Thursday, October 11, 2018

Last Son of the Republic

The world ended for Ensign Chadwick when he failed to establish a tracking lock on the Corellian frigate that had just jumped into hyperspace with the plans to the Death Star. He cast his terrified eyes up from the navigation well of the Star Destroyer's bridge and trembled at the scowling--somehow the mask always seemed to be scowling--visage of Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin's walking nightmare. That iron scowl was the last thing he saw before his throat constricted and his heart stopped. He crumpled to the deck, the final line of the final chapter of a wholly unremarkable story.

Silent, Vader turned and made his way to his quarters. He reported to the Emperor first, of course, and only then to Tarkin. Tarkin's bluster and red-faced foaming was a mere annoyance. The Emperor's hate-fuelled snarl was something else again. Vader swore to himself that he would find those plans before they could be turned against the Death Star. Not because he thought Tarkin's new toy had any significance compared to the Force, but because the Emperor seemed to think the battlestation would be useful.

A few days later, Vader arrived on the station itself, barely restraining himself from killing that fool Tagge right in the middle of a meeting. His control was slipping; the loss of the Death Star schematics and the lack of progress in tracking them down was wearing on him. Some reports even speculated nervously that the nascent Rebels had already analyzed the plans and were even now planning some sort of doubtless futile assault.

Tarkin seemed remarkably serene about the missing plans. He scheduled a demonstration of the battlestation's power as if there were no risk at all that a Rebel fleet would soon careen out of the darkness hell-bent on exploiting some heretofore unknown weakness.

Vader arrived on the Death Star's bridge as Tarkin and an aide discussed the shortlist of targets.

"Tatooine, Dantooine, Kashyyk, Alderaan, Mongo, Krypton, Naboo, Barsoom, Jasoom. The Emperor has given you leave to choose one of these worlds for the test, sir, at your discretion."

Tarkin considered. "I see the Emperor is amusing himself by testing my mettle, even after all these years," he said, directing the comment at Vader as the assassin approached. "He knows full well that The galaxy will barely blink if I blow up a hundred backwaters like Jasoom or Tatooine. No, it'll have to be Naboo or Alderaan--"

"Krypton," Vader said.

"Eh? Granted they're heavily populated, rich, and probably provide covert support to the rebellion, but clearly Alderaan and Naboo would send a much stronger message."

"Krypton," Vader hissed. "Some weeks ago I was in the system and sensed...a presence. A pool of vast potential from the light side of the Force."

Tarkin rolled his eyes. "I hardly think one of your hunches is reason to--"

"Ah, pardon me, sir," the aide said. "But Krypton would shave a week off our travel time, which could be important if the Rebels do stage an attack."

Tarkin fell into silent thought for a moment.

"Fine," he said. "Set course for Krypton."

* * *

A few days later, Jor-El and Lara of Krypton folded baby Kal-El into a nest of red, yellow, and blue blankets, then sealed the hatch of the tiny rocket that would carry him into hyperspace - and safety.

"He's coming now," Jor-El said to the wavering hologram of Obi-Wan Kenobi. "When the Emperor destroys us, so ends the Old Republic. I send you its last son."

"May the Force be with you, my old friends," Kenobi said.

Lara caressed the rocket one final time before pressing the button that launched the craft. It disappeared into hyperspace before it even left the atmosphere, bound for Tatooine.

Jor-El and Lara had time for one last kiss before they, and all nine billion Kryptonians save one, were obliterated. The planet exploded so violently under the Death Star's superlaser assault that the planet's red star exploded as well, a completely unforeseen side effect that resulted in mild radiation burns for several thousand personnel on the sunlit side of the battlestation.

Less than seventeen hours later, a fleet of several dozen Rebel fighters burst out of hyperspace and were quickly annihilated after trying in vain to launch proton torpedoes down an obscure exhaust port. A quick analysis revealed that had they succeeded in hitting the target, a proton torpedo could have caused significant damage - perhaps enough to destroy the station. The flaw was quickly corrected.

Mere hours after that, old Ben Kenobi wandered into the twice-baked deserts of Tatooine and retrieved a wailing baby boy from his rocket.

"There, there, my boy," he said, twirling his finger through the lock of curly blue-black hair that adorned the infant's forehead. "Let me show you your new home."

The baby gurgled, suddenly content, and took hold of Kenobi's finger, giving it a small squeeze.

The boy already has quite a grip, the old man thought. 

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

YAY! At last, the Superman-Star Wars crossover! I can't believe I'm so stoked for that.