The Clone Wars were over, leaving entire civili¬zations in ruin. The Jedi Knights were all but extinct. And the Old Republic — the democratic galactic government that had prevailed for almost 25,000 years — had been replaced by the Galactic Empire.
Yet the Empire’s supreme ruler, the evil Emperor Palpatine, remained hungry for even more power. To expand his rule and crush all remnants of the Old Re¬public, Palpatine had approved the construction of a secret weapon: the Death Star, an immense armored space station that could destroy an entire planet.
The Empire was not without opposition. The Al¬liance to Restore the Republic — commonly known as the Rebel Alliance — led the fight to overturn the Empire and bring justice and freedom back to the galaxy.
After Rebel spies learned of the Death Star project, they managed to intercept an Imperial transmis¬sion of the space station’s technical data. The Rebels hoped the data would reveal a way to destroy the Death Star. The Empire was determined to recover the stolen plans . . . now in the possession of a young Senator from the planet Alderaan, Princess Leia Organa. . . .
Bursts of laserfire streaked after the consular starship Tantive IV, which was racing for the planet Tatooine. The ship was fleeing from the Devastator, an im-mense Imperial Star Destroyer that was firing nearly all its turbolasers at the elusive ship. Both vessels had just entered Tatooine’s orbit when the Devastator’s lasers scored a direct hit on the Tantive IV’s primary sensor array. The array exploded, and the blast over¬loaded the starboard shield projector — which caused another explosion, damaging the power generator system and triggering a chain reaction throughout the ship. With no starboard shield and no power to its engines, the Tantive IV was effectively crippled.
Inside the battered Tantive IV, the crew raced to extinguish fires as more blasts rocked the ship. Strug¬gling to remain on their feet, Rebel crewmen and troops ran through a narrow white-walled passage¬way, taking little notice of the two robots that stum¬bled along with them. The droids were C-3PO, a gold-plated humanoid protocol droid, and his coun¬terpart R2-D2, an astromech with a domed head and cylindrical body who moved on three legs.
“Did you hear that?” C-3PO said to R2-D2 as the Tantive IV’s engines powered down.
“They’ve shut down the main reactor. We’ll be destroyed for sure. This is madness!”
More Rebel troops ran into the main corridor. The two droids stepped aside into a shallow alcove to avoid being trampled. The Rebels took up defensive positions and aimed their weapons at a sealed hatch at the end of the corridor.
C-3PO said, “We’re doomed!”
R2-D2 replied with a series of beeps and whistles.
“There’ll be no escape for the princess this time,” C-3PO said just loud enough for R2-D2 to hear. Mere minutes before the Star Destroyer attacked, the Tantive IV’s commanding officer, Captain Antilles, had issued command/control instructions to the droids, ordering them to restrict and protect all references to Leia Organa’s identity and presence onboard the Tantive IV.
The corridor was suddenly filled with the echo¬ing sounds of metallic latches, clanking and moving around the ship’s outer hull. Hearing the noise, C-3PO asked, “What’s that?”