This is a fan-made Star Wars anime that is gorgeous. In two minutes, this wordless cartoon made me feel more than in six hours of Episodes 1-3 (for the record, my children will have to discover Episodes 1-3 on their own. I want no part in exposing them to that sort of filth). I posted the video on Facebook and the following conversation ensued:
Friend and Fellow Star Wars Fan: Although it always makes me feel guilty rooting so hard for the Empire.
Me: Who knows what the Empire had on those pilots, though? Maybe their families are being kept in a room with the oxygen slowly being siphoned out — maybe they pump in another liter of air for every rebel ship taken down.
Friend and Fellow Star Wars Fan: I wanna read that fanfic.
. . . . okay :)
Extra credit: Teenage Mutant Ninja Fan Fic
Jaclyn stared down at the pinprick of blood on her index finger. It was remarkable how despite the number of souls she had sent back to their makers, she had never once seen a single drop of their blood. The sight of her own mesmerized her.
A particularly loud squawk from her infant son, squirming on the changing table, brought her back down from the black.
“Alright, alright, almost done.” Jaclyn finished pinning the cloth diaper to her child, lifted him to her shoulder and turned. She startled at seeing her husband, Larek, leaning against the doorframe of the nursery. He was smiling at her.
“What?” She said, shifting uneasily.
“I just like seeing you all domestic.”
Larek wrapped his arms around them and pressed his face into her neck. “It suits you.”
Jaclyn closed her eyes and inhaled the scent of her family.
“Mama! There’s a man at the door!”
“Coming, Remmi,” she called. “Wait for me.”
“Zak already opened it!”
“I did not, the wind pushed it!”
Jaclyn and Larek shared a smirk before heading toward their front door. Rounding the corner, Jaclyn’s blood chilled when she saw the uniforms. She handed the baby to her husband and gestured they stay. She slowly walked toward the open door.
“Boys, go to Papa.”
Zak and Remmi obeyed, sobered by the tone of their mother’s voice.
Jaclyn planted herself in front of the Imperial officer. “Can I help you?”
“Ahh, Captain Jaclyn Antarres,” he said. His face was cheery in stark contrast to the helmeted guards that flanked him. “What a pleasure to finally meet you. Your reputation proceeds you.”
“It’s Mrs. Reed now,” Jaclyn said nervously, wondering what Larek’s face looked like behind her.
“May we come in?” Said the officer, still smiling. “It won’t take but a moment.”
“Of course. Larek, would you take the boys-”
“No,” said the officer, “please, don’t usher them out on our account. This may well be a family decision.” The officer helped himself to a seat on the couch. The guards remained standing at his sides. “I am here to inform you that your services are needed again, Captain. Congratulations!”
She followed him into the living room, her body tense. “But. . . but the Empire won. Why do they still need me?”
“Oh, of course we won, thanks in part to your tireless efforts, but there are a few loose ends. I won’t bore you with the details, after all, do they really matter? The Empire needs you, Captain. Won’t you join us?”
Jaclyn sat down across from the officer.
“But, Jaclyn,” behind her, Larek’s voice was thick with disbelief, “You said, I thought-”
“It’s not what you think,” she said, staring at her lap.
“I’m so terribly sorry, how embarrassing,” said the officer. “Perhaps I am mistaken.”
He produced a small device from his jacket pocket and clicked a button. A holographic video projected on the coffee table. Cheering Galactic Republic soldiers choked a Star Destroyer landing strip as they surrounded a TIE-fighter. A young pilot nimbly leaped from the cockpit. She removed her helmet, revealing a young Jaclyn, grinning and pumping her fist.
Jaclyn stiffened, hearing her husband gasp and her boys, not understanding, grow excited.
“It’s Mama!” shouted Zak. “Look, it’s Mama!”
“I want to see it again!” Remmi pleaded.
The blue light of the holograph reflected in the steely eyes of the officer as hundreds of Separatist fighter jets exploded in the living room. “Am I confusing you with another Jaclyn Antarres?”
“No, sir,” Jaclyn whispered. “That was me.”
“Oh good!” The officer clicked the button and the image disappeared.
“Aw, no fair!”
“Quiet, boys,” barked Larek.
“You had me worried for a moment that I had come to the wrong house!” Continued the officer, seemingly oblivious to the family tension. “You know how government bureaucracy can be so messy.”
“Yes, sir,” said Jaclyn. She didn’t dare look at her husband. She could feel his stare burning into the back of her neck. “I’m afraid I can’t accept this honor, sir. I just had a baby, you see, and-”
“You won’t reconsider?”
“Well, maybe when the baby is older, I could-”
Jaclyn didn’t notice more guards had already filed into the living room, surrounding her family.
The officer stood. “I’m afraid, then, that we are no longer asking.”
Zak and Remmi had never been off-planet before and Jaclyn wished she could have enjoyed their wonder as their home planet became smaller and smaller beneath them. At least it took their minds off the cuffs around their wrists and ankles. Larek held the baby, his eyes closed. When she reached over and put her hand on his knee, his eyes snapped open. The fury in his face made her recoil.
“Captain? So you were good at murdering people, were you?”
“Larek, please, I can’t be blamed-”
“You worked for them,” he hissed. “You lied to me.”
“Larek, I was young, I was broke, it was a job. I didn’t know.”
“The Clone War was nearly over. The Purge had already happened. Don’t tell me you didn’t know.”
“It was a job.”
“For the wrong side.”
“For the winning side.”
“Larek, it worked out for us.”
“Has it? Our children are in chains, Jaclyn.”
“I’ll fix this, I’ll-”
“Kill when you’re commanded. Like a good Imperial dog.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Fair?! My parents were murdered by the Empire. My childhood home was razed to the ground because we were accused of harboring Jedi. For all I know, it was you that did it.”
“No, I never fought on the ground, I was only a pilot, I was only-”
The ship jolted as it entered the tractor beam of the Star Destroyer. Tears brimmed in Larek’s eyes as his children cooed at the size of the warship. Jaclyn looked at her feet. She’d seen plenty before.
The Reed family was herded to the detention level and Jaclyn noticed quite a few other families, their civilian clothes pitably plain next to the gleaming white stormtroopers that patrolled the halls. Droids zipped and tottered by, ignoring them. She could tell the other former pilots by the guilt on their faces and the betrayed looks on their spouses’. She wished she could hold Zak and Remmi’s hands.
“I don’t want you to go, Mama.”
“I know, darling, Mama will be right back, I promise I’ll be right back.” They were in a cell now, much nicer than Jaclyn would have expected. It was square and squat, but there were chairs and a thick glass window that looked out into the hallway. Red, black, and white uniforms passed by outside. Perhaps they only planned to intimidate, nothing more.
“Please don’t go, please don’t leave me.”
Jaclyn ran her hand through her son’s hair, but before she could speak the guards roughly grabbed her arms and drug her out of the cell, slamming the door behind them, cutting off the wails of her children.
Jaclyn whipped her arms around and released herself. The officer stood impassively in the hallway.
“Was that really necessary?!” She snapped. “We’ve come quietly, haven’t we?!”
“And we’ve been more than patient. Your fleet awaits you, Captain, and we don’t have time for any more sentimental moments.”
A hissing sound filled the hallway. Jaclyn looked up and then through the glass window into her family’s cell. Larek could hear it, too, and was gathering the boys around him.
“What’s happening? What are you doing to them?”
“That is their air supply leaking into the hallway.”
“The general is so very fond of games and incentives. For every rebel ship you take down, another liter of oxygen will replenish your family’s cell.”
“One,” she choked. “One liter?!”
“The average adult needs 550 liters of oxygen a day,” said the officer cheerily. “So I hope for their sake, Captain, you have very good aim.”
Jaclyn rammed herself against the glass window, watching her children’s mouths open in screams that she couldn’t hear. Seeing her, they broke free of their father and ran to the window, faces red and wet with tears. Their fingers couldn’t reach the glass. She looked up at Larek, who only stared back at her from across the cell, his eyes empty. The hissing stopped.
Not bothering to wipe her eyes, Jaclyn turned to the officer. “Take me to my ship.”
Black uniform hugging her body, helmet under her arm, Jaclyn strode toward the landing strip, callously ignoring salutes from lesser officers as she passed. She recognized no one from the old days and bitterly envied her former compatriots who managed to disappear or die young. She put on her helmet and climbed into the cockpit. Her TIE was an advanced model, though the interior didn’t feel much different from her old ship; the controls had a nicer font and the seats were leather. The escalating whirr of the ship’s engine sent adrenaline shivers through her body. It felt like home, she conceded guiltily.
How easy it is to shed your humanity in space, she thought, dazed as it came time for her ship to launch into the black. After all, the X-wings weren’t filled with people, they were filled with oxygen. And Captain Antarres intended to get every last one.