A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...


ANOTHER galaxy, another time.

The Old Republic was the Republic of legend, greater than distance or
time. No need to note where it was or whence it came, only to know that...
it was the Republic.

Once, under the wise rule of the Senate and the protection of the Jedi
Knights, the Republic throve and grew. But as often happens when wealth and
power pass beyond the admirable and attain the awesome, then appear those
evil ones who have greed to match.

So it was with the Republic at its height. Like the greatest of trees,
able to withstand any external attack, the Republic rotted from within
though the danger was not visible from outside.

Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the
government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator
Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic. He
promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and to restore the
remembered glory of the Republic.

Once secure in office he declared himself Emperor, shutting himself
away from the populace. Soon he was controlled by the very assistants and
boot-lickers he had appointed to high office, and the cries of the people
for justice did not reach his ears.

Having exterminated through treachery and deception the Jedi Knights,
guardians of justice in the galaxy, the Imperial governors and bureaucrats
prepared to institute a reign of terror among the disheartened worlds of the
galaxy. Many used the imperial forces and the name of the increasingly
isolated Emperor to further their own personal ambitions.

But a small number of systems rebelled at these new outrages. Declaring
themselves opposed to the New Order they began the great battle to restore
the Old Republic.

From the beginning they were vastly outnumbered by the systems held in
thrall by the Emperor. In those first dark days it seemed certain the bright
flame of resistance would be extinguished before it could cast the light of
new truth across a galaxy of oppressed and beaten peoples...

From the First Saga Journal of the Whills "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Naturally they became heroes."

Leia Organa of Alderaan, Senator

- I -

IT was a vast, shining globe and it cast a light of lambent topaz into
space-but it was not a sun. Thus, the planet had fooled men for a long time.
Not until entering close orbit around it did its discoverers realize that
this was a world in a binary system and not a third sun itself.
At first it seemed certain nothing could exist on such a planet, least
of all humans. Yet both massive G1 and G2 stars orbited a common center with
peculiar regularity, and Tatooine circled them far enough out to permit the
development of a rather stable, if exquisitely hot, climate. Mostly this was
a dry desert of a world, whose unusual starlike yellow glow was the result
of double sunlight striking sodium-rich sands and flats. That same sunlight
suddenly shone on the thin skin of a metallic shape falling crazily toward
the atmosphere.

The erratic course the galactic cruiser was traveling was intentional,
not the product of injury but of a desperate desire to avoid it. Long
streaks of intense energy slid close past its hull, a multihued storm of
destruction like a school of rainbow remoras fighting to attach themselves
to a larger, unwilling host.
One of those probing, questing beams succeeded in touching the fleeing
ship, striking its principal solar fin. Gemlike fragments of metal and
plastic erupted into space as the end of the fin disintegrated. The vessel
seemed to shudder.

The source of those multiple energy beams suddenly hove into view-a
lumbering Imperial cruiser, its massive outline bristling cactuslike with
dozens of heavy weapons emplacements. Light ceased arching from those spines
now as the cruiser moved in close. Intermittent explosions and flashes of
light could be seen in those portions of the smaller ship which had taken
hits. In the absolute cold of space, the cruiser snuggled up alongside its
wounded prey.

Another distant explosion shook the ship-but it certainly didn't feel
distant to Artoo Detoo or See Threepio. The concussion bounced them around
the narrow corridor like bearings in an old motor.

To look at these two, one would have supposed that the tall, human-like
machine, Threepio, was the master and the stubby, tripodal robot, Artoo
Detoo, an inferior. But while Threepio might have sniffed disdainfully at
the suggestion, they were in fact equal in everything save loquacity. Here
Threepio was clearly-and necessarily-the superior.

Still another explosion rattled the corridor, throwing Threepio off
balance. His shorter companion had the better of it during such moments with
his squat, cylindrical body's low center of gravity well balanced on thick,
clawed legs.

Artoo glanced up at Threepio, who was steadying himself against a
corridor wall. Lights blinked enigmatically around a single mechanical eye
as the smaller robot studied the battered casing of his friend. A patina of
metal and fibrous dust coated the usually gleaming bronze finish, and there
were some visible dents-all the result of the pounding the rebel ship they
were on had been taking.

Accompanying the last attack was a persistent deep hum which even the
loudest explosion had not been able to drown out. Then, for no apparent
reason, the basso thrumming abruptly ceased, and the only sounds in the
otherwise deserted corridor came from the eerie dry-twig crackle of shorting
relays or the pops of dying circuitry. Explosions began to echo through the
ship once more, but they were far away from the corridor.

Threepio turned his smooth, humanlike head to one side. Metallic ears
listened intently. The imitation of a human pose was hardly
necessary-Threepio's auditory sensors were fully omnidirectional-but the
slim robot had been programmed to blend perfectly among human company. This
programming extended even to mimicry of human gestures.
"Did you hear that?" he inquired rhetorically of his patient companion,
referring to the throbbing sound. "They've shut down the main reactor and
the drive." His voice was as full of disbelief and concern as that of any
human. One metallic palm rubbed dolefully at a patch of dull gray on his
side, where a broken hull brace had fallen and scored the bronze finish.
Threepio was a fastidious machine, and such things troubled him.
"Madness, this is madness." He shook his head slowly. "This time we'll
be destroyed for sure."

Artoo did not comment immediately. Barrel torso tilted backward,
powerful legs gripping the deck, the meter-high robot was engrossed in
studying the roof overhead. Though he did not have a head to cock in a
listening posture like his friend, Artoo still somehow managed to convey
that impression. A series of short beeps and chirps issued from his speaker.
To even a sensitive human ear they would have been just so much static, but
to Threepio they formed words as clear and pure as direct current.

"Yes, I suppose they did have to shut the drive down," Threepio
admitted, "but what are we going to do now? We can't enter atmosphere with
our main stablizer fin destroyed. I can't believe we're simply going to

A small band of armed humans suddenly appeared, rifles held at the
ready. Their expressions were as worry-wrinkled as their uniforms, and they
carried about them the aura of men prepared to die.

Threepio watched silently until they had vanished around a far bend in
the passageway, then looked back at Artoo. The smaller robot hadn't shifted
from his position of listening. Threepio's gaze turned upward also though he
knew Artoo's senses were slightly sharper than his own.

"What is it, Artoo?" A short burst of beeping came in response. Another
moment, and there was no need for highly attuned sensors. For a minute or
two more, the corridor remained deathly silent. Then a faint scrape, scrape
could be heard, like a cat at a door, from somewhere above. That strange
noise was produced by heavy footsteps and the movement of bulky equipment
somewhere on the ship's hull.

When several muffled explosions sounded, Threepio murmured, "They've
broken in somewhere above us. There's no escape for the Captain this time."
Turning, he peered down at Artoo. "I think we'd better-"
The shriek of overstressed metal filled the air before he could finish,
and the far end of the passageway was lit by a blinding actinic flash.
Somewhere down there the little cluster of armed crew who had passed by
minutes before had encountered the ship's attackers.

Threepio turned his face and delicate photoreceptors away-just in time
to avoid the fragments of metal that flew down the corridor. At the far end
a gaping hole appeared in the roof, and reflective forms like big metal
beads began dropping to the corridor floor. Both robots knew that no machine
could match the fluidity with which those shapes moved and instantly assumed
fighting postures. The new arrivals were humans in armor, not mechanicals.
One of them looked straight at Threepio-no, not at him, the panicked
robot thought frantically, but past him. The figure shifted its big rifle
around in armored hands-too late. A beam of intense light struck the head,
sending pieces of armor, bone, and flesh flying in all directions.
Half the invading Imperial troops turned and began returning fire up
the corridor-aiming past the two robots.

"Quick-this way!" Threepio ordered, intending to retreat from the
Imperials. Artoo turned with him. They had taken only a couple of steps when
they saw the rebel crewmen in position ahead, firing down the corridor. In
seconds the passageway was filled with smoke and crisscrossing beams of

Red, green and blue bolts ricocheted off polished sections of wall and
floor or ripped long gashes in metal surfaces. Screams of injured and dying
humans-a peculiarly unrobotic sound, Threepio thought-echoed piercingly
above the inorganic destruction.

One beam struck near the robot's feet at the same time as a second one
burst the wall directly behind him, exposing sparking circuitry and rows of
conduits. The force of the twin blast tumbled Threepio into the shredded
cables, where a dozen different currents turned him into a jerking, twisting

Strange sensations coursed through his metal nerve-ends. They caused no
pain, only confusion. Every time he moved and tried to free himself there
was another violent crackling as a fresh cluster of componentry broke. The
noise and man-made lightning remained constant around him as the battle
continued to rage.

Smoke began to fill the corridor. Artoo Detoo bustled about trying to
help free his friend. The little robot evidenced a phlegmatic indifference
to the ravening energies filling the passageway. He was built so low that
most of the beams passed over him anyhow.

"Help!" Threepio yelled, suddenly frightened at a new message from an
internal sensor. "I think something is melting. Free my left leg-the
trouble's near the pelvic servomotor." Typically, his tone turned abruptly
from pleading to berating.

"This is all your fault!" he shouted angrily. "I should have known
better than to trust the logic of a half-sized thermocapsulary dehousing
assister. I don't know why you insisted we leave our assigned stations to
come down this stupid access corridor. Not that it matters now. The whole
ship must be-" Artoo Detoo cut him off in midspeech with some angry beepings
and hoots of his own, though he continued to cut and pull with precision at
the tangled high-voltage cables.

"Is that so?" Threepio sneered in reply. "The same to you, you

An exceptionally violent explosion shook the passage, drowning him out.
A lung-searing miasma of carbonized component filled the air, obscuring

Two meters tall. Bipedal. Flowing black robes trailing from the figure
and a face forever masked by a functional if bizarre black metal breath
screen-a Dark Lord of the Sith was an awesome, threatening shape as it
strode through the corridors of the rebel ship.

All rights remain with the original author.

Previous                                                                                         Next


Popular Posts