Authors: Landry Q. Walker
Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away
The Face of Evil
All Creatures Great and Small
The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku
High Noon on Jakku
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slowly across the courtyard. Though in all fairness, no one had ever seen the long-necked and wizened member of the mysterious Nu-Cosian species move any quicker; it was entirely possible that the slow pace was actually a breakneck sprint for the ancient being many of the residents of Jakku knew either as the Storyteller or the Crittermonger.
had a patient
and calm demeanor, the same could not be said for the many species of tiny creatures tucked away inside the giant stack of cages and baskets strapped to his back. The bottom cage was currently home to a dozen or more tiny gwerps—lean frog-like creatures with protruding tusks and horns. The middle stack of weathered wooden hutches carried pishnes, long-necked, soft-mouthed, generously feathered creatures
that were an odd combination of avian and mollusk. Another cage was home to a solitary lonlan, a bulbous mammal of a sort that resembled a large, semi-inflated, mud-colored balloon. A smaller hutch, tucked away in between the many cages and boxes, was home to a mated pair of zhhee, a brilliantly colored and especially boisterous species of winged lizard. And at the very top was the grumpy-looking
worrt named J’Rrosch that seemed to travel everywhere with the wizened old wanderer.
There were more, of course: several tiny cages tucked away here and there, populated by rare species that most on Jakku had never seen or heard of before and would likely never see or hear of again. Every time Bobbajo visited, it was common for him to carry with him a dozen or more indescribable creatures.
And even if those animals were common elsewhere, on Jakku they were all rare wonders, each seemingly with its own story.
The town was called Reestkii—a word that, loosely translated into Basic, meant “the leftover.” Reestkii was located near the equator of the desert world, and the only settlement on the planet worth noting—Niima Outpost—was over four hundred kilometers away. The town had
no resources to mine, barely enough agriculture for the locals to survive, and not enough combined wealth to get passage on a ship to anywhere worth seeing—not that there were any ships other than the occasional bleak husk of something long before burned out. There were very few settlements of that sort—generally unknown or forgotten by the rest of the bleak world they were situated on. So any change
in the dull and monotonous activities, such as a visit by Bobbajo, was well worth taking note of.
Reaching one of the long tables of recycled scrap situated in the courtyard of the small village, Bobbajo took a seat, hefting his cumbersome pack of animal cages around and setting it to rest on the bench next to him. As was usually the case when the wandering storyteller came to town, the locals
slowly drifted toward him. It had been many planetary cycles since the Nu-Cosian had last visited, and people—especially the local children—were excited to see what Bobbajo had brought with him this time.
“Quite…a bit…” the Storyteller answered in his slow cadence. And with that simple statement, two yellow-bellied sand lizards darted out of his sleeve and alighted on the packed sand of the
courtyard in unison. The lizards stopped as one, dramatically rearing back on their little hind legs and puffing their chests out wide. The lizards balanced in that position, swaying back and forth rhythmically and in tandem. It was a simple trick to the older residents of Reestkii—not that they understood how it was done, mind you, but they had seen it before. To the scattered children, it was
“But wait…” Bobbajo offered, holding up one four-fingered hand. The lizards paused, turning back, and skittered toward the cage holding the pair of zhhee. Within seconds, the lizards had opened the cage, and the two zhhee slowly emerged. They lowered their feathered necks, and a lizard scrambled up onto each, gripping the back and neck of its avian mount tightly. Bobbajo began
rapping his knuckles rhythmically on the table, and the two winged lizards began to dance in place, stepping forward and back, whirling, prancing—each in perfect time with the other.
The children gasped and cheered while the adults smiled. Unfortunately, it was then that the Storyteller’s traveling creature show was brought to an abrupt end.
“Is that a ship?” asked one of the children,
staring up into the bright sky of Jakku.
was a Zygerrian cruiser operated by a band of slavers well-known for attacking remote outposts on less-traveled worlds and kidnapping the citizens they found, commonly pressing their prisoners into work camps or selling them off to the highest bidders.
The ship came in quick, and there was no time for the people of Reestkii to muster any defenses—particularly as they had no defenses
to speak of. Such things had never seemed necessary there, as there were no animal predators in the region and the local pirates and criminals were more likely to use their resources raiding holdings that actually had goods worth stealing.
The slavers descended. The people screamed and panicked and ran while Bobbajo calmly and quietly emptied his cages, releasing his many pets into the streets.
The gwerps hopped away into the shadows of the buildings; the pishnes waddled under the tables, huddling together as they often did; while the lonlan bounced around casually, its body inflating and deflating over and over in an excited fashion.
J’Rrosch glared and hopped away to find some shade.
Soon they had all scattered. And just in time, as the long-eared catlike Zygerrians disembarked
from the ship, laser whips and rifles ready to punish any resistance as they went about their dark business.
no resistance to be found. Suitably cowed, the unarmed residents of Reestkii were rounded up and forced into the large town hall building while the slavers pillaged the settlement for any supplies they could steal. There was little of note in the building. It was a functional but unadorned structure—four heavy stone walls with narrow slits for windows. The windows were high above
ground level, impossible for any of the beings locked within to reach and peer out. Green and orange paint decorated the interior, but it was chipped and worn with age. There were tables inside and a handful of chairs. Otherwise, nothing.
“What will we do?” asked one of the citizens in a panicked voice. He was Thaddeeus Marien, a bulb-headed Kitonak. And though his leather-skinned species
was well-suited for the desert climate of Jakku, he was nevertheless perspiring.
Another citizen echoed that sentiment: “Slavers,” said P’nll Vun, an amphibious Nautolan, shaking the thick set of dark tentacles that cascaded from his scalp. “What will happen to us? This can’t…this can’t be possible. The constable…”
A third voice cut in, this one belonging to Jol Bengim, a Chevin whose
massive elephantine head stretched the length of his entire body. “I know their like. They’ll take us and force us all into labor camps. I saw it before…back when I was on Vinsoth. We’re doomed for sure….”
All the while the children of the village stared nervously and silently, terrified at the strange intrusion into the peaceful and quiet world into which they had been born.
interrupted Bobbajo. “There is…yet hope. We are merely detained. Our fates…they are not determined.”
Jol stamped his heavy hooflike feet back and forth impatiently. “Easy words to say, Storyteller. But words will not save us now! Nothing will save us!”
One of the children, a tiny hammer-headed Ottegan named Adlee, let out a minute sob. With a silencing glance at the emotional Chevin, Bobbajo
turned his kindly face to the needs of the scared children.
“Children…listen. You will need…to trust in what I say. Help…is coming, and everything will be…fine.”
The children sniffled and fidgeted.
“Let me tell you a story,” Bobbajo began, gently beckoning to the children. They slowly gathered before him, forgetting their troubles—if only for the moment. “This story…begins with the
tiniest of creatures…facing the greatest of enemies….”