Friday, July 29, 2005

I am the Stupid, not Grumpy, Moff

Riding high off of my successful break-in of Captain Stupid's quarters (ok, I didn't really find out much info other than he is A) hording schematics and B) friends with a senator from Alderaan, but it was still cool to pull off a covert mission), I decided that it would be ideal to discuss the situation during my meeting/date/encounter with Officer Hot Stuff. We had agreed to go to the Death Splash Pub and Grill for some off-duty fun. Surprisingly, I had not made an ass of myself for the first twenty minutes. Nope, conversation was brisk, Officer Hot Stuff was hot, and I was as cool as a Grumpy Moff can be.

Then I brought up Captain Stupid. And it all went downhill from there.

GM: So, you remember Captain Stupid from the Devastator?

OHS: Annoying guy who talks really fast? Yeah, how could you forget him?

GM: Did you know that he was transferred here?

OHS: What?

GM: Oh yes, and the Emperor decided the best place for his quarters to be would be right next to mine.

OHS:! That's awful. Does he bug you a lot?

GM: Actually, I've managed to avoid him. But, um, I think (I pause and look to see if anyone is potentially eavesdropping), I think he's tech smuggling.

OHS: (her brow furrows in an intense but attractive way) Are you sure?

GM: Well, no, not totally sure. But I know that he was discussing the retrofit of the Death Star's exhaust port with a senator from Alderaan. And I know that he has crates and crates of schematics in his room. Everything from turbolasers to the main gun to the Imperial fleet.

OHS: And he was dumb enough to show you this? He must be the worst smuggler on the planet.

GM: Um...well...he didn't exactly show me...

OHS: How'd you find out? What, did you program an astromech to let you break into his quarters?

GM: Heh, you know, it's a funny story, but yeah, actually I did. Pretty cool, huh?

Officer Hot Stuff's eyes widen just a hair and her lips grow thin. My amusing anecdote was transforming into a yawning chasm of embarrassing childish boasting and, oh yeah, illegal activity. Crap.

OHS: You broke into his room?

GM: "Broke" is a relative term. Um...technically...the astromech did it. I just stood there and walked in the open door.

OHS: Why did you break into his room?

GM: I told you, cause I suspected he was a tech smuggler. And he's been annoying me since I joined the Empire, so I figured that, you know, if I expose him for what he is, then maybe he'd get shipped off the Death Star. (LONG awkward pause) Cause, you know, um...he's annoying and stuff.

Officer Hot Stuff stands up and motions for me to follow her. We march out of the Death Splash Pub and Grill and down one of the many long halls inside the "Death Star" over to a security terminal.

OHS: You see this? (I meekly nod) Do you know what this is?

GM: It's a security terminal. I think you can call for help here.

OHS: If you read your Death Star welcome package, you would know that you could submit anonymous tips here regarding security concerns. So instead of concocting an elaborate scheme to fulfill your childhood fantasies of breaking and entering, you could have followed proper Imperial procedure. Now whatever evidence he has in there of possibly being a tech smuggler is tainted.

GM: Tainted?

OHS: (shaking her head in frustration - boy, she's hot when she's frustrated at my stupidity) Didn't you learn anything from your Death Star orientation? Because of the case of Antilles vs. Korsonoff four years ago, the courts found it illegal to begin investigation based on evidence found on illegal grounds. Illegal, like your breaking and entering.

GM: Oh...dang.

OHS: IF I decided to withhold the fact that you told me about this, then I would be withholding evidence. And you know that any illegal activity is looked as betrayal of the Empire.

GM: Wait a minute...just cause I broke into Captain Stupid's room, I'm betraying the Empire?

OHS: (sighs) You really don't read or listen, do you? The Emperor has stated that any illegal activity is viewed as potential treason. You are breaking the laws of the Empire, thus turning your back on what it stands for.

GM: Wait a minute. We're the Empire. Why do we have to follow all these rules and stuff? Don't we just interrogate suspects and blast them with our stormtroopers? What's with all this legal mumbo jumbo?

OHS: The senate and the courts dictate the law. Unless the Emperor dissolves them, we have to follow them.

GM: Oh...dang. what are you going to do now?

OHS: As an Imperial Officer, I'm going to have to report you. Now, since what you did isn't that big of a deal, you'll probably just get a formal reprimand and maybe have to apologize to Captain Stupid. But you've blown any chance of getting him off the station. Good job.

GM: So, um, I don't suppose I could use my powers of seduction to keep you quiet? (I slowly move forward and reveal an oh-so-dashing smile. Officer Hot Stuff is not amused.)

OHS: I'm not even going to dignify that with a response.

Officer Hot Stuff spins on her heel and storms away, her boots making a rapid cadence of click-clacks against the "Death Star" tile floor.


Monday, July 25, 2005

Breaking and entering

I’ve spent the past few days making arrangements to strategically break into Captain Stupid’s quarters. Fortunately, Fun Commander has been extremely helpful with this. It was pretty easy to determine Captain Stupid’s schedule; all we had to do was put in an inquiry in the “Death Star” main computer and up it came. However, there’s always the worry that he may come back to his quarters on a quick break.

To address the problem, Fun Commander volunteered to find a time when he was off and Captain Stupid was working. Fun Commander would then go visit Captain Stupid and engage him in a long and highly unnecessary conversation about the length of the “Death Star” thermal exhaust port and the need to expand it.

The time to strike was two days ago. I conveniently “broke” a comm channel in my quarters and scheduled an astromech droid to come service it. It, of course, really meant disengaging the lock on Captain Stupid’s door. To clear the trail, I downloaded the astromech’s memory into my computer, had it open the lock, then wiped its memory before restoring the pre-break in memory and sending it on its way. No one would be the wiser.

As the astromech droid whirred away, I checked my watch. I only had one hour of guaranteed safe time before Fun Commander had to start his shift in the turbolaser department. I poked my head into Captain Stupid’s wretched den and began the journey.

When we were on the Devastator, Captain Stupid’s quarters were a complete mess. At least they were the time I went to retrieve my “Death Star” plans. So it was a bit of a shock to see the room almost spotless. All of the packing crates were still full, several decorations were on his desk, and a pile of laundry was growing in one corner. But none of the papers and random junk that cluttered his old room. Strange.

I turned on his comm panel and checked his communications log. Many of his calls, both outgoing and incoming, were to Alderaan. That’s no surprise, since that’s his home planet. A few different access numbers, some were stored into memory: mom, dad, Ranibus, Leia, and Perma. No strange calls to distant stations or other places that tech smugglers are known to stay. However, there was always the possibility of that a call may have been rerouted to disguise its location.

I opened up some of his packing crates to find piles and piles of papers – probably the ones that were scattering the floor in his Devastator room. Each crate was filled with schematic after schematic of all sorts of Imperial vehicles – TIE fighters, the new TIE interceptors, the walkers, even the probe droids. He had detailed info on star destroyer shield mechanisms, and also a lot of stuff on the different turbolaser capability of the guns right here on the station.

This stuff isn’t top secret material, but it is confidential. It all pointed to the notion that Captain Stupid was indeed trading with tech smugglers. But there was no viable proof.

The last crate I looked through had some of his personal belongings. Most of it was pretty boring – aquatic race champion medals, Imperial bodybuilding contest runner-up, some holo discs of different sporting events. At the bottom of the crate was a holo album with holos of Captain Stupid with family and friends.

And then I made one connection. I’m not sure if it was significant or not, but it at least answered one of my questions. One of the holos was Captain Stupid standing at his Academy graduation with a friend (I’m ASSUMING they’re friends, though there’s no evidence to back up anyone actually enjoying his company). The friend was the same woman who was in the vid screen communique that I eavesdropped on last week – and the same person in his communications log. I finally put the face to the name and remembered who she was.

Leia. Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, and member of the Imperial Senate.

So Captain Stupid has both royal connections and political connections. I’m thinking that he’s too stupid to actually try to start a political career. So there are three possibilities here:

1) He’s trying to win the heart of our dear Senator. Granted, she’s pretty cute, but she seems like a real bitch during her HoloNet interviews. Very snappy, very snarky, doesn’t seem at all charismatic or polite. Maybe they belong together.

2) She is a tech smuggler and he’s been feeding her information. Though I don’t know why she would be involved with it…I mean, she’s probably part of the richest family on that whole planet. Maybe she has parental issues and this is her way of lashing out.

3) She could not be involved at all with this.

My safe time was ending, so I meticulously restored everything to its original state and made haste back to my quarters. After debriefing with Fun Commander, he is further convinced of the tech smuggler idea, but I still don’t have any hard evidence.

In any case, that’s what happened. I’m prepping for my date/meeting/ambiguously spending time together with Officer Hot Stuff. Perhaps she will have some insight on this. More later.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lunch with Palpatine

The Emperor doesn't come out that much. Well, that is, he doesn't come out and mingle with us that much. Tarkin and Palpatine could go out for fresh-brewed Corellian ales every night for all I know. Heck, he's always walking around in those black robes, he could have a dancing outfit on underneath. You know what they say, it's always the ones you least suspect that get drunk and make a wild bantha of themselves at a wedding.

In any case, the Emperor has finished his stay here on the "Death Star" since final preparations are being tweaked and we'll be leaving Coruscant orbit soon. Someone talked Palpatine into having a mess hall lunch/Q&A session with the good workers of the "Death Star" since he'll be returning to the capital soon. I went to the mess hall with Fun Commander. It was...interesting. It started off with Palpatine picking up a tray and selecting his food, just like we do every day. The serving droids didn't get nervous around him, but the person standing in line behind him kept his distance. Not too far behind, not too close, just...casual.

Palpatine walked over to the soda fountain and fixed himself a fizzy soft drink, then sat down at a large table at the front of the mess hall. Tarkin, walking as upright and stick-up-his-ass as ever, took a microphone and called everyone's attention. "Good workers of the Death Star," he began, "it is my true pleasure to announce that the Emperor has graced us with his presence on his last day on board the station. The Emperor wants to express his gratitude and the floor will be open for questions as we all enjoy our lunch."

Wild applause sprain out - the canned kind, where there's no hooting or hollering, but a very, very loud set of hands slamming against each other. Like trained Belikian sea dragons applauding the sunset, we were good Imperial workers.

Palpatine took the microphone. "The Death Star is the ultimate power in the galaxy, bringing peace to all regions under Imperial supervision. Thank you for your hard work in making this the greatest space station in known history. Now, I will answer any questions that you may have." Palpatine set the microphone down took a bite out of the special bantha hide (I wonder if they had Vader prepare it? His cooking did kick ass last time.), chewing very slowly and methodically and...well...for quite some time. I don't think his teeth have held up too well.

I've listed some of the more bizarre questions below (I think people had been drinking at this point, especially the night shifters). I'll credit the Emperor, he showed a bit of wit that I didn't know he had. I suppose you have to be smooth if you're as successful as he is at the politics game.

Question: Who do you like better, Vader or Tarkin?

Answer: (Palpatine greeted this question with a sneer, then a light chuckle). Lord Vader has been my apprentice for many years. We've had many adventures together, seen a great many things. However...just between you and I...and him (nods at Tarkin)...Vader can be talk to at times. The good Moff (nods at Tarkin again) at least has the dignity to keep up with latest in fine arts. I shall leave it at that.

Question: What are you wearing under those robes?

Answer: (without thinking, just a smirk) More power than you can possibly imagine...nuh huh huh huh huh huh (at this point, nervous laughs go through the crowd. I think the mental image of Palpatine without robes offered a bit of mass disturbance)

Question: Do your red guards ever get to sit down or do they just stand next to you all day?

Answer: Fortunately, my guards are peak physical specimans that can handle the rigors of standing next to an old politican all day. (Palpatine looked over to one and he simply nodded) Between you and me, though, I believe they may have learned to sleep standing up behind those helmets.

And then there was Captain Stupid, who of course had to screw things up. He grabbed the question microphone and failed to actually ask a question, just gushed like a babbling idiot for way too long. "My lord, it's so good to talk with you again. It's me! Captain Stupid! Remember, we met when Tarkin showed you my modifications to the thermal exhaust port? Yup, that's me. Oh, in case you're curious, things are going well with that and the modifications are getting done right on schedule, in fact it's going to save 50% power efficiency in the..."

At this point, Palpatine offered a weak, tired politician's smile and muttered, "What is your question?"

Captain Stupid, surprisingly, was very frank. "What are our defense plans in case the Rebels try to attack?"

The room hushed. No one thoguht that there was actually going to be a serious question involved here. Palpatine looked at Tarkin, who lowered his brow and gave a stern grimmace.

Palpatine looked right at Captain Stupid and said, "This station is more powerful than any ship in their fleet. Once the main gun is ready, no ship can withstand it."

Captain Stupid replied, "Are we preparing for any smaller range attacks?"

Palpatine said, "I believe I answered your question. The Rebels will not be able to attack a station of our firepower. Is that satisfactory?"

Captain Stupid bowed his head and said, "Yes sir, that's good to know."

The audience asked Palpatine a few more easy questions before he finished up his mess hall lunch and walked out, flanked by his customary red guards. Palpatine doesn't really seem like that bad of a guy. He's certainly not as cranky as I thought he'd be, and he had a much better sense of humor than Tarkin, who remains a jerk.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Theories on Captain Stupid

Fun Commander and I spent some of the morning looking busy at our work stations (through the magic of GIM - Galactic Instant Messenger - , we can type away at our computers and look like we're performing maintenance checks on our turbolasers when we're actually just chatting. Take that, Captain Big Nose and Grand Moff "Jerk" Tarkin!) while discussing the Captain Stupid situation. Fun Commander has never met Captain Stupid, he's just heard my stories about the infamous annoying one. Still, the level of intrigue was there, and who doesn't enjoy a little game of intrigue?

As I have said before, any sort of conspiring that can possibly ship Captain Stupid off of the "Death Star" is worth looking into for me. Here's some of what we chatted about.

GM: So what do you think he was up to? Who would care about the width of the station's exhaust port?

FC: Did you get a look at who he was talking to on the vid screen?

GM: Yeah, I know I've seen her somewhere on the holonet before. She's either on the news a lot or in one of the shows. She looks kinda young, maybe 20 or 25. Brown hair. Lots of lipgloss. Kinda cute in an Imperial politician kind of way.

FC: Cute human girl with brown hair. Gee, that narrows it down.

GM: He did say that it was one of his childhood friends from Alderaan.

FC: Ok, so now we have a whole planet of humans. We just gotta do some research to see how many young female holonet stars are from Alderaan. No biggie.

GM: But even if we figure that out, that doesn't mean anything. We have to figure out what Captain Stupid's motives are.

FC: I bet he's one of those new tech smugglers we've been hearing about.

GM: Tech smugglers?

FC: Yeah, get information on some piece of technology and sell it off to the gangsters so they can implement it in their defenses. It's happening quite a bit lately.

GM: Do you think maybe he's a bounty hunter of some sort?

FC: Do you think he's smooth enough to be a bounty hunter?

GM: He is freakishly strong. I told you about the time I ran into him shirtless, right? That Imperial uniform hides muscles really well.

FC: If he's freakishly strong, then perhaps he could be a bounty hunter. The way he acts could just be a cover up.

GM: I don't think so. I heard him talking that way with the Alderaan woman. And when he started babbling to me, I saw her roll her eyes.

FC: The best thing we can do is somehow break into his quarters and look at his communications log. Do you think that can be done?

GM: Shouldn't be hard, especially if we rent out an astromech droid to open the door. The only thing we'd have to do is wipe its memory afterwards to cover our tracks. The trick is finding the right time to do this.

FC: We should be patient. Dig around and find out when Captain Stupid's work schedule is. Then we can figure out some way to make sure he stays busy.

So now my mission is to figure out how and when we can break into Captain Stupid's quarters. That means I have to actually talk with him, which shold be loads of fun.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Captain Stupid is hiding something

So, loyal Grumpy Moff fans, I know you're wondering how things went with Officer Hot Stuff. Well, unfortunately, nothing's happened yet. As it turns out, the "Death Star" supervisors have her scheduled working opposite of my schedule. So I probably won't get to see her until next week, which means that I'll be doing a lot of sitting around the turbolaser supervisor cubes complaining to Fun Commander about how I'm terrified that I'll make an ass of myself. Not that I haven't already in front of her, but you know what I mean - there's being a cute, loveably stupid ass and then there's being a kinda creepy and annoying ass.

Speaking of creepy and annoying, I had a very strange encounter with Captain Stupid today. He's hiding something, but I'm not sure what it is. I was coming back to my quarters after my shift today and I noticed that his door hadn't closed all the way. Normally, when I hear his non-stop yammering, I run and hide, but he said something very odd right when I passed by.

Captain Stupid: ...and they've begun work on expanding that thermal exhaust port and I think it might be a weakness in the station but I'm not sure if it will work or not. I mean, boy, you gotta sure be lucky to get something in there, and not lucky like "Wow, I won a sabaac round lucky," but lucky like "Wow I can hit...

Unknown Female Voice: Ok, ok, I get it. So you think two feet is wide enough?

Captain Stupid: It's possible, but you've really got to be precise. Did you ever hear the story of Arax Dark and the Mendula dragon? Arax Dark was just a boy, but his town had been taken over by this huge, ugly dragon and he just had a sling shot. It's actually a pretty inspiring story, I read it from time to time even though it's just a myth, but you know that myths are...

Unknown Female Voice: (low whispering)

Captain Stupid: Oh...oh...hmmm

At this point, I hear footsteps as Captain Stupid obviously detects my presence. The door opens right when I manage to turn around.

Captain Stupid: Oh, hey Grumpy Moff. Watcha doing? You just hanging around?

Grumpy Moff: Oh, no, I'm uh...I was just heading home. You know, long day at work and everything. I think the Emperor's running me into the ground.

I pause to take a look into his quarters. He's on a vid screen call with someone who looks kind of familiar, but I can't quite place her. I think she's on the holonet a lot, but why would someone like that talk with Captain Stupid?

Grumpy Moff: Who's that? I swear I've seen her before.

Captain Stupid: Oh her? She's just an old family friend. I've known her for years, we used to be in the Alderaan children's theatre together. We did a production of Rainbows and Dreams where she was the lost princess and I was the grouchy old farm hand who helps her out. I actually did quite a bit of singing when I was younger and did theater.

Captain Stupid clears his throat and proceeds to blast out some ear-splitting children's tune about chasing the rainbows and the dreams will follow. The woman on the vid screen rolls her eyes and shakes her head.

Grumpy Moff: Um...hey, that's really good singing, but I gotta get going now. I'm really tired from working all day. You know the Empire, work work work, ha ha. Heh.

Captain Stupid: Oh, sure sure, I gotcha. Go take a nap or something. I don't want to leave my friend hanging here, anyways.

I turn around to leave and Captain Stupid opens his mouth and sounds completely different from every time I've heard him speak. His usual irritating speech, flying at 100 words per second and filled with as much sense as a pile of bantha poodoo, completely disappears and he speaks slowly and precisely, like his life depended on what he was going to say.

Captain Stupid: Grumpy Moff...I know you were standing by my door. What did you hear?

Grumpy Moff: Huh?

Captain Stupid takes a step forward and his torso lifts to make him suddenly look much bigger. Stupidity can be intimidating in these situations.

Captain Stupid: The Empire can't stand for spies or eavesdropping. What did you head?

Grumpy Moff: Look, I just head you mention something about the Death Star exhaust port project. I hadn't heard anything about it, but I know that's why your here, so it just caught my ear. That's all.

Captain Stupid's brow furrows into a sharp W and he nods. Suddenly, his annoyingly chipper persona returns.

Captain Stupid: Ok, well, don't do that again. It's rude, you know. If you wanna say hi or something, just knock first. I always enjoy visitors, you know that.

Captain Stupid turns around and closes his door, slamming it a second time to make sure that it closes all the way. Usually, Captain Stupid can't shut up and will talk about anything, so for him to get all authoritarian on me is really bizarre.

He's gotta be hiding something. And if exposing him means that he'll be forced to leave the "Death Star", well then, I better do some digging.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Officer Hot Stuff saves my life

Faithful Grumpy Moff readers will notice that I haven't mentioned Officer Hot Stuff since I boarded the "Death Star." Well, it's not cause I've forgotten her or focused on something else. I'll be the first to admit that I am, well, still a little nervous about chatting with her. Plus, the sign-ups for the "Death Star" intrasquad sports teams don't start for a few weeks, so it's not like I can talk with her about our volleyball plans yet.

Nonetheless, she did say I could look her up once we were both on the station. So after my shift today, I found the hanger bay she was stationed at and mustered up the courage to go say hello.
Officer Hot Stuff works in one of the main "Death Star" hanger bays. It's huge, able to launch probably a hundred fighters and shuttles in just a few minutes. For some reason, there seem to be gigantic holes in the floor too. I've noticed this at other places in the "Death Star"...just walking around, there are a lot of places that seemingly drop off into oblivion. You look down and it just goes WAY down. And the stupid thing is that they don't have any handrails. So if you're walking down the hall and you have your arms full or you are distracted, you could easily trip on one of the small message droids scuttling about and fall into the abyss. And there's several thousand people on the station, so it'd probably be days before they find you.

Of course, you would at least have the answer to the great mystery of where all of these gaping "Death Star" holes go.

Anyways, I walked into Main Hanger Bay 4 to see Officer Hot Stuff at the tail end of some traffic directing. After what happened the last time I approached her while she was directing traffic, the best course of action seemed to be to hang back by the elevator shafts until she was done. For the next few minutes, I simply enjoyed the sight of Officer Hot Stuff waving droids and transports back and forth, swishing her red hair about with authoritative style. My trance was broken when the elevator door opened to reveal a battalion of stormtroopers.

Now I'll preface this by saying that I've never really interacted with stormtroopers that much. Hell, I don't even know if they're still clones or if the Empire decided to get real people in there. You see them marching around everywhere, but they don't really talk. They could all be droids for all I know. So it was surprising for me to actually hear them speak. "Sir, please move out of the way. We are escorting important cargo on directives from Grand Moff Tarkin. Time is of the essence and nothing can slow us down," the leading stormtrooper said.

Not wanting to piss off Tarkin any further than his usual irritable state, I politely backed a few feet off to the left of the elevator. The stormtroopers fanned out of the lift and an astromech droid hauling a cargo crate followed behind. I mindlessly took another step back, setting in motion the most unlikeliest of circumstances. Of course, it involved me nearly dying.

The same moment I took a step back, the stormtroopers moved marched forward into the cargo bay. Simultaneously, Officer Hot Stuff was directing a small, knee-high transport droid to zip over to the elevator. In an effort to stay out of the way of the stormtroopers, the droid made a sharp maneuver around them, swivelling in a neat arc to pass about two feet in front of the troopers before banking sharply to run straight into my left leg. The impact of the droid, travelling at a comfortable 30 miles per hour and weighing about 200 pounds, knocked me off balance and made my leg really, really, really freakin' hurt.

As I hopped backwards on my right leg, the floor rumbled with the ignition of TIE fighter engines, causing my balance to further be disoriented. My right leg came down from a hop at a bizarrely twisiting angle, causing me to slip backwards.

Normally, this would just cause for a trip to the medic room and some security holo embarrassment. But unfortunately, I had failed to notice that the elevator was a few feet away from the aforementioned giant holes in the floor. As I slipped backwards, this realization appeared in my mind in a nice slow-motion "a-ha!" when my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of a grey shaft that disappeared into an ominious black dot. Not good.

Fortunately, there was a small piece of piping that jutted out about three feet down that I was able to grab on to. As I hung there, the clip-clops of the stormtroopers slowly faded away and there was only the noise of buzzing droids and moving vehicles.


The cries appeared to be ineffective. Droids didn't stop zipping about. Vehicles didn't park and drop off rescue teams. In fact, my cries seemed to be the catalyst necesary to launch an entire squad of TIE fighters. At least my last grips on life could be properly serenated by the distinct sound of TIE fighters screaming by.

I counted 32 TIE fighter launches spaced exactly 70 seconds apart before the furor finally died down. In that time, I did discover one neat fact: the hanger bay ceiling is made up of neatly intersecting diamond-shaped tiles. Nice touch.

Faint bootsteps become louder and louder and I knew someone was approaching the elevator. Time for one last try. "HEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPPPP!" I uttered.

"Who's there?" a voice piped up.

"Officer Hot Stuff? Is that you? It's me! Grumpy Moff! Help!" I yelled, my voice noticably starting to crack with desperation.

"Where are you?" she asked.

"I'm in the big...hole...thing...just follow my voice!" A few boot clip-clops later and Officer Hot Stuff's angelic head peered over the edge. "Thank goodness you're here. You gotta get me out of here. Call an astromech droid or something. My arms are gonna fall of soon." Officer Hot Stuff nodded and hailed an astromech droid from a nearby comm station.

"They should be here in 10 minutes. Can you hang on that long?" she asked.

", uh, how strong are you?" I asked.

Officer Hot Stuff wrinkled her nose. "Is this a trick question? Are you hitting on me again or are you doubting my athletic ability?"

"No, no, no. I know I'm out of arm's length, but maybe you can get a rod or something and lower it down and lift me out of here. Please."

Officer Hot Stuff's head swiveled around, looking for something to use as a manual elevator. She disappeared from the floor's edge; in her place came a fist-sized metal tube.

"Just grab on to this and hang on, ok?" she yelled. I wrapped my right arm around the tube, then tightened my grip on it with my left arm, and ordered my remaining functional leg to try and walk up the side as she pulled the tubing up.

"Unnnnnhhhhhhh...errrrrrrrrrrr....arrrrrrrrr," Officer Hot Stuff cried as she pulled me up. Though my life was dangerously close to slipping into an infinite Imperial space station chasm, I found myself strangely turned on at this point. The tube (and my body, complete with numb arms) slowly inched up and my head peeked over the edge of the floor. With what little feeling I had left in my arms and hands, I grabbed the corner of the floor. Officer Hot stuff dropped the tube and dashed over to pull me in.

Pull, actually, isn't the right word. It's more like she threw me in. Her arms reached down hug my torso, then she jerked backwards to propel me to safety. Safety, that is, being the hard and slick floor of the "Death Star." My body smacked the ground with a thud and I slid backward on the overly-polished floor tiles for a brief moment before my head collided with the elevator shaft.

I blinked back the tears generated from my pounded head and my eyes slowly came into focus to see Officer Hot Stuff kneeling down wearing a tight white t-shirt, her face covered in a light mist of sweat and her Imperial officer's jacket thrown to the side. I blinked several times to make sure this was not an illusion - perhaps I had died and this was my reward for a lifetime of unfortunate stupidity.

Boy, her arms are really not that buff considering her freakish strength.

Officer Hot Stuff hustled over. "Sorry about the throw. I've been practicing Mandalorian hand-to-hand strategies and I let that instinct take over. You ok?" I nodded, and then realized that my arms were still numb and rigid, unable to fully bend at the elbow. "Should I even ask how you fell down there or should I just pull up the security holo and laugh at you?"

Considering my near-brush with death and the pseudo-angelic vision of Officer Hot Stuff knelt over me with Imperial jacket off, a brief flicker of courage lit up in my gut before propelling through my vocal chords. "How about I explain it over dinner? I owe you one now, anyways."

Officer Hot Stuff smiled and got up to pick up her jacket. "Damn straight," she said. "And I'm not a cheap date either, so be prepared."

Leg: possibly broken from collision with speeding droid.
Head: possible concussion from smacking into elevator shaft.
Arms: possible nerve damage from hanging for 45 minutes.
Back: possible spine damage from being tossed on to the "Death Star" floor.

But it was all worth it for those last few words she spoke.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Vader's secret recipe

Growing up at the tail end of the Clone Wars, I have to admit that I don't know much about the Jedi Knights other than what we learned in history class. But I do know that they had a really cool looking weapon, if not exactly the most practical one. Zipping around the galaxy swinging a laser sword looks pretty awesome if you're trying to impress babes, but I have no idea how they actually managed to win against blasters. Range = victory in my mind.

The reason I bring up the Jedi and their lightsabers is because we had a very interesting demonstration today at the Death Splash Bar and Grill. Yager Jarmorir, one of Coruscant's most noted chefs and holonet star of "Cooking the Yager Way!", was invited along to showcase his cooking talents on the Death Splash's stage for the crew. Those who were able to get off their shifts early dropped into the Death Splash to see (and taste) the demonstration in person, while the rest of the "Death Star" was able to watch via the comm system.

It was about as exciting as watching someone cook can be until about 30 minutes in when Jarmorir decided to show us a little cooking secret of his. "Now, ladies and gentlemen of the Death Star, I want to show you a new technique that I have just perfected over the past few months," he proclaimed. He motioned to his assistants to bring out some hunks of meat, then bent down and opened up a small metal case. "You old timers may recognize this," he said as he lifted out a small metal tube. "Many years ago, this was used as a weapon. But now, I have discovered the secret..." Jarmorir paused, taking a nicely timed dramatic breath before a bright blue energy blade expanded from the tube, "...the secret to the perfect grilled filet! Ladies and gentlemen, behold the cooking tool of the past...and the future...the Jedi lightsaber!"

Those who were standing at the front of the stage took a small step back. I think everyone knew their history well enough to realize those things could cut throw anything, especially when handled by an overly flamboyant chef. Jarmorir swung the lightsaber in a dramatic arc, its hum buzzing over the PA system. "Simple, but brilliant! Savage, but elegant! The lightsaber can be used for many different things in the kitchen. And it all finishes with the ultimate taste sensation!" Jarmorir's assistants picked up the hunks of meat and placed it on the stage's cooking table.

"Watch now as I cut and cook these bantha thighs with utmost precision!" Jarmorir proclaimed. He slowly guided the blade through the meat, cutting it into a small cube, before turning the blade on its side and holding it just barely over the meat. The heat from the saber gradually cooked the raw meat, first turning it pink, then a fine white color. Within minutes, the bantha thigh looked ready to eat.

"Now, who wants to try Yager's lightsaber delight?" he exclaimed to the crowd. Several hands shot up in the air. Jarmorir grinned from ear to ear, then quickly brought the saber down into the meat, cutting it into thin slices. His assistants handed the slices to the crowd volunteers who eagerly tasted the meat. "You will find lightsaber cooking is unlike anything you've had before. The meat stays juicy and tender on the inside, the outside is never burned, and it's always cooked evenly...that is...when Yager Jarmorir cooks it!" he exclaimed. The crowd applauded and Jarmorir held up his lightsaber in triumph, soaking in the applause.

After a few seconds, Jarmorir's face fell and drained of color. Those standing in front turned around and craned their necks to see a black helmet making its way through the crowd. Darth Vader was in the house.

"Lord Vader, this unexpected surprise. I wasn't aware that you, um, you were such a...a fan of gourmet cooking," Jarmorir stammered. Vader walked up to the stage and stood toe to toe with Jarmorir.

"Where did you get that lightsaber?" Vader asked.

" a swap store...on Nar Shadaa..." Jarmorir replied. Vader stood silently, his mechanized breathing soaking into the PA system.

"Interesting," Vader replied. He turned to Jarmorir's assistants. "Bring me some meat." Jarmorir's assistants nodded frantically and dashed backstage. "I will show you how it is done," Vader said, before opening his cloak and pulling out his very own lightsaber. The crowd oooed as he ignited the crimson blade. Jarmorir's assistants ran back, hands visibly shaking, as they placed another bantha thigh on to the stage table.

Vader pierced the thigh's center with his lightsaber, then slowly pulled the blade out, twisting the handle as he did so. Then, with a single violent motion, he chopped up and down to cut the thigh in half and made two quick horizontal slashes to trim the pieces into neat rectangles. Vader ran his saber through each rectangle lengthwise, then chopped each into 10 slices that neatly fell on to their sides. Vader's saber retracted and he stood behind the table.

"Who ate his samples?" Vader asked the audience. A few hands in the front raised. "Come here and try these," Vader commanded. The volunteers meekly walked up to the stage, picking up a piece of meat, and taking the slices from one bantha thigh rectangle. The volunteers faces softened, changing from puzzled fear to satisfaction as they chewed the samples.

"Wow, this is great Lord Vader," one volunteer said. Vader simply nodded his approval as the volunteers cleared the stage.

"I suggest you use sentry spices the next time you cook this, Yager," Vader said. Jarmorir nodded feverishly in silent reply. Vader turned to his assistants and said, "Have the remaining slices brought to my chambers." The assistants silently gathered the remaining pieces as Vader walked off behind the stage and disappeared.

The stunned crowd stood silent before breaking into polite applause. Who knew that Vader could cook?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Death Star's pub

I finally had a day off today so I was able to check out some of the goodies around the "Death Star." I know I've mentioned it before, but this place is ridiculously big. If there was ever a power outage, I think everyone would be screwed. Without elevators, no one could get anywhere. They do have little motorized carts that go around, but I think you have to get a permit to get that. And they're not giving those out to turbolaser supervisors who have only been here a week.

First place I went to check out Death Splash Bar and Grill. There are lounge areas on the Star Destroyer, but nothing like this. It's a big place, certainly the same size as any major cantina or club in Coruscant's entertainment district. The decor is a mix of Imperial memorabilia and sports holos and vids from across the galaxy. There's a history of Imperial uniforms, the evolution of the clone/stormtrooper armor, models of each ship in the fleet. Bright screens surround the tables and stools broadcasting every sport imaginable in the galaxy. Tucked away in one corner is a holo arcade with 5 or 6 different games. I would have checked it out, but I spied Captain Stupid hanging out over there and remaining inconspicuous seemed to be the wiser option.

There's also a stage, so I'm assuming they will have live music or some other events. The place has to entertain several thousand people, so it's gotta have a variety of stuff.

I'm not sure if the Emperor authorized it all, as some of the wall holos are not exactly the most dignified stuff. One holo is of Emperor Palpatine in his younger days as a Naboo senator. It's off the holonet news and it's a gathering of senators at a charity sonicball game. Here's how it went:

Holonet interviewer: Senator Palpatine, why did you throw your support to this charity sonicball game?

Palpatine: It really comes down to supporting what's best for Naboo and other systems like our dear world. The credits raised here will be used to revitalize certain areas that are in danger of being harmed by our modern technology.

Holonet interviewer: That's really a wonderful cause, Senator. Now, are you participating in the sonicball match or are you here to donate your time?

Palpatine: Young lady, you flatter me. I'm not nearly strong enough to participate in sonicball, even if it is an exhibition match. I'm afraid these young players would run over my tired old body. (Palpatine gives a wry smirk) Back in my younger days, I did participate in a number of different sports, and I did have a knack for throwing the sonicball quite well...

At this point, the players warming up in the background lose control of the sonicball. Off camera, someone shouts, "Look out!" and the sonicball comes flying toward the camera. Palpatine turns around only to have it smack him square in the face. He bends over holding his head and it must have knocked him pretty darn good, because his eyes are so irritated with tears they appear a bright yellowish red. One of the players in the background yells, "Sorry!" and the holonet interviewer asks Palpatine if he is all right repeatedly. Palpatine blinks back his irritated tears and his eyes slowly return to normal as his jaw unlocks from a furious grimace. He offers a weak smile.

Palpatine: Well, you see, I would not be strong enough to participate in this match, my dear.

Holonet interviewer: I'm so glad you are all right, Senator. We'll let you go so you can get some treatment.

As the holonet interviewer is signing off, Palpatine bends down and picks up the sonicball. One of the players is waving for the throw even though he's all the way down the court. Palpatine must have channeled his fury or something into that throw because he launches the ball with the speed faster than my turbolasers. The player catches the ball and stumbles backwards, his teammates gawking in stunned silence. Palpatine smiles to himself and walks off camera.

So apparently, he wasn't kidding about having sonicball experience. Maybe he'll participate in the intra-station league.