Friday, March 14, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 4: Biggs Was the Hero

Biggs Darklighter grew up on Tatooine.  He dreamed as a boy about going out into the stars.  Every night his mother told him stories about the Empire, the great service of galactic order carried out every day by its grand officers aboard great starships, so large nothing in Mos Eisley could ever contend with them.

Biggs used to travel with his family to Mos Eisley once a season.  There were carnivals, podraces, sandsculpting contests, you name it.  His father always told him, Watch yourself here, son.  His father was a fearful man, who lived an honest enough life, but in the unshakable service of the Hutts.  Biggs hated the Hutts.  Young as he was, he could remember a time before they controlled everything.  As far as the rest of the galaxy was concerned, Tatooine had always been Hutt territory, but that wasn't really the case.  His father talked about earlier times, and his mother was the last remnant of a royal dynasty.  Or at least, he used to pretend.  One day he was sneaking around in their closet and saw a uniform.  He didn't have a chance to look closely enough, so he didn't know who it had belonged to, but that was the moment the dream began for him.

Biggs grew up.  He lived near one of the moisture farms, was best friends with a boy named Luke Skywalker, who'd never known his parents, who always seemed out of place on Tatooine, whose aunt and uncle told him not to dream.  But Luke dreamed every day, thanks to Biggs.  It was their secret pact.  Biggs told his friend about the secret uniform.  They pledged that one day they would serve in a uniform somewhere together.

The only uniforms they knew belonged to the officers of the fleet in the Empire.  On Tatooine the Empire meant nothing.  All Biggs cared was that the Empire had no connection to the Hutts.  He imagined that those officers were the only force in the galaxy that opposed further Hutt tyranny.

When he grew of age, Biggs submitted his application to the training academy immediately.  He'd told Luke they'd enter together, but Luke's uncle had forbidden even the thought so many times they both suspected it would never happen.  Biggs couldn't afford for his own dream to be denied.  Mos Eisley grew more dangerous as the years progressed.  He hadn't been there in ages.  His kind was no longer welcome.  Where else was he to go but somewhere far away from Tatooine?  And how else was he going to go but as a cadet in the Imperial fleet?

He said goodbye to Luke.  He said goodbye to his parents, but that was only in words.  He'd left them behind long ago.  He wanted so much more than his father's abject fate.

With his fellow recruits, Biggs quickly learned much more about the Empire.  He found out how other worlds viewed it, and how it viewed the galaxy.  He studied its history, which was shorter than he'd thought.  One day, he discovered that he'd made a terrible mistake, and so he ran away.  He didn't know where to go, so he went back home.  And he went to Mos Eisley.

There, he met some new friends, malcontents.  This was how he first learned of the Rebellion.  Eventually, he volunteered to join a new fleet, to be one of its first officers.  He'd received enough training from the Empire that his rank was quickly elevated to considerable importance among his new allies.  But Biggs remained humble.  When it came time to fly the new fleet's considerably smaller ships, he said he'd be willing to pilot one himself.  They were similar to what he'd known on Tatooine, after all.

When he learned that Luke had joined the cause, Biggs was ecstatic.  Finally they were reunited!  They would fly and fight and dream together once again!

When the assault on the Empire's dreaded Death Star occurred, Biggs allowed Luke to take point in their team.  His ship took a hit in the attack, and he thought he was a goner.  But when his ship crashed, Biggs somehow survived.  He'd jettisoned in time.  He always had good instincts.

He made his way into the bowels of the massive starbase.  All of these Imperial forces were concentrated on the Rebel ships.  None of them had considered the possibility of infiltration, just as the Rebel plan itself hadn't.  And yet, there Biggs was.

He made his way to the power core.  He had an explosive with him.  He was totally alone.  He had no idea what was going on around him.  And no one was paying the slightest attention to him.

Biggs destroyed the Death Star.

(Writer's note: Although not directly inspired by it, readers who enjoy this story would do well to read Dark Horse's excellent Darklighter graphic novel.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 3: Palpatine v. Skywalker

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there existed two families who engaged in a millennium of blood feud.  By the time it ended, no one remembered how it began, and so history began to fill it up with stories, to fit the epic nature of the conflict.  History proved very inventive indeed.

The truth is, the truly always was, this was a matter between House Palpatine and House Skywalker.  They were political contenders, leading figures of a vast Galactic Republic, sparring neighbors from Naboo and Tatooine.  They slung dirt at each other.  They accused each other of ridiculous things.  They exaggerated the record.

The Palpatines said the Skywalkers were backward degenerates, little better than provincial pretenders, whose lineage wasn't important enough to be taken seriously.  The Skywalkers said the Palpatines were war-mongering elitists, who were interested in little more than pursuing their own selfish, manipulative agendas.

Maybe there was truth to both sides.  The louder the war of words became, the more people took sides.  It was quite a spectacle.  And, I remind you, this was dragged out for a thousand years, generation after generation of Palpatines and Skywalkers, father to son to father to son.

Eventually, by the end, everyone had stopped paying attention.  Once again, only the Palpatines and Skywalkers truly cared.  By this point, when no one was paying attention anymore, it was easier to actually achieve what they'd wanted all along.

And so one day a Palpatine asked a Skywalker, Will you join forces with me?  And the Skywalker agreed.  And that was how it finally ended.  The two families worked together, and it was perfect harmony, so perfect it couldn't last, not the way the blood feud had.  It ended within two decades.

And everyone moved on.