On the murky, swamp-covered bog of a planet known as Dagobah, days seemed like months for the young Jedi-in-training Luke Skywalker. He had already lost track of how long he had been here since he had crashed his X-Wing in the swamp and found the great Jedi Master Yoda.
'Great' was hardly the word he would have used to describe Yoda upon their first encounter, but surprisingly he had already learned much from the little green gnome.
On this particular afternoon, Luke's plucky astromech droid, R2-D2, stood next to the
X-Wing Fighter, washing away the stringy green foliage from it's outside hull with his spraying mechanism. A few meters away, Luke stood upside-down on his hands with his eyes closed, deeply concentrating as Yoda spoke to him.
"Good. Calm, yes," whispered Yoda, perched atop one of Luke's feet. Luke's arms were growing tired from exertion, yet he was completely unaware of his own phyiscal strain. His conscious mind focused only on the meaning of Yoda's words.
"Through the Force, things you will see: other places, other thoughts, the future, the past.
Old friends, long gone."
Luke's mind swam with many thoughts and images, each of them too quick for him to grasp. Upon Yoda's instruction, he relaxed his mind and let the
Force guide him, allowing him to control these thoughts as they came to him. Freeing his mind and reaching out through the Force, Luke unconsciously touched the physical objects around him. Small rocks and pebbles, and even R2-D2, began to rise into the air as Luke searched his own thoughts.
For a brief moment he saw the face of his best friend Biggs and he inwardly smiled at the old memories of his childhood friend on Tatooine.
Luke let those thoughts drift on to others in his life; people he cared for dearly. The beautiful Princess, the Corellian smuggler, the Wookie... Those who now mattered most to Luke, smiling at him.
Those bright, happy images of his dear friends suddenly grew dark and distorted. With that darkness came a sense of terrible agonizing pain inflicted on them. Gasping, Luke felt echoes of this pain rush through his mind and he cried out to his friends,
Luke immediately snapped out of his trance, finding himself back in his Dagobah surroundings. Overwhelmed by the dark vision, Luke lost control. The objects his mind had been levitating, including his astromech droid, all gave in to gravity, and Luke himself felt his arms and legs shaking from exertion and lost his balance.
"Con-cen-TRATE!" Yoda wailed, slipping from atop
Luke's feet and dropping to the marshy ground with Luke.
Yoda sat up quietly, shaking his head and expressing his disappointment in his student. "Control, control.
You must learn control!"
Luke stared at his master, pondering the images he had seen.
"I saw... I saw a city in the clouds."
"Hmm. Friends you have there," Yoda responded.
"They were in pain."
"It is the future you see," Yoda nodded knowingly.
"Future?" Luke tried to comprehend when this future would occur. "Will they die?"
Yoda closed his eyes and lowered his head to reach out into the Force, searching for the specific vision of the future Luke had witnessed.
"Difficult to see," said Yoda, looking back up at Luke. "Always in motion is the future."
Han, Leia, and Chewbacca followed their host,
Lando Calrissian, from their Cloud City suite to an elevator lift that would take them to banquet hall Lando had prepared for their evening meal.
Princess Leia stood between the two handsome men in the elevator, with Chewie pressed against her from behind like a giant furry wall. Elegantly dressed in a red Bespin-tailored gown, Leia found herself enjoying being the center of attention between these two men. Lando repeatedly flattered her with all his charm while Han acted overly-protective of her as if she were already his own.
The Rebel leader within her reminded Leia that she had more important concerns right now. There is no time for romantic involvement when you are on the run and hiding from the Empire. Damn Han for sparking these feelings within her in the first place! It had been nothing but a distraction ever since they left Hoth.
Exiting the elevator lift on a lower level, the group proceeded down a brightly lit corridor with towering white columns and vertical glass windows, passing other Cloud City workers and residents along the way. Leia turned her concentration back to the conversation Han and Lando were having.
"So, you see, since we're a small operation, we don't fall into the jurisdiction of the Empire,"
"So you're part of the mining guild, then?" interrupted Leia.
"No, not actually. Our operation is small enough not to be noticed... which is advantageous for everybody since our customers are anxious to avoid attracting attention to themselves."
Lando led the group around a winding corner that led to another bright corridor. They continued toward a large double-doorway at the end of the hall.
"Aren't you afraid the Empire's going to find out about this little operation and shut you down?" asked Han.
"It's always been a danger but it looms like a shadow over everything we've built here. But things have developed that will ensure security. I've just made a deal that will keep the Empire out of here forever," Lando finished just as they reached the doors to the banquet hall.
The two doors suddenly slid open to reveal a long dinner table, at the opposite end of which rose the dark figure of Darth Vader from his seat.
Leia and Han's eyes widened in shock, staring at the Dark Lord with disbelief. Chewbacca roared in angered recognition.
With lightning quick reflexes, Han drew his blaster pistol from its holster and snapped off a couple of laser bolts at Vader. The powerful
Sith Lord calmly raised his hand and easily reflected the bolts off into the walls. Before
Han could fire anymore shots, he felt his blaster pistol leave his hand and watched it fly across the room straight into Vader's open gauntlet.
"We would be honored if you would join us," Vader spoke in his deep menacing voice, accompanied by the eerie mechanical breathing of his internal support system. From a small alcove behind Vader emerged the bounty hunter Boba Fett, blaster rifle in hand. As if things couldn't get any worse, a squad of Stormtroopers rushed in behind the
Rebels on the steps outside the doorwy to block their escape.
"I had no choice. They arrived just before you did, said Lando, turning to face Han. "I'm sorry."
A feeling of betrayal filled Han as he stared at the person he thought was his friend. He wanted to haul off and deck his so-called friend square in the jaw, but he restrained himself and simply frowned at Lando. "I'm sorry too."
Han took Leia's hand and, with Chewie behind them, entered the room, followed by three of the Stormtroopers from the squad outside. The two doors swished shut behind them all.
"Captain Solo, I have been looking forward to meeting you," Vader stated in an ominous tone.
"I understand you were the pilot of the ship which removed me from the defense of the Death Star.
That was not something I appreciated."
"Well... I'm glad to know it didn't go unnoticed,"
Han retorted. "Didn't put too much of a dent in your little ship, did I?" he said with a smug grin.
The Dark Lord ignored the Corellian and turned his attention to Leia. "So good to see you again, Your
Highness. I have found myself missing those moments we spent together on the Death Star. I am glad we have this opportunity to resume where we left off."
Leia remembered who she was dealing with here and what she had endured last time during her interrogation in the Death Star detention cell. A cold chill of anticipation ran down her spine.
"I think we'll forego tonight's dinner and move on to more important matters," Vader said, motioning to the Stormtroopers. With a bit of resistance, Han and Leia's arms were pulled behind them and restrained with metal binders around their wrists. Chewbacca put up more of a fight with the troopers, bursting into a fit of rage and knocking one of the Stormtroopers back against a wall. Just as he was about to reach out and strangle the second Stormtrooper, the third one slammed the butt of his rifle into Chewie's stomach, causing the Wookie to let loose a deep guttaral groan of pain. He tried to react, but the first Stormtrooper now had his rifle aimed directly at the left temple of
"Stand down, or I'll blast you!" shouted the trooper through his helmet.
"Chewie!" Han yelled. The Wookie looked up at his friend and recognize that look in Han's eyes that told him to keep cool... for now. Reluctantly,
Chewie dropped his arms and stood still, allowing the Imperial troops to shackle his arms with binders too.
"Escort our guests to their new rooms," Vader ordered.
"In there, Wookie!" said one of the Stormtroopers, removing the binders from Chewie's wrists and quickly pushing him into a dark room. Chewie spun around, ready to bash some Stormtrooper heads, but the door to the room dropped to the floor with a loud swishing sound, locking Chewbacca in. He hammered both his fists against the metal-plated door, howling in anger.
.... There is more of this story ...