The first thing he heard was a great trembling all around him. The ground, violently, relentlessly shaking, bouncing him up and down. There was nothing he could do to stop it. He knew he would die one day, but not like this.
¨No… I’m NOT going to die like this,¨ he moaned wearily. The creature had heard him. The giant, pulsating creature next to him writhed along, shaking the earth beneath them more and more… Travis saw two giant yellow eyes glowing in the dark.. ¨What is-¨
¨SSSCCRRRAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!¨ The giant beast shrieked.
“AH!!¨ Travis managed to squeak as he ran across the damp floor of the giant cavern trying to hide behind a rock.
The giant snake thrashed about, realizing there was prey to eat. Travis sat there in his battered Republic X-wing pilot suit, his heart racing, his shaggy, blonde hair scattered across his face, his hazel eyes, filled with fear, traumatized-
“Art.. Where’s Art...¨
He lay there with tired arms trying with all his strength to hold himself up. The ground would not stop shaking.
¨Hey stupid! Your gonna get yourself killed!¨ Yelled a masked figure leaning heavily on his cane, his voice so steely and prickly.
Travis thought to himself, I shouldn't trust this dude.. Then again it's either him or death.. I think I’ll take him..
He slowly crawled across the floor and followed the shady figure into his tunnel. somewhere in the middle of the tunnel, the masked figure used his cane and knocked Travis out cold.
Travis woke to a warm feeling in the air drifting over to him from his right. He opened his eyes.
Alas Travis saw the wonderful thing he thought he would never see again. Overcome with joy, he completely forget about where he was. Then he realized- Stay still whatever you do Travis! He yelled at himself.
“I know you’re awake young man,” he said. Travis sat there for a minute, pondering whether he should respond or not.
“Where am I?” Travis croaked.”Who are you?”
“Ya, you probably wanna know that but you first.”
“Well, I was on a recon mission to find hidden intel for the republic-”
“Republic, eh? I personally don’t pick sides, but whatever. Continue.”
“Um, oh, I was flying over Kashyyyk when my X-wing was attacked by a squadron of T.I.E. fighters, my main engines were shot, so I tried landing on Kashyyyk when a fighter shot down one of the balancing shutters on the wing so I was going down hard and I was inevitably diving straight into this giant pit, I mean, this pit was huge!”
“You mean the one we are in now?”
“I think so, but anyways, we were going down and all I saw was a black pit with glowing yellow eyes and then we-” Travis choked back a sob, a tear slowly streaming down his pale face, remembering about Art.
“What is it? What happened next?”
“Oh, um, I, I guess I just braced for impact and crashed into the creature out there.”
“Oh, and I’m sure you’re crying because you’re happy to almost have died. No, I know there is more to it” The man said with a stern tone.
“I had a friend.”
“Arthur. We called him Art. I don’t know if he’s still out there or not.”
“We could possibly go out and check, but first you need to heal.”
“Hey, you never said anything about yourself.”
“What’s there to know? I fell in this pit as a child and figured out how to survive.”
“But what’s your name?”
“I don’t know, I was born with no parents and no documentage of birth as far as I can recall, or at least that was what I was told when I was eleven. Although I have fancied the name Duke. It’s fun to say, ya know, like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
“Yes. Fun. I guess. So anyways, Duke, What’s your story?”
“Well, it’s kinda long, but here it goes, as you know I was eleven when they told me I was born with no documentation of birth, and that was on Alderaan, and I hated living there, being a outcast to society, so I found a ship and jetted away when I was about twelve years old, and obviously it was a bad decision, I was young, ignorant, and had no idea where to fly, so I just went where I thought I should go and landed up here, on Kashyyyk. At first when I landed, the ship was out of fuel, so I realized I was stuck here, and I was scared, I was in the middle of a forest, but then, I heard this really weird sound, like a bunch of different animals calling at once, and wookies started popping out of the trees! I was so scared beyond belief, but the wookies didn’t even attempt to hurt me, they wanted to play, then I realized the wookies around me were the children of the wookies! Eventually the wookies accepted me as their own, not that I could understand them, but they used a lot of hand motions, so I usually got the idea, but they were like family to me!”
“So how’d you get down here?’
“Well, one day the little wooks wanted me to come with them, so I did, and they showed my this big hole, the one we’re in now, and we were all looking inside, yelling and stuff, when a huge creature, the snake, comes and smashed his head against the side, right where I was. The ground beneath me started sliding in, and there was nothing I could do all the wooks started running towards me, but it was too late, I was falling in. When I awoke, the snake hadn’t eaten me, but my leg had been utterly crushed, and, through the immense pain, I crawled into this tunnel where I’ve lived ever since.
“How old are you now?”
“Well, it’s kinda hard to tell time, but I do walk out of the tunnel to see whether it’s night or day to keep track of time, and from what I can tell, I’m about thirty-one years old, so I’ve been down here for about fifteen years now.”
“Wow. Well, I don’t plan to be down here long, so I’m gonna get you out with that crashed ship out there.
“I wouldn’t count on it.”
“Well, no matter, we’ll find a way. I gotta get some sleep though.”
“Yes, you do that, heal up and get better.” And with that, without realizing it, Travis was so tired he just passed out as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Travis dreamt about his experience. Flying in at 400 miles an hour, trying to brake, The pit looming below, no way to steer away, the ejector seat not working, the snake getting closer and closer Art right behind him, bracing for impact...
He awoke, straight up, panting, beads of sweat trickling down his face. Duke came rushing in as fast as he could with his bad leg
“Are you okay?”
“What do you mean?” Travis was still panting, he couldn’t take his mind off the crash.
“I heard you scream!”
“We need to get out of this place. Now.”
“What’s the rush? We have time you know.”
“Yes, but this stupid cave is giving me nightmares. I haven’t had a single dream in ten years, I come down here and my head wants to explode!”
The creature stirred. The ground, slightly trembling.
“And this is why I have liked being alone for fifteen years, because there isn’t any yelling so there isn’t any rumbling from that thing out there.”
“Well, I think I got it. We should grab some metal, and shape into claws of a sort to climb up the walls.”
“I see, but you should notice, neither of us have any arm strength.”
“Yes, and that’s why we need to build our muscle.”
For the next four weeks, day in and day out, traumatizing nightmare after traumatizing nightmare, they switched between doing pull-ups and push-ups, and forging their climbing hooks. Constant training, knowing that they needed to be in shape- for their lives depended upon it.
They walked out of the cave, hooks in hand, when Travis looked over at the wreckage of the X-Wing.
“What? And keep your voice low!”
“We never checked the wreckage for Art.”
“Let's do it right now then.”
They crept over to the damaged ship, constantly watching the sleeping beast. Travis climbed into the cockpit. Art wasn’t there.
“He must’ve gotten out somehow!” Travis was overcome with relief!
“Maybe he got eaten-”
“Maybe you should shut up and not obliterate my hopes.”
“Fair enough. Let’s just get out of here.”
The first fifty foot went well, they were climbing at a steady click, careful no to be too loud to awaken the beast, when Duke hit the wrong rock. His claw went tumbling through the air.
It had hit the ground.
“AAAAAAAAHHHHH,” the beast screeched so loudly the the rocks above them started to roll down. Rocks started falling like water, hitting Travis and Duke until they couldn’t hold on any longer. The two bodies fell through the air and landed smack on the floor, rocks piling up around them. It was pure black from there.
He awoke to immense pain in all his body parts, realizing there were rocks peppered over his body, and huge rocks piled on his arms. Travis just sat there. He questioned whether he should even keep going anymore. A single tear streamed down the side of his face.
“Four weeks of constant crap, for this.. for nothing,” he whispered to himself.
Travis closed his eyes and waited.
“C’mon! Get up you idiot!” Duke whispered with a mad tone. He was pulling the rocks off of them without stirring the creature again.
“Get up moron!!”
“I literally can’t feel anything other than my mouth moving.”
“I’m in extreme pain too, thanks for asking!”
“We gotta get back in the tunnel.”
Reluctantly, Duke picked up Travis and limped off into the tunnel, the snake’s breathing creating a nice breeze that smelled awful.
Duke laid Travis on the bed in the cave.
“All of it. What about you?”
“Only my leg, I know how tuck really well.”
“Lucky you, I just hit the ground sprawled out.”
Duke chuckled lightly.
Travis sat there, thinking to himself.
How could this have happened? We planned it out so well! I can’t be in this cave any longer! AGHH! Think, Travis, THINK!! How do we get out?
“Could you possibly call the wookies or something?”
“I mean, It’s been so long since I’ve spoken in the language of the wookies..”
“Could you ask them to do something so simple, you might pee yourself at the fact we haven’t thought about it.”
Travis leaned over and whispered the thought into Duke’s ear.
“No way. That can’t work, It’s too easy!”
“That’s why we try it!”
Duke sighed,”I guess.”
The two walked to the edge of the tunnel where the snake couldn’t get them, and Duke started yelling with this, really, I mean, really, weird voice that sounded like ten different animals calling at once. The snake awoke. The whole tunnel started shaking again, the snake rambled about in the cave. After a few minutes when the snake settled back down again, they walked to the edge of the tunnel and looked the the rim of the cave, and all the way up there, there were five wookies staring at us.
“Okay tell them what they need to do!”
Again, Duke yelled in the wookie language, then they both ran inside the cave after the wookies ran off too.
The two sat there, bored out of their minds, waiting for the wookies to be done building. Travis, as well as he could with injured arms and legs checked outside every couple of hours. They continued to sit until finally, after four days of waiting, when Travis came back from his check he told Duke to come with him outside. There were about fifty wookie heads this time. Duke stuck out his hand, one thumb up. The wookies rolled out a giant net, woven from jungle vines from the forest, and anchored to trees around the pit.
“Yes!” Travis whispered.
The two men, ready to get out, eagerly snuck over and started climbing the net. They were going as fast as they could with broken limbs, but they kept on, ignoring the pain, freedom of the cave becoming closer and closer, when they heard a rumble below them. Travis looked at Duke.
“KEEP ClIMBING!” He shouted.
The two scrambled up the net, trying to reach the top before the snake did. Then, out of nowhere, the snake is right behind them, and he spits, the net catching on fire. The net started breaking at the top, then the part that Duke and Travis were on fell. The net where they were on was about thirty feet from the ground now. Duke looked up at the wookies, and they looked at him with sorrow in their eyes.
“Don’t worry! I’ll find a way back up!”
The wooks were all saddened except for one, the little wook looked determined to help, he jumped in, straight at Duke.
“Oh jeez man. This is not good!”
As soon as the wook was about 10 feet from Duke, Duke jumped off the net, snagged the wook out of the air, and fell to the ground. As soon as he hit the ground he got up, wookie still in arms, and sprinted to the tunnel.
“COME ON TRAVIS!!”
“Aw man, aw man, aw man!! I hate heights!!”
With reluctance, Travis jumped off, and right as he did, the net came tumbling down, chasing Travis.
Travis hit the ground running, straight for the tunnel, and as soon as he was in, the net came crashing on the snake, trapping him, his mouth shoved to the ground so he could spit his flaming saliva.
“How do we never make it! This plan was fool-proof!” Travis said exclaimed with despair.
“I don’t know. We need to act fast while the snake is trapped though.”
“Okay, um, let’s see, well, with the snake out there before, we couldn’t use the X-wing?”
“That’s a start, but what do we do with it?”
“Any ideas lil’ wook?”
The wookie made a little sound that sounded like a little pur mixed with a soft growl.
“Of course! That’s brilliant!”
“What? What did it say?”
“Well, directly, it said ‘build ship’, but we should repurpose the ship and use it’s parts to make a ship to fly us the heck outta this place!!”
“Want to get started then?”
“No, no, we need rest first, you have broken bones and I have a dislocated leg, we at least need one night of rest.”
“Fine, but we will get to work early in the morning.”
The next day when Travis woke, he was in for a surprise. Staring him straight in the eye, with a little cheeky smile, right on his chest was the baby wookie.
“AH! Oh my gosh little dude, please don’t give me a heart attack.. Hey, where’s Duke?”
The wookie pointed to the tunnel, still smiling. Travis climbed out of bed, put on his shoes and walked out of the tunnel. When he got there, Duke already had the ship in a billion little pieces, from screws and nuts, all the way to the cannons.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting ready to escape!”
“What are we even going to build?”
“I don’t know yet, we’ll figure it out as we go, so let’s start on the frame. The original X-wing tubing is damaged in the front, so we’ll have to refabricate that and make it smaller to easily fit through-”
“Slow down man, let’s make sure we can do this with the supplies we have, and let’s get to work.”
Travis checked the emergency tool box in the cockpit, and sure enough, there was a plasma cutter and a miniature MIG welder, along with assorted tools like wrenches, hammers, and other things, and with that, they got to work. For the next 59 hours straight (wookies were good at telling time) they worked on building a sturdy land speeder that could hold both of them and get them to the top of the cavern without waking the snake again- and they had finally finished.
“Yes! It’s finally done!” Duke exclaimed with excitement.
“It looks like trash.”
“And you can shut up, this took forever!”
“I’m just sayin’”
“Yeah whatever lets get out of here.”
The two and the little wookie climbed into the little vehicle. Duke hit the starter. Nothing. Again. Nothing.
Duke looked down.
“Did you possibly forget a gas tank?”
“Of course n- wait. You can be quiet.”
Travis smirked and shook his head. They got of the speeder grabbed their stuff of the ground, and hopped in again. Duke put his hand on the starter, and turned his wrist. The engine purred as it revved to life.
“There we go!!”
Duke put the speeder into gear.
“This might be challenging, it is built as a land speeder so it can’t just fly up, it has to skim around the walls to the top.”
“Copy that! Try starting on the left where the snake isn’t and run it around there.”
The speeder revved up and ran at the wall with an angle, and as soon as they got there, he dipped the speeder, and they were riding the wall.
“YES!!!!!” Duke was overcome with delight.
“Now go up the wall!”
Duke slightly started turning until he was speeding up the wall at a steady clip. The snake was done. It wanted out more than ever right now. The snake built up the will and he burst free of the net, and shot upwards, straight towards the speeder.
“Umm, Duke! You may wanna go a little bit faster!!”
Duke pushed the throttle all the way forward until you could hear the engine howling with strain. He kept the engine going. The snake bit, and bit, to no avail. They kept going until they were almost to the top, the engine glowing red with distress, the snake getting angrier and closer. They reached the top and…
All was dark again.
The three of them awoke to burning metal all around them, parts of the shredded speeder flung in a tornado around them. Travis stood up. His pilot suit burned onto him in places, torn off in other places. His hair, a choppy, blonde mess. His skin, covered with gashes and burns, and Duke in the same situation. The little Wookiee was passed out with a line of blood trailing down his head. As soon as Travis saw the wookie he immediately rushed over to him, picked him up and cradled him in his arms.
”Are you okay little guy?”
”Ohh, no, no, no, no, no!”
Travis sat there, tears trickling down his pale cheek. Behind him, Duke stood up, still limping on his leg. Duke stuck his hand out, and hovered it over the wookie. The gash in his head started coming together, the stream of blood, sealing up. Duke stopped when the blood stopped, and he fell backwards, his body limp and cold.
“Duke? Are you okay?”
Duke laid there, not responding. Travis put his arm on his neck, checking for his pulse. There was nothing there. Travis saw something glinting under his robes. Travis picked it up. It appeared to be a small baton, with a button on the side.
“Wait a second.. Is this a lightsaber?”
Travis pressed the button on the side and the sword game gleaming to life.
“He was jedi?”
Travis attached the lightsaber to his belt and stood up, the wookies gathering around the lifeless body of Duke. Travis picked up his cloak and put it on. The wookies crowded around Duke’s body, and picked it up. They went to work at digging a grave in honor of the brave man.
The next day the wookies had flowers gathered around his burial and stood there with grave looks on their faces. Travis walked up to their gathering. They all stood there in silence, Travis wanted to say something about them, but he couldn’t think of anything to say. After a little while, the wookies walked away, and Travis and the little wookie were sitting there together. Travis knelt down and touched the grave.
Travis stood up and walked alone into the forest of Kashyyyk.