"Under the Law"

He was from Endor. He was the Emperor. He almost wiped out all sensitive to the Force the last time he was there. Arriving, in a cruiser, he had not been there since his childhood. Darth Vader was with him.

One of them brought a lightsaber. It lit up the darkness. The other had his in a museum. The Dark Lord commanded, "Destroy all evidence that the Empire was here once we leave."

"My home is just as I remember it," he told the soldier who guarded the door. The soldier responded by clearing his throat. Outside, the Ewoks were fleeing in terror. Weary of the war he started, the Emperor collapsed knocking down trinkets and toys from his former life.

Darth Vader fell on one knee to catch him. Through the Force, he felt the sorrow of his master and secretly enjoyed it, "Everyone believed you were from Naboo. But I knew better!"

"How could you know better? was that treacherous woman of yours!" he stated. "I'll have her put to death! Soldier, have Padmé Amidala put to death."

In confusion, the soldier replied, "Who, sir?"

"Master," the Dark Lord of the Sith explained, "that treacherous woman has been dead for twenty years. You need not speak of her again. She can't harm you anymore."

The Emperor lost his breath as he collected his thoughts, "That's right, another victory for the Empire."

"I've got an idea," the old man started. "We've tried everything to thwart the rebels. But we have not yet tried...insanity. It's bold, unexpected. We need to build a second Death Star."

Darth Vader replied, "Another Death Star? Excellent."

As they departed the home for a cruiser, Darth Vader slashed the soldier at the door with his lightsaber. There would be no witnesses to the plot that was conceived – standard Imperial procedures. Building another Death Star sounded desperate, but it would be done just the same.

With Darth Vader as his protection, the Emperor boarded a shuttle. The Ewoks were to be incinerated by order of the Empire. In this way, he felt redeemed for failing to end all human life the last time he was there.

On board the shuttle, the Sith Lords were headed towards an orbiting cruiser. The Dark Lord of the Sith asked the Emperor, "How did you come to be known as a Senator from Naboo?"

The old man cackled as he tapped his left temple. Then he replied, "I made a home for myself on Naboo after I left Endor. I murdered a farmer for looking like me. I had no choice but to become him."

Darth Vader had a better connection to the Force and a comlink in his helmet. He spoke secretly with the stormtroopers on board the shuttle through their comlinks. The Emperor could not hear. He spoke, "It is the will of the Force that we destroy the Empire. It is our destiny. This is not our Emperor."

"Yes, Lord Vader," an injured stormtrooper replied. Earlier, the stormtrooper had a near-death experience that made him a squad leader.

He was a clone from Bespin. He was born a mere ten years before. He was a product of accelerated growth. His programming was a contradiction – value peace above all else but victory comes from drawing first blood. It confused him. But it also made him more considerate.

In the dead of the night, the stormtrooper awoke from a nightmare. It was a premonition of his own death. He acquired the Force ability to sense mortal danger from the near-death experience he had the day before.

"It was all burned down," a stormtrooper claimed in the mess hall. Dozens of stormtroopers were there. The new squad leader sat down to eat with his men. There was only three left in his squad of four.

Taking off his helmet, he replied, "Do you mean the planet we just left?"

"Yeah," his men confirmed high-fiving each other.

"Do you have names?" the squad leader asked. He remembered the words Darth Vader shared. He was certain the Emperor did not hear them.

He was told, "We are stormtroopers. Names are for mortals. Who needs them or their names?"

"We're so good, we don't even need names to justify our existence," another explained. Stormtroopers were told by their superiors only what they needed to know. He was overheard by a nearby officer. JJ-092 was in a lot of trouble.

He pointed out, "I want a name."

On the bridge, Captain Joran pondered while his cruiser was in hyperspace. The squad leader was reported to the captain. Security was on alert for a stormtrooper unaware of his crime.

JJ-092 did not even know what class of cruiser he was serving on. It was a Victory-class cruiser. He would handle his stress that day by blasting targets at a shooting range. Near there, he would stop by an armory to pick up a weapon.

At the captain's table, Joran sat. The officer who reported the crime was welcome to dine with him. He was asked, "So, tell me, how did you murder that coward as you were trained to do? Why did you not deliver me his rotting corpse?"

The guest stood up to say, "I'll get right on it, sir."

He had a duty to perform – he had to murder JJ-092. At the shooting range, the near-death experience impaired his aim. Someone took his helmet while he showered. It was an accident. Stormtroopers were identified by their helmets. He had the wrong one.

He was believed to be dead. As an act of self-preservation, he tried to leave the cruiser. He then remembered his premonition. He had no choice but to surrender to his superiors. Darth Vader spared his life.

He was sent to Kessel for his protection. Clones made at Bespin came from Darth Vader's blood. He was in his favor. It was only after the stormtrooper left the Empire that he was told how close it came to destruction. He had to find a future somewhere else.

He was taken to the Spice Mines of Kessel. The patch on his shoulder identified him as a prisoner. He was equipped with binder cuffs and a pick, used only for slave labor.

"What are you in for?" the former stormtrooper inquired of the Sullustan working next to him.

"I stole bread," the small alien replied. "I am not sorry about it either. With this punishment, they can burn for all I care."

Pick in hand, the former stormtrooper responded, "Our warden neglected to tell me how long I would be in here."

Grinning, the Sullustan told him, "The only way out is through the Kessel Run. It's almost impossible."

"I can't do that," he started. "What is your name?"

"Fulke," he said. "What's yours?"

He decided it would be a bad idea to reveal that he used to be a stormtrooper. He stole a name, "I am Joran."

Under those conditions, he might never escape. He could learn how to master a space vehicle. He would rather wait for rescue than seduce a warden. It was either slave labor or death by slow torture.

He was there for many months. Then soldiers, in uniforms he had never seen before, lined up all who worked in the Spice Mines. The prisoners were to be released by order of the New Republic.

"Everyone," a soldier started, "can I have your attention, please? Thank you."

"Under the authority invested in me, by the New Republic, we return to you your freedom," he stated prepared for any response.

The Sullustan spoke, "Slavery is all some of us know. What are we to do with this freedom you offer us?"

With a gesture, he ordered, "Remove his binders first. We will provide you credits and transport anywhere known to space."

"How many credits?" Joran asked him.

The soldier got right in his face while the binder cuffs were being taken off and said, "That's a mighty fine question."

Responding to each of them, the soldier said, "You will be given one thousand credits for all your needs."

For the first time in his life, Joran smiled. He walked towards his transport. It was named Trilobite. Listening to the Force, he chose to return to the world he came from.

On board, he was still in prison clothes. He had with him a toothbrush and a credit chip. He was a former stormtrooper who never cared for weapons.

"Where are you headed?" an old woman asked sitting next to him. It was hard for him to look her in the eye. She was the oldest woman he had ever seen.

"I'm returning to my home," he said with a smile. "Aren't you going to the same place I am? We're on the same transport."

With a thought, she responded, "Oh, yeah. I forgot."

"I am going to Bespin," he began. "My name is Joran."

"You're lucky, my memory is not what it once was," the old woman told him. "I find myself making up names."

The transport arrived at Cloud City. Joran was shocked to discover the Empire still had a presence there. He quickly tore the patch from his shoulder to create the illusion that he was a civilian.

Cloud City was on alert. He was facing inspection. In his quarters, Joran had a second premonition. It warned him to not lie to the Empire.

Stormtroopers came in with a decorated officer. He was there to question the civilian, "Your blood test tells us exactly who you are. It says here that you are a clone of the highest order. Why did you return?"

"I have nothing to say to you, sir," the former stormtrooper responded to the man on the business end of a war. With a gesture, the decorated officer ordered the others to leave.

He stood up to say, "Okay, take off your clothes."

"WHAT?!" Joran cried out in fear.

Disappointed in his implications, he explained, "No! We'll trade places. I'll be you and you'll be me."

Quickly, he asked, "What can your uniform do for me?"

He pointed out, "With this badge, you will never need credits."

So they switched clothes. It seemed Joran had returned from the dead. His cruiser was destroyed over Endor. The decorated officer was one of thousands who defected after the war.

It was a sight – a former stormtrooper walking down the streets dressed like a decorated officer. He had found a world that banned weapons, and he could never be happier. It brought him peace.

The man he traded places with was named Kennis. For once, the man was in control of his own life. He celebrated by trying drinks.

"Hey, baby," he asked drink in hand. "Have you ever been with a Darth Vader clone?"

In disgust, a woman replied, "Are you drunk?"

She got up to sit somewhere else. This had never happened to him before. The bartender started to laugh, "The stormtrooper bit does not work here."

"Why?" Kennis asked him.

The bartender spoke, "Stormtroopers have the inability to reproduce."

"What?!" Kennis cried so all could hear.

He continued, "They can't even gratify themselves. So show some respect for those who give their lives to make yours safe."

The decorated officer had to get his name back from the former stormtrooper. He neglected to buy his drink since it was the first time he ever needed to. He was scorned as he made his way towards the door.

He was staring out a large window in the richest parts of Cloud City. He was still dressed like a decorated officer. It was alerted to the Empire that he was not what he claimed to be. He would be confronted by a squad of stormtroopers.

"Hold it right there," one said as squad leader. Joran then remembered his second premonition.

It was Kennis who alerted the Empire. He didn't even wait until he was sober. He rallied the squad of stormtroopers by holding up the credit chip, "I have evidence in my hand of a terrible crime committed by this man here."

He continued, "It was used only once – for the purchase of a toothbrush. Its true owner is named Joran."

"Oh," the former stormtrooper spoke. "Any computer can trace that credit chip back to...this toothbrush right here. You could test the saliva on the toothbrush. I am more than sure that the only person who has used it is me."

"Kill this traitor!" Kennis cried out with failure. He started to run.

The stormtroopers started to chase after him. Joran slowly picked up the credit chip to examine it. It was still in good working order. With the badge he traded his clothes for, he purchased a fine meal and an outfit. He then tossed the uniform.

The End