Part 6: “TK-421! Why Aren’t You At Your Post?” (Because He’s At Bailey’s!)
In honor of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which hits movie theaters today, I thought it would be a good time to finally unveil the secret history of the stormtrooper commonly seen lurking around the premises of Bailey’s Taproom. As any of our loyal regulars know, he may be tiny at just 3 and 3/4 inches tall, but he doesn’t tolerate any drunken rowdiness or Rebel sympathizing… and he’s always on the move. You may see him hanging from a rafter at one minute only to find him inspecting the stereo equipment or perched atop an empty beer bottle the next time you look.
While there’s a nasty rumor going around that he’s just some silly action figure that Geoff (who was well over the age of eight-years-old at the time) sent away for in 1996, with two proofs of purchase off a Fruit Loops cereal box, the truth is far more complicated and much better suited for a lucrative film adaptation, comic book spinoffs, fast food chain marketing campaign, and action figure line all its own (GL Baby: Have your people call mine!).
The truth started when-else and where-else but a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
A fourth-generation clone of the bounty hunter Jango Fett, TK-421 was born in a test tube on the planet Kamino where he was trained as a soldier for the Republic and given growth acceleration treatments to move him into combat more quickly. Dispatched to the front lines of the conflict on Mygeeto, he was one of the troopers who turned against their Jedi General Ki-Adi-Mundi and gunned him down when Supreme Chancellor Palpatine’s Order 66 was activated. Although he did not hesitate to pull the trigger, TK-421 spent many a sleepless night afterwards silently anguishing over the action.
After the last remnants of the Separatist movement had been extinguished and the Jedi purged, TK-421 spent the next eighteen years (or 36 years in growth-accelerated clone time) attempting to preserve the peace in the first Galactic Empire. For several years, it was easy work, putting down an insurrection here, a protest there, gunning down activists and traitorous politicians who dared to question the Emperor’s directives. But then the Rebel Alliance sprung up and proclaimed war against the Empire.
As TK-421 watched his old comrades being phased out of action to be replaced with new clones or fresh recruits, he endured. Though going on 54 in clone years, TK-421 was still considered one of the best troopers in the Imperial army and a better shot than most of the new recruits, who couldn’t hit the broad side of a bantha. But when he was stationed on the Empire’s new Death Star, his slower reflexes caused him to be caught off guard by a scruffy smuggler and a farm boy from Tatooine who were hiding in the hidden smuggling compartments of the spaceship he and his partner, TK-422, had been assigned to search. Knocked unconscious and left in his undergarments, the trooper was humiliated before his commanding officer and immediately kicked out of the Empire.
Spared a soldier’s death when the Death Star was destroyed soon after, TK-421 found himself on Coruscant, alone and purposeless, wearing a spare stormtrooper uniform he had stolen after being discharged. Wandering from cantina to cantina, the former trooper found comfort in various forms of ferment from Bothan brandy to Sullustan gin until he discovered the joys of a good ale. Spicebrew, Corellian ale, Phibian beer, Altorian milk-ale, it didn’t matter… with each new brew, TK discovered that he could enjoy something besides punching and shooting and stabbing.
Deciding to open a brewery of his own on Bespin, TK-421 bought a ship and set off for the planet. But unfortunately for the trooper, he had purchased it discount from a former Gungan Representative’s starship depot. That Gungan, who shall remain nameless, was about as good at designing starships as he was at being a politician or a general, which is to say, he wasn’t very good at all. When TK punched in the coordinates on his Nav computer, he and his ship shot through hyperspace and several dimensions all at once, but instead of ending up on Bespin, he and his ship were shrunken down to kid-friendly, easily collectible size and deposited in our galaxy, on this planet, directly into a full pint of Imperial IPA (speaking of which, the Speakeasy Double Daddy Imperial IPA happens to be on tap right now!).
Literally drowning in beer, TK-421 pulled himself through the foamy head and out of the pint glass, soaked and sputtering. But as the delicious taste of Earth beer slid over his taste buds, he was shocked to find that it was the best tasting stuff he had ever had. It had sublime malt sweetness, huge bittering hops, and the kick of an Ithorian Reek all in the same swallow.
Ever since, TK-421 has agreed to keep guard over Bailey’s Taproom in exchange for his weight in beer… which is really a pretty great deal for us. Offer up a salute the next time you drop by and you’ll see that he’s really not such a bad guy for being, well, a Bad-Guy.