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Return of the Aurors
Chapter 3: The Sarlacc
By Anne B. Walsh
If you didn't see it in Return of the Jedi or A New Hope, it's mine. If you did, it isn't.
Drake Skywalker looked down. Below the plank on which he stood gaped a huge, fanged mouth, with tentacles reaching out of it — the Sarlacc.
Not interested, thanks.
He lifted his head, raised two fingers to his temple, and jauntily saluted Dursley the Hutt, Princess Neenie, Threelo the droid, and — most important of all, but not yet noticed by anyone else, he hoped — little Emtoo-Betoo, on whom everything depended.
Ah, she’ll come through. She always does.
A guard jabbed at him with a spear. Drake jumped from the plank —
He heard a distinctive whoof, like an air-gun firing —
He twisted in midair, caught the end of the plank, and used the rebound to vault himself upwards —
Let’s hear it for dreams, letting us do things we’d break our necks doing in real life.
He curled into a ball, flipped twice, and landed on his feet just in time to hold out a nonchalant palm for the lightsaber Emtoo had shot into the air.
Oh, I’m good.
The green blade flared. The guard who had prodded Drake off the plank now fell himself, screaming, into the mouth of the Sarlacc. Luna was struggling with another guard at the back of the skiff — Drake allowed himself one instant of worry for her as he engaged the rest of the guards.
Nah, she’ll be fine. She’s good at this.
He gave himself over to the sheer joy of fighting. His only regret was that the remaining guards didn’t last nearly long enough. Only a few seconds later, he was untying large furry wrists. "Easy, Hairy," he coaxed, and the Wookiee relaxed. Drake finished with him and moved quickly to Ron.
A blast from the huge deck gun on the sail barge shook the skiff. Drake staggered, but remained upright. Then a scream from below nearly stopped his heart.
But before he could do anything about her, an armored figure appeared on the side of the skiff, laser gun coming to bear.
Eat light, Boba Nott.
Drake hacked the bounty hunter’s gun in half and lost his balance for a second as the sail barge fired again. "Hairy, you okay?" he heard Ron shout. "Where is he?"
Hairy howled, half answering Ron’s question, half in pain.
"I’m okay, pal," Ron answered.
Good, they’re fine. Drake straightened. Now to take care of — ah! While he’d been distracted, Boba Nott had fired a metallic cable from his sleeve, wrapping around Drake and pinning his arms to his sides.
Left my wrists free, though. Stupid. Drake quickly severed the cable with his lightsaber and dodged another blast from the deck gun. This one left Boba Nott unconscious. Serve you right.
"Drake!" screamed Luna from under the skiff.
Deviation, thought the distant Draco Black. I’m the only one she shouldn’t be calling.
But he couldn’t find it in him to be upset about it, not really. Especially since I can’t — look out!
The other skiff, loaded with guards, was closing on them fast. Drake leapt over the rail and surrendered once more to the fighter’s rush.
"Ron! Hairy?" shouted a female voice from somewhere below them.
"Luna!" Ron’s eyes might not be functioning well, but he could see there were only a few figures left on the skiff, and Luna wasn’t one of them. She must have been knocked off, I’ll have to help her, but I need something to fight with first.
Hairy barked another direction, and Ron felt obediently forward a little — a little more —
There! The spear felt crude under his hand, he wished he had his blaster, but it was something to smack an enemy with —
Hairy howled desperately, a dire warning.
"Boba Nott? Boba Nott!" Ron turned frantically around. "Where?"
Behind him, he heard a thump, the rushing sound of a rocket pack, and a scream, dying away in the distance.
Hairy informed him that he’d just knocked the bounty hunter overboard into the Sarlacc’s mouth.
Ron grinned to himself. Serves him right for collecting on me, the little son of a snitch.
On the sail barge, Neenie’s composure snapped.
I have had enough.
She leapt onto the dais and looped her chain deftly around Dursley’s enormous neck. Before he could recover from his surprise, she had dived off the other side and was using her own weight to pull the chain tighter... tighter... tighter...
Dursley yowled and tried feebly to get his hands under the chain, but Neenie would not be denied. You held me, you choked me, you petted me... this is nothing less than you deserve, you disgusting slimy animal.
Dursley’s tail flailed, his eyes bulged, his tongue flopped out, then he went still. Neenie gave one last heave to make certain.
There. That’s done.
Then she realized the one flaw in her plan.
I am now chained to approximately one ton of dead slug.
"Luna, grab it!" Ron yelled, lowering the spear towards the blurred figure of the girl lying on the sand below.
"Lower it!" shouted Luna.
"I’m trying!" There were several other things Ron wanted to say, several of them profane, but he restrained himself.
The skiff rocked wildly as a major blast caught it. Ron lost his balance and fell, but his foot snagged on the deck railing. "Grab me, Hairy!" he shouted. "I’m slipping!"
He blinked furiously as he felt Hairy’s large hands close around his legs. Luna wasn’t where she had been — she was lower down, closer to the Sarlacc’s mouth —
He extended the spear again. "Grab it!" he shouted. "Luna! Grab it!" The spear moved without his moving it. "Almost! You almost got it!"
The skiff rocked again, and the other touch on the spear disappeared. "Hold it!" Luna called.
Ron caught his breath as Hairy steadied him. "Gently now," he said in an almost conversational tone, lowering the spear once more. "All... all right." Luna’s hand was around the spear. "Now easy, easy. Hold me, Hairy."
A sudden scream from Luna told him something had gone wrong, and a pull against the spear told him what it must be — one of the Sarlacc’s tentacles had her, it was trying to drag her in. "Hairy!" Ron called, freeing one hand to reach up behind himself. "Hairy, give me the gun." He felt its butt in his hand and brought it down to bear. "Don’t move, Luna."
"No, wait, I thought you were blind!" Luna protested with a definite note of hysteria in her voice.
"It’s all right. Trust me. Don’t move."
Luna sucked in air. "All right," she answered, still sounding dubious. "A little higher — just a little higher..."
Ron readjusted the gun, squinting furiously — he could see the difference between the material of Luna’s trouser leg and the tentacle that held her — at least he hoped he could —
His finger tightened around the trigger, and an animal squeal from below told him his aim had been good. "Hairy, pull us up!" he shouted. "Come on!" He felt himself begin to rise. "Okay..." The pull stopped. "Up, Hairy, up!"
Hairy snarled something that even sounded rude in Wookiee.
Inside the sail barge, Neenie pulled her chain tight, and Emtoo fired a tiny laser gun into it, severing a link. A screech from nearby made them both look up. Threelo was busily tying Dursley’s pet monkey-lizard, Salacious Crabbe, to a high beam.
Emtoo let out a long series of beeps and whistles, which Neenie knew meant "Wasn’t I supposed to do that?"
"Sorry," Threelo apologized, hurrying over to them. "But I can’t let it chew my eye out even for consistency’s sake. I’m not quite that much of a wimp."
Neenie grinned at him before falling back into character. "Come on. We gotta get out of here quick."
On deck, Drake was demolishing guards left and right. "Get the gun!" he shouted when he saw Neenie. "Point it at the deck!"
Neenie jumped onto the gun platform and started it swiveling. Oops, wrong way. She flipped the switch, and the gun turned the other direction, pointing back at the deck of the sail barge.
"Emtoo, where are we going?" she heard Threelo say behind her. "I couldn’t possibly juuump!" The last word went up wildly, followed by an excited beep-whistle from Emtoo, as the two droids abandoned ship.
Drake leapt to the gun platform beside her. "Come on," he said, looping an arm around her waist with the hand that wasn’t holding one of the rigging ropes from the sail barge’s mast.
Ah-ha,Neenie said silently. Right rope.
Wrong movie. Drake pushed off, kicking over the trigger on the gun as he did. Have I mentioned you look fabulous in that outfit?
No, really you do. Makes me think of a little rhyme...
Ron turned in confusion. As he recalled, Drake and Neenie’s entrance was supposed to be graceful, done with flair. This... well, Neenie halfway over the railing and Drake sprawled on the deck clutching his jaw had something, but Ron didn’t think it was flair.
"Princess Leia did not clobber Luke Skywalker with his own lightsaber!" Drake yelled, hauling himself to a sitting position as Hairy let go of Luna and turned to give Neenie a hand.
"Princess Leia never had cause like I did," Neenie snapped. "Let’s go. And don’t forget the droids."
"We’re on our way," said Luna, going to the tiller.
"First she hits me, now she steals my lines," Drake grumbled, rubbing his chin. "I didn’t think it was that bad."
"What did you say?" Ron asked as Neenie went to handle the electromagnet.
"What, you want me to get clobbered again?"
"Maybe. But mostly I want to know."
Drake looked around suspiciously, then leaned in close. "I said, â€˜Neenie, Neenie, metal bikini, how does your garden...’"
"How does her garden what?"
"That’s where she hit me."
"Serves you right," said Hairy from behind them, making them both jump.
"Oh, yeah?" Drake pulled himself upright. "Well, how about â€˜Hairy, Hairy, quite contrary’? You like that better? Huh?"
Hairy roared an answer. Ron burst out laughing.
"Didn’t get that," said Drake, sounding puzzled.
Ron caught his breath enough to translate. "He said, â€˜You should be grateful I’m not actually who I look like.’"
"Wizards don’t pull people’s arms off when they’re annoyed," Ron answered. "Wookiees are known to do that."
Drake sighed. "I think I need a new strategy, Emtoo," he said to the little droid, who had just come aboard and was currently venting sand out of all her compartments. "Let the Wookiee win."
Emtoo whistled in her Told you so pattern.
"Oh, crossing movies!" Danger held up her fist, thumb down. "Five points from Gryffindor!"
"Come on, love, it’s the same series at least," Remus coaxed. "And they’re not going to be able to stay entirely true to the original. Or do you really want to see how that would come out?"
"Well, I suppose it’d be interesting..."
"If entirely impossible," Aletha put in. "I need a quick break. Anyone else?"
"Five minute breather," Sirius called to the seven people on the screen.
"Aww!" Ginny protested from somewhere offstage. "You’re never going to get to my part!"
"Really want to get furry, do you, Ginny?" Draco asked.
The skiff suddenly sprouted an eighth person, and then it was down to six, as two of them were over the side and wrestling in the sand. Remus chuckled, and Danger shut the curtains across the screen with a gesture.
"How are they going to handle the end?" Sirius asked, draping himself over the back of a seat. "Do you know?"
Remus shook his head. "Not a clue."
"All we know is, it’s going to be fun," Danger finished.
"With these eight involved," said Aletha with an indulgent smile towards the hidden screen, "I think almost anything would be."
Well, a short chapter is better than no chapter at all. More as soon as I can.