On Alcohol and Sarlacci

I always knew the food’s intelligence was of a very rudimentary nature, it can barely understand the concepts of cause and effect, much less string them together; on top of that, their sense of self-preservation seems to be erratic at best.

A few days ago I intercepted a flying food box with a well placed tentacle lash. It came down near my home with a loud crash, spilling junk and food all over the place.

See, this is why it is a good idea not to let any food get away. Most food thinks of me as a mere hole in the ground they can simply skip over. They usually learn the truth once, but they have little time to profit from it before they become permanent inhabitants of my stomach.

Back to the flying box though, the food did not scatter too much, my assumption is that they were too stunned by the crash to act coherently, or at least coherently for food standards. It was an unremarkable meal with barely three courses and of average taste; flesh too firm, flavour slightly acidic and with a rough texture. Obviously this food was too old to be too tasty.

But what caught my attention was the junk. There were some large hollow-sounding boxes of a strange cylindrical shape, and there was a sloshing sound when I shook them. Filled with liquid, obviously.

This was interestingly new; there were only a couple of boxes within my reach, but I assumed they all were the same. I left them untouched and waited, hoping to see if they would be any good at attracting food.

They exceeded my expectations.

It was not two days before a flying box landed near my home. The food scrambled away at a safe distance from me, and upon examining the boxes one of them proclaimed extremely loudly:

“Guys, this is flameout!”

Loud cheers and celebrations followed, proving to me that this was, indeed, excellent food bait junk. What followed, however, was less easy to understand. Over the hours, the speech of the food became increasingly difficult to follow and understand, and their actions erratic. All of them ended up stumbling into my home without me having to do anything, except one that merely fell unconscious a few steps before reaching it.

I helpfully nudged it down. Don’t let it be said I never help others.

The strangest thing was the slight feeling of euphoria that followed. The more I thought about it, the more hilarious the situation looked to me. It was rather hard to understand, while the antics of the food were usually at least somewhat amusing, they never seemed so hilarious.

This situation repeated itself a few times. The more erratic the food acted, the more hilarious their actions were after I ingested them.

A downside of having learned food language is that, somewhat, I seem to have caught some of their irrationality. Yes, I do blame the food.

It’s the only explanation.

Having had no food in a few days, and having nothing better to do, I decided to investigate why the food acted so strange after realizing what the contents of the boxes were. So I grabbed the nearest tone…

And it was empty.

Grabbed another one, and noticed it was almost empty.

So the food had been ingesting this liquid. It was a rather foreign thought, I believe I have never found, much less ingested, some liquid before. The proposition was tempting, so I grabbed one of the boxes, banged it on a rock until it opened, and started pouring the contents down my maw.

It felt strangely warm at first, then cold.

Interesting.

The inhabitants of my stomach started stirring after a while, and I dissolved in giggles due to them being ticklish. I drank some more, and suddenly felt like singing a song, as I had heard the food do sometime before. I made a very good choreographed show with my tentacles and maw, if I say so myself, it was hilarious.

I have to admit that my memory goes hazy after that. I remember juggling empty boxes with my tentacles, and laughing when they came crashing down after I failed to grab one. I also remember shovelling sand out repeatedly as it fell in when I decided to try and make the loudest thumping sound I could with my stomach under the sand. I believe there was a little party going on inside my stomach, the food was probably enjoying itself too.

Next thing I remember, it was morning and I was awaken by the loudest screeching sound I have ever heard a piece of food produce. It resonated until I thought my tendrils were going to split in two. Lazily, I lashed out with my tentacle repeatedly until I hit the offending food and it went silent with a crack. I didn’t have the energy to grab it and eat it.

For some reason I was hungry. I realized then what the reason for the wandering food’s sudden screeches of fear; at some point during the night I had emptied the contents of my stomach and arranged the still living and partly digested food in funny geometrical shapes. The most impressive, without a doubt, was the five-body-tall pyramid.

I have to try this stuff next time I catch me some Jawas. It should be awesome.

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Pack Behaviour

The pack behaviour of the food can sometimes be interesting.

I have explained before how I used this behaviour once to reel in four foodstuffs when I had captured the dominant one of the group. For the longest time my observations in this respect have been, as the food would say, hit or miss (a curious expression, while it does not surprise me that the food needs an explanation for the obvious, if any of you can think of a third possibility where one neither hits nor misses when attacking, do let me know). Sometimes a small food gets a big following, sometimes it just dries up out there under the sun alone, and I have to content myself with picking the dry bones and skin.

Dried up bones are good for picking leftover pieces from my beak though. Hygiene is important for any self-respecting Sarlacc.

But so far I have failed to see any universal pattern I can exploit. Patiently, I continue to observe and learn.

If I abandon a piece of live food outside in hopes of attracting more, it tends not to last long under the sunlight.

Maybe I should feed it regularly.

Then again, that sounds more like a pet. May as well take it for a walk. If the day comes when the Sarlacci take pets out for a walk, I recommend you hide somewhere.

Dead food, on the other hand, scares other food away instead of attracting it. Sometimes it works once though, but only once. I believe the food gets distracted with something shiny on the bait, and lose interest after retrieving it.

So does the food get attracted by other food when it is dead or alive?

You understand the dilemma? It is tough being a Sarlacc, I know.

Today I was observing again. Some food seemed to be lying on the sand some distance away from my home, covered with a small purple cover (a cloak, I believe it’s called), and made some small movements that did not dislodge it from the sand. I did not think it looked too alive, but maybe the food would be attracted and give me an opportunity. I would just had to make do with whatever I could grab.

The Sarlacci’s capacity for adaptation is legendary. If you ever find yourself thinking “there is no way the Sarlacc can do this,” then remember to ask yourself “would he eat me if he could do it?” If the answer is yes, chances are the Sarlacc is leading you on and can do whatever you thought he couldn’t.

Where was I? Oh yes, the barely moving food on the sand. After some time, and some slow, languid moves, I heard some other food approaching.

“You think he’s alive?”

“Not sure…”

The purple cloaked food looked more agitated, and moved some more.

“He’s raising his arm… It’s standing up? I don’t think he can do much though.”

“So much the better, let’s check if he has anything of value. If he so much as blinks at me, shoot him.”

So the food covered the distance, one of them grabbed the cloak, pulled… And apparently was very surprised to see that there was nothing under the cloak.

Except for the end of my first tentacle sticking out of the sand.

Well, I did say that some food seemed to be lying nearby. I was, in fact, trying very hard to make it look that way.

After the quick two course meal, I picked up the cloak and set it up again. I believe the correct term for this is “bait.”

It’s amazing how many uses the junk the food carries can be put to.

Heeeeere, little Jawa, heeeeeere…

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Unforseen Consequences

The food has been very restless lately. The events I am going to relate have made me spend some time thinking about actions and consequences. Sometimes, one of our actions can set off a chain of events that will carry on further than we at first anticipated.

I have received a few interesting visits these days. A few days ago, some floating box threw down a sacrificial Jawa at me. It was rather unexpected, and very welcome. It struggled frantically, as they always do, but made its way down my maw very cleanly.

There were cheers coming from the box, and one of its occupants made a curious comment:

“Wait for it, this is gonna be the easiest million credits we’ve ever made!”

Credits. I became familiar with the concept of money a long time ago. The idea of some token with which the food exchanged junk with one another seemed rather amusing. Ever since, I’ve been wondering what the going rate of a dozen Jawas could be.

Well, for some reason the food thought their actions would bring them a considerable sum of money, so I concluded that reversing the roles would possibly make me receive it; after that, it’d be a matter of finding a suitable food that would barter for the goods I wanted. So, with that in mind, I spat the Jawa back at the box, and the whole lot of them (Jawa, box, and its occupants) went up in flames as the thermal detonators they had attached to the Jawa exploded.

I never got the million credits, however.

The day after, some other food came and gave me a barrage of blaster shots, trying to kill me apparently. They sting like crazy though, so I was rather irritated, to the point that I half-burrowed while only leaving a couple of limp, useless tentacles behind.

“I think it’s dead.”

They shot some more at my tentacles, but I couldn’t move them.

“It’s not moving. Let’s go get its head, the bounty is ours!”

Now that made no sense. Or rather, it did from a food-thinking point of view, but not from that of an intelligent being. There was a price on my head. But here’s the killer: I don’t have a head.

Regardless, I couldn’t move the tentacles… because I wanted the food to take the bait and come closer. After they did, I got their heads and laid quietly on the sand, letting it soothe the stinging burns of their blasters. How uncivilized of them.

And the day after that, some other food came and doused me with some liquid and set it on fire. It was surprisingly hot, very relaxing. It seemed like a very useful kind of liquid to have, so I tested its use by lashing out with my tentacles to splash the food that had doused me with it. The results were mighty amusing.

I have to grudgingly admit that the food can be quite creative sometimes. Not very smart, but creative nonetheless.

After that last flaming one, the food left me alone for good. Or so I thought, until yesterday a curious visitor came. I heard the conversation between it and its companion as they came closer, walking slowly on the sand.

“I’m telling you, it don’t matter none how high you set the bounty, noone’s coming back to mess with this thing after what’s happened with the other bounty hunters!”

“I will not rest until that thing is dead! You hear me? Dead!”

“Whatever made you think that…”

“It ate my friends! I told them they were being stupid with all this cult of the Sarlacc thing, but they wouldn’t listen, and that monster ate them all!”

“Yer friends were those nutcase cultists? They had it comi…”

Their conversation was interrupted by a quick series of blaster shots that silenced the latter food. Interesting, apparently there were still some of my “followers” out in the wild. I thought I just had to wait and…

“You hear me you bloody monster? I’m gonna blow you to bits! You can’t reach here can you? But I can reach you!”

This food at least possessed some powers of observation, it was standing beyond the reach of my tentacles and too far for me to collapse the walls of my home to trap it. Only one thing to do. I searched my stomach and, with a loud rumble, spat a ball of food composed of some of my former “followers,” making it land just at the edge of my reach.

The fresh food gasped audibly but did not get any closer. I gargled and spat another, same distance. It started cursing me, but didn’t get any closer. I tried a few more times.

The food was in quite a state by then, but still maintained its distance. You may think that I was just wasting food trying to lure in the new prey.

But you would be wrong.

See, the primary purpose was not just to lure in the new food. True, it would have been an acceptable outcome, but ultimately the problem was that I was just too full.

No, not too full to eat more.

A Sarlacc is never too full for a new meal. If a Sarlacc tells you that, he’s just gunning for you to become his next meal, as fast as possible.

Then again, that is what a Sarlacc always aims for, by definition.

Going back to the issue at hand, the problem was that I was too full to properly maneuver under the sand. My body is much larger than most foods realize, since they do not get to see it buried under the sand. But when there is enough room, I can simply squash myself down to disturb the sand on the surface.

Disturb as in collapse. A larger collapse than most foods get to see.

A collapse large enough to trap the fresh food, and recover the partly digested ones. It was a most touching reunion party inside my stomach.

So, as I was saying in the beginning, I do not think the food predicted that the ultimate consequence of its actions would be to spend the next millennium inside my stomach.

They never do.

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Many Happy Returns

Lately I have been thinking about how much better I can understand the food, and how it may be possible to reach some sort of common understanding and communication in the future. It is a scary thought.

What prompted this line of thought was the return of my “followers.” I can only assume it took them this long to find their way back due to the limited capacity of their minuscule brains. The fact that they came back at all made me second-guess what I mentioned previously about understanding and communication.

Think about it. They came back. If I had a head, I would be shaking it now (I’m getting better at these food-language expressions, aren’t I?).

Their return was interesting, from the point of view of a superior intelligence trying to understand their pack habits and social behavior. The first one to approach me was the so called “Head Priest,” he did so slowly and with loud proclamations about myself and their unyielding faith and loyalty. The real message here was “please don’t eat me.”

I didn’t. Yes, I understand this may be surprising, but I was planning for the future of course: this could end up with a reliable source of food, after all.

Never underestimate the potential of a fanatical horde of “followers.”

Slowly, the bolder ones followed the Priest, then others, and so on until my home was completely surrounded by them, chanting and calling my name. It was such a touching moment… I even played with the first sacrifice they offered, throwing it high into the air and catching it before it hit the ground a few times, for their viewing amusement. The food followed my antics with high pitched squeals of what I assume was great pleasure.

All was good in the Sarlacc’s kingdom. I didn’t hear anyone questioning my status either.

However, if there is a lesson to be had from interacting with the food, it is this: Never underestimate the food’s capacity to surprise you. Typically unpleasantly so.

A few days after their return, and during one of their chanting spells, I felt the familiar rumble of a slow-moving ground box. It stopped nearby, dislodged its contents, and instants later the familiar yipping of my favourite foodstuffs reached my tendrils.

Jawas. A horde of them, rooting through the junk near my home, but a bit too far for me to reach more than one, maybe two.

The Head Priest noticed my excitement (I think the trashing of the tentacles gave me away), and stopped the chants and supplications.

“The almighty Sarlacc is angry! Oh almighty Sarlacc, please illuminate your humble servants, please tell us of the wrong you want us to set right and we will not rest until we make it happen!”

I had an idea. A tiny voice inside me told me immediately it was a stupid idea, but I quickly suppressed it. There were Jawas to be eaten.

I grabbed a couple of my followers and, without hesitation, threw them in the general direction of the Jawas. One of them did hit (these little things move around too quick to aim properly, though I’m getting better). I snapped with my beak and made a loud noise.

“The Jawas!” The Head Priest shouted.

I roared again and trashed some more. Why, these foods may actually be useful for once! I congratulated myself on my idea of using them to catch me some Jawas, this was going to be the best…

“The Jawas must be exterminated! Destroy them! They defile the temple of the almighty Sarlacc!”

Wait, what?

At this point the tiny voice inside me said I told you so, in a most unpleasant, sarcastic voice I would never use myself.

Shut up

But that was the result, my “followers” descended upon the Jawas and eliminated them with the ferocity of a Kath Hound. None of them was bright enough to think of sacrificing a few of them to the Sarlacc.

“We will cleanse this land of the blight of the Jawas, mighty Sarlacc! Your followers will not let you down!”

There were some cheers and shouts, and the food started to move out. They were going to get rid of the Jawas. My favourite food. Well, not if I can help it; never get between the Sarlacc and his prey.

Actually, never get near a Sarlacc. I can give this advice because I know the food’s stupid enough not to follow it.

So, while they were out for the night, I set to work.

Morning came, and with it the return of my followers. It was probably the highest attendance I had seen since the early days of their worship, they had obviously gathered all they could and come to get my blessing before they set out to kill the Jawas. The border of my home hole was crowded with them all over.

Perfect.

You see, simply lashing out with the tentacles would not have done me much good, I would be able to catch a few, maybe some of the pack leaders, but it was bound to be imperfect and they would surely interpret it in some other Jawa-killing way, solving nothing. At this point, my faith on the food’s intelligence was at an all-time low.

But there are other ways. While they crowded and chanted, none of them noticed that the bottom of the Sarlacc’s hole was noticeably wider, almost as if the Sarlacc had purposely expanded it and was holding fast against the sides, and the walls were at the steepest they could be without collapsing, with the sand looking particularly loose.

If they had noticed, they wouldn’t have been surprised about what happened when the Sarlacc stopped holding the walls of the hole and contracted in the middle of it: The obvious collapse, the subsequent trapping sandslide… Some of them would undoubtedly have been smart enough to stay away. Sadly for them, and deliciously for me, they weren’t.

By night, the whole cult of the “Prophets of the Sarlacc” had followed its way into my stomach.

Now to get me some delicious Jawas…

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Intermission

It would seem as if the food is organized in a more complicated hierarchy than I had so far come to understand. Apparently, some of the more intelligent food (relatively, that is) is in charge of overseeing and protecting the less aware ones.

One of these foods has suspended my Twitter account. It seemed like a tool too good to be true, it would enable me to infiltrate the food’s information networks and attract more potential meals. In reality, it is mostly my fault, I was too excited by the amount of food available and showed myself to be too aggressive, I believe.

Yes, the Sarlacc is not above recognizing his mistakes. That’s because the Sarlacc can learn from them.

Note to self: Do Not Tweet After Eating Jawas. Way too excitable.

I am now in the process of convincing the supervising food that I am, in fact, mostly harmless (heh). If that does not work, I may have to offer a different bargain, after all there is always someone the food wants to get rid of, and the Sarlacc’s stomach leaves no evidence.

We shall see…

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Prophets in Foreign Lands

I sometimes have a hard time grasping the thought patterns behind the actions of the food. After I convinced myself that they were, in fact, somewhat intelligent, I decided to work on understanding how their minuscule brains work. One hypothesis I had was that the thought patterns would be of a limited scope; this, I pretty much get evidence for on my year-to-year life.

The other hypothesis was that these thought patterns, being of a limited nature, would be simple and easy to decipher; this last one is what I have a hard time reconciling with reality. Every time I think I have figured out the basics of their understanding, they surprise me with something unexpectedly new.

For the last few weeks I have been receiving visits from a group of foods that call themselves “The Prophets of the Sarlacc,” who come on a regular basis to offer me sacrifices (something that is not particularly new), admire my might and power (which has made me reluctantly admit they may be more intelligent than I gave them credit for), and… And to act as supplicants and beg the Sarlacc (that’s me) for a show of power that will somehow fix something wrong with their lives.

I was rendered practically speechless when I figured out the latter. Surely that can’t be true, I must have heard wrong, I thought; but no, the food is actually asking me for the most bizarre things. I understand when a little food asks me for mercy because it doesn’t want to be eaten; sure, I eat them anyway, but it is conceivably within my power to grant such request. One could stretch it and ask me to get rid of some enemy; all they would have to do is put it within reach of any of my tentacles and I may make it happen.

But when a food item comes, throws another food at my maw, and then proceeds to ask me for its mate to become pregnant… Well, what am I supposed to do? Is there a food expression that can properly convey the utter confusion and disbelief that I feel?

Naturally, any food-eating and food-exterminating wishes I am quick to grant. The Sarlacc giveth, and the Sarlacc taketh away. Scratch that, the Sarlac just taketh away and munches on it.

I thought I was doing mighty fine playing the role of the deity. And my followers (followers of an immobile Sarlacc, this language truly confuses me sometimes) were apparently pretty happy about that.

Until some sort of disagreement broke out. Some food started to loudly question my divinity, and started to cause a stir among the others. This had been typically resolved in the past by throwing the offending food down the pit, so that the almighty Sarlacc may consume it and its heresy.

I usually did it in a very theatrical fashion. I am easily amused.

But this time it was different, the argument kept getting louder (not that I really paid attention to the details) and finally one of the foods raised its voice above the others.

“That is enough! I shall put this heresy to rest right now!”

There was sudden silence. The food turned to address me.

“Oh mighty Sarlacc! I beg of you, please assuage these poor peasants’ doubts, so that no one may ever question your power again! I humbly make this request, oh divine One!”

At first nothing happened. There were some murmurs, but before they could extend, a deep rumbling drowned their voices. And while they started asking what was happening, I opened my maw and spit a ball of residues.

It was a fairly small one, as I hadn’t accumulated much in the last couple of hundred years or so since the last time I spit one. However, the effect I was looking for was achieved.

First off, I aimed towards the food that started the whole trouble. And if you have been paying attention, you’ll know I am quite accurate with throws.

Score: Me.

Second, I made the ball carefully, pulling out some of the fresher kills that had come from this group of foods in the first place. I doubt they were a pleasant view, and they made some sad noises that amounted to something akin to “kill me, please!”

You should have seen the stir this caused! I also grabbed a couple of foods that fell off in the hysterics that followed, as a replacement for the ones I had just spit.

Fair’s fair.

Haven’t heard from my “followers” since, though. And I was so sure I had played the part perfectly.

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What Goes Around…

It is a little known fact that Sarlacci have very good memory. The reasons this fact is not too well known are twofold: one, not many foods survive close encounters with a Sarlacc often enough to notice this fact; two, our long-term memory, as everything else on an advanced and streamlined, efficient, and superior organism such as ourselves, is extremely selective when it comes to remembering lesser things, such as individual food items.

A short few years ago, I was humiliatingly taken advantage of by a piece of food. It is a heavy thing to admit; imagine that… well, whatever you food items eat regularly, suddenly finds a way to completely immobilize you and starts prodding your tentacles for fun.

Somehow, I don’t think the food will grasp the analogy.

This was the situation I found myself in back then. It was a day like any other, some floating box above me threw down some food they wanted to dispose of and, in a rare show of good will, I obliged and ate it without delay.

It wasn’t alive, unfortunately, but it was a fresh kill nonetheless. I detected a slightly odd smell, which was followed by a slightly odd flavour. I didn’t think much of it, but a few instants later I found myself extremely tired, I couldn’t move a tentacle or even protrude my tongue. I could feel the vibrations well enough, though, and I felt the conversation on the box above me clearly:

“Took long enough! I’ll be right back.” One of the foods said; there were only two of them I could feel talking.

“This is a bad idea Nimeo.”

“Listen, it’s the perfect plan. The Sarlacc neurotoxin is not only extremely potent, but also has no antidote. It’s the perfect weapon for capturing live bounties.”

“Messing with a Sarlacc is always a bad idea!” The second food retorted, in an uncommon show of superior intelligence.

“Oh do shut up! Just lower me.”

When the food came down, it started probing my tentacles with some sharp implement, and I assume (though I could hardly feel it) it took some of my precious body fluids for itself. Yes, it was quite humiliating, but not as much as the comments it made about me and my uselessness, punctuated by a few stinging blaster shots on my second tentacle.

It left soon after that, but the pain did not. Not the physical pain from the pathetic little wounds, you understand. Oh no, this was deeper, I seethed for months just thinking of it. And I remembered.

You can imagine, then, that I was quite surprised when today I felt the same strange flavour from a food thrown at me from a floating box again. This time I didn’t simply lay down, I tried to recoil back into my home and collect all my tentacles close together around my maw. However, before I could completely burrow, I had stopped moving and lay motionless on the sand.

The food made some comment about my stupidity for falling twice for the same trick, and lowered itself down to my home. A similar conversation as before, only this time it commented on how effective the neurotoxin had been so far for completely paralyzing their victims, and it began prodding my fourth tentacle.

Of course it is effective. It is made by a Sarlacc.

I, however, could not compliment the food for its perfection on anything they did. Their eyesight was, if their actions are an indication, not too sharp, as they couldn’t distinguish between a Sarlacc chewing his food and a Sarlacc only pretending to chew his food. Their minuscule brains were not good enough at decision making to keep their floating box beyond the reach of a Sarlacc spitting rotten or poison-laced food at high speed, high enough to force the box to crash. And their instincts were not developed enough to distinguish between a truly inert tentacle and one that is merely laying motionless waiting for prey.

Do you know what other method works just as well as my neurotoxin to keep prey immobile? Ripping all its limbs off. A practical lesson I’m sure the food will have time to appreciate while I digest it.

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