The Memoirs of Father Shiron

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Part 11 - May The Force Be With You

        Falamir, Shiron and Feanar watched spellbound as the space station hangar sprang to life before their eyes.  Everyone had a job to do and they all went about acting it out very convincingly.  Engineers tinkered with various parts of spacecraft and an array of very convincing mechanical and electrical equipment.  Technicians fitted fuelling hoses to the underside of X-Wing fighters or made adjustments to onboard systems. Flight crews checked their suits and double checked their personal life support packs whilst discussing the details of their mission brief.  Droids trundled across the floor.  Alert guards kept their eyes open for trouble.  Someone in a converted forklift truck carefully maneuvered a piece of heavy looking whatever-it-was to wherever it needed to go, with an audible beeping and an amber light flashing away on top.  Steam like smoke issued upwards from several ground vents dotted about the floor.  The noise of conversation and people getting on with various tasks completed the illusion.  Falamir could almost believe it was all totally for real, except for the cameras, sound booms and multitudinous film crew personnel keeping just out of shot.
        Two of the cameras tracked the forklift truck from different angles as it passed in front of the ramp leading up into the Millennim Falcon.  Someone in an officer's uniform stood expectantly at the ramp's bottom.  A third camera on a boom in direct line with the ramp swung in closer as someone could be seen descending.  The sound boom guy hung the large microphone overhead as the man ducked his head to clear the overhanging exit to the ship.
        "It's Harrison Ford!"  exclaimed Falamir exuberantly.  Someone close turned and put their finger to their lips.
        "Sorry!" apologized Falamir in a hard to contain whisper.
        The director surveyed his bank of monitors as Harrison Ford and the officer shook hands and exchanged a greeting.  They walked slowly away from the Falcon in deep conversation, one camera and the sound boom tracking back in front of them as they went.  Another camera panned after them from the side.
        After 20 yards or so they disappeared from view behind a stack of packing cases and the director with his ever present megaphone called out, "And..... Cut.  Can it, that's a take.  Great shot people, thank you.  Reset for scene 18b."
        The director put his megaphone down as Harrison Ford approached, chatting casually to the man in the officer's uniform.
        "Great shot guys, just what we needed."  congratulated the director.
        "No problem Phil, you know I always get a good take in straight after a nap."  answered Harrison.  "What was the delay anyway?"
        "Let me introduce you to my guests," replied the director.  He turned to the party.  "Everyone - Harrison Ford."
        Falamir almost fell over himself to get in first.  He tried to compose himself and offer his hand. 
        "Mr. Ford.  Very...  Very pleased to meet you sir."  he gushed, totally overwhelmed by fanboy hero worship.  He shook Harrison's hand so vigorously that Erendil stepped in to calm him down.
        "I'm sure Mr. Ford would rather you didn't shake his arm off Falamir," he said in an amused tone as he put steadying hands on Falamir's shaking shoulders.
        "Of course.  Yes.  So.. So sorry Mr. Ford sir.  It's just such an honour to meet you.  I'm a really, REALLY big fan."
        "That's OK kid, I get it all the time.  No problem,"  testing his right hand for circulation.  "And who might you be?"
        "Falamir sir.  My name's Falamir.  At you service," he fawned.
        "Pleased to meet you Falamir."  Harrison shot a glance over them all.  "Hey great costumes guys, you must be visiting from Studio 7 right?  How's it going over there?"  Before any of them could answer the director tapped him on the shoulder.
        "I'll explain later."  he said with a odd look in his eyes.
        Harrison seemed quite happy to chat for a while and sign autographs until Falamir made a request to have a tour of the Millenium Falcon.  "I don't see why not.  Any objections Phil?"
        "OK but don't take too long.  I have a schedule to keep and we've lost enough time as it is.  Oh, and another thing;  don't let him touch the controls," the director answered warily.  "He may fly off in it."
        "Oh give me a break," laughed Harrison.
        "I'm not joking!" replied the director with a dead straight face.
        Harrison gave him a quizzical look then chuckled to himself.  "OK guys who's for a quick tour of the Falcon?"
        Erendil and Dick politely declined the offer, preferring to stay put with the director, his comfy chairs and his bottle of whisky but the others all leaped at the chance.
        Harrison led them away and once out of earshot of the director he turned to them with a smile and said, "Poor guy's under a lot of pressure to get this picture made and he likes a drink but I think maybe he's loosing it."
        "He's seen a lot today," replied Presto cryptically.
        Harrison shrugged.  "Whatever."  They followed him up the ramp and into the Falcon like a group of excited school children on a field trip.
        "What a piece of junk!" exclaimed Shiron.
        "She'll make point five past light-speed.  She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid."  replied Falamir with a huge grin.
        "Hey, are you guys quoting my lines?"  asked Harrison slightly amused.
        "Sorry couldn't resist it Mr. Ford sir," the two replied.  "We've seen the films so many times we know all the dialogue off by heart.  Do you want to hear some more?  Test us, go on."
        "Just Harrison will be fine guys, no need to be so formal and no, please that's OK, I believe you.  Really.  You must know them much better than me anyway, after all it's been quite a while since I spoke those lines."  He guided them round the interior of the Falcon which despite being a film prop was remarkably well detailed and very realistic looking.  He let them sit in the cockpit pilot's seats and was rather puzzled by Feanor's and Presto's insistence that Falamir shouldn't 'pretend' to try and fly the ship.  He thought they were being a bit over protective, it was only a wood mockup with some coloured plastic stick on buttons and a few flickering lights all held together with gaffer tape, hardly delicate or expensive stuff.  The kid was obviously a big fan and overly enthusiastic but couldn't do any real harm.
        After showing them round the rest of the ship they all re-emerged down the ramp and went back to the director who was deep in conversation with Dick and Erendil.
        "That was excellent.  Thanks very much Mr. Ford......er......Harrison." enthused Falamir.  The others agreed all nodding their heads with slightly dreamy expressions on their faces.
        "Where's Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia and Darth Vader and........."
        "Mark and the others aren't in these scenes so aren't on set today I'm afraid," cut in the director.  He bent down and produced a box from under his chair which he offered to Falamir.  "But I've been talking with your colleagues and considering your, ahem, 'performance' earlier I thought you might like these as souvenirs.  They could be especially useful to you in your line of work."
        Falamir opened the box and squealed with delight when he saw what was inside.  "Oh Wow! Oh Wow!!"  He was literally shaking as he showed it to the others.  The box contained two lengths of shaped moulded plastic not unlike glorified broom handle ends, roughly 7 inches long.
        "Lightsabers.  Oh Wow!"  He took one for himself and gave the other to Shiron who was equally excited.
        "Can we try them out?" they both pleaded.
        "Please be my guest, but be careful and try not to cut anyone's head off," the director cautioned. 
        Harrison looked amused but the director gave him a strange look and  motioned him to stand back.  Harrison noticed the others move back to create a safe distance between them and the two excited youngsters and began to look rather puzzled.
        Shiron and Falamir took up positions facing each other holding their glorified broom handle ends like swords in an offensive ready stance.  They smiled at each other.
        "I've been waiting for you Obi-Wan.  We meet again, at last.  The circle is now complete.  When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master."
        "Only a master of evil Darth."  replied Shiron.  They both thumbed a button on their handles and a blazing shaft of shimmering light sprang from the end of each, one blue, the other green.  They formed glowing blades of energy about 3 feet long.  The arching beams buzzed and hummed and caused the hair on their arms to stand up.  The air around them fairly crackled with static electricity.
        "Holy cow!" exclaimed Harrison as he instinctively reacted to the surprise.  He watched in slack jawed amazement as the two youngsters squared up to each other with what appeared to be fully functional lightsabers.  Looking around he noticed he was the only one who seemed to be surprised by this.  Everyone else was watching with amusement and a certain knowing satisfaction.  A large crowd was forming.  This was unbelievable.
        Falamir and Shiron swished their sabers two and fro, testing their weight and balance.  The blades moved through the air with a pleasing throbbing swooshing noise.  Happy with the feel of their weapons they made careful mock attacks and blocks against each other.  The pleasing throbbing hum changed to a loud and angry crackling buzz whenever the two blades clashed, causing some spectators to shield their ears and a few to stand a bit further back from the energy sparks that flew off.
        After a couple of minutes of sparring the two drew apart and stood facing each other with their blades held vertically before them in salute to a worthy opponent.  They bowed slightly and then both extinguished their blades in unison which made a final swooshing hiss as they went out.
        "Bravo gentlemen.  Bravo," applauded the director who approached with a wide smile.  "I may create movie magic but you are truly the genuine article.  The real deal as we say.  I will treasure this experience."
        "That's incredible.  How on earth did they do that Phil?" asked an incredulous Harrison.
        "Beats me but they can work the props as if they were the real thing.  Have a go yourself."
        Falamir offered his Lighstaber handle to Harrison who took it gingerly and examined it.  He held it out and thumbed the button.  Nothing.  He handed it to the director.  Nothing again.
        "Let me try," offered Erendil who had been watching events with interest.  To his surprise nothing happened for him either.
        "Give us a go," enthused Presto.  He took the saber handle from Erendil and Shiron gave his to Feanar.  They squared up to each other eagerly expecting to have a real lightsaber battle just like their friends but to their massive disappointment the blades refused to appear.  "Are they broken?" he appealed.  They gave them back and saw the pulsating energy blades burst into life as soon as Shiron and Falamir activated them.
        "Amazing," exclaimed Harrison shaking his head.  "Now I see why you didn't want them playing with the Falcon's controls!"
        "But they only work for the two of them, and not the others," commented the director.  "How interesting."
        "These are fantastic," enthused Shiron.  "Just think what we can do with them on our adventure.  They're a sword that can slice through anything in one go and can be used as a torch as well.  Also when we're not using them they're small and easy to carry, just hang them from your belt.  Superb!"
        "I could train to be a Jedi," said Falamir with fire in his eyes.
        "Wait a minute though Shiron," joined in Dick who had been watching events with interest whilst looking after the director's bottle.  "I don't want to rain on your parade but cleric's can't use bladed weapons can they?"
        "Oh I never thought of that," answered Shiron who looked like someone who has had the rug pulled from under them.
        "No need to worry on that score gentlemen," added the director.  "When we use them in filming they're just a plastic rod coated with light reflecting paint with all the glowing and humming added in later by special effects.  That's in practice but we're talking theory here aren't we?  What you've got there is a genuine lightsaber functioning exactly how George Lucas imagined them to."
        "So what exactly is it?" asked Shiron anxious to know what the man was getting at.
        "Well.  The way I understand it the lightsaber is supposed to be an electrical weapon."
        Falamir entered fanboy dialogue mode again.  "This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight.  Not as clumsy or random as a blaster.  An elegant weapon for a more civilised day."
        Harrison gave him a wink.  The director continued.
        "Quite so.  It is actually a stream of high intensity electrical energy generated and focused by a crystal, something akin to a laser which is held in the shape of a sword blade by a strong magnetic field.  The saber burns through things rather than cuts like a conventional sword.  The blade if you can call it that is pure electrical energy.  This explains why there is no blood spraying everywhere - the wound is cut and cauterised at the same time.  This enables us to apply for a lower rating for the picture from the censors so it can screen to a younger and wider audience.  George was very shrewd in that."
        "So what you're saying," Shiron said with building excitement, "is that there is no blade or cutting edge at all.  Technically speaking a lightsaber is not a bladed weapon?"
        "Precisely."
        "Alright!"  He exchanged a high-five with Falamir who was grinning like an idiot.
        "You know it's funny.  Fans are always keen to get their hands on film props for souvenirs but I never expected to be giving them away to people who can use them for real.  Most strange.  At least they'll be used for a worthwhile purpose and not just stuck in a display case or sold to the highest bidder.
        Realising they were on to a good thing with all this Falamir pulled Shiron close and whispered something in his ear.  They conversed in secrecy for a few moments and then Shiron turned once again to the director.
        "Erm.  We've got one more thing to ask of you sir," enquired Shiron in a slightly wheedling 'we're pushing our luck' kind of way.
        "Yes?"
        "As you know we are professional adventurers and as such need to wear armour of some sort.  Falamir and myself are the only members of our party who are wearing chain mail.  Everyone else has got plate mail which is much more effective although much heavier.  We were wondering if we could purchase a set of stormtrooper armour as on us it would be real.  They are supposed to be extremely resilient, enough to stop a glancing shot from a blaster in fact, but also extremely light to wear."
        "They're certainly light," agreed Harrison.  "When I wore one running around in the Death Star scenes apart from it being a bit restrictive I hardly knew I had it on."
        "Well I don't know," replied the director.  "Giving away a couple of lightsaber handles is one thing but stormtrooper armour is quite another matter.  They're not exactly cheap to make you know and I don't have that many full resin suits.  Most of the ones you see in the films are just painted cardboard!"
        "We know that so I have a proposition which could be quite profitable for you."  This piqued the director's interest so he indicated for Shiron to continue.
        "We are prepared to exchange a suit of stoormtrooper armour for our chain mail.  Your costume armour will be real armour on us but these chain mail suits are real chain mail - 100% genuine antique medieval chain mail.  Just think how much they would be worth.  Certainly many times more than the cost of making a couple more prop suits from a mould......."
        Dollar signs rung up in front of the director's eyes with an almost audible 'kerching'.
        "All off the record of course," added Shiron.  The director didn't really have to think about it for too long.
        "It's a deal," he replied, shaking Shiron's hand with one hand and waving Chet over with the other.  "Chet, be a darling and show these two gentlemen to wardrobe and see they get fitted out in full suits of the good trooper armour for me would you?"  Turning back to Shiron he added, "do you want blasters as well?"
        "I think they've bent the rules way past breaking point as it is," interjected Erendil.  "I wonder how certain people will react to all this, they've been strangely quiet up to now," he added pointedly with a quizzical skyward look.  The party members all got the message.
        Fifteen minutes later Shiron and Falamir reappeared looking like real stormtroopers.  The white plastic armour matching perfectly with their trainers.  They handed over their chain mail to the director who fairly buckled under the weight.
        "Very good gentlemen," he said with some effort.  "Everyone is happy.  Oh and one final thing.  If you give your names to Chet here we'll see to it that you get on the VIP list for the premier."
        They all thanked him enthusiastically and duly mobbed Chet who diligently wrote their details down, eyebrows raising a few times with the odd sounding names.  Then Shiron turned to the director and asked him the question burning on every expectant fan's lips.
        "So what is the new film called?"
        "Ah, that's a secret.  We can't give everything away can we?" replied the director with a wink.  "You'll just have to wait and see.  Well we really must get on with the filming now, can't afford to loose any more time, enjoyable though it has been.  You are welcome to stay and watch for longer if you wish."  Several of them made approving noises but Erendil stepped in again and spoke.
        "Thank you for your hospitality but we have delayed long enough and really must be getting on with our business.  We have spent quite a long time here - around 11 sides in fact and so really should depart before the adventure moves on and leaves us behind."  He tested his bad leg.  "That said the layover has given me a much needed rest and allowed my injury to heal up quite well."
        Dick took one last crafty swig from the director's now decidedly less full bottle and gave him a hearty slap on the back.  The director tottered and almost lost his balance under the weight of the chain mail he was cradling but he gave Dick a friendly nod.
        "Why don't you keep it," he added as he observed the reluctance with which Dick left the bottle behind.  "You're obviously a man with good taste in liquor and I can easily replace it.  Be my guest."  Dick's mouth widened into a large grin as he took the director up on his offer and carefully stowed the bottle away in his pack.
        They all shook hands with Harrison and the director (with difficulty), gathered up their equipment and said their farewells.  As they turned to leave Harrison called to Falamir.  "Hey kid.  May the Force be with you!"
        Falamir and Shiron responded in kind and with waves and smiles followed the others away, the pair of them strangely resplendent in their white stormtrooper plate mail.  Harrison turned to the director.
        "We'd better keep this story to ourselves Phil, no-one'll believe us anyway."
        "You've got that right enough," he agreed, finally loosing his fight to hold on to the weight of the chainmail which crashed and clinked loudly to the floor.  "Chet.  Have these taken to my trailer would you please - and make sure it's locked afterwards!"

The party made it's way to the door it had bolted through so many pages ago and took one last look back at the bustling film set before leaving.  They passed through the doorway and Presto closed the door firmly behind him.  They found themselves back in the dark corridor again.

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Here endeth Part 11.
Don't miss the next episode 'Ghosties & Goolies'
Coming soon.

 

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Copyright John Angus Walker 1986, 2004.  All right reserved.