Chapter 1

(18 years before Star Wars: A New Hope)

Can a wookiee be a Jedi?

Those words more than any others have haunted my life.  When most people think of the Jedi, they think of Luke Skywalker, Rebel hero and Jedi Master.  Last of the old Jedi, first of the new. 

It comes as no surprise that not too many people think of a wookiee as a Jedi.  When they do, they can hardly believe it themselves.  For those that do believe it, they believe that a wookiee can only be a Dark Jedi or a Sith Lord.

My tale begins around the time of the Great Purge, when Palpatine and Vader were extinguishing the light of peace and justice throughout the galaxy known as the Jedi Knights. 

Like many of my race, I was enslaved by the Empire.  I was sent to a research facility on DalSuvius III, a small world that had little importance save for certain minerals and ores that were found only there. 

I was used as a mechanic.  To be honest, I'm not even certain what it was that we were researching there.  I worked on various pieces of equipment used for mining purposes.

Constantly, the equipment would break down.  It wasn't really any fault of mine.  They were boring through some pretty solid masses of rock, which was causing extreme wear and tear on the machinery.  I was using diamond bits on the drills the way it was.

My taskmaster needed a scapegoat for the constant breakdowns so that his head was not on the line.  He decided that he was not pleased with my work.  Of course, he was never pleased with anyone's work.  One day, though, we had a run-in.

"Number 1138, what's the problem here?  Your equipment always breaks down!  What's the matter, savage?  Can't fix a simple machine?"

"My name is not Number 1138, it's Kurrelgyrre!"  I shouted.  I jumped towards him with my arms outstretched.  I wanted to slash him with my claws, but my wookiee honor would not allow it. 

A couple of the guards drew their guns on me.  I figured out right then and there that I had made a big mistake.  A couple of stun bolts hit me.  I felt sick, like I was going to pass out.  I didn't though, probably due to my wookiee physiology.

"You shouldn't have done that, wook.  I thought you could understand my tongue.  Obviously not.  Perhaps I need to speak to you in a different tongue.  One that you will understand." 

The taskmaster pulled out his electro-lash and started to beat me.  The electro-lash sends an electrical charge up every nerve that intensifies with each hit.  Some people pass out after several beatings.  Some die.

"One!  Two!  Three!  Four!"

He kept counting.  I knew he was mean, but this was beyond his usual set of behavior.  He was definitely overreacting.  But why?

"Seventeen!  Eighteen!  Nineteen!"

On and on he counted.  The desire to attack the man and be done with him was there, but so powerful was the shock from the electro-whip that I was unable to act. I was not about to let him win.  I was determined to stand my ground. 

And so it went on for half an hour.

"Fall, damn you!  Seventy-three!  Why won't you fall?"

At this point, the taskmaster was out of control.  The guards, I imagine, didn't interfere for fear of the lash as well.

"Ninety-eight!  Ninety-nine!  YOU huff WILL huff FALL!"

I was almost gone at that point.  Reality was just a blur.  It seemed sad to me that my life had not meant anything.  I was going to die, and I had not made a difference in the universe. 

There was no honor in this death. 

"One hundred!"

That final one did it to me.  I was done for and I could feel my body fall, even though I did not will it to do so.  There was a moment that I swore that I could have seen a white light.  After that, all was black.

I awoke with a start, surrounded by a jail cell.  An old man was in there with me, with a gentle look in his eyes.  He was dressing my wounds and taking care of me the best that he could.

"Whoa, there, big fella!  Listrom musta been in a mood t'day."  I started to sit up, my whole body hurting me.  "Easy there.  Take it easy.  Yeah, way I hear it, the imps are coming here for something important.  Listrom is trying to have everything in proper order, and he's coming down on anyone and everyone who isn't perfect.  Heck, he popped me one straight in the eye for dropping a bucket of bolts.  My old back gave out on me."

As I was gaining better awareness of my surroundings, I could see the bruise on the man's face.  He was missing a few teeth as well, but I didn't know if that was because of Listrom or some other event.

"Sure is a lotta fuss over some imps.  Imps are here alla the time.  They must be sendin' someone high up to inspect the place.  Heck, it might be Moff Crin."

I was feeling more and more aware every second.  The sound of the old man's voice was a focus for me.  I just let him prattle on, using his voice as an anchor.

"Name's Gareb Eshlam.  What's yours?"

"Kurrelgyrre," I groaned.

"Sorry, fella.  Wasn't thinkin'.  I can't speak your language.  Too bad we don't have somethin' ta write with."

I thought about it for a second, and then I noticed the walls.  It was made of rock, not the standard durasteel.  A claw popped out of my hand, and I began to scratch my name.

"Kurrelgyrre, eh?  Pleased ta meatcha!"

The old man shook my hand heartily.  He was old and frail, and probably the best comfort I had had in a long while.  It was the first time I smiled since I was taken from Kashyyyk. 

"Everybody else has been talkin' about ya.  Survived a hunnert lashes, did ya?"

I nodded my head, wishing all along that there was some way around the language barrier. 

"Hoo, boy!  No wonder Listrom was so mad.  No one has survived that many lashes before."

I sat there and listened to him talk for hours.  After a while, I dozed off to sleep, grateful for this companion. 

He took care of me for the next few days.  It was then that the Imperials came, and my life would change forever.