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Madison slid into the bench seat across from the Star Wars expert. “Okay, so here’s the deal,” she said. “Suppose there’s this big conspiracy where a bunch of people are stockpiling food, weapons, money, medicine and stuff.”

“Okay,” the boy replied. “Like is this for a story?”

“Creative writing assignment,” she lied. “And we don’t know why they are doing it, but it has something to do with Star Wars.”

“Like a fan fiction thing?” a girl asked.

“Yes!” Madison liked that explanation. “Like if I was going to write a Star Wars fanfic, why might I have people stockpiling stuff?”

“Hmm,” the boy replied, looking up at the ceiling. Madison and the rest of the table silently awaited his reply.

“So in the early days of the Empire—so like between episodes three and four—they were still pretending to do things for the common good of the people in the core worlds,” he said.

Madison nodded, pretending she knew what he was talking about.

“All the outer rim planets were coming under imperial control. They had resources, like kyber crystals—”

“For light sabers!” another student interrupted.

“For the death star laser,” a third student corrected.

The expert continued, “Yes, and doonium, which is a super strong metal they need to make the death star. And the empire is collecting all these resources up.”

“Oh, I see,” Madison said. “Stockpiling.”

“Right,” he said. “And Thrawn—”

“One of the emperor’s trusted advisors,” the first girl added.

“Right,” the expert continued, “so Thrawn is like, where are all these resources going? Because he didn’t know about the death star.”

“Okay,” Madison said. “So you’re saying that they could be stockpiling supplies because they need them for a big project.”

“Or what about the way the senators would stockpile aid to send to worlds that were under separatist control?” the girl asked.

“Good point,” the expert replied. “Yeah, so that’s another stockpiling scenario. I guess the common theme is that you need supplies when you go to war, and so you gather them up. Maybe the people in your story are preparing for a war.”

“It was called Star Wars for a reason,” the girl said. “You see a lot of parallels between those story lines and real-life wars that have happened in our history. Like the empire is similar to the Nazis.”

“And the rebels vs. the separatists is like our civil war,” another student added.

“And the blockade of Naboo is like the blockade of Berlin,” the expert said. “If your characters were expecting to be dealing with a blockade, they’d need to gather supplies like that.”

“What about a disaster relief scenario?” Madison asked.

The students at the table all stared at her.

“I mean, like what if they were expecting some kind of a disaster to happen, and they were getting stuff in advance of that. Like how everyone goes to buy bread and milk before a snowstorm?”

“You’re asking what kind of a disaster would fit with the Star Wars canon?” the expert asked.

“Yeah,” Madison replied.

“The death star blowing up Alderaan was a disaster, but there were no survivors,” he said. “It’d have to be something that left people behind.”

“Well if you think about all those battles, a lot of them took place on planet surfaces,” the girl said. “That’d leave a real mess for the people who survived. Crops burned. Homes destroyed.”

“That’s a good point, too,” the expert agreed. “War is like one disaster after another.”

“That’d make a cool fanfic,” the girl said. “Like a story set on one of the outer rim planets after the empire takes over. It’d be like a post-apocalypse thing.”

“Well thanks, everybody,” Madison said. “This gives me a lot to work with.”

She and Cindy went back to their table.

“I bet that was a laugh riot,” Bryce deadpanned.

“It wasn’t very helpful, was it?” Cindy asked.

“It really wasn’t,” Madison agreed. “I still think there’s a clue there. He wouldn’t have written Star Wars unless there was some connection.” Her eyes lit up. “Do you think this could be about aliens?” Madison asked. “Like, what if these people knew there was something like the death star out in orbit right now?”

“Are you serious right now?” Bryce asked. “You’ve gone off the deep end.”

“My dad is an astronomer,” Cindy said. “If there was an alien army out there getting ready to invade, I suspect he’d have seen it on his telescope by now.”

“You’ve both gone off the deep end,” Bryce said. “So now we’ve gone from a bunch of peanut butter to an alien invasion? Are you listening to yourselves right now?”

“No, no. You’re right. That’s crazy. But maybe I could talk to your dad, Cindy?”

“Sure. Swing by after school,” Cindy said.

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