Lobot Rock

Updated: May 1, 2019

Life’s a gas for the second in command of Bespin’s infamous Cloud City Tibanna mine. Lobot, 42, human, has seen it all, briefly working as a battle analyst for the Empire before going rogue and putting his cyber-enhanced brain implants to use as head of operations in a small but thriving outpost in the outer territories. In another Wild Bantha Weekly exclusive, we will be serializing the opening chapters of his new memoir Head in the Clouds over our next 12 issues beginning with chapter 1: Baldy & Competent.

Day #37743. Monday. Cloudy.

5am. The day begins. Begins with worry. Always worry. Always 5am. Internal morning diagnostic takes 16.8 nanoseconds longer than usual so, concerned something is wrong, I run it again. It insists that I’m fine. Once my worry suppression software is engaged it’s time for breakfast. 4 strips of bacon, french toast and a bowl of All-Bran, all washed down a hot cup of silica-based lubricant solution to keep all processes fluid. Already the first message appears in my head from Baron-Administrator Lando Calrissian (BALC), my superior. Everyone’s superior.

BALC's unfortunate PVC phase

“I just can’t decide...” it said, followed by many pictures of three different capes modelled in increasingly dramatic poses.

“The burgundy,” I reply.

Several more pictures arrive about his choice of open necked shirts and riding boots, which are ignored.

It is an uneventful morning. 70,803 humanoids currently on the station, with 70,802 suspectedly engaged in criminal activity. I will investigate them all. My direct link to the Cloud City Central Computer (4C) allows covert observation of any suspected wrong-doers in the city, 8090 of which are currently showering.

The Ugnaughts in the basement floors continue to be a problem. Their current fad in aggressive up-cycling is beginning to spread to the rest of the station, decoupaging unsuspecting furniture and littering the corridors with coffee tables made from salvaged, disembodied droid heads. My usual silent, stern looks and harsh points of the finger seem to have no influence on them. I had no choice but to send in a security squad with electric cattle prods. Ugnaughts are short and ugly. They will not conform.

1pm. Staff meeting. BALC insists on calling it a working lunch. He arrives at 1:20 in his blue cape. From today, he wants all the vending machines in the city to supply only Dr. Pepper. The president of the Miner’s Union objects and the city procurement officer says it will cause significant supply problems, but BALC is adamant. Decks 7-16 must also be repainted. Various colour schemes are suggested, but the Baron Administrator decided, again, on brilliant white. The ongoing, looming threat of The Empire to every single living being in the city is brought up again briefly. Lando assures us it’s fine. Thankfully my worry suppression software is still fully functioning. The buffet is exceptional.

Day #37744. Tuesday. Cloudy.

4C takes most of the afternoon compiling mining data leaving me with some down time. I successfully beat myself at 5 games of chess and work on my thriller, a noir about a cybernetically enhanced computer liaison who doubles as a secret agent. Boushh, a bounty hunter friend, drops me a hologram saying he’ll be swinging by Bespin in a couple of days between assassination jobs. We should get together and chat. That will be a challenge as his language has a two word vocabulary and I am mute. You can bet he needs money.

Day #37745. Wednesday. Cloudy.

5am. I unplug myself, and consider what I've done with my life.

BALC is being shifty. He asks in a very roundabout way if the carbon freezing facility needs a service and when the batteries were last changed in the torture table. Communication with the carbon freezing department is always laborious. The worker droids get confused by deliberate pointing and eyebrow movements, so all queries and orders must be done directly in binary. JJ72 (the droid shift foreman) informs me that the torture table was damaged when Klytus and General Kala from Flash Gordon visited the station over Christmas. The combined repair and cleaning costs would be so high it would be cheaper buying a new one. A quick look on Amazon proves this is correct, and with free delivery. It’s also an opportunity to order in more space pens. You can never have too many space pens.

Jotto Laak. Or is it Buumshakka? They all look the same if you ask me.

Finally got my cloud car back from the shop. Going by the repair costs, I assume the new alternator must be made of pure gold. It still has two months MOT but Jotto Laak says it’s never too early to book it in. Jotto Laak is not trustworthy. A typical Sullustan. His brother, Buumshakka, runs a chapeau boutique on the promenade. I suspect it’s a money-laundering front for a pirate gang but there’s no evidence. Yet. If you dig deep enough there’s always shit.

Day #37746. Thursday. Cloudy.

BALC has invited me to his place tomorrow night for beers and pizza. I remind him that alcoholic compounds degrade my cybernetic processing membranes, and have several thousand staff appraisals to process for tomorrow. One of these excuses is true. He insists that I attend his poker night this Saturday instead. The last one I went to was truly awful. If I turn him down it will be the fifth time in a row.

The darts team in O’Henry’s is looking for new members. I might apply. Hollyoaks was disappointing. I really wish they’d kill off Tony. Every day I dream of seeing his severed head at the very top of the city’s tallest radio antenna, his sightless eyes fixed on the sunrise and curtains blowing in the breeze.

Day #37747. Friday. Cloudy.

5am. I lie awake. Why is Maroon 5 is still a thing? The computer is insecure this morning, worried that she’s been piling on the terabytes since her messy breakup with the life support sub-processor. I say the next few weeks will be tough. They still have to work together but life goes on. Everything happens for a reason. It seems my cliche limiter needs recalibration. 4C always gets like this. Between you and me, she’s been humping her way through every subsystem on the station.

Go for the eyes.

Security staff training continues. Today we concentrated on non-violent riot control techniques, tactical Wookiee restraint and blaster service/repair. Halfway through the role-play BALC informs us that an intensive crash course in Stormtrooper hospitality will begin for all security staff this coming Monday. When pressed on this, he said learning it was only a formality. I hope to god that’s not a joke. A visit from the Empire would be as welcome as Jabba The Hutt borrowing my roll-on after spin class.

Day #37748. Saturday. Cloudy.

7:30pm. Arrival at BALC’s apartment with a six pack of alcoholic beverages in individual aluminium vessels and a vial of my favourite silica-based lubricant solution. It can’t escape my notice that the neck of his shirt is opened far deeper than usual, all the way to his navel. For some reason I recall the tactical Wookiee restraint exercises from that afternoon. Jotto Laak is there but I avoid him. He’s always small talk. I’m still sore about the alternator situation. 4C isn’t at the party. Extended lengths of time are spent standing on my own. Eventually I strike up a conversation with BALC’s espresso machine about quantum processing, which it is surprisingly informed about. It’s only making coffee to pay its way through college. Could be a vibe there.

9:30pm. Poker begins. BALC loses heavily, despite my giving him a chance by only using 30 of my 6,000,000 probability engines. He says I am banned from all future poker nights.

3am. On returning to my recharge capsule 4C sends me a text drunk out of her mind. She’s got back with the life support sub-processor.

Day #37749. Sunday. Cloudy.

5am. Disconnection of personal internal alarm system.

6pm. Phone in a Dominoes delivery straight to my recharge capsule and watch The Notebook.

10:30pm. After too much silica-based lubricant solution I delete every one of 4C’s old messages. I do not empty the trash folder. I never do.

Day #37750. Monday. Cloudy.

5am. Work ethic set to 125%.

BALC sends me a casual message asking what I think of Darth Vader.

'Head in the Clouds’ is only available to buy in WH Smith, priced £16.99. Quote the code ‘REPUBLICCREDITSWILLDOFINE’ for a pitiful discount.

© 2019 David McMahon.