There was a planet called Uchinao, one of those many city-world planet-cities as the galaxy could count if it had a single pinky or something such.
Whatever, Leh’Min’Ayd felt more comfortable pondering the machinations of single-digit city-planets than she did listening to her tour guide.
The overhead music did well to provide a melody that overrode the mundane mediocrity of said tour guide's speech patterns.
“Over here is the most triumphant statue of Argonakiss the Argonite,” so spoke Grandmother. Said tour guide was everyone’s grandmother, Lem reckoned, and probably spent her nights sipping tea in the attic.
“Is Argonakiss an acklay?” Asked some idiot teenager.
“An acklay is an amphibious reptilian crustacean,” corrected some fellow student.
“Then what’s an Argonite?” Asked the next dumbass.
“Clearly an Argonite is one of the ruling factions of Uchinao when its peoples were still killing each other with swords and shields,” rolled the eyes of Leh’Min’Ayd the Lemonade.
“Are…” Some boy drooled. “...Are you a wizard?”
“No, no, I just read the placards that most people don’t.” Lem pointed to the base of the statue that told a whole lot more than what she just said.
“Bu-But…shields are for blocking, not killing!” Queue Captain Correction.
Lem sighed. “If I swing a shield in your general direction and bash your face in—” She would have continued had someone not interrupted her.
The last time Ruzaan had been in a museum, he'd accidentally made friends with a Sith and had helped foil an attempted artifact heist.
He hoped that this visit would be less exciting; he had a paper to write.
Thus far it had been, even if navigating the streets of Uchinao had been more confusing than he'd anticipated. It was almost as if they'd designed the place in order to ensure that the few people who traveled to the icy planet would remain there; lost. At least he had finally found the museum, because he was cold.
Wrapping his robes tightly around him and still shivering from the elements he'd left outside a few minutes ago, the Togruta scanned the second floor of the museum. He was certain that he was late, judging by the look he'd been given by the receptionist at the entrance when he'd dug out his ticket with numb fingers, and after being told that the tour group was nearly 20 minutes into their experience, he'd been given a rough area to search and left on his own to figure it out.
At least there was another Togruta.
It wasn't often that Ruzaan ran into others of his own species in the galaxy, let alone those close to his age. Although the body language of the teenager in front of him seemed to portray annoyance and the desire to be left alone, Ruzaan decided to risk introducing himself in hopes that Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb would catch the hint and move on.
"Excuse m-m-me!" he called out, voice shaking slightly from the cold that had seeped into his bones, and hopefully before she could make good on her threat to demonstrate how blows to the head could be damaging. "Is this tour group 46N?"
‘Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the dark side. The dark side leads to even darker dark side darkness.’ Said slogan, or a close version of it, was not unknown to Leh’Min’Ayd but she had her own torches for beating back the shadows.
She wasn’t angry at Tweedle Dee, neither annoyed with Tweedle Dum, just fed up with Grandma’s stagecoach and the pipsqueaks pointing at every statue like it was a shiny coin. Queue Excuse Me.
“Tour group 46N?” Lem enunciated. “That a joke?” She got some looks. Spread her arms as if to hug Mr. Excuse Me but ended up playing the drums midair. “Tour Group 46N is THE BEST baka rock band this side of the kiss-my-ass galaxy!”
She got more looks. “I mean granted not everyone listens to Gamorrean rock but—”
“46N is indeed the name of this tour group." Grandmother's furry brows crossed like two sabres rattling toward one another. "I don’t know anything about Gamorrean rock but this museum is not the place for it, young lady.”
Lem scratched the back of her tendrils. “Heheheh excuse me Grams but—”
“Moving along.” The tour group moved along. Lem was promoted to the back of the line. Heh. Least I got a fellow Togruta.
“Hi, I’m Lem!” Right hand extends for a most appropriate handshake.
Add Gamorrean rock to the ever-increasing list of cultural phenomena that Ruzaan hadn't experienced. Neither had the tour leader, it seemed, who was all too happy to try and put the teenage Togruta back in her placed.
Emphasis on the word try.
Ruzaan couldn't help but smile at the girl's antics despite himself, quickly staring down at the floor to cover the smile widening across his face lest Grams' eyebrows completely overlap. Lem was nothing if not a free spirited person.
"I'm Ruzaan" he replied once he had more or less composed himself, shaking the proffered hand and hoping she was ok with his being icy. "It's nice to meet you" he said, stifling a giggle of his own as the tour leader continued to detail the exploits of the Argonite exhibit and he heard the man's name for the first time. "Is his name really 'Are-gonna-kiss'?"
That might just be the most unique name he'd heard thus far in his 17 years, and immediately he knew that hanging out with Lem wouldn't be good for him being able to write this paper. She seemed like a bad academic influence, but the opportunity to hang out with another Togruta his age wasn't something he got to do often. "Have I missed anything so far on the tour?" he asked, curious what Lem had retained from the first 20 minutes of the tour.
Lem’s smile sank like that portrait of a ship past Ruzaan’s shoulder. “Yep, that’s icy.” She was relieved that handshakes need not be long. “Nice to meet me too and I know a good hand doctor!"
The old woman was about as interesting as that statue of a ladder but she definitely knew her history. Lemon assumed she did, anyway, because Lemon couldn’t even remember the name of the museum.
“Who?” She blinked back at Ruz. “Oh. Yeah. Argonakiiiii heheheh hey wait I just caught that haha!” There wasn’t much else to laugh about after all. Hummmmmmm…
“Excuse me, sir?” She crossed her brows at Ruz's next question, became a woman twice her age. “Why, the tour has only just begun, Mr. Ruzaan! It’s this way! Come along!”
She didn’t wait and left the loser's tour line, tugging Ruz by the arm if he failed to comply before letting go to walk before him. “Over here we have the Helmet of the Muffin King.” Lemon presented the display pedestal, not really caring about what Ruz might read on the plaque.
“We’re not really sure why he was hailed as the Muffin King except that his helmet looks like a muffin.” She blinked. “Kind of. Maybe. At a certain angle? Ahem. Questions?”
Ruzaan had lots of questions. Was there a limit to Lem's confidence? Could the tour guide's eyebrows arch any higher? Why was he following this other Togruta away from the group?
At least the last question was answerable; Lem was interesting, to say the least. The girl had more personality than this entire museum put together, even if he didn't quite follow her train of thought half the time. Encouraged by Lem's gregarious nature, Ruzaan decided to chance that Lem wouldn't mind a personal question or two as he admired the Helmet of the Muffin King. "I don't often see Togrutas outside of Shili" he said. "What brings you all the way out here?"
Lemonade had almost forgotten that Shili was indeed her homeworld. “What do homeworlds matter when you already have a home?” She shrugged at having voiced that thought aloud.
“Business brings me to this world, my good sir, both before and after.” She answered as eloquently as she could, trying to maintain her sophisticated tour guide impression. “With a bit of pleasure in between, I daresay, but if you want to talk then you’re going to have to play.”
Whatever Mr. Ruzaan might say, Lemon danced from the display pedestal to a display case of a kind of wooden walking stick that doubled as a beat stick.
“Ah, yes. This, my good sir, is the Shillelagh of Shili.” She wasn’t lying this time, pointing to the name on the plaque. “Tragically, the Togruta Princess once used it to beat the Togruta Prince day and night for failing to buy her coffee.” That part she very much made up, though her smile was true as she pointed to the museum's cafe.
For someone with such a carefree attitude, Lem sure did have her moments of profoundness. Ruzaan reflected on her observation about home vs homeworld, realizing that Yavin IV was much more a home to him now than Shili was. A pang of sadness accompanied that realization, but it was just as quickly replaced by curiosity as Lem kept her cards close to her chest as to her motives for visiting this place.
Ruzaan briefly squinted at the plaque for the Shillelagh of Shili before realizing that while the artifact was real, Lem's history wasn't. He did, however, manage to pick up the hint, motioning towards the cafe as part of an elaborate bow- "The princess commands!" -and walked with Lem towards the cafe. He'd order whatever she wanted, as well as something hot for himself; with some time, it might help warm up his hands.
"So" he said, choosing a two-person table for them once their drinks had arrived, "since I'm guessing that this"--he waved his hand to indicate the museum, feeling the warmth of the hot mug seep into his palms-- "seems to be more business than not, what passes for pleasure?" A harmless enough conversation topic, he supposed; for all he knew, Lem was here for a Gamorrean Rock festival, and people liked talking about their interests.
As the prince bowed the princess could not help but clap, glad to be in command. Truth be told she was most appropriately pleased that this dude had finally decided to play. After all, what else was there to do in a museum?
As Ruz warmed himself up with hot coffee, Lem cooled herself down with iced coffee flavored with caramel and topped with whipped cream and— “Ahhhhh frappe…” She licked her lips, sinking into her chair like the portrait of a loth-cat past Ruz’s shoulder.
“You mean besides listening to Gamorrean Rock?” She grinned, pausing to slurp from straw, having dropped the tour guide guise.
“This—” Lem waved her hand to indicate the museum, feeling the sweat of the cup seep into her palms. “—Is pleasure, my dude! AKA I’m kinda just touring the city at the moment. This museum is next to the movie theater so I figure, well, Nan's your nanny, go listen Granny.” She shrugged, not so sure herself. Wandering around cities do be like that sometimes. “What aboutchaself?”
Ruzaan hadn't been brave enough to order a frappe before- briefly, he wondered if Caf Girl would approve (@llamallove), before focusing on his own drink and Lem's words. Everything was going well until she turned the question back at him; a slightly blank look would cross his face as he thought about his own hobbies... or lack thereof.
He'd been with the Order for almost four years now, and since becoming a Padawan and beginning to go on missions throughout the galaxy, there had been precious little time for relaxation. Ruzaan's face fell as he realized that the only time he'd had off was when he was recovering from injuries sustained in the field, which hadn't exactly allowed him the opportunity to relax and have fun.
"I... I don't know" he said, slightly bewildered. . He didn't have a life outside of the Order. Even his journey to this museum had been to do research for the Jedi. Lem must find his answer incredibly boring, but he always valued honesty over his reputation. Grey eyes flicked up to meet hers, however briefly. Time to take a brave pill. "But I have a few hours here; do you have any recommendations?"
Leh’Min cocked a brow at that bewildered look. It seemed a simple enough question but, then again, there were times when she answered the same way. Maybe it's anmesia. Hope I never get anmesia.
Theories abounded, especially ones about Ruzaan. His answer was indeed incredibly boring but Lemon could appreciate a sugarless donut when it came around. It was kind of like a lost child who just needed some nudging.
Then again, if Lemon trusted her Jedi senses, these two Togrutas might just end up becoming good friends.
Queue the winning question, the golden one, the trillion credit one. Lem slurped from her straw as though it was stuck in a Mandalorian’s helmet, wiped her lips and leaned forward. “Buddy, you have come to the right person."
She held up a hand for a most appropriate high five. “We got theme parks, restaurants, aquariums, concerts, coffee stands, this one hedge maze, this one place you can build your own donuts, and I passed a dojo down the street if sparring is your thing, heh.”
Ruzaan took a drink of his caf in order to buy himself some time to think. He was certain about two things; one, he'd never met anyone quite like Lem before, and two, she was significantly more well versed in the art of spending free time than he was. Lem had rattled off more than half a dozen ideas in just a few seconds without even having to spend time thinking of it. Ruzaan, however, had to cycle through the options Lem had listed.
The theme park could wait for another day. The restaurants he'd seen were above his price range. Gamorrean rock did not sound appealing. They were at a cafe right now, so probably not a coffee stand. He wanted to relax, not train, so no sparring. That left three options; time to put the ball back in Lem's court.
"Aquarium, hedge maze, or donut place?" Ruzaan said, holding up his hand to mirror hers. They hadn't come to a consensus, so no high-five... yet.
Well, that caught Lem off guard. Initially, the Togruta had surmised that by giving the Togruta the options of what to do and where to go and who to see well this would be her way of not having to decide.
Ahhhhh but this is a crafty one, O yes indeed! A fine champion of competiont! O, woe is me, have I met my rival? O!
Queue the return to theater as Leh’Min’Ayd is now a princess in the flesh.
“Well, my good man, we just had coffee so maybe Donut-It-Yourself can wait for the next scheduled caffeine injection, O yes most yes?” Pinches her chin.
“Hmmm that rules out Trumpet Crumpets as well on that note but as far as aquariums go, well, I recently got back from a dreadful trip to Mon Cala so I guess that leaves...HEDGE MAZES!”
Lem remembered her other hand was still hovering midair. Debated a Force High Five but settled for just hoping he didn't leave her hanging.
Ruzaan's raised hand found Lem's, sealing the idea with a solid high five. "Hedge maze it is!" he agreed, downing the rest of his caf. The thought of going back out into the cold was less appealing now that he was nice and warm again, but at least he wouldn't be alone. Lem seemed to know her way around, and perhaps this hedge maze was indoors.
Standing up from the table, he bowed theatrically in the direction of Lem. "Lead the way, princess!"
A slap-happy high five was one of the most satisfying sounds in the world next to Gamorrean Rock and a lightsaber turning on.
Lem made sure to give a bow of her own, snapped to attention, accidentally broke the nose of everyone’s favorite grandmother, promptly got kicked out.
The hedge maze was called The Hedge Maze.
There was music playing throughout the maze and the music sounded like a maze.
Whispers of leaves in the air, wind like the waves of an ocean.
The hum of a flute, the heartbeat of a drum, the heart of a harp.
Leh’Min approached the gate, got called from behind, something about having to first buy a ticket.
She turned around, approached the reception desk, struggled to look over it even on tiptoes.
“What is this, a desk for GIANTS?”
“Oh, good morning, young master and mistress!”
A Herglic’s head leaned over. “That’ll be a whatzamachoozit number of credits, please!”
Lemon disliked Herglic heads coming out of nowhere but she did like those ticket prices and paid for the tickets.
She turned around, took a breath, let it out, shook Ruzaan’s shoulders not too excitedly but excitedly.
“ONCE MORE UNTO THE GATE AND INTO THE MAZE, MY PRINCE! LEAD THE WAY!"
Tysjor didn’t even know why he’d listened to Cul in coming here. There were no credits to be earned, no sector rangers to shoot, and no fun to be had. His colleague, when telling him about this place, had made him think that it was the exact opposite. He’d already had more than his fair share of doubts when he was forced to pay for a maze, and yet he’d still gone through with it. What had he been thinking?
“What if I get stuck in there?” he’d asked the Herglic, who didn’t seem to know whether to be terrified, confused, or amused at seeing a Pyke about to enter a maze full of children.
“You won’t. But if you do, we have this emergency button you can press, and someone will come get you. All you have to do is type in your name! This is what it sounds like.” The Herglic pressed it, and a loudspeaker rang across the field.
“ASSISTANCE NEEDED. ASSISTANCE NEEDED. BLANK IS STUCK IN THE MAZE. HELP!”
Tysjor had turned down the button after that, and he didn’t regret it despite the fact that he’d been stuck in here for two hours wandering in circles. Still, he would rather fight that huntsman droid again than do this. Now he was about at his wit’s end, and he told himself that he was going to strangle that Herglic when he saw him again. As for Cul, the other Pyke would have a blaster at his head the next time they met.