“TK-421, why aren’t you at your post?”
These words will forever go down in infamy as the beginning of the end. Not the end of the Empire, per se, but the end of their first Death Star, the end of millions of lives, and the end, arguably, of an era of tyranny. Thanks to the failures of a hapless stormtrooper, a space station exploded and an empire began to crumble. But who exactly is this trooper, and how did he get his designation?
Not much is known of TK-421 before his service to the Empire. He was an average citizen with a desire to work for his government. He probably had an average life, potentially on an agricultural world, and decided that farming just wasn’t for him. But rather than go on to be Luke Skywalker, TK-421 decided that the best way to aid the Rebellion was simply to be as incompetent as possible. So, he became a stormtrooper. It seemed like a good career move at the time. Good pay, cool armor, a neat laser gun, health benefits, and a nice cushy posting to the biggest space station the galaxy has seen. And for a while, it was a pretty sweet gig. Sure, the food wasn’t the best, but good ol’ TK figured that you couldn’t beat the job security.
Boy, was he wrong.
But let us consider his name, or rather, his designation: TK. TK stands for Team Killer, which is something he (inadvertently) did end up doing. That’s a pretty unfortunate designation for a random stormtrooper, so you have to wonder if some greater power wasn’t at work behind the scenes. And there was indeed, in the form of the Emperor.
You see, the Emperor was an avid holo-gamer back in his days on Naboo, and had of course picked up on the slang that came with the territory. And he knew that modern military training was no match for clones grown from birth to fight, so poor marksmanship didn’t raise any eyebrows. However, one particular trooper was such a poor shot that his instructor was known to say that he was THE WORST shot he had ever seen, and he had once seen a rancor fire a laser cannon.
Palpatine, during one of his meditations, felt echoes of frustration and despair, and upon investigating discovered the instructor and his hapless trainee. With a few Force nudges, Palpatine was able to, over the course of the training, bring the trooper up to par. And, with a few gentle prods here and there, he was also able to change the unit’s designation to TK. TK-421 was the four hundred and twenty first stormtrooper of the TK graduating class, and was promptly sent with the rest of his unit somewhere they couldn’t cause too much damage.
Palpatine promptly forgot about his prank, after he had told Vader and the two of them had had a hearty chuckle. They continued to be bad guys without incident for the next few years. However, they were both rudely reminded of it after the destruction of the Death Star when they had the records (which were backed up remotely as a matter of course) examined. Needless to say, Emperor Palpatine renounced his predilection for practical jokes that day, and demanded that another Death Star be built, but no TK-designated unit was ever to be allowed on board under any circumstances.