The Cantina Cast has published a piece of mine on two of my favorite Star Wars "background" characters. This is a complete history of Doctor Cornelius Evazan and his mate Ponda Baba. These characters are the subjects of Bantha Fodder's 2016 holiday special. My thank you to Rebecca Benjamin for publishing.
Update: The Cantina Cast has sadly gone away. I've re-hosted the story below and as a PDF on the Bantha Fodder media page.
One short jump down the Perlemian Trade Route from the galaxy's capital planet of Coruscant will bring you to Alsakan, home of Dr. Cornelius Evazan—quite possibly the most sinister surgeon in the galaxy.
Born and raised in the Core, Evazan later left and became a promising cosmetic surgeon in the Outer Rim, even opening his own clinic on the desertous planet of Abafar. In a settlement there called Pons Ora, the clinic lasted just a few years before closing near the end of the Clone Wars. This was no doubt in part to a poor economy and the fact that Evazan's madness led him to perform what he coined "creative surgery." Whether or not creativity has any role in medical practice is up for debate, but consensus across the galaxy determined that Evazan's experiments were unethical and torturous.
With warrants out for his arrest, bounty hunters began their search, leading to some close calls in which Evazan himself became horribly disfigured by a bounty hunter determined to cash in on the mad doctor. It was during this encounter that an Aqualish smuggler stepped in and saved the human's life, forming a partnership that would last many years after. Together, they smuggled goods for Jabba The Hutt on Tatooine to great success and monetary gain. It's here they became familiar with the local bar.
Practicing medical operations never left the interests of Evazan who recruited his pirating partner as an assistant in the kidnapping and alteration of individuals on Milvayne. The two wisely changed their names to cover their tracks. Evazan and Baba became Roofoo and Sawkee respectively. Their activities here caught the attention of local law enforcement which sent one lawman named Tam Posla on a mission to track and apprehend the criminals. The chase took him far outside of his jurisdiction to the planet of Jedha, a holy place for Force worshipers and the fallen Jedi order alike. In his efforts to bring the pair to justice, Posla left his position as an officer and accepted his role as a bounty hunter.
On Jedha, Evazan created a class of beings called The Decraniated, meaning—in effect—"headless" servants. Victims of the ongoing unrest in the Holy City fell prey to the Doctors techniques using cybernetic technology to strip their will and consciousness in order to sell them into servitude. Caysin Bog, a high-gravity humanoid, also saw discongfigurement on Roofoo's table after being blown apart during a strike by Saw Gerrera's band of freedom fighters. Reports of these Frankenstein-like beings are what led the bounty hunter to Jedha, knowing full well there was only one being that could possibly conceive and deliver such horrific results.
In an effort to ditch town before Posla could track them, Evazan and his partner took off towards the outskirts of town. In their rush, they bumped into a young human female named Jyn Erso and companion Captain Cassian Andor of the Rebel Alliance. The two parties parted ways after the manic doctor shouted a gruff warning to the travelers to "watch it." A variation of this phrase would be uttered shortly after arriving on Tatooine soon after.
It's unknown if Tam Posla escaped Jedha before it's destruction by the Death Star in its initial weapons test, but his bounties certainly did. In what was likely a move of pure convenience and familiarity, the felons landed in Mos Eisley's spaceport and 3 shortly sat at the bar of their favorite watering hole. Both ordered drinks from Wuher the bartender and began to chat with the other patrons—no doubt regarding what just occurred on the planet they just left.
Feeling invincible or perhaps particularly lucky after escaping capture and/or a terrible fate on Jedha, Ponda Baba chose to pick a fight with a local boy named Luke Skywalker who was sitting at the bar beside him. By the look and the smell of him, the boy was as green as the Rodian bounty hunter across the room. His threat, spoken in Aqualish didn't land with the kid. That's when his best mate, also drunk with the day's events and Wuher's finest grog, stepped in to translate. "He doesn't like you," he offered to which Luke tried again to escape the taunts with a simple apology. "I don't like you either," continued the emboldened doctor which drew the attention of the old man that accompanied the youth the the dingy establishment.
Obi-Wan's offer of drink fell on deaf and dumb ears and Evazan grabbed Luke and threw him into a table away from the bar and drew his blaster as if the thought of a free pint was an insult to his nature. Baba followed suit, ready for a fight that would end much more quickly than they could have guessed. There's an irony in losing limbs to a Jedi just hours after reattaching some to bombing victims in a Jedi holy city. Evazan suffered a nasty slash to the chest while Baba lost his right arm. Both survived the incident, although Ponda Baba nearly lost his life after Evazan attempted to reattached his appendage.
It's unclear what happened to the duo from that point on. With Baba's missing arm and a large wound across Evazan's chest adding to his poor eyesight, work must have been hard to come by, even while Jabba was still alive. Still, it's interesting to consider the small role they twice played in one of the galaxy's most dire moments. Their bump-in with Jyn and Cassian didn't leave much to bear on the events that transpired on Edeu or Scarif, but they did force a Jedi Master in hiding to use his blade. 4 This was the first time Luke, and very likely most of the cantina's patrons, had ever seen such a weapon in action and he would recall that moment in his training for years to come.
Doctor Cornelius "Roofoo" Evazan and Ponda "Sawkee" Baba were dangerous and vile, but crafty and intelligent in ways that were not evident in their drunken stupor when we first saw them. Their legacy on Jedha may have been abolished, but you can be sure there were more of Evazan's abominations living in grafted states of disrepair far across the galaxy for a long time thereafter. This piece was written by Jacob Tender for The Cantina Cast, which is sadly no more.