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Saga - OT Sure Looks Strange to Me (Zeb; monster; humor; One-Hit Wonder Challenge)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Findswoman, Jan 17, 2021.

  1. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Author: Findswoman
    Title: Sure Looks Strange to Me
    Era: Saga—OT (Rebels season 3)
    Characters: Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios; a large critter; mentions of other Spectres
    Genre: Humor, one-shot
    Summary: Zeb encounters a rare, large, strange, and dangerous creature in the wilderness of Atollon. (No, it’s not the Bendu!)
    Notes: Written in response to @Raissa Baiard’s One-Hit Wonder Challenge, in which I received Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater” (1958; video here). It was inspired both by that challenge and by the P. G. Wodehouse short story “Monkey Business,” which features an unexpected encounter with a gorilla. Many thanks to @Raissa Baiard, as usual, for beta reading. @};-


    It was a warm, lazy late afternoon on the plains of Atollon, and Captain Garazeb Orrelios relaxed in the big chair at his hideaway outside Chopper Base. It was nice to finally be off duty and have a chance to recoup from all the crazy events of recent days: Ezra’s foray into the dark side (Zeb wished he had a five-cred for each time he had been awakened by the kid’s bad dreams and freaky visions), Kanan’s long, mysterious absence in the wilderness, and the whole bizarre Fulcrum business. And, of course, Lira San still weighed on his mind, what with all the pressure of being the Child who was supposed to Bring His Lost People Home. Not that he had found a single stripe of any other Lasat yet, but simply being on the lookout all the time was wearing him out. It was all so much to process.

    But out here, with a New Blarrus Dark Ale in his hand and the bass quetarra stylings of Kartni Entwiss playing on the audio receiver, he could at least reflect on things for a while. Or just forget about them for a little while—and karabast, wasn’t that even better?

    He took a swig of his ale and leaned back to soak up the warm evening air. Scattered orange-gray clouds that were just beginning to mosey across the sky, which meant that sunset was coming—his favorite time of day, just as it had been back home on Lasan. He turned up the receiver to better soak in Entwiss’s legendary bass riffs.

    That was when he saw it.

    Something flying. Something large, dark, and odd-shaped that was flying through the orange-gray sky—directly toward him. He rummaged in his storage container for a moment to see if he had any macrobinoculars—no luck. Meanwhile, it was coming closer and closer, faster and faster…

    Zeb reached reflexively for his bo-rifle, which sat on the bolted-on ledge beside him. Whatever this thing was, he wasn’t going to take any chances. He kept a steady eye on it as it continued its mad flight toward him. In only moments it was close enough for him to see—and what he saw filled him with dread.

    The crown of variously sized globular red eyes. The masses of clawed, chitinous tentacle-mouthparts, the gaping, toothless maw with multiple writhing tongues. The monstrously huge wormlike body. There was no mistake.

    It was a joopa. Here, on the empty coral-rock plains of Atollon, a joopa. Like the one that had almost eaten him back on Seelos.

    Only with two pairs of gigantic, leathery webbed wings.

    “Aw karabast,” he breathed to himself, feeling he had never uttered a bigger understatement in all his forty-two dust seasons. So all those stories were true—all those scary stories he’d heard as a kit about flying, tentacled, Lasat-eating joopas (they used to freak his poor little brother out something terrible, the poor kid). And yeah, sure, there was always some truth in legends and all that, just as Kanan had said—but no way had he expected it to look like this…

    Especially not when the thing made landfall and began squirm-slithering toward him at an alarming speed—with not one but two long, wet pink-orange tongues extended straight ahead of it, ready to coil around its prey.

    Zeb jumped up. The electromagnetic pulse generators at the tips of his bo-rifle sprang to angry purple life as he ratchet-flipped it outward into staff mode. Sure, he was technically off duty, but there was no way in the Bogan’s own Chaos that he was going to let one of those things near his comrades. Those hideous, multilegged krykna things had been bad enough. And there was definitely no way he was going to let himself be eaten again.

    “Right, you just try to get me, ya great big—ugly—GRRRRRRRRRR!!” His words dissolved into a ferocious growl as he charged the monster head-on, bo-rifle blazing as he slashed angrily at the two tongues—

    —both of which, to his complete surprise, severed immediately and simply crumpled to the ground like... burnt cloth? At which point the joopa staggered—yes, staggered!—backward almost half a body-length and uttered something that sounded like:

    “I say! Just what do you think you’re doing?!”

    Zeb stopped short, flabbergasted. Had that thing just said something? As in, words? To him? How was that even possible? Since when did joopas talk? And since when did they talk in cultivated, Coreworld accents? Not even the ones in the old scary stories from his kit years talked in any accent. Perhaps he had had just a smidge too much of that New Blarrus ale…

    Even so, he still wasn’t going to let his guard down. He kept his eyes glued to the monster, his weapon still at the ready before him.

    “Look!” he roared through gritted teeth. “You were chargin’ at me an’ tryin’ to eat me! What was I supposed to do?!”

    The joopa spoke again. “Eat you? Of course not! Even if I could, I wouldn’t.”

    Zeb gave an incredulous grunt. “Hold on just a minute, here. What’s this ‘even if I could’ nonsense supposed to mean? ’Cause I’m not sure I believe ya!”

    “I mean exactly what I said!” The joopa’s tentacle-mouthparts shook querulously. “Even if I were actually able to eat you, I wouldn’t. I’d get indigestion. You’re way too tough and stringy.”

    “STRINGY?!” The bo-rifle vibrated angrily in Zeb’s hands. “What the—”

    “It was meant as a compliment.”

    Zeb rolled his eyes and twitched his ears. He lowered his weapon but didn’t deactivate it just yet. “Look, what’s goin’ on here, anyway? What even are you? Are you a joopa, or are you not a joopa? Karabast, I can’t believe I’m even havin’ this conversation…”

    The joopa made a sound almost—almost—like a chuckle. “I can’t believe you are, either. But I’ll put your mind at ease. I am not, in fact, a joopa.”

    “Not in fact a joopa.”

    “That is correct. One hundred percent artificial. Which means you can put that thing away now, if you please. It’s making me rather nervous. I’m already filled with anxiety at the prospect of making myself new tongues.”

    With a reluctant sigh Zeb deactivated, collapsed, and stowed his bo-rifle. If this thing had really wanted to eat him, it would have done so already. Still, he could hardly believe he was having a two-sided conversation with it.

    “Right,” he said, “so, who are you, an’ what are you doin’ out here?”

    “Me? Oh, I’m with Alliance High Command.”

    “Alliance. High. Command.” Karabast, this was just getting weirder and weirder...

    “Why, yes. I assume you’ve heard of them. They just sent me down here to check on you. Well, not you personally. The whole installation. Just to make sure that everything’s… all right, you know.”

    “All right? ’Course everything’s all right!” Zeb harrumphed. “Everything’s fine! Everything’s PERFECT!” Except for those hideous, multilegged krykna things, but he wasn’t going to get into that now. “Look here, how do I know you’re not an Imperial agent or somethin’ tryin’ to hoodwink me?”

    “Ask and you shall receive,” replied the joopa. With that, it threw back its head, and, with a loud, gut-churning hacking noise, coughed up a small, metal object onto the sandy ground. “Apologies for the unpleasantness,” it added. “That is the only reliable way I can transfer items in this getup.”

    “No worries.” Zeb picked up the object and examined it. It was a code cylinder. He held it against his wrist commlink while activating the latter’s security authentication function. After a moment or two, a beep and a green light assured him it checked out: it belonged to one Lieutenant Cyrrick Doddsley-Wabbenfort, Alliance High Command, Stealth and Espionage Division. Zeb sighed and his ears drooped as he offered it back to the joopa.

    “Sorry, again. You’ll have to toss it into my mouth.”

    Zeb did so. The joopa gave a loud, equally gut-churning gulp, and the cylinder disappeared.

    “Thank you. And now I hope that you believe me.”

    “Yeah, fine, fine, I believe ya. Here, c’mon.”

    They began to walk—or, rather, Zeb walked and the joopa squirm-slithered—back across the coral-sand flats toward Zeb’s hideout, when suddenly the joopa stopped short.

    “Why, what’s that?” it said. “I hear something! Is that… is that Kartni Entwiss?”

    Zeb stopped too and perked up his ears. The sound of semi-distant bass quetarra licks wafting over the sands made him realize that he had left his audio receiver on. “Yeah, that’s right… you like it?”

    “Oh, my dear chap, Kartni Entwiss is my idol! I used to dabble in a bit in bass quetarra back in the day, you know.”

    “Hmph, that so?”

    The joopa simply continued. “If this war ever ends, I was thinking of taking it back up. Maybe even join a band, or some such.”

    “Heh, all right, then.” Zeb smiled and shrugged as they walked on. The conversation really was getting weirder and weirder—but hey, at least the thing had good taste in music.

    * * *​

    Some time later, Zeb was back in the big chair in his hideaway, knocking back another cold one while discussing the music of Kartni Entwiss with the joopa, who half sat on, half leaned against the ledge. Far away on the horizon, meanwhile, the sky was reddening, purpling, and even red-purpling as sunset came on.

    “Well, I should be probably getting back,” the joopa finally said, getting up. “They’ll be wondering what happened to me. But I must say, it was good talking with you.”

    Zeb got up as well and said words he never dreamed he’d be saying to a joopa, of all things. “Heh, yeah, good talkin’ to you too.”

    “Always glad to meet another aficionado of Kartni Entwiss.”

    “Yeah, same. Say, er…” Zeb paused a moment, then reached into the cooler compartment of the bunker beside him and took out another New Blarrus Dark. “Take one for the road?”

    “Why, thank you, you’re very kind. Just set it right inside, if you please.”

    The gigantic mouth opened again. Gingerly, Zeb placed the can inside. Immediately the joopa snapped its mouth shut, threw back its head, and gave another raucous gulp.

    “Well, toodle-oo for now,” it continued amiably. “May the Force be with you, and all that.”

    “Likewise,” Zeb answered, raising a hand to wave goodbye. He watched the joopa as it turned around, squirm-slithered back into the wilderness, and finally spread its four giant, leathery wings to flap upward into the twilight-tinged clouds.

    The sunset was in full swing now. Zeb plopped back down in his big chair and leaned back to watch. Sounds of some early hits by the Skarabs—the band in which Kartni Entwiss had gotten his start—now emanated from the receiver. Who knew, maybe someday in the future, when (if!) it was all over, he’d be sitting here listening to the bass stylings of Cyrrick Dobbsley-Wad… or Waddesley-Dobb… or whatever his name was. But for now, it was time to counteract the weirdness of the afternoon with a nice relaxing sunset, good music—and no more New Blarrus Dark.

    Zeb’s hideout appears in the sunset scene in “The Mystery of Chopper Base,” and I thank @Raissa Baiard for sharing with me a scan of the relevant page from the Dawn of Rebellion RPG sourcebook (Fantasy Flight Games, 2018), which, incidentally, also mentions Zeb’s interest in listening to “epic, inspirational music” on the receiver in his hideout.

    New Blarrus: Fanon, based on a craft brewery in my neck of the woods, New Glarus Brewing Company.

    Kartni Entwiss: Fanon, based on two well-known RL players of electric bass: Paul McCartney and John Entwistle.

    A joopa was first seen in “The Lost Commanders.” The joopa from that episode is, of course, painted on the breastplate of Zeb’s armor in his season 3–4 costume design.

    Cyrrick Doddsley-Wabbenfort: An homage to the name of the gorilla impersonator in “Monkey Business,” Cyril Waddsley-Davenport. (Yes, I know the Wikipedia page says “Cecil,” but it’s wrong. I have the actual book, and it’s Cyril. :p )
     
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I enjoyed that how Zeb was relaxing when :eek: a scary monster appeared. ;) I can well understand how he would instinctively try to keep it from eating him up! The whole following conversation and chill-out session was surreal, even to Zeb I'll bet. =D=
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2021
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  3. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks so much for reading and reviewing, as always, Nyota! :) Glad you enjoyed this, even with its crazy and surreal aspects—it was a bit surreal to me, too, as I didn’t really know where the story would go while I was writing it—but all in a fun way, and I am happy that you found it so, too! Many thanks again, and =D= also to you!
     
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  4. amidalachick

    amidalachick Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 3, 2003
    I read this a while ago, and - well, yeah, it's been a while. :p

    Anyway, I really enjoyed it the first time I read it, and now after finally watching Rebels I enjoyed it even more! Zeb's characterization is just perfect, and I love these sort of scenes where the characters just get to kick back and relax.

    And I also love how the joopa shows up and things get (awesomely) weird. :p

    Music, the universal connector. [face_love]

    What a great ending! :D

    This was such a fun story, awesome work! =D=
     
  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks so much for reading, and so great to see you here! I felt Zeb deserved exactly that kind of scene—a chance to relax from all his duties in his own hideaway (which is established in canon material), followed by things going very surreal! He just seemed the perfect character for that kind of experience somehow (not to mention I’m partial to him, and plus, it’s a Purple People Eater, so who else :p ).

    It is, it is! I absolutely agree. That, of course, is what finally convinces Zeb that this wacky visitor is really pretty much aiight! :D

    Aw, thanks! I angsted over the ending a bit, so I am glad it came off well. I’m so glad you enjoyed and came by to comment—always great seeing you, and thank you so much again! :)
     
  6. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Ok, I’m late to the party again...but hooray for Zeb humor! :Zeb: :D Zeb makes such a great straight man for all the surreal antics here. All he wants is to spend some quality alone time with some good music and a fortifying beverage or two ;) But things get very strange, very quickly with the arrival of this “flying purple people eater” (that is, he eats purple people!) straight out of Shai’s youthful nightmares (and thank for the little callback there <3) . And it gets even weirder when the thing addresses him in an affronted Coreworld accent (I’m imagining him sounding a lot like Terry Thomas as Sir Hiss in Disney’s Robin Hood) and then has the gall to insult Zeb by calling him stringy! Really Zeb, you’re offended that he won’t eat you? :p

    But the joopa in question, is not in fact, a joopa but a very civilized Alliance spy in a very advanced disguise. So advanced that he makes the appropriate tooka-coughing-up-a-hairball noises when he produces his ID for Zeb
    You, my dear, are the queen of pretentious names! [face_laugh]
    And it’s small wonder that Zeb feels the need for another cold one in the face of all this. Fortunately, the lieutenant is a decent enough chap (as he himself might say) and a connoisseur of bass quetarra music, and he and Zeb have a nice chat as
    (I don’t know why, but this turn of phrase really tickled me :D)

    I’m left wondering what kind of slightly cracked Q like inventor back at Alliance HQ thought that a hyper realistic joopa costume was the best approach to espionage and reconnaissance :p There’s a story there, I’m sure.

    It’s aways a treat to read your Zeb stories, as much when you cast him in a comedic role as when he’s the romantic lead. Keep up the purple prose; you know that I am always up for it!
     
  7. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    How ironic that I should stumble across this story inspired by The Purple People Eater, when I was thinking of that song only a few minutes ago. I like.
     
  8. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    There really is no such thing as an uninterrupted moment for Zeb with all the Rebels around, but this takes the cake. [face_rofl] I really liked the surreal introduction of this Faux Flying Purple People Eater.

    [face_laugh] The Alliance clearly has some other employees just as... interesting as the Ghost crew. Glad that Zeb and Cyrrick Doddsley-Wabbenfort (of course he is :p ) are able to resolve the misunderstanding and bond over their music tastes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
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  9. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    This was so much fun! A bit of humor, a bit of adverted horror for the 'Purple People Eater', and as always, a big dose of heart and soul. Put all that together and you have the makings of a great - and rather unique, in this case - story. =D=

    You know, if anyone deserves a bit of R&R, it's Zeb. It's definitely been a rough patch for our Specters at this point in canon, even when compared to their usual norm!

    I can't blame Zeb for being no small parts alarmed and ready to fight! Yikes! That's quite the big, bad, and ugly all mixed together in a critter coming right at him. And of course Zeb is just done with things trying to eat him. :p

    [face_rofl] [face_rofl]

    Would you rather be appealing as a meal, Zeb? ;)

    This was such an interesting, if no small parts surreal, development! As a reader I wasn't expecting this twist at all.

    I really appreciate this bit of heart that made it in here. That's what they're fighting for, after all: the right for every sentient being in the galaxy to live and live freely. These few stolen moments of simple enjoyment really put that into perspective.

    This was such a perfect note to end this on! A heartfelt, honest bit of introspection, and then that last zinger of quintessential Zeb humor. [face_love]


    Fantastic work with this, as always! =D= [:D]
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2021
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  10. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Thanks for the wonderful comments, you all! They really made my day. :)

    Thank you so much, and I'm so glad you enjoyed this! What can I say--even apart from my partiality toward him, Zeb just seemed like the right character to place in such a surreal experience, especially with a strangely genteel purple people eater involved. ("Eatin' purple people, and it's mighty fine!"). I remember being delighted when you adopted the flying joopa idea in The Lost Prince and the Captive Knight, so it was my pleasure to throw in that little homage here. :)

    Thanks! That is what comes of reading too much P. G. Wodehouse, I guess! (And the name is a direct homage to the parallel charcter in Wodehouse, whose name was Cyril Waddesley-Davenport.)

    Thanks--I guess it just seemed fit with the "purple people eater" motif, as well as with the Purple Person present! (And maybe even give that Purple Person just a small bit of a resemblance to his own lost homeworld. <3 )

    That is a good question, and there probably is! I don't know if I can write it quite yet, but I'm sure there is. :D

    Well, thank you so much! I appreciate that so much, because I really owe so much of it to you. <3

    Thanks so much! I'm glad you found this and glad you enjoyed. :)

    Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed this—it was great fun to write, and even greater fun, in a way, to put Zeb through this rather surreal situation! The “purple” connection seemed to make him the perfect choice, in way, besides my own fondness for him, of course. :p

    Thanks, and so glad you enjoyed Cyrrick, too! He was one of those characters who kind of developed himself in the course of writing. I figure he must certainly have gumption, of a sort, to stand up to Zeb that way (which Zeb ultimately respects)! :D

    Thanks so much, and I’m so happy you enjoyed this so much! I am so glad to know that mixture of elements worked well—I had so much fun trying to bring them all together.

    Absolutely agreed there, on all counts!

    Can’t blame him at all there! I like to think the memory of those legends—and especially the effect they had on his little brother—is a lot of what fires him up to action in this moment.

    He has to consider any and all possibilities, here! :D But yep, this apparition before him is no drunken hallucination! :p

    But STRINGY! :p (Can you tell I had fun writing this bit!)

    You know, to be honest, I wasn’t entirely expecting that this is how it would go, either—I was just kind of pantsing things! But I couldn’t make things too hard on poor, dear Zebby. A little weird, sure, but not too hard. I wouldn’t have the heart to go too hard. :p

    Exactly my idea with this scene (and their little hobnob session over at Zeb’s hideout), and I’m so glad that came through here. Such little moments of camaraderie and commonality mean all the more during wartime, precisely because they show us a foretaste of that hopefully better future to come once it’s All Over.

    Aww, thanks! It just seemed like the thing to do to wrap up the serious and humorous aspects of the story together in one final moment—plus finally give Zeb a REAL chance at some relaxaction!

    And as always, thank YOU so very much for being here to read, comment, and enjoy! Always a joy to have you here. @};-
     
  11. Seldes_Katne

    Seldes_Katne Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2002
    A light, amusing, stress-reducing episode that could have fit right into Season 3 of SW: Rebels without missing a beat. It certainly fit your song cue. :)

    I must confess, I’m confused here. This sounds less like an actual creature/being and more like an elaborate costume or disguise (dreamed up by someone with a desk job who had never gone undercover or done any actual field work, I’m guessing. Equal parts Star Wars and Get Smart, perhaps?). Or am I missing something?


    Nothing says “Cultivated” like the Star Wars equivalent of a British accent…. ;)

    At any rate, this was a fun read and an excellent translation of "Purple People Eater" into the GFFA.
     
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  12. rktho

    rktho Jedi Padawan star 1

    Registered:
    Apr 29, 2020
    I remember when I read this on AO3. It's just as delightfully confusing as I remember. What a premise. An apparently high-ranking Rebel spy operative whose modus operandi is to fly about in a joopa costume. There's just no explaining how that ended up happening, is there.
     
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