Inspired by the recent release of From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi.
Gavon found an open spot between a pair of larger troop carriers and set the shuttle down with practiced ease. He bounced out of his seat, and ducked into the passenger area. “All right, everyone! The festivities shouldn’t be far. Just head more or less northwest. I hear the locals have sticky fingers, so you can leave your helmets and gear here.” He hit the hatch release with his fist and gestured for everyone to depart. The door opened the width of a spanner turned sideways, then shuddered to a stop. The sound of gears grinding filled the cabin, drowning out a string of Nikto curses coming from the ship’s pilot.
Gavon took a step back and aimed a full-bodied kick at a boot-shaped dent in the door. It fell open another spanner length, the motors caught and it lowered the rest of the way normally. “Karking piece of junk,” he muttered, backing out of the way again for everyone to disembark.
A Twi’lek hung back. “When should we plan to rendezvous back here?”
Gavon hit the external door control with his fist and watched as it lurched back up half-way and stopped. Squatting under it, he shouldered it past the stuck point and watched in satisfaction as the hatch sealed. He slapped the hull, a gesture somewhere between affection and “showed you.”
Turning around, he jumped at the sight of the Twi’lek in front of him. “Can I help you? Lieutenant…?”
“Kiki. When should we return to the shuttle?”
Gavon shook his head. “No idea.”
Kiki leaned in, sure she had misheard. “Sorry?”
“No idea. Some time tomorrow, I imagine.”
“Oh.” Kiki looked at the forest around her, dubious.
Gavon clapped her on the back, laughing. “I doubt there’s anything here that would find you appetizing. Do you want your blaster?” He indicated the recalcitrant door. “I should be able to wrestle us back inside.”
“I don’t have blaster.”
Gavon’s brows raised in surprise. “How do you not have a blaster?”
“I mean I don’t have it with me. I left it in my quarters.” She pointed vaguely up, indicating the fleet still orbiting Endor.
“Ah,” said Gavon, nodding without understanding.
“There’s not much call for blasters in logistics,” she explained. “I spend all my time pushing data around, making sure shipments get where they need to be. If I’m going to wear a holster, it makes more sense to have a data pad in it, or spare power cells. So I’m not in the habit.”
“Gotcha,” replied Gavon. “Well, stick with me and you’ll be fine. Best shot in the Outer Rim.” He blasted a pair of imaginary womp rats with finger guns.
Kiki offered a weak smile. She’d met enough “best in the Outer Rim” hotshots to fill the stands at Ando Prime. “Lead on, then,” she said.
As they started towards the forest, Gavon asked, “So, what are you going to do now that it’s all over?”
Kiki stopped short. “‘Over’?”
“Yeah, did you not get the memo? The Emperor’s dead, and I hear Vader too. We won. Remember, party?” He touched her elbow, attempting to coax her back in motion.
Kiki yanked her arm away. “The Emperor may be gone, but you’re crazy if you think it’s over. An organization the size of the Empire doesn’t just dissolve overnight.” She pointed towards the darkening sky. “How many Star Destroyers up there vanished into hyperspace today? How many more are still flying around the galaxy, carrying Moffs, Grand Moffs with their legions of stormtroopers? How many systems are still utterly loyal to, or dependent on the Empire? Do you know—“
“Whoa, okay! Okay, I get it. There’s mopping up to do. Maybe it’s not over for you yet, Lieutenant Ships-a-Lot, but I’m done.” He pointed at the shuttle. “I’m going to scrap that ship we came in, and use the proceeds to set up shop, maybe a night club or cantina…”
Kiki growled, “We’re in for more than just ‘mopping up.’ There’s—” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and resumed walking. “Let’s not do this. I get it. There are going to be a lot of people like you, who just want to get back to their normal lives. I’m afraid Home One will be a ghost ship within the week.”
The pair walked in silence for a while, following the path as the trees grew ever denser. Eventually, they hit a point where multiple paths intersected. None seemed more trafficked than the other.
“So, Lieutenant…which way?” Gavon squinted as a beam of sunlight somehow found its way through the massive tree canopy above and poked him in the eye.
“I told you, just call me— hang on, I think I hear something.” Kiki turned her head to listen, then pointed left. “Yes, the party’s definitely that way.”
“Are you sure? I don’t hear anything.”
“Yes. There’s definitely someone puking in that direction.” Kiki took off at a brisk pace, head tails bobbing. “Puking equals party.”
“Can’t argue with that,” said Gavon as he jogged to catch up.
Sure enough, they soon came across a pair dressed in coveralls, taking turns hurling into a bush. Kiki frowned. “I recognize them. They couldn’t have left Home One more than half an hour ahead of me.”
“How are they already so intoxicated?”
Gavon laughed. “That’s called being goal-oriented.” He pointed ahead. “C’mon, I think I see where the food is at.”
They entered a small clearing. There was a large hut on one side with heavy fabric covering the entrance and smoke pouring out of a chimney in the back. There was an array of fires nearby, hosting a variety of simmering pots, covered and not, or spits with roasted meats on them. Gavon leaned over one of the pots and took a tentative sniff. “Smells pretty good.”
Just then, a trio of Ewoks burst out of the hut, chattering excitedly to each other, trailed by smoke billowing behind them. One ran straight at Gavon and gave him a shove, waving him away before dumping something green and leafy into the pot. The second made for a series of spits and gave each of them a turn. The last ladled something from a different pot into a bowl and presented it to Kiki. He then did the same for Gavon. The three then barreled back into the hut, never having stopped gibbering at each other.
Kiki and Gavon looked at each other, then the bowls they had been handed, and back to each other. “I guess we dig in?” asked Gavon.
“I’d kind of like to know what we’re eating first,” said Kiki.
Gavon shrugged. “You can ask. Do you speak Ewok?”
“No,” admitted Kiki. “But I can point and grunt.”
“Suit yourself,” responded Gavon as he shoveled a spoonful of stew into his mouth.
Meanwhile, Kiki lifted the fabric to the tent and poked her head inside. “Hello? Excuse me?” She dropped the fabric as the smoke hit her in the face, and she stepped back coughing. “Can’t see a thing in there.”
She stumbled backwards again when one of the Ewoks suddenly appeared in front of her brandishing a surprisingly large knife. She didn’t need to speak Ewok to grasp his intent, which was very much, I’m busy what do you want get out of my kitchen.
Kiki indicated her bowl and asked, “Can you tell me what’s in this?”
The Ewok chattered something in reply, pointing at the cooking apparatus around her.
“No, I mean what is it?” She fished out a couple different bits from her bowl and made what she hoped was universally understood body language for “I don’t understand.”
In response, the Ewok pointed at the cooking apparatus around her again, only this time more slowly and emphatically.
Between mouthfuls of stew, Gavon offered, “You better be careful, or the chef there will take it away from you.”
Ignoring him, Kiki tried again, trying to indicate that she understood where the contents of her bowl came from, just not what those contents were. Before “the chef” could respond even more slowly and emphatically, his companions emerged again with more raw ingredients.
Kiki darted to the side, intercepting them. “Wait — can I see what you have?” The Ewoks stopped in surprise, and turned to the chef, questioning. Having more important things to do, he just turned around and stormed back into the hut.
Taking advantage of the moment of confusion, Kiki knelt down and began investigating the contents of the bundle the Ewok in front of her was carrying. “Looks like a bunch of local vegetables, I assume herbs. I don’t recognize any of it, though. And some chunks of meat.”
The Ewok yanked his bundle away from her, annoyed. A few bits fell to the ground as he hustled to dump it in one of the stew pots.
Gavon laughed. “They’re going to put your picture on the wall, and you’re never going to be allowed here again.”
“I can live with that,” Kiki retorted. Something caught her eye, and she bent down to pick it up. After a that explains it nod in the direction of the path they had taken, she approached Gavon. “Hold out your hand.” Gavon complied, and she dropped the item in his palm.
Gavon paled as he stared at the bloody chunk of flesh he was now holding. “Is that…”
“A human finger? Yup.” She rolled it over. “No callouses, the fingernail’s neatly trimmed. That finger spent most of its time in a glove. I’m pretty sure you’re looking at the finger of a stormtrooper.”
Gavon made a retching sound and hurled the digit into the woods like it was on fire. He bent over, breathing hard and struggling to keep the contents of his stomach from launching itself onto the forest floor. “I can’t believe I was eating— urgh…stormtrooper stew.”
“It’s not too bad, though,” replied Kiki, having just taken a healthy spoonful. “Could use some seasoning.”
“You’re eating it?” cried Gavon.
“You already ate it,” Kiki shot back.
“But I didn’t know what was in it. After all that fuss you made…”
“Well yeah, because I like to know what’s going in my body.” She took another bite, chewing thoughtfully.
“But how can you just calmly eat a sentient being?”
Kiki shook her head. “Meesnosennyen.”
Swallowing, Kiki tried again. “It’s just meat. Meat’s not sentient. Well, most meat, anyway.”
“But that’s — wait, what you mean, ‘most meat’?”
Kiki shrugged. “It’s a big galaxy. You know how Trandoshans can grow back a limb if it gets cut off? Well, there is at least one documented case of a species where if you sever a limb, not only does the creature grow back the limb, the limb grows back a new creature. I can’t remember if they’re sentient or not, though. I’ll look it up later if you’d like.”
“Thanks, I’m good—“ Gavon turned away in revulsion as Kiki pulled a chunk of something white out of her mouth and flicked it away. “Ugh, I can’t watch you do that.”
“Don’t worry. I think it was just a bit of plastoid.” She looked over in the direction of the hut, curious. “I wonder if they realize the armor can be taken off before they start breaking down the carcass.”
Gavon threw up his hands in resignation. “You know what, I’m done. I can’t have this conversation anymore.”
Before he could get more than two steps away, Kiki stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “Hey, no blaster, remember? I need you to stick around.”
Without a word, Gavon unclipped his blaster and offered it to her.
Kiki snorted, but didn’t accept the weapon. Instead, she put her bowl on the ground near one of the cook fires. “Tell you what, let’s go find the main group. Maybe there’s something vegetarian for you.”
Before Gavon could reply, a different trio of Ewoks exited the hut. Two were carrying a pallet with a pile of armor, half a dozen dirty, cracked stormtrooper helmets perched on top. The other held a scout trooper’s helmet under his arm, and he was slapping it like a bongo as he skipped beside them. “Yub nub,” he sang. Gavon watched them pass, stunned.
Kiki elbowed him. “Yub nub,” she said, grinning.
“Unbelievable,” muttered Gavon.