BEAUTY, THE LOO, AND CAPTAIN TIGHTY-PANTS
A sort-of continuation of the wacky adventures of the potty-mouthed-Revan-without-a spine (see "Just Another Crazy Beginning") – this time in Taris! (Who would have thought?) Now being distributed world-wide with 80-percent less-funny and 40-percent more words! (Note: statistics are made-up on the spot and 99.99-percent inaccurate.)
TARIS: UPPER CITY SOUTH: 1700 (DAY 3)
I'm telling you: she is hot. Classic Alderanean figure, cerama-bright skin, and a mouth that'd make some men I know water for more. Her mahogany hair is tied back in low-sweeping pigtails and a gentle streak of long bangs arch like a rainbow across the corners of her forehead. Wait, wait, wait … pigtails? What's up with that? And the bangs? Where are the fashion police? It kinda looks she's trying to cover up a bald spot, hehe…
But she's a Jedi, I'm pretty sure, and maybe that excuses the backwards fashion. I'm also pretty certain that anyone calling her on it would definitely find out, up close and personal-like, that the shiny yellow lightsaber she's wielding ain't for show. I watch her drop a gray-skinned dope wearing a way-too-tight-matching-gray-leotard-suit (scary), and for a moment she looks up. I think my heart stops. Big, luminous, baby-blue eyes. Deffo, man, she is hot.
I'm just about to call out and get her attention when an overwhelming need to empty the cargo swamps my bowels and I start backpedaling through time and space; or, at least, it seems like time and space, because the whole universe at that moment goes black-swirly-crazy with Technicolor highlights.
I wake up screaming for the loo and hit my head on something rough. I fall back into the squishy surface of what I hope is a bed. I woke up in the stuffing of a tauntaun once and I really don't want to repeat that experience again. (Mental note: kill Joshm the next time I see him. See how funny he finds that joke.)
"," a man's voice says. I blink as my eyes adjust to the big dark blur that resolves into a big orange blur and then into the half-covered face of a man.
He takes his hand off his nose. "I said, 'Glad to see you up instead of thrashing around in your sleep.' You have a damned hard head, you know that? I feel like I was hit by a durastee—"
"No time to chat, gotta go to the loo!" I shout and shove him roughly aside, dashing through closest door.
"That's the closet," His voice trails, "the 'fresher's the one across."
"$)!$)!$&)#$(&$#!()!" I scream, expletives following me from one side of the room to the other.
I have just enough time to think: What kind of loser decorates a loo in pink? before Nature's urges take over and I completely lose myself in the blissful oblivion of release. OhthanktheForceIdidn'tshikmypants…
By this time I've almost completely forgotten about the dream. But like Uncle Small Jho always said, some of your best thinkin's done on the john. I let my mind wander, trying to piece together the details of what happened last night… I think it was last night, but all I can think about is the dream, and this unshakable feeling that it was important, momentous; beyond a healthy-interest-in-Ms.-Pneumatic-Power-Girl kind of way. It's still so vivid-real in my head, like a glitterstem hallucination but without the high, and if I guess correct, she looked to be around nineteen to twenty-two, depending on the makeup.
Mmm — was that Corellian Spiced Red on her lips? Eight years running rackets on the Outer Rim and an unfinished degree in Intergalactic Mercantilism bet that her outfit's made out of a coral lame. The particular orange-red colors — and scalloped edge patterns if you look at it tilted 45 degrees in moderate light — are a dead giveaway that any decent rim-traveler could tell you was produced exclusively on Sullust. The material was too flimsy to make into armor, but provided slightly more protection than your regular woven organic fiber, and so's tended to be popular amongst the Jedi. Especially the vain ones. But the utility belt on her hip was some kinda Zucci knockoff, and you could tell the cheap imitation from the original by the uneven discoloration and banding across the surface; although I'd have to get a closer look at the clasps to be sure. But freezie, man, I do dig the boots. Coruscant-tanned, pure empyrean draco skin, probably lined with a Talravin marmot fur inlay, if I'm not mistaken. Well, m'lady at least walks in style.
I'm squinching my face together and trying to remember the details of the ship that I was dream-riding on, but there's not much. By the layout of the observation deck, I'd call it a C-Class Republic heavy freighter, but it didn't look like any 'Public vessel I'd ever seen. Still, it was vaguely familiar, like one of those crazy two o'clock in the morning memories that leaves you crying to the dresser for another ride of ryll to keep down the bone-tearing-through-faces and charred-flesh-sticking-though-burned-clothes visions at bay. Hrm. I gotta stop watching those holovid horrors while I'm tripping on a 'stim high. Aunt Maija always said I had an overactive imagination.
But I still can't shake the feeling that I know her from somewhere…
"Hey," a voice breaks through from the other side of the door, "are you alright?"
"Have you ever come down off a spice addiction two days in and found yourself completely naked and surrounded by mating jawas?"
"Huh?" I think that's a horrified pause. "I… I can't say that I have."
"Then you have no idea how gross and wooly it feels to be in my head right now." Dry, flaky blood comes off in my hands as I rub my temples and prompt me to look in the mirror. The entire left side of my face looks like it's been worked over a few by a rancor and then stomped on by a dewback for good measure. There's a large strip of bandage wrapped around my head.
"Uh, hey, whoever you are. What happened to my head?"
"You were banged up pretty bad when our escape pod crashed."
Escape pod? I have a sudden flash of a very bad blond haircut chasing men in shiny helmets. Figures. "How come you're okay?"
"I was wearing the shuttle straps."
The one, single, solitary pod strap… Oh, you dirty bastard. Why by the death-dealing suns of Tantooine had I gone anywhere with this Re-pubo 'tard again?
"I'm Carth, by the way, one of the Republic soldiers from the Endar Spire. I was with you on the escape pod, do you remember?"
"Are you the one with a death wish and a penchant for killing Sith-heads with your bare hands?"
"Then, no." I'm still examining the leftover wreck that's my face in the mirror. The swollen cheek feels hot and too-smooth where the skin's swollen taunt. Right now I look like all the charm of a fraggin' Brubb.
"I… I guess I got ahead of myself. I imagine you're probably pretty confused about things. Try not to worry. We're safe, at least for the moment. You were knocked out by the crash and you've been out for the last two days. You were thrashing in your sleep. Must have been having one hell of a nightmare. I was wondering if you were ever going to wake—"
I roll my eyes, not really listening to his screed. "—Look, buddy, I don't know how they do things back on your home planet, but I'm still kinda busy in the loo here right now, okay? I'd appreciate some privacy. Really." Sheesh.
The talking stops and I think I hear the sound of boots walking abruptly away. Good. Silence. It's a golden thing that so few people appreciate.
I finish my business and rise to wash my hands, taking the opportunity to unwrap the bandages on my head and take a long hard look at the damage. Looks like the wound healed up pretty good – I always did have a strong constitution – but some of the crusted blood is still clinging to my hair. I smell like a wet bantha, but the Tangerine Wonder outside did a good job patching me up and I decide that the head wound is probably well enough to clean. I strip off the filthy remnants of my uniform, which sticks in places I don't even want to know, and pop into the sonic shower for a quick spell.
The pleasant hum of the dispensers vibrating along my skin feels good after Bochabaonly knows how many days I spent lying in that podgey bed. Never could get used to soft surfaces. After fifteen minutes of thorough cleaning, I almost start to feel like a halfway decent sentient again. It doesn't hit me till I step out of the shower that I have nothing left to wear. I look down at the puddle of filth on the floor. Eww. Oh well.
I saunter out of the 'fresher room Nar Shaddaa-style and grin at the surprised look on the lucky-strap-wearing-bastard's face. While he's busy gaping at the free show, I take the opportunity to give him the appraising one-over: scruffy chin, chestnut hair, honest face and orange flight-jacket. This guy's practically a walking mark wearing tight, tight black leather pants. Really tight. My eyebrows arch. Well, that certainly explains a lot
His mouth is still hanging open as I move around the room and take stock of what's available. 'Publics and their prissy rules ― it just never gets old. I can't think of how many times this nudie trick has gotten me out of trouble with the law. Well… none at all, actually, but I still think it's a pretty good joke anyway.
The apartment's a single-roomer with a 'fresher room on the right and a closet and another door leading into a hallway on the left, but it's pretty sparsely furnished, and I can tell that the Rusty Ranger's no domestic by the way empty take-out food cartons are piled up on the floor. The paneling on the wall's stripping away in curly ringlets, but overall, it isn't the worst dive I've ever been in.
"I think I remember you now," I say, coming to a stop before Shocked and Orange and tapping a forefinger to my lips, "You were the guy on the comlink, right? Yeah. The open-jaw flytrap installment is new, but I remember seeing you on the 'Spire. You're some sort of big bad, all-important, VIP war hero, aren't you?" I offer my hand, "Velis, Raven Velis, Sir. Nice to meet you."
Something finally clicks in the Scruffmeister's head and he nearly goes into a fit. "Have you no shame!" he yells as he jerks away, face flushing like a vestal Twi-lek dancer on her first night out. "Put something on!" he mutters angrily. My hand stays dangling limply mid-air.
Shame? "Well, I mean, I'm human, after all… you know, it's not like I'm gonna start walking through Coruscant Hutta-style — though I do like to think of myself as an open-minded individual, but there's also absolutely nothing to wear in this apartment, you dig?" And you really are so easy to tease. "And you've got another think coming if you think there's any fraggin' way I'm walking out that door with a pink towel around my poloney. I mean, do have some standards, you know. Not much, but some."
The expression on Scruffy and Indignant's face is priceless: like a cross between an angry Wookiee and a Kinrath pup getting a stick plugged up from behind. I can't resist a low chuckle at the thought, "Oh, Hoth, you Republics. I'll put something on if it bugs you that much."
Orange is pointedly ignoring me but waves a hand in the direction of the closet as I go rummaging around, looking for clothes. "Who decides to decorate a 'fresher in pink, anyway?" I ask, turning an inquiring glance.
"I don't know. Why don't you tell me? You're the one who brought us here."
"I did?" Now that was a surprise. I straighten up. "Where did you say we were again?"
"We're in an abandoned apartment on the planet of Taris. At least, I think it's abandoned. You seem to have the access codes to the place."
I scratch my head. "I do?"
"Yeah, you wouldn't stop shouting about this address on 91000 Rue Soljenitsyne when we hit orbit. I thought it was just stress until we crashed in the vicinity and actually were in West Taris. I wasn't seriously hurt, so I was able to drag you away from our crash site in all the confusion, and you led me to this apartment. By the time the Sith arrived on the scene, we were long gone."
"Sounds suspiciously convenient to me."
"That's supposed to be my line. You've been slipping in and out of consciousness for a few days now so I haven't had a chance to ask. How could you possibly have known we were going to crash in Upper City South?"
"Uhm…" I lick my lips. This is going to be a hairy one… I figure I might have some guesses… but damned if I'm gonna share.
"Scoundrel's Luck?" I venture, pitching my voice high, "I might've read it on a pamphlet somewhere…" but I can see from Captain Scruffy's profile that he isn't convinced.
"Well, I guess I owe you my life, huh?" I say, quickly changing the subject, "Thanks."
"You don't have to thank me. I've never abandoned anyone on a mission and I'm not about to start now. Besides, I'm gonna need your help."
Help? Me? I grunt a response and go back to tossing bundles of linen and blankets — what are we, sheltering a whole Republic flight squadron in here? — from the closet before finally finding some wearables at the bottom of the mess. There are a couple of loose shirts and a pair of spacer's pants that fit my size, but it all looks pretty sketchy, and the cuts are at least five years out of date. I shrug into the gray mesh shirt anyway, which is a little loose on my frame, and tuck it into the pair of spacer's pants that fit surprisingly well around the waist. I grab a dark brown utility vest off the rack and pop back into the 'fresher to check the look in the mirror. A little on the rim-runner side, but not bad. No undergarments, however, so it feels a bit breezy. I stuff the thick but slinky material of the shirt down further, hoping to ease the draft.
"I once worked a spice racket in Taris," I lie, coming back into the main room where I spot a stealth generator on the table and start buckling it on. "I might've picked up something about this place from an associate. I don't remember. Memory's a little spotty sometimes, and I don't recollect much if the 'stems not riding on the tail, you know? You can look now, by the way. I'm wearing threads."
He grunts and casts a glance my way to check. I lift my hands and give him the classic "Who me?" look. Square doesn't even bat an eye. "Well, I'm going to need you clean and sober if we want to find Bastila and get out of this alive."
"We?" I shake my head at Mr. Conveniently Confused. "I don't think so, buddy. I work alone. And I'm done playing footsie with you Republics. Your damn mission nearly got me killed, so you can damn well keep the pardon and the credits and I'll take my chances out on the 'Rim. No point working to save my own hide from the judgers if I ain't gonna be using it when we're through."
"I don't think you understand the situation, here. Taris is under Sith control. Their fleet is orbiting the planet, they've declared martial law, and they've imposed a planet-wide quarantine!"
"So, there's no way the Republic or anyone will be able to get anyone through! If we're going to find Bastila and get off this planet, we can't rely on anybody but ourselves."
"I'll manage." He gives me the hairy-eyeball. I take his look and squint right back.
"Alright," I sigh, "Look at it from my perspective a moment, okay? Everything is going to work out for you, I just know it, because you're probably a great fighter, and a smart guy, and resourceful mechanic and whatnot, but whatever it is, things always work out for you hero-types. But me? I mean, just look at me! I'm scrawny. I'm a nobody. I'm the person who gets killed on the sidequest while you and your girlfriend make a last-minute getaway right before the whole damn, fraggin' entire planet explodes. I mean, I'm really grateful for the rescue effort you put into saving me and all, but I'm just not interested in becoming Sith cannon fodder, sage?"
To his credit, Agent Orange actually pauses a moment to consider before speaking again. When he does, it's real careful, like speaking to a spooked bantha, which I guess is what I look like. "I saw on your service records that you understand a remarkable number of alien languages," he drawls softly, "That's pretty impressive in a raw recruit. It should come in really handy since we're stranded on a foreign world." He pauses. "So how about this: you keep your end of whatever contract you already have with the Fleet, and I'll only use you as a translator so you won't have to put your skin on the line for anything."
"Not for anything?"
"How do I know I can trust you?"
"What? You don't trust this face?"
I laugh, but I still pretend to be real reluctant-like. "Ooookay… but that don't include helping you if you happen to slip and fall on your own pool of blood and choke to death on your beard."
"I'll make an extra point of avoiding that."
I nod. Although I had planned to ditch this 'Public jockey as soon as we got planet-side, I didn't count on the Sith getting proactive and setting up an iron-grid on the planet while I was out cold.
"Okay, deal," I say and spit on my palm before holding it out. For the second time, Republic impresses me. He doesn't even wince before spitting on his own and sealing the bargain.
"Well then, partner." I say, hitching up my belt. "The sooner we git going, the sooner we gonna find your girlfriend and git."
"She's not my girlfriend," mutters Scruffy, "But we should get going. We can use this apartment as a base while we get some equipment and supplies in the Upper City, maybe try to find a few leads. Keep a low profile while you're out. I've heard some grim stories about the Sith interrogation techniques, and they say the Force can do terrible things to a mind: they say it can wipe away your memories and destroy your very identity. I wouldn't want either one of us, and especially Bastila, to fall into their hands."
My smile suddenly falls flat. "Er, interrogation? ...!"
Scruffy turns and catches the way I'm starting to look kinda pale.
"But I'm sure if we don't do anything stupid we should be okay." He hastens to add, "I mean, after all, they're looking for Bastila, not a couple of grunts like us."
I am going to die. Very painfully. String my entrails around my neck and strangle-me-to-death kind of bad. This might get worse than the time I threw up on the Nar Hutta gangsters. What was I thinking, joining up with a hero-type? I can almost hear my own agonizing screams already. The very idea of completely rearranging a person's memories and identity… Thank goodness I already took a dump. I really wouldn't wanna wet my drafty trousers right now. But I shook on it… and that still meant something… I think.
"Well let's move out, soldier."
"Sir, yessir, Captain Tighty-pants!" I say and salute half-heartedly, trying hard not to think about how much bantha I was really in.
"Don't you think that's a little inappropriate?"
"Oh, absolutely, sir," and I add in a conspiratorial whisper: "But don't worry, I won't tell if you won't." I grin nervously.
That actually gets me a smile. You know, you're really not so bad when you smile, Hot Stuff. Almost handsome, really, though still about as disgustingly wholesome as Ossus-style sliced bread …
I pull myself back. Scruffy's started saying something—
"I did some scouting while you were out cold, and I think…"
—no, wait, boooooring. I'm sure it'd all come back to me if it's important. It always does.
Tighty-pants is up against some stiff competition now, anyway. I get this sinking feeling in my stomach that it's a really ugly, dangerous, Sith-infested world out there, and my mind — as well as my bowels — start swimming in all of the possibilities of how I could die. I'm no hero, and I don't pretend to be. And then it suddenly occurs to me that Scruffy wasn't the easy mark I pegged him for. Somehow, the cooze not only got the whole situation turned around, but he got it turned around in his favor.
I am such a friggin' nerf-herder! This is got to be the last time I'm going to trust a pilot, ever.
It takes us just a moment to strap on our guns and step outside, and the edges of an argument are drifting down the hall. "When in Bochaba's name did you even have time to look at my service records again…?" I start…
But on the back of my neck the skin is prickling and I feel my legs preparing to buckle as the sounds of the argument heat up. Fear floods my mind — cold, beaded, sweat-droplet-casing-down-my-back kinda fear that makes me wanna bury myself in the smallest hole on Dagobah and never, ever come out. Oh, I have such a bad feeling about this…
We step into the hall. Blaster fire flies by my head, missing me by about an inch. Years of trained instinct kick in and I hug the ground and try to hide myself behind the closest solid object. Unsuccessfully, I try to crawl between Scruffy's legs. He's already pulling something loose from its holster and is shouting at the ruckus before me. Oh no, don't attract attention to us!
"Come and get it!" Scruffy yells. Really! What is it with these 'Publics and their battle taunts anyway?
I have such a bad, bad feeling about this.
Behind us, the autodoors close with a soft finality.
"Yes, young Revan?"
"Do Jedi ever take their clothes off?"
"Well, that's an unusual question, little padawan. Of course we do. Jedi must bath and rest and change clothes just like anyone else."
"What if it's not for baths or to change clothes, but it's like really, really important, like they're trying to save someone really cold in the snow?"
"Perhaps, in such an extreme circumstance, the code might be set aside in the name of preservation."
"What about if it's a joke?
"The hypothermia or the removal of clothes?"
"Um… the clothes."
"Then, no. Now, why do you ask, young one?"
"Well, because I had this vision, you see, and the Force told me that when I was all-growed up, I'd meet this man, and then I'd take off all my clothes, and…"
1/24/06 Ending changed. The original ending to this piece will be tacked on to a different chapter. Whoohoo reruns.