I can remember the look on my son's face when I told him I got the promotion from Storm Trooper to Imperial Guard. A new sense of pride took over and he immediately asked his teacher at Death Star West Elementary if he could bring me in for show and tell. My wife was proud, but more relieved. The Storm Trooper death-on-the-job rate has shot up since the rebellion found a new hope and our pensions had recently been cut to build the Death Star.
I was excited as well. I would get to work for the most powerful man in the Empire. He could move large objects with his mind, manipulate the thoughts of his enemies, and shoot lightening from his hands. Which made me wonder, why does a man this powerful need guards? That led to the realization that I have never seen an Imperial Guard fight. What did they do outside of standing in line when the emperor exits a spacecraft? All my questions were soon answered.
I showed up early on my first day. I could not wait to put on one of the coolest work uniforms in the galaxy. I was greeted by one of my old trooper pals, Ned. He had worked his way up to team lead within the first year of his promotion to Guard. His entrance into the Imperial Guard dressing room was majestic. His helmet shined to the point where I could see my goofy smile reflecting in it. His robe danced beautifully with every movement. It was like he was moving in slow motion. Then I realized that he was moving very carefully and at the pace of Jabba the Hutt. He stopped awkwardly ten feet from me like he was giving up. He took off the iconic helmet and revealed a Ned I had never seen before.
Ned was one of the greatest Storm Troopers I'd ever served with. He was a Trooper's trooper and it didn't take long for him to get promoted. I once saw him kill two Wookies with a severed droid arm. His battle face was so disturbing it morphed his Trooper mask. His voiced was so powerful, Lord Vader forbid Ned to speak in his presence.
The man that stood before me in the Guard locker room was less than a shadow of what he used to be. All the youth and pride had been sucked from him. His pale shin drooped over his double chin and his eyes seemed to be retreating back into the darkness of his sockets.
Dust fluttered into the air from his dry lips when he opened his mouth. "Briefing in ten. Here's your staff."
I froze in confusion. He looked as if he didn't recognize me at all.
"Ned?" The only word I could get out.
"I'm Red Rocket One to you." He replies without any kind of emotional expression. I laughed immediately because in our galaxy red rocket referred to the genitals of an Ewok that poke out of their body when they get excited.
"Remember how that felt because all laughter will end once you enter the briefing room."
He did not wait for a response before he turned and walked out. The strangeness of that interaction did not take away my enthusiasm about putting on the iconic wardrobe. I slipped into the one piece under garment, strapped on my belt, and swung my cape around my body like I was a super model. Then the moment I'd been waiting for: I slowly lowered the helmet over my head and instantly understood the pace of Ned. The vision was like looking through a key hole and the wardrobe as a whole had to weigh like fifty pounds.
No wonder I'd never seen an Imperial Guard fight, their uniform makes it impossible to walk let alone defend yourself. As a Storm Trooper, I learned to accept the fact that I would only hit a target once out of a hundred shots because of the poor design of the helmet and the fat fingered gloves. But, this took it to a different level. What does the Empire have against peripheral vision. Yeah, we look shiny and awesome, but at what cost? I've always thought we should learn something from our enemies and blend into the environment. My oldest brother may still be alive today if he had some kind of camouflage and was able to look around without having to move his entire head. Maybe he could have seen the Ewok with the giant boulder in the tree if he wasn't looking through dark tinted lenses the size of bottle caps.
After being nearly crippled by the weight of the uniform and blinded by the design of the mask, I made it to the briefing just in time. We lined up and waited for the Emperor to enter the room. The other Guards were silent and very still. The corridor opened and the man in the black cloak slowly walked into the room. I have never noticed the variety of old man noises the Emperor makes while walking. He either grunted or cleared his throat with each step. I think he even passed gas a few times. Reality was slowly destroying my hero and soon my hero would destroy me.
I thought the dark side of the Force was powerful, but never realized that it didn't help prevent Siths from turning into a grumpy old men. He had a sense of humor that was just plain viscous. Every Guard had an inappropriate name given to them. He named me Monkey Butt and the other new guy Used Tampon. It seemed all his names referenced something that was red and very disgusting. I was fine with being called Monkey Butt once I met After Birth. If we called each other our real names he would send a lightening bolt into whatever orifice that was most convenient to him.
It turns out the one time that an Imperial Guard can relax on the job is when we are lined up as the Emperor exited a spacecraft or building. The rest of the time we slaved over making sure he took his medicine, helping him understand his phone bill, listening to him complain about everything, sending twenty-five dollar checks out to his grand children on their birthdays, bathing him, and, worst of all, diaper duty. The power from his dark side is unfathomable.
I have been an Imperial Guard for a year now. My body has broken down from the stress and frequent zaps of 700 volts of lightening. I drink when I'm not working. My son doesn't respect me. He even calls me Monkey Butt. My wife is having an affair with Lando and that's not something she's coming back from. My life is ruined and the Emperor couldn't be happier. It turns out the highest honor and most respected position in the Empire is to give up your life and dignity so the old man can have a laugh. I personally think he is fully capable of taking care of himself. He just enjoys torturing people. What a Son of a Bitch.
Other Worlds Austin will celebrate Star Wars Day (May the 4th) with a program of fantastic STAR WARS fan films. The free event will take place at the Independence Brewing Company (3913 Todd Ln #607, Austin, TX 78744).
Doors will open at 7:00pm and the program will begin at 8:30pm. Films screened will include Official Star Wars Fan Film Award winners: TROOPS, PINK FIVE, THE JEDI HUNTER, SOLO FOREVER, and CHAD VADER: DAY SHIFT MANAGER. The event will feature a costume contest, Star Wars memorabilia, brewery tours, and handcrafted beer.
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