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.

"HEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPPPP!" I screamed, exhausting all of the breath that was in my body. "HEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLPPPPPPPP!"

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.

"Um...no...hey, 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.

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