Wednesday, June 29, 2005

See, Tarkin IS a jerk

I've only had a few run-ins with Grand Moff Tarkin during my Imperial career. Most of those times, he and I were in the same meeting and Tarkin was quick to put the verbal smackdown on anyone who spoke out of line. He's really an unpleasant fellow to be around - I don't care what Captain Stupid says otherwise. So I wasn't exactly pleased to hear that Tarkin would be individually visiting each section during the first few weeks aboard the "Death Star."

I'm wondering if he's using the old Clone Wars technology to make multiple copies of himself in order to pull this off. The "Death Star" is really, really big. I imagine it would take several months to actually visit each section, even if you were just doing a fly-by hello. Which, of course, Tarkin won't because he's way too much of a jerk to do that. He's the type of person to stand over your shoulder and criticize the way you press a button on your control panel - you know, too much pressure on the botton, gloves not clean enough so they don't get the proper grip, wrists not held up in an upright fashion to prevent repetitive strain while firing turbolasers, that sort of thing.

Seeing that we're in the weapons department, Tarkin decided we would be among the first to be visited. Now I previously whined about Captain Big Nose and the rather boring ensemble gathered here. There is one guy who's actually pretty cool, and I think he might even be lazier than me. I call him Fun Commander. I don't think we'll ever be great friends, but at least he's not strict duty man like Captain Big Nose and his consortium of stick-up-the-butt officer pals.

I got the memo about Tarkin's visit so I made sure that my "Look real busy while not really doing anything" talents were set to active. Apparently, Fun Commander missed the memo. Here is the wackiness that ensued.

Tarkin: Well, I see that you have a fine turbolaser crew here. What is your name, son?

GM: Grumpy Moff, sir!

Tarkin: Very good, Grumpy Moff. Where were stationed previously?

GM: Star Destroyer Devastator, under the supervision of Grand Moff Dabow, sir!

Tarkin: Ah, yes, Dabow. Respectable fellow, though he is a little soft around the edges at times. Sometimes, I think Dabow believes we are on Imperial vacation, but we are not, are we Grumpy Moff?

GM: No sir! Vacations are not for Imperials, sir! Unless, um, they use their allocated vacation time, sir! Then vacations are ok, sir! But not during times of crisis or, um, other...times...when you shouldn't be on vacation...sir! (Tarkin cocks one eyebrow and his sullen cheeks waver as he grimaces. I think he's not sure what to think about my rambling.) Except, um, during instances of family emergencies or other Emperor-approved absences, sir! Sick time is also ok to use, if you have accumulated the proper amount of hours necessary except, um, when you're not really sick, then, uh, you shouldn't use sick time, you should use vacation time, Sir! (I let out a big breath and the blood drains from my face after that breathlessly worded exchange)

Tarkin: Well, I am glad to see that someone here has read the Imperial handbook on employee vacation and time off.

GM: Sir, yes sir!

Tarkin: And you (turning to Captain Big Nose), what is your name and occupation?

CBN: Captain Big Nose, sir! Supervisor for the 423 and 424 turbolaser division, sir! We are the most precise turbolaser crew in the fleet and we would love to demonstrate our capabilities for you at any time, sir!

Jeez, why don't you brag a little more? Captain Big Nose's monster schnauz appears to be magnetically drawn to Tarkin's butt.

Tarkin: Excellent attitude, young man. That's why we brought you on board the Death Star. Now, why don't you show me -

Suddenly, the door to the work section opens up and it's Fun Commander. Now, keep in mind that normally there's some leeway to arrival in the morning. He's really only 3 minutes late, but he picked the wrong 3 minutes to be late. Fun Commander trots in, nods hello to me, and then sees Tarkin. He stops dead in his tracks and his face becomes as white as Hoth on a blizzard morning.

FC: Oh...Grand Moff Tarkin...sir, I mean, um, good to see you sir! Fine morning for turbolasers, isn't it?

Tarkin: You, young man, are late to your duties!

Captain Big Nose: Fun Commander, you knew that Grand Moff Tarkin was touring our area today! Arriving late represents the entire turbolaser staff poorly!

Fun Commander shoots turbolasers from his eyes to Captain Big Nose and turns back to Tarkin.

FC: I'm, ah, sorry sir, the elevator was backed up today and uh...

Tarkin: The Empire will not tolerate excuses or poor work. You must be at your station on time every day that you are assigned to work. There is no exception to this rule.

Grumpy Moff: Um, what if you call in sick? You know, like we just talked about, if you have accumulated sick time and you wake up not feeling...

Tarkin: YES, sick time is allowable but your supervisor must be notified at least one hour in advance. (Tarkin steps forward toward Fun Commander. Even though Fun Commander is several inches taller than Tarkin, right now he seems about four feet shorter than him) Did you call your supervisor to tell him that you would be late?

FC: Well, no, the elevator was backed up going from...

Tarkin: EVERY STATION AND CONSOLE HAS COMMUNICATIONS. DID YOU NOTIFY YOUR SUPERVISOR?

FC: (looks to me and receives a quick, worried shrug of the shoulders) Um...no sir...no, I did not.

Tarkin: Well, it seems as if SOME members of this team are the best of the best (nods to Captain Big Nose) while some may not be cut out for the Death Star. I would sharpen up my act if I were you, young man.

FC: Yes sir! Your advice is noted, sir!

Tarkin: Good. Now if you'll excuse me, I must visit the other weapons sections. But before I leave, Fun Commander, may I ask you a question?

FC: Sir, yes sir!

Tarkin: What is your home planet?

FC: Berforse, sir! (Fun Commander pauses in thought) May I ask why you wish to know?

Tarkin cracks a wry smile and taps his temple.

Tarkin: Oh, I'll just tuck that away in here in case we ever fly by it. You never know when this station will need to test its...capabilities.

The room falls silent other than the click-clacks of Tarkin's boots as he walks out the door.

Yes sir, Tarkin certainly is a jerk.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Captain Stupid returns

Ok, so I bet you're all wondering how Captain Stupid wound up being my next door neighbor. Well, I'm wondering about that too! Perhaps the Emperor saw my blog, did some research, and figured out who I was and this is his way of punishing me. Or mocking me. It could be a great big social experiment to see how long I go before killing him, going insane, or letting myself fly out of an airlock. Whatever the reason, he is here and I must deal.

How he got transferred here is another story. In fact, one tiny little decision I made a few weeks ago has guaranteed me indefinite suffering. You see, some time ago, back on the Devastator, I received my "Death Star" technical plans in a nice holo format. My tendency to procrastinate ensured that I did not look at the damn holo for over a week. One night, I told myself that I would finally get around to looking at it. Unfortunately, as I was making my regular rounds around the turbolaser stations, one of my buddies suggested I join in on a pazaak game that night. Giving into temptation, I agreed, shoving my "Death Star" plans review further down my schedule.

The next morning, I work up about an hour early and walked into the mess hall with the "Death Star" holo in hand. I was going to be a good Grumpy Moff and do my duty and look over the plans while I ate breakfast. And of course, that was the fateful breakfast where Captain Stupid saw me and borrowed my plans. What did he discover when I lent him the plans? Well, I had no clue until he saw me the first morning on the "Death Star" unpacking my quarters. There I was, just unpacking my clothes like a good Imperial officer when I heard a knock on the door.

Gm: Come in.

CS: (opens door) Oh. My. Goodness. Wow wow wow wow wow. I can't believe you're here! You're in this room? Oh. My. Goodness. Mygoodness! This is incredible, what a complete coin-

GM: Wait a minute. What are you doing here? Don't you have to be on the Devastator?

CS: Oh, I wasn't part of the initial transfer crew, but you see, when you let me borrow your plans, I spent a lot of time analyzing it. A lot of time. Several days, in fact. Oh, you know that. I mean, you came and got the plans back from me, so you must have been able to calculate...

GM: How did you get on board?

CS: Oh, yes yes yes yes yes. Well, you see, there's an exhaust port on the end of the Death Star's equatorial trench. You know, the big line that runs across the station, there's a little hole where exhaust from the main power conduits release steam and...

GM: I'm aware of that. What happened?

CS: Well, by my calculations, the Empire designed it with just below the bare minimum of space. It's only about half a meter wide, which means that some subsystems may get overdrawn in their power, giving erratic fluctuations to several power grids affecting sections A5, B25, the fourth main gun laser generator, docking bay 66, and um...dang...what was the last thing...it was really important...

GM: So the port was too small? Why'd they need you on board? Couldn't they fix it?

CS: Well, sure, they could just EXPAND it, but that wouldn't optimize it. Nosirree, they needed a specialist to do it, and even though I'm TECHNICALLY not in the thermal design group, I showed my calculations to Grand Moff Dabow, who forwarded it to Grand Moff Tarkin - REALLY nice guy, once you get to know him, he can talk technical data for ages - and Tarkin decided that I should be the one overseeing the project...

GM: (under my breath) bloody hell!

CS: ...and I EVEN got to have an audience with the Emperor to explain the situation! Nice guy, very firm handshake - you wouldn't think so considering how old he is. You know what's weird? He's got those red guards who just follow him around, I wonder if they follow him into the toilet...

GM: So...you're just here temporarily?

CS: No no no, the Emperor requested that I stay on board permanently! He was THAT pleased with my design. (Captain Stupid beams) Man, sometimes I just can't help myself. This is so great! I'm so glad a friend like you is living next door to me!

Yup, I did this to myself. I procrastinated reading the plans, I chose pazaak over studying them, I brought them to breakfast, I let Captain Stupid borrow them, I let him keep it for several days.

Somewhere, fate is laughing at me.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Life on the "Death Star"

Sorry for the lack of an update over the past few days. It's been fairly hectic as we've been unpacking and getting situated here on the "Death Star." My initial reactions with the place - it's really, really, really, really big. Very easy to get lost here. The interior designer must have been depressed or something because it's all blacks and greys. Granted, that's pretty standard Imperial stuff, but on the Devastator, each section had some minor variations 1) to give it SOME life and 2) so we wouldn't get hopelessly lost.

Here's how bad it was. All of the officer quarters are lumped together in one gigantic section in the lower half of the station. Nope, they didn't break it up by section that you were assigned to, everyone is in this giant lump of rooms regardless of where you have to work. That means some poor bastard probably has to travel from one corner of the station to the other while some people (like me) only have to walk about 5 minutes to get to work. The technical designer of the place was a genius, but whoever came up with the practical logistics of the place should be blasted. The rooms are actually quite spacious, just a tad bigger than those on the Devastator. I haven't had time to check out the bar & grill or any of the sports/exercise facilities, but I'm sure I'll get to that soon.

Oh, and did I mention that my next door neighbor is Captain Stupid? Yes, he has gone from random annoying acquaintence on the Devastator to daily horrific encounter. I'll relay the story of how he managed to get transferred here in my next posting, I want to focus on the practicalities involved with living here first.

As was rumored, there are no offices, at least not for the turbolaser divisions. Instead, we have soft-walled 'cubes' - four foot tall dividers separating desks and work stations. Everyone who sits around me is a fellow turbolaser supervisor, though we all have different teams under out watch. My suspicions about the complete lack of privacy were absolutely correct. There's no way I can get away with goofing off around here. I'm either going to have to become severely less efficient at what I do (i.e. take 8 hours to do what I usually do in 2) or figure out a way to look busy and not get bored. This will be a challenge.

My 'work section' mates are, well, pretty bland and a little f. I've only met one of the guys, Officer Big Nose (cruel, but it is his most striking quality), and he appears to be a much more dedicated worker than I am. This was our initial conversation:

Grumpy Moff: Hey, how's it going? Guess we'll be sitting by each other.

Officer Big Nose: Yeah, I'm excited. I'm so glad they got rid of the offices and put up the cube sections. I love being able to see what my peers are doing - that's the best way to learn and to become a better officer.

GM: Um...yeah...that sounds good. So I guess I won't watch my dancing Twi'Lek holos while you're around, huh? (nervous laugh as I try to gauge his response)

OBN: (stern frown) You are joking, right?

GM: Oh, um, of course! I would never watch something like that during working hours. That's why we have our quarters, right? (meekly) Heh heh...heh.

OBN: I feel the exact same way. You should never let your personal desires interfere with your duty. That's not the Imperial way.

GM: Yup. I'm, um, all about duty and...stuff. (sigh) Glad I'm on board with such a...dedicated team.

OBN: Yes, I have a feeling we'll have the best turbolaser crews in the galaxy! (he gives a hearty fist pump - I match with semi-enthusiastic fist pump that comes off more like I'm shaking a chance cube in my palm)

My worst fears have been realized. Not only has the privacy of my office been taken away, I'm stationed next to a psychotically duty-filled Imperial nut. Duty is all well and good, but I'm pretty much happy doing the bare minimum that keeps the Emperor from noticing I exist while I collect a paycheck. I am currently concocting a way to decorate my cube so I can shield what I am doing from any passer bys and nosy neighboring officers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Empire: Security is Job 1

My last batch of meetings was a security do's and don'ts with my sections security officer. I've learned two things today. 1) Security is REALLY REALLY important to the Empire. 2) The Empire was kind enough to commission a bunch of 4th rate actors to make a holo on this whole thing for us. I'm going to try my best to translate their inflections to writing, but needless to say, they're not ready for prime time holonet shows yet.

The best way to read this is to say it outloud with the way I've punctuated it. That will give you an idea of how the "performance" was in this holo.

Host guy: (holo fades in with Host Guy standing in front of some terminals. officers are in the background) Welcome! To the Death Star you are the best of the best and we are so pleased. To have you here with us.

Host guy starts walking past the terminals. Some of the officers in the background have started craning their necks to see what is going on - apparently, they didn't tell the skeleton crew what they were doing.

Host guy: In the Empire, security is of up-most importance. That's why, we've GOT some rules to go over with you.

At this point, a guy in a plastic Darth Vader helmet and a black cape walks into camera view. Off camera, you can hear a dilligent sound effects man going "HOOOOOO PHAAAAAAAW" to emulate Vader's breathing noise. Darth Faker's grey imperial uniform is sticking out from underneath his cape. I have a feeling the filmmaker will be killed in a few short days.

Host guy: My GOODNESS! Lord Vader what a suprise what are you...doing here?

The fake Vader begins to speak. His voice has not been dubbed over; in fact, it is the actor's voice spoken at his lowest possible monotone level THROUGH the mask. While his intentions as an actor were probably spot on, the fact that he had a big plastic mask and a guy off camera making breathing noises didn't help.

Darth Faker: (incoherent monotone mumbling)

Host guy: (big smile) That's right, Lord Vader. Security! Is job 1. With the Empire.

Darth Faker: (more incoherent monotone mumbling)

Host guy: Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Oh Lord Vader you flatter me I am not in charge of security.

Darth Faker: (grunting question noise and points to himself)

Host guy: No Lord Vader it's not up to you EITHER!

Darth Faker: (shrugs his shoulders, shakes his head before raising his arms in an "A ha!" moment of inspired method acting)

Host guy and Darth Faker in unison: (turn to the camera and point at it) It is up to YOU (Darth Faker shakes his hand) to ensure the security and safety of your fellow officers. On the Death. STAR!

I'm assuming Darth Faker said the same line as the Host Guy. In reality, it sounded like Host Guy talking over a garbaled transmission slowed down by a factor of 10.

The holo then cuts to Host Guy standing with a group of stormtroopers and officers in front of the docking bay.

Host Guy: Now you KNOW that when shuttles land. ANYONE. Can be on board. If you don't know them they might, just be, a Rebel spy the Death Star code strictly states. That you don't reveal any tech...technical data about this station to any new landing parties that, um, (his eyes squint) you...you...you...don't know let's see an example.

Stormtrooper A and Officer B step to the forefront. This is gonna be good.

Stormtrooper A: May I see your landing clearance please sir.

Officer B: Oh no I must have left it on the Star Destroyer I am so sorry for this mishap might you show me a readout. Of the. Facility. So I can get to a comm sta...station and contact them.

Stormtrooper A: (shakes his head from side to side) I am sorry sir? I can escort you to a comm station. But I cannot allow you to see. Any tech-i-ni-cal data.

Host Guy: (walks over and puts his arm around Stormtrooper A) Good job! Trooper. Without proper landing, clearance, you don't know who just might be a Rebel spy it's best to take them to the comm station. And witness their verification in person.

Officer B and Stormtrooper A both turn to the camera and flash a big Imperial thumbs up. The holo cuts to Host Guy standing with another stormtrooper (Stormtrooper B) in front of a hallway.

Host Guy: Certain areas of the death STAR. Are only axeble (accessible) with code clearance each door has a detector that sense. Whether...or not you have code clearance now let's watch an example?

Stormtrooper B: (walks down the hallway and stops in front of the door) I need to speak with the officer in the next room.

Stormtrooper B begins again and walks straight into the door with a notable THUD. He turns around and walks to the camera scratching his helmeted head.

Stormtrooper B: Oh. My. I must not have clearance. What can I do now.

Officer B walks into the camera view with a memo tablet. He stops, looks at the floor and back at the camera, squints to the left off camera, and takes another two steps forward before handing the memo tablet to Stormtrooper B.

Officer B: I, um...I...um...you'll be needing...(looks off camera) to fill out this tablet. Forpermission. I mean. Fill out this tablet for permission...(looks off camera)...and you can get access to this, um, section. I...um...(sighs and looks at floor, then back off camera, then back to the stormtrooper) are available at any section officer's station just ask for Netto that's me. Oh! That's me (Officer B flashes the Imperial thumbs up while his brow furrows and his eyes squint). That's me.

Host guy walks back into view while Officer B's shoulders slump and he shakes his head.

Host Guy: For reasons of up-ah-most security the Empire requires access on a...need-to-go basis this protects both you and us. And remember!

Officer B and Stormtrooper B flank Host Guy and the give the Imperial thumbs up in unison.

All three: TOGETHER WE ARE THE DEATH STAR FAMILY (family).

I could go on as there was another hour of actors plucked out of the worst outer rim drama schools telling us about the dangers of carrying charged rifles, what to do in case of a fire, and when one drink in the pub is too much. But I won't make you suffer through it. I just had to show you a small glimpse of this horror.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

This is why I left home

Once I managed to wake up my butt from eight hours of sitting and listening to Grand Moff Tarkin discuss every technical aspect of the "Death Star," it was time to go have dinner with the family. As I previously mentioned, my folks are pretty average people in suburban Coruscant. My sister is a singer at the Galactic Opera House, which obviously knocks me down the "We're proud of you" chain. I can't carry a tune or be adored by thousands of people each night, but I have the power to order a guy in a funny helmet to clean his turbolaser control unit. Yeah!

I arrived a little late for dinner only to find Grumpy Sister and her new boyfriend (a holonet actor) already there chatting away. Apparently, the news of the day was that the Rebels attacked a frigate in the Entnue system filled with medical supplies, school toys, and a children's theater crew.

Mom: Grumpy Moff, you're late! We've only got a few precious ours before you ship off to the Kill Star and you show up late?

GM: Mom, I got held up at the briefing. And it's the DEATH Star. Not Kill Star, not Murder Station, not Death Moon. Death. Star. (sigh) Anyways, Tarkin likes to talk for hours and hours. I think technical data is his version of pornography.

Dad: Don't you be brining up pornography around your family. We raised you better than that. You've been spending too much time with those Imperial types. I bet they all have filthy military mouths.

GM: I'm not in the military. I'm in maintenance. And besides, they're cool guys.

Sister: Are you gonna go hunt down those damn Rebels? They keep blowing up childrens supplies! What heartless people would destroy a convoy of toys?

Dumb Boyfriend: Rebel scum...they've never known pain and suffering. What are they complaining about? We give them security, entertainment, peace, and they go around blowing up the galaxy. I was reading for a holonet movie role about a Rebel pilot and I just couldn't get into the mentality to grasp the role. They're so vile, so ruthless.

GM: You know, um, I've spent quite a while on ships investigating Rebel attacks and honestly, I don't think we've ever come across destroyed children's toys. They seem to hit ammo dumps and supply centers.

Dumb Boyfriend: You're so blind! Don't you watch the news? Palpatine was just on naming all of the different types of toys that the Rebels blew up in the last attack. Model ships, action figures, stuffed zoo creatures...those poor, poor children.

GM: How can I be blind if I'm out there on the mission? The Devastator picked up survivors from five attacks over the past year, all military related.

Sister: Well, obviously, they're feeding you the wrong information. They could lie to their little troops, but they wouldn't lie to us. Everyone knows Palpatine is an honest ruler.

Mom: That's right! Why, I remember when the Jedi attacked him. You two were both so young, but it was a very frightening time. I knew after that he would be the strongest leader we could have.

Dad: Damn old man's been through a lot. I don't know how he keeps it all together.

GM: I'm not saying Palpatine's good or bad. I'm not saying the Rebels are not terrorists. I'm just saying that maybe they're...exaggerating the news a little bit. You know, to make it more dramatic. To give people like him (points to Dumb Boyfriend) stupid things to make holo-movies about.

Dumb Boyfriend: Watch it buddy, I'll kick your...

Dad: That's enough. We are here to enjoy a nice dinner as a family.

Of course, the subject didn't drop, it just took a 10 minute break. For the next three hours, I actually found myself defending the Rebels actions. Not cause I agreed or disagreed with them - hell, the only reason I think I'm in the Empire is because I was born to it. My ideology is really just "Look out for #1 and hot Twi'Leks," not the Empire rules or sucks or whatever. I get a paycheck, hand out with my crewmates, and that's that. But I'm definitely disturbed at this...disinformation the Empire is handing out. We obviously don't see any of it because we (at least on the Devastator) had more important tasks on hand, but apparently the civilian holonet is filled with this. And it's been so ingrained in the minds of the public that I couldn't even convince them that the Rebels had only struck military targets on my watch.

The only good thing about the evening was my mom didn't ask about my lovelife. I'd much rather discuss politics than that any day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Vader let me pee. He's a good guy.

Here’s an idea. When enjoying an evening with your friends the night before a big Imperial meeting, DON’T go to a dancing Twi’Lek bar and consume so many beverages that you can’t recall the difference between the number of glasses poured and the number of Twi’Lek tails that passed by the stage. Oh, my head.

Here’s another idea. Set your alarm. Otherwise, you’ll wake up groggy, disoriented, and dehydrated 10 minutes before the Emperor goes on stage in the Senate building to talk about your new assignment on the “Death Star.”

Yes friends, I was stupid enough to do this. In a hurry, I threw my standard Imperial uniform on, straightened the officer’s cap over my disheveled (and not in a stylish way) hair, grabbed as many water bottles as I could find out of the hotel fridge (hoping the Empire wouldn’t bill me later), and ran out of my hotel room. The good news was that the Senate building was just across the street. The better news was that there seats still available on the end of some of the back rows. I slid in, downed the first bottle of water, and sat back as the Emperor took stage.

“Welcome, my friends. You are the best of the best, the defenders of the Imperial way of life, and the standard for all officers. You are the crew of the Death Star, the greatest peace-spreading space station in the galaxy!”

The thousands of pairs of leather-gloved hands started clapping, the dense applause filling the room and making my head feel like twenty starving wookiees were trying to escape from it. On to water bottle #2. Go away, damn dehydration, and take the headache away with you.

Why does the Emperor only wear a black robe? Is it cause it hides stains? I bet he’s wearing sandles and his pajamas under there. Running the galaxy has its priviliges, you know.

“The Death Star will provide peace, security, and order for our galaxy. No more will the threats
of Rebel terrorists cause our citizens to cower in fear. No, the Rebels will be the ones trembling. With the power to destroy an entire planet, the Rebels will never again destroy a school or murder the children of the Empire. We shall have lasting peace!” the Emperor proclaimed.

Damn, when did the Rebels start killing children? My memories raced through all of the holonet transmissions I had seen recently, but I couldn’t pull up anything like that. Probably cause I preferred to watch the loveably obnoxious family on Hutt in a Rutt or my Galactic Pazaak Championships instead of the news.

I suddenly remembered Grumpy B’s request from the previous evening’s drinking session - if we blow up any planets, scout for hot Twi’Leks first.

The Emperor repeated himself in several creative (but obviously uninspired) ways before handing things over to Grand Moff Tarkin. Tarkin, with cheeks as deep as Utapau sinkholes, is never a fun guy to be around. Always talking about missions and control and fear and technical mumbo jumbo. Tarkin droned on for what seeemed to be 3 days, though in reality, it was only 5 minutes. It’s really sad when taking random sips from a water bottle is your best form of entertainment in the room.

The lights dimmed and a large holo schematic of the “Death Star” projected in front of Tarkin. Tarkin magically produced laser pointer shooting out a thick beam (I think he removed it from his butt - something’s gotta be jammed up there) to go over sections and specs in detail.

At this time, I realized a new pain was creeping into my body. It wasn’t the headache, it wasn’t the stiff chairs of the auditorium, and it wasn’t the mental anguish from sitting in a boring Tarkin presentation. All of the water I was trying to generously restore into my body was taking its toll. Hangover dehydration be damned, I had to pee. Pretty bad too. And my body was still cursing me for the hours of holding it back in my last day at the office on the Devastator - I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.

With all eyes focused on the holo of the “Death Star,” I snuck out of my end-of-the-row seat and walked quietly towards the back exit. Once I cleared the corridor, I raced down the hallway and made an abrupt left turn into the black armor of a walking respirator.

“Oh. Um. Hello, Lord Vader...um...how’s it going?” I meekly asked.

Vader stood in dignified silence as his respirator churned. HOOOO-PHAAAW. HOOO-PHAAAW.
Damn, that’s creepy. Has anyone ever told him that? I’m sure they could put a silencing mechanism on it.

“What are you doing out here? This is a mandatory meeting,” Vader intoned.

“Oh, I know. It’s just that last night I drank too much and I...”

“You knew of your day’s duties and you chose to act irresponsibly last night? The Emperor will be displeased to learn of your desire to leave the meeting,” Vader said.

“Um, I’m not actually trying to LEAVE the meeting per se, I just need to...”

“Do not try to fool me. The Death Star only uses the best officers. If you feel you cannot handle the responsibility (at this point, my bladder has started giving me the red flag - I really gotta go), then perhaps the Empire can suitably replace you with someone who is up for the challenge,” Vader said.

“Oh, I want to be here. I really do. It’s just that I...”

“Then why are you trying to leave? Perhaps the Emperor made a mistake by choosing you for the Death Star,” Vader replied.

At this point, I really was feeling the itch to relieve myself. I tried desperately to avoid thinking about water. My mind searched for anything else. Garbage. Twi’Leks. Spaceships. Trees.

“The Death Star is the ultimate power in the galaxy. It will protect the Empire and destroy the Rebel Alliance! It cannot be operated by fools!”

Garbage. Twi’Leks. Spaceships. Trees. Not water. Not rushing water. Not Twi’leks surfing on garbage to get to their ocean spaceship. Aw, damn.

“If you feel you are above this duty, then you shall be punished!”

HOOO-PHAAAW. HOOOO-PHAAW. Dear lord, even Vader’s breathing is starting to sound like flushing toilets. HOOO-PHAAW. HOOOO-PHAAW.

“How do you explain your behavior?”

Not Twi’leks surfing on garbage to get to ocean spaceships. Not water. Not toilets. Nothing rushing or pouring or splashing. HOOO-PHAAW. HOOOO-PHAAW.

“HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN YOUR BEHAVIOR?”

“Lord Vader, if you don’t move RIGHT NOW, my bladder will explode and I will pee all over the floor. Now please, WHERE IS THE TOILET?” The words came out in a desperate, half-crazed run-on sentence. I’m not even sure if it was coherent, but that’s what I intended to say.

HOOOO-PHAAAW. HOOO-PHAAW. Vader looked at me, then to the floor, then back at me.
“The Emperor will be most displeased if the Senate carpeting is soiled. Go down the hallway and make your first right,” Vader said.

“Thank you, Lord Vader!” I yelled as I ran down the hallway.

“Don’t let me catch you in this predi...” Vader started to say. I’m sure he wanted to tell me not to do this again, but his voice had already trailed off as I sprinted to the toilet door. After I finished, Vader was waiting for me outside. I didn’t say a word, just walked back to my seat and sat through the rest of Tarkin’s presentation like a good Grumpy Moff. All 8 hours of it.

Drinks, Twi'Leks, and the Rebel Alliance

Much to the chagrin of my mom and sister - that is, if they knew - we decided to go to a dancing Twi'Lek bar in the entertainment district of the capital. Just like old times at the Academy with myself, Grumpy J, Grumpy S, and Grumpy B. All three of them took their Academy degrees and moved on elsewhere whereas I am dumb enough to wear a grey uniform all day and float around in space. Most of the time was just spent telling and retelling old stories, but there was one interesting discussion that happened about 4 drinks in when Grumpy S and Grumpy J decided to go to the Twi'Lek stage and lose their credits.

B: So, Grumpy Moff, when do you ship out to the big floating gun?

GM: Just in a few days. There's some meetings at the Senate building, then we pick up our stuff and go.

B: What do you think about the whole thing?

GM: Well, it's pretty cool. Galactic Championship-size swimming pools, volleyball leagues, they've even got their own bar and grill. Free holo games too - no more losing credits to play the pod race sim anymore. I can't complain. Hey, you should swing by and drop in on one of our volleyball games, I think I can get a guest -

B: That's not what I meant. What do you think about having a big floating gun that can destroy planets?

GM: Hmmm. Well, I dunno. The Emperor says it's for our protection, so I'm cool with it. I'm just a turbolaser maintenance guy, I don't get involved with the politics of the whole thing. I figured it's more a scare tactic than anything else - how is it physically possible to fire a laser that big?

B: Blowing up planets is not cool. There's always innocents on there, even if most of the population are traitors or scum.

GM: Or hot Twi'Leks.

B: Or hot Twi'Leks! Exactly! See what I mean? What if the Spice Mine Babes (the Twi'Lek pop band comprised of four extremely photogenic female singers with little-to-no singing and/or dancing ability...not that it matters) were touring on a planet that the Empire pegged to blow up? Sure, we'd get rid of the jerks and troublemakers, but we'd blow up the hot Twi'Leks! That ain't cool!

GM: Jeez, Grumpy B, don't make me question what I'm doing right before I ship out. I have to go there - I'm joining a volleyball team with Officer Hot Stuff!

B: All I'm saying is I don't think the Rebel Alliance is that bad. I don't necessarily agree with their methods, but sometimes their ideas make sense. Let's face it, sometimes the Emperor's a jerk. Do you think it's coincidence that President Lucjean's shuttle crashed two hours after he spilled wine on Palpatine at the Imperial Gala last year?

GM: Wine stains ARE hard to get out. I see what you mean, but what am I going to do about it? I gotta make a living, right? Where else can they use a turbolaser maintenance guy? I bet the Rebels don't pay nearly as well as the Empire - and do they have a floating space station with a bar and grill?

B: Bar and grill's a pretty tall order to beat. Hey, at least you're not brainwashed by all the stuff on the holonet news. I don't trust those politicians. Any of them. And they're the ones calling the shots.

GM: I'll make you a deal. If one of my bosses wants to blow up a planet, I'll run a scan to make sure there's no hot Twi'Leks on it first. Deal?

B: Deal. Just keep your head on straight, ok? Don't listen to the politicians - they're full of crap.

GM: I don't have time to listen to them anyways. I gotta figure out how not to look like an idiot in front of Officer Hot Stuff!

The rest of the evening involved wasted credits, dancing Twi'Leks, and one (or four) too many drinks, especially for someone going to an Imperial briefing tomorrow. I can't be the only one going hungover, right? Grumpy B's always been the sensible friend, though, and he does have a point. I suppose there is at least a little bit inherently wrong about working on something that zips through the galaxy blowing up planets (or at least threatening to).

But damn it, they've got their own bar and grill! What other workplace has that?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Home is where the Moff is

I finally made it to Coruscant. The Empire was kind enough to put us up in the swanky Blue Star Hotel across the street from where the meetings are taking place in the Senate building. Tomorrow, the Emperor will host a large "Welcome to the Death Star" pep talk, the next day is a one-on-one with my section's supervisor and a meet & greet with the new turbolaser team. The last day is a security do's and don'ts review, then it's party for one night and off to the "Death Star" for our new assignment.

Tomorrow will also be a reunion of sorts. After the Emperor's briefing, I'll be heading back to the old neighborhood to have dinner with the family. If I'm lucky, my folks will gush over how successful my sister's new holonet star boyfriend is. I can't wait.

In the meantime, some old Academy buddies and I are heading out for drinks tonight. I'll be sure to tell them the "authentic" tale of what is happening with me and Officer Hot Stuff. I'll write more later.

Monday, June 13, 2005

On the way to Coruscant

Grumpy Moff here, sitting on a spiffy, not-so-comfortable shuttle on the way to Coruscant. It really doesn't make any sense why the Devastator crew is being sent in waves via shuttle over to Planet Big-Ass Building instead of us just hypering over there en masse, but whatever. I don't run the Empire, so obviously the Emperor knows more about managing infrastructure than I do.

I bet you're all wondering what happened with Officer Hot Stuff, huh? After all, she breathlessly dashed to my office while I unknowingly ran to relieve myself of the bladder-explosion pressures. Well, fate did manage to cross our paths again. This time, in the romantic ambience of the Devastator's main hanger bay. There's nothing that stirs the senses more than a fleet of TIE fighters docking and launching. EHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH go the TIE fighters (and new TIE bombers - technology rules!) as they fly by and suddenly, everyone's in the mood for love - we don't even have to dim the lights.

Anyways, I sought out Officer Hot Stuff because I was ceremoniously being kicked out of my office, thus thwarting her alleged plan to "come by tomorrow." I had to cut her off at the pass and visit her workplace. I've looked stupid in front of myself, my turbolaser crew, and complete strangers, but it would be a challenge not to look stupid in front of her crew.

As I approached, Officer Hot Stuff was busy directing (pointing and waving her arms in a very sensuous manner) hanger crew traffic and equipment. I stood politely off to the side a few feet, hoping that I would get her attention when she finished waving her arms. Instead, she decided to focus really intently on the new TIE bomber off to the left (I think she was trying to levitate it with her mind). Realizing that I looked like either a fool or a stalker standing 6 feet diagonally behind her not moving or saying anything, I gathered up the courage in the pit of my stomach and slowly marched forward.

By the time I was about two feet behind her, she still hadn't noticed. However, a new maintenance crew came driving by in their cart and she decided their appropriate route of traffic would be in my general area. To emphasize this method of traffic direction, she decided to unknowingly thrust her gloved Imperial finger into my left eye socket as I reached up to tap her on the shoulder.

"AAAHHHHHRRRRRRRGHHHH," I said in a very dignified manner. Officer Hot Stuff turned around and turned to see me hunched over with both hands covering my face and weird pain noises coming out of my mouth.

OHS: What are you doing here?

GM: Ahhhh...I uh...you came by my office earlier...but I was out...

OHS: No, I mean, what are you doing standing there? I'm directing traffic in the hanger bay. It's Imperial regulation to stay 10 feet away from me so you won't get run over by equipment carts, maintenance droids, or get stabbed in the eye when I'm telling people where to go.

GM: Oh, um, ow, ah, I didn't know that. I'm a turbolaser supervisor and...

OHS: Look, just stand really close to me and try not to get run over for the next 5 minutes. Just shut up and stay still and then we'll chat.

At this point, Officer Hot Stuff grabbed one of my hands and pulled me close to her. Really close to her. Like body-heat-shared-through-our-Imperial-uniforms close. Suddenly, the fact that my left eye is involuntarily shut and dripping tears doesn't matter. Officer Hot Stuff resumed waving her arms in a frantic manner as droids and carts rush by and the rumble of TIE fighter engines shake the floor. However, she carefully avoided swatting me in the face again.

I think she likes me.

The 5 minutes passed and all hanger bay traffic seems to stop other than the gut-shattering rumbles of TIE fighter engines. Small bits of light finally started to eek back through to my eye. Officer Hot Stuff turned to me and our conversation resumed.

OHS: So, I just wanted to thank you for letting me look at your Death Star plans. I found a problem with the hanger bay design in the section below the main gun and after reporting it, they're letting me do a temporary transfer there. I'm hoping to convince them to stay full time, but I'll be there for at least the next 6 months.

GM: Really?

OHS: Yup. I can't wait. I'm missing the Coruscant briefing because of the short notice, but I'll be there when everyone else boards. I hear they've got Galactic Championship-sized pools there - I can't wait to go swimming every day.

GM: (picturing OHS in a swim suit that's not fit for Galactic Championship swimming) Really?

OHS: Yeah, and a volleyball court. Didn't you read your plans? I think I'll sign up for a Death Star volleyball league.

GM: (wishing I brought my Devastator volleyball league championship trophy with me to the hanger bay) Really?

OHS: Yes. (she pauses while I stand there with my brain running in circles trying to come up with a brilliant response) Did I poke you in the eye really hard?

GM: Oh, um, no, it's cool. Doesn't hurt. Just having a hard time seeing, but it'll pass. No biggie.

OHS: Hmmm, I thought you suffered some damage, like I pushed your eye back into your brain. You seem to only be able to say the word 'really' to me.

GM: Really?

OHS: (a smirk of annoyance/'he's so cute when he's stupid' comes to her lips) Medic! Medic! We've got brain damage over here!

GM: Oh, wait, um, I'm cool. Everything's cool. Ha ha. Really? See, I made a joke about how I just said that cause you said that was all that I said and um...um...anyways...um...maybe when we get to the Death Star, we can join the same volleyball team. (her left eyebrow arches) I mean, cause we both play volleyball - did you know I played volleyball? Devastator champions two seasons running - and it'll be cool to play with people we know instead of just strangers, you know?

OHS: You mean, people like us who've had two conversations, a finger in the eye, and brain damage between us?

GM: Ummmmmm...yeah. Yeah, I mean, you're the only person on the Devastator who's poked me in the eye. That's gotta count for something, right?

OHS: (shrugs her shoulders and laughs) Heh, ok, look me up when you get on board. Now get out of here before the maintenance crew runs you over.

So now, as I sit on board this Imperial shuttle, my back aching from the 90 degree rigid angle of the passenger chair, my eye still a little swollen from being attacked, and my mind a little delirious from the very strange exit interview with Grand Moff Dabow (I'll talk about that later), all is ok. Because Officer Hot Stuff wants to play volleyball with the Grumpy Moff after we get to the "Death Star."

Yup, things are looking up. Off to Coruscant for a few meetings and some R&R, gonna go see the folks, maybe catch my sister at the Galactic Opera. Life is good.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Such a painful day in so many ways

The Empire can be really inefficient with issues of infrastructure. All day, I waited for the Imperial technologies (IT) department to come and pack up my computer for movement to my new "Death Star" space - remember, they don't have offices there. Their specific instructions included deactivating the vid screen, comm system, and leaving the door wide open so IT's astromech droid could push the packing crates through and begin disassembly.

And of course, I have to be here for this to happen. Essentially, this means that I must stay in my offoffice with the door open (and look busy when someone walks by) with no computer, vid, or holo access. This must be what it was like to be a prisoner of war during the Clone Wars. During the day, I actually wish I had work to do so I could at least focus on something - anything! The IT department said they'd arrive between 8 AM and 5 PM and that my presence was required or they wouldn't start working.

I wonder if they do this when Vader's hyperbaric chamber malfunctions. "Excuse me Lord Vader, but you must be there from 8 AM to 5 PM. Otherwise, we won't be able to fix your motorized rotating chair. Yes, we are aware that this is a hassle, but we have a set queue and we must follow it. Standard Imperial policy."

Here's how my day went.

8:52 - Conted backwards from 100 n every language that I knew, balanced a pen across the bill of my Imperial officer cap, checked my teeth for any food stuck in from breakfast, and counted the number of tiles in my office ceiling (89). So far, so good. I also did not dwell upon the humiliating exchange with Officer Hot Stuff from two days ago. (writing this does not count.)

10:50 - Still no IT astromech or personnel. I'm getting a little hungry. 4 people have passed by my office since 9:00. No one has stopped to say hi.

12:20 - Still no sign. I wish I could call them to find out what was up, but I had to disconnect all means of communication. Is it cheating if I put it back together to make the call or would they throw me in the brig for breaking Imperial protocol? Sometimes, I wish we weren't such a structured community. My stomach is starting to growl.

1:30 - I really need to pee. How serious can they be about the "you must be present" rule? If I leave and they show up, will they take off and repeat the whole ordeal tomorrow?

1:36 - I have no cups in the office. Otherwise, I would have peed in one. It's that bad.

2:15 - A rancor has apprently nested itself in my stomach and decided to loudly complain about its environment. ROOOOOOAAAAAAARR goes the stomach.

2:45 - I have flagged down a passing officer to stand in my place while I either run to the toilet or run to the mess hall. He's got a meeting at 3, so I can't take too long. I must choose.

2:46 - Proximity has won. I choose the toilet because it is closer.

2:52 - Oh man. This is better than naked Twi'Leks hand feeding me fruit on the beaches of Dantooine. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...

2:54 - I am saved! A vending machine is on my way back!

2:55 - It's not taking my credits. Bloody hell...

2:56 - Why won't you take my credits? WHY?!?!?!?

2:58 - I limp/run back to my office after kicking the vending machine several times. Bladder = good. Foot = possibly broken. Stomach = still rancor infested.

2:59 - Holy crap! Look who stopped by! The friendly officer holding my spot said,"Oh good, you're back. I have to go to my meeting now. IT didn't stop by, but a woman did. Redhead, I think she works in the hanger bay. She said she'd stop by tomorrow." That has just possibly made this all worth it. Then again, maybe not.

3:00 - Holy crap! I won't be in this office tomorrow. And I ship out the day after. I shouldn't have avoided our regular elevator trip together over the past two days - I knew breakfast couldn't have been that bad.

3:01 - Breakfast...mmm...food

3:58 - To pass the time, I shuffle through my papers in my desk drawer. There is half of a wrapped stale breakfast muffin. I eat it. The rancor is happy.

4:42 - IT finally arrives. The astromech droid rolls towards my computer, sticks out a socket, unlocks some stuff, and the IT guys pick up the computer and put it in the packing crate.

GM: "That's it? That's why you needed me here today?"

IT: "Yes sir. You must be here to sign the release form authorizing our movement of your computer to the Death Star."

GM: "Couldn't I have left you a note? I've been starving all day and I almost exploded from not going to the toilet."

IT: "No sir, this is how it works. Standard Imperial policy. If you wish to change it, you could start a petition and submit it to the Emperor. If he is willing to change the policy, you can have a private audience expressing your problems with your moving day."

GM: "Maybe I can get Vader to sign my petition. Have you guys worked on his hyperbaric chamber lately?"

IT: "That's in five days, between 8 AM and 5 PM."

Apparently, no one gets any slack - not even the ones with magic choking powers.

Well, my work is done on the Devastator. Tomorrow, I'll try to hunt down Officer Hot Stuff and see if she decided that she'd rather be infatuated with me than the "Death Star," play some pazaak with the turbolaser boys, and have my exit interview with Grand Moff Dabow.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Officer Hot Stuff is in love...

She is in love! That's right Grumpy Moff fans, Officer Hot Stuff is in love. In fact, she declared it quite a few times over the course of our breakfast. Here's some of what she said:

"You're incredible! I wasn't expecting this size or strength!"

"I love you. I only wish I could spend more time with you..."

Now, just replace the "you" with "The Death Star" and you'll get a sense as to how the breakfast went. It involved its share of passionate glances, gentle stroking, and whispering sweet nothings. This would have been absolutely incredible if I was, in fact, a handheld holopad that projected "Death Star" technical plans. However, I'm not nearly that convenient to hold and the only projection I can provide is so random stuttering around Officer Hot Stuff, so things were not terribly exciting for me. Breakfast basically consisted of me intruding on Officer Hot Stuff's rather intimate exchange with the "Death Star" plans.

I would have felt more satisfied had I either slept in or ordered the pay-per-view holo of Slave Twi'Lek Love Camp Babes 4. In fact, either of those choices probably would have left me much more emotionally fulfilled than having been the third wheel beween my dream woman and a hologram of a planet-destroying space station.

After 30 minutes of this fiasco, Officer Hot Stuff had to leave for her hanger bay duties. Her eyes locked on to the holographic "Death Star" main gun as she said, "I wish I could be with you instead of here." The holographic "Death Star", hopeless romantic that it is, kept its dignity by maintaining a stoic silence. She switched off the holopad and held it in her hand for a moment, the leather of her gloves squeeking across the pad's metal base. This noise is generally very irritating, which is why I have taken to removing my Imperial issue gloves when examining the plans; however, it was a pleasant relief to hear something other than a sappy conversation between a beautiful hanger bay officer and a piece of metal.

Officer Hot Stuff stood up, handed me the holopad, and tugged her drab grey uniform straight to smooth out (and accentuate) the wrinkles in all its form-fitting glory. By this time, I was too dejected to even appreciate this sexy little gesture. She turned to leave, then took a step back and said, "Thanks for letting me check this baby out. I'll see you around," before lightly patting my shoulder and sauntering off to the mess hall elevator.

Now remember, this should have been a monumental nanosecond in my life - the first true physical contact between the Grumpy Moff and Officer Hot Stuff. Instead, I merely got up and walked to my office. The rest of the morning was spent contemplating how I could possible spin this to make me look cool when the turbolaser crew inevitable interrogated me about it.

*sigh*

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Grumpy Moff = The Man!

With less than a week left before leaving for the pre-"Death Star" briefings on Coruscant, I finally gathered the courage to talk to Officer Hot Stuff this morning. Granted, I've spoken to her but it doesn't really count when the conversation consists of one person shouting, "I...um...I'll see you tomorrow" as the other party is leaving an elevator. Nope, this was a full-on two people speaking dictionary definition of a conversation.

Here's the scene. I was waiting for Officer Hot Stuff to take elevator 3NS down to her station in the hanger bay. As usual, I was playing it cool - I had my turbolaser maintenance log with me to ensure that I was on "official Imperial business" (which, technically I was, but it always makes me look more important).

Officer Hot Stuff arrived a little later than she usually did which gave me the time to perfect what I was going to say. Because I'm just that smooth. Here's how the conversation went:

Officer Hot Stuff arrives. "Going down?"

Grumpy Moff (coolly, without any hesitation): "Always. I always like going down."

OHS (her left eyebrow raises and a smirk crosses her lips): "You like going down?"

GM: "Sure, I mean, who doesn't like going down? It's...um...it's always a fun time. I can go down on you anytime."

OHS: "You can go down on me? Shouldn't we have dinner first?"

GM (my brain slowly maneuvers into hyperdrive to cover up this verbal faux pas): "Oh...um...ha ha! I get it. You thought I meant...no, no, no, I would never go down on you...I mean...what I meant to say was that I like riding elevators down. Because they take you places. Places you need to go. Or be. Or both. You can go up too in an elevator. Sometimes. Depending on which button you push. "

At this point, my uniform collar feels like it's tighter than a Darth Vader choke grip after telling him that you think his breathing noise is really annoying.

OHS: "Gotcha. You like riding elevators but you won't go down on me. I'd hate to see what would happen if we ever got stuck in an elevator together. I'll make a mental note of it if the situation ever arises." (she chuckles slightly to herself and adjusts the Imperial cap covering her perfect mane of crimson hair)

Officer Hot Stuff pushes the down button on elevator 3NS. For the next four seconds, the Devastator appears to have been caught in some sort of temporal flux because I swear 3 hours of pure painful silence passed before the elevator door opened. She steps in and I suddenly feel an urge to inspect the maintenance report log in my hand, or look at my shoes, or count the number of rivets in the ceiling, or anything besides making eye contact with her. "You coming?" she asks.

GM: "Only if you're going down on me. With me. I'm coming...into the elevator...to go down. To ride the elevator down. I mean (deep sigh) I am going to step into the elevator and allow it to transport me to a lower level while standing next to you and not saying anything remotely stupid that could be interpreted as breaking the Imperial sexual harrassment policy because I'm really not that kind of guy. In fact, I'm a pretty good worker and normally quite articulate, it's just this instance..."

Officer Hot Stuff has the opportunity to push the close button on the elevator while my verbal vomit is flying all over the place. But she's way too cool for that. Instead, she simply laughs at my rambling and says, "Hey. It's cool. Get in the elevator before I kick your ass for sounding like Captain Stupid (she didn't call him Captain Stupid, but you get the idea)."

My words stop faster than a speeder bike running into a building. "You hate Captain Stupid too?"

OHS: "Oh yeah, he's the most annoying person on the Devastator. At least you're just babbling to cover up your stupid mistakes. He just babbles cause he's an idiot." Her forehead wrinkles and a sly grin spreads across her lips. "Well, I suppose in this case, you're both idiots. But he's a different kind, much more annoying. You're more of a clumsy idiot."

GM: "Oh, don't get me started on Captain Stupid. He borrowed my Death Star plans and it took..."

Officer Hot Stuff's demeanor completely changes. Her shoulders straighten up and her eyes focus on me with a clarity that I've never felt. This is either the greatest moment of my life or the worst - I can't tell yet. "You're transferring to the Death Star?"

GM: "Oh yeah, I leave in 6 days. Well, we're going to Coruscant first for a briefing with the Emperor and Tarkin and some other higher-ups, but yeah, then I'll be section 2197's turbolaser maintenance supervisor. (shrugs shoulders) I guess I got lucky. I'll miss the Devastator though."

OHS: "I've been begging to transfer to the Death Star. It's a fascinating piece of technology. Even if that moron Vader is going to be there."

Before I can comment on her ballsy insult of Vader, she steps forward. The elevator, sensing the loss of weight without any passengers, closes up its doors. "Do you think I could get a look at the Death Star plans? Just a peek, maybe over breakfast or something?"

This is now the defining moment of my life. Officer Hot Stuff has asked to spend time with me! Well, actually, she wants to spend time with my Death Star plans, but they're my plans, and that means that she will have to be in my presence as she checks them out.

GM: "Yes."

There is another one of those awkward pauses caused by my verbal brilliance.

OHS: "Yes...I can look at your Death Star plans, maybe over breakfast or something?"

GM: "Yes, how about over breakfast tomorrow. That'd be great. I might even go down on you (I say this half joking, half wishing, half getting ready to sell my soul to the Jedi or the Hutts or whoever else may have the wacky power to make this real. Unfortunately, she doesn't laugh at my joke. In fact, I think it creeps her out a little bit as her eyes shuffle from left to right). Ha ha. Just kidding. You know, cause we had our little misunderstanding before and um...oh, never mind."

OHS (shaking her head - I can't tell if this is amusement, irritation, or just plain disgust at my complete lack of tact): "Tomorrow morning. I'll drop by your quarters at 0600 hours?"

GM: "Yes! Yes. That sounds good. Tomorrow morning. I'll make a note of it."

OHS: "Good." She pushes the down button on the elevator and the doors open again. "Going down?"

This time, I simply nod my head and step inside. I don't say a word for the entire elevator ride, not even my customary "See you tomorrow!" that I try to throw in during elevator rides with her. Instead, I let her step out on her stop, punch my stop, and let the loudest howls of joy that the galaxy has ever known accompany me on the journey up.

Yesterday, I was just a Grumpy Moff. Today, I am the MAN!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

WELCOME (to the) DEATH (star)

Now that I've got my "Death Star" plans back from Captain Stupid, I finally opened up the "So you're transferring to the 'Death Star'" package that the higher-ups sent me. I was greeted with the following cheery phrase on the welcome booklet:

WELCOME
to the
DEATH
Star

Either the designer is really clueless or the Emperor has very poorly attempted to incorporate subliminal messages into Empire documentation.

The rest of the booklet isn't quite as rattling as the cover page's invitation to death. In fact, it sounds downright upbeat - like the Academy dorms, except with a gigantic planet-destroying gun in one quadrant. Here's an excerpt from the "We're All One Big Death Star Family" chapter:

When you come aboard the Death Star, you join the Imperial team in guarding peace and justice in the galaxy. We want you to feel as welcome here as you do on your home system - because the Death Star is your home away from home for the duration of your stay. Pets (non-shedding and non-poisonous) are welcome as long as you assume all responsibilities for feeding, potty, and play time. Don't bring your animal friends on board the Death Star if you feel you will not have time to be a devoted owner - that's not fair to the pet or to you. Pets are part of the Death Star family, and if they're not happy, then we can't be the best galaxy-defending team that we can be.

Please note that the Death Star is a non-deathstick facility. If you wish to enjoy deathsticks, please do so in the alloted areas in the hanger bay.

It definitely sounds like the Empire spent their budget on this station. There's a lot of cool stuff around - heck, it almost sounds like a vacation! Here's an excerpt from the "Life in Death: Entertainment on the Death Star" chapter:

Your daily life on the Death Star should be a combination of work and fun. We encourage you to mix the two together - in fact, nothing would please the Emperor more than dedicated Death Star workers who enjoy what they do. On the Death Star, you'll be able to relax in our massage/spa parlor, race in the Galactic Championship length swimming pools, join aerobic dance classes, or meet some new friends over a friendly game of Pazaak. Weekly exercise classes and intra-station sports leagues are now forming. If you would like more information about these, contact your section's activities coordinator.

The Emperor has spared no expense in constructing the Death Star and that includes the mess hall. From breakfast buffets to three-course dinners, it's only the best food for the best of the Empire's employees. Your menu changes every day - watch out for upcoming specialty nights as we hyperspace in some of the best guest chefs in the galaxy. Menus are available a month in advance and can be found posted on the vid screen outside of your section's mess hall.

Need some time to unwind after destroying a planet or defending the galaxy from Rebels? Come on down to the Death Splash Pub & Grill for a drink and a bite of home cookin'! The Death Splash has 23 vid screens and 10 holo projectors to watch all of the latest sports and entertainment across the galaxy. It's also got the latest in interactive entertainment. Ever wanted to be a pod racer? Hop on into the Death Splash's simulator. How about experiencing the excitement of the old Sith days? Play "Sith Conquerer" or any of our other free-play holo and video games. Games will be updated and rotated around the station on a regular basis.

The Death Star shopping concourse also has the following amenities:
  • Haircuts
  • Library
  • Arboretum
  • Gift shop
If it sounds like the Death Star has all of the fun stuff you'd find in a major city, then we've done our job. The Death Star is much bigger than most cities - it's even bigger than some moons! Because of that, the Empire has gone the distance to make sure that everyone's stay here is as enjoyable as possible. The Empire knows that happy workers make for productive workers.

I'm going to miss my friends on the Devastator crew, but I can certainly get used to living like this!


Friday, June 03, 2005

Wait a second...

What the hell was Captain Stupid doing talking with his mom in his underwear, anyways?

Maybe the ventilation fan was busted in his quarters. Yeah. I'll just leave it at that.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Captain Stupid Part 2

One week to go before flying out to Coruscant for the “Death Star” briefings. I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t start calling myself Captain Stupid instead of letting the title sit with its current owner. He still hasn’t returned the plans to me, which I knew would happen. I’m supposed to be studying the technical layout of the freakin’ turbolaser units in my department and instead the plans are with the most annoying person on the Devastator.

After I checked out of the office today, I moseyed over to Captain Stupid’s quarters. He hasn’t returned any of my vid screen messages, so the smartest option seemed to be prying the plans out of his cold, stupid, stupid hands.

Before I can hit the visitor button on his door, it swings open and I am greeted by a shirtless, pantsless (but not underwearless) Captain Stupid. He’s surprisingly fit for being so, well, stupid. In fact, he’s shockingly fit – I am extremely disturbed by the fact that his forearm muscle appears to be bigger than my entire head. It must be true what they say about these Imperial uniforms – the drab gray DOES have a slimming effect.

I am also disturbed by the fact that I’m disturbed more about Captain Stupid’s muscle tone instead of the fact that he’s standing with just a thin piece of fabric guarding his loins.

Captain Stupid seems shocked to see me. “Oh, um, hey Grumpy Moff. What are you doing here?” he asks in an atypically wavering voice.

“Look, I really gotta get my plans back. I need to start studying the station layout before I ship out,” I say, stretching my neck to look behind Captain Stupid’s chiseled pecs. “Hey, is that it right there on your desk? Are you transmitting it to someone?”

Captain Stupid cocks his head awkwardly and purses his lips. “All right, all right, you got me. I’m a Rebel spy.”

“What?”

“AAAAAAAAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I fooled you for a second, didn’t I? Yeah, yeah, I got my mom on the vid screen phone right now. I was just so excited about the plans, I mean have you seen the size of the station? I was counting the turbolaser turrets – it turns out there’s exactly 5,262 units on there. My mom’s an ex-contract designer so when I told her about the design, she got really excited – she’s more excitable than I am, if you can believe that. I had to show her, she gets really jealous about stuff like this and I’m not even going on the mission – “

“Captain Stupid, you can’t send the plans out to anyone, not even your mom. The Emperor will kill you – and me! And I’ve heard the Emperor’s surprisingly strong despite his appearance.”

“Grumpy Moff, get that bantha out of your ass! It’s just my mom. I told you she’s a designer – she’s just looking at this from an architectural point of view. She teaches a course in design and I’m sure she’d love to share some of the design tips she’s learned from this to her students. Hey, maybe then can even have you come in as a guest speaker, whadaya think? You can tell them all about turbolaser…”

Deep breath, I tell myself. “Um, yeah, that sounds great. Can I get my plans back NOW?”

Captain Stupid’s eyes shift around for a few moments. I think I can see the wheels in his head slowly grinding out my request before bursting into hyperspace. “Sure, sure. Just, um, ah, come on in. MA! MA! It’s the turbolaser maintenance guy I told you about! Remember, the one that I got the plans from! I was just –“

I shove Captain Stupid out of the way (this takes way more physical effort than I could have possibly imagined), step through a disastrously messy living space, and work my way to the vid screen and my precious “Death Star” plans sitting in front of it. “Mrs. Captain Stupid, I’m sorry to take this back on such short notice, but I need these plans back. I hope it doesn’t disappoint your students too much.”

Mrs. Stupid glances at Captain Stupid and then focuses back on me. “Oh, I’m sure they’ll understand.”

I shut off the holopad and stuff it back into my pocket, secure in the knowledge that I’ll never have to deal with Captain Stupid again after a week. “Well, um, have a good day out there on…uh…”

“Alderaan.”

“Yeah, Alderaan. Have a nice day on Alderaan.”

I hop scotch over a pile of uniforms here, some papers there, and manage to ungracefully knock over a vid frame holding a photo of Captain Stupid and Alderaan’s hot young female senator, causing the image to static up and transform into nothing more than a series of horizontal lines and the floating video head of Captain Stupid. I turn back to the vid screen and say, “Mrs. Stupid, you should really encourage your son to be more clean.”

“Oh yes, that’s something we’ll discuss. Thank you for thinking about my dear Captain Stupid, young man.”

“Whatever,” I mumble under my breath as I leap over another stack of papers and fall out of the room. At least I won’t have to deal with any Stupid or Stupid-related people when I get to the “Death Star.”

I’ll begin reviewing the plans tomorrow. I need a Corellian ale right now.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Grumpy kids become grumpy moffs

Even after graduating the Academy, getting a well-paid position on a Star Destroyer, and being one of the elite few to transfer to the "Death Star," some things just aren't good enough for the Grumpy Moff's parents.

What do they want me to do? Become the Emperor?

I hadn't told my parents about the "Death Star" transfer yet, so I contacted them on their Coruscant home. Contrary to popular opinion, Coruscant is not just one gigantic city. If that were the case, you'd never be able to mail anything anywhere. There are actually hosts of suburbs and districts litering the surface. My folks live in the Lightport district, about 200 miles west of the capital building and senate chambers. They're your typical middle-class Coruscanti folks - 2 speeders, a four bedroom home, three kids, one of which is a grumpy underachiever in their eyes.

Anyways, yesterday I contacted them on the vid screen to tell them the big news.

Grumpy Moff: Hey guys, I have some exciting news!

Mom: Oh, I knew it! He's finally got a girlfriend! How long has it been since Portisa left you, three years?

Dad: She better make a good living. You know the Empire pension fund isn't that great. You gotta look to the future.

Mom: Don't listen to your father. As long as she loves you, that's all you need. She wants children, right?

Dad: How'd you meet her wearing those Imperial uniforms? Is she colorblind or something?

Mom: Stop that. I'm sure she's a perfectly nice girl. So, Grumpy Moff, how did you meet her? Is she on your ship?

GM: Umm...actually, I haven't met anyone. I've been really busy at work. You know, keeping up the turbolaser crew on the ship. I've got other big news.

Dad: I knew it, you're just shuffling around again. Don't you want to do something with your life? Look at your brother. Regional governor in the middle rim, married, two kids. And your sister, she's one of the top performers at the Galactic Opera by the Senate. In fact, we just met her boyfriend - have you seen that show "Investigation Troop Squad" on the HoloNet? He plays...

GM: Mom! Dad! I don't care what Grumpy Sister or Grumpy Brother are up to. I have big news! I'm getting transferred to the new space station. I'll be back home for a few days for some meetings with the Emperor and Grand Moff Tarkin, then we're shipping back out.

Mom: Space station? Is that safe with all of those Rebel attacks going on?

Dad: Sounds kind of fishy to me. Probably putting the galactic scrubs on there just in case it gets blown up. I wouldn't put up with that kind of crap if I were you. You're too good at turbolaser maintenance to...

GM: No, no, no. This is a promotion. Only the best of the best get to be on the station. Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader are going to be spending a lot of time on it.

Dad: Promotion, huh? Are you getting a raise?

GM: Um...no.

Dad: Are you getting a bigger office?

GM: Uh, actually, see, the Emperor has this idea about getting rid of offices for group morale...

Dad: Are you getting a shuttle or more crew under you?

GM: (sighs) No dad, I'm not.

Dad: Then they're using you again. You should have gotten into politics like your brother.

Mom: (eyes widen with recognition) Oh! This isn't the Death Moon I've heard about, is it?

GM: Death Star, mom. Death. Star. Yes it is, and I think the name is stupid, so I don't call it that.

Mom: (her face falls and her eyebrows turn into a river of knotted crinkles) Oh my. Death Star. Oh my, that sounds very dangerous. Very, very dangerous. I've heard about this on the HoloNet news. They say the Rebels will probably try and attack it - there's even rumors of spies trying to get the technical plans for it. (she puts her head in her hands) Oh, Grumpy Moff, why did you have to join the military? Why couldn't you be like your brother or your sister?

GM: Mom, I'm not in the military. I do maintenance checks and supervision.

Dad: Those Rebel bastards are gonna blow you up. You should stay on that ship. Better yet, transfer to Coruscant. You can stay with us, your bedroom is clean and we've still got...

Mom: Yes, yes! Transfer home! The Sausgolds have a very nice daughter who works at the Great Muse Bank down the road. She's just a tad younger than you and could stand to exercise a tiny bit more, but she's really a darling...

GM: (pretending to hear something in the background) What's that? Oh, leak in the main turbolaser unit? Oh, I'll be there right away. (turns back to vid screen) Mom, dad, I gotta go. I'll see you in a few weeks when I come to Coruscant, ok?

Mom: Leak in the turbolaser unit? Make sure you wear your radiation...(I snap off the vid screen before she finishes the sentence)

This is my life. My parents want me to move in with them and marry a banker, my pazaak playing buddies are staying on the Devastator, I can't muster two words to Officer Hot Stuff, and I can't locate Captain Stupid to get my damn "Death Star" plans back.

And that, my friends, is why I am a Grumpy Moff.