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“That was one of the worst days to be a stormtrooper,” TK-421 sighed, leaning against the breakroom countertop and taking a mouthful of coffee from his favorite mug. He’d received the cup as a gift from General Tarkin himself not long after completing the last of four teamwork training seminars mandated by the Emperor.

“The first or the second Death Star?” TK-559 asked.

“The first.”

“Why the first?” 559 pried.

“You know why,” 421 said dryly and took another sip.

“So,” TK-559 began, “what actually happened that day? And how did you manage to get off the Death Star before it exploded?” He was anxious to hear the story, having already heard about his new partner’s brush with the rebels while guardian the Millennium Falcon. “I’ve heard the rumors,” he said, “but no one really seems to know the real story.”

“What’ve you heard?” 421 asked, setting his cup on the counter beside him.

“Well, some are saying you actually died, and that you aren’t you. You’re 421’s twin brother, and you’re taking his place so that the family doesn’t lose the paycheck or the Imperial healthcare plan.”

“That’s funny,” 421 said, stretching his arms up and behind his head to cradle it in his hands. “That’s actually the craziest one I’ve heard so far.” He gave a glance, “You realize how stupid that is, right?”

“Why’s that?”

“Because we never take these things off,” he answered, drumming his fingers against his helmet. “No one even knows what I look like. Why would it matter if I was a twin?”

“Yeah, I suppose,” 559 admitted.

“So, what else are folks saying?”

“Others think you’re a rebel collaborator, and that they didn’t actually shoot you with a blaster, but instead faked the whole thing and took you with them when they escaped.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that one before,” 421 said, reaching for his cup to take another sip. “That’s been around a while.”

“And?” 559 kept on.

“And what?”

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Are you a spy?”

TK-421 allowed a few seconds of silence before answering matter-of-factly, “Yes, I am.” 559’s hand dropped slowly toward his holstered blaster. “I’m just kidding,” 421 laughed, putting out his hand to wave him off. “Slow your roll, boy scout. I’m not a spy.”

The digitized sound of 559’s excited breathing buzzed from his helmet.

“You know,” 421 said snidely, “you’re kind of a spaz. As a matter of fact, almost every stormtrooper I know is a spaz. That’s probably why no one ever hits what they’re shooting at.”

“Whatever,” 559 replied. “So, give it up, 421. What happened that day?”

“It’s really not that big a deal,” he said. “Although, you could say I got lucky.”

“How so?”

“Well,” he started and swirled the last bit of coffee in his mug. “You already know I was assigned sentry duty for the Millennium Falcon after we captured it with the tractor beam, right?”


“And you know that it turned out the rebels were actually hiding on the ship when they jumped me.”

“Yeah, that’s what everybody’s been told.”

“Well, anyway, in the skirmish, one of ‘em got a shot off and it caught me in the side. But you know how our blasters work, right? Not only do they tear through you, but they sort of taze you, too. When I got shot, it didn’t kill me, but instead—”

“—How did a blaster round not kill you?!”

“It hit the flask I keep hidden in my belt line under the armor. The round ricocheted and put a hole in a seat cushion near a holochess table on the ship. But as I was going to say, it knocked me out cold. The metal flask blocked the round, but not the wattage.”

“So, it just tazed you, bro?”

“True dat.”

“Then what happened?”

“Well,” TK-421 continued, “when I woke up, I found myself in a hidden cargo space below deck. All I can figure is that the rebels were in such a hurry when they split, rather than taking the extra time to chuck me from the ship, they left me to slide around in the back while they escaped.”


“Yeah, pretty heartless. My guess is that I ended up sliding into the cargo hold and they just forgot about me.”

“So what did you do?”

“Thankfully the cargo space I was in had a ventilation duct that led to one of the landing legs. It was just big enough for me to crawl through.” TK-421 put his hands behind his head again. “Once I got into the gear compartment, I just stayed there and waited until we landed.”

“How long were you in there?”

“Quite a while. But you see, that’s the interesting part of the whole thing. Before I crawled through to the landing gear, that cargo space I’d landed in, well, it was full of all kinds of smuggled stuff.”

“Really?” 559 buzzed with anticipation.

“Yeah, there were tons of Nutrigrain bars down there—”

“—Oh, man. Those were outlawed big time.”

“I know, right? But, I gotta tell you, that guy Solo was smuggling a whole lot more than illegal Nutrigrain bars. He had Hard Rock Café shirts from places where there’re no Hard Rock Cafés—places like Degobah and Tatooine. He had stacks of fake Levi’s jeans, boxes of Coach handbags—all kinds of stuff.”

“Rebel scum.”

“And that’s only the half of it. There were four or five crates of whiskies from all over the galaxy.”


“Oh, yeah. But this stuff wasn’t counterfeit. It was the real deal.”

“That’s amazing!”

“You ain’t kidding. He had bottles of Aberlour and Laphroaig, Bulleit and Stranahan’s. He had Knappogue Castle and The Exceptional by Sutcliffe and Son. He had stuff from The Macallan and The Balvenie, and then out of all of it, he had one bottle of something I’d never seen before—Red Cedar Bourbon.”

“Wow,” 559 said enthusiastically. “It sounds like you were good to go down there.”

“I sure was,” 421 affirmed. “But don’t forget I was injured. That blaster round didn’t kill me, but it did manage to superheat my flask so that it burned me pretty badly.” He unsnapped a section of the armor near his belt and revealed the top portion of a rather large scar. “See for yourself.”

“Oh man. That looks terrible,” 559 said, his voice betraying concern.

“And it hurt like hell, let me tell you. I actually had to peel the flask away from my skin, and when I did, the skin went with it. But again, thankfully, I was in a place that had everything I needed to clean the wound and bandage it up.”

“You mean you used one of the whiskies?”

“Yep,” 421 replied. “And one of the Hard Rock Degobah shirts as a bandage.”

“Which of the whiskies did you use?”

“I popped open the Red Cedar, but for two reasons. The first being that since there was only one, I figured it was Solo’s prize bottle and I wanted to ruin it for him; but second, because I needed to clean the wound and it was the closest one to me—which, looking back on it, was a big mistake. I should’ve tried grabbing for something else, because when I popped it open, the whole compartment started to smell like stale lemons doused in overly sharp bitters. It was pretty intense, and I thought the stench might give me away.”

“Tell me you didn’t—”

“Yes, unfortunately, I did,” TK-421 admitted. “I tried a swig of the stuff. You know, just to see.”


“And it was a lot like the nose,” 421 replied, but then in the same breath, he quickly gave a retraction. “On second thought,” he said, “it was worse. It tasted like burnt grapefruits spotted with equally burnt mint leaves and singed oregano. Not the best combination. Too weird for my tastes.”

“How’d it finish for you?”

“It was a long finish, one that sort of clawed at my tongue for a few minutes. There was no bottled water down there to help wash it away, so I had to let my saliva build up. And once I managed enough spit, I swished it around in my mouth and then hocked it into one of the Coach handbags.”

“Nice,” TK-559 said, once again sounding his concern for the whole unfortunate situation.

“One thing I will say for the Red Cedar Bourbon,” 421 offered, “is that it works well as an antiseptic. I never did get an infection, and I was down there hanging on the landing gear for quite a while.”

“That’s good,” 559 said and sighed. TK-421 took the last gulp of his coffee and turned to get another. “Wait a second,” 559 interrupted. “You never said how you got away.”

“Oh yeah,” 421 laughed, turning back again to get comfortable against the countertop while he waited for the machine to fill his cup. “Well, like I said, I waited for them to open the gear hatches with the hopes that we’d land somewhere that I could hop out and find a place to hide—at least until the Empire discovered them again. The Empire always finds these morons. Of course, before I shimmied through the duct, I grabbed a whole bunch of Nutrigrain bars and some of the better whisky to keep with me while I waited for the cavalry.”

“Which one did you get?”

“Actually, I grabbed two—a bottle of The Exceptional Grain and the Aberlour 16-year-old. I ended up finishing off most of The Exceptional while I waited for a chance to escape on Yavin—which was crawling with rebels, so I had to stay hidden up in the gear compartment the whole time I was there.”

“So that’s where you were when the Death Star blew.”

“Well, sort of. We left Yavin for a little while and were back in space when the Death Star blew up, but eventually we went back to Yavin for a few days. Some sort of party, I think. Anyway, my chance to escape came at the next stop. Unfortunately, when we were coming in for a landing and the hatches opened up,” TK-421 embraced himself and gave a faux shiver, “I was hit by an ungodly blast of cold air that knocked the wind right out of me. It made me drop the bottle of Aberlour I’d been guarding.”

“That sucks,” 559 growled.

“I saw it land in the snow near what I could’ve sworn was a Wampa reading a newspaper. Turns out we were landing on Hoth.”

“I heard from one of the guys in the snow regiment,” 559 interjected, “that Luke Skywalker—the punk kid who blew up the first Death Star—I heard he was attacked by one of those things.”

“Yeah, I heard that, too. Good. He had it coming.”


“So, anyway, when the Falcon landed, I found my chance and jumped off and hid in a storage bin. And like I said, I figured you guys would eventually show up before too long.”

“And you were right. We did.”

“Yes, you did. And yes, I was—about everything except for the Red Cedar, that is.”

And now you know this guy’s story.