Introduced in Rogue Squadron, the first novel in Michael A. Stackpole’s fantastic X-Wing series, I have always held a special place in my Star Wars heart for M-3PO. A modified 3PO-series military protocol droid with the unique clamshell head of a spaceport control droid, M-3PO is more commonly known by the nickname “Emtrey.” Introduced in the book by Commander Wedge Antilles, Emtrey is the squadron quartermaster (hence why I have dubbed it “the rogue protocol droid”) and is tasked with using its “scrounging protocol” to find the necessary parts to maintain the squadron’s X-Wings. Additionally, Emtrey is responsible for creating pilot duty assignments and caring for other administrative tasks that are required to keep the famed squadron functioning at peak performance.
While Emtrey’s base programming makes it an integral part of Rogue Squadron’s operations it is a hidden program within Emtrey that makes the protocol droid an oddity. Discovered by squadron executive officer Captain Tycho Celchu while ferrying himself and Emtrey to the planet Talasea, Celchu stumbles upon a “wait-state” when he tells the droid to “shut up” three times in a row which allows one to access the entirety of Emtrey’s database and memory banks. As the Captain explains to the smuggler Mirax Terrik, “we were in combat and he [Emtrey} wouldn’t stop nattering. I ended up yelling at him to shut up and after the third time, this happened.” An obvious homage to the nattering of C-3PO and the penchant of those around the golden droid to tell him to shut up, the funny “little trick” that Celchu discovers leads Terrik to an important observation: “That’s dangerous for a droid doing military work.“
Captain Celchu confirms that “there are a number of things odd about this droid…” which, in his role as executive officer working closely with the squadron quartermaster, he discovers. But this wait-state is the oddest, and while there is some obvious humor in someone deactivating a nattering protocol droid by telling it to shut up, Terrik is also correct, this function is dangerous. Even though Celchu and Terrik are able to utilize the wait-state to help Rogue Squadron, in the hands of the enemy Emtrey’s databanks would otherwise be ripe for the picking. Valuable information about the internal workings of the New Republic’s military would be readily available once Imperial operatives told the droid to “shut up” three times.
Except, this IS the point of Emtrey’s odd programming, having been intentionally installed by New Republic Intelligence. This is a fact we do not learn in Rogue Squadron but never-the-less makes perfect sense once it is revealed in a novel later in the X-Wing series. I dare not spoil the reason, though. While these books have been around for 20+ years if you’ve never read them, and this is the first time you have even heard of Emtrey, I would hate to ruin the reason for this “little trick.” And, if you have read the series, and you DO know why Emtrey shut’s down when told to shut up, you can just keep that to yourself 😉
Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars: