Much safer.”
Ayy rolled her eyes and picked up her glass of wine once more, “He’s a tailor.”
Ven raised a finger at his daughter quickly, “And a chef, Starsong! You cannot forget the art of food!”
“And a chef.” She mumbled. “What he’s not telling you is he created these intricate love triangles because the man lives for drama.” Ayy murmured under her breath.
“I did not!” Ven scoffed at the accusation, however true it was.
Kaliper smiled and settled back in his chair as he watched Ayyda suddenly turn the tables on her father.
“Would you really leave Ryloth, Papa?” She picked up her glass of wine again and finishing off the last sip that remained before holding it out to be refilled. Her father was more than happy to oblige. “I don’t mean to be patronizing, but you’ve built yourself up here. You’ve never travelled, you’ve never humoured the idea before…”
Ven responded as he set the empty bottle back down after refilling all three glasses, “I’m not getting much younger, Progeny. What better reason is there than to wish to experience something new before I die? Better yet, would you ever return to Ryloth?”
“Amuse me. Tell me why not.”
“Papa, you know my feelings on the traditions of our people and the reliance on a religion that does nothing but serve this bolshit caste system we live under. You willfully sold your own daughter into slavery to gain repute. And where did that get our family, Papa? No where.”
“We didn’t sell Tiatkin.” He mumbled into his glass.
“She was gifted in a way we didn’t understand. When she came of age, we gave her to a man who could train her in safety. No one would question that we sold a daughter, the man gave us a thousand credits for the sake of facade.” Ven explained, his voice taking on a melancholy tone for the first time in the evening. Ayy could do nothing but stare at her father, her mouth once again, slightly agape.
“I… does Linn know this?”
Ven shook his head in response. “That said!” His smile was quick to return and he looked to Kaliper, “Have you been to Ryloth before?”
Kaliper blinked and looked up from the depths of his wine glass. “Hmmyeah? Once or twice. Didn’ stay long. Jus’ quick cargo transfer. Wasn’ even proper starport, really. S’this is m’first real official-like visit.”
Ayy was still staring at her father in disbelief as the aging Twi’lek continued making lighter conversation, “Have you see the Brightlands? Is there anything you’d like to see before we all whisk off towards the tomorrows?”
“I’ll leave that up t’ye an’ Ayy. I ain’ know what’s worth seein’ here.”
Ayy finally snerked loudly. “Nothing beside the cave systems, but I’m the only geek who thinks that’s a thing of beauty.”
“It is just a cave.” Ven chuckled.
“F’ye think t’caves are beautiful, why don’ ya show us th’best bits, then?” Kal said with a smile.
“In the morning, then?” She asked, looking over to Kaliper, returning the smile.
“That gives me time to pack everything, perfect!” Ven exclaimed, rising up from his chair and gathering the emptied plates and glasses to deposit into the basin of the sink.
Kaliper pushed his chair back from the table and stood up, stretching. “Well, Ven, thankya f’the dinner, was delicious.”
Ayyda’shiri smiled watching the two for a moment before she stood as well. She ran a hand down the side of Kaliper’s arm before motioning for him to follow. As she passed by the wine rack, her fingers curled around the neck of another bottle of Alderaan wine to pull from the shelf before making her way up the winding staircase to the uppermost room. The walls of which were a collection of scribbled equations, a plush rug in the center of the room. A rug onto which the lithe Tolian woman flopped down, uncorking the bottle with one of her clawed fingernails.
Kaliper followed Ayyda into the room. He stared at the writing on the wall, trying to make sense of it. She watched him, smiling softly, “I started those when I was only up to your knees, I think… most are pretty basic. The intricate ones didn’t really begin until I had a datapad.”
“Oh. Yeah. Definitely basic,” he said, giving what he thought was a fairly convincing sage nod.
His nod earned a chuckle from her before she took a drink from the bottle and leaned forward to hold it out to him. Around the room were scattered books, datapads and droid chassis long forgotten. A child’s toys, a holographic image of Linn’shiri with a Twi’lek woman and a young boy between the couple. The early life of Ayyda’shiri, untouched in the time she was gone.
Kaliper proceeded to wander about the room, picking up random items and looking them over. He held up a tattered little toy weasel-like creature and waved its paws at Ayyda. “Who’s this?” he asked. He sat down beside Ayyda and took a drink from the offered bottle of wine.
She flicked her clawed fingernails at the stuffed schutta’s nose and leaned forward to kiss Kaliper’s cheek. “That is Schutta. Unique, right?”
Kaliper returned the kiss and gave a wink. “‘bout as unique as Mister Bantha. Did yeh met Mister Bantha? I think yeh did.”
“It’s hard not to meet him when he sleeps with us.”
Kaliper gave a laugh, which became a yawn. He clamped a hand over his mouth. “Mrmgnphf. Speakin’ of sleep…”
She smiled again and took the bottle from him to set it on a small table beside the plush rug before pulling Kal down to curl up with and setting Schutta atop his chest with a quiet snicker.
Early in the morning, Ayy slipped out of the house, bringing back with her a can of Red Bantha Energy Drink and a small box of Bespin Cloud Car Charms for Kaliper. She left them on the counter in the kitchen while she curled up with Ven in his arm chair to watch the mornings GNN Headlines. The two talked quietly about the issues within the Galaxy, the rise of Xenophobia and what it meant for their businesses. She told her father about the compound, the events leading up to its explosions and the strange client named Melkin Antross. They spoke of life on Tatooine and how Linn’shiri was falling into his alcoholism.
Kal made his way into the kitchen and picked up the box of Cloud Car cereal with a wide grin, pouring himself a bowl. He moved quietly into the next room and leaned against the doorway, watching Ayyda and her father with a smile, as he crunched away on his breakfast.
Shavi said her goodbyes quietly before she went off to work, informing Ayy that the Backfire had been fully repaired. Ayy thanked her and asked her to prepare a clearance for later in the day. When she had gone, Kaliper and Ayy gathered their things for Ven to take with him to the starport before heading out into the city to explore the caverns only to find an annoyed Ven waiting for them at the Backfire later in the evening. Despite his annoyance, he seemed to almost be bouncing with glee to leave Ryloth.
Ayy perched on the arm of Kaliper’s chair as they took off, “Tomorrow is the first day of an almost entirely new life for us all, isn’t it?” She whispered, almost to herself.