Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Grumpy Moff Routine (or Why Having a Star Destroyer Office Rules)

I've heard that on the "Death Star," the Emperor is trying a new motivational tactic of removing any offices and using only work stations. This will supposedly improve Imperial morale by showing that we are all on the same level instead of divided up by supervisors and workers.

This sucks bantha balls and will totally destroy my routine.

My office is your typical Star Destroyer working cavern. It's about 8 feet by 10 feet with dark grey walls and a heavy black door that squeaks more than it whooshes when it opens. It's also got a big black desk that was originally situated with my back (and thus, my computer and holo-pad viewers) to the entryway. In other words, people could see when I was goofing off right when they came in. This was not cool, especially when my buddies would send me the latest pod race holo-vids.

With the help of a surprisingly strong astromech droid (and one memory wipe later), I stealthily repositioned the desk so that no one can see my view screen but me. I also got the astromech to remove the holo viewer to make it mobile. Most of the time, it's by my feet.

Over the past few years, I have streamlined my daily routine to an exact science. A typical Grumpy Moff day goes like this:

8 AM - 10:00 AM: Come into office. Check messages. Open up any cool holos sent by friends and family. Watch holonet news, catch up on latest discussion on Hutt In A Rutt (my favorite comedy show on the holonet), and see the latest sports scores from across the inner quadrant.

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM: File my daily maintenance reports from the previous day's checks.

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM: Take my note tablet to go on the daily turbolaser maintenance and performance checks. Wait at elevator 3NS until Officer Hot Stuff arrives to go to her hanger bay. Take the elevator down 10 floors with her while giving nervously charming smiles, expertly timed eye contact, and ear-catching rhythms tapped by my thumbs on the note tablet. Say nothing until she the elevator stops, then exclaim, "See you tomorrow" as she steps out of the door.

10:45 AM - 10:50 AM: Take elevator 3NS up 12 floors to begin daily checks.

10:50 AM - 11:00 AM: Complete analysis of my section's turbolaser efficiency, targeting accuracy, and volume output.

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Complain to anyone who will listen about my complete lack of ability to speak around Officer Hot Stuff.

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM: Go to Devastator mess hall and try to avoid Captain Stupid and other annoying people. Sometimes lose 500 credits in lunchtime pazaak tournament held by Commander Minigrey.

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM: Return to office. Check messages. Open up any cool holos sent by friends and family. Watch holonet news, catch up on latest discussion on Hutt In A Rutt (my favorite comedy show on the holonet), and see the latest sports scores from across the inner quadrant.

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM: Contact individual station workers and remind them that I need their daily performance checks sent to me by the end of the day so I can file reports tomorrow morning. Complain more about Officer Hot Stuff if the worker is in a sympathetic mood.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Check batteries on my note tablets. Go to the bathroom to get water for my two plants. Give plants water. Call up buddies to see if anyone has any plans for the evening. If time permits, practice pazaak on my computer's simulator.

Some people say that I'm really lazy and only really work for maybe 20% of the time I am here. I say they're wrong; in fact, I have become so good at what I do, that I am able to do it in the minimal amount of time possible. This allows me to explore my other interests and keep a generally upbeat attitude during the rest of the day - which rubs off on the people I supervise, making them work better and happier.

All of this is possible because I have an office. Why would the Empire want to transfer me to a position where I couldn't nearly be as efficient?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Officer Hot Stuff - A Grumpy Moff's Dream

Preparing to leave the Devastator means trying to tie up any loose ends that may be remaining. At this point, that includes getting my "Death Star" plans back from Captain Stupid, but there's also several other issues to take care of.

You see, your favorite Grumpy Moff has a crush on someone. And despite having all the power of the Empire behind me (ok, well, not ALL of the power, but at least the 30 or so people I command), I was never able to talk with said crush. For the sake of anonymity, I'll call her Officer Hot Stuff.

What can I say about Officer Hot Stuff? She makes the drab grey of the Imperial uniform look more sexy than Coruscant's top model bathing in the luminous waters of Dantooine. She looks soft and smooth, but she's got an edge like sand - and she doesn't take crap from anyone, not even Vader. Yes sir, the only thing that burns brighter than her straight red hair is her wit. She's not afraid to call a spade a spade, and I'm certain she has a swagger in her walk just to drive Grumpy Moffs all over nuts.

My favorite Officer Hot Stuff moment was when a certain Lord Vader was dropping by the Devastator to deliver some stuff and perform one of his routine "I'm gonna scare the poop out of each ship in the fleet one by one" check ups. Officer Hot Stuff, who manages one of the docking crews in the main hanger bay, was part of the group receiving Vader's shuttle. As customary, she was standing with part of her crew to welcome the Dark Respirator of Doom as he stepped onto the Devastator.

The shuttle touched down with a satisfying THUNK and all of the dramatic looking steam from the lowering landing platform gave Vader a seriously cool looking entrance (I bet the Emperor probably ordered the Imperial shuttles with this thought in mind - he's all about intimidation). Vader marches off the shuttle and Officer Hot Stuff gives him the appropriate Imperial salute.

Officer Hot Stuff: Welcome Lord Vader. We are honored by your presence.

Vader: Dispense with the pleasantries, Officer Hot Stuff (obviously he didn't call her that, but try imagining Vader saying that - I guarantee you'll chuckle). We know why I'm here.

OH: No Lord Vader, I'm afraid I'm unsure as to why you've arrived. I'm assuming it's your standard inspection of the Devastator's bridge crew as we pass by Coruscant.

V: Officer Hot Stuff, I would advise you to listen to your communications more thoroughly. I am here to deliver detailed plans of the Death Star to all transferring crew members. These plans are of the utmost security and the Emperor has personally asked me to see they reach each crew member safely. (Vader stops) Where are the supplies I requested?

OH: (her left eyebrow slowly raises to make a neat arc over her clear blue eye. This is the point where most of us would be peeing our pants) What supplies?

V: The supplies I requested in the last transmission. The holopad units necessary for transferring the Death Star plans to the crew members. Have you failed to prepare these?

OH: My lord, you never requested your supplies.

V: I find your failure of recall disturbing.

OH: (a small smirk spreads over her lips) No, my lord. I'm sorry, I'll punch up your last transmission, you'll see that you never made such a request. You just told us that you'd be flying in.

V: Officer Hot Stuff, I will not tolerate insubordination or incompetance. You will explain to me why you have not produced the supplies I have requested.

OH: (smirk turns into irritated grin) Lord. Vader. You. Never. Asked. For. Those. Supplies. (Vader raises his hand) Oh what, you're gonna choke me? I know you're game. Just because you forgot to tell me something doesn't mean you have to act like some whiny little brat who doesn't get his way. (in a low Vader voice while making respirator noises) "I CANNOT EVER ADMIT THAT I AM WRONG. EVEN THOUGH I NEVER REQUESTED THE SUPPLIES (pauses to breath) AND THE HOLO-MESSAGE OVER THERE WILL PROVE THIS, I'M STILL (cough cough) GOING TO CHOKE EVERYONE ON THIS SHIP (more breathing) CAUSE I WANT MY WAY. I'M NOT A BRAT. (more breathing) I'M NOT I'M NOT I'M NOT."

The maintenance bay sits in absolute stunned silence. Vader is not moving and half the crew is grinning from ear to ear and the other half is paler than a jump to lightspeed. Officer Hot Stuff swaggers her perfectly formed butt over to the communications station and presses a button. A holo of Vader appears.

Holo-Vader: Devastator crew. Prepare for my arrival in four hours. Have a team ready to greet me. (off screen there is some talking and Vader turns his head and pauses before turning back) Make sure you are ready for my arrival.

The holo fades and Officer Hot Stuff tosses her crimson mane back. Vader looks at her, then the comm station, then back to her.

OH: You see, Lord Vader, you never asked for those supplies. You must have gotten distracted during the transmission.

V: Oh...(long pause as all we hear is his breathing. He looks at the bay captain who gives him a panicked shrug of the shoulders, then back at Officer Hot Stuff)

OH: Well? Are you going to apologize? Or are you still some CHILD (said with proper emphasis) who can't admit that he made a mistake and has to choke people instead of saying I'm sorry?

V: (another respirator pause) I am...um...I was...ah...

OH: Wrong?

V: Yes. (Vader tilts his head slightly downward and the echos of his respirator fill the entire landing bay)

OH: Very good, Lord Vader. We will have the supplies prepared for you as soon as possible.

No living organism in the galaxy, let alone the Devastator would have the balls (or female equivalent of) to say that to Darth Vader. You see why I'm smitten? Not only is she gorgeous, she's brilliant and witty. And I'm totally afraid to even say a peep to her because I don't want to be humiliated. I mean, if she can verbally undress a magic-choking guy in a big black helmet, imagine what she can do to just a single Grumpy Moff!

But I'm running out of time to gather up my courage. The Devastator could be shipped out to the outer rim and I may not see Officer Hot Stuff for years. Now's the time.

I can do this. I know I can.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Captain Stupid

People can be so stupid at times.

It was a typical morning at the Devastator mess hall. I like to sleep in, especially before big days, which means that breakfast is usually fast and furious. Since I'm one of those selected to begin working aboard the "Death Star" (and damn it, I'm gonna put that name in quotes for the eternity because I still think it's a dumb name), I've been given the detailed plans on a holo-pad. It's like a welcome guide to the station, since it's really really ridiculously big and it's easy to get lost in it.

Anyways, so I'm scarfing down my food while analyzing the "Death Star" plans. You know, just minding my own business and trying to figure out the important things are in relation to my station and my quarters: mess hall, toilets, gym, Imperial vending machines, etc. I'm lost in thought while trying to figure out how long it will take me to actually walk from my quarters near the butt-end of the trench to my post just under the main gun when I get accosted by Captain Stupid, who annoys the crap out of me.

(Note: Captain Stupid is neither a captain, nor is Stupid his real name. He's just an annoying guy who's ALWAYS asking questions. I mean, you'd think he'd never seen a schematic before, and he forgets information all the time - always asking and writing stuff down. Sheesh.)

Captain Stupid: Hey Grumpy Moff, whatcha got there?

Grumpy Moff: (clicking off holo-pad) Oh, um, nothing. Just a personal message from my mom.

CS: Oh come on, that was the Death Star, huh? Man, I want to work on that thing. I mean, it's so cool! Blows up entire planets! No one's gonna mess with us when that thing goes operational. I can't believe I wasn't selected to go to the Death Star. Oh well, I figured they need the best of the best out here patrolling on the Star Destroyers. You know, we gotta roam around to make sure there's no Rebel operations flying by to attack the Death Star. I mean, it holds all sorts of Tie Fighters and stuff, but still, it isn't very agile, know what I mean?

GM: Uh huh.

CS: (sitting down next to me) You know what I'd do if I was the Emperor? I'd put the Death Star in the middle of 500 Star Destroyers, like a planetary ring of ships. That way, no one would ever be able to get through to touch it - not even a small fighter. It's be like a wall of Death and Destroyers? Get it? Get it? Hahahahahahaha (laughs maniacally like a castrated Wookiee caught in lightspeed)

GM: Uh huh (starts shovelling breakfast in mouth faster).

CS: Hey, turn that back on, I wanna see something.

GM: No.

CS: Come on! Jeez, don't you trust me? I just wanna see!

GM: No.

CS: Man, why do you gotta be all secretive, huh? We're all Imperials here. If I had the plans, I wouldn't jerk you around by looking at it in the mess hall and then hiding it. I mean, geez, you think you're all high and mighty now that you're going to the all-powerful Death Star, what you can't even show a your buddy?

GM: Fine, fine. But not too long. (snaps on the holo-pad) I really gotta go do this maintenance check on the...

CS: Holy crap! Look at the docking bay on that? How many Tie Fighters do you think it can hold?

GM: Um...I dunno, I mean there's a lot of...

CS: Whoa, look at that! I didn't know they had turbolasers on the surface too! I just thought it was one big gun, you know, like a galactic boob with a nipple that fired planet-destroying milk. How many turbolasers does it have?

GM: I haven't really counted, but...

CS: Hey, hey, can you zoom in here? This trench looks super cool! Can you imagine flying down this? Now that's living dangerously! There's some more turbolasers in the trench too. Wow!

GM: Look, I really gotta go...

CS: Ah dude, come on! I don't get to look at these things! Just lemme check it out for one more second. Look, here's the holding cell. Why would they put that there? Wouldn't it make more sense to...

GM: Look, Captain Stupid, I've really gotta go do this maintenance check. How about you borrow the plans for today and just drop it back off on my mail slot later today? You can analyze it all you want.

CS: Holy crap! You'd let me borrow that? That would be totally awesome. I mean, some day I hope to get transferred to it, but until then, I'd love to check out the technical data on it. I mean, you know me - always gotta be learning and looking around. It's a blessing and a curse - I know all sorts of data, but it's never enough. I've got such a voracious appetite for knowledge. You know, my mom always said that I'd be perfect for the Academy because...

GM: (switches off holopad) Here, take it. Just give it back to me later today, ok?

CS: Sure, sure, not a problem, not a problem. Man! I wonder how solidly the Geonosians designed this way back when. Did you know this design dates back to the Clone Wars? I heard the Republic had this deal with the...

GM: (stuffs all remaining food in mouth) I gotta go.

As you can see, Captain Stupid is one of the most annoying people on the Devastator and I will not miss him one bit. He seems to be prone to bad luck too - he's always digging into stuff and then somehow, the Rebels later attack whatever he's been reading up on. Hopefully, they kill him one of these days.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The way we were

So it's really started to hit me that I'll be leaving my buddies on this Star Destroyer. I've done an informal poll of who's coming with me to the "Death Star" and it looks like most of the cool folks here are staying aboard the ship. That means that we won't get to party during the pre-boarding meetings on Coruscant.

I've been reflecting on the real sense of comraderie that we've had on the Devastator. I've served on a few outposts and some Star Destroyers, but no crew as a whole gets along like we do. Whether it's shooting down Rebel ships, talking with local governors about their crappy law enforcement, or just hanging out, the Devastator gang rocks - especially Grand Moff Dabow.

Dabow's a cool dude. I mean, most Moffs are strictly business, and that's really annoying. But Dabow's got a sense of humor and can take a good practical joke. He also LOVES interrogations, and HATES doing audio-only transmissions (he's paranoid that they're making fun of him in the background). My favorite one was an elaborate gag by the crew where we faked intercepting a Rebel transmission (mad props go to Colonol Soxfore for playing the part of the Rebel ship). Dabow broke through the signal, we told him we had their ship in the tractor beam, and he started interrogating the "Rebel" about secret bases, plans, etc. So Dabow's getting into a groove, really laying on threats about sending squads out, turning the ship to the Emperor, etc, and the "Rebel" is just giving up information left and right. Mr. Rebel, however, refuses to go to visual communication, it's just a staticy audio feed. Dabow is getting really mad - he's got all this great information, but he NEEDS to see a face for his interception to be triumphant. He starts berating, swearing, yelling at the "Rebel" about not being a coward, showing his face, and so on.

Finally, after about 20 minutes of this back and forth, the "Rebel" cracks and agrees to go to visual. Dabow, in all his predictable glory, orders the visual to go across every station so the entire ship can see his prize.

The screen flickers...and immediately goes to a video of two Hutts in the middle of a slimy mating ritual set to the popular song "Big Guns and Twi'Lek Tail (Is All I Need)" by the Castle Brown Quartet. There's tails and tongues and slime and things that people shouldn't see.

The entire Devastator shakes with laughter (since 95% of the crew was in on the joke) and applause. Dabow's face drains of color, his lower lip drops ever so slightly, and his hands clench to fists so tight that his black gloves appear to be bursting at the seams. The vein on his neck is pulsating so fast, you'd think Vader's doing one of his asshole chokeholds.

After a few minutes of remaining motionless, the bridge crew finally settles down. Dabow still hasn't said a word or moved a muscle. A few whispers go around - could he be really pissed off? Could he report the crew to the Emperor - or worse, Vader?

Dabow lowers his head and covers his face in his hands. All we can see is the bridge lights lightly deflecting off his smoothly shaved skull. His shoulders shake and his head starts to nod. A low sound emmanates from his gut, like a Rancor trying to break through a collapsing cave. Finally, the noise comes through...

"You BASTARDS! You really got me this time, didn't you?" Dabow roars with laughter. The whole crew applauds and Captain Sakmarsh walks up the bridge ramp and puts his arm around Dabow. Dabow's laughing so hard that he can hardly stand up, his face is pressed into Sakmarsh's uniform. Someone hits play on the transmission and we're all subject to the Huttese mating ritual again, to the collective groan of the thousands of people on the Devastator.

And that's the stuff I'm gonna miss. People say the Empire is humorless, but that's cause the Emperor only has Vader and Tarkin present during his holonet press junkets. If they got to know the crew of the Devastator, they'd know that being in the Empire can really kick ass sometimes.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Woo hoo! Coruscant vacation!

Turns out that we get to hang out on Coruscant for a few days before shipping off to the "Death Star."

I'm gonna go get me some Twi'lek action! Better stock up on the deathsticks while I'm there too.

Word has it that the Emperor himself will be at the big meeting before we board the "Death Star." I bet he'll have some typically cheerful words of wisdom. You know, I never understood why he doesn't go to a Bacta resort to liven up that skin of his. I heard someone compare his complexion to the ass of a female Hutt the other day. Needless to say, I stepped far away from the brave soul who said that.

Packing up

Well, it's been a fun three years on the Star Destroyer Devastator, but times change and people move on. I've been commissioned, along with several thousand other Imperialites, to begin staffing the new space station. Yes, I've heard the scuttlebutt that the "official" name is "Death Star." You know what? That's just a stupid name. How can it drive fear into the hearts of star systems when it doesn't make any sense?

Honestly, I think the Rebels will laugh when they hear this name. "Death Star, oooo, I'm so scared by the big mean Imperials who use metaphors so clunky they bash you over the head with it."

If we're going by traditional Imperial naming conventions, it should either be a self-descriptive noun combined with an adjective or an acronym.

How about Death S.T.A.R (Station Targeting All Rebels), like T.I.E. Fighters (or the new T.I.E. Interceptors)?
Or Fear Station? Isn't that the equivalent of Imperial Shuttle?

You know what they should have done? Hired the best writers in Coruscant to come up with a name.

The one exception to this rule is Star Destroyer. It's still kind of a weak metaphor, but it has a nice ring to it. Star Destroyer, as in "one who destroys stars." Now, these ships don't actually destroy stars per se, but we do blow lots of stuff up, either through our turbolasers or our fleets of Tie Fighters. Hence, the name fits. But this station is supposed to be a number of things - a station, a giant floating gun, the place where the Imperial Life Day party is held. Seriously, who wants to go to the company Life Day party at a place called the "Death Star"? That just takes all the fun out of it.

But I digress. I suppose I'm not as clever as Vader (rumor has it, he came up with the name - hey Darth, you're not the most eloquent person and you sure throw hissy fits when you don't get your way), but I'd pick a name that was more elegant.

In any case, we will be hyperspaced over to the "Death Star" in two weeks. I gotta start packing my things up and taking holo-pics of my buddies. Good times, good times.

We are live!

Just call me the Grumpy Moff - another hard-working member of the Galactic Empire who gets a little frustrated from time to time. Yeah, I'll be blowing off some steam here, but I'll also tell you like it is. Rebel scum will tell you that the Empire sucks. You know what? There's certainly things that I don't like about it. Tarkin can be a real dick at times, and Vader has absolutely NO sense of humor whatsoever (at least none that I've seen). Still, the benefits are great and the pay is pretty good. Better than slogging away at a cantina on Coruscant or mining in the Outer Rim, that's for sure. Plus, the gym facilities in Star Destroyers are absolutely awesome.

I plan to remain anonymous, since I don't want a certain black helmet choking the crap out of me if I say the wrong thing. That's what Astromech droids and transmission scramblings are made for. I can promise that you'll get the truth from me - if certain officers are being jerks or if the food starts sucking or if Vader does something really stupid, I'll be the first to tell you.

Think of me as you gossip monger for the Empire and the voice of the Imperial worker. Someone's gotta do it, and I gotta let off some steam from time to time.