So when I’m looking to kill time in a way that seems moderately productive to an outside observer, I often turn to the site Quora and answer questions that are directed at me. Sometimes this is a great opportunity to teach someone a valuable skill, technique, or just impart some wisdom I’ve picked up along the way. Most of the time though, it’s questions about minutiae in Star Wars or Star Trek. And every now and then, I get an excuse to write up something completely ridiculous. This is what happened when someone asked me who I’d be if I were a Star Wars character.
Rendar Prox shivered as he stepped out of the modified YT-1300 freighter that had taken him to this strange planet of “Wes-con’Sen.” Snow-dusted triangular trees, seemingly untouched by civilization. Surely, there couldn’t actually be anyone living here. And yet all the stories said this is where he was. The mysterious wise figure who was his last hope to save the galaxy.
A wookie, the co-pilot of the ship he hired, howled behind him as the ground crackled beneath the ship.
“I hear it too,” Prox called back. There were other stories about this planet too. Stories that some kind of strange, burrowing predators named dachs lived underground, swallowing up anyone who wandered into their territory. “Go ahead and take the ship back up, I’ll comm you in two hours.”
“Unless the dachs get you first,” Chewbacca grumbled back as he closed the hatch of the Millennium Falcon and started preparing the old ship for takeoff.
Prox scanned the treeline. There was a small opening some distance off that looked about the right size for a person to go through, which was as good a spot as any. He set off for it, trudging through snow half-way to his knees. He’d gotten about half-way there when there was an ear-splitting “CRACK!” noise from behind him. He spun around and saw the ground rising up underneath the Falcon, the back half vanishing beneath the snow in an instant.
So the dachs are real! He thought in horror.
He started to move forward, determined to do something, but then reason returned. Chewbacca and Han were already as good as dead. If the dachs were big enough to eat an entire starship, there was nothing that he could do to save them with his single holdout blaster. So instead he turned around and began sprinting for the opening in the trees.
Unfortunately it wasn’t much of a sprint. He wasn’t used to running in snow like this, and his boots were built more for flying X-Wings than riding tauntauns. He’d barely made it ten meters before he slipped and fell straight into the snow. The cold momentarily blinded him as he struggled to regain his footing. And then he heard it. Someone approaching him from out ahead. Could it be him? The mysterious figure, arriving just in time to save him from being eaten by the native fauna?
He pulled his head out of the snow and squinted through the flakes still stuck to his face in the direction of the approaching noise. It was hard to see still, but… yes! There he was. A short figure with long ears, his head covered with short red fur and the rest of his body garbed in simple clothes that might befit a monk.
“Help!” Prox shouted to him.
The small mysterious wise figure shouted something back and quickened his pace. The snow must have been even harder for him, as it came up almost to the top of his neck, but he sped on as if powered by mystical forces. And then he was on Prox. Literally on prox. As in the small wise figure actually leapt onto his back and began shouting in his strange, alien language.
I see, Prox realized. He wants me to carry him on his back to show that I’m strong enough to be a worthy pupil!
“I’ll try, master!” Prox grunted as he pushed himself out of the snow.
Much to his surprise, the master responded by making a small yelp of distress and rolling off of his back to flop un-elegantly into the snow. Prox reached to help him back up, but the master only let out a growling noise and bit down on his glove, pulling it off and sprinting back towards the trees.
Oh, Prox thought as he watched the master run away on all four limbs, his no doubt wizened tail wagging rapidly back and forth. This must be some kind of test of my humility.
So Prox followed, doing his best not to think murderous thoughts as his hand slowly froze solid. Fortunately, the master seemed to have thought ahead. In running out to meet Prox and then immediately turning back, he’d created a clear path through the snow that Prox could follow. Pure brilliance. In no time at all Prox was safely within the trees, panting for breath while the master sat and watched him with big, inquisitive eyes, Prox’s glove still held in his mouth.
“Thank you, Master Reinemann,” Prox reached out. “Could I have my glove…?”
Master Reinemann responded by growling and shaking his head “no.”
“Okay.” Prox retracted his bare hand and stuffed it beneath his armpit. “I… don’t quite understand the purpose of the lesson, but I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.”
Master Reinemann stared back with those same curious eyes for a long time and sniffed.
“I guess you want to know why I’m here.” Prox reached into his pocket and pulled out his father’s lightsaber. It was ornately decorated, with delicate scrollwork flowing down the choke into the silver and gold sculpture of the pommel.
Master Reinemann dropped the glove and began to sniff at the lightsaber.
“You recognize it?” Prox asked in excitement.
“I think he’s going to pee on it,” Master Reinemann responded in basic.
“Wha…?” Prox gaped in confusion.
“I mean, doubt me if you want, but I think I know him pretty well” A bearded man dressed in a long gray coat, thick gloves, and weirdly formal shoes and slacks stepped around from behind Prox where he’d apparently been watching. “Why are you talking to my dog?”
Prox stared up at the newcomer and felt his face starting flush, which only made the cold around him worse. “You’re Master Reinemann,” he said.
“Yep.” Master Reinemann nodded.
“So who’s the little guy?”
“That is a dachshund,” Master Reinemann said in a solemn tone. “And oh look, I was right!”
“GAH!” Prox jerked his father’s sacred weapon away from the sudden stream of warm yellow urine splashing on the emitter. “Wait, that’s a dach?”
“Dachshund,” Master Reinemann repeated as if he were talking to someone just a little slow.
“But… He’s so tiny!”
The Dachshund made a disapproving grumble and began burying Prox’s stolen glove.
“Yep,” Master Reinemann said.
“Do they get bigger?” Prox asked.
“They occasionally get wider,” Master Reinemann told him.
“But…” Prox looked out towards where the front half of the Falcon still jutted out of the ground at about a thirty degree angle. “What did that, then?”
“Gravity,” Master Reinemann told him. “They landed a starship on a lake just a week after it froze over. Frankly I’m surprised it didn’t fall through the moment they touched down.”
“But…” Prox repeated. “All the legends about the dachs being able to eat entire starships…”
“That’s what we call a metaphor.”
“Meta-phor…” Prox mouthed the unfamiliar word. “Then it’s true. You really are the one they call the last of the Science Fiction Writers!”
The last of the Science Fiction Writers made an unpleasant face. “They’re really calling me that?”
“I was told that you were the only one who could help me,” Prox went on. “A terrible calamity has befallen the New Republic. A new enemy has come out of nowhere. According to an ancient Jedi prophecy, only one wise in the forgotten ways of technical plausibility can save us!”
“So you’re trying to learn how science fiction works… because of a mystical prophecy.” Master Reinemann made a small pained noise and began to rub at his temples. “Well, that’s a great start.”
“I was hoping you might be able to teach me how to use this.” Prox wiped the few bits of urine off of his father’s lightsaber and held it out. “My father’s lightsaber.”
Master Reinemann raised an eyebrow and took the weapon. “Okay…” He turned it over in his hands several times and found the activation stud.
“He was one of the first to fight against the new enemy,” Prox said sadly. “And one of the first to-”
“HOLY FUCKBALLS!” Master Reinemann shouted as the lightsaber’s brilliant blue blade snapped into existence. “This… what the hell is this?”
“Uh…” Prox blinked. “It’s the weapon of a Jedi knight.”
“It’s a weapon?!” Master Reinemann looked back at him. “This is not a weapon. It’s a self-amputation tool at best.” He waved the blade around a few times. “The blade is, what, a rod of magnetically contained plasma? With the amount of power that has to go into keeping the thing rigid like that, you could probably run a small starship. And you’re using it so you can sword fight people.”
“But… sword fighting is so civilized.”
“Since when did ‘civilized’ describe carving people up with a plasma torch?” Master Reinemann turned off the lightsaber and handed it back to him. “The sensation of burning is one of the most intensely unpleasant things a person can experience. You’ve actually found a way to make dismemberment even more traumatic than it already was. Not that it matters much, because anyone with a ranged weapon is just going to shoot you before you can use the damn thing.”
“Ah,” Prox said. “But the Force helps us see threats before they happen. Thanks to that, we can use this to deflect blaster bolts!”
“Blaster…” Master Reinemann shook his head. “Ah, right, the pocket nuclear slingshots you call ranged weapons. Tell you what, I’m going to throw a snowball at you. I want you try and block it with your lightsaber.”
Prox nodded and planted his feet in a defensive stance, then turned on his father’s blade. As he did so he reached for the Force. He could see the vital moment so clearly. Even as Master Reinemann reached down and began packing snow into a rough sphere, he could see the finished product as it left his hand, its flight through the air, and the position his blade would need to be to intersect the snowball.
This would be child’s play.
“You ready?” Master Reinemann asked.
Prox closed his eyes, willing the image into even clearer focus. “I’m ready,” he said.
And then the snowball was in the air. The Force flowed through Prox’s arms, pulling them and his blade up into the perfect position. The snowball hit the blade, the center vanishing in a puff of superheated steam in a moment…
…And then two halves of the snowball slammed directly into his face with a wet “thump” noise.
Prox staggered back a step, powering down the lightsaber as he started to spit pine-needle laced snow out of his mouth.
“You see,” Master Reinemann said, “The fact that you can deflect a blaster bolt kind of makes sense. It’s constrained plasma. The blade is constrained plasma. They’re naturally going to repel one another. But snowballs aren’t plasma.”
“But the blade should have vaporized it,” Prox protested.
“Ah, afraid not,” Master Reinemann shook his head. “There’s this thing call the Liedenfrost effect that keeps that from happening. Point is though that all you need to do to beat your space-sword there is a projectile with a cross-section that can’t be neatly blocked by a two inch straight line. Or, you know, someone firing at you from both the front and back at the same time. Kind of makes the argument for it being an effective defensive tool pointless.”
Prox stared down at the lightsaber. Suddenly, the Jedi weapon seemed a lot less impressive than it had a moment ago.
“So… you’re saying that the Jedi should use blasters against this enemy.”
“Ehhhh…” Master Reinemann waved his hand in the air. “Let’s not go that far. I could spend literal hours on how you’d probably be better off with bullets for about ninety percent of the things you use blasters for.”
“So you’ll teach me?” Prox asked.
Master Reinemann sighed, then reached down and pulled Prox’s half-buried glove out of the snow. “Sure. Beats spending another week failing to invent the Holonet version of Netflix. You sure you’re ready to have me systematically deconstruct your entire aesthetic?”
“I have no idea what that means!” Prox told him. “But I’m not afraid.”
“Well, that’s good.” Master Reinemann reached down and picked up the Dachshund, who immediately began trying to climb inside his big gray coat. “Because by the time you realize how completely screwed you are against someone who’s technology actually makes sense, you will be.” He paused and repeated for dramatic effect. “You will be.”