- TK-421: "That was quick, G7. Fastest mouse droid in the fleet. It's those new rotors I put in, I'm telling you. You know what: We should get you on a racing circuit. Would you like that?"
09:12.15... BIOFORM QUERY"would you like that"
LOGGED. RESPONSE REQUIRED, AFFIRMATIVE:
- MSE-6-G735Y: «Beepbeep.»
- ―TK-421 and MSE-6-G735Y [src]
"Of MSE-6 and Men" is a short story in the anthology From a Certain Point of View. The story, written by Glen Weldon, focuses on the point of view of MSE-6-G735Y, an MSE-6 series repair droid aboard the Death Star.
- [accent slipping] "It's lovely. Coruscant fiberweave, isn't it?"
"...It is indeed. I see there's more to you than meets the eye, trooper."
[natural voice] "Ooh, it feels so nice between my toes! That's quality, you can tell, that's craftsmanship!...Uh. Um." [faux accent] "Where kin ah set down mah armor, sir? While ah work?"
"On the chair next to the bed, trooper....That's veermok hide, by the way. Nasty creatures."
[faux accent] "Golly! Very impressive, sir!"
- ―TK-421 and the officer with security level Alpha One
At 08:00.01, the MSE-6 series repair droid MSE-6-G735Y exits sleep mode and is dispatched to the Maintenance Unit in Sector AA-345 of the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station. Stormtrooper TK-421 sends it to deliver a scanner servo to stormtrooper TK-450 at Docking Bay 228. At Docking Bay 228, TK-450 receives the tool and asks what took so long, as there are twelve starships awaiting scanning crews. G7 stops listening mid-sentence, which makes TK-450 respond that the droid has clearly been programmed by TK-421, whom TK-450 believes would be unable to endure demanding Imperial officers like General Cassio Tagge, Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, and Darth Vader.
Arriving back at Sector AA-345, TK-421 compliments the droid, which he calls "G7," for being the fastest mouse droid in the fleet; in fact, TK-421 has dreams of setting up a racing business with G7 on Coruscant. He confides to the droid that he feels trapped on the station. Although he prefers its soothing aesthetics and flattering lighting to the depressingly sallow Lasan, he hates his rigorous stormtrooper routine including constantly wearing a helmet, which is having negative effects on his skin. When he tells G7 to look at him, the droid interprets the words as a command to activate the holorecorder and records TK-421 removing his helmet to complain about having a pimple the size of a Kowakian monkey-lizard on his chin. The droid then enters standby mode.
Later, TK-421 awakens G7 and sends it to deliver a HypnoHypodermal Injector Needle C-7R for an IT-O Interrogator in Detention Block AA-23. There, G7 is opened by a bioform who will soon be identified as Lieutenant Blagg. Blagg is in a hurry as someone will soon arrive to investigate whether the prisoner's interrogation will begin on schedule, and Blagg ordered the infuser needle two subcycles ago. Blagg orders G7 to leave quickly, and as his Gamma level security clearance is higher than TK-421's Lambda, this supersedes TK-421's cargo delivery order. When G7 races away at top speed, it collides with the bioform arriving from the turbolift. G7 detects that the Imperial officer has security level Alpha One, and that it knocked down the officer and damaged its own holorecorder matrix in the collision. The high-level officer talks to Blagg about melting the droid for scrap and disciplining the trooper who dispatched the droid in such a sorry condition at a crucial time for the Empire. The damaged G7 is unable to stop itself from malfunctioning and displaying the holo-recording of TK-421 complaining about his pimple. The officer remarks that TK-421 looks beautiful and tells G7 to play back the whole message. The droid processes the officer's security level as superseding all known commands and subroutines, but it is unable to comply as the holorecorder is in unrecoverable failure.
Blagg asks the officer if they should begin interrogating the prisoner, but the officer tells him that it will be done by Darth Vader, who relishes the work. The officer is there to ensure Blagg is on schedule after receiving reports and sarcastically says he does not want to rush him. He is leaving to ice his bruised hip and will deal personally the stormtrooper that dispatched the willful droid. All Blagg is to do is stop making excuses and prepare the interrogrator droid for Vader; the prisoner must tell them all that she knows. After criticizing G7 and confirming it can still move and navigate, the officer dispatches it to enter sleep mode in his officer's quarters within Sector GM1-A.
When G7 next comes online, the officer informs G7 that it took a few cycles for him to repair the droid's holorecorder and replace its wheel treads to prevent it from dirtying his expensive new carpet. The officer describes himself as an old man who still remembers his Academy lessons on basic droid mechanics. He tells G7 he is about to record a holomessage for G7 to deliver to TK-421, along with an item he has placed in its cargo bay. The officer then invokes Imperial Protocol Alpha One, which overrides all previous directives given to the droid. He orders G7 to shunt the instructions it just received and associated subroutines to the officer's personal ephemeradata-neurocloud, and to not produce geosync data or conduct routine uplinks to the Imperial network; after the instructions are carried out, they will be expunged from the droid's memory.
Back in Sector AA-345 with its memory missing, G7 is greeted by TK-421 after he views the holomessage and is surprised but flattered that he has caught someone's eye. He muses that if he plays things right, he can get a transfer for himself and G7 to Coruscant, and maybe anything else they want. TK-421 describes the sender as a graysuit who went through the Academy and therefore will find a backwater military grunt appealing. After engaging the holorecorder, TK-421 affects an accent and says he will report to the officer's quarters at once and that it would be an honor to repair the officer's aqualeisure unit, but first he will shower with the antibacterial nanofoam that the officer sent him. TK-421 also adds flattery about the officer's skill in repairing his MSE-6 droid before disengaging the holorecorder, and sending G7 to deliver the message while he makes himself presentable.
In the officer's quarters after another memory loss, G7 hears TK-421 thanking the officer for repairing his droid. The officer invites TK-421 to come inside after removing his armor to avoid tracking grease or other residue on the Coruscant fiberweave carpets, which TK-421 recognizes. The officer tells the trooper to set the armor next to the bed on the chair made from veermok hide, then TK-421 is to go about his business in the aqualeisure unit while the officer prepares for a meeting with the Joint Chiefs. The officer whispers to the droid to execute Imperial Protocol Alpha One, resulting in another memory loss.
Several cycles later, TK-421 awakens G7 in Sector AA-345 and the droid detects he has been upgraded to Beta security level. TK-421 tells it not to worry about its choppy memory; the officer calls this an abundance of caution, and G7 should not take it personally. The officer is very busy and stressed because he is responsible for everything on the station, and although he maintains an icy exterior with other people, he drops it and can just be himself and laugh when he is alone with TK-421. The stormtrooper asks G7 to trust him that it is better off not seeing the messy, complicated human-being stuff. He shares good news about securing a transfer for himself and G7 to station security up on the 300 level, which the officer assured him is a cushy gig. TK-421 next plans to get assigned to the officer's personal detail; after that, he will get them transferred to Coruscant and enter G7 in the droid racing circuit while living in the officer's penthouse, which has a balcony overlooking the Imperial Palace. TK-421 then receives a transmission ordering him to guard a captured light freighter and sends G7 to the officer's quarters.
The officer asks G7 if it has a delivery from TK-421 or is there for another reason, then dismisses his own questioning and tells the droid to bring TK-421 to him immediately, as he is still keyed up after giving an explosive presentation earlier that day. G7 detects that TK-421's helmet geosync beacon is in Docking Bay 327. Intercepting the beacon's path at turbolift bank L301-E, G7's proximity sensors detect three bioforms and initially identify an unknown Wookiee alongside the beacons for TK-710 and TK-421. However, there's a biological anomaly; the bioform wearing TK-421's armor has a negative variance in height from TK-421's stored biodata. G7 is on alert and attempting to reconcile the discrepancy when the suddenly-threatening Wookiee growls in an aggressive display. The droid executes self-preservation flight mode and flees at top speed to Sector AA-345, where it enters sleep mode and loses its memory again.
Upon awakening three cycles later in Sector GM1-A, G7 learns from the officer that TK-421 was murdered by rebels who stole the trooper's armor and stuffed his body into a crawlspace. The officer vows to avenge TK-421 by annihilating the last pitiful dregs of the Rebellion. The officer admits that he had plans for TK-421 and for them together. At that point, G7 receives a report of an explosion on 100 level, Sector GM1-B, Corridor L104E. G7 attempts to leave, but the officer orders it to ignore the ongoing inconsequential attack and instead witness the battle station's awesome destructive power. He orders the droid to follow him to the command bridge after a short delay and stay out of the way while they both watch the destruction of the rebel base.
En route, G7 is caught in an explosion and suffers catastrophic damage. As the station enters firing range, the droid is picked up by a stormtrooper who offers to clean and repair G7 after the battle. The stormtrooper is interrupted mid-sentence while observing that G7's streaks of carbon scoring look like racing stripes.
The short story "Of MSE-6 and Men" was written by Glen Weldon for the anthology From a Certain Point of View, which was released by Del Rey on October 3, 2017. The anthology collects 40 short stories for the 40th anniversary year of the 1977 original trilogy film, Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. The stories are told from the viewpoints of minor and background characters in the film; in "Of MSE-6 and Men," the viewpoint character is the Death Star mouse droid that Chewbacca roared at and scared into fleeing, newly identified as MSE-6-G735Y. The story is presented in the format of the droid's system logs and dialogue it overhears. Names are provided for characters making their first appearances and the previously-unidentified stormtrooper whose armor Han Solo wore. The droid is unable to identify non-stormtrooper characters it encounters by name, but they are identifiable for readers through context clues.
Weldon expressed his amazement with a sample of the audiobook adapation, having thought his story may not be adaptable for the audio format, and complimented voice actor Jonathan Davis. On the release day, he reminded people to check out the audiobook.
After the release of 2017 sequel trilogy film, Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, Weldon addressed a theory that the "broom boy" Temiri Blagg had a connection to a new character introduced in this story, Lieutenant Blagg. According to Weldon, he made up a Star Wars-y sounding name and was not contacted by Lucasfilm Ltd. regarding it.
Several stories in the anthology present timelines for A New Hope that are incompatible with the others, including "Of MSE-6 and Men," which begins on the cycle that Darth Vader begins interrogating Leia Organa. After 2.52 cycles pass, the officer is preparing for a meeting with the Joint Chiefs, then 7.52 cycles pass before Alderaan is destroyed and the Millennium Falcon is captured. Finally, another 3.73 cycles pass before the Battle of Yavin. In the story "An Incident Report" by Daniel M. Lavery, the Joint Chiefs meet and Darth Vader Force chokes Conan Antonio Motti on one day, and Alderaan is destroyed the following day. "Eclipse" by Madeleine Roux says that multiple days pass between the time that Breha Organa learns the Imperial Senate was disbanded and Bail Organa arrives to tell her the Tantive IV was destroyed; another two days pass before the Death Star destroys Alderaan. "End of Watch" by Adam Christopher separates the Death Star's presence at Scarif and its capture of the Falcon by three days. "Duty Roster" by Jason Fry places the Battle of Scarif and the Battle of Yavin a few days apart, but "Grounded" by Greg Rucka separates them by one week.
The stormtrooper identified as TK-710 was previously referred to as "TX-4120" in the 2015 Star Wars LINE Webtoon, a comic series originally released in Korean. LucasBooks executive editor Jennifer Heddle has said the series is in a grey area regarding its canonicity.
TK-421 describes the penthouse apartment on Coruscant as facing "the Imperial Palace ruins;" however, the location has not made appearances in ruins during this time frame.
The veermok species was introduced to the current Star Wars canon in the 2014 novel Tarkin, written by James Luceno, as a subspecies on the titular character's homeworld, Eriadu. A trial in his youth involved surviving and defeating Eriadu veermoks in their territory, the Carrion Spike, to learn formative lessons about controlling and breaking others with terror and violence; he subsequently named his personal starship the Carrion Spike. In the 2020 Marvel Comics Star Wars series, Tarkin decided upon his sole protégé, Ellian Zahra, through a task that involved hunting an albino veermok and her fellow candidates on Eriadu.
In reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and the Jedi Council Forums, the positive reviews highlight aspects such as the mixture of tragedy and comedy and how it humanizes Imperials. Elements of negative reviews include a superior officer having an affair with a subordinate and the perceived retcon of a character's sexual orientation as depicted in Star Wars Legends. The story's droid log format drew mixed praise for creativity and criticism for repetitiveness, and the depiction of a physical relationship between two men also drew polarized responses. The identity of the superior officer was also discussed.
Although the name of the officer is not outright stated in the story or by the author, Weldon has addressed the subject via his Twitter account. When directly asked if the character was Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, he has twice responded with an animated GIF of Tim Heidecker shrugging from the "Balls" episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. He tweeted in advance of publication that his upcoming story featured a droid caught up in the "gay demimonde" on the Death Star; he liked a response from another user who said that "The Grand Moff brings his own demimonde." The day after the anthology was released, he tweeted a screenshot of a mobile browser search for the phrase "tarkin gay", which he paired with another of the character Cersei Lannister smirking and raising a glass of wine while watching her plot unfold in the Game of Thrones episode "The Winds of Winter". He then liked a reply that paraphrased Wilhuff Tarkin speaking to Darth Vader about Leia Organa. On the following day, he joked about dropping a single in response to a tweet in which a user wanted to know what new Star Wars release had said Tarkin is gay. After he tweeted about the Disney Channel announcing its first gay character to say that he is a fan of gay villains, he liked a reply that questioned classifying Tarkin as a villain. Days prior to Halloween, he shared a couple's costume idea that paired pictures of Tarkin and TK-421, and pretended that he had no reason to have an opinion on the matter.
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