Long long ago, possibly before time began, and certainly before Tuesday last week, there was a saga called Star Wars. And lo, the people said it was good, and that it did verily enthrall them with its tales of derring-do, good versus evil, and the adventures of pretty princesses and manly warriors. People liked the cool special effects too. Then about a thousand unimaginative people decided to further entertain people with many parodies of the series. And then, even later still, I did the same, and I called this new series Star Wars Parallel Universe. In the previous installment from the parallel Star Wars universe, R2-D2 and C-3PO had gone to the wrong palace on Tatooine. We pick up the story with Darth Vader’s shuttle en route to the new and improved Death Star….
Shuttle Pilot: (Speaking over the radio) Command Station, this is ST-3-21. Code clearance: blue. We’re starting our approach. Deactivate the security shield.
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: (Responding by radio) Security deflector shield will be deactivated when we have confirmation of your code transmission – and not a moment sooner. Standby.
Shuttle Pilot: (Impatient, sarcastic) When you’re ready.
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: (Looks at the code appearing on his screen) Hmmm… I see you’re using an older code, though it checks out. What is your cargo?
Shuttle Pilot: Are you serious?
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: Yes, I’m perfectly serious. We’ve beefed up security around here. We don’t just let anyone saunter up and land whenever they fancy. Now, ST-3-21, what is your cargo?
Shuttle Pilot: No cargo. Just a passenger.
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: How many passengers?
Shuttle Pilot: A passenger. A single passenger.
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: Did I hear you right? A single passenger? Haven’t you people heard about shuttle-sharing? The Imperial Fleet is never going to be carbon neutral until flyboys like you realize that shuttles are not for joyrides.
Shuttle Pilot: You don’t understand. We have a VIP on board. Our passenger is Lord Vader. And he doesn’t like to be kept waiting.
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: Lord Vader? Never heard of him. I don’t care if you’ve got the Emperor himself on that shuttle, you could have carried some cargo over at the same time. Did you at least bring some toilet paper?
Shuttle Pilot: I beg your pardon?
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: Toilet paper. We’re running low. For the last fortnight we’ve been on rations of four sheets per day. It used to be that you had three-ply and can pull them apart to make them last that bit longer, but now they only give you two-ply. They say it’s cutbacks. They must have overrun the budget on building this station.
Shuttle Pilot: Is this a joke? We’re not here to transport toilet paper! And I never spoke to anyone who didn’t know who Darth Vader is before.
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: What was that name again?
Shuttle Pilot: Darth Vader.
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: Darth Vader? Nah. I once met a guy called Ralph Nader. He talked a lot of sense about fixing problems with the galactic economy. He kept standing to be elected to the Republic Senate, until some halfwit abolished it before he succeeded.
Shuttle Pilot: Do you know what you’re saying? Never mind. Put your supervisor on.
Death Star Space Traffic Controller: Oh, it’s like that is it? Very well. Please hold. (Signals to supervisor to come over and help. Puts his hand over the microphone and talks to the supervisor as an aside.) We’ve got a right charlie here. You try speaking to ’em. I need to go for a pee anyhow (gets up and leaves).
Supervising Death Star Space Traffic Controller: (Sits at the microphone). Hello, my name is Stephen and I’m the supervising space traffic controller for today. How may I be of service?
Shuttle Pilot: We’ve got Darth Vader on our shuttle and we want to land – pronto.
Supervising Death Star Space Traffic Controller: Darth Vader, eh? I’m sorry I don’t know who that is.
Shuttle Pilot: You’ve not heard of Darth Vader?
Supervising Death Star Space Traffic Controller: No. But it’s a very big Empire, isn’t it? Thousands of star systems, millions of planets… you don’t expect me to know everybody by name, do you?
Shuttle Pilot: It’s Darth Vader. Darth Vader. (Pauses) Never mind. Can we land?
Supervising Death Star Space Traffic Controller: We’ve just got a few shuttles backed up here. Please enter a holding pattern and we should be able to squeeze you in within the next 15 minutes or so. (Hangs up) (His fellow space traffic controller returns from the toilet.) Make them wait 20 minutes and then direct them to landing bay Theta 12.
[The radio crackles into life as another shuttle signals its intention to land.]
Second Shuttle Pilot: Hello boyos, this is shuttle Tyrannium here, with a code clearance red. We’ve got a big load of bog roll on board, and we hear you’ve got some backsides cryin’ out for some over there.
Supervising Death Star Space Traffic Controller: Great! You’re cleared for immediate priority landing!
[C-3PO and R2-D2 finally arrive at Jabba’s Palace on Tatooine.]
C-3PO: R2, are you sure this is the right place? We don’t want to go through another farce involving knocking on the wrong door.
R2-D2: Beep (translates as: “look at the sign, dumbass”)
C-3PO: (Looks up at the nameplate alongside the door and reads it out.) Palace of His Excellency, Jabba the Hutt. Bounty hunter scum welcome. Door-to-door salesmen scum not welcome. (Looks to R2-D2) This must be the place. I’d better knock, I suppose. (Taps on the door, and waits briefly). There doesn’t seem to be anyone here. We’d better go back and tell Master Luke.
[An electronic eye emerges from a hole in the door.]
C-3PO: (Startled) Goodness gracious me. (To the eye) We’d like to talk to Jabba the Hutt.
Voice of the electronic eye: Are you bounty hunter scum?
Voice of the electronic eye: Are you selling something?
Voice of the electronic eye: Are you Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Voice of the electronic eye: Then why do you want to speak to Jabba?
C-3PO: We have a message for him.
Voice of the electronic eye: A message? You brought a message in person? Haven’t you heard of email? Anyway, you’d better come in, now that you’re here. But if you try to persuade us to change electricity supplier, we’ll disintegrate you without a moment’s hesitation.
[In landing bay Theta 12, Darth Vader walks down the ramp from his shuttle. Two valets, dressed in blue uniforms, follow him down the ramp. They bring Vader’s bags – an assortment of shoulder bags and wheelie cases. There is a single Imperial captain waiting to meet Vader.]
Darth Vader: This is an outrage! We were kept waiting 20 minutes before being allowed to land.
Imperial Captain: (Removes a pen from his breast pocket and starts to make notes on a clipboard.) Name, please.
Darth Vader: What is this?
Imperial Captain: Security check. Name, please.
Darth Vader: Don’t you know who I am?
Imperial Captain: No, I don’t.
Darth Vader: Look, I’m tall, I’m dressed all in black, I have a black cape and a great big black helmet with a facemask that makes strange breathing noises. Does that give you a clue?
Imperial Captain: Well, you could be Lord Vader. He’s on my list of arrivals for today (taps the clipboard with his forefinger) and I hear he dresses quite like you do. But then again, you might be someone else, mightn’t you?
Darth Vader: Excuse me? Of course I’m Lord Vader.
Imperial Captain: Well, how am I supposed to know that? You think you’re the only person who’s allowed to wear a helmet and a mask covering his face? If it was up to me, I’d make you take it off, but I can’t ask you to do that. Apparently it offends some people’s religious sensitivities. But for all I know you could be a bodybuilder from the West Country, or a superhero who helps children to cross the road safely.
Darth Vader: Do I sound like a bodybuilder from the West Country?
Imperial Captain: No, but that might not be your real voice. Who knows what your voice would sound like if you took that facemask off.
Darth Vader: This is ridiculous.
Imperial Captain: It may seem ridiculous to you, but on the first Death Star they had all sorts of troublemakers running around the station, causing mayhem and releasing prisoners and starting fights. All because nobody did proper security checks on arrival. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to see your ID.
Darth Vader: Very well. (He pulls out a plastic card from inside his left glove, and holds it up so the Imperial Captain can see it. On the card there is photograph of his former self, Anakin Skywalker, before he was horribly burned.)
Imperial Captain: Is this a recent picture?
Darth Vader: Recent enough.
Imperial Captain: Very well, Lord Vader. Your luggage, did you pack it yourself? Did you leave your bags unattended at any point during your journey?
Darth Vader: Do you think a man like me packs his own luggage?
Imperial Captain: Is that a no? Then I’m afraid we’ll have to search your bags before we can let them through.
Darth Vader: How long will that take?
Imperial Captain: You don’t need to wait. We’ll have them delivered to your quarters later today.
Darth Vader: (Sighs) Very well. Just let me get my toiletries out.
Imperial Captain: Toiletries?
Darth Vader: I need my face cream. I suffer from dry skin.
Imperial Captain: Do you have a prescription from your doctor?
Darth Vader: Yes, as a matter of fact I do. (He pulls out a piece of paper from his right glove, and hands it over.)
Imperial Captain: (Looks over the prescription and returns it.) That seems to be in order, but I’ll still need to see the face cream.
[Vader turns around and gestures to a valet, who opens up a wheelie case and removes a clear plastic bag from inside. He brings the bag and its contents over to the Imperial Captain.]
[The Imperial Captain scrutinizes the bag. It contains a toothbrush, some toothpaste, a small bottle of eau de toilette and a roll-on deodorant, in addition to a large pot of cream. The captain opens the bag, takes out the pot of cream and then removes its lid.]
Imperial Captain: This looks safe enough. (Puts the lid back on.) But this is much larger than the maximum permitted size of 50 millilitres.
Darth Vader: I have very dry skin.
Imperial Captain: Okay. I suppose we can make an exception just this once.
Darth Vader: Thank you. I don’t suppose I can complain about you having tight security – not after what happened on the last Death Star – but I really thought the station commandant would be here to greet me in person, and that there’d be some troops lined up and standing to attention.
Imperial Captain: (Chuckles to himself) Oh, really sir? We don’t have time to stand around all day, rolling out the red carpet and giving it all that pomp and circumstance. We’ve got a space station to build, don’t you know…?
Darth Vader: Hmmm… I suppose I can’t argue with that either.
Imperial Captain: (Points to an archway to his rear, covered in flashing lights.) Now if you’ll just walk through the metal detector, sir…
Darth Vader: (Sighs) I’m more than 50 per cent metal.
Imperial Captain: Forgive me saying so, sir, but you look more plastic than metal. That tough kind of plastic they use for stormtrooper armour, except yours is black and theirs is mostly white.
Darth Vader: The plastic is just a clip-on cover, to stop the metal from getting scratched. It’s mostly for show. (Sorrowful) I’m essentially more machine than man.
Imperial Captain: Well, sir… (looks apologetic) rules is rules and… well… the alternative is a strip search…
To be continued (of course)…