Tuesday, June 10, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 20: Solo and the Wookiee

A long time ago, a son asked his father what sons have always asked their fathers: "What did you want to become when you grew up?"

And the father answered, "I wasn't given that choice, and neither will you."

The son was Han Solo.  He was born on a spaceship, on a cargo run between Tatooine and Corellia, didn't know what living on a planet was like until he ran away for the first time.  But he was always brought back.  The Hutts made sure of it.  The Hutts made sure of many things, such as what the Solos were allowed to make of themselves.  The Solos weren't slaves, but they might as well have been.

"But why, dad?  Why do we have to do what they tell us?"

"That's the way of the galaxy, son.  There is no magic formula that gives us what we want.  We've just got to do what life presents us."

"And that's whatever the Hutts want?"

"For us, yes.  For a lot of people, actually.  They control a lot of things.  Always have.  They're worse than the Empire.  Long after the Empire's gone, the Hutts will still control this system, and our family will still work under them."

Han didn't like hearing any of this.  It just didn't make sense.  His childhood friend Greedo didn't give him any more hope than his father, and in fact was frequently the one responsible for Han's current whereabouts being reported to the Hutts, so that he would have to go back to his life in their service all over again.

The longest he ever spent completely out of their grasp was on Kashyyyk.  He had gone there with his father.  One of their competitors had wanted that job more, and shot them down.  That time, he wasn't deserting so much as surviving.  As he crawled from the wreckage, unsure of whether or not his father was still alive but so crazed with the instinct of self-preservation, Han was already on his feet and wobbling away before he realized that he was being followed.  Not by his father, but one of the natives, a Wookiee.  He'd never met one before.  Wookiees tended to keep to themselves, and were rarely seen in less than whole packs.  This one was alone.  What's more, he was carrying a body.  Han's father.  The Wookiee was wailing aloud, mourning a soul it had never even known.

Han didn't want to stop.  He was crying, wiping his grimy sleeve across his face, realizing too late that his arm was broken.  The Wookiee kept following.  They continued on like this for several kilometers.

"Go away," Han sobbed.  He couldn't face any of this.  He was scared, and he'd never been scared before.  His father had always taught him to be strong, out of necessity.  "What do you want?  I don't have anything!  Put my father down!"

What if the Wookiee did so?  Han hadn't thought nearly that far ahead.  He stopped, and so did the Wookiee.  They stared at each other for several moments.  The Wookiee let out another ear-piercing howl.

Han looked at his father's corpse.  All those years, all the stories he'd heard about how his family always died in the service of the Hutts, and he'd never thought he'd see it for himself.  He thought his father would live forever.  He looked peaceful, in the Wookiee's arms, and so small.  Han walked up to the Wookiee, and placed a hand on its forearm.  The Wookiee knelt, and gently placed Han's father on the ground.  There was silence all around them, as if all of Kashyyyk were holding its breath.

"I know, pal," Han said.  He didn't even know what he was thinking, but suddenly he was aware that the Wookiee meant him no harm.

"I have to go," he continued.  "Do you understand?  There are things I need to do.  It'll be difficult.  I have no idea if I'll succeed.  But I can't have let him die in vain.  I can't have let him die for nothing.  You want to help, don't you?"

The Wookiee was nodding its head enthusiastically.  Then it got up, took Han's father back in its arms, and beckoned Han to follow, where it went deep into the heart of the jungle.  When it finally stopped, Han was aware that they were standing in front of a ship.  The Wookiee nodded for him to get in, and then climbed in after, placing the dead body behind them, draped with a blanket that seemed to have been waiting for them.  There would be a funeral.  And many other events besides.  The Solos were soon to break away from the Hutts forever.  Was Han betraying his father or honoring him?  He thought about that the whole ride.  Where were they going?  Looking at the Wookiee calmly pilot the craft, he knew things were going to change.  Everything was going to change.  For the better, for the first time in untold generations.  Finally.

That was how Han Solo met Chewbacca.

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