Four years ago on Halloween, my first professional writing work was published. It was a milestone in my career. The first.
I also managed to fulfill another lifelong aspiration at the same time….I wrote for Star Wars.
A recent website revamp unfortunately disintegrated everything I contributed to Lucasfilm, but the good folks at wookiepedia remember me…
Fists of Ion was a little short story I did for the exclusive content that ran on the Star Wars official website.
It took place in the New Republic era (after Return of The Jedi) on Reuss VIII, an industrial nightmare world of acid rain and toxic sludge that was hosting the Galactic Shockboxing Championship between defending champion Tull Raine (a Barabel – a kind of thick skinned lizard man) and up and comer Lobar Aybock, a red skinned near-human from the planet Shiva IV (a planet that appeared in the Marvel Comics Star Wars run).It was a nifty little boxing pulp caper story transplanted to the Star Wars universe, involving New Republic Intelligence agents using the televised (or rather holovised) fight as cover to take down an ex-Imperial Moff and his slimy crime lord partner Torel Vorne, who was exploiting the downtrodden populace via an illegal organ trading ring. It had appearances by a lot of sideline Star Wars characters (like Bren Derlin – Cliff from Cheers, who a lot of people don’t realize was in Empire Strikes Back). The name of the main character, Lobar Aybock, was a portmanteau of Rocky Balboa, and his trainer, Eedund Cus, was partly Angelo Dundee and Cus D’amato, amalgamated into a Chevin – that’s a fugly pachyderm-like alien. I also managed to name a minor Rebel character after my wife, Dransa Beezer (Dransa or Sandra), which was nice because the piece ended up seeing the light of day on October 31st, the day we first started going out.
You can read a summary of the story here. http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lobar_Aybock
Here’s an excerpt –
The ninth is a world of pain and blue-green lights. Tull’s a black and red blur. Then I’m on my hands and knees watching my own blood spotting the Tuffweave. The Rodian’s voice is counting. Since I can’t understand him I forego the downtime and get right back up. Tull puts me down again, good naturedly.
Catch your breath, redssskin.
The buzzer cuts off the Rodian’s count. I lean on Cus all the way back to the vertex.
Tenth and last phase. My head feels like it’s on a flexicoil. I see flashes of Cus’ pachyderm face, hear snatches of Stitchy’s worried gibbering. Moff Ammar’s lighting an afterdinner cigaretti. No wonder he needs my lungs.
Across the way, Tull sags in his own vertex. It feels like I’m getting killed, but I must’ve done some damage. There’s a brand new gap in his pointy grin. His pretty red armor is scuffed and dented, the primer showing gray beneath.
They march us out to the center. We touch shockmitts. Tull hisses something at me. Doesn’t anybody speak Basic?
Cus tells me on the walk back,
“This is it, kid.” Is there something in his throat?
“Yeah,” I manage.
I turn to face this monster one more time. He’s a shining pillar of darkness, stitched out of solid black leather. I look past him at the real monster. Vorel Torne looks put out and Moff Ammar’s giving him a sour glare. All I have to do is live through this phase and he’s done.
Then I hear it.
Way up in the nosebleed seats, where they’ve opened the vent shutters to cool the place despite the murderous air and the hard rain outside, where the fans have to pack masks or permanently damage themselves sitting through an hourlong contest, they’re calling a name, and it isn’t Tull Raine’s.
Then I remember. I’m not fighting for the purse or the sash, I’m fighting for those sickly kids who braved a run in killer rain to show me they had my back. Whether it was all just a publicity stunt of Derlin’s doesn’t matter any more. When this fight’s over, it’s all over. The slums, the orphans on the street, the slime, the smog, it all goes away.
What’d Derlin say? We wanna make you a hero, kid.
Heroes don’t die. Well, maybe sometimes, but not like this.
It’s the Reussi up there cheering, stamping their feet and chanting, “Lo-bar! Lo-bar! Lo-bar!”
The swells are turning in their seats and squinting up into the shadows.
I never got the chance to fight the Empire. But I know about the battle madness, what my people call the ryastraad. When we’re up against the wall, sometimes something takes over, makes us into more than we are.
My whole skeleton is charged. My muscles constrict. I feel like I could throw off my shockmitts and batter Tull to paste. My legs have been gone. I’ve hardly felt them the last three phases, but now they catapult me the length of the wedge even as the buzzer’s sounding. I don’t even see Tull. I see a black wall I have to tear down to get at something precious on the other side.
My heart’s like a battery, charging up my arms, sending them out and snapping them back like chains of white lightning. I’m aware of pulses of blue from Tull dancing on my armor, making it sieze up. I fight past it. His mitts go green and I match him and batter down his guard. My shoulder joints won’t move. I force them. My head is swimming in molten iron. I can’t think, just react, and force reaction.
When I come out of it, I see Tull dancing on the shockwire. I see his hub shield go black. My left shoots forward like a speedertrain, and his hub explodes in a spray of sparks along with the emitters on my mitt. Most of the bones in my hand shatter. The blow drives him inbetween the bouncewires. He goes tumbling out of the wedge and lands on one of the pricey tables, shattering glasses and dinnerware, sending food and swells flying. I almost go with him. I grab the vertex post and totter there.
It’s Torel Vorne’s table and I’m serving Barabel. Vorne’s standing there trembling, his suit spackled with micromite pâté. Moff Ammar’s flat on his back, spluttering through a busted cigaretti.
I look right into Torel Vorne’s eyes….and I laugh through the blood, through the count.
* * *
It was everything you wanted to know about boxing in the Star Wars universe (I even created a short lexicon of shockboxing terms and rules), and even featured nifty illustrations by Cat Staggs.
I also did a trio of backstories for some minor onscreen characters. The first, a droid in the sandcrawler I named m-HYD 6804, is named for my daughter Magnolia’s birthdate. Again, those are gone from the Databank (the feature isn’t even on the Starwars.com site anymore), but you can read the wookiepedia summaries of the articles I wrote over on the right hand side links on this page, under Look On My Works Ye Mighty.
One of ’em, Bane Malar, got turned into a Star Wars figure. The only one I own still in a package.
I’ve loved the original Star Wars trilogy from the time I saw it in the theater as a kid with my parents, and no matter where the series goes, those three original movies still hold a special place in my heart.
So the obervance of May the 4th holds a particular meaning for me.
My professional debut took place in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.