Scene: a bar on the back-end of the galaxy.
“Look, I’ve got some stuff to say. I was a proud servant of the Empire for a full 20 years. And I saw some serious shit. Hi, yes, my name is NL-689, but all my mates called me Null. Served all over the galaxy and it wasn’t a damn cakewalk. I’ve got friends who still wake up screaming, saying those WERE the droids we were looking for. I’ve got another buddy who lost half his toes on Hoth, and for what? The guy won’t go anywhere without an extra layer of clothing because the chill never ever leaves you. Hell, I can’t even look at dustballs because they make me think about Ewok-scum. And forget riding in vehicles after all those ambushes on Jedha. Yeah, that kind of shit stays with you.
Look, lemme tell you about this one time on Endor, something you soft living Coruscant-dwellers won’t understand. Have you ever been balls deep in the bush, visibility about down to five feet, sounds of the jungle all around you? And then BAM! All of a sudden it’s an ambush, and there’s shit flying everywhere and you watch your buddies get tossed from their speeders. And then armor shows up and you’re like, “Shit, there you are, you beautiful bastards!” And then your soul gets ripped out when you watch your saviors get smashed between two logs by some crazy insurgent beasts. Yeah, you watch the pride of the Empire get shot down by fucking teddy bears. How do you think you’d feel about that?
Yeah, I’ve had some drinks. They don’t call me Null for nothing. Been 20 years, 20 years of dull patrols through the deserts. 20 years of service on damn Navy ships, saying “Aye, aye” to make the Navy officers happy. 20 years where I saw some crazy shit, like some newbie Sig-O try to put in a statement of charges to HQ for the time Lord Vader smashed half the shit on his hand receipt, and then watched him get force choked. Damn, that was a wild time. Can’t make it up.
Yeah, I lost friends. I’ve fought in the heat, the snow, the rain. I’ve fought beings you couldn’t even imagine. And yet here I sit in this tiny-ass bar on the back end of the Galaxy, trying to live on the shitty benefits the Empire gave me. I gave them three of my own fingers back on Tatooine, and they couldn’t even bother to give me basic medical care in my retirement. So yeah, go ahead and cheer for “Hail our Imperial Heroes Day,” but what the hell do I get out of it? Are your cheers gonna give me my fingers back? Or the countless years I spent pacing the hallways of not one, but two Death Stars? Yeah, how do you think I felt watching credits getting poured into yet another dumbass weapon while we were given blasters with no rear site or buttstock? Felt damn bad, that’s how.
You ever try to ride a Dewback? Shit, they stink worse than burning Jawa. Had mounted duty on Tatooine, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s how I lost my fingers. Damn critter just ate ’em one day. Man, that desert cesspool should’ve been the one Tarkin blew to bits, not Alderaan. Tarkin, now there was man to follow. Old “Iceballs” we used to call him. Of course, we lost him, too.
But hey, it wasn’t all bad. I remember on Scarif this one time, when I was in a scout platoon, we managed to get the Death Troopers so drunk that they took over an AT-ACT and crashed the damn thing into a lagoon. Well, it wasn’t so funny after we had to do the incident report for that shit. Man, Scarif, there’s another one. Got off that rock before it got blasted. Weird, half my past duty stations don’t exist anymore.
But hey, you know what? I’d go back and do it all again. I sure as shit would. The feel of your armor on a nice morning, just as the suns are rising over the desert? The heft of a good blaster in your hand, surrounded by some of the best fighters in the world? Shit yeah, I’d go back to that. But nope, got this retirement letter here, with a “thank you for your service” from the Empire. Hell, I ain’t even seen anyone from the Empire in forever after Endor, but I guess they’re still out there.
Yeah, you wouldn’t know what it was like, but that’s okay I guess. Pride of the Empire we were. Stormtrooper for life. Here’s a health to the damn Corps. Now, where’s the head around here? I gotta piss like a Bantha.”
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About the Author: Angry Staff Officer is an Army engineer officer who is adrift in a sea of doctrine and staff operations and uses writing as a means to retain his sanity. He also collaborates on a podcast with Adin Dobkin entitled War Stories, which examines key moments in the history of warfare.
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