TITLE CARD: The Milky Way Galaxy, a long time from now….
A vast sea of stars serves as the backdrop for the main title, followed by a rollup, which crawls up into infinity.
It is a period of civil war. Rebel starships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armoured space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.
Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy….
To the topaz desert planet of Tatooine, her two moons glowing against the darkness.
The Tantive IV, a small Rebel CR90 corvette, races through space, pursued closely by the Devastator, an immense Imperator-class Star Destroyer. Between the two ships streak innumerable laser beams. The red beams from the Tantive’s batteries are too weak to pierce the Devastator’s deflector shields. Conversely, the Star Destroyer’s green beams overwhelm the corvette’s shields, penetrating the metal hull.
INT. TANTIVE IV/MAIN CORRIDOR
An explosion rocks the ship as two cyborgs, ARTOO-DETOO and SEE-THREEPIO, struggle through the turbulent passageway. Artoo’s brain is encased within a short barrel-shaped tripod, his face a mass of computer lights surrounding a radar eye. Threepio, on the other hand, is encased within a tall slender robot body of human proportions, his bronze plating of an Art Deco design. Both cyborgs are old, their bodies battered.
C-3PO: Did you hear that?
Power throughout the vessel fails. The lights wink out, casting the passage into darkness, and anything not bolted, strapped, or otherwise affixed in place begins floating about the now-zero-G environment, including the two cyborgs.
C-3PO: They’ve shut down the main reactor. Madness, this is madness. This time we’ll be destroyed for sure!
The emergency lights kick in, flooding the corridor with blood-red illumination. Outfitted with magnetic boots, REBEL SECURITY OFFICERS rush into the passageway. Ignoring the cyborgs, they take up position before the sealed entry hatch, aiming their guns toward the door.
C-3PO: We’re doomed.
The little R2 unit makes a series of electronic sounds that only another cyborg could understand.
C-3PO: There’ll be no escape for the captain this time.
Tension mounts as loud metallic latches clank and the scream of heavy equipment are heard moving around the outside hull of the ship.
C-3PO: What’s that?
The smaller Rebel ship is being drawn into the underside dock of the giant Imperial starship.
INT. TANTIVE IV/MAIN CORRIDOR
Once inside the Devastator’s artificial gravity, the cyborgs hit the deck. They hurry to right themselves.
The nervous officers keep their weapons trained on the hatch. Suddenly a tremendous blast opens it up. A score of fearsome armoured IMPERIAL STORMTROOPERS pour into the smoke-filled corridor.
The entire passageway is suddenly ablaze with plasmafire. The blue bolts from the Rebel guns disperse against the stormtroopers’ reactive armour, imparting little damage, but the stormtroopers’ red bolts have no trouble burning clean through the Rebels’ gray-&-black uniforms.
As the battle rages around Artoo and Threepio, the two hapless cyborgs scramble to safety.
The stormtroopers through, an awesome, seven-foot-tall figure emerges into the red light of the passageway in their wake. This is DARTH VADER, First Knight of the Sith, right hand of the Dark Lord of the Sith. Clad in black-&-chrome armour and flowing black robes and cloak, his face obscured under a grotesque death’s head breath mask, he stands out next to the white armoured foot soldiers.
Everyone instinctively backs away from the imposing warrior. A deathly quiet sweeps through the Rebel troops.
INT. TANTIVE IV/SUBCORRIDOR #1
A girl’s hand slips a datacard into an opening in Artoo’s dome.
INT. TANTIVE IV/SUBCORRIDOR #2
Threepio stands in another subcorridor, somewhat bewildered. Artoo is nowhere in sight. The pitiful screams of the doomed Rebels can be heard in the distance.
C-3PO: Artoo-Detoo, where are you?
A familiar clanking sound attracts Threepio’s attention. He spots little Artoo at the end of the subcorridor in a smoke-filled alcove, a beautiful sixteen-year-old BRUNETTE standing in front of the astromech. Surreal and out of place, dream-like and half hidden in the smoke, she finishes adjusting something on Artoo’s computer face. She slips out of sight as the little cyborg joins his companion.
C-3PO: At last! Where have you been? Hiding, I suppose.
Stormtroopers can be heard in the distance.
C-3PO: They’re heading in this direction. (beat) What are we going to do‽ They won’t trust the word of Rebel-owned cyborgs that we don’t know anything of value. We’ll be sent to the spice mines of Kessel or smashed into who knows what‽
Artoo scoots past his bronze friend, down the subcorridor. Threepio goes after him.
C-3PO: Wait a minute, where are you going‽
Artoo responds with electronic beeps.
INT. TANTIVE IV/SUBCORRIDOR #3
The evil Darth Vader stands amid the broken and twisted bodies of his foes. The First Knight holds the wounded CAPTAIN RAYMUS COLTON by the neck as an Imperial officer strides up to him.
IMPERIAL OFFICER #1: Nothing, sir. The Death Star plans are not in the main computer.
Vader squeezes the neck of the Rebel officer, who struggles in vain.
DARTH VADER: Where are those transmissions you intercepted? What have you done with those plans‽
CAPT. COLTON: (choking) We intercepted no transmissions! This is a consular ship! We’re on a diplomatic mission!
DARTH VADER: (angry) Chaos take your mission!
Vader tightens his grip around Colton’s throat.
DARTH VADER: (cont’d) If this is a consular ship, where is the ambassador?
The Rebel can no longer speak. There is a gruesome snapping and gurgling, then Colton goes limp. Incensed, Vader tosses the dead captain against the wall, turning to his troops.
DARTH VADER: Commander, tear this ship apart until you’ve found those plans. And bring me the ambassador. I want her alive!
The stormtroopers scurry into the subcorridors.
INT. TANTIVE IV/SUBCORRIDOR #4
The lovely young girl huddles in a small alcove as the stormtroopers search through the ship. She is PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA, a member of the Imperial Senate. The fear in her eyes slowly gives way to anger as the muted sounds of the approaching stormtroopers grow louder. One of the troopers spies her.
STORMTROOPER #1: There she is! Set for stun!
Leia steps from her hiding place, slugthrower pistol in hand. She shoots the trooper full-on in the face; the bullet penetrates his helmet, then his sinuses. She turns to run, but another trooper’s paralyzing ray fells her. The troopers close in, inspecting her inert form.
STORMTROOPER #2: She’ll be all right. Inform Lord Vader we have a prisoner.
INT. TANTIVE IV/SUBCORRIDOR #5
Artoo stops before the small hatch of an emergency lifepod.
C-3PO: You’ve led us through half the ship, and to what…?
Artoo snaps the seal on the main latch; a red warning light begins flashing. The stubby cyborg works his way into the cramped four-person pod.
C-3PO: Hey, you’re not permitted in there! It’s restricted to humans only. (beat) We just might be able to convince the Imperials that we’re not Rebel-programmed and are too valuable to break up, but if someone sees you in there we haven’t got a chance. Come on out.
Artoo beeps something to him.
C-3PO: Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glob of grease! Now come out before somebody sees you.
Artoo whistles something at his reluctant friend regarding the mission he is about to perform.
C-3PO: Secret mission? What plans? What are you talking about? I’m not getting in there!
Artoo isn’t happy with Threepio’s stubbornness; he beeps and twangs angrily.
A new explosion, this time very close, sends dust and debris through the narrow subcorridor. Flames lick at Threepio and, after a flurry of electronic swearing from Artoo, the lanky cyborg slips into the lifepod.
C-3PO: (resigned) I’m going to regret this.
EXT. TANTIVE IV
The safety door snaps shut, and with the thunder of exploding latches the tiny lifepod is ejected from the disabled ship.
On the chief gunnery officer’s screen, the lifepod carrying the two cyborgs speeds away from the stricken Rebel spacecraft.
CHIEF GUNNERY OFFICER: There goes another pod, sir. Instructions?
CAPTAIN: Instruments show no lifeforms. The pod’s release mechanism must have short-circuited or received a false instruction. Don’t waste your power.
Artoo and Threepio look out at the receding Imperial starship. Stars circle as the pod rotates through the ether.
C-3PO: That’s funny, the damage doesn’t look as bad from out here. (beat) Are you sure you know how to pilot this thing?
Artoo beeps an assuring response.
INT. TANTIVE IV/MAIN CORRIDOR
Princess Leia, hands bound, is led along by a squad of briskly marching stormtroopers. They stop in the smokey hallway as Darth Vader emerges from the shadows. The sinister First Knight stares hard at the slight young senator, but she doesn’t flinch.
LEIA: Lord Vader, I should have known. Only you could be so bold. (beat) The Imperial Senate will not sit still for this. When they hear you’ve attacked a diplomatic —
DARTH VADER: Don’t play games with me, Your Highness. You weren’t on any mercy mission this time. You passed directly through a restricted system, ignoring numerous warnings and completely disregarding orders to turn about — until it no longer mattered. (looms in close) I know that several transmissions were beamed to this vessel by spies within that system. When we traced those transmissions back to the individuals with whom they originated, they had the poor grace to kill themselves before they could be questioned. I want to know what happened to the data they sent you.
LEIA: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a member of the Senate on a diplomatic mission to —
DARTH VADER: Your part of the Rebel Alliance. You’re also a traitor. (to troops) Take her away!
Leia is marched away though the blasted entrance. The Imperial commander turns to Vader.
IMPERIAL OFFICER #1: Holding her is dangerous. If word of this gets out, it could generate sympathy for the Rebellion in the Senate. She should be destroyed immediately.
DARTH VADER: No. My first duty is to locate that hidden fortress of theirs. All the Rebel spies have been eliminated. Therefore she is now my only key to discovering its location. I intend to make full use of her. If necessary, I will use her up — but I will learn the location of the Rebel base.
IMPERIAL OFFICER #1: She’ll die before she’ll tell you anything.
DARTH VADER: Leave that to me. (beat) Send out a wide-band distress signal. Indicate that the senator’s ship encountered an unexpected meteor cluster it could not avoid. Readings indicate that the shields were overridden and the ship was hulled to the point of vacating 95% of its atmosphere. Inform her father and the Senate that all aboard were killed.
Another Imperial officer approaches Vader and the commander. They stop and snap to attention.
IMPERIAL OFFICER #2: Lord Vader, the battle station plans are not aboard the ship. There is no valuable information in the ship’s storage banks and no evidence of bank erasure, nor were any transmissions directed outward from the ship from the time we made contact. A malfunctioning lifepod was ejected during the fighting, but it was confirmed at the time that no lifeforms were on board.
DARTH VADER: It could have been a malfunctioning pod — that might also have contained datacards. (beat) Send down a detachment to retrieve them, or to make certain they are not in the pod. We cannot take the chance it was a simple malfunction. See to it personally, Commander. There’ll be no one to stop us this time.
IMPERIAL OFFICER #1: Yes, sir.
EXT. TATOOINE — JUNDLAND — DAY
A death-white wasteland stretches from horizon to horizon. The tremendous heat of the twin suns settles on the lifepod, which rests half-buried in the sand. Having left the lifepod, the two cyborgs clumsily work their way across terrain where rugged desert mesas meet a foreboding dune sea.
C-3PO: What a forsaken place this is. (beat) We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life.
Artoo answers with beeping sounds.
C-3PO: I’ve got to rest before I fall apart. My internals still haven’t recovered from that headlong crash you called a landing.
Suddenly Artoo whistles, makes a sharp right turn, and starts off in the direction of the rocky mesas.
C-3PO: Where do you think you’re going?
A stream of electronic noises pours forth from the small cyborg.
C-3PO: Well, I’m not going that way. It’s much too rocky. This way is much easier.
Artoo counters with a long whistle.
C-3PO: What makes you think there are settlements over there?
Artoo continues to make beeping sounds.
C-3PO: Don’t get technical with me.
Artoo continues to make beeping sounds.
C-3PO: What mission? What are you talking about? (beat) I’ve had just about enough of you! Go your way! You’ll be sandlogged within a day, you nearsighted scrap pile!
Threepio gives the little cyborg a kick and starts off in the direction of the vast Dune Sea.
C-3PO: And don’t let me catch you following me, begging for help, because you won’t get it.
Artoo’s reply is a rather rude sound. He turns and trudges off in the direction of the towering mesas.
EXT. DUNE SEA — DAY
Threepio, hot and tired, struggles up over the ridge of a dune, only to find more dunes which seem to go on for endless kilometres. He looks back in the direction of the now-distant mesas.
C-3PO: That malfunctioning little twerp. This is all his fault! He tricked me into going this way, but he’ll do no better.
In a huff of anger and frustration, Threepio knocks the sand from his joints. His plight seems hopeless. Then a glint of reflected light in the distance reveals an object moving towards him.
C-3PO: Wait, what’s that? (elated) A transport! I’m saved!
The bronze cyborg waves frantically, calling out to the approaching transport.
C-3PO: Over here! Help! Please, help!
EXT. CANYON — SUNSET
The gargantuan rock formations are shrouded in deep shadow and the ominous sounds of unearthly creatures fill the air. Artoo moves cautiously through the eerie canyon, inadvertently making a loud clicking noise as he goes. He hears a distant, hard, metallic sound and stops for a moment. Convinced he is alone, he continues on his way.
In the distance, pebbles tumble down the steep canyon wall and a small dark figure darts into the shadows. A little further up the canyon a slight flicker of light reveals a pair of eyes in the dark recesses only a few metres from the narrow path.
The unsuspecting cyborg rolls along the rugged trail until suddenly, out of nowhere, a powerful electromagnetic ray shoots from the rocks and engulfs him in a radiant light show. He manages an electronic scream before he topples over onto his back. His bright computer lights flicker off, then on, then off again.
Out of the rocks scurry eight quasi-human JAWAS. No taller than Artoo, they wear grubby cloaks and their faces are shrouded so that only their luminescent yellow eyes can be seen. Holstering their ion blasters, they hiss and make odd guttural sounds as they heave the heavy cyborg onto their shoulders and carry him off down the trail.
The eight jawas carry Artoo out of the canyon to a huge tank-like vehicle the size of a four-story house. After welding a small disk to the side of Artoo, they place him under a large tube on the side of the vehicle; the little cyborg is sucked into the giant machine.
INT. SANDCRAWLER/HOLD — SUNSET
It is dim inside the hold area of the sandcrawler. Artoo switches on a small floodlight on his face and stumbles around the scrap heap. The narrow beam swings across rusty parts and an array of grotesquely twisted and maimed robots and cyborgs. He lets out a pathetic electronic whimper.
In the middle of the scrap heap sit a dozen or so cyborgs of various shapes and sizes. Some are engaged in electronic conversation, while others simply mill about. A voice of recognition calls out from the gloom.
A battered Threepio scrambles up to Artoo and embraces him.
C-3PO: (cont’d) It is you! It is you!
EXT. CANYON — SUNSET
The enormous sandcrawler lumbers off.