Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Yoda Project

At the start of the year I designed an alphabet for Oliver, the new little boy of some good friends of mine, and used the little 'blogalot' characters I drew for fellow bloggers to wear on their tee-shirts for Celebration IV and Celebration Europe.

With Oliver's first birthday fast approaching, I wanted to make him something special, and when I heard that he would be dressing as Yoda for Halloween then my decision was easy. I used the little blogalot Yoda as a starting point and started to make a soft toy version.

This cuddly Yoda was going to still retain the 2D qualities of the drawing, but be comfy enough to use as a pillow, so I began by making a template to create the two main halves - no side panels for this sewingly-challenged man!

The material I chose was a very soft, green blanket material which was strong enough to sew and not stretch like felt.

I then embroidered two small eyes, his mouth and his forehead winkles. I guess I should have used thicker thread, but as you will see, I was woefully ill-prepared for this project.
I then sewed the two panels together, leaving a gap on one arm for stuffing. Small, looping stitches did the trick.

When turned inside out (or back to how he should be), Yoda started to take shape, albeit a rather deflated shape.

I used polyfill to stuff him, carefully pushing the filler up into his extremities with a wooden spoon. I didn't over stuff him as I wanted him to retain his comfy pillow status.
"How you get so big, using filler of this kind?"

I used a simple brown cotton fabric to make a jerkin that would be under his cloak. He looks like a street gang member with his sleeveless shirt, but as his arms would be hidden by the cloak, no sleeves was one less kerfuffle to consider. I hemmed the neck line, crumpling it a bit to look like Yoda's, and then held everything in place with a strip of the same material for a belt. I also hemmed the bottom for a cleaner edge.

The outer cloak was made from a groovy, crimped material that gave it a great texture. I cut two arm holes in it, then sewed a couple of cylinders for his sleeves and attached them, cutting them to the desired shape and restitching them at the cuffs to keep them together. I folded the collar under itself, tacking it in place with some unsubtle black cotton dots (See? Totally unprepared. Brown cotton would have been much nicer). To keep the cloak in place I used a strip of the same material for another cheap and cheerful belt.

I used the same material for a hood, cutting a dart out of it and sewing it back together to give it some shape, then sewing it to the back of the collar.

Oliver loves playing with the tags that he gets on his toys, so I used photoshop to create one for his new cuddly Yoda.

And here's the finished Yoda, complete with brown felt 'gimer' stick for chewing on in times of deep thought and meditation.
And here's Oliver at his first birthday party, tired and emotional due to the fact that everyone wanted to take photos of him all night. His mom and dad, Stephanie and Greg, look on as Oliver contemplates the use for a homemade, cuddly Yoda. I'm sure he'll figure something out.

Thank you to Greg and Stephanie for letting me use their picture in this blog, and thanks to you for taking the time to read it! I hope you enjoyed my blow by blow account of one man's clumsy struggles with a soft toy.
Next week, a life-size, cuddly Death Star.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Celebration Reviews

Celebration Europe

Triumph in the face of Adversity – So Much for British Punctuality

Friday 13th July 2007

From the exterior of the ExCel Centre, a casual visitor would never have guessed that within its walls resided a Star Wars playground for ages 4 to 84. Actually I was a little disappointed when I arrived with my entourage on Thursday to pick up my Hyperspace lanyard, and the décor inside did little to alleviate my fears. A couple of markers and a half-mossed X-Wing – it almost seemed like the organisers were embarrassed to admit what would be happening that weekend. The heat in the hall was stifling, and the volunteers I chatted to told me that they had only just arrived that afternoon, and nobody knew what they were supposed to be doing. I didn’t need the Force to understand the sinking sensation I was feeling. When we asked for our lanyards the checking process seemed a bit complicated for our helper and then, when we heard that the friends and family coupons (as well as the other badges, the programs and the schedule guides) were on a train somewhere, more alarm bells went off. The kind of screeching, booming alarms that you normally only ever hear when two Star Destroyers are about to collide. On the plus side, due to the lack of family coupons, we were all given Hyperspace lanyards, and this would turn out to be a Godsend. I went home that evening with a sense of foreboding gnawing away at my insides.

Friday arrived, and we reached the centre at 7:30 AM – to find ourselves about 200 bodies back in the queue. Costumes started to appear and the presence of gruff, pot-bellied security guards did nothing to quell the palpable excitement brewing in the throng. When we were let in to the ‘holding area’, I was pleasantly surprised to see the giant inflatable Death Star from LA hovering overhead, but the darkness of the room, the black light, lasers and star field were a much better setting, and I began to perk up. A glimpse of a life-size Jabba through the door (different from the LA one) added fuel to my fanboy fire. A brief moment of excitement when a temporary wall collapsed on the opposite line up added to the drama of the moment. Thankfully nobody was hurt and the organisers should thank their lucky stars that this was taking place in England, where folks aren’t yet used to suing at every opportunity.

When the eager crowd was finally let in we went straight to the autograph voucher line, as acquiring Mark Hamill’s siggy was one of our priorities. The line was mercifully short, and we were told to return at 2:00 PM – little did we know we would be entering a world of hurt at that time… That done, we then hightailed it into the exhibition proper, and the first thing to strike me was the amount of space available – there was room to breathe! As I meandered over to the McQuarrie booth, I had a chance to take in the sights; an almost full size AT-AT made a marvellous meeting point in the centre of the hall, a full size snowspeeder sat parked on the carpet, its canopy open for visitors to get behind the harpoon gun, a snowtrooper manned an E-web mounted blaster and murky steam rose from the swamp of Dagobah, where younglings were being invited to take on the dark side. In terms of ambience and ‘Star Warsiness’ they had done a great job. We sat behind the chess table on the deck of the Falcon, pondering whether to have a go at the Tantive IV filming experience, or to try to find the Palitoy exhibition (we did, finally, on the last day).

The artist alley was just that, a narrow tunnel lined with the best illustrators in the galaxy, many familiar faces from C IV and a couple of new ones. I said my hellos to those that knew me, and sized up the prints I coveted – although the conversion bells kept going off in my head as I realised that the print I wanted was double the price in dollars. Trying to snap out of my currency woes I wandered into the seller’s area, which seemed less manic than LA, actually rather polite. I walked past small objects of desire, shielding my eyes from their plastic wondrousness, and breezed around the fan club area admiring the commitment of the organisers, their displays and their big hearts. There would be some happy charities at the end of this event.

By this time the ordinary ones (humans without fan club status) were starting to trickle in, but you wouldn’t know it, there was still plenty of space to run around and visit every booth, frantically scooping up freebies for the boys and girls back in the States. This was no unscrupulous act though, I only grabbed a few extra Hasbro coins, McQuarrie bookmarks and the such, just for my collecting buddies, and they won’t end up being sold! As an aside, that night, the freebie coins were already being sold on eBay for 5 quid…

As my entourage and I swanned around the main floor, we took in the delights of the Lucasarts stand, which was, not surprisingly, touting The Force Unleashed with great gusto. We then descended on the Lego display, oohing and ahhing at the sight of so many little plastic bricks being used in such a fantastic manner. The new Falcon was a sight to behold, and the Mos Eisley docking bay and surrounding area was a great way to show it off. Nearby stood a huge sandcrawler, with a competition to guess the number of bricks used. Judging from the entries on view, the answer is somewhere between four thousand bricks and one and half million bricks.

After the youngest member of our group (seven year old Bruce) received his stormtrooper tattoo, it was off to the giant inflatable obstacle course. This was provided by the Army, and along with the Navy’s climbing wall and display, these were the only two areas that left a bitter taste in my mouth. Ok, so a large event needs sponsors, and I have nothing against the fine men and women who serve our country, but what the hell are two branches of the military doing at a Star Wars celebration? The Royal Navy display showing clone troopers morphing into marines, an apache helicopter on Geonosis and tanks alongside AT-TEs made me really mad.

Next up was Jedi training – on Dagobah! The set that had been built for this event was fantastic, the twisted roots and smoke added to the general ambience, and the volunteer Jedi masters threw themselves into their roles with wild abandon. The Emperor made a scary entrance, then brought out his puppy, Vader, and you could see the kids cringe as he strode into their midst. The new younglings saw off the baddies with ease (helped by a collective force push from the audience) and took their bows – wonderful stuff.

A quick jaunt around the rest of the stands, grabbing freebies and buying long sought after items, and then it was time to join the queue for Mark Hamill. Just to be on the safe side, we returned at 1:30 – to be confronted by a mass of angry and confused punters laying into a bemused security guard, plus an abnormally long queue, which snaked around and out of the autograph hall with no apparent beginning or end. People in this mysterious line (a weekend-long phenomenon) were getting agitated and were also being disowned by the organisers, so tempers were simmering nicely.
Following some aggressive negotiations, my group was finally let into the main line, and we slowly made our way towards the front, catching glimpses of Mark along the way.

Suddenly, the security chaps began forming a couple of new lines, and staggering the people who were sent forward to the table of the Skywalker.
To say this caused a kerfuffle is an understatement, and as shouts were exchanged between the lines, a shaven-headed thug with a neck like a Reek finally boiled over, turning the line into battlefield as he screamed expletives and threats at a guy next to him, both men reddening like angry lobsters and balling their fists ready to bring the quaint old tradition of British hooliganism to a Star Wars celebration. As people stepped out of the line of fire, and we shielded the children with us, a couple of sensible types stepped in between the idiots and calmed the situation down. The irony of all this was that the British Bulldog who was ready to punch several colours of poodoo out of the other chap was holding his beloved Star Wars annual under his arm, a remnant of happier times I guessed. Excitement over, we finally reached Mark, and suddenly all tension was gone. He was extremely friendly, chatty and more than happy to pose for pictures, despite the protestations of his entourage. What a thrill. This was Mark Hamill, hero of the saga that I have loved for 30 years, and now my day was complete. Was it worth 85 quid? Hell, yeah!

As the first day drew to a close, and we all assembled outside for the opening ceremonies, I suddenly realized that I had achieved all of my goals in one fell swoop. I had got my autographs, picked up my McQuarrie prints, bought stuff I didn’t need, shown little Bruce a good time and met up with fellow bloggers and other celebs. Now I could kick back and relax for the next two days, and just soak up the atmosphere without any panicky running around! The opening ceremonies were fun, Steve Sansweet looked a bit windswept, Mark looked like he needed a Guinness, and Ian McDiarmid was a joy to watch as he squirmed under the weight of public speaking and bad puns (what a guy!) As the Tantive IV was boarded and a bunch of Rebels in costume ran across the bottom of the screen, I reflected on a great day, and went home tired but happy. Little did I know what the Dark Side had in store for tomorrow…

Into the Alley of Darth, Strode the Five Thousand.


Due to an extraordinarily successful first day, I had no pressing requirements, and I therefore decided I would take it easy on Saturday. However, this idea didn’t stop me from turning up at 7:30 am again – perhaps it was the lure of a breakfast panini that drew me in so early. As I munched on my artery-hardening delight, I got chatting to a chap sitting opposite me doing the very same thing. After some amiable banter I learned that he was Rich from Weston, and he had drawn a caricature of Steve Sansweet that he was hoping to present to him that afternoon. Not only was Rich a nice guy, but he also gave me a copy of the very same drawing – the day had begun well!

My entourage turned up a little while later, with some special guests in tow – my mum, and my seven-year-old nephew, Sean. Mum was there at my behest to see how much cash we could be wallowing in if she hadn’t sold my entire vintage Star Wars collection for £16 when I was at University, and Sean was there because he had rather alarmingly told me that his favourite film was Grease, and I knew he had to restart his training…

Judging by the crowds already forming at the ticket booth, it was going to be a busy day, but we consoled ourselves with the thought that we would at least be able to enjoy an hour inside before the public swamped us – how wrong we were. I suppose the organisers, in their infinite wisdom, thought the line was getting a bit long, and so decided to open the flood gates at 9:30 AM – so much for an hour for the fans. The day then turned into the complete opposite of Friday. Where Friday had been a leisurely frolic through the exhibits, Saturday quickly became a fight for survival and an event only a queue-lover could enjoy. Compounding this was Sean’s sudden revelation that he didn’t want to line up for anything, and right then I knew my nuna was cooked.

Our first stop was at the artist alley. Sean had used Bonnie’s book, You Can Draw Star Wars, to attempt a drawing of Luke Skywalker, and he proudly showed it to Matt Busch. Matt, to his credit, was fantastic, heaping praise upon Sean’s drawing and signing some sketchpads for him – Sean is now enamoured with Matt, and has decided that if he fails to become a football player he would like to be an artist. I was really happy to see all the artists interacting so wonderfully with their fans and the kids, and it was a pleasure to introduce my little group to Joe Corroney, who continues to be a diamond geezer, showering the children with stickers and encouragement.

Next up was the Clone Wars trailer. Although I had been in the first lucky group in LA to see this, I wanted my gang to experience the big screen, 5.1 sound version and so dragged them all in. The little ones got a bit bored during the introduction (but it’s Dave Filoni! How can you be bored??), but when Steve Sansweet introduced the trailer, their mouths hung open in awe. Meanwhile, I got the same tingly, weepy feeling I had in LA, and I have concluded that I am either really excited about the new series, or I am having a mental breakdown.

Hunger and emotions swayed the next decision, and instead to going to see Charlie Ross, we hunkered down to an early lunch. It’s interesting how eating always seems to be the highlight of any small child’s day. After lunch I let my entourage wander off to check out the Vader project, while Kuldip and I went to Rick McCallum’s talk. Rick didn’t disappoint. His banter with Warwick was priceless and he was relaxed and forthcoming about everything, including the Young Indiana Jones DVDs and the web-busting notion of 400 live action episodes (an aside he may live to regret). The measure of the man’s generosity can be evaluated when a couple of the audience members who got to ask him questions did the usual thing that makes everyone groan. The first one was a chap who asked about the writers who would be working on the new TV show, then promptly waved his own spec script around and asked Rick if he would take a look at it. Rick actually said OK, and allowed the guy to bring the script to him – very cool. Then another fan stood up, waving his fan film around and asking how he could get either George or Rick to watch it. Without hesitation, Rick invited him to the stage and took the disk, vowing to watch it later that day. I have reliable sources that tell me that he did indeed take it straight back to the hotel to watch it. That just about sums Rick up – he is truly a man for the fans!

Immediately after Rick’s talk, we wanted to get back in line for the costume pageant, but we were called over by a couple from Austria we had met earlier in the day who were at the head of the line, and we joined them. What a nice couple! Kuldip spotted Warwick waiting for the next show and told me to get him to sign a child’s pass we had picked up that featured Wicket. I grabbed my Star Wars novel (which is filling up nicely) and trotted over to Mr. Davis. When I asked for his autograph on both items he scolded me, saying I being a bit cheeky, but signed them anyway. When I got back in line I told Kuldip she should have asked him, as her Canadian accent and saucy smile would have won him over a lot easier than my cockney bulk.

While seated for the costume pageant, my entourage caught up with us and we settled in for an hour of homemade fun. The costumes were great – ranging from the intricate, to the hysterical, to the downright too cute. Jedi Iain put on a good show (surely the tallest Jedi in the temple), and Warwick had a meltdown as he tried to unscramble the notes he had been given. All in all a fun time was had, and though we didn’t agree with the judges’ decisions, we had a lot of fun. Also my mind was made up – and you will be able to cheer me on when I enter the pageant in LA in 2009. Not telling you what I’m wearing though!

By this time of day, the crowds were starting to thin out and we took the opportunity to peruse the autograph hall and merchandise stands. I introduced Sean to the fine folks on the McQuarrie table, and taught him the fine art of bookmark collecting. We had a great chat with Paul, Athena and Stan who were running the McQuarrie table, and formed some remarkable new friendships (Kuldip and I met Paul and Athena for lunch in Greenwich a week after the event, and I felt like I had known them for years – great company). Saying our goodbyes to them, we then strolled back down the artist alley so that Sean could gaze at Matt once more, and then performed a final sweep of the main hall before saying our goodbyes and going our separate ways.

Had my mission been successful? Had Sean been turned away from the Grease Side, and back to the light? Well, a few days later, I received a call from my sister telling me that Sean had just made his own clone trooper armour completely out of white paper, and rustled around the house all day. Then, a few days later, Sean and I sat down to build a Dagobah diorama for his newly acquired X-wing – so yes, maybe there was hope for the youngling after all…

Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?


Once again my pitiful little band arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the ExCel Centre nice and early, ready for a full day’s shopping. Yep – today was the day when the plastic would come out and, ultimately, return to the wallet several hours later, whimpering.

We started with a sweeping tour of the stalls, eyeing several desirables, and hoping they would still be there when we returned at the end of the day ready for some intense bartering – ah, the thrill of the chase. While we waited for the kick off, my lovely wife and I decided to head to the Vader Project.

I had seen many of the designs in previous reports from C IV, but I was delighted to see that they had been added to by a gaggle of insane European artists, and I enjoyed checking them out. The ‘Illustrated Trooper’ was a hoot, and I hope this idea can be repeated for future conventions, perhaps with different characters – I for one would pay money to see a full-size Jabba tattooed by industry professionals! The skills and imagination on display in the Vader Project highlighted one of the key differences between the US and Euro celebrations. It really felt like there was an undercurrent of outlandishness and danger in the European artwork on show, which made it much more interesting. It’s the cultural mix that provides this, and possibly a touch of bias on my part. Hey, nobody said my report was to be impartial…

One of the great mysteries of Celebration Europe was why several rooms were hidden away in a hard to access upper corridor, and it didn’t surprise me that many fans couldn’t find either the fan lounge, the Palitoy display or the collector panels. Thankfully, I found all three on this last day, and went up to check them out.

The Palitoy display was awesome, and brought back many happy memories. The collection was incredibly comprehensive and complete, and I found myself re-reading old adverts that I had read as a child, even feeling a pang of sadness when I saw the ‘design a droid’ competition and remembering how my own design was foolishly ignored by the judges. The toys were in superb condition, many mint in package, and I recalled how I removed the ridiculous lightsabers from Luke, Darth and Ben’s arms, and replaced them with painted cocktail sticks.

I poked my head briefly into the fan lounge, and saw a bunch of fans lounging around, and then we headed to our first (and only) collecting panel – ‘Hilarious Star Wars Collectibles’. During an extremely entertaining lecture, I discovered that a great deal of my favourite items currently sitting on my shelves at home, are considered ‘hilarious’. I guess I am inclined to agree – that’s probably why I bought them in the first place. If you know anything about inappropriate Star Wars collectibles, you’ll understand what I mean when I say I now covet the C-3PO tape dispenser…
The lecture concluded with the almost religious ceremony of the collector coin delivery. It’s nice to get one (for the record, the Polish coin with Vader on it), and it’s also nice to know I have something of value to leave to my children, LOL.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the grounds, hoping to see the Vader balloon inflate (it didn’t), watching the Rebel Scum photo shoot with Peter Mayhew and chatting with other fans. I was delighted to discover that I had won a prize on the 501st Droid Hunt, and picked up a Spanish PotF Princess Leia figure. I have to say; meeting the various garrisons of the 501st was another highlight. A German Trooper gave my droid hunt badge to me, my badge was then surrendered to a Dutch Trooper, and I helped a French Trooper get his cigarettes out of his gun holster – naughty French Trooper. I mentioned this to one of the UK Storm Troopers, and he told me that if any of the UK Troops were seen smoking or buying stuff, they would be expelled from the garrison – makes you proud to be British! The 501st then went outside for their own photo shoot, and I don’t know about you, but I can never get enough of watching those amazing costumers marching in unison, as precise as real troops. One of my friends was disappointed that they didn’t get a cheer from the crowds, and went to thank the garrisons personally for their hard work during the celebration. I would have gone with her, but I was busy running around the merchandise at this point.

And so this was how the celebration was to end; a last minute dash for bargains and posters. Indeed I did pick up some desirables, and artist’s alley had become a feeding frenzy. Most of the artists there were quite bemused that they still had over two hundred of their two hundred and fifty run prints left, and this was another indicator of the difference between the US and Euro conventions. In Europe, folks don’t really go in for buying prints, in fact one artist told me that he had many people walk by his work and ask him questions about the artist, thinking he was just the seller. I guess the concept of artists selling limited editions of their own work hasn’t really caught on yet. Any way, this benefited shady characters like me, who revelled in the knock down prices and two for one offers, swelling my print collection quite nicely.

Another quick wander around the exterior of the building led to a chance encounter with Bonnie Burton and we had a great little chat about the two conventions. She was tired but happy – a reflection of the way most of us felt!

And so, another celebration came to an end. We said our goodbyes to friends old and new, and took one last look at the emptying events hall as we made our way to the car park. I was a bag of mixed feelings - sadness, joy, exhaustion, and anticipation. The buzz on the air was of the next Celebration in LA, expected to take place in May 2009. The Clone Wars will be running on TV, the live action series will be on the horizon, and my love for Star Wars will be just as robust as always, only next time, I will be dressed in costume.

See you there!

Celebration Four - LA

Fat Man Running – One Fan’s Perspective of Celebration IV

I was ten years old in the summer of 1977, and I was running breathlessly from my Junior School in Romford, Essex, all the way to the Odeon Cinema downtown to see the film that everyone was talking about.
Fast forward 30 years, and I am running breathlessly through the corridors of the LA Staples Convention Center in a futile attempt to get to the Ralph McQuarrie table before the scalpers – to no avail.
I might be older, fatter and balder than that little kid all those years ago, but the excitement is equally exhilarating, an all-consuming wave of giddy joy and anticipation.

Star Wars does this to a person.

Celebration IV was to be my first Star Wars convention, having moved to America in 2005. I was looking forward to it for many reasons, but mostly to relish the opportunity to surround myself with like-minded fans in an environment purely devoted to the films that have shaped my life for three decades.

Waiting in line to get in each day was never a chore. There were always costumed fans walking the lines, stopping for photos and chatting with us, and often it took just one word or phrase to initiate an engaging conversation with the stranger in the ‘Han shot first’ tee shirt behind me. I soon learned to wait a while before getting in line, as it would snake around and beneath an overpass, which would afford us some shade, and prevent me entering the halls looking like an over-boiled Mon Calamari.

Once inside the convention center, I was blown away by the scale of everything; the hanging banners, an enormous inflatable Death Star looming ominously overhead, Vader’s surgical table emanating painful memories of a young man’s transformation. Fellow fans milled about, some looking around in awe, others rushing straight for the buyer’s room.

And what a buyer’s room.

The chaos was at once nerve-wracking and enticing. Everywhere I looked there would be a huge display of merchandise that seemed even more desirable under the glare of the overhead lights. Gentle Giant rubbed shoulders with Sideshow Collectables, who faced Hasbro who jostled for space with Lego who funneled us towards LucasArts, and the list goes on. Everywhere I looked there were nervous collectors joining lines that spiraled around company displays, teasing them with glimpses of the exclusive items that would be sold out before they reached the front of the queue.

Occasionally it was necessary to come up for air, and it was a relief to squeeze out from between the concept figures and glowing Yodas and enter the artists’ alley. More than two dozen artists from all arms of the galaxy spread their creations on their booth tables and pinned them to the walls, creating a kaleidoscope of colors and familiar faces. It was a joy to wander around, checking out the imagination and skills of these folks, chatting to one or two, and buying several prints that simply could not be ignored. Thankfully I was prepared and had the foresight to bring a large poster tube; all those years of dubious leg slapping in the boy scouts finally paid off.

Next to the artwork was the autograph area, filled to the brim with celebrities from all six films; all of them friendly and approachable. I took this opportunity to add more names to my beaten up copy of Star Wars, a first edition that has been with me through thick and thin, and I scored many that I thought I would never get. Curiously, I was most in awe of Julian Glover, and he was the only actor I didn’t call by his first name. I was also particularly stoked to get Paul Blake’s (Greedo) siggy in the book – I have a bit of a thing for Rodian underdogs I guess.
As a side note, how cool is it to get home to an email from Mary Oyaya (Luminara Unduli) thanking me for coming to see her?

That’s what I’m talking about – the feeling of belonging to one, enormous, family.

Next to the central buyers’ hall was the fan activities hall, a quiet oasis of tranquility in comparison to its noisy neighbour. Here I found many fine, fan-run groups peddling their wares and inviting new members. A full-scale x-wing sat front and center; perpetually smothered with eager children and enthusiastically plump adults in orange jumpsuits. The 501st legion patrolled around their own booth, gently recruiting rather than forcibly subscribing, and in the middle of the hall, a giant Forest Moon of Endor diorama slowly took shape as fans young and old built trees complete with huts and walkways. At fifteen-minute intervals, a bunch of tiny speeder bikes would race through the giant paper redwoods, complete with screaming sound effects and Luke shouting at everyone – wonderful stuff!
Every so often, the atmosphere in the hall would be pierced by the sounds of scores of tiny lightsabers as padawan learners squared off against Vader and his troops, while beautifully constructed astromechs navigated a tricky course and stormtroopers fell over each other in the Imperial Olympics.

A trip to the west wing of the center took me to the Celebration Store, and with careful planning I didn’t wait for one second to get in. It was huge, and full of more desirable stuff, some of it selling out on the first day (badges anyone?). It was a bit of a pain when I saw everything I had purchased being sold on the last day at 50% off – but that was a lesson I shall remember for future Celebrations…

There were so many events and panels going on that it was a foregone conclusion that I would miss many of the things I wanted to see, but I did manage to get to many great events, including:

Slave Leia Belly Dancing Lessons – with respect for my fellow man I chose not to get up on stage, but Amira was fabulous and it was an entertaining hour. I was also lucky enough to interview Amira as part of an up and coming documentary I am shooting in the summer called A Place in the Galaxy.

Date with a Princess – Carrie Fisher lit up the stage with her good nature and hysterical anecdotes, what a treat. Later I managed to get several items autographed – hello ebay! (I kid)

A Hour with Jay Laga’aia – Jay is the consummate presenter and entertainer, and he kept us all enthralled with his stories and singing - man, he can belt out a tune with the best of them!

Opening Ceremonies – Free stamps! Cake! Bomb scares! Eardrum popping, rocket pack launched Boba Fett! Steve Sansweet in an ewok costume! Lots of adverts for stuff we already knew about! The lack of any Georges, Ricks or anyone else… meh.

A conversation with Robert Watts, Richard Edlund, Ken Raylston, Ben Burtt, Norman Reynolds and Phil Tippet – These are some of the visionaries that helped create the saga in the first place. Imagine what would have happened if the visual effects had been sub-par, if the sound effects sounded, well, dodgy… Robert Watts stole the show – what a character. Possibly alcohol fueled – but a character all the same.

The Clone Wars – Oh my giddy aunt. I was in the first group to see this preview of the new animated TV show, and they teased us like kittens with a feather on a thread. Dave Filoni is quite possibly the nicest guy I have ever met, and the fact that he is the supervising director of the series gives cause for celebration. Of course, by now you might know that they did indeed show us a giant, high def, thunderously loud preview of the show, and then promptly rewound it and showed it again. What you don’t know is how extraordinary the reception was from the fans. The cheers, the applause, the standing ovations were all well deserved, and I left the auditorium with tears in my eyes. In one fell swoop; Dave, Catherine (the producer) and the crew had shaved thirty years off my life.

One Man Star Wars Trilogy – Charlie Ross is a genius that much is already known, and his show had me rolling around with laughter. What I was not expecting however was the way his final words, “Celebrate the Love”, turned on my waterworks once again… what an emotional day.

As I reflected upon my spontaneous bursts of blubbing, I began to realize how important Star Wars really was to me. Indeed, the first trilogy shaped my early career choices, prompting me to attend art school so that I might emulate Joe Johnston, Harrison Ellenshaw and Ralph McQuarrie. Later, the saga would lead me to a kindred spirit in my beautiful wife, Kuldip, and now I am a filmmaker, nestled in a group of hills just one hour south of Skywalker Ranch.

As the doors finally closed on Celebration IV, and I hugged my new friends goodbye, I was a raging maelstrom of emotions, of sadness, of exhilaration and ultimately, of optimism.

It was then that Kuldip chose to wave a pair of tickets to Celebration Europe in my face. We certainly can’t afford it, the airfare alone will financially cripple us, and I can’t wait to see everyone there…

If you attend, you won’t be able to miss me. I’ll be the overweight guy in the Slave Leia tee shirt, running breathlessly from hall to hall, with the biggest grin in the galaxy on my face.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Building Dagobah

Having been inspired by the Dagobah set built for the Jedi Training Academy at celebration Europe, my seven year old nephew, Sean, wanted to build something with his favorite uncle, me.

As he had already purchased a Revell x-wing model kit from the event, we thought it would be a good idea to have a go at building a diorama of the swamp planet, a fitting display for his model.

First, Sean had to make the x-wing - not so easy for little fingers, so his uncle helped him.

Next we painted the x-wing to look dirty and muddy, and poked 'moss' into the engine intakes. The moss was from a hobby shop, the type you can buy for building landscapes, and all the paint we used was acrylic as the plastic nature of the paint helped items stick together.

We then picked up a good sized box from the shop across the road and cut it to shape, using the extra pieces of card to form ledges and lake banks.

For the huge-rooted trees of Dagobah, we twisted pipe-cleaners together to form the trunk and roots, and then began to papier mache over them, building them up to the desired thickness.

While we still had bowls of wallpaper paste, we papier mached the rest of the set, forming lumps of the soggy paper into 'rocks' and creating a textured surface.
To paint the trees, Sean first used brown acrylic over their entire surface, then I taught him how to 'dry brush' some other shades of brown over the top to create a bark effect. I then taught him how to 'stipple', and we stippled moss colors over the roots.

I drew some basic outlines of trees and Sean filled them in, this would provide a background which would be partially obscured by the 3D trees. I showed him how to make the shades lighter and bluer, to suggest distance.

Sean then painted the swamp floor in various shades of green and the lake area with a violet gray, floowed by blue. We then stuck cellophane (seran wrap) to the lake to simulate water.

Under careful supervision of his lovely uncle, Sean used a hot glue gun to stick the trees in place. He then learned how to use the glue gun to create cobwebs, which turned out to be a lot of fun!

Using green pipe cleaners, we created ground creepers, twisting them around the trees. We then painted the creepers with darker greens and a touch of brown.

Using the glue gun and a ball of green wool, Sean attached vines to the tops of the trees. This would give the foliage something to hang on to.

We then used the paint to color the moss we had. There were two different types of moss, the spongy, bushy sort and the grassy sort. We used green paint to color them, and then stuck them to the tops of the trees, allowing it all to hang down in a very swamp-like fashion!

And here is Sean looking very pleased with himself. We think his Dagobah diorama looks amazing, and we hope we have inspired you to have a go at making your own, whether you are seven or seventy seven!

Some shots of the finished model.

Thank you - we hope you have enjoyed our report!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Turning to the Dork Side #4

Click on the image for a sensible size!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Turning to the Dork Side #3


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dreams of a Golden God

04.008 – See Threepio in To Shut Down, Perchance to Dream.

Ben gets up and goes to a chest where he rummages around.
As Luke finishes repairing Threepio and starts to fit the restraining bolt back on, Threepio looks at him nervously. Luke thinks about the bolt for a moment then puts it on the table. Ben shuffles up and presents Luke with a short handle with several electronic gadgets attached to it.

BEN: I have something here for you. Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn't allow it. He feared you might follow old Obi-Wan on some damned-fool idealistic crusade like your father did.

THREEPIO: Sir, if you'll not be needing me, I'll close down for awhile.

LUKE: Sure, go ahead.

Threepio shuts down, relieved to rest after the turbulent start to the day. As he drifts into standby mode, he hears the voices of his new master and the old man as they speak of jedi knights, pilots and dark lords.

Suddenly, Threepio finds himself in a dark room. The ground underfoot is soft and billowy and his internal gyroscopes whine in protest as he attempts to stabilize.

THREEPIO: Hello? Hello? Is there anybody in here? I don’t believe the ground is entirely stable…

A sardonic voice echoes through the gloom.

VOICE (O.S.) Professor, professor, professor….

THREEPIO: Oh my, who is that? May I be of assistance?

A light appears before Threepio as a crack opens in the wall. Threepio walks towards it and squeezes through, only to step into space and plummet into the swirling void.

THREEPIO: So many stars…

He holds his arms flat to his sides and discovers that he has the power to navigate his way through the cosmos, twisting left and right as he blazes past glowing, yellow planets and lush, green moons.

THREEPIO: I thought I hated flying, but this is quite…

Suddenly green laser blasts pepper the space around him and several TIE fighters sweep overhead. Threepio reaches out to change direction, and discovers that his arms have been replaced by beams of light, one blue, one red, that cut swathes through the vacuum and make short work of the fighters. As the last fighter explodes, Threepio is knocked sideways and falls a short way to land on a large, flat surface. Around him several medical droids make themselves busy, and he cranes his head to see that his legs are missing. An FX model rolls up with a pair of golden legs in its arms.

THREEPIO: Shut me down! Machines building machines!

A towering, black-clad figure emerges from the end of the bed and takes the legs, spot welding them in place. The figure’s breathing is deep and labored, but when it speaks, it has the high voice of a child.

TOWERING FIGURE: There! Now you can help mom!

The bed tilts back, depositing Threepio into a glaringly white room. In the middle of the room stands a young woman dressed in a shimmering gown. In the distance the sound of two babies wailing drifts in and out, and the woman hangs her head in sorrow. As Threepio reaches out to offer her his hand she flickers and disappears, to be replaced by a young man with blond hair and one black glove. He looks like Master Luke, but a much older version.

OLDER LUKE: Use your magic, Threepio.

Before Threepio can respond, the Older Luke stretches out his gloved hand and pushes him backwards to land on a large wooden throne. The air warps and swirls around him, and he finds himself sitting in the middle of a forest. All around his metal feet are tiny astromechs droids, no taller than his ankles. The droids mill about, beeping and chattering with each other; plotting ways to overthrow the Golden God. Threepio stands and starts to kick the little droids, slamming them into each other and rapidly turning them into scrap.

Eventually he is knee deep in droid parts and as he tries to wade through the metal mire, he suddenly notices the trees growing closer on either side of him, like large wooden walls. A comlink is hanging by a thread just out of his reach, and as he stretches in vain for it, the sounds of screaming echo through the diminishing forest. He then realizes it is his own scream that he hears. Threepio puts his hands to his photoreceptors as the walls advance ever closer, ready for the final crush. But nothing happens. Instead, he hears the sound of mocking laughter in a thousand different languages.

Threepio takes his hands away from his photoreceptors and discovers that he is standing on the central pod of the Galactic Senate building. All around him hundreds of pods swirl away into infinity, each one holding different alien species, and all of them pointing at Threepio and laughing uproariously. Threepio tries to drown out their laughter and looks down at himself to find out what is causing the outburst. It is then that he sees his plating is missing. In alarm he tries frantically to shield his exposed wiring with his hands, but to no avail. He cries out.

THREEPIO: I’m naked!

Fade to black – end of act one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Love among the Stars

04.007 – R4-P17 Astromech Droid

From personal data stream memory banks.

442.7 – Look at him. Look at the way he commands everyone’s attention as he strides across the hanger floor. I love what he’s done with his hair, so long and wavy – ah, if I only had fingers….

So it appears that I am to navigate us to the Kamino system. According to my charts there’s nothing there, just a vacuum well, like the hollowness I feel when he is not beside me in his cockpit.

We’re away – preparing to dock with the hyperdrive ring. When I hoped for a ring, this wasn’t what I had in mind exactly. Still, at least we get to watch the stars together.

443.9 – So, there is a planet. It’s very wet here. Nothing like a walk in the rain though… what? Wait with the ship? But I… and there he goes, his wet hair clinging to his broad shoulders, his robe starting to cling to his thighs…

444.2 – It’s been an age! Where is h… ah there he is. What’s that, scramble code five? Old folk’s home? Oh master, all business one moment, and then so boyish the next, I could gaze into those eyes foreve... where was I? Oh yes. Patching through now.

That sounds dangerous! Wouldn’t you rather wait for back up than go and get the bounty hunter alone? Master? Obi Wan?

452.1 – An explosion! I do hope Master Obi-Wan was nowhere near that…

456.2 – Here he is, he looks flustered. What can I do to soothe your nerves, master? Ooh, he’s in a rush! Gently, gently, master Kenobi. Tracking device? Follow who? Who is she?

456.9 – My mistake, it’s that dreadful bounty hunter. To make matters worse we have to navigate these asteroids. You know, now might be a good time to express my true fee…. - - - ! - ! - ! - -
What the hell was that? Seismic charge? Maybe what I have to say can wait.

There’s nothing like being in the hands of a master, see how effortlessly he glides though these obstacles, now he enters the tunnel, thrusting forward with wild abandon! Oh master, how I… what the!? That damn bounty hunter isn’t playing fair. Shake him off. Shake him off!

A missile? This is too much. Weave, master, weave! What was that? Jettison the spare parts? That’s Master Kenobi for you, never did like a girl with too much junk in her trunk.

457.2 – Ooh, we’re so sneaky. You know, I could all evening just rotating on this rock with you.

457.8 – Well, he certainly knows how to show a girl a good time. Blue, wet planet one moment, red and dusty the next – he’s a man of extremes, I love that. Wait here? Again?

459.1 – Well, that didn’t take long. Another patch through to the old folk’s home? I can do that. Look at him, so authoritative in his flowing robes, his manly stance, those piercing blue ey… what’s that? Oh, droidekas. My bad. Guess I wasn’t really paying attention. Where are you taking him? Get off him you brutes!

I do hope he comes back for me…

3 Years later

993.4 – This is how it should be! Soaring in the space above our twinkling home, banking left, banking right, nothing can touch my master. His apprentice has filled out quite nicely, can’t hold a candle to my Obi Wan though! Not sure about the other astromech droid though – there’s something about that R2 unit that freaks me out.

994.2 – Things are heating up! Just the way I like it! What’s that? Buzz droids! Oh no, I’ve seen what they can do to a girl; I’ve just had these diodes polished as well! Ugh – they’re all over us, what do I do?
What’s that R2? Do nothing? They’re not attracted to still droids, only active ones? OK – you seem to know best, but I… AAIIIEEEE, what the? R2, why?Master, I zzzzttt--- I lo zztttssttzz--- I love y…zzzttztztzzttttt……………………………………….

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

View from the Back.

04.006 - C-3PO Protocol Droid

From personal data stream memory banks.

7719/3 Vocal: That sounds like an R2 unit in there. I wonder if...

7719/4 Vocal: Hello? How interesting. Oh, my.

7719/5 Vocal: Oh, I'm terribly sorry. I...I didn't mean to intrude. No, no, please don't get up. No!

7719/36 Internal: Spinning... hot suns... this is such a drag... I've been here before. I, I remember a factory, noise, bugs! Ooh! Filthy bugs! Get away! Shoo! Shoo! How perverse... machines making machines! No, no, I'm programmed for etiquette, not... hot, fires, dark in here. Where's Artoo when I need him? What are those? Ugh! Ugnaughts! Worse than Jawas! Oh my.

7719/42 Vocal: Mmmm. Oh, my. Uh, I, uh -- Take this off! I, uh, don't mean to intrude here. I, don't, no, no, no...Please don't get up. No!

7719/43 Internal: Chewbacca?

7719/44 Vocal: Stormtroopers? Here? We're in danger. I must tell the others. Oh, no! I've been shot!

7719/45 Internal: It's dark. Lock the door, Artoo! Where am....

7719/46 Vocal: Oh, yes, that's very good. I like that. Oh! Something's not right because now I can't see. Wait. Wait! Oh, my! what have you done? I'm backwards, you stupid furball. Only an overgrown mophead like you would be stupid enough...

7719/47 Internal: Shutting up, sir...

7719/59 Internal: How ignominious, strung up in a cloth net like a piece of meat. How typical of a wookiee. Hopefully Chewbacca can finish what he has started and we can all go home. I wonder what Artoo is doing right now. He would have put me back together alr... what is this hairy oaf doing? No, not on your back, I want to see where I am going, not where I've been!

7719/62 Vocal: If only you had attached my legs, I wouldn't be in this ridiculous position. Now, remember, Chewbacca, you have a responsibility to me, so don't do anything foolish.

7719/63 Internal: What a lot of noise. Why do I end up in such inhospitable locales? Oh, stormtroopers. Perhaps I should warn the wooki.....

7719/64 Vocal: Oh, no! No, no, no! Stop, Chewbacca, stop...!

7719/65 Internal: So this is how I am to be finished.

7719/66 Vocal: Yes, stop, please! I'm not ready to die.

7719/67 Internal: Thank goodness he still listens to Captain Solo. Hmm. Mistress Leia seems upset by something.

7719/68 Vocal: What...what's going on? Turn around, Chewbacca, I can't see. Oh...they've encased him in carbonite. He should be quite well-protected -- if he survives the freezing process, that is.

7719/69 Internal: I wonder if this was one of those moments Master Luke has warned me about. It might be my duty to state the obvious, but perhaps a tweaking of my optimism circuits might have softened the blow of my statement. Really, the fickle behavior of organics' reactions to situations still bewilders me.

7719/70 Internal: Now what's happening? Oh my. If I could reach up I would shut myself down.

7719/71 Vocal: I knew all along it had to be a mistake.

7719/72 Internal: Now perhaps Chewbacca will work with Master Calrissian and...

7719/73 Vocal: What are you doing? Trust him, trust him!

7719/74 Internal: I'm strapped to the back of a brute! He's saying Han. If you took your paws off Master Calrissian's throat you would be able to understand him.

7719/75 Vocal: It sounds like Han.

7719/76 Internal: Finally, this beast is listening to reason. Ah, there's Master Calrissian. He looks a bit flushed.

7719/77 Vocal: I'm terribly sorry about all this. After all, he's only a Wookiee.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Trandoshan Tale

Captain Rekab bounded up the stairs two at a time and slid to a halt outside the semi-circular elevator. Its single, imposing door was flanked by two red-clad Imperial Guards who showed no indication of acknowledging his presence, yet the young captain knew that they could make him disappear in a nanosecond should the Emperor command it.
He paused to adjust his tunic and dabbed at the cold sweat on his brow with his cuff. This was his first private audience with Emperor Palpatine, and Lien Rekab was not relishing this moment. Riding the elevator was even worse. Even though it was going up he felt like he was descending into a pit. After what seemed like an eternity the door opened and Rekab stepped out into the Emperor’s reception room. The air fairly tingled with dread and the young captain swallowed nervously as he approached Palpatine’s throne. The great, obsidian chair slowly spun around and he found himself eye to yellow eye with the self proclaimed ruler of the Empire.
"Report," hissed the old man and Rekab’s hand shook as he lifted the datapad to read from it.
"This is the latest intel. report Sire…. it appears the communiqué we intercepted was accurate, there are indeed increased hostilities between the Wookiees and the Trandoshans."
The Emperor’s eyes lit up at this news, however his voice still dripped with venom.
"Pathetic lifeforms, yet this could prove an amusing distraction from the tiresome search for the Rebel Alliance. What was the catalyst for this new conflict?"
"It appears a Wookiee clan based on Rori has been abducting and mind-wiping Trandoshans with the intention of using them for assassination tools, and although this aggressive act was not officially sanctioned by the supreme council on Kashyyk, many Elders turned a blind eye to this revenge for years of slavery and oppression."
"The Trandoshans served us well, but at a cost, and their loyalty is questionable," ruminated the Emperor, "perhaps it is time for their bloodlust to be sated… and as for the Wookiees, I doubt we shall need them for our new construction already underway at the Kuat Yards."
Sensing he should carry on, Captain Rekab made a pathetic attempt to clear his throat and continued to read.
"Intel suggests a few small skirmishes between the opposing forces could commence soon. They are gathering their forces as I speak."
"Excellent! Excellent!" laughed Palpatine, clasping his hands together and displaying a grisly graveyard of decaying teeth, "Captain Rekab, see what you can do to expedite their mutual demise. Report to Lord Vader with this information."
"As you wish my Lord!" stammered Rekab, backing away with his head bowed.
Never had he been happier to ride in an Imperial elevator, but as he descended further from the Emperor’s room, and closer to the level housing Lord Vader’s quarters, he felt his stomach beginning to knot once more.
This was turning into a most unsettling day.

Tomsk tapped idly at the data-disk on his desk. He had checked and double checked the treasury report and run a thorough background check on the Zabrak supplying him with street lamps. A chromium box sat next to his reading lamp, another freebie from a fellow mayor trying to curry favour with him. He could check it later. All seemed to be in order. It was always in order.
A droplet of saliva dripped from the side of his mouth and splashed onto the desk top. He glanced over at the T-21 hanging on the wall. 'Perhaps just a quick hunt... something to relieve the monotony' he thought to himself. As he began to stand, his comlink suddenly blared into life, the tone of the channel indicator meant it was an emergency transmission and he plugged it into his datapad to read the message.

"Due to continued incidents involving the wookiees of the Clan of the Wroshyr and ..... ...all members are ordered to report to Mos Eisley, Tatooine. The use of force is hereby authorized ... ...gather in the cantina... ...cause excessive damage to a business associate. K’Thorn"

So, the Wroshyr has tipped its hand! Tomsk turned off the comlink and strode into the backroom to retrieve his armour. As he made the final preparations for lockdown of the town he heard a scrape from outside and grabbed the rifle from its wall mounts. Tomsk stepped out into the afternoon haze and saw nothing, though the stench of Wookiee hung in the air.
'They wouldn't dare...' thought Tomsk.
A barely audible click from behind made him snap his head around, in time to see a green light blink off on the surface of the chromium box. Tomsk took one step forward, and then it exploded. The stinging sensation of tiny metal shards piercing his face was rapidly replaced by a brief moment of panic as he was engulfed in a dioxin cloud. He rummaged for the rebreather he had looted from the Geonosian lab, and was still rumaging as he collapsed to the ground and darkness enveloped him.

Kathryn had stayed up late trying to find the right balance between Rancor Bile and Endor Spider poison to make a truly effective toxin but with little success. After a few hours of sleep, she awoke to begin her experiments again. Retribution was quite peaceful in the morning but this did not mean she could be off her guard. To'zar's transmisson over the comlink had unsettled her and she desparately wished to be joining the fun in Mos Eisley.
'I could try out my new disease mixture' she thought as she carefully measured out a teaspoon of Rancor Bile 'Oh, well, such is the life of a combat medic'.
As the poisons began to boil, her sharp ears detected what sounded like a mini explosion. With lightning reflexes, she grabbed her laser rifle as well as some nearby poison ampules for good measure. Then she inched her way outside. The only sounds to greet her now were the chirping of some birds in the brush and the squeek of a durni. Kathryn could also smell the approach of a rainstorm. 'Well, that's a good thing. Ke'jan's plants can get watered'. She smiled, glancing over at the garden. 'Won't K'thorn be pleased'. Shaking her head at the image of the towering Trandoshan growling about her friend's plants made her smile even more and she was just about to chalk up the sound to very little sleep and overworked nerves when her keen nose picked up a smell that was not part of the approaching storm. 'That's the stench of dioxin. I should know since I've been trying to make a batch myself as a Wookie Life Day present to the Wroshyr Clan' Kathryn mused, following her nose to Tomsk's office 'A pretty good mixture too if my nose doesn't deceive me. I detect squill blood that rancor plasma or baz nitch toxin? hmmm..' Outside the mayor's office, she noted his speeder and decided that he must be concocting some poisons for the war. After all, he was a combat medic too. She decided to see if he was at home and then ask him for the recipe. It would make a nice addition to her own collection of poisons. The door slid aside easily at her approach but she found the office empty. There were a few metal fragments on the floor, which she examined closely. Being careful not to touch them, Kathryn noticed that each piece was coated in dioxin. Glancing quickly over her shoulder, she quickly extracted a pair of latex medical gloves and a sealed container to pick up a few pieces for closer examination.
'Surely Tomsk won't mind if I check out his handiwork' she thought as she finished putting the fragments into her vacumn sealed box 'He evidently didn't care that much about it to leave this place with these fragments lying around'
With her new treasure safely stowed in her travel pack, Kathryn jogged back to her lab to begin the diagnosis. New poisons always thrilled her and she was particularly excited about this one because of the unique combination of toxins involved.
What she didn't know was that someone was watching her.

Ensabah sat on the floor, looking as if he were making a choice of life or death. In front of him stood a bulky machine, into which he loaded very few of his personal resources and a few spares meds. Here in the shop of his company, Sunny & Ensy Inc, he pondered whether or not to keep the vendor.
"Mos Eisley," he thought with some disgust, "as much as I hate that wasteland of a planet, the wookiees must hate it even more. The sand in their fur, the sun in their eyes. If it means shedding their blood, I'll return there."
Ensabah stood up, punched a few codes into the bulky vendor which had caused him quite a bit of stress in its short lifespan, and watched as the machine collapsed upon itself, just to be swept away by a MSE-9 cleaning droid.
BLEEP BLEEP The datapad in the backroom had a message.
"Playback new messages," he commanded.
"Transmission received: this morning. Sender: Yelena" "Ensy, its me. I'm heading out to Bestine in the morning. Others are gathering tonight, but I am unable to attend. Join me, will ya? I would like you here with me on the flight. If you're gonna be near Coronet tonight perhaps we could meet up and do something..."
A wide smile shot across Ensabah's face. "Looks like I'm headed to Coronet tonight."
Ensabah switched off the lights, and locked the door. Before him stood City Hall. He just had to go in and drop off a report before he could leave.

As Ensabah approached the town hall he noticed Mayor Tomsk's swoop idling outside his office. 'The old man is in.' thought Ensabah and he made a short diversion to pay his respects. The office door slid open, but Tomsk was nowhere to be seen. An acrid smell made Ensabah wince and he noticed tiny shards of metal scattered like confetti about the reception room.
'Strange, he's normally so anal about keeping a clean ship...' pondered Ensabah, 'guess this new Wookiee issue has got him rattled.'
He left the office and made his way over to the hall, suddenly urged on by the thought of what awaited him in Coronet.

Walking alongside Kathryn's poisons lab, Ensabah caught a shine off the horizon. He could tell it was a tracker droid, used mostly by bounty hunters, but also used for long range surviellance. This confirmed his feeling that something was happening.
"Tomsk, you there?" Ensabah quickly asked into his comlink. "Tomsk, you hear me?" No reply. He made a quick change on his comlink.
"K'thorn, this is Ensabah." Still no reply. "Chief K'thorn, where are you?"
This time a beep, followed by a recorded message. With his speeder still here, Tomsk must have left with someone else. In a hurry at that.
"Comlink channel is unavailable at this time. Please try again later."
This meant K'thorn may have been busy with a slave, or on a shuttle midway in its hyperspace trip. Ensabah entered City Hall, keeping his cool. Walking through the central offices, he noticed everything was neat and tidy, like always. Nothing seemed wrong here. He dropped off the report from his satchel and placed it on Tomsk's desk. It was quiet in here. Just a low buzzing noise from the data terminals. Walking back onto the front steps of the hall, a chill ran down his spine. He felt a drop in his snout. Another and another on his shoulders and head. Gazing up into the endless sky of Corellia, he felt very calm. A deep sigh left his lungs. A storm was coming. He could see violent strikes of thunder in the distance. A smile crossed his face again.
"With the storm comes a war! With war comes the vengence of the scorekeeper! The storm will end when it has washed away your blood from the streets!" Ensabah's mighty voice filled the grasslands and echoed off the raindrops falling at an ever increasing rate. Any emotion he may have shown suddenly disappeared from his face. He dropped to his knee in a quick motion and pulled a rifle off his back. Up, aim, trigger. With that a loud blast tore through the rain, half as loud as the bellow from just a moment ago. Not even a second later, an explosion on the horizon put the smile back on Ensabah's face. The droid was gone, giving the Woshyr one last look at the home they had invaded. Ensabah swung the rifle around to his back again, turned away from the hall, and disappeared into the darkness of the night that the storm brought upon the land. This storm wasn't expected to pass by sunrise, but that just fed Ensabah's soul.
With rain comes chaos. War is hell. He liked that.

As Kathryn busied herself with her brews and potions, the fragments she had found in Tomsk's office continued to be analysed. The diagnostic drone she had set to work on the pieces burped and gurgled as it went about its task conducting full spectral studies, composition tests and alloy definitions on the metal shards. Tiny robotic pincers rotated the shards as a rainbow of lasers scoured their surfaces. After a few minutes the analysis was complete. A readout appeared on Kathryn's datapad and 'pinged' to alert its owner. She pulled off her gloves and held the datapad close to read the results. As she scanned the information one word actually made her gasp out loud. 'This can't be right...' she ruminated as she reset the drone to begin another scan. On the datapad, under the heading 'Planet of Origin', a word glowed green. Kamino.

Tomsk blinked and slowly opened his eyes. The brightness of the room made him want to turn his head, but he discovered, to his horror, that he was immobilised. He could hear muffled voices, too distant to ascertain their discussion, and the air smelt the same as the cloud that had rendered him unconscious. He licked his dry lips and tried to scan his surroundings from his prone position.
A single door, no windows, ultra-bright strip lights overhead.
He tried moving his legs and felt metal restraints against his ankles, presumably the same kind of restraints that held his wrists and neck. Tomsk breathed deeply and invoked a regenerative pulse that coursed through his veins and tightened his sinews. At least he could put up a fight once he was released from his bonds…
The door slid open and a rodian entered. It regarded Tomsk with an air of disdain. "You are awake I see."
Tomsk eyed it with hatred. "I will snap your neck," he hissed.
"I think not lizard," replied the rodian and it exited the room, only to return moments later with two more creatures in tow, a zabrak and a wookiee. Tomsk snarled and tried to raise enough phlegm to spit at the wookiee, but his throat was too dry.
"Be still," said the zabrak in a soft voice dripping with malice, "or we shall flood this room once again with dioxin." The wookiee pressed a barely visible panel in the grey wall and half of the strip lights dimmed and parted. Then a flat screen lowered down from the ceiling, hovering to within two meters of Tomsk’s face.
"We bring relief from your boredom," muttered the zabrak, "something to watch." With that the trio left the room, the rodian chuckling as he went. Tomsk turned his attention to the screen as it blossomed into life. The picture was a bird’s eye view of some buildings. The arrangement was familiar to him. Retribution! He could see small figures walking around the structures, one looked like Xaviere, another like K’thorn. As the image pulled back he could see a couple of other figures laying prone on the closest hill-top. Wookiees. The wookiees slowly edged forward, and Tomsk watched helplessly as his beloved town was attacked…

"Kamino?" Kathryn murmured, trying to remember anything she could about this elusive planet. Images of silver oceans and long necked aliens played in the back of her mind as well as a dull sense of pain but nothing more. There could only be one reason why that name triggered all sorts of images and emotions. She had been there. But how? Dropping the datapad next to her unfinished experiments, she pulled a chair over to her computer terminal and accessed the galaxy map she had stolen from an unsuspecting spice smuggler. The holo had been a real find. Not only did it project the planets and stars of both the Inner Core and Outer Rim as an interactive, touch sensitive hologram but it also contained a sizable index of useful information on each world as well as a few not often found on the usual star charts, perfect for smuggling outposts. 'Ahhhh here we are' thought Kathryn as she touched a silver sphere and a clinical female voice began to speak. "Kamino. A planet of tumultuous oceans and endless storms. Few features mark its surface, save for massive stilt-mounted cities wherein reside the planet's natural inhabitants, the Kaminoans. From Tipoca City, the planet's Prime Minister rules and closely monitors the operations of Kamino's most prized export: clones. Though few are privy to such knowledge, the Kaminoans are reputed to be the best cloners in the galaxy...." The emotionless voice continued but Kathryn heard nothing more as her mind zeroed in on the one key word: clones!. That was it! That's how she knew about this place! Being a clone herself, Kathryn had begun life in a hidden Imperial cloning facility on Endor but that had been when she was 21. The scientists had told her that her memories of the past had been wiped before they awakened her at the base Clearly the mind wipe had not been thoroughly done if only a few years later a few key words unlocked a few of these lost memories. Nevertheless, there was only one thing to be done. 'I'm going to Kamino. If just a few minor references to the planet can jog a few images, imagine what a full blown immersion of the senses in the world itself could do. At any rate, there is some payback in order for what they did to me'. And with that thought in mind, she packed her most lethal poisons and deadly diseases alongside two laser rifles and a republic blaster. Just as she had strapped the pack on, the front door to her lab exploded in a shower of deadly metal shrapnel from a proton grenade and a towering fur covered giant charged in. Still coughing on the smoke from the grenade, Kathryn reached for the weapons in her backpack only to be stopped by her assailant with his bowcaster aimed at her head. "I wouldn't try that, little human. I might have to kill you," the wookiee growled, yanking her off the floor. "Not that I'm promising that I'll let you live. It all depends on how useful you are to me"'I'm never going to get this stench out of my clothing' Kathryn thought, wrinkling her nose as she let the wookiee drag her across the floor. The combined smell of sweat and unwashed fur was overwhelming but she managed to keep her wits about her as they approached the front door. After all, animals are known for their brute strength and not their intelligence. It would be child's play to lull this wallking furball into a false sense of security. Now all she needed was an opportunity..... The doors to her lab opened at their approach and for the first time she could hear the sounds of gunfire, cries of victory, and screams of pain. It seemed the wookiees were losing if her sharp ears did not deceive her because the screams appeared to be wookiee in origin while the warcries were accentuated by a distinct hissing sound. Her own captor was suddenly nervous and glanced anxiously around the deserted streets. Suddenly the sounds stopped and an eerie silence crept over the town. 'C'mon, guys, I know you're out there. Just give me a chance to turn the tables on this walking flea bag' Kathryn said to herself, straining to hear the slightest sound that would mean her friends were close by. As if in answer to her silent prayer, K'Thorn and Xaviere came strolling up the street covered in blood and laden down with wookiee pelts. The two warriors took in the situation a moment after the wookiee wrapped his furry arm around her neck and lifted the bowcaster to her head. K'Thorn smiled as he pulled out his own weapon for one more kill while Xaviere quickly followed his example. The two Trandoshans then calmly walked up to the house and gave the wookie a once over.
"Let the human go and you'll die quickly, wook," K'Thorn announced without emotion while he casually adjusted the setting on his rifle. "You can join your brothers who went before you."
"I think you have failed to take in the situation here, lizard. I hold the upper hand. One false move and your precious human dies. I hope she is a valuable slave so you will think twice." "She's human and expendable. I can find more like her. Do what you will," K'Thorn replied, shrugging while at the same time catching Kathryn's eye. She blinked twice to communicate that she understood his plan.
"You're just bluffing. Everyone knows-" the wookiee began to say but was cut off by the sound of a charged bolt making contact with the small body he was holding. The surprised animal looked down and saw red blood spill all over Kathryn's hands as she tried to stop the bleeding coming from the wound in her chest.
"K'Thorn..." she whispered in surprise before collapsing on the ground. Her former captor just stared at her dead body and then at her murderer.
"I don't negotiate," K'Thorn replied with a cruel smile and shot the wookiee three times before he could react to this turn of events. While Xaviere began to skin the latest kill, the tall Trandoshan's attention quickly turned to the human woman who was now getting slowly to her feet.
"Thanks for aiming high, K'Thorn. You KNOW the chestplate bruises me more when you hit high than when you hit low," the angry combat medic infomed him, the sarcasm and irritation clear in her voice.
"I know. What makes you think I didn't aim that way on purpose?" was his quick reply followed by a sly flash of teeth. Kathryn shook her head while the beginnings of an amused smile pulled at her lips. She was just about to go back into her lab for a thorough shower and change of clothes when she spotted a datapad peeking out of the wookiee's bulky belt. Wondering if it had the location of their hideout or other sensitive information, the young woman carefully extracted it from the corpse and activated the viewscreen. Within moments, the datapad revealed the travel plans of the wookiee assault team including the security codes for the shuttle they had used to travel to Corellia. 'Just what I need: a ticket out of here' she thought, quickly pocketing the device. K'Thorn inquired after the contents but she merely showed him the travel plans on the pad while carefully leaving out the location of the shuttle. What he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
"I'm going to wash this red dye off before it stains my best traveling suit permanently. Securing a few ampules in my watch comes in handy with situations like this," she remarked, glancing at the wookiee corpse that was now stripped of its pelt. "He should have listened. The Dosha Cartel NEVER negotiates."
"They never listen. It's impossible getting through that thick skull of theirs."
"Of course, you're right, K'Thorn, but one can always hope..."
"Bah! Hope is for weaklings"
"We shall see, we shall see," Kathryn murmured, thinking of her own hopes of finding information on her mysterious past by traveling to Kamino. After taking a shower, changing clothes and applying a little bacta, she felt almost as good as new. It was long past time for her to continue her quest for answers on Kamino and the first step on that quest would be procuring the wookie shuttle for her own purposes. Sometimes fate had a way of making a precarious situation turn out just right.

Captain Rekab wiped the palms of his hands down the front of his grey dress pants. Why did he sweat so when he came to this place? The elevator came to a gentle stop and the door swung around to reveal a sterile room, the silver and slate of the furnishings swallowing all colour and any hope. In the middle of the room, seated at one end of a great table, General Veers gazed thoughtfully at a small data pad - his hard face tinged violet from the soft blue light of the readout.
"Report." he issued, without looking up at the nervous Captain.
Rekab stepped forward and placed his own data pad on the table. "You requested an update sir."
"And?" snapped Veers, his face still angled down, "am I to read your report from here?"
"Sorry sir!" stammered Rekab and he hurriedly scooped up the pad before trotting down to the far end and standing to attention next to the General. Veers gently took the pad from Rekab’s outstretched hand and lethargically brought it before his face.
"Interesting… this information is accurate?"
"To within the last hour sir."
General Veers placed the pad on the table next to his own and finally looked up into the face of the young Captain. He seemed to be sizing him up for a second, his piercing eyes burrowing into Rekab’s very soul. Lien Rekab felt a chill (of respect or fear?) clasp at the back of his neck, then the General spoke again.
"This is good intel. Captain. The opposing clans have no idea of our involvement?"
"No sir. Our snipers were undetected during the Wookiee attack on the Trandoshan town of Retribution. We made several significant kills, especially on the lizards, and pulled out without a hitch. Our spaceport operatives have also been able to deliver information to the Dosha Cartel regarding the Wookiees’ movements without their knowledge. They believe they are using regular informants."
Veers’ face appeared to soften slightly. "Excellent, the Emperor will be most pleased with the progress you are making. Perhaps you should now redouble your efforts, see if you can’t bring about the end of both of these parties. Then we can send a message to other clans who are getting ideas above their stations, remind them who is really in charge of the galaxy!"
"Yes sir, thank you sir!" blurted Captain Rekab, snapping his heels as he saluted the General.
A mere three seconds passed before Veers uttered "You still here Captain?"
Once again, Lien Rekab was happy to return to the sanctuary of the elevator.

It had been several hours since the viewing screen had been lowered to show Tomsk the events unfolding between the cartel and the Wroshyr. Tomsk took this to mean one of two things. Either their holo-cam droids were not working, or the Cartel were winning. He opted for the latter and consoled himself with the thought that his brothers were giving the wookiees the punishment they so richly deserved. The door slid open and his trio of tormentors entered, this time shadowed by two new figures, both shrouded in heavy cloaks. The rodian punched a sampler into his neck and extracted some tissue from between Tomsk's scales.
"Not taken enough?" Tomsk hissed. The rodian ignored him and handed the tube of meat to one of the cloaked figures. As it reached out to take the tube Tomsk caught a glimpse of green skin and claws.
"Traitorous Sithspawn!" he spat as the figure left the room. The wookiee laughed at Tomsk and stepped aside as the other figure walked closer. The unmistakable snout of a trandoshan peeked from the heavy cloth as it regarded Tomsk's prone form, then it quickly turned and left as the zabrak approached the table, cradling a stun baton menacingly.
"Make him scream," said the rodian.
Tomsk fixed the zabrak with a hard stare as his torturer went to work...

According to his internal clock two days had passed. The plasma screen had not descended for either day. Tomsk knew that his tormentors would have repaired any problem to their cameras in a nanosec, so the reason for the lack of pictures must be the dominence of the Cartel. He afforded himself a smile, then turned back to the matter at hand. His body was already a mass of bruises and dried blood, multiple signatures of the zabrak, so some fresh damage would not be noticed. He continued to twist his left hand, feeling the skin break, feeling bones pop out and sinews snap. After several hours of this self abuse he could now sense that the claw was malleable enough to slip through the restraining clamp. He tried it and it oozed through with ease.
A soft click.
Tomsk replaced his hand, just as the door slid open and his abductors entered. The shrouded figures were once again present with the original unholy trio, and now a sixth being entered, stooping low to get through the door frame. Tomsk had never seen a Kaminoan before, and in his present state he didn’t really care either. The cloaked figures held back as the willowy cloner and the rodian approached the table. The wookiee and the zabrak observed with an air of impatience, chomping at the bit, ready to resume Tomsk’s torture.
The rodian ushered forward the Kaminoan. "See Mee Krob? He’s not dead, just softened up a little."
"You must prevent any further deep tissue damage," replied the tall creature in a voice like melting bantha butter, "my experiments require unblemished specimens."
"I’ll try to hold ‘em back," grinned the rodian, glancing back at his colleagues, "but they get so enthusiastic."
One of the cloaked figures now spoke up. "Is he conscious?"
The rodian looked back at Tomsk. "Yeah - he’s listening to all of this…"
Tomsk eased open one swollen eyelid and watched the cloaked figure approach the table. It reached up and pulled back its hood, revealing a grizzled and deeply scarred Trandoshan face. He bent closer and hissed, "You know my face?"
Tomsk gave a slight nod and croaked, "Yes. Drassk’Or. Supreme General of the Slaver Wars… you served my father…"
"He still does." This voice came from the other figure. It stepped forward and removed its hood. Tomsk craned his head as far up as he could, and his gaze fell upon the stone hard face of Trendo Hssss. The old lizard spoke slowly, his voice dripping with venom. "It’s been a long time son."

A day had passed since Tomsk’s father had revealed his identity, and since that moment he had not returned. The wookiee and zabrak were more than happy though to continue his torture, using stun batons and plasma needles to inflict as much pain as possible but never to the point of unconsciousness. Now he was alone once again. Having wriggled his mangled left hand free he now tentatively probed his right. He felt for the points that he would have to dislocate in order to free his favoured claw. Next he probed the restraining strap crossing his brow and realized it would take more than a claw to cut through the plasti-weave material, likewise the straps over his thighs and shins. The silence in the room was overwhelming, but worked to his advantage, as he could hear the hiss of an external blast door that would herald the click of his prison door. When he heard the initial hiss he knew he had seven seconds to prepare for his tormentors. Tomsk drew his hand to his mouth and reached inside with two twisted digits. Taking a firm grasp of the longest of his rear fangs, Tomsk snapped it off at the root and palmed it quickly, swallowing the brief gush of blood that filled his throat. Suddenly he heard the tell tale hiss of the blast door and counted down in his head as he struggled to squeeze his claw back under the restraint. The point of his broken fang pierced the flesh of his palm as the door opened and his father entered. Trendo was followed by the General, who carried a tall, white chair, placing it next to Tomsk’s table. Then he returned to the doorway and stood in front of it, arms crossed, blocking the exit with his imposing frame. Trendo unclasped his cloak and folded it over the back of the chair before sitting down and staring at his battered son.
"Open your eyes."
Tomsk obliged and looked directly up at the barren ceiling. Trendo leaned forward. "I’m sure you have more than a few questions Tomsk," he hissed, "and now is the time for answers…."

"General Drassk is possibly the last true survivor of the Slaver Wars and, as you know, he is a highly regarded veteran of the last great Techno War with the wookiees." Trendo afforded a brief glance at his trusted companion and Drassk’Or returned the look with a respectful nod.
"He has stood by the Hsss family for many decades, and it was he who instigated my resurrection."
"It was for the good of the family…" rumbled the grizzled war horse in the corner.
Trendo continued. "Of course, cloning from such an old DNA matrix is considered highly irregular, not to mention illegal on all but the most progressive of planets, but after my initial anger I could understand his reasoning." Tomsk’s father stood and stretched, flexing his formidable frame and baring his razor sharp fangs.
"These Kaminoans may be the best cloners in the galaxy, but they can’t make furniture for sithspit," he grumbled, before perching himself once again on the edge of the chair. He leaned even closer, so close that Tomsk could feel his spittle flecking his face as he spoke. "What do I find upon my return? Trandosha is now run by bureaucrats, not hunters. The Trandoshan race has gone soft! Once mighty warriors who lived only for the kill are now merchants, wondering where their next shipment of Quarren Weave silk is coming from, or doctors healing all who beg for help, even the sub-species such as humans and bothans… even wookiees! They have become businessmen, worried less about Jagganath points than their bank accounts, I have even been shown dancers - dancers! May the Scorekeeper devour their souls!" Trendo became more and more agitated as he spoke and Tomsk prepared for the lashing out that would inevitably follow. "On top of this I have to read about the Hsss family name being dragged through the mud! We were a noble family, now we command no respect! My own son, my heir, is so weak that he is captured by wookiees and forced to betray his own kind. You were given a second chance, did you restore honour to our family? NO! You became a pathetic pen pusher, a politician, the lowest form of life, a laughing stock on Dosha!" Trendo stood and kicked back the chair, sending it crashing into the wall behind him. "Well no more! I cannot stand by and watch this happen… I do see one ray of hope however. This cartel that you are connected to, they are strong, some of them retain the old ways, the hunger. With a Hsss leading them and my guidance, the Dosha could once again become the feared warriors we were! That is why To’zar Roksun shall be removed, and you shall lead them in his place."
Tomsk snapped his head to the left, chaffing against the strap, to stare at his father. "But, I cannot kill the Don," he croaked, "K’thorn, Crotalus, the others would never allow this to happen. They would never accept my leadership…"
"You will not be doing the killing, and any who oppose you will be silence, you can be assured of that…"
"But how can I be expected to take over?"
Trendo smiled wickedly. "It will not be you, exactly, who takes command…" With that he he motioned to the General who stepped to one side as a new, huge figure entered the room. Tomsk gasped. He was looking at himself.
This new Tomsk was taller, more muscular than Tomsk remembered himself to be, and wore a freshly skinned wookiee pelt loosely about his shoulders. Tomsk recognized the markings of his torturer. Trendo stepped towards the new Trandoshan and placed a claw on his shoulder. He then turned back to Tomsk. "Meet the new Tomsk Hsss, soon to be leader of the Dosha Cartel, a perfectly blended clone of you, General Drassk and myself, ruthless beyond measure and stronger than any Trandoshan you have ever known, our cloner friends have seen to that…" Tomsk stared in disbelief as he watched himself fling the pelt to the ground and lick the blood from his claws.
The new clone gave Tomsk a disgusted look. "Time for this one to die now…" he hissed.

"Darn navigation system!"Kathryn yelled, hitting the finicky old console for the upteenth time. "I should have known that a wookiee wouldn't know a good spacecraft if it landed on their head." The 'transport', if you could call it that, had seen better days. She had found its location quite easily thanks to the datapad she took from the Wroshyr assault team member. Its former owners had tried to hide the ancient vessel beneath a few tree branches but the hasty attempt at cover only served in making it stand out. After a quick systems check and an examination of the many dents and scars running along the sides, she decided that it would have to do. The shuttle itself was the size of a small Corellian house with only two compartments: a bridge and a storage bay. It was clearly meant for quick trips between planets since there was no attempt to hide the guts of the ship behind sleek paneling or add more luxuries such as bunks or tables. Kathryn jdecided to name her new vessel Fortune Hunter while praying it would make it all the way to Kamino. Otherwise, it would end up being a very short trip.
After breaking orbit and engaging the hyperdrive, she began to have second thoughts. Once at lightspeed, the entire vessel started to shake and Kathryn could swear she heard the bolts of the ship starting to come apart from the added pressure. What made things worse was the occasional groan as Fortune Hunter hit the occasional piece of space debris.
'Remind me not to borrow any vessels from wookiees again' she thought, shifting in her hard pilot's seat to squint at the radar. The readings had frozen again so she gave it a good hit with her fist before deciding that she was close enough to come out of hyperspace. Taking a deep breath and sending one last prayer to the Scorekeeper, Kathryn gently eased the old vessel down to a lower speed. Despite her careful efforts, Fortune Hunter moaned, groaned and protested like an old nag until she came to a complete stop above a world covered in silver water.
"Kamino" She breathed out loud, the images of before returning more vividly.
"This is where I'll find my answers." And with these happy thoughts to guide her, Kathryn started making her descent to the welcoming planet below. It didn't take long to find the newly up and running capital city and after receiving permission to land, she settled the tired old starship down in a quiet, secluded docking area. After a quick onceover, Kathryn secured the vessel and quickly made her way through the pouring rain to the beckoning silver tower beyond. 'At least I don't have to worry about theft' she chuckled, thinking no one would want such a piece of space junk. With any luck, no one had noted her arrival since her vessel was far from impressive. However, luck was not on her side at this time. Someone HAD seen her arrival and hurried to report this new development to Trendo Hsss and General Drassk.

His father’s words still rang in his ears as Tomsk lay on the interrogation table. A message on Trendo’s comlink had disturbed the moment and for some reason Trendo had not allowed the new clone to touch him, instead the two of them had left, followed by General Drassk’Or. The light had been turned off and now Tomsk strained to listen for any sign of outside activity. A few moments ago he had heard the sound of several pairs of feet running past his cell door, but now all was silent. He worked the fang around in his palm and pulled his claw through the restraining strap. Slowly he then began to saw at the strap on his right wrist, using the serrated edge of his broken tooth. He felt the strap weaken and realized he could pull his other claw free, when suddenly the hiss of the blast door made him snap to attention. He almost dropped the tooth, such was his focus on the task at hand. He replaced his left claw on top of the strap, hoping whoever came in would not notice through the dried blood that it was free. The door slid open and the lights glared as the rodian and zabrak entered. The zabrak seemed immensely agitated and paced by the door, slapping his stun baton in his palm, as the rodian approached the table. The rodian drew a snub-nosed pistol from his pocket and leveled it at Tomsk’s head.
"Your dad sent me in to do his dirty work, calls himself a warrior…"
"Last words…" whispered Tomsk.
"What?" replied the rodian stepping closer.
"Last words…" repeated Tomsk in an even more hushed tone.
"What in the name of gundark’s gizzards are you sayin’?" yelled the rodian bending down and swiveling his antenna in Tomsk’s face.
Tomsk smiled. "They were your last words, bug!" As he spat out the words , Tomsk flung his left arm up, driving the tooth into the rodian’s left eye. The rodian screamed and tried to pull back but Tomsk already had his gun hand and wrestled the pistol out, flipping it around and stuffing it into the rodian’s snout. The zabrak leapt forward as a crimson flame burst from the back of the rodian’s head, forcing the creature back into his path. The zabrak barely had time to activate the baton before Tomsk had drilled a hole through his throat. As the zabrak fell gurgling to the floor Tomsk lifted his right claw as far as he could and shot at the base of the strap. It disintegrated with minimal burns to his wrist, not that he would have felt them anyway. With both hands free he could now work on the strap across his head and soon it too was undone. Moments later his legs were free and Tomsk jumped down from the table, only to collapse to his knees. Summoning all he could from his beaten body he slowly stood and stooped to take the stun baton from the dead zabrak’s hand. He limped to the door and listened intently. Silence. Tomsk turned back and bit off the zabrak’s hand at the wrist, then pressed it against the operation panel. It slid open and Tomsk chewed off and swallowed the fleshy part of the palm before tossing the limb back into the room and staggering to the blast door. Readying the pistol he opened the door and found himself in a startlingly white corridor. Huge oval windows stretched down either side of it and he could see a maze of glass walled rooms to his left. To his right the windows looked out into a vista of storm lashed platforms and rampaging waves as high as city hall. The corridor was empty and he began to move down it, towards a second blast door at the end. As he advanced he was aware of willowy white figures moving in the rooms to his left, but as they seemed to ignore him he thought he would return the favour. He reached the blast door and opened it - and looked directly into the face of General Drassk.
"Going somewhere?" bellowed the General, swiping the pistol from his claw and backhanding him across the jaw in one lightning fast move. "I knew it," he hissed, "never send inferiors to do your killing…"
As he walked steadily forward, Tomsk shuffled backwards along the corridor, trying to get to his feet but realizing his final ounce of strength had deserted him. Then his new clone appeared at the General’s shoulder, almost pushing the older lizard out of the way.
"He’s mine! Let me finish this!" the new Tomsk roared, drawing an exotic skinning blade from his belt.
The General chuckled and stepped to one side. "Be my guest…"

Kathryn had never seen a place so clean and shiny before. Even the floors gleamed under her feet while the storm continued unabated outside the transparisteel oval windows. The only sound was the gentle swoosh of the Kaminoan robes and the soft murmur of their voices.
'I wonder what they would do if I decided to scream right now' she thought, an impish grin on her face. As she continued walking down the gleaming corridors toward their Hall of Public Records, her hunter's instinct suddenly became aware of footsteps that were shadowing her own. To make sure it was not just her own paranoia, the young woman briefly stopped to examine a store window displaying some local delicacies. Her keen ears immediately heard the footsteps cease from around the bend and continue forward when she resumed her stroll. 'Something is definitely up' ran through her mind as she started taking in the alien environment, while unconsciously noting nearby exits and shadowed corners where ambushes were more likely. It was part of Kathryn's prior conditioning as a clone and was most helpful in dangerous situations. Which is why she was ready when the initial attack came from around the corner of the deserted hallway. Her assailant aimed for her stomach with his vibroblade, hoping to incapacitate her with the first blow, but had not count on her quick reflexes and agile form. Instead of connecting, his weapon sliced at open air as she jumped back. After taking a moment to register surprise at the revelation that he was Trandoshan, Kathryn took advantage of his now awkward position with a quick kick to the stomach and a charge from her republic blaster to the head.
"That won't be growing back,"she remarked, smiling as she holstered the weapon. However, now she had a decision to make. Was this thug working alone or with a larger group? The footsteps that had been following her had disappeared and clearly pointed to the latter. If so, then she was clearly out numbered and should retreat until she could take up a much stronger position. Just as she was about to head back to the Fortune Hunter, an urgent beeping sound emitted from the dead Trandoshan's waist. A quick search revealed a comlink attached to his belt. Wondering at the identity of those who wished her dead, Kathryn opened the channel. "Borsssk! Report! Have you disposed of the human yet? General Drassk and Trendo are waiting for a report," someone demanded, asking for an update.
Figuring she had nothing to lose, the young human woman cleared her throat, thought of the gravelly voices of her fellow Dosha, and growled out a reply. "Human is dead. Orders?"
"Good. Report back to Docking Bay 15 with body. We'll need you to help in disposing of the corpse of her fellow cartel member as well. Sssransk out." As the commlink closed off, Kathryn stood a moment in complete shock. WHO IN THE WORLD COULD THEY HAVE?
'Let's see...To'zar was out hunting on Naboo with Visivius, K'Thorn and Xaviere were at Retribution, Ensabah was on Tattoine with Yelena...who has been missing for the last day or so...TOMSK! It has to be him.'
Suddenly, the idle speeder, the dioxin fragments, and the unusual silence from his comm unit began to make sense. If only she had figured this out sooner. Well, each moment she wasted here kicking herself in the butt could mean one less moment to rescue Tomsk so therefore it was time to act and she had just the right plan to rescue his scaley hide too.
'Boy, is he going to owe me' Kate thought as she smiled and raced to her parked shuttlecraft.

Finding Docking Bay 15 was a cinch thanks to a helpful docking attendant and temporary lull in the perpetual Kamino rainstorms. The area was more secluded than most spots thanks to its duel role as both a storage and parking facility. Dozens of old space junks littered the platform, wires and circuits exposed to the grey, cloudy sky for all to see. What interested her most was a brand new structure constructed right in the midst of all the antiques. It was two stories and appeared to be an office building but no one would notice it until they flew right over it thanks to the strategic placement of some of the old spaceships.
'If I was "questioning" a prisoner, THAT is where I would hide him'. After a quick recon of the building and figuring the odds were against her if she went in on her foot, Kate loaded two missiles in the limited weapons system that had come with the wookie cruiser and aimed for the first floor. With any luck, she'd blast a hole large enough to sneak through, grab Tomsk, and be on her way before they knew what hit them.
'Yeah, right. The way my luck has been going I'll either blow this ship up or kill Tomsk. Scorekeeper protect us all as we about to dance with Death'. The novice combat medic checked her instruments one last time, took a deep breath, and hit the fire button.
Fortune Hunter gave a slight groan as the missiles were released and shook slightly from the impending explosion. As quickly as was safely possible, Kathryn landed the ship and headed toward the now smoking facility armed with only her laser rifle and poison/disease bombs. The first unfortunate souls to wander out of the smoldering building were met with laser fire and were hastily dispatched. Stepping over the bodies, she quickly made her way inside, flashing her wrist lamp down the now dark hallways. Evidently she had aimed well and had ended up knocking out the building's power. Resistance was light and many jagganath points were earned as she passed the blaster riddled, mind poisoned corpses of her prey. Finally she reached a hallway with an elevator at the end. Rain started to come pouring in through the blown out windows and Kathryn struggled to see her path ahead as the wind whipped around her from the outside storm. Suddenly her light illuminated the familiar figure of Tomsk.
The older Trandoshan had definitely taken a beating, his left hand was completely mangled and there were wounds all over his body that testified that a professional had been at work.
'It's a good thing Trandoshans are so resilient' she thought as she hoisted the unconscious Tomsk onto her smaller but strong back. As she started to drag him out, she noticed the corpses of two other Trandoshans nearby. They were clearly dead since one had a piece of ceiling that had went through his right eye and out the back of his head while the other appeared to be decapitated by the razar sharp edge of a transparisteel windowframe.
They were halfway back to the ship when Tomsk started to revive. He first opened his eyes and then started to move his legs. The older warrior seemed incoherent and unable to focus as his inner eyes blinked several times at her without any sign of recognition. He did however let her guide him toward the exit and soon they were making excellent progress down the last hallway. All of a sudden a menacing shadow filled the hole she had made in the side of the building with the shuttle's weapons system. Reacting on pure instinct, she pushed herself and Tomsk to the floor as blaster fire sounded right above their heads.
'I KNEW this was too easy' was her first thought as she brought the laser rifle into position while aiming at the attacking creature but it was too fast. Dodging left and right as she filled the hallway with laser fire, her opponent managed to avoid the deadly blasts and knock her to the ground with one well-aimed kick.
"A human,"it growled in surprise and anger, "not to mention a weak female. The Dosha Cartel has TRULY lost its way. Will this humiliation never end?"
"Actually it's only just begun for you. You're about to be bested by this 'weak female'." And with that cryptic remark, Kathryn pulled out an ion grenade and activated the timer for 5 seconds. Grabbing the now unconscious Tomsk with one arm and recovering her weapon with the other, she jumped over the rubble at the entrance and dived for cover as the building behind her exploded in a shower of glass and transparisteel that quickly joined the Kamino evening rainshower. After checking herself and Tomsk for injuries, she discovered they had a few bad burns on their back but were no worse for wear. It was time to leave this wet planet and head back to her dry home on Tattoine. Her search for answers would have to wait for another time. Family came first and the Cartel WAS family. Therefore, a little side trip to Corellia was in order to drop off the still unconscious Tomsk at the nearest bacta tank.

Warmth and weightlessness. A fresh nitrox mix filling his lungs, cleansing them. A repetative pounding that grew louder... and louder... Tomsk flicked his eyes open and flailed in shock when he realised he was suspended in a chamber. He quickly calmed though when he recognised the pink haze of a bacta tank and felt the rush of new blood in his veins. The pounding grew louder and he spun around in the fluid. There, outside the curved wall of the tank, tapping one elongated claw on the surface, was Crotalus. He grinned when a flash of recognition illuminated Tomsk's face, and motioned to the medical droid. With a sharp yank Tomsk was pulled from the tank and ejected into a drying room where he found a simple robe to don. Moments later he sat before Crotalus who continued to grin. "You are one lucky son of a salamander!" he chuckled, handing Tomsk a cup of something warm and bitter as the medical droid continued to fuss over its patient.
"I, uh...where's..."
"Kathryn?" Crotalus finished, "She had to fly, scorekeeper knows if that heap she brought you here in would make it anywhere else though. You're safe old friend, we're near Dragonhaven." "Tatooine? How..." Tomsk silenced himself. There would plenty of time for answers later. "I have to speak to her."
"She'll probably meet you on Corellia, that is where you want to go I take it?"
"I gotta get back to Retribution..."
"It's still there."
"The attack..."
"You missed it. We drove them into the dirt!" Crotalus took a light blaster from his pocket and placed it in Tomsk's hand. "I assume you still know how to use one of these?"
Tomsk thought back to the brief fire-fight in his cell. "I have to speak to the council!"
"In good time Tomsk, To'zar and K'thorn are busy tracking down an escapee, that's probably where Kathrn went. I've got an aquaintance coming in from Rishi in half a day, he's making the Corellian Run tomorrow morning. I've persuaded him to take you home." Crotalus stood and walked to the door. "Get some rest, you can fill me in on the details another time."
"Thank you Crotalus," murmured Tomsk as the younger Trandoshan left.
"Excuse me sir." The synthesised voice was calm.
Tomsk turned to the droid. "What?"
2B1G trundled closer and handed Tomsk a small data-pad. "An unusual anomoly sir. It appears your DNA has been tampered with."
Tomsk snatched the pad from its metal claw and read the data.
He didn't like what it said.