Tag Archives: star wars infinities

Saved by the Beer

This is a spin-off of last week’s short story, Father’s Day with Han Solo.


In an alternate universe, several years before The Force Awakens….

Old Gary the stormtrooper sat sadly in the cantina.

Formerly TK-1287, the retired trooper was having a bad day. He blew what remained of his life savings on a bad bet — he backed the wrong team in the Kessel Races. Now all Gary had left were his blaster and a couple of credits.

Someone took the bar stool next to him, an old man with a scarred face. Silently, Gary debated whether he can mooch him for a drink. But the old geezer didn’t look loaded with credits.

snoke funny“Maybe grandpa here has any credits? Naaah.”

Someone else took the stool on his other side, an old smuggler turned race team captain. That scoundrel Han Solo.

Maybe he can mooch him instead.

“That was a bad race man. Maybe you shoulda stayed in the smuggling business.”

Solo looked at him. “Yeah, the team’s not up to spec today. Do I know you?”

“Yeah man, TK-1287. We captured you back on Bespin!”

There was an awkward pause.

“If it helps, I backed your team today. And I voted for your wife in the Senate polls too.”

Han nodded. “Yeah well thanks for the vote of confidence. So whadya do now?”

“Me? I’m just a drifter seeing the galaxy. Didn’t get to see much during my service, just bulkheads and battlestations. How bout you? How’s the princess?”

“We’re doing alright. Leia’s busy doing political stuff. Me, I finally get to see the Falcon racing without being chased by turbolasers.”

“Great. Last I saw you, you were being carbonited — even told my son about it! Got any kids?”

jar jar carbonite funny
“Told him I was gonna carbonite him too if he didn’t shut up.”

“Yeah, just one. He’s in Jedi school taking after his uncle. Yours?”

“My little Larry’s in the academy taking after me. Taught him a few tricks too. Jedi school huh? That doesn’t sound good for the poor schmuck.”

Han glanced sideways at him. “What do you mean?”

“Well Vader went to Jedi school, look how that turned out for him. Spent a lotta time in his little black room shipside. Not very social, that guy.”

“Ha, I know what you mean. The asshole tortured me and didn’t even ask anything! Wish he knew I got to bang his daughter.”

“Yeah well that’s the Jedi for you. Maybe you oughta take your kid out, take him starship racin’ or teach him smuggling. The little fucker might turn into a whiny Sith before y’know it.”

Han got a faraway look. “Yeah, you’re right. Maybe I should. It’s been awhile since I paid Ben a visit. Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it. Lil squirt might not finish what he started.” Gary turned to face him. “So how ’bout that drink?”

But Han had already left.

Goddammit.

The old man in the other stool stood up too. Before he could leave after Han, Gary held his arm. “Hey man, got spare change for a drink?”

“No. Let go. I have Force children to take.”

“Force brats huh? Well there’s one on Jakku. Saw this little scavenger floating junk to her sled when I was marooned there.”

“I see. Thank you for the information.”

“No problem dude. So how ’bout that drink?”

But the old man had also left too.

Selfish fuckers.


Several years later….

ben solo rey

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Father’s Day with Han Solo

Six years before The Force Awakens….

 

Gary the stormtrooper sat sadly in the cantina.

Formerly TK-1287, the retired trooper was having a bad day. He blew what remained of his life savings on a bad bet — he backed the wrong team in the Kessel Races. Now all he had left was a pack of gum and a couple of credits.

Someone took the bar stool next to him, an old smuggler turned race team captain. It was that scoundrel Han Solo.

Gary glanced sideways at him. “That was a bad race man. You shoulda stayed in the smuggling business.”

“The team’s not up to spec today,” Han replied with a trace of irritation. “Do I know you?”

“Yeah man, TK-1287. We captured you back on Cloud City. I was the one who tied you to that torture rack!”

There was an awkward silence.

“If it helps, I backed your team today with my life savings.”

Han nodded. “Yeah? Thanks for the vote of confidence. Lemme buy you a drink.”


Several rounds later….

 

“… we still keep the metal bikini in the closet. So whadya do now?”, asked a heavily drunk Han.

“I’m just a drifter seeing the galaxy. Hic! Didn’t get to see it much during my service,” Gary replied. “So where’s your kid?”

“Jedi school taking after his uncle. More mumbo jumbo an’ handwaving. Never really understood any of it.”

Han looked at his watch. “Shit, I just remembered it’s Father’s Day! I gotta pick him up today, tell him the truth bout his granddad.”

He stood up. “I gotta go. Little snot’s been lookin forward to it for a long time.”

kylo ren sad.gif“Uncle Luke, is dad still coming?”

As Han turned to leave, Gary the stormtrooper stopped him. “You really gonna ditch me man? I’m broke because of your nerf-ass team!”

Han swayed and collapsed back on the stool. “Alright, one more round wouldn’t hurt.”

“Awesome! Forget the little fucker, he’s with Jedi monks now man. I know a good Twi’lek stripclub just ’round the corner. Hic!”

“Fine, lead on buckethead.”

Six years later….

han solo death

 Happy Father’s Day from Stormtrooper Larry! 

Darth Vader Tries to Change his Name

Darth Vader was in a foul mood.

Several years ago, the Emperor had christened him “Darth Vader”. At the time he thought nothing of it, since he had so much stuff to do like ending the war and killing some younglings.

But now that he had run out of Jedi, Vader was finally able to give some thought to his name. For the first time, the dark lord of the Sith realized that “Darth Vader” sucked. Where the fuck did the Emperor get that name?

Plagueis was cool, like some sort of unstoppable disease. Sidious was terrifying, since Palpatine really was an insidious asshole. And Maul, that was downright bad-ass. But what the hell was a “Vader”? It sounded like a Dutch “father”, and Anakin knew he wasn’t a dad. Hell, he didn’t even have balls anymore.

Force-grabbing a pen and paper, the dark lord sat down at his desk and prepared to work.

Hmm. Let’s see:

Darth Awesome – Anakin knew he was awesome, he won the Boonta eve as a kid, ended the Clone Wars as a whiny teen, and his mom told him so. But it was still too cliche.

Darth Devastator – He could throw a pretty mean punch. But “devastator” was too long. Besides, it sounded like a star destroyer.

Darth Dude – Shorter and much simpler, but too generic.

darth vader surfboard_thumb[2]Darth Dude also made him sound like a surfer dude, and he hated sand.

Darth Choker – Too BDSM. And he was already in black leather.

Darth the Menace – Nope, too juvenile.

Darth Superior – Palpatine wouldn’t like it.

Darth Tall, Dark and Handsome – That fit him right to a T! Okay, maybe not the handsome part anymore. Fucking Obi-Wan.

Darth Ani – Padme would have called her that. If only she were still alive….

Darth Vader punched the desk. Fuck, this name shit is hard!

The door to his cabin chimed. It was a junior officer.

“Sir, a squadron of Rebel fighters are approaching the Death Star from Yavin IV,” the nervous flunky reported. “The Grand Moff requests your presence on the bridge.”

“Tell him I’m on my way.”

Figures. Every time he gets some alone time, another emergency pops up. He couldn’t even get a few minutes of peace to change his goddamn name!

With a sigh, Vader Force-crumpled the paper and stood up. He hoped there won’t be a dogfight… he was feeling really distracted today.

Lower Standards

Every Saturday, we feature photos of Stormtrooper Larry from the Outer Rim!

episode 8 stormtrooper

After being selected for Basic Training, Stormtrooper EG-N0G was fortunate to join the First Order at the right time.

After the Empire fell, stormtrooper standards are no longer what they used to be.

Kylo Ren’s Password Problem

Several years before The Force Awakens…

Young Ben Solo sat cross-legged on the floor. Very carefully, he set down the holocron in front of him and prepared to do his Jedi homework.

Holocrons, or holographic chronicles, were crystal devices that held ancient lessons. Today he was going to learn from the esteemed Master Yoda.

Before Ben could start, his friend Ron poked his head in the doorway. “Hey man, wanna watch some Twi’lek porn with us?”

Ben shook his head. “No thanks, you know we’re not supposed to watch those. Besides, I have homework to do.”

“Suit yourself. Later dude!”

twilek dancers monthly“It’s your loss Ben!”

Ben cleared images of sexy Twi’lek dancers from his mind and activated the holocron. A tiny hologram of Master Yoda appeared.

“Your password you must enter, if you wish to learn.”

On the holographic keyboard, Ben typed:

> crossguardlightsabersarecool

“Expired your password is. Change it you must, from the Sith and the IT department.  Would you like to change it now?”

Ben clicked YES.

“Your new password you will enter.”

> saber

At least 8 characters your password must have.”

> ihavebigsaber

“A capitalized character there should be, for cunning the Sith are.”

> ihavebigBIGsaber

“A number you should include, if you are not a dimwitted Gammorrean. Mmhehehehemmm.”

force-ghost-yoda.jpg“A stupid password that is, like 1234.”

Ben was starting to get pissed.

> ihaveBIGsaber69

“Weak your password is, young padawan. Try again. Mmhehehehemmm.”

> ihaveaBIGfuckingsaber69

“Still weak your password is. Disappointed in you, your father will be. Mmhehehehemmm.”

Ron stuck his head in the doorway again. “Hey bro, we’re gonna Force-torture some mynocks behind the gym. Wanna join?”

Ben screamed. “NO! GET THE FUCK OUT, I’M TRYING TO CONCENTRATE!”

“Geez man, okay.”

Ben Force-slammed the door and typed furiously:

> BIGgoddamnfuckingsaber69!!!!!

“Not allowed special characters are, little nerfbrain. Mmhehehehemmm.”

> BIGgoddamnfuckingsaberwithfuckinglittlecrossguardsabersontheside69

“A mismatch there is. Type your password again, you will mmhehehehemm.”

FUCK!

While the little Yoda hologram was still going “mmhehehehemm”, Ben Force-hurled the holocron against the wall, where it shattered into a million pieces. The lesson was supposed to be Jedi Calm and Patience 101.

Ben buried his face in his hands. He didn’t finish what he started.

Ron cautiously stuck his head in the door again.

“Hey dude, we’re gonna poke around the old Sith ruins in Korriban. Wanna come?”

Ben looked up.

“Yeah, I’m tired of this nerfshit. I could use a break.”

“Awesome! Meet you ’round back in 10.”

Fuck this Jedi shit. Uncle Luke had probably cheaped out again and bought pirated holocrons. While he was off searching for the first Jedi temple (or more likely spending time in the space casino), Ben was studying his ass off in his room.

He figured he deserved to have some fun with the gang. The Knights of Ron and Ben weren’t complete without him.

As Ben left to join his friends, the little Yoda hologram fizzled once before fading out.

“An error there is. Update your holocron to the latest version you should. Mmhehehehemmm.”

yoda laugh.gif“Ads you can remove with the paid version. Mmhehehehemmm.”


Liked this story? Then be sure to read the one about the showdown on Tatooine!

Why the Star Wars Saga May be a Big, Fat LIE

Back in 2003 during the production of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas revealed a crazy insight: R2-D2 was actually the narrator of the entire Star Wars saga.
journal of the whills
The original story of Luke Starkiller as recounted in the Journal of the Whills

According to ol’ George:

  • The Star Wars films are actually told from Artoo’s recollection, for inclusion in the Journal of the Whills, a record of notable events that shaped galactic history.
  • Artoo relayed the events of the original trilogy and the prequels to the Keeper of the Whill, about 100 years after the Battle of Endor.

From Gizmodo:

“The entire story of Star Wars is actually being recounted to the keeper of the Journal of the Whills—remember that?—a hundred years after the events of Return of the Jedi by none other than R2-D2.”

What are the implications? If the movies are actually narrated by R2-D2, and they were recorded long after they happened, then the whole Star Wars saga as we know it may not be accurate.

Here’s why.


1. Only Artoo doesn’t have flaws

The entire saga is filled with characters who are flawed in their own way. We have Luke, the powerful but brash Jedi; Leia, the headstrong but cold Princess; and Han, the con man/smuggler with a heart of gold.

Even the supporting characters are flawed. Chewie is prone to Wookiee temper, C3P0 is a chronic worrier, Obi-Wan lied, Yoda’s belief in the Jedi dogma was inflexible, and the Emperor’s overconfidence led to his demise.

Guess who was the only character not to have ANY flaw in any of the episodes? That’s right — R2-D2. The narrator of the saga is portrayed as loyal, brave, trustworthy, staunchly independent, and even adorable for a droid. If he does have a flaw, it’s only that we can’t understand his beeps and whistles.

r2d2 girls
He also got more girls than Han and Lando combined.

2. Artoo saved everyone numerous times

Throughout the story arc, everyone gets to have a turn at saving the day.

Princess Leia saved her would-be rescuers by finding a way out of the detention level. Obi-Wan sacrificed himself to allow the Falcon to escape. Han’s intervention saved Luke twice. And of course, we have the biggest galaxy savers of the bunch, the Skywalkers. The dad-son duo is responsible for winning pod races, blowing up droid control ships, and destroying Death Stars.

Out of all the supporting cast, there is only one character who can match their record for saving the day: R2-D2.

  • Episode I: Artoo successfully repaired the Naboo royal starship’s shields, saving everyone from the Trade Federation blockade.
  • Episode II: Stopped Padme from being melted to death in the Geonosis droid factory
  • Episode III: Destroyed the buzz droids that were tearing up Anakin’s fighter
  • Episode IV: Carried the Death Star plans all the way to the Rebellion, got Luke and Obi-wan together, and saved everyone from death by trash compactor
  • Episode V: Repaired the Falcon’s sabotaged hyperdrive, allowing the ship to escape from Cloud City and the Executor fleet
  • Episode VI: Smuggled Luke’s lightsaber for the pivotal fight over the Pit of Carkoon, and unchained Leia from the dead body of Jabba the Hutt before everything exploded.
r2d2 flying
And like James Bond, he has a convenient gadget for every plot dilemma.

Other than the Skywalkers, no one else comes close to saving the day in both the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War. Heck, when it comes to heroics, Artoo even beats Jedi Master Yoda, who only came to the rescue twice in Episode II then got his ass kicked by Palpatine in III!

Then again, it just so happens that the entire Star Wars saga, including Artoo’s numerous heroics, are told from his point of view.


3. Artoo “died” several times, but always survived

Don’t you find it just a little suspicious that Artoo was damaged on several instances, yet he always seemed to bounce back intact?

The first was when Luke’s X-wing was hit during the Death Star dogfight. A volley from Darth Vader’s fighter hit Artoo directly on the dome — Luke even says “I’ve lost Artoo”. Yet he was back up and fully functional during the victory ceremony.

r2 death 1

The second time was in Dagobah when Artoo sank in the fetid swamp. He was eaten up by a swamp monster, and then spat back out, whole and damage-free.

r2 death 2

Finally, Artoo suffered a direct hit from stormtroopers during the Battle for Endor, causing him to short-circuit. Threepio even wailed, “Why did you have to be so brave?” And yet that very same night, Artoo was back up and running in time for the Ew0k victory party.

R2_Endor_Damage


 

So what does this mean? I’m not saying that R2-D2 is flat-out lying. I’m just saying that his recollection of events may not be all that accurate. After all, it’s been over a hundred years. And he always seemed to save the day. And he never seemed to die.

Think of the possibilities.

What if a different, unknown droid actually saved the royal starship in Episode I, but only Artoo survived to reap the glory? What if C-3PO played a deadly prank on snowtroopers during the Battle of Hoth, but Artoo omitted it out of respect for his droid buddy? And what if critical parts of the saga either didn’t happen at all or happened very differently, since Artoo wasn’t around to see them?

c3po wampa.gif
One of the many historical events that Artoo conveniently “forgot

Perhaps Boba Fett was actually a bad-ass, and Artoo just made him seem like a total wuss. Perhaps Porkins really survived, and died later of diabetes. Maybe Obi-Wan wasn’t dumb enough to trust the entire future of the Jedi to two babies, and sired some of his own. Maybe Darth Vader wasn’t really redeemed, but was killed by Luke before he faced off against the Emperor. Han actually did shoot first, and didn’t even leave a tip.

And maybe, just maybe, a certain Gungan didn’t really exist.

That’d be one of the upsides of having a dirty, lying astromech droid called R2-D2.

R2D2 drinking

Want more mind-blowing Star Wars insights? Then guess who killed Finn’s stormtrooper buddy on Jakku!

FN-2003: The Weakest Link

This is an offshoot of the article The Horrifying Truth about Poe Dameron Nobody Seems to Notice. A Reddit user wondered, “What if Finn got hit instead?” The result is this story.


In an alternate universe….

The sublight engines cease their gentle hum, to be replaced by the steady throb of the repulsors. Onboard the squat transport, white-armored figures prepare for combat. The sound of activating HUDs and slap-locking cartridges fill the cramped cabin, while the gunner on top starts blasting away at unseen targets.


The ramp drops. Thick smoke. Fire. The chaotic din of combat. Brilliant beams of energy crisscross the night, some narrowly missing and showering sparks on the dropship’s durasteel. The stormtroopers of FN squadron rush down the ramp and into the fray.

z

A hundred meters from the drop zone, a lone Resistance pilot abandons his damaged fighter. Grabbing a worn blaster from a survival pack, he takes aim on the nearest trooper and starts shooting back.

He fires two bolts in quick succession. Both shots find their marks, downing two stormtroopers attempting to outflank the villagers in their makeshift barricades.

x4

His crippled fighter burning in the background, the pilot shifts his aim and searches for new targets.

He finds one: a stormtrooper standing aimlessly in the middle of the battle and gawking all around. In any firefight, being stationary is suicide, and this one just signed his death warrant.

The pilot fires his third shot.

x3

The reckless trooper is hit dead center on the chestplate. While stormtrooper armor can withstand glancing shots, it isn’t designed to absorb direct hits. The bolt’s lethal energy is only marginally dissipated by the ferroplast. Most of it finds its way to soft living tissue, cooking the wearer, FN-2187.

The stormtrooper slumps to the ground. Behind him, his squadmate FN-2003 sees him fall and doesn’t hesitate. With reflexes born from a lifetime of training, he fires back at the source of the muzzle flash.

q

The return fire strikes the pilot in the head. Poe Dameron, Resistance ace, is dead before his body even hits the ground.

Stormtroopers are not used to hitting their targets with the first shot. A barrage of blaster bolts rain down on Poe’s prostrate body before FN-2003 realizes his opponent was killed by his first lucky shot.

Beneath the helmet, FN-2003 whoops. He has just scored his first kill of the night. Relentlessly bullied and derided as the weakest link during training, “Slip” has finally proven himself in combat. He calls for a gunner to cover the spot and moves on to other targets. His second kill is a bearded old man running away from a hut.

As the triumphant trooper blasts away, his fallen comrade FN-2187 takes his last labored breath. The captain once reprimanded him for his “dangerous levels of empathy”. Only know does he realize the fatal consequence of his flaw. As he lies motionless on his back, the last thing he sees is a massive bat-like shape that blots out the stars.

Minutes into his first combat deployment, FN-2187, the stormtrooper with a conscience, dies. He never received a name.

z

Overhead, the sinister craft folds its massive wings and comes in for a landing. A black-clad figure strides down the ramp, ignoring the villagers being herded in the village square.

“Who killed the Resistance pilot?”

FN-2003 steps confidently forward. This is it. In front of his entire platoon, this will be his moment of vindication.

“I did, sir!”

“And the old man in the village?”

“It was also me, sir!”

The tall figure looks down on him, somehow managing to radiate a sense of contempt despite the mask.

“What is your serial number?”

The stormtrooper proudly squares his shoulders. “FN-2003, SIR!”

A gloved hand reaches out. Slip suddenly finds himself catapulted toward the hooded figure, floating in mid-air inches away from the unflinching mask.

“I can do many things, FN-2003. But I cannot interrogate dead bodies.”

The hand lashes out. Slip is hurled back, as if rammed by a runaway speeder truck. He hits a nearby hut with enough force to crack the ferrocrete. As his helmet readout flares with alerts of multiple fractures and a broken neck, FN-2003’s last thought was wondering where he went wrong.

A pauldroned officer comes up to the hooded figure.

“We found no signs of the map on either body or on the fighter sir. And our sensors detected no holonet transmissions of any kind. They didn’t have time to send it off-world.”

“They must have hidden it. Form a search perimeter 100 klicks around the village.” The figure paused. “If you do not find any trace, burn the planet from orbit. I will not risk Skywalker being found.”

“Yes sir!”

The man in the black mask stalks back to his ship. Shouting officers begin forming the search party as more transports arrive. In the background, flametroopers move in to erase every trace of the village, a harbinger of Jakku’s fate.

A lone stormtrooper in gleaming chrome looks at Slip’s broken body, then walks away.

“FN-2003: always the weakest link.”

z

The Horrifying Truth About Poe Dameron Nobody Seems to Notice

The sublight engines cease their hum. Onboard, the white-armored occupants steel themselves for combat, as the gunner on top begins blasting away at unseen targets.

The ramp drops. Fires. Shouting. Brilliant beams of energy crisscrossing through the night. Moving as one, the stormtroopers rush out of the transport and charge straight into the frenzy.

A hundred meters away, a lone Resistance pilot abandons his damaged T-70. Grabbing a worn blaster from his survival pack, he takes aim on the nearest white-clad figure and starts shooting back.

x

His first shot is dead on target. Down goes a trooper.

x2

Determined to give his BB-8 unit a running start, the pilot fires again.

x3

This ace pilot is just as deadly on solid ground as he is in space combat. Before the second trooper can even react to his fallen comrade, he too is hit with a fatal blast.

x4

As his crippled fighter burns in the background, the pilot slightly shifts his aim to the right and trains the sight on a new target.

x5

His third shot catches a running figure full on in the chest plate.

x6

As the target slumps to the ground, his buddy runs to check on the mortally wounded stormtrooper.

x7

But it’s too late. As he lays dying, the stricken trooper reaches out to his friend with a bloodied hand. Shuddering, he lets out one final gasp and lays still.

x8

The surviving trooper panics. Numb with shell shock and stained by blood, he stumbles around the battlefield. Within minutes of his first combat deployment, he has seen innocent villagers shot, houses torched, and his friend killed.

x9

Later on, the Resistance pilot will be captured, and the traumatized stormtrooper will help him pull off a daring escape. Their shared hardship will lead to an unlikely friendship.

z

The stormtrooper will never know that the pilot he helped escape was the one who killed his friend. Meanwhile, the pilot will never realize that among the faceless troopers he shot was the the stormtrooper’s bestfriend.

If you think this is some kind of insane fan theory, here’s the full GIF of the scene:

poe

According to Wookieepedia, the hapless stormtrooper was FN-2003, aka “Slip”. He was the weakest link in Finn’s squad, so that Finn was always bailing his clumsy stormtrooper butt out of trouble:

During a First Order raid on a sacred village on the planet Jakku, Slip was hit by blaster fire from Poe Dameron. FN-2187 went to help his squadmate, but FN-2003’s wound proved fatal, Slip wiping his bloody hand on FN-2187’s helmet before dying. His sudden and violent death contributed to FN-2187’s decision to escape from First Order service.

And so kids, that is why The Force Awakens is the darkest Star Wars movie yet.

Untitled

UPDATE: Be sure to check out the alternate universe version! What if Poe hit Finn instead?

Showdown on Sunset Boulevard

He stood in the shadows, waiting.

So far today, he had already dispatched three: one human, one Tydian, and even a droid, an old 2-LOM model. And he had only been trailing the boy for six hours.

Overhead, the twin suns of the desert planet beat down relentlessly. Cloaked figures rushed down shaded avenues to escape the stifling heat. Grimly, he knew that on planets like this, beings tended to stay indoors during the day, and activity tended to pick up at dusk. Three were already down — several more to go at sundown.

One hundred meters away, the subject of his attention turned to look at some useless baubles on a dusty window. The blonde head swung to and fro, like the hyperactive arm of an oscillator set to overdrive. The boy’s wide-eyed innocence at all the things around him was refreshing, if not mildly amusing.

What the boy found fascinating, his watcher considered little more than a hellhole. In fact, just the latest in a series of hellholes he had to live in, after the fall of the old system and the rise of a new order. Mos Etnoh considered itself a cosmopolitan place, with its rundown tourist attractions and “historical” landmarks that were likely put up a fortnight ago. Whereas Mos Espa prided itself on being a gambling zone and home of the Boonta Eve, and Mos Eisley was unabashedly a smuggler’s hive of scum and villainy, Mos Etnoh still clung to its pretensions of being the planet’s cultural center, if ever the world even had one.

Further ahead, a female voice called, calling the boy back to his guardians. The watcher took the opportunity to cross the street, ending in the same dusty window formerly occupied by his charge.

Without meaning to, he caught a glimpse of his reflection: a hooded figure in brown, with a graying beard and the tanned leathery skin of an old desert hand. Had he really aged that much? Even the most brutal years of the Clone Wars did not take such a toll on him.

His musing were cut short by movement to his right. An old Xhillian rushed down the street, muttering about the infernal heat. Xhillians were a long-lived species, easily matching a Hutt. By the mottled gray skin of this one, he was obviously past the 500-year mark. And yet, he moved faster than a newly hatched spawn.

The bearded man pretended to study the same baubles that fascinated the boy, watching the Xhillian’s reflection on the unwashed pane. A moment later, his suspicions proved correct — there was a brief flash of silver on the old being’s sleeve. The split-second glint would have been unnoticeable to most, but not to the watcher. It was the unmistakable silhouette of a holdout blaster.

Slowly he turned. The Xhillian glanced once in his direction before hurrying on, intent on pursuing the same quarry. That was his fatal mistake.

After making sure there were no additional eyes on the street, the watcher lashed out, catching the alien midstride. The blaster, already primed for action, fell from his robe.

The Xhillian’s gray hide briefly flashed yellow in alarm. As the blaster clattered loudly on the ferrocrete, his skin took on a deep crimson red. Anger.

The two figures faced each other in the canyon of the alley: one snarling, the other quietly confident.

In the blink of an eye, the red alien raised his other sleeve, revealing a second holdout blaster. But the tanned human was faster — before the arm was even halfway up, its owner was already embedded with three prongs of a Kamino saberdart, coated with their trademark poison.

The Xhillian fell. The human remained standing over his quickly graying corpse.

The only witness to the duel was a hunched beggar, who quickly learned to look away and mind his own business.

The watcher hurried on to catch the boy. Four down so far, several more to go. Dusk was quickly approaching.

As he moved, he turned to look back at the being whose life he just took. Unlike before, the man no longer felt any pangs of regret, no sudden bouts of conscience in his new role. His head swung back to his fair-haired quarry. The Xhillian was already the past — he had to focus on the present.

As he did, a sudden tingle of alarm gripped him, the same sense that enabled him to survive all throughout the Clone Wars and the turbulent period that followed. There was something familiar about that beggar.

Just as he turned to look, a sudden flash of emerald brilliance bathed the street, before being quickly extinguished. The watcher looked at the cauterized hole on his chest, gasped, and staggered.

A hand steadied him. The old beggar.

“Quietly now, my friend.”

The man looked up at a face much like his own. Graying beard, tanned skin, crisscrossing lines of worry permanently etched by years of hardship and countless battles. But the blazing blue eyes were unmistakable.

The shadows deepened and dusk settled. As his breathing shallowed and faded, the watcher mused on the irony of it all. After three long years, he had finally tracked his ticket to a Core promotion: the rumored son of Skywalker himself. Only to be caught by the boy’s real guardian, a figure who was long thought to be dead. A figure that he had served with during the Clone Wars, no less.

Before he slipped into oblivion, the watcher’s last thought was how bitterly unfair it was that the Emperor or anyone in the ISB would never know what he discovered.

Overhead, the twin suns set. The old beggar blended back in the shadows, as the boy and his adoptive guardians went on their way, across the undulating sands of the Dune Sea.

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