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Koozalagoobdegoob
1 July 2003, 07:36 PM
This isn't so much a short story, but the intro post for my character in a Star Wars PBEM. It's not my best work, but I had fun writing it and its fairly self-contained. Thought I would just share with the group...

The story takes place 12 years after the Battle of Endor.


Old Promises, New Beginnings


Seen from orbit, Kashyyyk was a perfect round emerald resting on black velvet. Finn knew that just below those colossal canopies, hundreds of meters below the bustling, inhabited tree-top cities was a fearsome world where the sunlight never reached and few Wookiees were brave enough to tread. That didn’t make the world any less precious to him; those dark depths were where the real Kashyyyk hid. He had spent three years down there, hunting wild katarns and his own fool spirit.

“And now,” he muttered to his reflection in the view port, “ I’m leaving it all behind. Abandoning my tribe for the son of the man who destroyed all that my grandfather ever held true.”

There was a quavering digital bleat behind him. Finn glanced from the view port down at the astromech droid idling at his side. He chuckled: when inside the ship, R4-T8 was one of the few beings that could sneak up on him. Home field advantage, he supposed. The agoraphobic little droid wouldn’t leave the YT-2000 unless absolutely picked up and rolled down the boarding ramp.

“No, R4,” he answered the little droid’s question, “I’m just airing some mental dirty laundry. Have you entered the coordinates for Yavin 4 into the navcomputer?”

R4 jabbered an affirmative and made a couple off-manipulator comments.

“Of course you updated the jump coordinates for galactic shift. I wouldn’t expect less. Prepare the engines for the jump…we should be leaving in a few minutes.”

The neurotic droid trundled out of the cockpit and back-ship towards his engineer’s station. Finn looked back out the transparesteel canopy and contemplated the beautiful forest world for a few more moments. He had already said his good-byes to Shaman Ciiirkabukk and the rest of his hunt-comrades this morning.

The gray old Wookiee had slapped him on the back, rattling his rib cage, and told him that his departure was fortunate: a teacher should never keep a more talented student around, especially one as small and pink as Finn. Then, in more serious tones, Ciiirkabukk told him that he would be missed dearly as any family member would, but it was good and right that Finn was following his grandfather’s wishes. Finn thanked his Shaman and surrogate father for all of his training and guidance and promised to return one day, if the Force saw fit. Then, he loaded what few possessions he had into the Stalwart Ranger and blasted out of the atmosphere.

Finn realized that he had drawn his Ryyk blade, the index finger of his left hand trailing up and down the shallow blood groove of the Wookiee war-machete. He knew that it was remarkable that he—a non-Wookiee—had been allowed to leave the planet with such a sacred object. Wookiees had a lot of tradition, ceremony, and honor tied up in their weapons and it was a special, or incredibly stupid, human that carried a Ryyk blade. That must mean it was a downright miracle Ciiirkabukk had taught him how to forge and wield it.

Life is honor and duty…that’s what his grandfather had always taught him and three years with a Wookiee Shaman hadn’t degraded those lessons. Quite the opposite, actually.

“You never hesitated to love and care for your itinerate son’s orphan boy, grandfather,” he whispered, “I shall repay your honor and fulfill your dreams.”

Sheathing the Ryyk blade, Finn sat down into the pilot’s couch and engaged the manual controls. He rotated the Stalwart Ranger until Kashyyyk was behind him, physically and emotionally. He tapped the internal comm controls.

“We ready to fly, R4?”

“Affirmative,” the droid’s answer scrolled across his HUD.

“Excellent. Engage the hyperdrive.”

The old YT-2000 shuddered as it phased out of normal reality and for a moment—just a moment—Finn though he could smell the chaos crackle of hyperspace. The stars outside the cockpit swirled and elongated, confirming the promise of faster than light travel.


* * *


Yavin wasn’t that far from Kashyyyk as hyperspace travel goes, but the trip would take a solid twenty-four hours. Finn decided that he would use that time to make himself presentable.

Three years living as a traditional Wookiee scout had certainly put a bit of hair on his face and head. Removing his thick, curly beard ruined two vibro-razor heads and the after-shave lotion made him hiss despite himself. Afterwards, Finn barely recognized the clean-shaven human man in the mirror and it sent a small shiver through him. Just then did he realize that for as long as he could remember he had internally thought of himself as just a particularly short Wookiee. He was Finn Dootric, not stealthy little Shorkazza.

His hair held less emotional investment for him, though. It reached well below his shoulders and was twisted into Wookiee dreadlocks. Finn thought of how many times it had gotten in the way or snagged on some branch over the last three years and unsheathed his Ryyk blade. He didn’t hesitate in giving himself an impromptu military burr-cut.

Finn capped off his re-induction to the human race with a long shower in the ‘fresher stall. He had missed hot water and soap.

He walked naked out into the main cabin to dry off in the cool air. R4 trilled reproachfully at him.

“Oh, shut you vocalizer. It’s my ship, I’ll drip on the deck plates if I want,” he said as the little droid trundled off to find his mop attachment.

R4-D8 could be a major pain in the ass, but his neurotic personality flaws made him an excellent mechanic and housekeeper. The little droid was convinced that he was the freighter’s auto-immune system, the only internal agent that could keep the ship in perfect ‘health’. As such, though the Ranger was heavily modified from factory spec, R4 made certain every extra millimeter of wire and square inch of armor plating was documented and compatible with their related systems. Left alone with the Ranger for three years must have been absolute Nirvana for R4 and Finn could tell that the droid mildly resented him for returning. R4 had just gotten the Stalwart Ranger the way he wanted her, after all.

As Finn pulled on a pair of BDU trousers he hadn’t worn in months, a thought occurred to him.

“R4,” he called to the droid, “How long has it been since you powered down?”

The droid’s muffled reply came from the custodial closet.

“By the Maw, that long?” Finn cursed under his breath, “When we make planet fall, you’re ordered to power down for at least ten hours. Got that? I don’t want you blowing your central motivator.”

The droid warbled back that he understood, but didn’t like it.

“I must be,” he muttered as he shrugged on his leather jerkin, “the only man in the whole damn galaxy with an insomniac astromech unit.”

Dressed in normal clothes and wearing boots again, Finn felt mostly human. He put on his utility belt and slung his gun belt over it, blaster and Ryyk blade both in easy reach. His last article of clothing still hung in the closet, his grandfather’s beaten old flight jacket. It was quite possibly the last official remnant of the old man’s paramilitary unit, given to raw recruits who had finished their first mission. Finn ran the back of his hand down the front of the jacket, but left it on the hanger.
Finn swallowed, turned, and walked into the main cargo bay. R4 had left his workbench alone and a thick layer of dust lay over his tools and diagnostic equipment. He ignored these for the moment and went directly to a tarp draped form in the corner. He pulled back the tarp with a flourish and a smile cracked his face.

“Aw, baby, you’re even prettier than I remember.”

He had found the JR-4 speeder bike languishing in a junkyard on Rodia while looking for a particular power coupling R4 just had to have. Finn immediately bought the supposed worthless heap for a song, never telling the foolish proprietor that he had powerful and historic piece of machinery that would have sold for thousands of credits on the classic speeder bike market. It had taken him the better part of a year and good many scraped knuckles, but Finn had restored the bike and customized it to his needs.

The JR-4 was nearly four meters long, composed of a huge repulsor-lift motor that stretched out in front of the pilot’s seat and two powerful turbothrust engines mounted to either side in the back. She wasn’t quite as fast or maneuverable as a modern swoop, but Finn couldn’t think of a more reliable or tough long-range, low altitude scout bike. She was still painted up in forest camouflage pattern.

Finn swung his leg over the bike and sat lovingly on the cushioned seat. He paused to run a simple pre-flight test and then turned the engine over. The JR-4 growled to life without a sputter or cough, her humming engine causing the deck plates to tremble. He revved the engine and the entire cargo bay reverberated with the bike’s growling. Finn flipped a switch on the central console and the thunder reduced to a whisper, the shuddering deck plates the only evidence of the bike’s operation.

“Excellent,” he almost sang, “The silent-running mode still works. Everything well in the black.”

Grudgingly, Finn turned the bike off and dismounted. He would have time enough to ride her around Yavin 4, no matter how things turned out. He went back to the cockpit, retrieving his grandfather’s flight jacket along the way. Finn draped the jacket over the back of the pilot’s couch and sat down, making himself comfortable.

He tapped the comm controls, “R4, I’m going to sleep the rest of the way to Yavin. It’s been a helluva day. Wake me a just before we enter realspace.”

The droid’s recognition scrolled across the HUD and Finn nodded. He leaned the couch back, stretched out, and fell asleep on a cushion for the first time in a year.


* * *

Finn felt a light pressure on his arm and snapped awake with a sharp inhalation of air. The Ryyk blade glinted coldly in the light of R4’s photoreceptor, but Finn stopped himself just short of plunging the point into the droid’s truncated dome. The terrified astromech didn’t bother to retract his manipulator arm as he zipped out of the cockpit, emitting an ear-splitting wail all the way. Finn could barely choke back his nervous laughter.

“I’m sorry, R4,” Finn twisted around in the couch and yelled after the droid, “I’m sorry! I thought you were a snake!”

The droid screeched back a fairly untranslatable retort involving where Finn could stow his knife and all the snakes on Kashyyyk. Finn laughed again and sheathed the blade, turning back around just in time to watch the swirling starfield coalesce into a little blue-green planetoid orbiting an orange gas-giant.

“Yavin 4,” Finn whispered, utterly sober.

He regarded the planetoid. Yavin 4 wasn’t quite the spectacular green emerald Kashyyyk was, but was still a fine enough jewel. More importantly, it was home to his grandfather’s most guarded hopes and dreams: a thriving Jedi Academy. Skywalker and his students were the rising phoenix that the old man had trained Finn to find and guard with his life. Here, on this backwater moon, was the galaxy’s hope and Finn’s destiny.

Finn knew he could leave, just turn the ship around and make a comfortable life form himself as a respectable bounty hunter or wilderness scout. His hand found the pommel of the Ryyk blade and he thought of his selfless grandfather, wise old Ciiirkabukk, and the purpose of promises and honor. Mostly, he thought about how he would never be able live with himself.

The young man stood up and shrugged on his grandfather’s flight jacket. It fit like a glove. The jacket was Finn’s, now, and everything that went with it. He keyed the long-range comm controls and hailed the Jedi Academy.

“Free-trader Stalwart Ranger to Jedi Academy Flight Control, requesting permission to land.” he spoke, “ This is Finn Dootric, Antarian Ranger, reporting for duty.”

dragonseye
2 July 2003, 08:06 AM
A very good story- well written and with engaging- and amusing- characters. :) This should make for a very good and very detailed background story for your character.

Keep up the good work.