Chapter 16

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Deebu sat on top of a stairwell of SKYE headquarters, lost in thought. He neglected the outpost assigned him by Krul, disturbed by what Chona had him participate in. Did I do the right thing? He believed in the cause, he knew all Rodian citizens had to leave behind past friendships, and that he didn’t need to feel guilty - he should feel proud. Or so they said. All Deebu could remember was the last time Anakin and him ate at Dazoo Peedu’s.

* * *

Deebu straightened out to his full 1.7 meters of height, and tapped the wookiee on the shoulder. The two and a half meter tall wookiee towered over him, growling. Deebu guessed that meant something like “Back off green bug before I tear your arms off.”  

Before the wookiee could get any more ideas, Deebu replied in common, “I challenge you to an eating contest. We each order a Giant Dumpling plate. The first one to stop eating picks up the tab.”

The wookiee roared a laugh and invited Deebu to sit in front of him. The waiter brought them each a towering plate of Dazoo’s fried yellowback dumplings. The dumplings were the epitome of Rodian street food: crispy, meaty, and perfect for dipping in spicy sauce. Deebu and the wookiee immediately set to work, dipping the dumplings in between each lusty mouthful.

A small crowd formed, Deebu proving to be quite the contestant in this lopsided race of wills. Both finished a quarter of their plates, and the mouthfuls slowed to a marathon pace. Deebu remained confident. Pace yourself.  

Then Deebu hit the halfway mark. It was like someone turning on a tractor beam. He willed each spicy mouthful down, focusing completely on just getting one more down. And the next one. And the next one.

About three quarters of the way through, Deebu was about to call it when the wookiee stood up and ran for the restroom, howling and holding his stomach. Deebu grimaced victoriously, holding his hands high. The crowd cheered and laughed, slapping Deebu on the back. A few even resolved bets.

* * *

Deebu smiled to himself as he looked back on that memory. Anakin later admitted to attempting to use the Force to make the Wookiee feel full; only with his limited knowledge of Wookiee anatomy and limited training at the Jedi Academy, he instead caused the Wookiee to have a digestive accident. But at the time, Anakin let Deebu bask in the limelight, and Deebu was both grateful and resentful for that.

Anakin and Deebu met a couple of years ago after Anakin’s parents had pulled Anakin from the Jedi Academy. Deebu didn’t really understand why. What he did know was that shortly thereafter the Anakin arrived on Rodia. SKYE had selected Deebu and his family to act as cultural ambassadors for Anakin.  

At first Deebu had just gone through the motions of friendship. SKYE had been good to his Mom, Dad, and brothers and sisters. They had a comfortable home in the City. They had been able to afford to send Deebu to univeristy and teach him common. The last thing Deebu had wanted to do was mess that up.

With time, Anakin grew on him. Going to Dazoo Peedu’s for dumplings, flying lessons, holo games - Anakin was a lot of fun. Fun. When so many of his cousins and uncles hawked cheap Rodian trinkets at the edge of the Park and City to whatever outworlder would drop a few creds. Failing that, they’d have to sell their bodies and their souls - in one form or another - in the mines, factories, or on the streets.

What had Krul te Rosin said at his first Rooti Fosh rally?

“Our minds have been twisted by the cajala chupa. Their holos, their fashion, their music, their food, their imperialist, craven need to eat everything in your mind. Why do they do this? They do this because they cannot even inhabit their own minds. Their entire culture is a distraction, a waste byproduct of a zombified consciousness.  All they can do is feed.”

“Join us. Cast off the trappings of hunger and feel the fullness of dignity.  Know who you are, a Rodian, a Citizen. Together we will forge a new world.”  

At last, a spirit willing and able to give voice to the emptiness that Deebu saw all around him. He had mixed feelings about SKYE. It provided his family with a much better life than most Rodians he knew; on the other hand, his family had desk jobs. Working in the mines for most of SKYE’s Rodian employees was either temporary or terminal.  

And what were they all working towards, anyway? Even the poorest Rooti seemed to be able to scrounge together enough money for a cheap holocommunicator. Meanwhile, gangs owned large swathes of the Park, and getting a decent holocom signal outside the City was anything but certain. 

Each election featured another train of bureaucrats’ empty promises to fulfill empty promises: create more jobs, fight crime, demand “pro-growth” policies from the Galactic Senate to end the recession that no one dared call to a depression. It did not really matter if the Rodians in power were incompetent, incapable, or uncaring, or all three - the result was the same, and the conclusion was the same. Revolution.

Deebu was surprised and honored to learn that Krul had a task for him, a task central to the revolution. Betraying his friend.

It had been hard, agreeing to do that. Deebu told himself it was for the cause, for the revolution, and that none of the cajala chupa were truly innocent. When that wasn’t enough, he made himself focus on getting the job done. He focused on the details of coordinating the right time and place with Chona’s team, inventing the right excuses, playing off his nervousness.  

None of that prepared him for the look on Anakin’s face when Anakin realized that Deebu had betrayed him.  

And what the hell was this torture about? Deebu hammer fisted the wall in frustration. No one had mentioned that. Deebu had given up a friendship, because he believed that Rodia had to change. He and his fellow Rodians deserved a better life, and if the Skywalkers had to be kidnapped to make a political statement, he would go along.  

But drugging Anakin up? Slicing his tongue? Shocking him? Chona hadn’t even asked him any questions. Instead she fed off sadism, slowly drawing out his suffering to enjoy each moan. This was not for any cause, and not for Krul; this was Chona sating her perverse desires.

Or so Deebu hoped. It was possible that Krul knew what Chona was doing, possible that Krul was not the valliant firebrand that Deebu believed in...

Deebu put that thought out of his mind. He knew Krul. Krul would not do this. Chona had gone rogue, and had forced Deebu to participate in her twisted ritual. Anakin deserved better than this, human or not. Deebu had to help him.

Mustering his spirits, Deebu disengaged the data jack from his ear and rotated it between his thumb and forefinger. Deebu couldn’t do much for Anakin, but with this jack he could connect him to the holonet. What Anakin would be able to do with the jack in hand, Deebu didn’t know. Anakin was a skilled slicer, but he would have to do a lot more than program a sexy VI.

Now Deebu just needed to figure out how to get it to him.

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