Hyperspace Content June 20th-July 5th
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Got it whre it Counts
This Episode IV Joe Johnston illustration defines the shape and detail of the Millennium Falcon's powerful quad laser cannons.
Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine #2 Online Supplement-- pm me
V for Victory
This concept model of the Star Destroyer built by Colin Cantwell has been identified in some sources as a Victory-class Star Destroyer, one of the predecessors of the more modern Imperial warships.
The Lucasfilm Licensing Archives Revealed-- pm me
Rouge Squadro Research
Ralph McQuarrie contributed a number of snowspeeder explorations when developing the high-flying Rebel craft for The Empire Strikes Back.
Bantha Tracks June Wedding Edition-- pm me
A Little to the Left...
A dewback maquette undergoes sculpting and detailing for the creature's revamped appearance in the Special Edition of A New Hope.
Elusion Illusion-- pm me
Rebel Alliance Warships
These Alliance starship designs were explored and adapted for use in Episode III. The unused Return of the Jedi vessel on the bottom became the Commerce Guild support ship.
Thumbs Up Reception
This dorsal sensor dish for the Millennium Falcon was built at a much larger scale than the rest of the miniature to support a close-up shot of it during the TIE fighter chase in A New Hope.
Sweet, thanks DM. I liked the would be Tauntaun.
Just noticed this and thought it was worthy of posting-
The wicked General Grievous deserves a conveyance as terrifying as he is, and Derek Thompson illustrates several dangerous looking concepts for Episode III.
Thanx man... it's been a bit low on KMC on Hyperspace content
ok heres all the pm me stuff, it took to long to pm people.
Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine #2 Online Supplement
The Ultimate Adventure is still the Ultimate Ride at Disneyland more:
Star Tours: The Ultimate Adventure
June 28, 2005
By Lisa E. Cowan
Before last year, the name Star Tours conjured up images of a bus filled with wide-eyed tourists ogling the homes of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. "Oh look, Henry! There's Lucille Ball's house. Isn't it lovely. Henry! Wake up!" Luckily for all of us, Star Tours took on a whole new meaning after January 9, 1987. On that day. Star Tours came to mean the newest and most exciting ride at Disneyland. A part of George Lucas' Star Wars universe had found a new, permanent home at Anaheim's Magic Kingdom.
To bring the Star Wars movies to life at Disneyland took the creative talents of many people at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) and Lucasfilm. In early 1985, concept discussions between designer Tony Baxter and George Lucas laid the framework for the new Tomorrowland ride. "We at WDI were fortunate to have such an imaginative mythology to work with," said Baxter. "It made the challenge of expanding it to three dimensions a very exciting and rewarding experience."
By the end of 1985, work was well underway on the new thrill ride that would combine the motion of a flight simulator with the magic of a Star Wars movie. Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm's special effects division, was busy with the production of the four-and-one-half minute non-stop special effects film, while the Disney Imagineers combed Lucasfilm's Star Wars Archives for actual props from the films to use in the spaceport maintenance areas. (An aside for trivia buffs: if you look carefully in the lower right corner of the screen during the first few seconds of the ride, you may see the giant microscope from Journey Through a Cell, the ride that Star Tours replaced).
In June of 1986, a rough version of Star Tours was previewed by 2,000 Disney employees and their families. From their reactions, everyone knew that the ride's grand opening would be special. And it was.
January 9, 1987 was a warm, sunny day in Southern California, perfect for the gala event being staged at the entrance to Tomorrowland. Disneyland actors dressed as Star Wars characters performed dances, mock battles, and story-skits to the accompaniment of John Williams' familiar themes. Then C-3PO (played by Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 came on stage to introduce Michael Eisner, chairman of the Disney Company, and George Lucas who were to cut the ribbon to open the ride to the mass of people lined up and waiting impatiently to get in. But, R2-D2 had forgotten the scissors! "How on Earth are they to cut the ribbon?" wailed C-3PO. With Star Wars fanfare preceding them, Mickey and Minnie Mouse came to the rescue with a lightsaber which Lucas and Eisner used to zap apart the ribbon and open Star Tours for the world to experience.
And the world was there, or at least so it seemed. The line for Star Tours stretched from the front of the ride, back through Main Street, and out into the parking lot! Those long lines haven't lessened all that much over the past year either. Star Tours is the most popular ride at Disneyland, the ride all visitors want to see first.
And what do they see? The magic begins as soon as you enter the "Star Tours Spaceport." Above and to your left is a command center manned by Mon Calamari (remember Admiral Ackbar?); to your right is a full-sized Starspeeder 3000 "tour bus" with R2-D2 working on top of the meteor-scarred vehicle. Nearby, C-3PO stands at a computer console, issuing orders to Artoo, and generally complaining about everything, as only Threepio can do: "Yes Artoo! I'm shutting off the main line right now! Just you get back to fixing that motivator! These new transports are impossible."
As you wind along in the looping line, the Star Tours Galactic Tour Company runs travel ads on a huge status screen: "Star Tours is the leader in galactic sightseeing, with more flights to Endor than any other spaceline."
The line then takes you past the droid repair area, and at last to the loading concourse where you wait to board your shuttle. The four identical shuttles can handle up to 1,600 people an hour, and contrary to persistent rumors, the ride inside is the same in all four Starspeeders.
At last the doors open, and you take your seat for a trip to the Moon of Endor, or at least that is what your pilot RX-24 tells you. However, what actually happens and where you actually go leaves you breathless. Droid pilot "Rex" is something of a rookie (that's rookie, not Wookiee), and just seconds after take-off, he takes the first of many wrong turns. Those twists and turns take his hapless passengers careening through the tail of a comet, past laser-shooting TIE fighters, and zooming down the trench of the Death Star! In Star Tours we all get to do what Luke Skywalker did, and live to tell the tale!
Star Tours attendants note that everyone leaves the ride saying the wait (sometimes up to two hours) was well worth it. More than a few loyal Star Wars fans have bought yearly and seasonal passes to Disneyland just to ride Star Tours as often as they can, and also to buy Star Tours merchandise.
When Rex's boggled passengers disembark, they walk down a corridor and into the Star Trader Store. The Star Trader shop is a Star Wars fan's idea of paradise. Posters, buttons, patches, toys, stickers, postcards, books, records, videos: they are all there in abundance, all with scenes or logos or characters from Star Tours and the Star Wars movies. There is a vast selection of Star Wars and Star Tours clothing from hats to T-shirts and sweatshirts to beautiful satin jackets with the Star Tours logo sewn on the back. For a limited time in 1988 a lot of Star Wars 10th Anniversary merchandise from stickers to shirts is also available at the Star Trader shop.
The Star Tours Galactic Tour Company presently has only this one spaceport and trading company to transport you to the Star Wars universe. However, Starspeeders will be arriving and departing from Tokyo Disneyland beginning in May 1989, and the ride will also be a part of the new Disney Studio Tour at Walt Disney World in Florida, opening in 1990. Reserve your seats today for Star Tours, the Ride of Tomorrow(land)!
Looking at Lucasfilm
Looking at Lucasfilm
June 28, 2005
By Robert Allan
Lucasfilm Ltd. is divided into several divisions, each a combination of talented individuals working as a team to bring us quality entertainment year 'round. Looking At Lucasfilm, this issue, focuses on the Games Division. Steve Arnold, General Manager of the Games Division, recently spoke with us on Lucasfilm Ltd.'s role in the future of interactive computer technology.
Steve Arnold has never had a dull moment managing the Games Division. As the head of a group of people that varies in size from 12 to 25 on any given day, he watches over a variety of projects. "We do computer software, entertainment software for current home computers (IBM, Apple, and Commodore 64), as well as some interactive technology in education. We've been undertaking a technical collaboration with Apple Computer over the last year and a half to work out interesting new ways to use computers and optical media in schools. We are also looking at the future of home entertainment and ways that computers and other kinds of interactive technology will merge with video and film."
A special group of individuals is required to undertake these projects. Steve mentions that on a normal day they "have an average of 18-20 people around, usually undertaking between four to seven projects, which involves some combination of computer programming and the design of entertainment and educational products. We have people on board who are musicians, artists, graphic artists and designers, computer programmers as well as storyteller types, in order to create this kind of product."
The latest project from the Games Division is the interactive computer game, Maniac Mansion. This is an interactive story game that allows the player to take control of three individual characters who are on a mission to rescue their kidnapped friend from a mysterious mansion. Steve Arnold describes the game as "a cross between the Addam's Family and The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- kind of a comedy/horror spoof that has a lot of weird characters and events and several different ways to play the game to its conclusion. There are, in fact, five different endings in the game that allow you to follow a different storyline, with different characters, and end up at a different place at the end of the game."
What makes Maniac Mansion different than other interactive games? Steve told us of one special feature that adds to the excitement. "There is a feature called cut-scenes that makes Maniac Mansion a little more like a movie than most games. The game takes place in 'real time,' which means that the length of time it takes you to play affects how things happen in the game itself. Every once in a while the computer takes control of the screen and 'cuts away' to show you something happening someplace else in the gameworld in a similar way that a movie 'cuts away' to show you something else away from the main action and plot. It gives you the feeling that this is in a real world where real events are taking place and you are participating in them by controlling these characters." This game was only recently released to excellent reviews and is now available in stores. Versions for additional computers will be available in the Spring.
Another game that came out in mid-December is an interactive computer game called Strike Fleet. Strike Fleet is a military simulation that involves both strategy and action elements in simulating a Navy task force on a variety of missions, both "real" and imagined. The player, as the commander of the Strike Fleet, is in charge of one to several ships which can be directed individually or as a group. One of the ships at your disposal is a naval hydrofoil, one of the fastest military ships around. There are several missions in the game where you get an assignment and have to guide your task force to victory. Strike Fleet is an extension of the naval simulation line that was begun with the release of P H M Pegasus earlier this year.
Both Maniac Mansion and P H M Pegasus were recently recognized by Commodore Magazine in their December issue as the best in both their respective categories: Maniac Mansion for Adventure/Role-Playing and P H M Pegasus in the Simulations category.
BlackHawk is the tentative title for another game due out early this year. This interactive computer game will allow you to pilot a helicopter in a city environment with missions that you have to accomplish quickly.
The Games Division's biggest project in the works, however, is Lucasfilm 's Habitat. Although not available until later this year, this telecommunications-based game will allow game players to hook up with each other using their computers, a modem, and the telephone lines. They then interact in an imaginary world that exists in hundreds of home computers, nationwide, through the use of a network called Quantumlink.
Confusing? Let Steve Arnold explain further: "Every player has an individual character that represents him or her in the game. This character looks like a little animated person or creature that exists in this imaginary world. Using a joystick and the keyboard, you direct your character to move around this graphically represented world: talking to people, picking up things, moving them around, going on adventures, running businesses or just about doing anything you want to do. But because the game runs on everyone's computers at the same time, while I could be sitting in California directing my character, you could be in Colorado, or any place else, directing your character and you and I would be seeing the same thing on our screens. We would be having a 'real time' experience of sharing an imaginary reality that is sustained by our computers and the network that we're running on." This has to be one of the hottest and most innovative computer games ever imagined. I wanted to hear more.
"It's the beginning of a new kind of home entertainment that allows people to participate in shared, imaginary worlds through the miracles of home computers and the telephone," Steve continued. "Once the game is available, hundreds of people can play at the same time, and it will also he possible to have up to six people in the same place at one time. Plus, in Lucasfilm's Habitat, since there are literally thousands of places where you can go, the adventure is limited only by your imagination. You can really affect this world. The world is different every time you go in, because the things you do -- whether you move things around, discover treasure, open a business, or create a new adventure -- affect the world and affect other players. Lucasfilm's Habitat is an evolving, continuing universe in which players can enter and leave when they choose." The game will be available during the evening hours to those who have the proper software and equipment and will only run on the Commodore 64. (Costs are minimal, about .08 cents a minute, for the Quantumlink network connection that you use to play Lucasfilm 's Habitat.)
These games will be available at most home computer software stores. If they are not yet available or are not carried by your local store, let them know you are interested in what's available from Lucasfilm Games. Strike Fleet and P H M Pegasus are available from Electronic Arts and Maniac Mansion is published by Lucasfilm Games and distributed by Activision, Inc. If you've played any of these games, feel free to drop the Games Division a letter by way of The Lucasfilm Fan Club. We'll forward your comments on to them. Let them know what you think.
Behind the Scenes: Willow
Behind the Scenes: Willow
June 28, 2005
By Robert Allan
Rosie Seagrave, publicity secretary, smiled as we put on our rubber hoots. "The mud is quite deep. They've been making it rain every day this week," she added, describing the conditions of the massive castle set we were about to enter. "Everyone has to wear galoshes," Geoff Freeman, the unit publicist, continued, "else you'll be taking a bit of England back to the States on your shoes." We had come over 5,000 miles to spend a week in the mud of Nockmaar Castle, one of the incredible sets built for George Lucas' latest big screen epic, Willow, on the backlot of Elstree Studios in London. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it!
Dan Madsen, President of the Lucasfilm Fan Club, would be busy the next few days interviewing all the major stars and many of the production crew, while I had been assigned the job of writing this behind-the-scenes look at Willow. This required getting as close to the action as possible without getting in anyone's way. Considering that, while we were there, the crews averaged 30-40 people with another 30-40 extras as well as the assortment of VIPs (Alan Ladd, Jr. showed up one day), publicity people, horse handlers, stuntmen, etc., staying out of the way was a challenge.
As we approached the castle set for the very first time we were astonished at its size. Standing 60-70 feet tall and easily covering an acre of land, the castle was an engineering feat that would have impressed King Arthur. Thousands of metal pipes bolted together with clamps formed the framework of the castle. Once completed, the set builders had covered every inch of the structure with styrofoam, cut and textured to give the castle walls the illusion of real rock. The rocks were than painted, many appearing to have water stains, and moss was pressed in between them, giving the castle the appearance of having existed for hundreds of years. We walked through the drawbridge entrance, avoiding puddles that had accumulated over the last few "rainy" days, and were seemingly transported to another time, another place. Evil Nockmaar guards lined the walls, while others passed by on horseback, each clutching a weapon designed to crush, chop, or, in some manner, do away with the good guys. To our right was a 6-ton catapult, extremely authentic, (as a matter of fact, so authentic, that they use it in the film to launch one of our heroes over a castle wall!) Across the top of the Nockmaar castle, flags and crosses with skulls hanging from them waved in the breeze. From the walls of the castle, huge wooden beams jutted at different angles. Each had a cage, suspended with a rusted chain, holding the remains of some very unfortunate individuals, their warped and twisted bodies perishing in the most hideous of ways -- starvation. Around the castle grounds could be seen the remains of previous days' shootings -- a partially burned stable, the head of a monster (with a mouth large enough to swallow a man), a massive gate with five-foot metal spikes to repel rushing invaders, a ceremonial gong, and several statues with the faces of dogs. Scattered across the ground were broken arrows, helmets, a variety of armor and several stuffed dummies that had apparently taken the plunge from the top walls of the castle. Certain to send a chill at first sight, the castle was as impressive a movie set as you would ever see.
Most of the filming that would take place on our visit to the set would be fighting scenes from the climactic battle at Nockmaar Castle. The battles would be staged first, each actor and extra going through his routine in slow motion practices. The swords would ever so gently touch as each person got their movements memorized. To be unprepared for the ensuing battle scene could be very costly. The swords were made from a special fiberglass designed for this picture that made them much more sturdy in battle -- thus they could he used over and over without having to be replaced. At the same time, an unexpected blow with one of these swords could easily put someone out of the film business for a long, long time. Believe me, they shoot these action scenes at full speed. Swords crashed together and axes splintered shields. This was WAR! Thankfully, there were very few injuries on the sets -- mainly scratches and bruises, although a broken leg and a heart attack occurred during the filming of this high action-oriented film, which certainly had the potential for accidents much worse.
I had my own visit to the nurse when I accidentally brushed into a "nettles" plant. Similar to poison ivy, its leaves have needles that cut the skin leaving a mild poison that burns and itches like crazy. It seems that everyone in England knows about "nettles," and the fact that the antidote for the poison, "duck leaves," grows right next to it. Just pull a leaf off, rub it where you brushed the "nettles" and you have instant relief. (Well, now I know!) I only brushed my hand against the plant but it was quite irritated for about thirty minutes. Imagine my grimace when I learned that, a few weeks before, Val Kilmer had accidentally leaped into a field of "nettles!" He'd never heard of "duck leaves," either.
I found myself mainly behind the video monitors, out of the way of swords and "nettles," since I was very interested in seeing what the live action sequences would look like on film. The video monitors capture every take exactly as it would appear on screen and could be played back immediately for inspection. Ron Howard, the director, depended heavily on the video, heading over towards the monitors after every shot. He would watch the previous shot, determining if all the right factors had been captured on camera. If not, he would do another take, again checking the video for all the right elements. He was often accompanied by Val Kilmer, whose interest in the final product was clear by the comments he would make to Ron Howard on his performance. With the film's creators ever striving to bring the magic to life on the screen, the production video was an absolute necessity on this picture, (and a great place to hang out if you wanted to be close to the action).
Industrial Light & Magic had a crew on the set that also depended on exactly what the camera would see. Using dolls, barely 10 inches tall, this special effects unit would map out each step of the characters Franjean and Rool, two diminutive Brownies that would aid Willow in the final conflict at Nockmaar castle. They would shoot each scene once with the dolls in frame. They would refer to this when the actors playing Franjean and Rool would "step into" the following scene, shot without the dolls. The Brownies play a key part in the battle and you're certain to enjoy their comic antics. (Would you believe that on our first day on the set the crew actually thought Dan and I were the actors playing Franjean and Rool! Understandable, since I've never seen a Brownie either!)
Of course, we weren't working all the time, taking our lunch break with the crew for an hour during the afternoon. The actors would head back to their individual trailers for lunch, (Val Kilmer having brought his own chef with him from the States), and many of the extras heading to the local pubs for a sandwich. Costumed warriors walking down the streets brought little attention; this was apparently just a normal day to the folks that live around Elstree Studios. One day, Dan and I had lunch at a favorite restaurant of George Lucas': a delightfully pleasant Italian place with great service, excellent pasta and located just across the street from the studio. Great place, George!
The last day of shooting, we were on one of the many soundstages at Elstree. Here they had erected several tents, two of these being Sorsha's and Airk's. For most of the day, they would be in Airk's tent shooting the scene just prior to the final attack on Nockmaar Castle. This was the only time that all the principal actors, bad guys excluded, would be on the set at the same time. This scene would be shot over and over. After successfully capturing the performances from one angle, the scene would be shot again from another. And then from another and so on. Truly, everyone's patience and abilities are tried at these times. To do a scene repeatedly, though, is part of this business and most find some way to amuse themselves or get away when they can. Trying not to make too much noise, the crew seemed to burst into muffled laughter every time Ron Howard would act as the sound effect for a gong that clangs during this particular scene. I must admit to getting the giggles myself listening to him yell, "BONG... BONG... BONG," for the umpteenth time.
Val Kilmer enjoyed hanging out in Sorsha's tent, where I found him laying on a bed of luxurious furs. I took this opportunity to talk to him for a few minutes and I let him know that he would be asked to appear at conventions as soon as this film hit the theatres. He was quite surprised by this and wasn't quite sure whether he would be of that much interest to fans. I informed him that not only would he be of interest but that Madmartigan would be one of the most copied costumed characters from this film, with fans dressing as him at conventions everywhere. He laughed at the thought of this and said that he might do a convention and, if not, might still show up at one just to see what it's all about.
For many of you, the opportunity to be on a George Lucas production (just standing in the background, out of the way), is a dream you would give anything for. Well, after spending quite a few days talking to the extras that make up most of the Nockmaar guards and the Tir Asleen rebels, I can report that a majority of the conversations went like this: I would ask, "Have you been on any other George Lucas productions?" More times than I could recall, the answer was. "Well, I've been an extra on just about all of his films." "All of his films?!," I would ask in wonder. "Of course, only the ones he's shot here in England," they'd reply. Oh, only those films!
It was an exciting trip for Dan and I. The people at Elstree were wonderful. Some special thanks to Rosie Seagrave, Geoff Freeman, John Coleman, our driver, Barbara Margerrison, who gave us the Willow T-shirts, and everyone else who made our trip so memorable. (I hope I get to do the behind-the-scenes look at Indiana Jones III. Someone has to do it and I've found I don't mind a little mud!)
Willow: The Novel
Willow: The Novel
June 28, 2005
By Dan Madsen & John S. Davis
Magic and mystery, two indispensable ingredients in any fantasy, weave their way into the story of Willow Ufgood, making his tale a wonderful epic adventure. But forget all you know or think you know; this is an adventure like no other. Even the cover of the novel, Willow, (published by Ballantine Books, $3.95) by Wayland Drew, due out in early February -- four months before the film's debut -- promises more than a typical fable. Three lines on the cover of the book proclaim its depth and richness:
A wondrous tale of a child...
And the power of magic...
According to writer Wayland Drew, whose previous credits include Dragonslayer and The Erthring Cycle series, Willow is a story with heart. "We're not off on some other planet," he says, "we're dealing with real people and with real human issues besides all the wonderful and fantastic characters."
Drew is ecstatic about being involved with such a wonderful project as Willow. He recalls his first impressions upon being asked to write the novelization of the film.
"It came quite suddenly and I'm not quite sure how. I suspect that George Lucas remembered that I did the novelization for Dragonslayer and perhaps he liked that. And when the time came for him to deal with this genre, he gave me a call. Of course, I was very excited and especially excited when I read the script and realized what it was. So, then, we went on from there. George gave me a great deal of latitude and I hope I've done justice to the characters. But I had a great deal of freedom and an enormous amount of help from George in the time that I met with him over in London. He was very, very sympathetic and enormously perceptive and bright. He was able to give me a lot of backstory which hadn't been apparent in the script but which had been part of his thinking in working on the script. I used two of those backstories in the novelization. You'll come to three places where little embolisms occur in the movement of the novel. One of these, I invented, but the other two were gifts from George. So then, I simply went away and wrote the book in a fairly quick time.
"But Willow was so coherent as a script." Drew continues, 'that that made it easy to follow for the novel. I felt quite safe working with it. There were no major inconsistencies of character or plot development. It's a beautiful piece of work, so I was able to elaborate a little here and there."
Good writing is never easy. Although the joys of writing a novel as complex as Willow can be numerous, so, too, can the difficulties that arise, especially the tight deadlines.
"I think the most difficult thing was the time factor I had to write the book," Drew revealed. "Just the knowledge that you are under considerable pressure makes you have to watch your health closely. You know, the deadlines break down into daily deadlines. That's difficult. But as far as the most enjoyable thing, I would have to say that it's the sense that I was dealing with a wonderful story. It's a rich, beautiful story. It's an extraordinary fable and it's full of mystery. It has some wonderful themes: people finding themselves, the land being restored, the theme of the little man, Willow, who is completely unexceptional and who draws on what is best from him; his sense of justice and what is naturally right and his enormous courage. All of that is wonderful and it is just a wonderfully, warm-hearted story. I loved that about it instantly. When I read the script, originally, I felt attuned to it and felt that if I survived the time pressure, I could make a good book out of it. But the story itself, I thought, was a soaring, wonderful idea. And that is what was best about working with Willow."
After immersing himself so deeply into the story of Willow for several months, Drew became quite acquainted, so to speak, with the characters in the story. After all, it was up to him to bring them to life on the written page just as it is George Lucas' and Ron Howard's job to create life within the characters on the movie screen. But if Wayland Drew had to choose a particular character he liked best, who would it be?
"Actually, there are a couple," he reveals. "I really liked Willow's small friend, Vohnkar. It's his backstory that I created for the novel and his journey and his coming back to the Nelwyn village. He returns with a sense of responsibility to it and that he really has to defend it. And, in that, he pays a personal price. I like that about him -- that sense of responsibility.
"I also like Madmartigan. I like the changes that he goes through in the story. I just love the backstory that George created for me when we talked about what happened to Madmartigan. The swing that the man goes through from total brigandry and irresponsibility to a sense of duty and being redeemed, gives his story also a sense of magic. I identified with him and I liked him a lot. He was a character that I had some reservations about when I first read the script. But after going to England, to the set, and seeing him there in the flesh, it helped me get to know him better. And I think he really works in the novel and I ended up liking him a great deal. In a strange way, he is a hero."
Books and films are two different things. Books tell a story with words, and films do the same thing with pictures. Sometimes a scene will play well in both mediums with little change. But not always. There are times when situations and circumstances must he altered when adapting something from one form to another. So, obviously, a book based on a movie will be different in some ways. Wayland Drew tackled this problem while writing the novel of Willow.
"I guess there are some incidents in the novel that don't take place in the film," he explains. "There are certain scenes in the film that just don't work in the novel where the reader has more time to think about it and is not carried by an image or a musical score. So there are some things where you've got to build some bridges. There are some characters that I dwelt on a little more as well. The character of Mims, Willow's daughter, for example. When you read the novel, you'll see that she has a certain precedent which is not there in the movie script. The whole feeling of the film, and the novel, is that magic is free on Earth and that people can participate in it. And that little girl does. She inherits, fully, Willow's rather flawed magical powers. So I was able to develop the characters a little bit and give them some extra background."
Willow, the epic adventure filled with wicked queens, battles, outcast heroes and little men fulfilling big destinies is sure to be a hit as both a film and a book. But of all the elements in this story, what is it that appeals to author Wayland Drew the most?
"I like its sense of magic and mystery. I like the sense that magic is free and that we're not able to answer all the questions. We're not ever going to be able to control everything. However," he concludes, "we must have a lot of faith in ourselves and believe in our abilities and that is what Willow is all about!"
Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game
Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game
June 28, 2005
By Adam Shultz
It's been a really bad day. Your starship broke down, a bantha sat on your landspeeder, and you lost half of your credits in a crooked mega-poker game. So, you stumble into the nearest cantina and order a double Dagobah Surprise, when suddenly a squad of stormtroopers march in and start searching the bar. The doorway is blocked and your blaster is low on energy. It's going to be difficult to explain the stolen Imperial plans in your pocket. What will you do?
Well, if you enjoy finding yourself in these situations, you'll love Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. The game is produced by West End Games, Inc. (251 West 30th Street, New York, NY 10001). A roleplaying game involves developing characters and assuming their "roles" while a game master (another person) guides the characters through different scenarios. Players decide on a course of action and roll dice to determine the outcome. The first and most famous of the roleplaying games was Dungeons & Dragons.
Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is a 144-page hardback book (retail $14.95), which contains all the information you need to start playing Star Wars. The book provides sections on creating and equipping characters, plus complete rules on how to be a game master. A solitaire adventure is included to give first-time players a feel for the game. A full multi-player adventure is also provided, as well as a section of adventure ideas for game masters. The only extras you need are pencils, paper and dice.
Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is simple enough for novice players to learn, but also contains detailed rules for advanced players. One good idea is the character "templates" the game provides which help beginning players to create characters such as a Smuggler, a Jedi, a Bounty Hunter and even a Wookiee! The rules cover nearly every aspect of the Star Wars universe, from piloting a starship to using the Force. In fact, players who use the Force for greed and evil could be consumed by the dark side! Roleplayers who have been confused by complicated dice rules will be happy to learn that the Star Wars game uses only standard 6-sided dice. The book is very attractive and even includes mock advertisements to "Join the Imperial Navy" and ads for R2 units and X-wing fighters.
West End Games has also published the Star Wars Sourcebook. Though you don't need this book to play the game, the Sourcebook provides background material for ships, weapons, aliens and characters from the Star Wars movies. The Sourcebook greatly enhances the game play and is an excellent source of Star Wars information, even if you don't plan to play the game! The Sourcebook retails for $14.95.
Star Warriors is West End's starfighter combat extension game and can be used with Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game or played separately. Star Warriors is played on a large map using cardboard chips to represent X-wings, TIE fighters, and other ships from Star Wars. Players can control multiple ships by using standard 6-sided dice to determine movement and combat commands. The rules are a bit more complicated than the parent game, but it is well worth the extra time and effort. Star Warriors provides beginning rules for fighter-to-fighter combat and advanced rules for combat in an asteroid field, bombing ground targets, and even attacking a Star Destroyer! Star Warriors retails for $19.95 and comes complete with a rule book, game map, cardboard chips, and 6 six-sided dice.
For parents, roleplaying games are inexpensive ways to encourage a child's reading, writing, imagination and math skills. For players, roleplaying offers hours of enjoyment and the opportunity to meet new friends through roleplaying clubs. You can find out about some of these clubs by visiting your local comic book or science-fiction specialty store (look under "Books, New and Used" in your phone hook).
West End Games plans to publish many other products for Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, including supplemental material and complete adventures. West End also publishes other SF related games such as Paranoia and Ghostbusters. So, whether you're a firm believer in the cause of the Rebellion or you just have a personal grudge against the Empire, Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game is your passport to that galaxy far, far away!
Exclusive Update: Indiana Jones III
Exclusive Update: Indiana Jones III
June 28, 2005
Indiana Jones III, as yet un-subtitled, will begin shooting late Spring of '88 with a release date of Summer '89. The new film will truly have an international flavor as the cast and crew will be shooting on-location in Spain, Italy, Jordan and Germany, with interior work being filmed at Elstree Studios in London, England. Special effects will be created by Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic in Marin County, California and postproduction on Indiana Jones III will be completed at Skywalker Ranch. At this time, the film's script has not been finalized but no delays are expected for the Spring start date. The third film continuing the adventures of archaeologist Indiana Jones features many of the same talented filmmakers that made the previous two pictures such smash successes. Steven Spielberg returns as director along with George Lucas, Robert Watts and Frank Marshall producing. And, of course, Harrison Ford will be back as Indiana Jones. You can be sure that The Lucasfilm Fan Club will continue, with every issue, to supply you with the latest news on Indiana Jones III.
June 28, 2005
By Adam Schultz
Imagine finding a 1909 S.V.D.B penny worth $800 or a ten dollar Zeppelin stamp worth $1,000! For those who collect coins and stamps, these items are among the most prized in existence. In every collecting field, there are items that have increased in value almost beyond belief. This is also true in the field of Star Wars collectibles; many items are worth two or three times their original price, but a few items have increased in value several hundred times.
First of all, we should define the term "worth". An item is really "worth" only as much as you are willing to pay for it. However, the prices quoted here are taken from the Official Price Guide to STAR TREK and STAR WARS Collectibles, written by Sue Cornwell and Mike Kott and published by House of Collectibles. The all-new 2nd edition is now available in bookstores everywhere. This highly recommended book lists average prices for dealers across the country for hundreds of Star Wars items. So, if we say a complete set of bubblegum cards and stickers from Star Wars is "worth" $35, you can expect to pay $35 for those cards from an average dealer.
Whenever rare Star Wars collectibles are discussed, the phrase "Revenge of the Jedi" is brought up. This was the working title for episode six of the Star Wars saga. Several months before its premiere on May 25, 1983, the title was changed to Return of the Jedi. However, many items had already been produced bearing the former title. As soon as the title was changed, an instant collector's item was born! Different versions of the Revenge of the Jedi poster sell for between $100 and $200! Many of these posters were sold through the old Star Wars Fan Club for $9.50. The Revenge crew patch which originally sold for $5, now sells for $50.
Another collection of rare items is the large-size figures from Kenner. These figures sold in the $7-$16 range in stores, but mint condition figures in the original box are now worth from $75 (for C-3PO) to $400 (for the bounty hunter IG-88). Many of these higher priced toys are now rare and expensive items, because parents and children were more likely to buy the small Kenner figures and inexpensive vehicles. An item like the remote-controlled Landspeeder (retail $15) is now worth $100 and the Jawa Sandcrawler (retail $30) is selling for $150.
Some toys, like the Kenner diecast vehicles, were widely available and reasonably priced in the $3-$5 range, but somehow they were overlooked by collectors. Dealers are selling all but one of these vehicles for $25-$50. The exception is the die-cast TIE Bomber, which is very rare and sells for $250!
In ratio to their original cost, the bubblegum cards and stickers are very valuable. It was possible to buy an entire box of the first series Star Wars cards in 1977 for about $5.50. Each box might have contained three complete series (66 cards and 11 stickers) which now sell for $35 each! The extra cards and stickers sell for $.50 and $1 a piece, respectively. Series 2-5 of Star Wars are worth between $25 and $35 for a complete set. Cards and stickers from Empire and Jedi also fetch similar prices.
The entire run of the Star Wars comic books by Marvel Comics (107 issues and 3 annuals) would cost over $150 now. This price includes the $.30 issue number one which sells for $10 in mint condition. However, it has been reported that an estimated 1,500 copies of issue number one were printed with a $.35 price. This edition has the UPC code on the bottom left-hand side of the cover, whereas the reprint edition, also $.35, has no UPC code. According to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, this rare number one has risen dramatically in the last two years and is reported to be worth $160! This is 457 times its original $.35 cover price!
Star Wars posters are also very popular and expensive items. There are over a dozen posters from the saga that exceed $100, including the aforementioned Revenge poster. There are different versions of the same poster and the price depends on whether the poster is rolled or folded. Again, I recommend you check the Official Guide to STAR TREK and STAR WARS Collectibles to determine which poster you own.
Looking over these prices, it's difficult to think of Star Wars collecting as just "kids stuff." Items are rare to begin with since most memorabilia was produced for children. Memorabilia becomes even more scarce as the expensive items pass into the hands of serious collectors. Eventually, prices on items that are relatively common may begin to jump as collectors turn their attention to them. Almost any item might suddenly be worth its weight in gold! However, the purpose of collecting should always be for your personal enjoyment. Of course, it never hurts to make a little money either -- and it just might be safer than the stock market!
The Making of Tucker
The Making of Tucker
June 28, 2005
By Lisa E. Cowan
"Pop the clutch! Pop the clutch!" yelled the action coordinator to the driver of the sputtering car. Too late. The engine died, and the line-up of twenty-one Tucker cars was brought to a halt. "Well, there goes that take," said a cameraman on the set of Tucker.
Luckily for Francis Coppola and his busy film crew, the driver of the car quickly got it running again, and the rest of the afternoon shoot on the streets of downtown San Francisco went smoothly. It wasn't really the driver's fault that he accidently killed the car's engine. Not many people have even seen a 1948 Tucker car let alone driven one. Only fifty-one Tuckers were ever made before powerful political forces caused the closure of the Tucker automobile plant in 1949. The fact that almost half of the cars still in existence were all together in one place for the first time in forty years points to the magic of movies, and to the tenacity of Francis Coppola.
Coppola's interest in the Tucker story began when his father, Carmine, ordered a yet-to-be-built Tucker from a local Michigan dealer. When months passed and the new car never arrived, young Francis wanted to know why. It was difficult to explain the intricacies of Federal investigations and unfounded fraud allegations to an eight-year-old boy, but the results were plain enough; they wouldn't be riding around in that sleek new car he and his family had so wanted. Coppola never lost interest in the car his father couldn't get, and over the years closely researched the story of Preston Tucker and his innovative automobile.
At a very early age, Preston Tucker was enthralled by cars, spending hours after school at neighborhood garages. As a teenager he was adept at buying used cars, fixing them up, and selling them at a profit. In the 1930s he teamed up with famed race-car designer Harry Miller, and started coming up with ideas for new cars. After designing a combat car and the turret gun for the government in World War II, Tucker started to work on his dream car. He said he planned to build "America's first completely new car in fifty years."
Tucker (played by Jeff Bridges) had the knack of attracting the best men in the automotive field, among them auto stylist Alex Tremulis (played by Elias Koteas). Together with a talented and loyal crew, they built a sleek, powerful rear engine car with many unusual features, not the least of which was the center "cyclops" headlight. Word soon leaked out of the huge Chicago Tucker plant that this car was something special, a carat least ten years ahead of its time, and unlike anything then on the market.
When this news reached Detroit there was worry among the big car manufacturers and local politicians who didn't want to lose business in Chicago. Michigan senator Homer Ferguson (played by Lloyd Bridges) took advantage of some minor mistakes Tucker made on a stock selling venture, and got the Securities Exchange Commission to start an investigation. This led to a major court trial, one in which the press practically declared Tucker guilty months before he was found innocent of all charges. But by then the Tucker Corporation was bankrupt, and the plant doors closed.
What Francis Coppola and George Lucas see in the Tucker story is not someone beaten by the political system, but an American innovator, a man who worked hard to try and bring his dream to life and present it to the world. "Tucker is about how you bring dreams into reality which is something that filmmakers do all the time," says Lucas. "So, it's interesting to me to hear a story about how that happens, and how you have to go up against the system. It's also about the entrepreneur in a corporate society, and the difficulties encountered by the individual entrepreneur, in trying to get new ideas incorporated into the system."
Coppola agrees. "It's a story about a fellow who's got a better idea and he knows it. The system sort of beats him, but it doesn't completely crush his spirit. That spirit lives on."
That spirit of team work and of doing one's very best definitely lives on in the movie Tucker. The camaraderie and professionalism on the set was always evident. Many members of the film crew, including cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and producer Fred Roos, have been with Francis Coppola since Apocalypse Now.
Being on the set was like going back in time and seeing the 1940s come to life. Meticulous attention was paid to details like real silk stockings and just the right hair-pins for the women's costumes. A pre-World War II Ford auto plant was converted into the Tucker car factory, the San Francisco Opera House became the exterior of the Chicago Court House, and the ball-room of the Oakland Hotel was transformed into the courtroom interior complete with a full-scale "Lady Justice" statue.
Some things didn't have to be modified into anything other than what they were. Over one hundred vehicles from the 1930s and 1940s were used in the film, including the rare Tucker cars. Two of those Tuckers were owned by Francis Coppola. Yes, in the late 1970s Coppola realized his, and his father's, dreams by purchasing two beautifully restored Tuckers. Both were used in the film. One of them, a rich maroon-colored Tucker, is featured as the famous prototype "Tin Goose" affectionately named after the Ford Trimotor airplane by stylist Alex Tremulis.
Twenty other Tuckers, also restored to mint 1948 condition, were used in the film, usually driven by their proud owners dressed in period costumes. To aid the authenticity, Tucker memorabilia collectors gladly opened their collections to the film. In fact, many of the Tucker-related props in the movie, from magazines to mahogany dies, are the genuine original article. Another big plus for Tucker is the seal of approval the film has been given by the Tucker family. Though Preston Tucker died of lung cancer in 1956, his three sons, Preston Jr., Noble, and John, all had final script approval -- and, indeed, turned down the first couple efforts, until screen-writer Arnold Schulman "got it right." Now, Noble Tucker says, "At last the real story of Preston Tucker and his automobile is being told."
Inside ILM: Visual Effects Design
Inside ILM: Visual Effects Design
June 28, 2005
By John S. Davis
Making movies is a complicated process. On average, it takes several years and hundreds of people to complete a film. Add to that the fact that no two films are ever alike in terms of their visual design, and it is clear that the business of filmmaking is both difficult and challenging.
When a script is finalized for a Lucasfilm production, the design people at Industrial Light & Magic go to work. These people have two major design responsibilities: first of all, the look of the creatures, spaceships, and sets must be created; and secondly, how the shots are to be composed is also determined.
Designs for such things as the Millennium Falcon and Ewoks come about in a combination of two ways. The scene description in the script gives the artists a general idea of what something looks like, which they then expand on. However, the script isn't the only key starting point for designers. George Lucas' verbal input as to how he thinks things should look is also taken into consideration.
George Lucas has the final word on all designs. According to Thomas G. Smith, writer of the book Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Special Effects, when it comes time for Lucas to inspect a number of designs or small sculptures made from these designs he will usually say something like this: "I like this one, this one, this one, and this one. Let's hold these others for later and deep six that one."
A perfect example of how Lucas works with his artists is related by Joe Johnston in the book Industrial Light & Magic. It concerns the creation of the Ewoks. "I did hundreds of drawings of little furry guys in the woods," says Johnston. "A lot of them were troll-like gnomes. Some of them had cute little puppy-dog faces. George said,'Make them cute.' So I did more drawings. Then I did one with a little bonnet with his ears poking out the top. George came in and said, `That's it.' So that's how the Ewoks were designed."
While designs are being made for creatures and other elements of a film, there is another type of design work taking place. This work consists of a series of drawings called storyboards, which are actually the blueprint of the entire movie, with a strong emphasis on the special effects sequences.
Storyboards are essential in communicating what the structure and general flow of a film should be to everyone involved in the production. They help everyone think along the same lines, thereby eliminating confusion. Storyboards also help a production save a lot of time and money by pre-planning most of the shots within a film, rather than playing the old hit and miss game during filming just to see what works. So the number one rule at Lucasfilm is "Pre-planning" with a capital P.
"Design is intuitive," states Joe Johnston in the book Industrial Light & Magic. "You have to give people something interesting to look at. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it isn't boring. It might be a camera move or an interesting ship maneuver. Perhaps a nice sweeping turn. Everyone notices if the shot is flat and dull. If the eye has nothing to focus on, it will wander all over the place. It is the designer's job to lead the eye into the frame and show it where to look.
"A good example of this is the opening scene from Star Wars. It blew people away because it was such a shock: they were forced to look at something. The lines of perspective were very strong on the Star Destroyer. It was all George's idea, and I'm sure that he played it in his head a hundred times before he told me how he wanted it to look."
A shot of a spaceship approaching a planet is a good example of the design process. The information to be conveyed here is where the ship is headed. And the shot can he designed in a variety of ways. We could simply see the ship enter the screen and move in a straight line toward the planet which is positioned in the upper left-hand corner of the shot. This, of course, is rather boring. To create a slightly more interesting shot, but only a little, we could position the planet so that it rises out of the bottom of the screen with the ship coming into view from the top of the frame and heading directly for the planet. The mirror image of this shot is also possible but it would still leave a lot to be desired. It's been said that the shortest path between two points is a straight line. Yet, in film design, this approach lends itself to dull and uninteresting shots. However, it doesn't take a lot of creativity to transform this shot from dull to interesting. All that we would have to do is position the planet in the upper left-hand corner of the screen so that about two-thirds of it is in view. Then suddenly the ship enters the top of the frame at an angle, so that its front end is pointed away from the planet. It then turns sharply and swoops in toward the planet. This fourth design concept is by far the most dynamic and exciting.
For movies with extensive special effects, storyboards represent not only necessary preplanning but a huge undertaking as well. The Empire Strikes Back required 500 pages of storyboards and Return of the Jedi had almost 1000. Without storyboards none of the Star Wars movies would have been as exciting as we know them to be. Preplanning is the first and most essential step in the development of a film, to which Obi-Wan might say, "We've just taken our first step into a larger world."
Richard Marquand 1938 - 1987
Star Wars fans were saddened last September by the death of Richard Marquand -- director of the third installment in the Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi.
Marquand's credits before Jedi included Search for The Nile, the first BBC series shown on American commercial television and which won him an Emmy in 1972, as well as Big Henry and the Polka Dot Kid which also earned him another Emmy award. His feature film credits included 1979's The Legacy and 1981's Eye of the Needle. After Return of the Jedi, Marquand went on to direct Until September, a love story which starred Karen Allen and the box-office hit Jagged Edge starring Glenn Close and Jeff Bridges.
Before he passed away, Marquand had just finished another film entitled Hearts of Fire, starring Bob Dylan, which is to be released in early 1988.
Marquand had always said that he was surprised when George Lucas chose him to direct Return of the Jedi but that he was thrilled to do it because he was such a fan of the film series. Star Wars fans will remember his important contribution to the third most successful film of all time. Marquand was 49 years old.
The Lucasfilm Licensing Archives Revealed
June 29, 2005
Managing the Myth
By Pete Vilmur
In the minds of many fans, and especially collectors, the Lucasfilm Licensing Archive has long been a source of endless fascination, thought to reside in a secret location and to contain boundless volumes of toys and other wares from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and other Lucasfilm properties. Its relative lack of press compared to the more high profile buildings within the sprawling Lucasfilm complex in the hills north of San Francisco have only further mystified its status, evoking images akin to the expansive warehouse interior seen in the closing credits of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Actually, the Licensing Archive appears like many other storage facilities, with rows of shelves holding scores of cardboard boxes and containers, each dutifully labeled for contents and location. The entire inventory of the Licensing Archive was recently moved and organized in a new facility on the Lucasfilm property, pulling up stakes from a secret location within the industrial district of nearby San Rafael.
Overseeing this massive undertaking was Archive Supervisor Marc Wendt, who actually began his career with Lucasfilm in 1994 as a project employee. "My job was described initially as a six month project removing stock from a room at Skywalker Ranch which was slated to become a Foley stage," explains Wendt. "During the course of my project George announced that he planned to make three more Star Wars films, which resulted in an increase in licensing activity and a subsequent extension of my project for another six months." Eleven years later, that original six-month project has spanned into a career that has allowed Wendt to witness some of the most robust merchandising in the company's history. Wendt's honed organizational skills and strict attention to detail have made the Lucas Licensing Archive a model of efficiency.
Having what many collectors might consider to be a dream job, Wendt was never a Star Wars collector before taking on the position eleven years ago. "Prior to 1994, I had never purchased or collected any Star Wars products," admits Wendt, "though I was well acquainted with the films and had seen them many times." In lieu of hands-on Star Wars collecting experience, Wendt did bring a set of skills and experience to the position that he'd gained while interning at the Bill Graham Presents Archive, a concert production company in the Bay Area. While there, Wendt became dedicated to the field of archiving by learning how to store and preserve an extensive collection of posters, tapes, apparel, and other concert memorabilia. With the monumental task of organizing, storing, and preserving an ever-expanding archive the size of Lucas Licensing's, clearly someone with Wendt's experience was essential.
Preserving the Legacy
For fans who are not collectors by nature, the need to store and preserve samples of the various product lines produced through the years by a company like Lucasfilm may not be immediately clear. Wendt explains that product samples are sent to Lucasfilm in order to give everyone in the development chain a final look at what is being produced for retail, and to assure quality and continuity throughout the product lines. "We also use these samples for business purposes, like trademark protection," continues Wendt, "as well as to provide access to samples for the various departments for reference." The archive also serves in part as a personal collection of sorts. "Licensing provides copies of everything to George, so that he sees them and can request additional quantities of samples, for charities, gifts or other uses."
Even with his busy schedule, Lucas still finds time to enjoy the toys and other wares spawned by the various properties he's created. "George looks at final production samples several times a month," explains Wendt. "His name is first on my distribution list, so he sees everything I get."
Wendt recalls a rare instance where he caught Lucas at his office during a routine delivery of the latest toys. "He and I got into a discussion about a Chewbacca 12" figure which, for the first time, had real hair," remembers Wendt. "He clearly enjoyed talking about the items and looking at everything. It was a fun moment and the genuine enthusiasm he showed in the product has always been a source of inspiration and satisfaction for me."
Fans have often wondered if Lucas keeps a personal collection of the items produced by the Lucasfilm properties. Early on, a separate "posterity collection" was actually established in the Lucasfilm Archive at Skywalker Ranch to house those items he wanted set aside. Items produced since 1994, however, have all been stored alongside the regular inventory within the Licensing Archive building. Wendt is responsible for preserving this collection by maintaining a fixed number of any given item so as to leave the posterity collection intact.
Aside from processing the scores of items that flood into the Archive on a daily basis, Wendt has had plenty of time to determine which items rate high on his own personal list of favorites. "What I think is cool tends to be different than some of the more dedicated fan collectors," admits Wendt. "First and foremost I love the super-8 film reels for A New Hope and Empire -- those pieces just say so much about the time in history and the passion the audience had for these films. They pre-date VHS, and were the first way the public could actually own these films and watch them at home -- they demonstrate an important part of our licensing history."
"As far as unusual or unknown parts of our collection," continues Wendt, "there are the uncut Topps trading card sheets from 1977, and the vintage Takara Japanese action figures -- Darth Vader, C-3PO and stormtrooper. It's incredible to see Japanese language backing boards on vintage product -- it really drives home the scope of influence these films have had on the world."
Of course, Lucas Licensing's Archive is not limited to the Star Wars properties, although they do make up the vast majority of it. "Some of the more unusual items in our collection are the Indiana Jones action figures and vehicles as well as the Willow toys. Both are pretty rare and not so well known to collectors, which make them all the more exciting to me. Probably my personal favorites are the Fernandes Guitars, specifically the Yoda model."
But with so much in the way of marginally stable materials like photo-chemical film stock and paperback books filling the shelves of the Archive, certain measures must be taken in some cases to ensure their longevity. Therefore, some of the materials are stored in a humidity and temperature-controlled space. Wendt hopes that someday the entire collection will benefit from such measures. "Eventually, these materials are going to graduate from memorabilia status to artifact status and the challenge until then is to apply the resources we have in a smart way. I am confident that as we reach the point where more proactive measures are necessary, it will be part of our budgeting process to fund some of the conservation projects."
In addition to conservation, the need to occasionally downsize the collection is another responsibility Wendt must contend with, as was the case with the recent move of the Archive to an on-site location. As anyone who collects can tell you, downsizing can be a painful process, especially on the scale required to streamline a collection the size of Lucas Licensing's. "I had some very difficult feelings about that move," Wendt confesses, "because when I set it up, it was completely empty, unlike the Skywalker Ranch Archives. There was something very satisfying and personal about the off-site archive. I had personally supervised the construction of the shelving, and the layout of where things went, so when we purged it and moved it, there was an inescapable feeling of attachment and resistance to change."
As a result of the move, some extraneous merchandise was allocated to charity outlets throughout the U.S. and to places as far as Indonesia and Afghanistan. As the materials have been slowly surfacing in these markets, collectors have been buzzing about the potential of hitting the mother lode at one of the outlet locations. Wendt is just glad the product has been put to good use. "Ultimately, I try very hard to avoid anything being wasted, so we'll donate to charity or recycle what cannot be reused. I've made several large donations to Toys for Tots over the years, and we recently worked on a project that put toys, t-shirts, shoes and bedding in the hands of people who needed them for just the reality of day-to-day living. I'm not sure it mattered that Luke Skywalker was on the warm blanket they slept under, but I know I sleep better knowing that blanket didn't end up in landfill. I am proud of the fact that my managers spent the extra dollars to implement that ideal."
As Episode III merchandise continues to pour into the Archive, and with the possibility of a Star Wars television series and a fourth Indiana Jones film in the future, the need for more space may again present itself, potentially requiring further consolidation of Archive assets. "You can only purge so much," explains Wendt. "Eventually you get down to the limits of what the core collection is and ultimately it has a fixed size."
It is often asked if the Licensing Archive possesses one of every item ever produced by a Lucasfilm licensee. Almost, explains Wendt. "With so many products being developed in so many countries worldwide it is a challenge to track all the items produced, and a challenge for the licensees to make sure we get everything. Overall the licensees are really good about this part of the process, but we have had a few things slip. I don't want to single anyone out, so I'll just say that Sith Happens."
Ultimately, the fact that an Archive exists at all is due to the foresight of Lucas himself, who early on recognized that keeping a physical record of all products bearing his company's trademark would be an indispensable resource for future days. A collector himself, perhaps it's not so hard to see why such lengths would be taken to preserve his merchandising legacy. Of course, he also just plain enjoys the stuff. "I know that he is like many of the fans," muses Wendt, "in that he enjoys the feeling of getting that new Star Wars collectible or toy item in his hands. I know, because I have seen the smile on his face myself."
Thanks to Lucas and a curator like Marc Wendt, future generations should be able to share that smile for years to come.
In the Blink of an Eye - 36 Frames in the Life of a Jedi
By Marc Wendt
Well, as the fans know over the course of producing the prequels, several different people have had the ultimate fantasy come true, that of being in a Star Wars film. In my case I was among several lucky people who got to play Jedi extras in the battle of Geonosis. As you can imagine, I could go on and on about this experience but, I'll try to be brief here.
A call went out for people who had martial arts skills. I was one of many to audition and was ultimately selected along with several others to perform for the cameras against the big blue screen. I remember being fitted for my Jedi costume several days before the shoot, putting on the tunic, finding boots that fit, a belt and a robe that was not too long. My adrenaline was pumping, I could hardly breathe for all the excitement, or maybe it was the doughnuts.
We had been rehearsing and practicing our fight moves for weeks, both at home and in the gym, then, on the day of the shoot, we arrived early for make-up and hair. My character was fitted with a long braid in the back, my eyebrows were extended and my skin and hair color were aged to give me a more mature look. As myself and all the other newly minted Jedi were lead out of the dressing area on to the set, we were given our choice of lightsabers. I picked out one that felt right in my hand, checked it for balance and moved it around swoosh swoosh humming the noise to myself unconsciously, it was not as heavy as what I had been practicing with which gave me a sense that my moves would look and flow even better than in rehearsal.
Moviemaking involves a lot of waiting, so each of us tried our best to practice our moves without disturbing the excellent work of the costume, make-up and hair artists. It was a great feeling to be walking around among my colleagues who had all been transformed into Jedi. You could feel the glow of excitement in everyone as they waited their turn. Then, one by one, each of us went up there on the field of blue under the hot lights, to face imaginary bugs and battle droids. Just like any fan, I had dreamed of and acted out being a Jedi as a kid watching the movies, but I could never have imagined then, that I would be on a Star Wars set, in costume, wielding a real lightsaber, but there I was, actually selected to be a Jedi. I still get excited and emotional when I think about it or tell the story.
One by one, we went through our routines under different lighting set-ups, using our imaginations and our lightsaber skills, we each fought against what were at that point, invisible forces of evil in the galaxy. When it was all said and done, the compositing team at ILM used us to fill out the arena shots in this epic battle sequence. Ultimately, after the shoot all the Jedi extras would still have to wait for the film to see which of us made the cut. For this we had to wait months and months while it was finished. Many months later, after the hard work of my colleagues at ILM the film was done. I remember the first few times I saw the film, I looked and looked but could not see myself in the sequence. I was disappointed, but I consoled myself with the fact that I knew I had been there, and held the saber, so I would always have that, but it was hard not be disappointed. Then, several long months after that, I got my copy of the film on DVD and decided to go through the sequence frame by frame and look again. For what seemed like an hour I scrolled frame by frame through the sequence looking intensely at each shot thinking please please let me have made the cut even in a small way. When I finally saw myself, I was ecstatic and let out a huge whoop and jumped up and down on my sofa. There I was, a small figure in the back ground to the left of Obi-Wan Kenobi, wielding a blue lightsaber against several lowly battle droids for all of about one-and-a-half seconds, or 36 frames. If you look at the film in real time I am unnoticeable, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment one bit.
When I reflect on my job in archives and my good fortune, I am filled with the wonder of it, the sense of how unbelievably lucky I am to have gotten to experience these things. Wow, what can you say, except, thanks George!
From the Lucasfilm Holocron:
Ichi-Tan graduated near the bottom of his class at the Jedi Temple as a youth, but through persistent effort and countless hours of studying at the Jedi Archives, Ichi-Tan passed his early training exams with a thorough understanding of galactic law and treaties. His unorthodox fighting style meant frequent defeat in his sparring exercises against other more graceful Jedi apprentices. Yet, once in a while, to their great surprise, this style would result in a stunning underdog defeat of one of the top seated swordsman in his class. Striking swiftly and with a penetrating style, the matches were over quickly when he did win them. Adept at communications and negotiations, Ichi-Tan became involved in the Diplomatic Corps which kept him close to the Galactic Core. He resided in the galactic law section of the Jedi Temple archives, before being called to duty by Mace Windu for the Battle of Geonosis. His weakness in longer more protracted contests against multiple foes may have been a pivotal reason he was lost so early during the conflict.
July 01, 2005
By Michael A. Stackpole; Illustration by Jan Duursema
SEVEN DAYS AFTER THE BATTLE OF GEONOSIS.
Aayla Secura suppressed a rising sense of anxiety as she entered the council chamber high in the Jedi Temple. Jedi Master Mace Windu stood with his back to one of the arched windows that revealed an expanse of Coruscant cityscape. To the right of the doorway stood another Jedi sniffing at the petals of a flower placed in a wall niche. He was a Caamasi with long and supple limbs. Golden down covered his body, with purple fur masking his eyes and sweeping up in stripes to his crown.
Aayla bowed toward Mace Windu. "Forgive my lateness, Master."
At first, Mace nodded slowly, as if only distantly hearing her. Then he looked up at the Twi'lek and gave her a more certain nod, clasping his hands at the small of his back. Aayla felt a wave of serenity flow through the Force, from the Jedi Master to her. He said, "Though the war leaves us thinking that there's not a second to lose, you are not late. Right now, the portal of opportunity we're afforded is not yet closed."
He nodded to the other Jedi. "This is Ylenic It'kla, a Jedi Knight of Caamas. He'll work with you on this particular assignment."
The Caamasi offered Aayla a slender hand, and she shook it. Ylenic held her hand firmly, but she knew he was exerting only a fraction of his strength. The fluid motion with which he had turned to greet her suggested speed and power that would make him a formidable warrior. With his long reach, Ylenic could be a deadly duelist if he were at all practiced with a lightsaber.
Aayla smiled at the Caamasi and looked back to Mace. "How am I to serve, Master Windu?"
"This is a delicate mission, Aayla, one that requires guile and intelligence, not just martial prowess. You have proven yourself with the latter at Geonosis."
"But the former, Master?"
"I have meditated on this matter, and you are the right choice."
"Yes, Master," said Aayla. She wondered what Windu was leaving unsaid, but she quelled the questions in her mind.
Mace nodded in acknowledgement of her discipline. "Corellia, due to the influence of Garm bel Iblis, has declared itself neutral in the current conflict. Despite this stance, both the Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems exert some influence on the world. Along with a few other neutral worlds, Corellia has become a haven for refugees from both sides."
Aayla raised one eyebrow as she grasped the implication. "And havens for those who would profit from trade with both sides?"
"Your knowledge of trading practices on Ryloth serves you well, Aayla." Mace smiled briefly before composing his face in a more serious expression. "In preparing for the war, the Techno Union started many development projects. Most of the researchers had little concept of how their work would be used, but one of them figured things out. His name is Ratri Tane. He stole his project's critical files and the only working prototype of some very valuable circuitry. He's sent his wife and child into hiding and he has made his way to Corellia. From there he seeks to hire transport to a place where he and his family can live in peace."
"Tane is from Corellia?" asked Aayla.
"No, Coruscant, though his wife was from Corellia -- the city of Coronet." Mace ran a hand over his jaw. "We believe Tane stole the prototype and files as insurance in case the Techno Union found his family before his return."
Aayla nodded. "And you want us to find him and retrieve the files?"
"Yes," he said. "But it must be done quietly."
"Will we have any help from the Jedi on Corellia?"
Mace shook his head. "No, and that is why you must be careful. They have become somewhat ... territorial, and with the politics of the system being as complex as they are, this is understandable. When Corellia declared itself neutral in this conflict, loyalties within the Jedi there were split. Siding with the Republic might bring the war to the Corellian system, the system they've sworn to protect."
Aayla frowned. "But they are Jedi."
Ylenic opened a hand. "They are Jedi, and will defend the peace in their system."
"And if we need them to defend peace in the galaxy?" said Aayla.
Mace shook his head. "That is a matter for later, Aayla. Your mission is to find Tane and extract him. Ylenic has been to Corellia before. The two of you will fly a smuggling ship, and you will be in command. You will be looking to move any number of cargoes, but will prefer passengers. To Tane, you will appear to be the perfect escape from Corellia. Briefing files have already been loaded into your ship's computer."
Aayla smiled, much preferring the undercover role of a smuggler to being a slave dressed in too little to conceal a comlink, much less a lightsaber. "I've seen plenty of smugglers and seedy pilots. I can do this."
Mace nodded and held up a hand. "You can expect to find the Techno Union hiring a variety of criminals to find Tane. You must be especially wary of Gotals. Their horns make them sensitive to emotions and possibly even the Force. They are common among the criminals of Coronet, so watch for them."
"I understand," she said, growing excited at the prospect of this mission. Through the Force, she sensed both Mace and Ylenic react to her unchecked delight. She reined in that emotion and glanced down. "I shall be very careful, Master."
Mace nodded solemnly. "I know in you we've made the right choice."
* * *
Aayla settled into the co-pilot's seat in the cockpit of the Kuat Leisure 121-B modified yacht Flare. "Gear's all stowed. What do we have for a cargo?"
Ylenic punched a button on the command console. "Foodstuffs, mostly. Delicacies that ex-patriots can't live without. We'll get a good price for them."
She laughed. "Do you think the Jedi Council is much concerned about that?"
The Caamasi shook his head and punched the ignition control sequence into the ship's computer. The ship's twin turbines came online with a whine. Ylenic shunted power to the repulsorlift coils, and the ship floated delicately before rising into Coruscant airspace.
They were departing from a commercial spaceport so they would attract little or no attention. Although Aayla did not like to dwell on the prospect, she was certain there were both mechanical and living spies watching the Jedi Temple and all other sensitive areas on Coruscant to transmit data to the Separatist leader Count Dooku -- wherever he was.
Ylenic received clearance to leave the atmosphere, set the navigational computer for the prescribed outbound vector, and switched on the autopilot. The Flare left the angular streams of daily traffic behind, and soared past the highest towers to join a thin line of ships departing the Republic's capital. Aayla watched the other ships, big and small, private and commercial, and even a few vessels with the distinctive red hulls denoting official Republic duty.
"How many of those ships do you figure are leaving on secret missions?" she asked.
The Caamasi smiled. "I would think, Aayla, that all of them carry secrets of one sort or another. Illicit operations, I would assume for most. A mission like ours? One or two, perhaps."
"You're probably right."
"Am I?" The Caamasi's amber eyes softened slightly. "How do you draw that conclusion? I am guessing without a shred of evidence -- no sense of the Force, just idle speculation."
"It seemed correct to me." Aayla felt color rise to her cheeks and streak her lekku.
"This question should not be a cause of embarrassment, Aayla. The Force might well speak to you in ways it does not me."
She thought about that possibility as the ship made the transition from atmosphere to the dark cold of space. The Flare inverted, giving her a view of Coruscant's surface, especially the glowing lines and flickering lights of the night side. The skylanes appeared like giant circuits with luminescent electrons moving along them. She picked one out and focused the Force on it, trying to receive some sense of its purpose. She felt nothing she could consider even the merest of impressions.
"Probably not the Force," she admitted, "but a guess on my part, too."
Ylenic smiled and scanned the computer readout. "At least we are guessing along the same lines. This bodes well for our effort. We are clear for the jump to hyperspace."
Aayla nodded and gave the order, "Go."
The Caamasi flicked two levers forward, engaging the hyperdrive. The ship lurched forward and the stars went from pinpricks to bars all pointed down into a well that exploded up at them and filled the viewport with bright light. Aayla raised her hand to shield her eyes before the viewport dampers kicked in.
Ylenic nodded. "We will make the journey in four jumps. This course will add several hours over a direct trip, but it will mask our point of origin. It will also bring us into the Corellian system on a vector that is not much watched by pirates:"
"Good thinking," she said dryly. "I would have suggested or approved that planning."
Ylenic reached out with his right hand and patted her on the left shoulder. "Yes, Aayla, you are in charge of this operation, but as your pilot I sought not to bother you with this sort of tedious detail."
She gave him a quick smile and a nod. "I do wonder why Master Windu placed me in command."
"Do you?" The Caamasi canted his head to the side. "This means you doubt the wisdom of our Masters, or else you doubt yourself."
"Our Masters, no." She shook her head firmly. "But myself, yes, a bit. I am hardly the most experienced Jedi Knight in the galaxy, or even on this ship. You have been a Knight longer than I, so I wonder why I am not subordinate to you?"
"This is simple: while I have been to Corellia before, I have filled a more traditional role. The Caamasi often counsel and mediate, and this is what I do most of the time. My skills as a pilot are likewise valued, but seldom have I spent time among the people we will meet while seeking Tane."
Ylenic's voice had strength, but it came quiet and warm. She liked listening to him, and watching his right hand move through the air as he spoke made his comments almost hypnotic. What he had said about the Caamasi was true, and they were highly valued for their skills. They were also known as pacifists and, try as she might, she could not remember ever seeing or hearing another Caamasi Jedi.
Aayla commented on that fact, and Ylenic nodded as if expecting the remark. "It is true, we Caamasi have not produced many Jedi. It is also true that I am a pacifist."
"But here you are, willing to take part in a war." She frowned. "Doesn't that violate your philosophy?"
"There is a point at which pacifism, while seeming good, can serve the dark side."
"How can that be?"
His fingers extended, then half-curled back in on themselves. "There are those, especially within the Confederacy, who could characterize the Jedi as bloody-handed and aggressive warriors. Is that accurate?"
"No. Jedi are defenders of peace, counselors. We use our combat skills only as a last resort, only when forced to."
"Exactly. So, while we value peace and abhor violence, we know there is a point where we may have to place our lives between those of innocents and people who would harm them."
"It is just as clear, Aayla, when pacifism becomes evil. If beings are capable of protecting others but refuse to take action to preserve their own sense of peace, they are being selfish. They place themselves and their sense of peace over the peace of others, and so they defend a philosophy instead of lives. In this way, they fail everyone. This is where their choice is evil."
She nodded slowly. To do nothing in the face of evil was to condone it and permit it to prosper. "This Tane, then, is he being evil?"
Ylenic's face screwed up in concentration, and Aayla caught a quick sense of some emotion she couldn't identify.
"He is acting to save his family," said the Caamasi, "so I would think not."
She nodded. "What you say is wise."
The Caamasi nodded appreciatively. "I have a question, if you do not mind? Why do you doubt yourself?"
"I am young. I am inexperienced." She searched his face, looking for any sign in his amber eyes that these reasons rang true for him. She caught flickers through the Force, but nothing more. "This is a delicate mission. If it goes wrong, it might create a bad feeling with the Corellian government. They might see our effort as the Republic interfering in their affairs, and that might help ally them with the Separatists. That is quite a lot of responsibility to deal with."
"Good points, all." His eyes narrowed slightly. "Does it concern you that you have doubts?"
Aayla thought for a moment, then a moment longer. "No, I think it is good. I trust in my skills and training, but without doubts, without realizing that things could spin out of control, I would become arrogant, a failing that could lead to the dark side."
"Very good, Aayla Secura." Ylenic smiled broadly. "Now you know why you are worthy of being entrusted with so important a mission."
* * *
Both Aayla and Ylenic managed to sleep and meditate on the journey, so they arrived in the Corellian system refreshed and ready to act. A pair of security fighters looked them over as they came in past Selonia, but flight control cleared them on a vector for Corellia. The city of Coronet was just slipping into dusk as they landed at one of the myriad spaceports in the seaside city.
The lights had just begun going in the section of the town known as Treasure Ship Row. Aayla found that the place paled in comparison to Coruscant, but that could rightly be said of any other city in the Republic. Though there had been little in the way of cloud cover on the flight in, once Ylenic landed and popped the hatch, the city's humidity dragged at her.
Aayla shivered. "This air just feels wrong."
Ylenic sniffed and wrinkled his nose. "It smells worse." They had chosen clothes that suited both their assumed roles and their personal preferences. For Ylenic this was a red kilt that ran to his knees, with small boots and sleeveless blue jacket that buttoned to the throat and had long tails in the back. Over that he had thrown a black cloak that shrouded his form and let him easily conceal his lightsaber.
Aayla bound her lekku in a braid of black and brown leather strips that attached to her traditional Twi'lek headgear. Black boots came to her knees, and red- and black-striped leggings from there to her waist. A black and red tunic that was cut to expose to midriff and cleavage matched the leggings. While she took no great pleasure in revealing clothes, she knew such raiment was both unrestrictive in combat and distracting during trade negotiations. A black nerf-hide jacket cut short enough to reveal of band of blue flesh at her waist completed the outfit and let her conceal her lightsaber within easy reach.
A number of "commodities brokers" approached the ship and immediately began bargaining for the cargo. Aayla haggled with a pleasure that surprised her. She mentally split the lot and sold off each piece, pitting broker against broker. She refrained from using the Force to sway the brokers, but could sense avarice building as the bidding grew furious, and then panic rising as the prices became too dear. Within half an hour, she had disposed of everything at a tidy profit.
As she finished, Aayla noticed Ylenic talking to two of the brokers who had withdrawn from bargaining as they learned the Flare carried nothing in the way of serious contraband. She politely refused the offer of a drink with a flapping Toydarian and wandered over to join the Caamasi. The two shady brokers, a cloaked human and a Devaronian, acknowledged her with a nod before leaving.
Ylenic smiled at her. "You enjoyed yourself."
Aayla nodded but then froze for a moment. "I thought I had kept my emotions closed to the Force."
"You did, but you also smiled, and your victims were relieved when the bidding was over."
He gestured casually in the direction of the retreating brokers. "Those two asked what we were looking to take away with us. I suggested that while the hold was sufficient for almost anything, a yacht carries passengers better than cargo. Word will spread, and if Tane has been making inquiries, he will find us."
From the data files they'd received from Master Windu, Aayla knew they were looking for a human male of average height and weight, with green eyes, light hair, and a recently grown full beard. As humans went, he was not bad looking and not very old. Still, there was something about him that seemed unlike a research scientist.
Then again, she mused silently, if he were nothing more than a typical dataworm, he never would have undertaken the theft or sent his family away to safety.
Ylenic pointed to one of the passageways heading north. "Our friends indicated that those who seek quiet passage off Corellia often look for opportunities at a cantina called Homestar. I suggested we would find our way there."
They headed out together, with Ylenic clearly shortening his strides to match her gait. Despite wearing a cloak, he moved quietly. If he weren't there at the edge of her vision, she might have thought he had vanished.
Losing him would have been easy, she thought, as they moved from the freight section of the spaceport to the passenger terminal. Throngs of people milled about -- predominantly human and Selonian, but with enough Neimoidians, Devaronians, Weequays, Klatooinians, and even Bith to demonstrate what an important crossroads Corellia had become since the war began.
Aayla watched for Gotals and spied one lurking near a group of Neimoidians. She saw no other obvious dangers, and even from the Neimoidians she sensed no malevolence. She knew it was foolish to assume that every member of a particular species would be in lockstep with its leadership, but she decided to err on the side of caution and keep her senses open for potential enemies.
"I've spotted a Gotal," she whispered to Ylenic.
"There was a second." When he noticed her surprise, the Caamasi tapped his nose lightly. "They have a scent of old sweat and mildew."
"And I thought they looked bad."
They exited through another portal and turned east. The crowd thinned as they moved farther from the spaceport. On the kilometer-long walk, the passages grew dim in a few spots, but they encountered no trouble. That didn't mean Aayla couldn't sense people lurking in the darkness, but she and Ylenic were judged by the cut of their clothes, so they aroused no special interest in the urban predators.
Treasure Ship Row -- or simply "the Row," as natives seemed to call it -- surprised her because of the cosmetic overlay of lights and signs. All were bright and kept in good repair. They gave the area an air of respectability, which she suspected was more to shield the establishments from the scorn of its commercial neighbors than any fear of outrage from its visitors.
Homestar stood a quarter of the way along the Row, on the south side. It could have been mistaken for a planetarium on any other world. The music issuing forth might have dissuaded some from making that mistake, but otherwise the facade seemed plain. It did not excite the senses and, save for the odd collection of people coming and going, could have been described as unremarkable.
As Aayla and Ylenic entered the place, however, "unremarkable" gave way to "impossible." The doorway opened on a tall and wide set of stairs leading down into a round pit floor. A circular bar dominated the center, with concentric rings of round and curved tables spreading out around it. All around the walls and hanging from the ceiling were platforms and cages in which dancers undulated to the music. The band played on a stage directly opposite the stairs, and the area in front of their stage had been cleared for patrons to dance.
And dancing they were, in combinations of species that defied cataloging. And the manner in which they danced sent a shiver down Aayla's spine. She knew enough of the art to pass as a dancer, and she had a Twi'lek's delight in the sensuous movements a body can make. Those beings on the dance floor might well have been having fun, but to her eye they appeared to be writhing spastically as the result of some excruciating poison.
Ylenic shut his nostrils completely. "No, I do not like how they look, either."
The Caamasi led the way down to the floor and halfway around on the left. In the centermost of the table-rings they found a small space where they could stand. Ylenic moved around so he faced away from the bar, and she stood facing him, allowing them to cover the entire cantina. They punched in their drink orders on a small datapad built into the table. Soon a droid brought them two tumblers of Corellian whiskey, which they left untouched on the table.
As she studied people, Aayla could definitely see that Jedi on Corellia must have their hands full. The war had exacerbated the situation by bringing in a lot of beings under a lot of pressure -- and adding to that mix, agents of either side who wanted to cause trouble.
And if war came to this place ... she shivered. Geonosis had been a wasteland before the battle, but the aftermath was still hideous. Droids blown into shards, Geonosians dead in droves, Jedi killed and hideously maimed, and the losses among the clone ranks were appalling.
Ylenic laid a hand on her forearm. "What is the matter?"
"Just remembering the first battle," she said.
Ylenic nodded. "It must have been terrible. While I would have gladly stood with my comrades, I am happy I do not carry memories of that event with me."
"There she is!" With a leathery slap of his wings, Lorfo, the Toydarian from the spaceport, landed on the edge of their table. "You were the best bargainer at the port, so I have a deal for you."
She shot him a withering glance, but something beyond him caught her eye. Aayla tapped the back of Ylenic's hand. "To your right, fifty degrees. That's him, near the two Gotals."
Ylenic looked and then nodded and breathed deeply. "I have him, and them."
"I have a deal for you, pretty one." Lorfo repeated, chuckling. "Forget them. Their boss would have nothing for you:"
Aayla frowned at Lorfo. "Not now." She moved past the Toydarian and started around the ring of tables on the outside. Ylenic mirrored her path on the inside.
The Gotals spotted Tane at the same time as the Jedi and started directly toward him. He saw them and spun, looking for an escape route.
Aayla felt someone grab her right shoulder. She twisted away and, without thinking, flicked her left hand at the Toydarian clinging to her. She gave him only a tiny push with the Force, but that was enough to bounce him back onto their table, splashing their drinks onto a pair of Grans. The two aliens blinked all six of their eyes in surprise and grabbed Lorfo.
Aayla's action had alerted the Gotals. One continued after Tane, while the other drew a blaster and fired a shot at Aayla.
Time slowed for her even as she saw him reach for his weapon. As it slid from a well-worn holster and a thumb snapped the safety off, her right hand had disappeared into her jacket and grasped the silver cylinder of her lightsaber. She had it out and pointed down before he finished aiming at her. When he hit the trigger, she ignited the blue blade and batted the scarlet bolt high, making it pass between two caged dancers.
The music swallowed both the whine of the first bolt and Lorfo's outraged cries, but the light of the second bolt scattered Homestar's patrons. Aayla had to deflect it high again, for if she missed in trying to direct it back at the shooter, she'd kill dancers or members of the band. The patrons' panic spread to the dancers, and the band faltered, save for the lone Dorenian Beshniquel player tearing off on a riff in counterpoint to the whine of blaster bolts.
The bolts not only dispersed the crowd but showed the Gotals' allies the location of their foes. Fully alive in the Force, Aayla felt someone coming at her back. She spun, bringing the sizzling blue blade around and down through a wrist. The hand and the vibroblade it had been holding dropped away, accompanied by a hiss of pain. She clipped her attacker on the head with the blunt end of her lightsaber and slashed right, driving away another bolt.
She spun to follow her cut and dropped into a crouch to scythe the blade through the center post of a table. The gunman who had leaped upon it tipped and tottered, then pitched over. His blaster sprayed an arc of fire toward the ceiling as he went. With a minor thrust in the Force, Aayla pushed him into two others ruffians, spilling the lot of them to the floor.
A Weequay leaped over the tangle of limbs and came at her with a truncheon held low in his right hand. His thumb hit a button; and the end of the weapon sparked as he thrust it at her. Aayla shifted onto her right knee and brought the blade up and over in a cut that sheered the truncheon in half. She ducked her shoulder, catching the Weequay in the stomach, and tossed him up and over in a somersault that toppled another table.
Panic and fear surged through the cantina, and in its wake came a near silence. Patrons and dancers had fled the building or crouched behind whatever cover they could find. Aayla glanced left and saw Ylenic, his cloak off, his green lightsaber gleaming. Around him lay a number of ruffians, all of them radiating enough pain for her to know they were alive and likely to stay that way.
Four humans pushed in against the tide of customers fleeing through the entrance. Three of them, two men and a woman, wore the green-and-black uniforms of CorSec officers. In their wake followed a tall man, quite slender, with black hair and cold gray eyes. He paused halfway down the stairs to take in the whole scene as his people rushed forward, drew their blasters, and leveled them at the Jedi.
Ylenic's blade vanished, and Aayla likewise extinguished hers. One of the CorSec officers put his blaster back in its holster and bent to check the one-handed man who had been wielding the vibroblade. He glanced back at his boss, got a nod, then produced a comlink and called for medical services.
The tall man approached Aayla and waved Ylenic over. "I am Inspector Rostek Horn of the Corellian Security Force. You are Jedi?"
Aayla hesitated for a moment, but before she could answer, Ylenic spoke. "Yes, Inspector, we are Jedi, passing through the system. We inquired at the spaceport where music and food might be had for weary travelers, and we were directed here."
Horn raised an eyebrow. "You are not dressed as Jedi."
Aayla nodded. "Given the neutrality of Corellia, we thought keeping our presence hidden would avoid creating unnecessary tensions."
"Unfortunately, Inspector, it did not." The Caamasi patted Aayla gently on the shoulder. "These individuals hoped my companion would wear something more revealing and dance for them. I was taken as harmless, since I am Caamasi."
Aayla opened her senses to the Force, trying to determine whether Ylenic was using a Jedi technique to influence the inspector's mind. He was not. She did know the ability to manipulate minds depended on the target's strength of will. She suspected, quite strongly, that Inspector Horn would have been close to impossible to influence that way.
More CorSec officers arrived and began to gather the casualties. Horn studied those being hauled away in silence. He nodded. "This crew's caused trouble before. They're not going to tell us anything. There don't seem to be any other witnesses, so your version of events must be the truth."
He looked closely at Aayla. "Unless there's anything else you want to tell me?"
"Not a thing, Inspector."
"Defending yourselves is not a crime, but I'll need to see your identification." He pulled a datapad from his pocket and began entering their information. "Have you communicated with the Jedi here?"
"No, Inspector." Aayla twitched her lekku in the equivalent of a shrug. "We wished to be no bother."
"That's probably best, then, to be no bother. You'll be leaving soon?"
Ylenic nodded. "Very Inspector."
"Good. Don't let me keep you:"
Ylenic took Aayla lightly by the elbow, but she gently freed herself and turned back to Horn. "Inspector, if you don't mind, a question?"
"When you said they were a crew, you didn't mean they were from a starship, did you?"
"No. Small time hoodlums who hire out to whomever's being free with credits."
"And in this case?"
"I don't know who, yet, but I will." He smiled slowly. "You will be long gone by then."
"Of course we will, Inspector." Ylenic bowed gracefully. "A mere memory by then."
* * *
The Jedi left the cantina and cut through the crowd gathering around the medical transport. Already they heard stories of wholesale slaughter within the club. Aayla braced to hear the words "Jedi" and "lightsaber" used, but most folks were recounting how they had narrowly been missed in a hail of blaster fire. Their role appeared to have escaped notice in the chaos.
Instead of heading back toward the spaceport, Ylenic walked farther east. His long-legged stride ate up the ground, and Aayla found herself trotting to catch-up. "Where are we going?"
"Away from there. I am seeking, perhaps in vain, a whiff of our quarry. Did you get anything?"
Aayla cast her mind back, sorting through recently perceived sensations, but she found nothing she could attach to Tane. She'd seen him, but she had not sensed him in the Force, and that surprised her. Given his situation, he should have been radiating anxiety with the intensity of a solar flare. "I got nothing."
Ylenic stopped, and his shoulders slumped. "I do not like this."
"Do we assume they have Tane?"
"He was spirited out quickly, or else he escaped and is being trailed. Either way, I think we have to assume he is in unfriendly custody."
"It's my fault this went bad, isn't it?" Aayla frowned. "I used the Force to flick Lorfo away, and that alerted the Gotals."
Ylenic took a deep breath in through his nose and snorted. "For you, the Force and telekinesis come easily, and you use them almost unconsciously. While what you did was a mistake, you were far more circumspect in how you dealt with your assailants. Had CorSec not arrived so quickly, we could have hidden our lightsabers and been away without anyone identifying us as Jedi."
"Except for the Gotals:"
"Yes, the key point in it all. This is why time is now of the essence. Before we could lay out bait and wait for Tane to come to us, but now we must find him." Ylenic rested a hand on her shoulder. "Your question of Inspector Horn was good, by the way, and I wish he could have shared useful information with us."
Something tugged at the back of Aayla's mind, but before she could focus on it, the dry flapping of wings and a grating voice drove it from her mind.
"There's the pretty lady. She's a Jedi." Lorfo hung in the air and laughed. "I'm most impressed. She bargained without using her powers."
Aayla smiled as much in apology as in greeting. "Who would want to cheat an honest merchant?"
"If only I was one."
Her pale eyes narrowed. "Lorfo, you knew the Gotals. You know who they are working for."
"Yes, yes. l told you they would be no good for dealing."
"I need to find the Gotals and their boss, Lorfo. Do you know where they are?"
"Well." The little winged creature rubbed a finger over his bulbous nose. "I am a merchant."
"I'll refund you ten percent on our previous deal."
"Done!" His voice rose triumphantly, and he soared into the air. Floating down a bit awkwardly, he grinned and pointed down an alley heading south. "This way, not far, hurry."
The Jedi raced after the Toydarian. Their course soon turned west again, through rubbish-choked alleys that set Ylenic to sneezing. Aayla assumed the alley's miasma was for him the equivalent of blinding lights to her. Her sympathy for his discomfort only increased as she found the stench so revolting in a few places that she had to pinch shut her nose and breathe through her mouth.
Lorfo led them to a small warehouse with tall, heavy-duty shelving units crammed with duraplast crates. Lights burned deep in the warehouse's heart, and Aayla heard voices inside. She refrained from reaching out with the Force so she would not repeat the mistake she'd made at Homestar.
Turning, she pointed Lorfo back toward the door. "Thank you for your help. You don't want to be here if more trouble happens."
He darted clown, kissed her hand, and gave her a wink. Spinning almost elegantly, he fluttered off low to the ground and, as quietly as possible, left the warehouse.
Aayla and Ylenic crept forward, slipping through tight spaces, peering around corners. She dearly wished she could use the Force to get a sense of her surroundings. Ylenic had been correct -- sometimes using the Force came so naturally to her that she did so without a second thought. Now, not being able to without alerting any nearby Gotals, she felt blind.
They had crossed three-quarters of the way to the heart of the warehouse when two voices rose in the center of the building. One was clearly surprised, and the other shouted the first down, then let forth with a great laugh. As the echoes of its laughter died, the voice called out. "You Jedi might as well come in. Things are well outside your control. If you would like to see Ratri Tane live, I suggest you cease skulking about."
Aayla glanced at Ylenic, and he nodded, so they both straightened from crouches behind crates and walked forward. She kept her head up and covered her surprise as those gathered in the middle of the room came into view. She'd wondered how their presence had been betrayed, but the first creature she saw, hovering there, explained everything.
Lorfo shrugged with only a trace of embarrassment. "You should have given me twenty percent."
Beneath the hovering Toydarian stood four individuals. The two Gotals from Homestar pointed their blasters at the Jedi. Between them were Tane and a large, heavy-set man with a florid face, a bright shock of red hair, and freckles so thick they almost masked his eyes as effectively Ylenic's purple fur did his. He held Tane in front of him, with his left arm around Tane's throat and a blaster jammed into his ribs. A twitch of the trigger would broil Tane's heart.
The man smiled, revealing a tumble of teeth that made Lorfo's grin look like a work of art. "My name is Tendir Blue, and I'm actually pleased to see you. The Techno Union and its allies were willing to pay very well for Tane and the things he'd taken, but Count Dooku is exceptionally generous when Jedi are delivered to his keeping."
Aayla estimated the distance between her and the Gotals, knowing she could clear the seven meters in a leap. If she could keep herself from being hit by blaster bolts, she could cut them down and ... arrive just in time to watch Tane collapsing with a smoking hole in his chest.
Blue punched his left thumb down on something that had been concealed in his fist. From above and behind Aayla, crates creaked open as six Trade Federation battle droids unfolded themselves. Their limbs straightened with a clatter, and their blasters oriented on the two Jedi.
The large Corellian smiled even more broadly and stated what Aayla already realized. "As you can see, it is quite impossible for you to do anything. Even if you were to cut down the Gotals, my droids would kill you, and I should certainly have killed Tane by then."
Aayla shook her head. "Kill him, and you don't get the prototype or the files."
Blue laughed and Tane looked crestfallen. "He was so eager to leave here, the silly man had the files and prototype on him. While my clients would love to have him in their possession, they have instructed me that his life is expendable. Will you have his blood on your hands?"
The Jedi remained silent.
The Corellian ground the blaster's barrel hard against Tane's ribs. "Your lightsabers. Slide them over here, slowly or, Tane dies."
Aayla glanced at Ylenic. He shook his head, opened his cloak, and withdrew his lightsaber held lightly between thumb and forefinger. The Caamasi stooped and slid the weapon to within a meter of the Gotals. Unable to think of an alternative, Aayla did the same. A Gotal picked up the weapons, and Blue nodded with satisfaction. "Very good. I am glad we can all be civilized about this. Lorfo, you shall be well rewarded..."
Then something odd happened. Aayla could still hear Blue speak, but his mouth moved out of sync with his words. A lightsaber sailed across the warehouse, and she snatched it from the air. As she ignited it and swung the silver blade around to ward off the droid's shots, she sensed Ylenic moving between her and the Gotals, protecting her back.
Then the vision faded. Ylenic still stood at her right. Her hands remained empty, and one of the Gotals snapped his head in Blue's direction. "The Force, they are using it."
The Corellian groaned. "Stupid Jedi." Blue stroked the blaster's trigger. Smoked puffed from Tane's jacket. The man gasped and slumped. Blue let him fall to the floor.
Then almost exactly as it had been in her vision, a lightsaber flew across the room. She did snatch it from the air and ignite it. The battle droids started to focus on her, but she gathered the Force and launched herself into the air. She soared to the level of the highest droid, landed, and batted aside one bolt before she swept the blade through its middle and sent the pieces tumbling to the duracrete floor.
Aayla leaped away as more scarlet bolts chewed into the shelving and blasted other crates to melting shards. She landed in a crouch and cut the legs from beneath one of the droids. She reversed the blade and stabbed it through the chest of a second as she stood up. With a flick of her left hand, she dumped a third droid backward into the crate from which it had emerged.
A bit more of the Force lifted that crate and dropped it, dashing crate and contents on the floor.
Yanking the silver blade free of the pierced droid, Aayla spun and redirected a hail of bolts at the droids who fired them. Three shots hit one on the left side, spinning it about wildly before its legs tangled and it went down smoking. Yet another bolt took the head of the last one clean off. It stood there for a moment, then a gentle Force push dropped it backward, where it lay with limbs splayed and unmoving.
Aayla turned and looked at where the Gotals and Blue had been standing. Both Gotals writhed on the floor, their hands clutching painfully at their horns. Ylenic stood over them with his lightsaber burning brightly.
Blue was also down, his blaster in two pieces on the floor. Tane knelt beside him, his right hand on the man's forehead and his left hand wrapped around the hilt of Aayla's lightsaber.
Aayla thumbed the silver blade off and reversed the hilt. "Your lightsaber? Thank you for the loan." She floated the lightsaber over to Tane, who caught it in his right hand.
The man then stood, extinguished her lightsaber, and extended it toward her. "I would send this to you, but I am afraid it wouldn't get very far."
Aayla crossed to him and retrieved her lightsaber. "Who are you?"
The man held up one finger before bending and scooping up one of the Gotals' blasters. He flicked the selector lever to stun and pumped a blue bolt into each the horned ruffians. Their bodies bowed spasmodically and relaxed.
Ylenic rested his left hand on Tane's shoulder. "This is Jedi Master Nejaa Halcyon."
"What?" Aayla bowed her head. "I am honored, Master."
"I'm the one who is honored. You're a hero of Geonosis."
"I was there. Others were heroes." She looked at him and at Ylenic. "I couldn't get a sense of him in the Force because he was shielding his thoughts."
The Caamasi nodded. "He had to, or else the Gotal would have spotted him as a substitute."
She frowned and her lekku shivered. "We were sent here on a mission to get Tane and not involve the Jedi guardians of Corellia. I don't understand. Was I included because Master Windu suspected I would be out of control enough to alert the Gotal? Clearly you wanted Blue to think Jedi were after you, so he'd believe you were the genuine article. I was chosen not for my skill, but for my lack of experience."
Nejaa shook his head, "Actually, Aayla Secura, you are here because Master Windu thought you best for the job:"
She snorted. "Anyone could have done what I have done."
"I would disagree." Halcyon clasped his hands together at his waist. "What we have accomplished here was rather complex."
"And, so far, done very well."
Aayla spun at the new voice and saw Rostek Horn entering the hero warehouse. "You knew about this place and this scheme?" She looked back over her shoulder at Ylenic. "And you are part of this conspiracy, too?"
"Don' forget me, pretty Jedi." Lorfo flapped down from the rafters. "I played a key role."
Aayla sighed and sat on a crate. "I didn't think gullibility was a trait for which Jedi were valued."
"That is not why you were chosen." Nejaa pointed at the wreckage of the droids. "Your combat skills were vital. Moreover, you are known as a hero of Geonosis. The Separatists watch for the Jedi it knows about, and Geonosis survivors come high on their list. Lorfo was able to spot you, to draw attention to you at Homestar. That's why Blue's people were close to you when the shooting started -- which it would have done regardless of how you reacted, to keep you occupied while they got me. I had on me a small tracking device, but it failed to work. Had you used it to find me, Lorfo would have betrayed you to Blue as he did, but without guiding you here first. When Ylenic discovered he could not track me with the locator, Lorfo flew up to lead you."
She shook her head. "So, Lorfo keeps them looking at us, so they won't realize you're not really Tane. We were the misdirection."
Ylenic smiled. "More correctly, we all are misdirection. You and I, here, for Blue, yes; but this whole operation as well."
Aayla's lekku twitched and she nodded. "While the Confederacy is looking here for Tane, he's already off being relocated. And that would mean the files and prototype are flawed."
"They are." Nejaa nodded solemnly. "Not hopelessly, though, just a hasty attempt at sabotage. Techno Union scientists will repair the damage, but Tane is willing to prepare counter-measure products that will render the new droids less than effective. The entire Separatists' effort to retool factories and produce a new generation of battle droids will be futile."
He pointed to the robotic carnage Aayla had left behind. "Those droids and the fact that Dooku is paying for captured Jedi likely will not be enough to sway the Corellian government to throw in with the Galactic Republic. On the other hand, they should be enough to show the other Jedi in this system that the evil of the Clone Wars is at hand. I hope it will free us to act with the rest of the Jedi."
Aayla pointed at Halcyon's jacket. "Blue shot you at point blank range. Why aren't you dead?"
Halcyon shrugged. "The Halcyons are weak when it comes to telekinesis. We are good at broadcasting visions, however. Hence, you saw my message. We also have a rare ability. With preparation, we can absorb a fair amount of energy. We have to bleed it off somehow, so I used it to send my lightsaber to you -- as I could not normally have done."
As he finished speaking, he held up his left forearm and slipped the lightsaber into the sheath hidden there. "Tearing yours away from the Gotal would have been a bit much for me to do and get a blade to you quickly."
The Twi'lek looked over at Ylenic. "What did you do to the Gotal?"
He smiled. "You'll recall the alley stench was overwhelming?"
"The Gotal pick up on things like the Force through their horns. I simply used the Force to hit them with its version of the stench."
Aayla winced. "Neat trick."
Ylenic's smile broadened.
"So, how much of all this did Master Windu know? I caught no deception from him."
The Caamasi opened his hands. "Nejaa is an old friend. When Tane reached Corellia and this plan began to form, Nejaa asked me to act as a liaison between him and the Jedi Council. The Jedi getting Tane and his family to safety are not from Corellia. They are acting under Master Windu's orders."
Nejaa nodded. "Of internal Corellian Jedi politics, he knows about as much as anyone does on Coruscant."
Inspector Horn smirked. "That's likely as much as anyone here knows about it, too."
Nejaa shook his head, and Aayla sensed a strong bond of friendship between the two men. "Nothing could send us over to the Confederacy, so the chance of finding something to win us over to the Republic's fight was one worth taking. You were not told everything, so your reactions would be natural and read true to anyone watching."
"I don't like it, but I understand. There is something else I need to know, however." Aayla thought for a moment and narrowed her eyes.
"Your intention is to implant a memory in Blue that he will carry off to his masters, and that will verify that the data and prototype are the real thing?"
'That's the plan."
"That may be the plan, Master Halcyon, but I am willing to bet that Count Dooku will sift through his mind, and things will unravel from there."
Ylenic canted his head to the side. "Her point is a good one."
Nejaa nodded. "Agreed, but I'm not sure I see a good fix."
"Don't worry." Aayla boosted herself off the crate. "I know just what will do the job."
* * *
Tendir Blue drifted back to consciousness as Lorfo tugged on his left arm. The man had slumped against the wall in a passageway in the spaceport. The Toydarian's breath came heavy and sour, his words rushed and full of panic.
"Get going. Now! She's still coming after you."
Blue shook his head to clear it. He raised a hand to his forehead, where fingertips brushed over the wound from a glancing blaster bolt. What happened? "Who's coming, Lorfo?"
"The Jedi!" The winged creature's eyes grew wide. "The Jedi you didn't kill."
Tendir scrambled to his feet and patted his pockets. He had datacards and the prototype of the chip. Those things he remembered. He added to that the memory of shooting Tane. After that, blackness, nothing -- must be amnesia from the bolt.
He looked around and recognized his surroundings. "This way, to my ship."
"I know. I called and it's pre-flighted." The Toydarian fluttered in front of him. "You owe me."
"Yes, yes, you'll be paid."
"Paid, no. Get me off this rock."
Pain throbbed through the man's head. "What happened?"
"Everything. There was shooting and lightsabers -- and the gold Jedi, he died. Your Gotals, your droids, gone. She is hurt, but you stumbled out. I helped." The Toydarian's voice rose to a shriek. 'There she is!"
Blue took one glance behind him. He saw her in the tunnel, illuminated by the azure light of her lightsaber. She dragged her left foot, and he could hear her rasping breath. She slumped against the wall but pointed her lightsaber at him.
"You won't escape me, Tendir Blue!"
She gestured with her left hand and Lorfo squealed. His fingers clawed at the shoulder of Blue's coat, and the man could feel the Jedi tugging at the little Toydarian with the Force. He tried to keep going, but Lorfo's grasp kept him anchored to the spot.
"Help me, Blue!"
"If it's you she wants ..." The man smashed a fist down on Lorfo's hands. "She can have you."
Another blow broke his grip, and the Toydarian flew back to slam into the Jedi. Both of them went down in a tumble, and Tendir sprinted forward. He cut through the crowd, knocking people left and right as he ran to his ship. Once inside, he sealed the airlock and lifted off. As he urged his ship forward, he saw the Twi'lek Jedi enter the hangar bay. She gestured at him, and he slewed the ship around, letting his turbine exhaust knock her back into the tunnel.
With a laugh, Tendril Blue pointed his ship to the stars.
* * *
Ylenic helped Aayla up. "You are unhurt?"
"My pride is wounded," she said, "but I'll live." She brushed her backside off and used the Force to call her lightsaber to hand and tucked the weapon inside her jacket again. "I think he believes you're dead and that he just barely escaped. Dooku can sift his mind all he wants. Amnesia explains the lack of memory of the fight, and his fear will confirm the 'truth' of what he says happened here."
Nejaa and Inspector Horn came up, with Lorfo hovering behind them. The Corellian Jedi nodded. "And he thinks Lorfo was apprehended by you, so he will not suspect he was really working for us all along. A neat and tidy package."
"As it should be, Master." Aayla smiled. "After all, tying things up that way must be why I was put in charge of this mission, don't you think?"
Nice stuff Thak you darthmonkey9206
You have the last pic Back by Popular Demand?
nice contrib, very cool, thx !
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