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The Undersized Wookiee

Updated: Feb 2

In the Star Wars galaxy there are millions of species, thousands of planets and an infinite number of stories. This one doesn't take itself too seriously...


Wookiees are, by most accounts, some of the most frightening sentient beings in the known galaxy. They average nearly two and a half meters in height, are covered in thick fur, have the strength of multiple humans, and are well-known to have a very foul temper should you upset them. This is what made Telly so unique among his species. While he was, in fact, a full-blooded Wookiee covered generously in black hair with streaks of brown and the strength of many men, he was merely one and one quarter meters tall and had a heart that eclipsed his stature. Telly would give you the pelt off his back if the circumstances warranted it and were it actually a removable part of his body.


He had the technological curiosity and natural affinity for spaceship piloting of his ancestors, and, at his smaller size, would fit comfortably in most pilot chairs made for average-sized sentient creatures, without modification, making him what would seem to be the perfect  co-pilot. In addition, his propensity to think, “How can I be of service?” before, “My goodness, this person is quite difficult” made him the perfect traveling companion.


One would think that having many of the most fearsome traits of the legendary Wookiee species coupled with several quite unexpected endearing ones would be a wonderful gift. Telly, certainly did. But Wookiees, unless properly introduced by a traditionally more friendly species upon first meeting, tended to frighten the locals at spaceports from Alderaan to Zeitooine – regardless of their size.


Telly had made no such acquaintances. He had no counterparts to introduce him to anyone. He traveled alone, taking the odd job here and there to get by and had been doing so for most of his one hundred and twenty three years. Telly's modest stature and atypical grin, meant to extend warmth and welcome, often sparked unease rather than the intended embrace among those he encountered. At this moment, he walked into a slimy cantina in the Ord Mantell system after stowing away on a Rodian freighter and was greeted by the not-unexpected looks of confusion and unearned disdain. He held up his arms and said “I’m not going to hurt anyone! I am just here for a drink!”


However, Telly only spoke his native language of Shyriiwook (a word that is as hard to say as it is to understand the dialect of grunts and barks it represents) which meant that his attempt to quell any concerns was heard as a ferocious growl by the patrons and only served to create more stress – for those in the establishment and the Wookiee himself.


Upon realizing his attempts to communicate would not be successful, he reached into the satchel that he carried with him on a bandolier style strap slung loosely across his torso and pulled out a small handful of credits. He approached the bar, dropped the money on the hard metal surface and signaled for a drink – his head barely peeking above the counter. Telly grunted and pointed at whatever drink the green-skinned Twi’lek next to him had ordered with no idea what he was about to imbibe. The bartender, an Ithorian, presented a bubbling turquoise concoction and Telly immediately thought to himself that he really should learn a few words in Galactic Basic to avoid drinks like this one.


“Hey barkeep,” a grizzled old human said standing at the bar to Telly’s left. “When did you start serving Ewoks in this joint?” The bartender gurgled a laugh that was continued by others who heard the quip. While Telly couldn’t speak Basic, he understood it. He knew about Ewoks, the short furry native creatures of the forests on Endor and, while he had no ill-will himself toward them, he knew the man was attempting to insult him. Telly rolled his eyes and forced another sip of the awful drink.


“So, what’s your story, fuzzball?” said the man again, this time directly to Telly. “Are baby wookiees allowed to drink in places like this?” This garnered more chuckles from the customers at the bar and, again, no response from Telly.


With a brusque motion, the man downed his drink, then slammed the cup to the bar's surface with a forceful clang. "Another, hammerhead," he barked at the bartender, oblivious or willfully ignorant to the derogatory edge in the term often flung at the Ithorian people, a slur too frequently uttered by those lacking in manners within the recesses of the Outer Rim. Hearing its use confirmed what Telly had already suspected about the man: it wasn’t the drink that made him rude. It was his nature. The Wookiee, with his drink in hand, turned in hopes of finding a quiet place somewhere in the tavern where he could finish this unknown liquid and hopefully not die from it.


The man grabbed Telly’s shoulder and yanked him around. “Don’t walk away from me, boy,” he slurred while exposing the rotten teeth in his surly grin. “Do a trick for me and I’ll take you with me on my next job … as my pet.” Again, laughs emerged from drinkers around the bar, but there was a bit of apprehension in the giggle. Even the most drunk of them were starting to feel slightly as though perhaps the ornery human was taking this intimidation a bit too far.


Telly said, “You’ll have to excuse me, but I don’t do tricks.” Unfortunately, the man didn’t understand him because, not at all surprisingly, he did not understand the Wookiee’s native tongue. All he heard was the natural guttural roar of Shryiiwook and promptly took it to mean that Telly was snarling at him in a hostile manner.


“Growl at me again, Wookiee, and I’ll put a hole in your tiny little chest,” the man said.


A murmuring began throughout the cantina – the kind that always happened before a couple of patrons were about to get into a skirmish. There was a tangible sense of nervousness mixed with odd excitement that always came before someone was inevitably about to be murdered right before their eyes. This happened quite regularly in the watering holes that dotted the space lanes of the Outer Rim.


Telly attempted to extricate himself from the tense moment and continue to not quite enjoy his turquoise bubbling brew. He took a sip and confirmed that it still did not taste any good. After a few steps, the man drew his blaster from a holster strapped to his leg.


“Where do you think you’re going, Pooba?” he sneared.


First an Ewok, now a Pooba? thought Telly. This human sure seemed to be an expert in the smaller furry sentient creatures of the galaxy.


Telly paused, harumphed and turned around to face the human who was infused with the kind of bravery that resulted from too many local drinks and the implied support of others who had shared in the overindulgence of similar libations.


Upon seeing the weapon drawn and the clearly unstable look in the eye of the human, Telly slowly placed his drink above his head on a nearby table and raised his other arm to keep them both in the traditionally accepted position of surrender.


“I said,” the man started, “do a trick, Wookiee. And maybe I’ll let you live.”


Telly quickly sorted through his mind to find anything interesting he might do to entertain an intoxicated man with a blaster. At four feet tall and a hundred and twenty-three years seasoned in the art of existence, one might assume a Wookiee of such vintage would possess a trick or two up his furry sleeve. Alas, Telly found himself without any sort of a performance repertoire. Contemplating a spontaneous jig to the rhythm of jatz music or an impromptu display of glass juggling, he realized the flaw in his plan - while these activities seemed fitting for the occasion, he lacked any prior expertise, having never attempted either in his long and eventful life. 


So, he became resigned to having to defend himself, against his better judgement and usual demeanor. He balled his fists and took a single step toward the man with the weapon.

The man felt his hand begin to sweat on the pommel of his pistol. Usually simply showing his blaster was enough to diffuse a situation like this. He didn’t actually expect the Wookiee to move against him. The unexpected response from Telly left him unsettled and a sense of unexpected dread rushed to his temples adjacent to his sweaty forehead.


Rustling murmurs slowly subsided as the tension became quite real in the room. These sort of things, while not uncommon in watering holes across the galaxy, were a spectacle for those in attendance. Some began placing bets with other patrons under their breath about who would survive. Others quietly moved toward the door in the event they needed to make a quick exit. And others still thought “what is this terrible turquoise bubbly concoction I ordered?”


Then a metallic voice sliced through the remaining whispers: “I recommend lowering your weapon,” it said in a slow deliberate drawl. “It is unwise to upset a Wookiee, regardless of its size.” Any patron of the bar who had eyes turned them toward the source of the advice.


Sitting in a darkened corner of the saloon was a shiny silver droid, inexplicably wearing a fully brimmed hat and boots that were perched upon the table at the end of its two gleaming legs. If it had a mouth, one would expect to see a stalk of Lothalian field grass jutting from between its teeth. As it did not have a mouth nor did it have teeth, this additional, seemingly appropriate visual, was not part of what the patrons saw. They did, however, take note of the blaster pistol in the droid’s left hand resting on it’s left knee aimed squarely at the man who was troubling the petite Wookiee.


Telly breathed a sigh of relief and the man holding him at gunpoint was stone still unsure of what to do next.


“Are your auditory sensors in need of repair?” the droid said. “Lower the weapon before I shoot it from your hand or the Wookiee rips your arm off.”


There was complete silence in the cantina save for the music on the speakers and the droning hum of the DD-800 droid detector by the entrance. Droid detectors were often installed in taverns such as this in the outer and mid-rim to alert the owners when a robot entered the establishment as sentient mechs were usually unwelcome by the organics who drank in questionable cantinas around the galaxy. It was also at that moment that the Ithorian bartender remembered that he hadn’t yet called the technician to have the DD-800 repaired as he had promised himself he would a week before.


The man loosened his stance, lowered his pistol a few inches then, in a sudden response from his human brain that was not necessarily wise or unusual given the amount he had had to drink, he shouted at the droid, “Wait a minute. Who the hell are you?”


Servos in the robot hummed and squealed as it leaned forward, raised the blaster in its hand and took a very deliberate aim at the man. “I am your only hope of walking out of here alive. Should I decide to fire at you the odds of ending your life in a single shot are better than one point six to one. My observation of this situation coupled with your blood-toxin level means that your chances of survival, should you not heed my advice, are eight hundred and fifty-six to one.” There was a pause, programmed into the droid for dramatic effect. “I am no longer willing to continue this conversation. You have exactly five seconds to relinquish your sidearm.”


“But I –”


“Five,” began the droid.


Telly took a step backward.


“Four.”


The man turned to the Ithorian. “Are you gonna …?”


“Three.”


The man panicked.


“Two.”


“Okay!” he said and bent down to put the blaster on the floor.


“One. Time’s up.” The patrons recoiled and prepared for the inevitable homicide that was about to happen. Telly stared at the silver gunslinger at the table.


After a moment, the droid finally spoke: “You have complied. Now leave before I change my mind.”


The man looked around the bar, expecting some additional support from those that enjoyed his witticisms just moments before, which of course he did not get. Upon realizing he was defeated and alone, he pushed through the bar, past the DD-800 and out the door.


Conversations resumed immediately, drinks were served, and it was as if nothing had happened at all. Telly, on the other hand, made his way to the dark corner of the tavern and approached the silver droid who seemingly just saved his life.


“Thank you,” he growled in Shryiiwook.


“Don’t mention it,” said the droid in Basic. Telly was relieved but not surprised that the robot understood him.


“How can I repay you?” growled Telly.


“I could use a co-pilot ... and some muscle,” the droid said.


“Well, I could use a job,” replied Telly.


“Finish that drink and let’s get out of here,” intoned the droid.


“It’s rather awful. I can leave now and wouldn’t miss a sip,” Telly replied putting the drink down on the table between them. If the droid could shrug, it would have. Instead, it stood up and they left the bar together and headed toward the docking bay where the droid in the hat and boots kept his spaceship.

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