- Posted On: Feb 24 2022 5:09pm
It had come down to this.
Simon Kaine bored into the holomap as if willing a solution to magically appear.
“I… I…” the normally reserved Imperial officer stammered, his famous calm finally cracking as sweat beads glided down the chiseled features of his face.
“I don’t know what to do…” he finally admitted and there was a collective gasp from nearby personnel.
It was shocking.
It was humiliating.
It was downright scary!
A stormtrooper was so shaken that he threw is blaster to the floor as if all hope had been sucked out of the room faster than explosive decompression. The blaster went off as it struck the shiny floor and shot a sensor operator in the back attending to his duties.
His admiration for the stormtrooper finally hitting something was quickly doused as an alert sounded throughout the station warning of the presence of enemy boarders.
Kaine turned away, his black uniform stained with perspiration, his usual slicked-back hair in disarray as the pressures mounted. He glanced at the large man beside him, silently pleading, mouthing the question, “What do we do?”.
Bhindi Drayson was the first to break and ran for the door and then the floodgates were opened. Every Imperial soldier besides the crumbling Kaine dogged Drayson’s footsteps like rats fleeing a sinking ship. However, before they even reached the door leading out of the Control Room, it opened revealing a hooded figure blocking their escape.
“Darth Ahnnnnk!!!” the rats wailed in terror suddenly scrambling backwards. Bhindi Drayson was knocked on her butt as the Imperials pushed and shoved each other as if putting more distance between them and the galactic scourge, the Bringer of Doom and the Destroyer of Dreams would somehow keep them safe. The enemy lifted the hood of his robe revealing a swirling mask of tattoos that struck terror into those who once considered themselves the masters of the universe.
The large man next to Simon Kaine had not moved and he frowned at the newcomer’s “tattoo” since he could see that underneath the black markings, his skin was as white as a glow stick.
Must be a bargain basement job.
Bhindi clawed her way back up and ran behind the large man next to Kaine placing her hands on his shoulders as if his very presence could make all the bad things in the world scuttle back under the rocks they had sprung from.
The large man wasn’t picky. He turned around, putting his back to the interloper and stared into Bhindi’s wide eyes. Lifting a finger, he traced it along her jawline feeling the slight, soft facial hair that women had. She seemed to draw strength from his touch and moved around him to face this… this... robed figure. The large man’s eyes travelled up and down her figure as she moved past him seeing the stain on her uniform butt noting that the floor polisher droid, wherever it was now, had a fluid leak.
Darth Ahnk opened his mouth revealing his teeth sharpened to points. “You ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight?” he rasped out causing Bhindi to take a step back.
The large man grunted stepping forward with a devil-may-care sideways grin splitting his unshaven face. “If the Devil can see the moon from his pit in hell, then it’s because I have cracked the planet open to fish him out like the slime eel his is. He is not dancing, friend. He’s wiggling, trying to escape my grasp as I squeeze the life out of him.”
Darth Ahnk throws his head back and his laughter is like a trash compactor grinding salvage to bits. “I like you!” he exclaims. “What is your name?”
The large man spits. “Paddington. Paddington is my name and I already gotta date,” he patted Bhindi’s behind already making plans in his head.
“If you are into necro-romancing,” Darth Ahnk laughed obnoxiously at his own joke.
Paddy slowly reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a pack of smokes. Well, a pack with only one smoke left.
My last one.
This did not bode well.
He put the cigarette in his mouth, took a match and struck his teeth igniting it. Cupping his hands, he lit the smoke and took a few slow drags.
Shaking the match out, he studied the man named Darth Ahnk. “So what’s the plan here? Kill everyone in the Control Room and then what? Take over the Empire?”
Darth Ahnk stepped into the room. “Of course. These people believe in ‘only the strongest survive’ and since I am the strongest, they will fall in line. Or they will die.”
A stormtrooper whimpered.
Paddington chuckled, “You think they will follow a robot?”
Ahnk stopped, “What?”
“You know. A robot. Mechanical man? Humaniform droid?” Paddy prompted.
“I know what a robot is!” snapped Darth Ahnk. “Why do you think I am a robot?”
Paddy gestured to the holotable, “May I?”
Darth Ahnk, wary but not wanting to show it, merely inclined his head, curious despite himself.
Kaine scurried out of the way as the large man moved back towards the table and fiddled with a few buttons. After a couple of beeps, a collage of photos popped up. “These photos are hundreds of years apart and in each one, you appear to look the same. My guess? You’re a robot!”
Ahnk laughed until he was choking. “I am not a robot!” And in that moment, a stormtrooper took an opportunity to rush past him as he was distracted. However, Ahnk’s arm shot out and grabbed the trooper by the back of his uniform stopping his escape. The trooper’s momentum was stopped and then Ahnk hurled the trooper over his head towards the table.
Paddington moved out of the way but still facing the Dark Lord. A clone then? This will either work or I will be mildly embarrassed. And as he took a final drag of his cigarette, he smiled, “Thanks.”
And flicked the smoke stick in front of the Sith. But as it bounced on the floor, it struck the oil spot that Ahnk had stepped in.
Immediately, the oil ignited, and fire travelled up the Sith’s robes turning the Dark Lord into a Lord of Light. He began to squeal in terror and pain as the fire started to consume flesh and he began to run out of the room only to collapse just outside.
“Your pass from hell has just been revoked,” Paddington smirked before turning to Bhindi. “Now, where were we?”
“You were wonderful,” she purred.
“You’re not so bad yourself, baby. What say you? Luxury suite and hot -tub on the military’s credit, of course.”
Bhindi’s smile grew, and she moved closer and whispered into Paddy’s ear, “naturally….”
She was going to say something further when her nose wrinkled in disgust, “What’s that smell? Is someone cooking meat?”
“CUT!” a shout yelled over everyone, and the film crew stepped farther back as the director entered the scene. He was about to berate “Bhindi Drayson” when the smell of burnt farts entered his nostrils and his head snapped back and forth looking for the source.
“How much thermite was in the oil?” he shouted as his film crew rushed over the smoking embers of “Ahnk”.
“J… Jerries is dead!” an intern cried out checking the Dark Lord poser.
“Did any of the props get damaged?” the director suddenly asked, a worried look coming over him.
“No... just his costume,” someone outside in the ‘corridor’ shouted back. “I think the black marker used on his face was flammable too!”
“Sith Spit, Borge,” ‘Paddington’ cried out. “Why didn’t you spring for a real tattoo rather than scribbling on the man’s face with a marker?”
“When you are a world-renown director, you can make those calls!” Borge replied back walking over to the body of Jerries.
And how could a sket like Borge become a “world-renown” director? Especially on a world like Coruscant? Well, there was this alien invasion see and while there are still a lot of people still residing on the planet, a lot left. Mostly the rich and influential scrammed while the poor or those whose who manned the civil departments to keep the planet-wide city’s utilities and services running out of a sense of duty or because they figured the new Imperial Center of Vladet would have no need of them and they had to feed their family remained.
Borge was a guy who had purchased a ticket aboard a fleeing freighter with his life savings only to find out that he had been scammed.
Anyway, after the shooting and the people dying stopped and things started moving again albeit with less people, life on Coruscant settled down. While the invaders had control of the system, they only seemed to interfere sporadically. The alien soldiers were left behind to keep the peace, shoot looters and probably protestors but they did not seem all that different from the days of good ol’ Palpatine.
Still, Gevel’s Empire was slowly taking hold and soon the masses did not seem to care if the man simply had a skillful tongue to lull the aliens to sleep or if he was a full-blown collaborator, the point was that the invaders were no longer shooting and their numbers seemed to be decreasing. Life was returning to normal!
What did this all mean?
Coruscant was the land of opportunity! There was money to be made! Stealing it from those who fled with only the clothes on their backs, earning it from jobs abandoned, hell just going into business for yourself without the entrenched competitors or guilds that before required one’s participation and membership in could cause one to fall into a pile of credits.
Borge started a film company setting himself up as a director and the limits were only those of his imagination.
And right now that director was kissing his necklace charm of St. Yunos, the Azguardian god of luck, because, on Coruscant, one needed all the luck they could get. He let out a sigh of relief. “We’ve got insurance, but the props are hellish expensive. So, everything is ok!”
The props were worth more than Jerries salary and since Jerries wouldn’t be needing his anymore, well, what director did not like to save money?
“Paddington” walked over to the director, “I thought we were going to add the effects in Post?”
The director turned and gestured to the room’s fake door. “Look at Jerries’ performance! Look at the realistic portrayal with a practical effect! You can’t fake that!”
Oman/Paddington raised an eyebrow, “Well it’s easy to portray burning to death if you are actually burning to death.”
“Pish Posh, Oman. Art can be skill but good art is pain.”
Oman shrugged, “Are we done? Or do we need a sex scene?”
Gerta/Bhindi smirked, taking off her wig, “You’d like that wouldn’t you? I would sooner do Quint!”
Quint/Kaine looked askance at his co-star, “Sorry Gertie but I don’t swing that way.” Then he paused, “Do you think Simon Kaine will be mad being portrayed by a gay actor?”
Oman smirked, “I think he’d be more miffed as being portrayed as a sniveling coward.”
Quint held up a hand, “Now wait a second! I just follow the script. If he’s going to be mad at anyone, it should be the writers!”
Gerta called out as she moved towards her dressing room, “Relax Quint. With Kaine being retired and Bhindi missing, I guess the writers are feeling brave. I doubt they will watch Coruscant Nights anyway.”
“I don’t know,” Quint replied unconvinced. ‘The higher muckety-mucks don’t like being portrayed badly and since it was a writer’s room, every damned writer has some sort of plausible deniability but who everyone will see is me! So, they will blame me!”
Oman grinned, “The things we do for credits.”
“Hey, wait a minute,” Gertie stopped and turned around pointing a finger at Oman. “What was that pat on my butt? That wasn’t in the script!”
“Improvisation, my dear. Simply improvisation. You know how Governor Drayson liked to dress in those tight, black leather pants and you portrayed her to a tee! I guess I was taken in the moment by the excellent portrayal of your character.”
Gertie huffed for a bit but, in reality, she wasn’t a bad actress. She was just sensitive about not being taken seriously because of her looks and not recognized for her talent. But let me tell you, the girl had talents.
Borga left the room mumbling about having to put out a casting sheet for a new Darth Ahnk because his burning to death was not in the script. I mean, the audience will think he was burned to death while Paddington goes on a few more adventure episodes to rescue his sidekick “Wheels” but the season finale was to bring the Dark Lord back and he would say that cool line, “…broken body of a wretched animal”, while we face off for the last time…or is it? It was to be a cliffhanger episode to prime the audience for the new season. Still making Ahnk a clone was a dash of brilliance. A robot’s been done too much and the audience would see right through that. Besides, robots don’t burn and I needed the cool flickering of the cigarette scene.
After leaving my own dressing room, which was more of a closet with a broken mirror and a stain on the far wall with a hook..yeah, spared no expense here.., I made my way to the connecting transit terminal towards Heffer’s Café. It’s been around since the Republic days and used to be run by a big fat alien but nobody really knows anything more than that. There’s a picture of him on the wall somewhere in the café but if you started to wander around looking for it, people might get suspicious of you looking like you were nosey-ing into their business and put a blaster bolt through you. The neighborhood was on a sort of downward spiral. But as the saying goes on Coruscant, “Once you hit bottom, you find there is another level further down you can go!”
The production of the “Nights” series was the brainchild of one Staggiloo Voss, a rather eccentric Ryn. The first season was called Endor Nights which introduced the main character Paddington Heartscut (though the last name was been dropped in later series). He was the right man in the right spot at the right time finding himself in certain schemes and situations that kicked off the adventure where, at the end, he gets the girl (or guy) and saves the day. In Endor Nights, he is hiking in a forest and comes across a dig directed by a female amateur archeologist studying some Ewok ruins that indicate the funny little bears were once a spacefaring, advanced civilization way back when. The forest blows up around them and the archeologist’s crew ends up dying only to find that it was big chunks of the death star that rained down from heaven destroying parts of the forest but it ends up not being Death Star parts because the damage just isn’t enough. The audience finds out that it is an evil corporation that faked the forest damage from a blown up superlaser to gain control of the dig because buried under the forest is a cache of advanced Ewok tech that would threaten the stability of a fledgling New Republic. In the end, the good guys win, the corporate thugs arrested or shot and Paddy gets his girl. The next season, it was Glee Anselm Nights, then Bonadan Nights.. you get the picture. But every season, a new actor would play Paddington. Then Borga either stole or bought the rights to the series and began producing his own series. In any event, if Mr. Voss is still out there somewhere, he’d have to come to Coruscant to file a lawsuit and with an alien conqueror overhead, that seems unlikely. So Borga keeps filming. In Xa Fel Nights, before my time, Paddy teamed up with Darth Snack (where do the writers get these names? Probably some holonet name-generator.) to uncover an ancient spell turning Sith into zombies. The spell is broken at the end and Paddy and Snack have a love scene that split the Nights fanbase in half. Some praising the diversity and others complaining about the zombie plot. Quint played Paddington that season but while he was praised for being gay, his acting was lambasted. Eh…What are you going to do?
I walk in the Café and see old Norm at the bar, probably been there since the Golden Age of the Republic, and I glance around for our table. I see Quint and Gertie already there (they are always so punctual) so I meander towards them signaling the bartender to get anther round going. The waiter droid is going to get a workout tonight!