Title: Force a wit y’ Author: gregmcph Length: Three parts. Summary: On the streets of Coruscant, some scrape a living however they can. Time frame: Perhaps close to 0BBY. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- One. “Force a wit y’” “Spare a credit for an old soldjer ma’am.” *clink* “Thank eh ma’am. Force a wit’ y’” The woman dressed in purple high formal business costume, with a glorious spire of a hat half her height and wearing thick white negotiation face paint, dropped a tenth of a credit in the old man’s bowl. She barely realised she had done so as she trotted along the Coruscant walkway towards her meeting. “Thank eh. Thank eh” Against the wall of an old warehouse, a spindly old man sat on a mat that was once some childs bed sheet, decorated with images of cartoon droids and the stains of many a dropped food scrap. Beside him was an old bottle of water, his grubby grey-green sleeping bag rolled up and tied with rope, and a shopping bag of little personal trinkets. On the blanket off to the side was a food bowl with the remains of vegetables drying on the edges, and before him sat a simple metal bowl containing a nice little collection of tenths and fifths. Small change Credit chips dropped by passing pedestrians. “Sir. Good sir. A chip for a soldjer, would y’?” If there were chips jangling in their pockets, they might drop one without even realising they had done so, gently swayed by his endless begging patter. In the old days, well, once he could bend a will in much grander ways. In the old days. He sat in his dirty old brown robe, his spindly sun leathered legs and bare feet poking out. Accepting the pain in his back and in his knees without complaint. He generally kept the robe’s hood over his wild grey uncut hair and beard. Better to keep his face in shadows. Better to be nobody. An endless stream of legs walked past his seated, ragged form. Human, reptile, insectoid, robotic. When things grew quiet, he would fall into muttering the old mantras. “theforceiswithmeandIamonewiththeforce theforceiswithme and and theforceiswith. Me. And. I. amonewiththe…” over and over, missing pieces. It kept his mind from fading and reminded him of who he was. “Hey-dee old man.” A tough looking little street lad, and squatted down beside him. The old man was shaken out of his meditation. “My name be Kaspar. How should I call ye?” but the old man just eyed him warily. After a second of awkward silence, Kaspar picked up his begging bowl. “Not a bad take. Not bad at all.” On Kaspar’s shoulder sat a little grey pebble of a spider-droid. With a little jumps and skitters it ran down his arm and hopped into the begging bowl. It flipped around the chips with it’s wire thin legs, examining their value. “See you here every day. Bones and rags and old man smells. Doin’ your little beg and taking the credits in. I don’t know how you do it. These people,“ Kaspar pointed his chin at the passersby, “They’re a stingy lot. Coruscant money huggers. You have to suck the credits out of ‘em”. The spiderdroid picked up particularly large chip. “Ooh. 10 credits. Impressed I am. Well, you don’t need that, do ya? What you gonna spend it on anyways?” and Kaspar plucked the chip off the droid and tucked into his shirt pocket. “That’s for Mister Jettster. Give it back!” the old man’s creaky voice barked and reached out an achingly thin hand, shaking fingers spread wide. Kaspar reached into his pocket and fished out the chip, but then stopped and smiled. “Huh. Was almost gonna hand it back. Going soft I am.” “Give it!” the old man’s angry eyes stared, and the smile dropped from Kaspars face. “Now why ya gotta make it all unpleasant like?”, and gave the old man a soft slap on the cheek. He quickly eyed the old man’s messy collection of bags and bowls. Nothing worth the trouble. “See you ‘round oldster. I got business to attend.” He nodded at a well dressed gentleman looking up and down the walkway in puzzlement. “He’s got lovely pockets don’t you think?” Kaspar gave a little whistle and placed his left arm on the ground, “Up, Pip”, and the spider-droid crawled into his sleeve. He stood up, dusted off the seat of his pants and combed his hair with his fingers. Quickly, quietly Kaspar stepped up beside the man. “Hey-de. You need of help sir?” The man, already looking flustered, now eyed this unsavoury youth with wariness. “No. Thank you. Uh. My taxi dropped me at the wrong corner. I just need another.” “I get you a cab. Yes.” and slapped the man on the shoulder. “Follow me. My brother’s a driver. Good rates. Clean seats.” The little droid crawled out of Kaspar’s sleeve and onto the lost man’s back and then proceeded downwards. The gentleman looked at Kaspar with some fear. “No no. I can find my own. Thank-you”, and tried to walk away. Meanwhile, little spiderwire legs fished into his trouser pocket and hooked out his wallet, then quickly sprung back onto Kaspars arm. “Sorry for the troubles sir. Didn’t mean to alarm ye.” said Kaspar. With his fingers he blew a loud whistle and yelled “HEY! Speeder!” and speeder taxi swooped down. “There you be. Have a good day sir”, and Kaspar walked off into the street crowd. ---- When the sun set behind the endlessly high scrapers, and the street lighting changed to a more relaxed evening hue, the crowds changed from workers to players. The old man rolled up his mat and bowls, tying them all with rope. He slung them over his shoulder and shuffled down the street. Three young Twi’lek girls ran past him, laughing. An open top speeder rumbled along, low and slow, thumping music blaring. “Hey girls!” someone yelled. Evening life. Time to get off the streets, if he wanted to avoid troubles. An old grey-green Rodian dressed in layers of discarded robes and shirts was head down and digging about in a bin. She pulled out a half eaten lunch roll. “Ooh. Fresh.” she muttered. “Ev’nin Lolo.” the old man croaked. She held up her prize for admiration. “Ahh. tasty.” He said and pulled a few tenths from his robes. She smiled and nodded. “Good man. Good man. Ta.”, and took the credits and shoved them into the depths of her rags. “You good to me, General” and gave him a light smooch on the cheek with her long green proboscis. Then it was back to digging in her bin. He shuffled on, ignored by the evening crowd which wasn’t unpleasantly inebriated yet, until he reached the glowing lights of a diner. From inside came a rumble of chatter and laughter, the clatter of plates and the *ding* of orders being ready. He walked around to the back, where a young cook sat on the doorstep and having a puff. “Hey old fella”, the cook said, relaxed. “You hungry?” “Yuh.” was all the old man could reply. He dug into his pockets and pulled out a hand full of tenths. “Hey Dex!” the cook called back into the doorway, “The General’s here! Just a tic old man.” After a few moments a fat old lizard wearing a greasy apron came wandering out. “Well hey there General”, Dexter’s deep bemused voice greeted the old man. “How has ya day been?” The old man proudly presented his cupped hands of credits. “Ahhh. A good day indeed. Heh heh.” Dex gave a huge teethy smile and put out his own large hands into which the old man dropped the chips. He didn’t want or need the money, but the old man would insist. It was a matter of pride. “And thank you.” Dexter handed the old man a bag. A few eats. A bottle of juice. This was a little ritual the two of them performed each evening. “Take care of yourself General Tomas. It ain’t right what they did to you. Ain’t right.” “Thank ‘e sir.”, and he shuffled off into the dark. --- Down an alley, away from the crowds and out of the worst of the wind and rain, and he settled down in a hidden corner against his favorite trash compactor. He picked at Dexter’s fried tentacle delicacies. His rewards for a days work. From over lip of the trash compactor peaked a couple of rodent heads. Two furry little Ickets with large shiny black eyes. “Ititititititititit” they chattered expectantly. “Here little ones”, Tomas croaked back. “Here. Here.” He pulled apart his bag of food into a messy placemat covered in seafood and bread and sauces. “It! Itititit!”, they leaped down and snuffled at the scraps enthusiastically. “Good boys. You eat.” Thomas smiled. Once the Ickets had eaten every scrap and had scampered off, he settled down against the wall and wrapped himself in the sleeping bag as comfortably as he could. His bones always sore from lying on the hard pavement. For a while he muttered his mantras. “theforceiswithmeandIamone…”. They helped him forget his aches, and eventually he slept. He dreamed of the Old Masters. Plo Koon. Ki Adi Mundi. They were all gone. Betrayed. Murdered. But in his dreams they were more than alive. They were endlessly powerful. They glowed, luminous beings who watched over him and talked wordlessly to him. They were warning him of something, even though they knew their warnings would be forgotten when the morning came.