These are the exploits revealed in the popular Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO animated television series, which aired on ABC starting in September 1985 and ran for a thirteen-episode season as well as a one-hour special titled The Great Heep. The cartoon also spun off into a series of comic books published under Marvel Comics’ “Star Comics” imprint, as well as a Spanish-language strip that ran in the pages of MyComyc magazine. Set approximately fifteen years before A New Hope, these adventures shed new light on an unexplored corner of the Star Wars universe and the enduring friendship of C-3PO and R2-D2.
Throne for a Loop
After their adventures with speeder pilots Thall Joben and Jord Dusat, and surviving a harrowing escape from the planet Aaron, Artoo and Threepio employed the services of the Intergalactic Droid Agency once more in obtaining new masters. Given the less-than-ideal outcomes the last several times they utilized the IDA, they probably should have reconsidered their options. The IDA sent them to the desert mining colony of Tyne’s Horky to perform waitering and drink service at Doodnik’s Café.
Though C-3PO had served as a bona fide cook and maître d’ aboard the Tantive IV, the droid was severely out of practice, and his clumsiness annoyed Doodnik Sharpelz, the four-armed Jillsarian café owner and chef. Doodnik, raised by adoptive natives on the planet Ojom, had come to Tyne’s Horky full of gastronomic dreams with his friend and fellow gourmand Dexter Jettster, before making a deal with Dirconite mercenary Kleb Zellock for part-ownership of his own restaurant. Hardened by fringe life, Doodnik didn’t tolerate fools, and he quickly fired the incompetent robotic servers.
The droids put themselves up for auction, alongside a bedraggled android with little energy. A brutish droid abuser, Yorpo Mog, bought them all, but when the android turned out to be a living being, a young miner named Jann Tosh freed him by trading a new mining droid for all three. Yorpo’s boss, Kleb Zellock, was furious, as he recognized the “android” as Kez-Iban, the person they were looking for. Zellock tried to abduct Kez-Iban but Jann and the droids made it to Jann’s sand skimmer and hid out at the keschel mine of his guardian, Putch “Uncle Gundy” Gundarian. Jann and the droids nursed the tall, purple-skinned humanoid back to health, and, in return, he gratefully helped out in Gundy’s mine, proving to be an excellent worker and even saving Uncle Gundy’s life during a cave-in.
Unbeknownst to the group, Kez-Iban was actually Mon Julpa, rightful heir to the throne of Tammuz-an. Overthrown and exiled by the evil vizier Ko Zatec-Cha, he’d gone into hiding as Kez-Iban when Zatec-Cha hired the assassin droid IG-88 to hunt him down. Zellock and Yorpo, initially hired by Julpa’s servant, Sollag Den, to find him before IG-88 did, instead decided to hold out for more money. To that end, they captured Julpa, along with Jann Tosh and the droids. Zellock then forced them all to mine Nergon-14, a volatile ingredient used in proton torpedo detonators, and haul the unstable mineral out of the caverns.
Breaking free of their bindings, they noticed combustible gasses filling the mine. Unable to shut off the power, they stole Zellock’s ship and fled to safety. The mine was vaporized in the explosion and Zellock was imprisoned thanks to Yorpo Mog, who switched sides after Zellock abandoned him. Anxious to help Mon Julpa, the droids and Jann Tosh vowed to remove Zatec-Cha from the throne of Tammuz-an.
Jann Tosh, Mon Julpa and Sollag Den piled the ship of Jann’s friend Jessica Meade, with Artoo and Threepio along for the ride. The group traveled to Tammuz-an, unaware IG-88 was tracking them in its modified TIE variant, the IG-1000. Though the element of surprise was on its side, IG-88 did not destroy them outright, as Zatec-Cha needed Julpa’s Royal Scepter to proclaim himself King. By tradition, a ruler had to present the scepter to the Keeper of the Palace Tower at the time of the first sun of the equinox, which would take place at dawn. With Zatec-Cha’s army in their way, that would be difficult — the vizier himself would do anything to get the scepter from them before the appointed time.
IG-88 captured Mon Julpa and delivered him to his archrival. Hoping to save him, Jann, R2-D2 and C-3PO slipped into the royal palace, where robotic sentries chased them throughout the building. Evading the robots, they found Julpa in a large pit, being chased by a durkii — a reptilian creature of enormous proportions. Knocking Threepio onto the durkii’s back to distract it, Artoo used an electric prod to remove several parasitic kleex insects that had been annoying the beast. Pacified, the grateful durkii immediately ceased trying to kill Mon Julpa.
Rushing to stop the coronation, the droids snagged the Scepter from the vizier and tossed it to Mon Julpa just as a beam of brilliant sunlight lit the room. Julpa was named King of Tammuz-an and his enemy was arrested. Grateful, Julpa appointed Jann his personal advisor and provided Meade a new ship, which she christened the King’s Ransom. Even the droids received medals and were given positions in the royal court for their part in restoring Julpa to the throne.
Meade remained on Tammuz-an for a while, running cargo shipments for the royal palace. On one such run, she was surrounded by corsairs led by the Ropagu pirate Gir Kybo Ren-Cha — Kybo Ren, as he liked to be called — captain of the Dianoga. When Threepio tried to call for assistance, the pirate shot him in the back with an ion blast. Stealing both the King’s Ransom and Jann’s R-22 Spearhead escort, Kybo took them to the watery world of Tarnoonga, where dozens of TIE fighters awaited attack orders.
Kybo ordered his Schiav second-in-command, Jyn Obah, to feed Jann to a giant sea creature called a miridon, while Meade was taken away as his “guest.” Conscripted for slave labor, R2-D2 grabbed C-3PO and dove underwater to save their master. Using a propeller for mobility, R2 pulled Jann to the surface, keeping him alive with an air-mask. Returning to Kybo’s base, they rescued Jessica Meade and escaped in their impounded vessels.
Unfortunately, Kybo captured the R-22 Spearhead, with Jann and the droids crammed into its cockpit, and hauled it aboard his Gladiator-class Star Destroyer Demolisher — which he’d stolen from a repair dock. The vessel was the lead ship in an armada Kybo had assembled to take over Tammuz-an, but thanks to Threepio’s ingenuity in loading several proton torpedoes backwards, the attack instead destroyed the Demolisher from within. With help from Julpa’s fleet, the pirate gang was defeated and the droids enjoyed a nice hot oil bath for their efforts.
R2-D2 and C-3PO served King Julpa for several months. Toward the end of their service, the King received a visitor: Lord Malameu Toda, to whom Julpa offered a peace treaty to unite Tammuz-an against its enemies. Toda was leery about signing, for Kybo was imprisoned and Julpa seemed to have things under control. Toda’s daughter Gerin, however, had romantic interest in Julpa and urged her father to sign. When Toda left without signing, Gerin promised Julpa would have an answer by the next day.
That night, Obah sprang Kybo Ren from his jail cell. Catching Julpa and Gerin during an intimate moment, Kybo stunned them and took Gerin Toda as his prisoner. Sending Jann and Meade to save her, Julpa sent his forces to capture Jyn Obah. When the stubborn Schiav refused to talk, C-3PO conceived a plan to trick him — running into Obah’s cell ranting in terror about a crazed torture droid. This frightened Obah to such an extent that when Artoo entered — every appendage extended, screeching electronically — he told them what they needed to know: Kybo was holding Gerin on one of Bogden’s moons.
Unexpectedly, Kybo offered Julpa and Toda an exchange: Gerin for his imprisoned men. As arrangements were made, Jann and Meade secretly traveled to Bogden’s marshy moon and saved her. Simultaneously, Julpa, Toda, and Sollag led a squadron of soldiers to raid the base, ending Kybo’s pirate operation. Toda and Julpa signed a treaty uniting all of Tammuz-an under one rule, and Meade soon returned home to Tyne’s Horky.
Though he enjoyed working for Mon Julpa, Jann decided to apply to the Space Academy on Raithal, but the lack of response to his application left him depressed. When Lord Toda’s son Coby applied and was granted immediate entrance into the exclusive military training school, Jann ferried the boy to the academy, hoping he’d be accepted, as well.
En route, a vital computer chip went bad, forcing them to stop at the Zallakesh spaceport of Chuzalla, a world teeming with dangerous criminals. As Jann checked connecting flights, Coby noticed a ship belonging to a team of trackers called The Starhunters’ Intergalactic Menagerie. The group’s leader, Stroon, was ecstatic at the sight of Coby’s pet Ingey, recognizing the animal as valuable and rare. Stroon stole Ingey, and Coby and the droids gave chase in a Blackhawk Destroyer ship. Nearly out of fuel, Coby latched onto the bigger ship’s hull as it jumped to hyperspace, leaving Jann alone and confused on the planet below.
As the Starhunters’ ship landed on a lush, forest-covered world, the Blackhawk crashed into the nearby brush. Captured by a native tribe working in concert with the Starhunters, Coby and the droids were led to a primitive village filled with cages — the Starhunters’ base of operations. Before leaving, Artoo activated a distress call that Jann could track across space. In one cage was an old man named Greej, the former caretaker of an animal preserve, whom Stroon had imprisoned to keep from interfering.
Threepio lured the Starhunters into the forest by projecting the call of a spotted jugadoo, but when Jann arrived to save his friends and halt the illegal hunting operation, a real jugadoo responded to C-3PO’s simulated call. Thinking the droid a mate, the beast lovingly cuddled him in its trunk. Threepio was less than amused, though his comrades found the incident quite humorous. The danger behind him, Jann left for the academy, his acceptance having finally come through. Coby, however, declined enrollment, choosing instead to help Greej relocate the animals the Starhunters had taken from their natural habitats. Since personal droids were not allowed to attend the academy with their masters, Jann freed R2-D2 and C-3PO to find a new master.
Romancing the Stones
The droids’ next owner lived on Biitu, though he was originally from the planet Manda. Mungo Baobab, the burly, bearded heir to the Baobab Merchant Fleet, purchased R2-D2 and C-3PO to serve as his personal aide and translator. However, before they could begin service under Baobab, they were stolen by metal-eating sludgegulper droids that ripped through his transport vessel Argo Moon and stole every droid aboard her.
Separated on the surface of Biitu, the pair were taken not as prisoners but rather to a droid resort. Artoo found himself in an astromech harem, where a bartender droid explained that their host was called the Great Heep. Artoo enjoyed the Heep’s generous accommodations, befriending and falling in love — as much as any droid has the capacity to love — with a pink astromech named KT-10, an offshoot of the KT-series that served the Republic so ably during the Clone Wars. C-3PO and other humanoid droids, meanwhile, were taken to the Heep itself. The hulking, angry Heep, an ancient droid from beyond the known galaxy, secretly worked for the Empire, which had seized Biitu to mine its valuable fuel ore.
Sucking all moisture from the air with a weather tower, the Heep forced the locals to work as slaves, draining the astromechs of their energy for nourishment. Carrying tanks of lubricant for the droid slaves, C-3PO crept into the cell where his new master Mungo was being held to give him water. Meeting a Biituian youth named Fidge Tadrazan, who had snuck into the cave to get water for his family, Threepio followed the boy out, hoping Fidge might have a means of escape.
The Heep’s Imperial contact was Admiral Terrinald Screed, an aging, cold-hearted man with a cyborg prosthetic where his left eye had once been. Screed had come to oversee the first shipment of fuel ore, and was glad to have beaten the Baobab Merchant Fleet in mining the newly found resource. As a gesture of this victory, in fact, he intended to take Mungo in hibernation when he departed, as a gift to Emperor Palpatine.
That night, Fidge and C-3PO helped Mungo escape his cell. Knowing he didn’t have much time, Mungo planned to steal the Imperial cargo ship and get help for the natives. Unfortunately, he was unable to fly the vessel without an astromech droid, and all such droids were kept in the Heep’s harem, blissfully unaware of the horrible fate that awaited them. Sadly, the next droid to meet that fate was Artoo’s new friend, KT-10.
With Fidge and Threepio’s assistance, Mungo freed the astromechs to stage a revolt against the Heep. As Fidge bulldozed Screed’s ground-based turbolaser cannons to rubble, R2-D2 flew the cargo ship into the weather tower, blowing it — and seemingly himself — up. Horrified, C-3PO unleashed uncharacteristic fury at the Heep, but his anger was unnecessary, for the rain that poured forth from clouds suddenly over-seeded with humidity completely shorted out the Great Heep.
Rejuvenated by the rain, the Biituans joined in the revolt, overwhelming Screed and his troops. To C-3PO’s surprise, R2-D2 was undamaged, having jettisoned safely moments before destruction. Artoo and the other astromech droids then joined together to channel enough energy into KT-10’s body to restore her. With the droid slaves and the population of Biitu free once more, Artoo and Threepio continued in the service of Mungo Baobob.
Following the defeat of the Great Heep, Mungo and the droids set out through uncharted space to find the Roon System. There, he hoped to find the source of Roonstones, one of the rarest gems in the galaxy — in so doing, he could rebuild the failing Baobob Merchant Fleet and gain untold wealth. He’d longed to find the source his entire life, but thus far he’d failed to locate it.
On the way to Roon, Mungo’s ship was caught in the tractor beam of a salvage ship owned by Governor Bisad Koong. The slovenly ruler of Tawntoom, a province on Roon, Koong had made a deal with Admiral Screed and mistook Baobab and the droids for emissaries on the Emperor’s behalf.
The trio played along with the error, but when the real Screed showed up with a squad of Stormtroopers, the game was over. Mungo and the droids tried to escape but their efforts were thwarted. Evading Koong’s clutches, they continued on to Roon. The primary planet in the Roon System, Roon orbited its sun at such a distance and with sufficient rotation that it was tide-locked. One side of the planet featured a lush, tropical paradise, while the other was a cold, dark wilderness. The planet was long-believed to be the source of untold treasures, but to date, none had succeeded in finding them.
Koong beat them to the planet, shooting down their ship and causing them to crash. Though they survived, the ship would not be able to fly again without extensive repairs. Adding to their troubles, a race of mudmen attacked, attracted to the sheen of C-3PO’s chrome. Fifteen-year-old Auren Yomm and her father, Nilz, intervened in time to save them from becoming the mud creatures’ next meal. Auren was on her way to take part in the Roon Games, an event her team had won three years in a row. Though she was half Mungo’s age, her attraction to him — and his to her — was immediate and obvious.
Auren’s team in the Roon Games represented the only real obstacle to Koong’s taking over the entire planet. Therefore, his Kobok assistant, Gaff, tried several times to kill the team, successfully poisoning one rider and draining the power from their service droid. Refusing to let Koong win the games and control of the planet, Mungo and the droids rode as Auren’s teammates, giving her team their fourth straight victory.
Despite the victory, Mungo was dejected, having failed to find any Roonstones and nearly out of funds. With little choice, he began packing for the trip back to Manda. Luck has a strange way of changing when most needed and least expected, however, and that is exactly what happened. Bidding farewell to the Yomm family, he was elated when Auren gave him a Roonstone as a goodbye gift. Determined more than ever to find the source of the stones, he redoubled his efforts. His reinvigorated search brought him and the droids to a ruined spacecraft, believed by some to be haunted. Inside, they met an old hermit: Oggem “Old Ogger” Baobab, the long-lost patriarch of the Baobab line.
Recognizing in Mungo’s cloth the colors of the Baobab clan, Oggem revealed himself to be the younger man’s great-uncle. Marooned on Roon for years, he’d since searched for Roonstones, filling six entire bags. Knowing his death was imminent, he gave the bags to Mungo but died before revealing the source. However, he did leave behind a clue to the source, a clue that took Mungo and his friends across the treacherous Roon Sea.
What Mungo, Auren and the droids did not know was that Screed and Koong had watched the entire exchange. Sweeping in to take possession of the Roonstones, Koong’s hired guns captured the group aboard a slave ship. There, with the aid of a stand-up comedian droid named Lin-D, R2-D2 rescued his comrades and helped defeat Governor Koong and his Imperial allies. Unfortunately, the source of the Roonstones evaded Mungo. Auren and Nilz Yomm joined in Mungo’s search, but when Koong sprayed a deadly germ strain called Rooze over their village, Umboo, they put the gem search on hold and rushed to save Auren’s people. Her mother, Bola, was among those affected; fortunately, her father Nilz was a respected physician and managed to find a cure in time to save her and others from dying.
The Rooze virus leaked aboard Koong’s ship, killing Koong and his crew. Screed and his legion of Stormtroopers, protected from the virus by Imperial technology, left Koong to die. With Koong’s operation no longer a threat, the people of Biitu prospered. And Mungo, after a lifetime of searching for Roonstones, settled instead for a treasure far more valuable: the love of Auren Yomm. The two, in time, were married.
Artoo and Threepio had been through so many adventures and masters, sometimes even they couldn’t get the order right or name them all. They couldn’t have been happier, then, when Mungo assigned them to a simple job at the Baobab Archives cataloging and translating engravings of an ancient poem found on a Roonstone. However, the researchers there took exception to C-3PO’s know-it-all attitude and R2-D2’s pushiness, and had the droids “mistakenly” sold to the renegade technolord Krellus Barzane, an Arkanian trafficker in used technological goods.
The droids helped their new master stay one step ahead of her adversaries, but misfortune ultimately found her. Furthermore, they were surprised to learn the Fromm crime family had bribed Jabba into dropping a price on the gangsters’ heads, by paying the Hutt a sizable percentage of their business dealings and promising to commit their Annoo-dat clones to eradicating the Mandalorian Death Watch diaspora.
Eventually, however, R2-D2 and C-3PO found themselves on the planet Kalarba, where Governor Wena Havid offered to employ them aboard his luxury starship, the Uncommon Practice. They knew not what the future held in store, nor where it would ultimately take them, but one thing was certain: as long as they faced the future together, they had nothing to fear.
Considered a reckless treasure hunter in his youth, the heir to the Baobab Merchant Fleet was neither as disciplined nor as business-minded as the rest of his family. To that end, his elders sent him to Biitu to set up a mining operation and trading post, hoping this would instill in him a stronger work ethic. Knowing of his family’s long-time search for the source of Roonstones, he took up the search out of a desire for quick wealth. Things changed for him, however, when within one of the stones’ crystal structures he discovered — with the help of C-3PO — the encoded text of Dha Werda Verda, a poem recounting the conquest of Coruscant by a warrior race called the Taungs. Though this did, indeed, earn him the quick success he sought, it also made him more interested than ever in finding the Roonstones — no longer just for his own gain, but rather for the good of his family’s merchant fleet. Securing backing from Lando Calrissian, Mungo succeeded in finding an alternate stash of Roonstones, restoring his family to prosperity.
Admiral Terrinald Screed
As one of Emperor Palpatine’s right-hand men during the early years of the Empire, Terrinald Screed was trained at the Prefsbelt IV and Caridan military academies and had all the discipline and composure one comes to expect from academy graduates. In the years preceding the Clone Wars, Screed was a strong proponent of Chancellor Palpatine’s Military Creation Act and later of High Human Culture and anti-alien legislation. A no-nonsense military expert, Screed wore an electronic eye-patch, having lost an eye in a Biskaran Pirates encounter during his time in the Republic Judicial Department. Rather than having the eye replaced with a more aesthetically-pleasing prosthetic, he instead had it upgraded with the latest in cybernetic enhancements, caring little for what it did to his appearance. Screed earned a reputation as a brilliant commander, as he was able to ferret out hiding Rebels. His distinguished career, however, took a bad turn when he was assigned to siege the fuel refineries on Biitu. So badly did he underestimate the will of the people of Biitu, and the ability of the many enslaved droids to overthrow their oppressors, that he was taken entirely off-guard when both guards revolted against him and his droid overlord, the Great Heep. The humiliation nearly toppled his career, but he survived the setback, went on to serve in the Battle of Endor and build a relationship with Warlord Zsinj. This relationship proved fatal, though, when Zsinj intercepted potentially treasonous communications Screed exchanged with his old naval friend Captain Gilad Pellaeon. The Imperial warlord abruptly terminated Screed’s life.
The Great Heep
Droids come in all sizes, from the smallest in nanotechnology to the tallest of assassin droids. But few are as gargantuan as the droid known as the Great Heep. A member of the cybernetic race known as the Abominor — which nearly subdued the fanatical Yuuzhan Vong — the Great Heep was a rusting, extra-galactic robotic monstrosity measuring almost seven meters with crushing claws and a grotesque approximation of a humanoid face. Rotten to the core of its internal furnace, the age-old automaton was essentially a self-contained smelting factory with an insatiable need to consume droid energies. Somehow, the Great Heep had ended up at the Braltzamir Museum of Antiquated Machinery on Coruscant, where it languished for more than 300 years before Admiral Terrinald Screed stumbled upon the mechanical beast and, with a team of brilliant students from the Imperial Engineers Academy, found a way to resurrect it. The hostile personalities of the voracious Abominor and the ambitious Imperial admiral seemed a natural match, and the two worked out a partnership to exploit the resources and people of the planet Biitu. In the end, however, no amount of energy could protect the Heep from its biggest weakness — the desire of all beings to be free. The defeated construct ultimately became a museum piece at the Baobab Museum of Science. By studying it, researchers have speculated that perhaps as many as eighteen such Abominors may be known to have infiltrated the galaxy, including a planet-sized being that makes up the world known as Ronyards. One researcher, Cantebarius H. Broom, grew paranoid following this revelation, and developed an irrational fear of all mechanical life forms, driving him to thereafter dismantle all droids he could find.
When Jann Tosh was sixteen years old, his mother Plena Tosh, his father Gar Tosh and his twin younger brothers, Gessle and Trif, were all killed in a tragic skimmer accident on his homeworld, Naboo. With no other living family, he came to live with his father’s best friend, Putch Gundarian, a planet-hopping treasure hunter who operated a keschel mining operation on Tyne’s Horky and had even stumbled upon the Death Wind Corridor through the mysterious region called the Cloak of the Sith. Uncle Gundy, as the kindly curmudgeon asked to be called, was a good parent to young Jann, who never for a moment felt unwanted or in the way at his new home. Life was never boring on Tyne’s Horky — Jann met a never-ending supply of aliens, fascinated by what each encounter taught him about the universe. He also developed a bond with Professor Akary Smith, a kindly academic who had known Gar Tosh since childhood, and who often checked in on the youth from his Roon communications satellite. Between the alien encounters and Smith’s stories, Jann longed to join the Space Academy on Raithal and see the stars, like the promotional holovids he’d seen had promised. Sadly, real life is rarely as spectacular as in the ‘vids, as Jann discovered only one week after graduation, when Rebels attacked the outpost at Carfoom. Posted there on his first assignment, Jann was shot in the back and paralyzed from the waist down. Fitted with a cyber-powered hoverchair, he was honorably discharged and sent home. When Gundy died ten years later, Jann took over the Gundarian Mining Company.
Information for this article was taken from the following titles:
- C-3PO: Tales of the Golden Droid (Chronicle Books)
- Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO (Nelvana, 13 episodes plus hour-long special, Droids: The Great Heep)
- Droids (Marvel Comics, issues #1-5)
- Ewoks #10 (Marvel Comics, issue #10—a Droids crossover)
- Force Heretic I: Remnant (Del Rey Books)
- Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide (Del Rey Books)
- Shadows of the Empire soundtrack liner notes
- www.holonetnews.com issues #45-49 and 55-59 (Lucasfilm)
- The New Essential Guide to Characters (Del Rey Books)
- The New Essential Gudie to Droids (Del Rey Books)
- The Essential Guide to Warfare (Del Rey Books)
- “Droids and Ewoks Return: Spain’s Lost Star Wars Comic Strips” (starwars.com)
Rich Handley is the editor and co-founder of Hasslein Books, the managing editor of RFID Journal, a frequent contributor to Bleeding Cool Magazine and the author of four reference books (Timeline of the Planet of the Apes, Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes, The Back to the Future Lexicon and The Back to the Future Chronology). He has written numerous articles and short stories for the licensed Star Wars universe over the past two decades, and was a columnist and reporter at Star Trek Communicator magazine for several years.
Abel G. Peña is the author of dozens of Star Wars fiction and nonfiction articles for Star Wars Insider, Star Wars Gamer, Star Wars Fact Files and StarWars.com and a co-author of Vader: The Ultimate Guide and Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide. Abel’s work has also appeared in the anthology Italy From a Backpack, Dungeon/Polyhedron and the Wizards of the Coast official website. Abel can be found at abelgpena.com, Facebook and Twitter.