Source of "TFX EPISODE 5" is




DelRey Books

ISBN 0-345-32022-0



  The lights of Luke Skywalker's X-wing fighter

pierced the darkness of the bog planet. The ship

had sunk deeper into the scummy waters, but there

was still enough of it above the surface to let Luke

carry needed supplies from the storage compart-

ments. He knew it could not be much longer before

his ship sank deeper-possibly all the way-be-

neath the water. He thought that his chance of

survival might be increased if he gathered as many

supplies as he could.

  It was now so dark the Luke could scarcely see

in front of him. Out in the dense jungle he heard a

sharp snapping noise and felt a chill run through

him. Grabbing his pistol, he prepared to blast any-

thing that leaped from the jungle to attack him. But

nothing did, and he clipped his weapon back onto

its holster and continued to unpack his gear.

  "You ready for some power?" Luke asked Artoo,

who was patiently waiting for his own form of nour-

ishment. Luke took a small fusion furnace from an

equipment box and ignited it, welcoming even the

tiny glow thrown off by the small heating device,

then took a power cable and attached it to Artoo

through a protuberance that roughly resembled a

nose. As power radiated through Artoo's electronic

innards, the stout robot whistled his appreciation.

  Luke sat down and opened a container of proc-

essed food. As he began to eat, he talked to the

robot. "Now all I have to do is find this Yoda, if he

even exists."

  He looked around nervously at the shadows in

the jungle and felt frightened, miserable, and in-

creasingly in doubt about his quest. "This certainly

seems like a strange place to find a Jedi Master,"

he said to the little robot. "Gives me the creeps,"

  From the sound of his beep, it was clear Artoo

shared Luke's opinion of the swamp world.

  "Although," Luke continued as he reluctantly

tasted more of the food, "There's something familiar

about this place. I feel like-"

  "You feel like what?"

  That wasn't Artoo's voice! Luke leaped up,

grabbed his pistol, then spun around, peering into

the gloom to try to find the source of those words.

  As he turned he saw a tiny creature standing di-

rectly in front of him. Luke immediately stepped

back in surprise; this little being seemed to have

materialized out of nowhere! It stood no more than

half a meter in height, fearlessly holding its ground

in front of the towering youth who wielded an awe-

some laser pistol.

  The little wizened thing could have been any

age. Its face was deeply lined, but was framed

with elfin, pointed ears that gave it a look of

eternal youth. Long white hair was parted down

the middle and hung down on either side of the

blue-skinned head. The being was bipedal, and

stood on short legs that terminated in tridactyl,

almost reptilian feet. It wore rags as gray as the

mists of the swamp, and in such tatters that they

must have approximated the creature's very age.

  For the moment, Luke could not decide whether

to be frightened or to laugh. But when he gazed in-

to those bulbous eyes and sensed the being's kindly

nature, he relaxed. At last the creature motioned

toward the pistol in Luke's hand.

  "Away put your weapon. I mean you no harm,"

it said.

  After some hesitation, Luke quietly put his pistol

back into his belt. As he did so, he wondered why

he felt impelled to obey this little creature.

  "I am wondering," the creature spoke again,

"why are you here?"

  "I'm looking for someone," Luke answered.

  "Looking? Looking?" the creature repeated curi-

ously with a wide smile beginning to crease his

already lined face. "You've found someone I'd say.

Heh? Yes!"

  Luke had to force himself not to smile. "Yeah."

  "Help you I can...yes...yes."

  Inexplicably Luke found himself trusting the odd

creature, but wasn't at all sure that such a tiny in-

dividual could be of help on his important quest. "I

don't think so," he replied gently. "You see, I'm

looking for a great warrior."

  "A great warrior?" The creature shook his head,

the whitish hair flopping about his pointed ears.

"Wars don't make one great."

  A strange phrase, Luke thought. But before he

could answer, Luke saw the tiny hominid bobble

over to the top of the salvaged supply cases.

Shocked, he watched as the creature began to rum-

mage through the articles Luke had brought with

him from Hoth.

  "Get away from there," he said, surprised at this

sudden strange behavior.

  Moving across the ground, Artoo waddled to-

ward the pile of cases, standing just about at optical

sensor level with the creature. The droid squealed

his disapproval as he scanned the creature that was

carelessly digging through the supplies.

  The strange being grabbed the container holding

the remains of Luke's food and took a bite.

  "Hey, that's my dinner!" Luke exclaimed.

  But no sooner had the creature taken his first

bite than he spat out what he had tasted, his deeply

lined face wrinkling like a prune. "Peewh!" he said,

spitting. "Thank you, no. How get you so big eating

food of this kind?" He looked Luke up and down.

  Before the astounded youth could reply, the crea-

ture flipped the food container in Luke's direction,

then dipped one of his small and delicate hands

into another supply case.

  "Listen, friend," Luke said, watching this bizarre

scavenger, "we didn't mean to land here. And if I

could get my fighter out of this puddle I would, but

I can't. So-"

  "Can't get your ship out? Have you tried? Have

you tried?" the creature goaded.

  Luke had to admit to himself that he had not,

but then the whole idea was patently ludicrous. He

didn't have the proper equipment to-

  Something in Luke's case had attracted the crea-

ture's interest. Luke finally reached the end of

his patience when he saw the crazy little being

snatch something out of the supply case. Knowing

that survival depended on those supplies, he

grabbed for the case. But the creature held on to

his prize-a miniature power lamp that he gripped

tightly in his blue-skinned hand. The little light came

alive in the creature's hand, throwing its radiance

up into his delighted face, and he immediately

began to examine his treasure.

  "Give me that!" Luke cried.

  The creature retreated from the approaching

youth like a petulant child. "Mine! Mine! Or I'll

help you not."

  Still clutching the lamp to his breast, the creature

stepped backward, inadvertently bumping into

Artoo-Detoo. Not remembering that the robot was

at all animate, the being stood next to it as Luke


  "I don't want your help," Luke said indignantly.

"I want my lamp back. I'll need it in this slimy


  Luke instantly realized he had issued an insult.

  "Mudhole? Slimy? My home this is!"

  As they argued, Artoo slowly reached out a me-

chanical arm. Suddenly his appendage grabbed

the pilfered lamp and immediately the two little

figures were engaged in a tug-of-war over the stolen

prize. As they spun about in battle, Artoo beeped

a few electronic, "give me that's."

  "Mine, mine. Give it back," the creature cried.

Abruptly, though, he seemed to give up the bizarre

struggle and lightly posed the droid with one bluish


  Artoo emitted a loud, startled squeal and im-

mediately released the power lamp.

  The victor grinned at the glowing object in his

tiny hands, gleefully repeating, "Mine, mine."

  Luke was about fed up with these antics and

advised the robot that the battle was over. "Okay,

Artoo," he said with a sigh, "let him have it. Now

get out of here, little fellow. We've got things to


  "No, no!" the creature pleaded excitedly. "I'll

stay and help you find your friend."

  "I'm not looking for a friend," Luke said. "I'm

looking for a Jedi Master."

  "Oh," the creature's eyes widened as he spoke,

"a Jedi Master. Different altogether. Yoda, you

seek, Yoda."

  Mention of that name surprised Luke, but he

felt skeptical. How could an elf like this know any-

thing about a great teacher of the Jedi Knights?

"You know him?"

  "Of course, yes," the creature said proudly. "I'll

take you to him. But first we must eat. Good food.

Come, come."

  With that, the creature scurried out of Luke's

camp and into the shadows of the swamp. The tiny

power lamp he carried was gradually dimming in

the distance as Luke stood feeling baffled. At first

he had no intention of pursuing the creature, but

all at once he found himself diving into the fog

after him.

  As Luke started off into the jungle, he heard

Artoo whistling and beeping as if he would blow

his circuits. Luke turned around to see the little

droid standing forlornly next to the miniature fission


  "You'd better stay here and watch over the

camp," Luke instructed the robot.

  But Artoo only intensified his noisy output, run-

ning through the entire gamut of his electronic ar-


  "Artoo, now settle down," Luke called as he ran

into the jungle. "I can take care of myself. I'll be

safe, okay?"

Artoo's electronic grumblings grew fainter as

Luke hurried to catch up with the little guide. I

must really be out of my mind, Luke thought,

following this weird being into who-knows-what.

But the creature had mentioned Yoda's name,

and Luke felt compelled to accept any help he

could get to find the Jedi Master. He stumbled in

the dark over thick weeds and twisting roots as

he pursued the flickering light ahead.

  The creature was chattering gaily as he led the

way through the swamp. "

...quite safe...yes, of course." Then, in his

odd little way, this mysterious being started to




  ONLY one being in the entire universe could

instill fear in the dark spirit of Darth Vader. As

he stood, silent and alone in his dim chamber, the

Dark Lord of the Sith waited for a visit from his

own dreaded master.

  As he waited, his Imperial Star Destroyer floated

through a vast ocean of stars. No one on his ship

would have dared disturb Darth Vader in his pri-

vate cubicle. But if they had, they might have de-

tected a slight trembling in that black-cloaked

frame. And there might even have been a hint of

terror to be seen upon his visage, had anyone been

able to see through his concealing black breath


  But no one approached, and Vader remained

motionless as he kept his lonely, patient vigil. Soon

a strange electronic whine broke the dead silence

of the room and a flickering light began to glimmer

on the Dark Lord's cloak. Vader immediately

bowed deeply in homage to his royal master.

  The visitor arrived in the form of a hologram

that materialized before Vader and towered above

him. The three-dimensional figure was clad in

simple robes and its face was concealed behind an

enormous hood.

  When the hologram of the Galactic Emperor

finally spoke, it did so with a voice even deeper

than Vader's. The Emperor's presence was awe-

some enough, but the sound of his voice sent a thrill

of terror coursing through Vader's powerful frame.

  "You may rise, my servant," the Emperor com-


  Immediately Vader straightened up. But he did

not dare gaze into his master's face, and instead

cast his eyes down at his own black boots.

  "What is thy bidding, my master?" Vader asked

with all the solemnity of a priest attending his god.

  "There is a grave disturbance in the Force,"

the Emperor said.

  "I have felt it," the Dark Lord replied solemnly.

  The Emperor emphasized the danger as he con-

tinued. "Our situation is most precarious. We have

a new enemy who could bring about our destruc-


  "Our destruction? Who?"

  "The son of Skywalker. You must destroy him,

or he will be our undoing."


  The thought was impossible. How could the Em-

peror be concerned with this insignificant youth?

  "He's not a Jedi," Vader reasoned. "He's just a

boy. Obi-Wan could not have taught him so much


  The Emperor broke in. "The Force is strong in

him," he insisted. "He must be destroyed."

  The Dark Lord reflected for a moment. Perhaps

there was another way to deal with the boy, a way

that might benefit the Imperial cause. "If he could

be turned, he would be a powerful ally," Vader sug-


  Silently the Emperor considered the possibility.

  After a moment, he spoke again. "Yes...yes,"

he said thoughtfully. "He would be a great asset.

Can it be done?"

  For the first time in their meeting, Vader lifted

his head to face his master directly. "He will

join us," he answered firmly, "or die, my master."

  With that, the encounter had come to an end.

Vader kneeled before the Galactic Emperor, who

passed his hand over his obedient servant. In the

next moment, the holographic image had completely

disappeared, leaving Darth Vader alone to formu-

late what would be, perhaps, his most subtle plan

of attack.



  Luke was panting, nearly out of breath in this,

the latest of his endurance tests. His Jedi taskmas-

ter had ordered him out on a marathon run through

the dense growth of his planet's jungle. Not only

had Yoda sent Luke on the exhausting run, but he

had invited himself along for the ride. As the Jedi-

in-training puffed and sweated his way on his

rugged race, the little Jedi Master observed his

progress from a pouch strapped to Luke's back.

  Yoda shook his head and muttered to himself

disparagingly about the youth's lack of endurance.

  By the time they returned to the clearing where

Artoo-Detoo was patiently waiting, Luke's exhaus-

tion had nearly overcome him. As he stumbled into

the clearing, Yoda had yet another text planned for


  Before Luke had caught his breath, the little Jedi

on his back tossed a metal bar in front of Luke's

eyes. In an instant Luke ignited his laser sword and

swung frantically at the bar. But he was not fast

enough, and the bar fell-untouched-onto the

ground with a thud. Luke collapsed on the wet

earth in complete exhaustion. "I can't," he moaned,

"...too tired."

  Yoda, who showed no sign of sympathy, retorted,

"It would be in seven pieces, were you a Jedi."

  But Luke knew that he was not a Jedi-not yet,

anyway. And the rigorous training program devised

by Yoda had left him nearly out of breath. "I

thought I was in good shape," he gasped.

  "Yes, but by what standard, ask I?" the little in-

structor quizzed. "Forget your old measures. Un-

learn, unlearn!"

  Luke truly felt ready to unlearn all his old ways

and willing to free himself to learn all this Jedi

Master had to teach. It was rigorous training, but as

time passed, Luke's strength and abilities increased

and even his skeptical little master began to see

hope. But it was not easy.

  Yoda spent long hours lecturing his student about

the ways of the Jedi. As they sat under the trees

near Yoda's little house, Luke listened intently to

all the master's tales and lessons. And as Luke lis-

tened, Yoda chewed on his Gimer Stick, a short

twig with three small branches at the far end.

  And there were physical tests of all kinds. In

particular, Luke was working hard to perfect his

leap. Once he felt ready to show Yoda his im-

provement. As the master sat on a log next to a

wide pond, he heard the loud rustling of someone

approaching through the vegetation.

  Suddenly Luke appeared on the other side of

the pond, coming toward the water at a run. As he

approached the shore, he made a running leap to-

ward Yoda, rising high above the water as he

hurtled himself through the air. But he fell short of

the other side and landed in the water with a loud

splash, completely soaking Yoda.

  Yoda's blue lips turned down in disappointment.

  But Luke was not about to give up. He was

determined to become a Jedi and, no matter how

foolish he might feel in the attempt, would pass

every test Yoda set for him. So he didn't complain

when Yoda told him to stand on his head. A bit

awkwardly at first, Luke inverted his body and,

after a few wobbly moments, was standing firmly

on his hands. It seemed he had been in this posi-

tion for hours, but it was less difficult than it would

have been before his training. His concentration

had improved so much that he was able to

maintain a perfect balance-even with Yoda

perched on the soles of his feet.

  But that was only part of the test. Yoda signaled

Luke by tapping on his leg with his Gimer Stick.

Slowly, carefully, and with full concentration, Luke

raised one hand off the ground. His body wavered

slightly with the weight shift-but Luke kept his

balance, and, concentrating, started to lift a small

rock in front of him. But suddenly a whistling and

beeping R2 unit came rushing up to his youthful


  Luke collapsed, and Yoda jumped clear of his

falling body. Annoyed, the young Jedi student

asked, "Oh, Artoo, what is it?"

  Artoo-Detoo rolled about in frantic circles as he

tried to communicate his message through a series

of electronic chirps. Luke watched as the droid

scooted to the edge of the swamp. He hurried to

follow and then saw what it was the little robot

was trying to tell him.

  Standing at the water's edge, Luke saw that all

but the tip of the X-wing's nose had disappeared

beneath the water's surface.

  "Oh, no," moaned Luke. "We'll never get it out


  Yoda had joined them, and stamped his foot in

irritation at Luke's remark. "So sure are you?"

Yoda scolded. "Tried have you? Always with you

it can't be done. Hear you nothing that I say?"

His little wrinkled face puckered with a furious


  Luke glanced at his master, then looked doubt-

fully toward the sunken ship.

  "Master," he said skeptically, "lifting rocks is

one thing, but this is a little different." Yoda was

really angry now. "No! No different!" he shouted.

"The differences are in your mind. Throw them

out! No longer of use are they to you."

  Luke trusted his master. If Yoda said this could

be done, then maybe he should try. He looked at

the downed X-wing and readied himself for max-

imum concentration. "Okay," he said at last, "I'll

give it a try."

  Again he had spoken the wrong words. "No,"

Yoda said impatiently. "Try not. Do, do. Or do

not. There is no try."

  Luke closed his eyes. He tried to envision the

contours, the shape, to feel the weight of his

X-wing fighter. And he concentrated on the move-

ment it would make as it rose from the murky


  As he concentrated, he began to hear the waters

churn and gurgle, and then begin to bubble with

the emerging nose of the X-wing. The tip of the

fighter was slowly lifting from the water, and it

hovered there for a moment, then sank back be-

neath the surface with a loud splash.

  Luke was drained and had to gasp for breath.

"I can't," he said dejectedly. "It's too big."

  "Size has no meaning," Yoda insisted. "It

matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size,

do you?"

  Luke, chastened, just shook his head.

  "And well you shouldn't," the Jedi Master ad-

vised. "For my ally is the Force. And a powerful

ally it is. Life creates it and makes it grow. Its

energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings

we are, not this crude matter," he said as he

pinched Luke's skin.

  Yoda made a grand sweeping gesture to indicate

the vastness of the universe about him. "Fell it

you must. Feel the flow. Feel the Force around

you. Here," he said, as he pointed, "between you

and me and that tree and that rock."

  While Yoda gave his explanation of the Force,

Artoo spun his domed head around, trying without

success to register this "Force" on his scanners. He

whistled and beeped in bafflement.

  "Yes, everywhere," Yoda continued, ignoring

the little droid, "waiting to be felt and used. Yes,

even between this land and that ship!"

  Then Yoda turned and looked at the swamp,

and as he did the water began to swirl. Slowly,

from the gently bubbling waters, the nose of the

fighter appeared again.

  Luke gaped in astonishment as the X-wing

gracefully rose from its watery tomb and moved

majestically toward the shore.

  He silently vowed never to use the word "impos-

sible" again. For there, standing on his tree root

pedestal, was tiny Yoda, effortlessly gliding the

ship from the water onto the shore. It was a sight

that Luke could scarcely believe. But he knew that

it was a potent example of Jedi mastery over the Force.

Artoo, equally astounded but not so philosophi-

cal, issued a series of loud whistles, then bolted off

to hide behind some giant roots.

The X-wing seemed to float onto the beach, and

then gently came to a stop.

  Luke was humbled by the feat he had witnessed

and approached Yoda in awe. "I..." he began,

dazzled. "I don't believe it."

  "That," Yoda stated emphatically, "is why you


  Bewildered, Luke shook his head, wondering if

he would ever rise to the station of a Jedi.



The two glowing balls hovered like alien fireflies

above Luke's body lying motionless in the mud.

Standing protectively next to his fallen master, a

little barrel-shaped droid periodically extended a

mechanical appendage to swat at the dancing ob-

jects as if they were mosquitoes. But the hovering

balls of light leaped just out of the robot's reach.

  Artoo-Detoo leaned over Luke's inert body and

whistled in an effort to revive him. But Luke,

stunned unconscious by the charges of these en-

ergy balls, did not respond. The robot turned to

Yoda, who was sitting calmly on a tree stump, and

angrily began to beep and scold the little Jedi Mas-


  Getting no sympathy from him, Artoo turned

back to Luke. His electronic circuits told him there

was no use trying to wake Luke with his little

noises. An emergency rescue system was activated

within his metal hull and Artoo extended a small

metal electrode and rested it on Luke's chest. Ut-

tering a quiet beep of concern, Artoo generated a

mild electrical charge, just strong enough to jolt

Luke back to consciousness. The youth's chest

heaved, and he awoke with a start.

  Looking dazed, the young Jedi student shook

his hea

d clear. He looked around him, rubbing his

shoulders to ease the ache from Yoda's seeker

balls' attack. Glimpsing the seekers still suspended

over him, Luke scowled. Then he heard Yoda

chuckling merrily nearby, and turned his glare on


  "Concentration, heh?" Yoda laughed, his lined

face creased with enjoyment. "Concentration!"

  Luke was in no mood to return his smile. "I

thought those seekers were set for stun!" he ex-

claimed angrily.

  "That they are," the amused Yoda answered.

  "They're a lot stronger than I'm used to." Luke's

shoulder ached painfully.

  "That would not matter were the Force flowing

through you," Yoda reasoned. "Higher you'd jump!"

Faster you'd move!" he exclaimed. "Open yourself

to the Force you must."

The youth was beginning to feel exasperated with

his arduous training, although he had only been at

it a short time. He had felt very close to knowing

the Force-but so many times he had failed and

had realized how very far away it was from him

still. But now Yoda's goading words made him

spring to his feet. He was tired of waiting so long

for this power, weary at his lack of success, and

increasingly infuriated by Yoda's cryptic teachings.

  Luke grabbed his laser sword from the mud and

quickly ignited it.

  Terrified, Artoo-Detoo scurried away to safety.

  "I'm open to it now!" Luke shouted. "I feel it.

Come on, you little flying blasters!" With fire in

his eyes, Luke poised his weapon and moved to-

ward the seekers. Immediately they zipped away

and retreated to hover over Yoda.

  "No, no," the Jedi Master scolded, shaking his

hoary head. "This will not do. Anger is what you


  "But I feel the Force!" Luke protested vehe-


  "Anger, anger, fear, aggression!" Yoda warned.

"The dark side of the Force are they. Easily they

flow...quick to join in a fight. Beware, beware,

beware of them. A heavy price is paid for the

power they bring."

  Luke lowered his sword and stared at Yoda

in confusion. "Price?" he asked. "What do you


  "The dark side beckons," Yoda said dramat-

ically. "But if once start you down the dark path,

forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume

you it it did Obi-Wan's apprentice."

Luke nodded. He knew who Yoda meant. "Lord

Vader," he said. After he thought for a moment,

  Luke asked, "Is the dark side stronger?"

  "No, no. Easier, quicker, more seductive."

  "But how am I to know the good side from the

bad?" he asked, puzzled.

  "You will know," Yoda answered. "When you

are at peace...calm, passive. A Jedi uses the

Force for knowledge. Never for attack."

  "But tell me why-" Luke began.

  "No! There is no why. Nothing more will I tell

you. Clear your mind of questions. Quiet now be-

at peace..." Yoda's voice trailed off, but his

words had a hypnotic effect on Luke. The young

student stopped protesting and began to feel peace-

ful, his body and mind relaxing.

  "Yes..." Yoda murmured, "calm."

  Slowly Luke's eyes closed as he let his mind clear

of distracting thoughts.


  Luke heard Yoda's soothing voice as it entered

the receptive darkness of his mind. He willed him-

self to travel along with the master's words to

wherever they might lead.

  "Let yourself go..."

  When Yoda perceived that Luke was as relaxed

as the young student could be at this stage, he made

the tiniest of gestures. As he did, the two seeker

balls above his head shot toward Luke, firing stun

bolts as they moved.

  In that instant Luke sprang to life and ignited

his laser sword. He leaped to his feet and, with pure

concentration, began deflecting the bolts as they

spun toward him. Fearlessly he faced the attack,

and moved and dodged with extreme grace. His

leaps into the air, as he jumped to meet the bolts,

were higher than any he had achieved before. Luke

wasted not a single motion as he concentrated only

on every bolt as it sped his way.

  Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the seeker

attack was over. The glowing balls returned to

hover on either side of their master's head.

  Artoo-Detoo, the ever-patient observer, let out an

electronic sigh and shook his metal dome-head.

  Grinning proudly, Luke looked toward Yoda.

  "Much progress do you make, young one," the

Jedi Master confirmed. "Stronger do you grow." But

the little instructor would not compliment him more

than that.

  Luke was full of pride at his marvelous achieve-

ment. He watched Yoda, expectantly waiting for

further praise from him. But Yoda did not move or

speak. He sat calmly-and then two more seeker

balls floated up behind him and moved into forma-

tion with the first two.

  Luke Skywalker's grin began to melt away.



  Luke felt that he was definitely progressing.

  He ran through the jungle-with Yoda perched

on his neck-and leaped with gazellelike grace over

the profusion of foliage and tree roots growing

throughout the bog.

  Luke had at last begun to detach himself from

the emotion of pride. He felt unburdened, and was

finally open to experience fully the flow of the


  When his diminutive instructor threw a silver bar

above Luke's head, the young Jedi student reacted

instantly. In a flash he turned to slice the bar into

four shiny segments before it fell to the ground.

  Yoda was pleased and smiled at Luke's accom-

plishment. "Four this time! The Force you feel."

  But Luke was suddenly distracted. He sensed

something dangerous, something evil. "Something's

not right," he said to Yoda. "I feel danger...


  He looked around him, trying to see what it was

that emitted so powerful an aura. As he turned he

saw a huge, tangled tree, its blackened bark dry

and crumbling. The base of the tree was surrounded

by a small pond of water where the gigantic roots

had grown to form the opening to a darkly sinister


  Luke gently lifted Yoda from his neck and set

him on the ground. Transfixed, the Jedi student

stared at the dark monstrosity. Breathing hard, he

found himself unable to speak.

  "You brought me here purposely," Luke said at


  Yoda sat on a tangled root and put his Gimer

Stick in his mouth. Calmly looking at Luke, he said


  Luke shivered. "I feel cold," he said, still gazing

at the tree.

  "This tree is strong with the dark side of the

Force. A servant of evil it is. Into it you must go."

  Luke felt a tremor of apprehension. "What's in


  "Only what you take with you," Yoda said cryp-


  Luke looked warily at Yoda, and then at the

tree. He silently resolved to take his courage, his

willingness to learn, and step within that darkness

to face whatever it was that awaited him. He would

take nothing more than-

  No. He would also bring his lightsaber.

  Lighting his weapon, Luke stepped through the

shallow waters of the pond and toward the dark

opening between those great and foreboding roots.

  But the Jedi Master's voice stopped him.

  "Your weapon," Yoda reproved. "You won't

need it."

  Luke paused and looked again at the tree. Go

into that evil cave completely unarmed? as skilled

as Luke was becoming, he did not feel quite equal

to that test. He gripped his saber tighter and shook

his head.

  Yoda shrugged and placidly gnawed his Gimer


  Taking a deep breath, Luke cautiously stepped

into the grotesque tree cave.

  The dark inside the cave was so thick that Luke

could feel it against his skin, so black that the light

thrown by his laser sword was quickly absorbed

and illuminated scarcely more than a meter in front

of him. As he slowly moved forward, slimy, drip-

ping things brushed against his face and the mois-

ture from the soggy cave floor began to seep into

his boots.

  As he pushed through the blackness, his eyes

began to grow accustomed to the dark. He saw a

corridor before him, but as he moved toward it, he

was surprised by a thick, sticky membrane that

completely enveloped him. Like the web of some

gigantic spider, the mass clung tightly to Luke's

body. Thrashing at it with his lightsaber, Luke fi-

nally managed to disentangle himself and clear a

path ahead.

  He held his glowing sword in front of him and

noticed an object on the cave floor. Pointing his

lightsaber downward, Luke illuminated a black

shiny beetle the size of his hand. In an instant, the

thing scurried up the slimy wall to join a cluster of

its mates.

  Luke caught his breath and stepped back. At

that moment he considered hunting for the exit-

but he braced himself and ventured still deeper in-

to the dark chamber.

  He felt the space about him widen as he moved

forward, using his lightsaber as a dim beacon. He

strained to see in the darkness, trying his best to

hear. But there was no sound at all. Nothing.

  Then, a very loud hiss.

  The sound was familiar. He froze where he

stood. He had heard that hiss even in his night-

mares; it was the labored breath of a thing that had

once been a man.

  Out of the darkness a light appeared-the blue

flame of a just-ignited laser sword. In its illumina-

tion Luke saw the looming figure of Darth Vader

raise his lighted weapon to attack, and then lunge.

  Prepared by his disciplined Jedi training, Luke

was ready. He raised his own lightsaber and per-

fectly side-stepped Vader's attack. In the same

movement, Luke turned to Vader and, with his

mind and body completely focused, the youth sum-

moned the Force. Feeling its power within him,

Luke raised his laser weapon and brought it crash-

ing down on Vader's head.

  With one powerful stroke, the Dark Lord's head

was severed from his body. Head and helmet

crashed to the ground and rolled about the cave

floor with a loud metallic bang. As Luke watched

in astonishment, Vader's body was completely

swallowed up by the darkness. Then Luke looked

down at the helmet that had come to rest directly

in front of him. For a moment it was completely

still. Then the helmet cracked in half and split


  As Luke watched in shocked disbelief, the

broken helmet fell aside to reveal, not the un-

known, imagined face of Darth Vader, but Luke's

own face, looking up at him.

  He gasped, horrified at the sight. And then, as

suddenly as it had appeared, the decapitated head

faded away as if in a ghostly vision.

  Luke stared at the dark space where the head

and pieces of helmet had lain. His mind reeled, the

emotions that raged inside of him were almost too

much to bear.

  The tree! he told himself. It was all some trick

of this ugly cave, some charade of Yoda's, ar-

ranged because he had come into the tree carrying

a weapon.

  He wondered if he were really fighting himself,

or if he had fallen prey to the temptations of the

dark side of the Force. He might himself become a

figure as evil as Darth Vader. And he wondered if

there might be some even darker meaning behind

the unsettling vision.

  It was a long while before Luke Skywalker was

able to move from that deep, dark cave.

Meanwhile, sitting on the root, the little Jedi

Master calmly gnawed his Gimer Stick.



  Luke was perfectly calm. Even his present

position did not make him feel tense or strained or

unsure, or any of the negative things he used to

feel when he first attempted this feat. He stood,

perfectly balanced on one hand. He knew the

Force was with him.

  His patient master, Yoda, sat calmly on the soles

of Luke's upturned feet. Luke concentrated se-

renely on his task and all at once he lifted four

fingers from the ground. His balance undisturbed,

he held his upside-down position-on one thumb.

  Luke's determination had made him a quick

study. He was eager to learn and was undaunted

by the tests Yoda had devised for him. And now

he felt confident that when he finally left this

planet, it would be as a full-fledged Jedi Knight

prepared to fight only for the noblest of causes.

  Luke was rapidly growing stronger with the

Force and, indeed, was accomplishing miracles.

Yoda grew more pleased with his apprentice's

progress. Once, while Yoda stood watching nearby,

Luke used the Force to lift two large equipment

cases and suspend them in midair. Yoda was

pleased, but noticed Artoo-Detoo observing this ap-

parent impossibility and emitting electronic beeps

of disbelief. The Jedi Master raised his hand and,

with the Force, lifted the little droid off the ground.

  Artoo hovered, his baffled internal circuits and

sensors trying to detect the unseen power that held

him suspended in the air. And suddenly the invis-

ible hand played still another joke on him: While

hanging in midair, the little robot was abruptly

turned upside down. His white legs kicked desper-

ately and his dome head spun helplessly around.

When Yoda finally lowered his hand, the droid,

along with two supply cases, began to drop. But

only the boxes smashed against the ground. Artoo

remained suspended in space.

  Turning his head, Artoo perceived his young

master, standing with hand extended, preventing

Artoo from a fatal tumble.

  Yoda shook his head, impressed by his student's

quick thinking and by his control.

  Yoda sprang onto Luke's arm and the two of

them turned back toward the house. But they had

forgotten something: Artoo-Detoo was still hanging

in the air, beeping and whistling frantically, trying

to get their attention. Yoda was merely playing an-

other joke on the fretful droid, and as Yoda and

Luke strolled away, Artoo heard the Jedi Master's

bell-like laugh float in gay peals behind him as the

droid slowly lowered to the ground.


  Some time later, as dusk crept through the dense

foliage of the bog, Artoo was cleaning the X-wing's

hull. Through a hose that ran from the pond to an

orifice in his side, the robot sprayed down the ship

with a powerful stream of water. And while he

worked, Luke and Yoda sat in the clearing, Luke's

eyes closed in concentration.

  "Be calm," Yoda told him. "Through the Force

things you will see: other places, other thoughts,

the future, the past, old friends long gone."

  Luke was losing himself as he concentrated on

Yoda's words. He was becoming unaware of his

body and let his consciousness drift with the words

of his master.

  "My mind fills with so many images."

  "Control, control you must learn of what you

see," the Jedi Master instructed. "Not easy, not


  Luke closed his eyes, relaxed, and began to free

his mind, began to control the images. At last there

was something, not clear at first, but something

white, amorphous. Gradually the image cleared. It

seemed to be that of a city, a city that perhaps

floated in a billowing white sea.

  "I see a city in the clouds," he finally said.

  "Bespin," Yoda identified it. "I see it, too.

Friends you have there, heh? Concentrate and see

them you will."

  Luke's concentration intensified. And the city in

the clouds became clearer. As he concentrated he

was able to see forms, familiar forms of people he


  "I see them!" Luke exclaimed, his eyes still shut.

Then a sudden agony, of body and spirit, took hold

of him. "They're in pain. They're suffering."

  "It is the future you see," the voice of Yoda ex-


  The future, Luke thought. Then the pain he had

felt had not yet been inflicted on his friends. So

perhaps the future was not unchangeable.

  "Will they die?" he asked his master.

  Yoda shook his head and shrugged gently. "Dif-

ficult to see. Always in motion is the future."

  Luke opened his eyes again. He stood up and

quickly began to gather his equipment. "They're my

friends," he said, guessing that the Jedi Master might

try to dissuade him from doing what he knew he


  "And therefore," Yoda added, "decide you must

how to serve them best. If you leave now, help

them you could. But you would destroy all for

which they have fought and suffered."

  His words stopped Luke cold. The youth sank to

the ground, feeling a shroud of gloom envelop him.

Could he really destroy everything he had worked

for and possibly also destroy his friends? But how

could he not try to save them?

  Artoo perceived his master's despair and rolled

over to stand by him and provide what comfort he




  Artoo-Detoo felt the rain plunking on top of his

metal dome as he trudged through the muddy pu-

dles of the bog. He was headed for the sanctuary

of Yoda's little hut, and soon his optical sensors

picked up the golden glow shining through its win-

dows. As he neared the inviting house, he felt a

robot's relief that at last he would get out of this

annoying, persistent rain.

  But when he tried to pass through the entrance

he discovered that his inflexible droid body just

could not get in; he tried from one angle, then

from another. At last the perception that he was

simply the wrong shape to get in seeped into his

computer mind.

  He could scarcely believe his sensors. As he

peered into the house, he scanned a busy figure,

bustling about the kitchen, stirring steaming pots,

chopping this and that, running back and forth.

But the figure in Yoda's tiny kitchen, doing Yoda's

kitchen tasks, was not the Jedi Master-but his


  Yoda, it appeared from Artoo's scan, was sim-

ply sitting back observing his young pupil from the

adjacent room, and quietly smiling. Then sud-

denly, in the midst of all his kitchen activity, Luke

paused, as if a painful vision had appeared before


  Yoda noticed Luke's troubled look. As he

watched his student, three glow-ball seekers ap-

peared from behind Yoda and noiselessly shot

through the air to attack the young Jedi from be-

hind. Instantly Luke turned to face them, a pot lid

in one hand and a spoon in the other.

  The seekers sent one rocketing bolt after an-

other directly at Luke. But, with astounding skill,

he warded off every one. He knocked one of the

seekers toward the open door where Artoo stood

watching his master's performance. But the faithful

droid saw the shining ball too late to avoid the bolt

it shot at him. The impact knocked the shrieking

robot onto the ground with a clunk that nearly

shook loose his electronic insides.

  Later that evening, after the student had suc-

cessfully passed a number of his teacher's tests, a

weary Luke Skywalker finally fell asleep on the

ground outside Yoda's house. He slept fitfully,

tossing and softly moaning. His concerned droid

stood by him, reaching out an extension arm and

covering Luke with the blanket that had slipped

halfway off. But when Artoo started to roll away,

Luke began to groan and shudder as if in the grip

of some horrible nightmare.

  Inside the house, Yoda heard the groans and

hurried to his doorway.

  Luke awoke from his sleep with a start. Dazed,

he looked about him, then saw his teacher wor-

riedly watching him from his house. "I can't keep

the vision out of my head, " Luke told Yoda. "My

friends...they're in trouble...and I feel


  "Luke, you must not go," Yoda warned.

  "But Han and Leia will die if I don't."

  "You don't know that." It was the whispered

voice of Ben, who was beginning to materialize be-

fore them. The dark-robed figure stood, a shim-

mering image, and told Luke, "Even Yoda cannot

see their fate."

  But Luke was deeply worried about his friends

and was determined to do something. "I can help

them!" he insisted.

  "You're not ready yet," Ben said gently. "You

still have much to learn."

  "I feel the Force," Luke said.

  "But you cannot control it. This is a dangerous

stage for you, Luke. You are now most susceptible

to the temptations of the dark side."

  "Yes, yes," Yoda added. "To Obi-Wan you lis-

ten, young one. The tree. Remember your failure

at the tree! Heh?"

  Painfully, Luke remembered, though he felt he

had gained a great deal of strength and under-

standing in that experience. "I've learned much

since then. And I'll return to finish. I promise that,


  "You underestimate the Emperor," Ben told

him gravely. "It is you he wants. That is why your

friends suffer."

  "And that," Luke said, "is why I must go."

  Kenobi was firm. "I will not lose you to the

Emperor as I once lost Vader."

  "You won't."

  "Only a fully trained Jedi Knight, with the

Force as his ally, will conquer Vader and his Em-

peror," Ben emphasized. "If you end your training

now, if you choose the quick and easy path-as

Vader did-you will become an agent of evil, and

the galaxy will be plunged deeper into the abyss

of hate and despair."

  "Stopped they must be," Yoda interjected. "Do

you hear? On this all depends."

  "You are the last Jedi, Luke. You are our only

hope. Be patient."

  "And sacrifice Han and Leia?" the youth asked


  "If you honor what they fight for," Yoda said,

pausing for a long moment, "...yes!"

  Great anguish overcame Luke. He wasn't cer-

tain that he could reconcile the advice of these two

great mentors with his own feelings. His friends

were in terrible danger, and of course he must

save them. But his teachers thought he was not

ready, that he might be too vulnerable to the pow-

erful Vader and his Emperor, that he might bring

harm to his friends and himself-and possibly be

lost forever on the path of evil.

  Yet how could he fear these abstract things

when Han and Leia were real and were suffering?

How could he permit himself to fear possible dan-

ger to himself when his friends were presently in

real danger of death?

  There was no longer any question in his mind

as to what he had to do.


  It was dusk the next day on the bog planet

when Artoo-Detoo settled himself into his nook

behind the cockpit of Luke's X-wing fighter.

  Yoda stood on one of the storage cases, watch-

ing Luke load the cases one by one into the fight-

er's underbelly as he worked in the glow of the

X-wing's lights.

  "I cannot protect you, Luke," the voice of Ben

Kenobi came, as his robed figure took solid form.

"If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone.

Once you've made his decision, I cannot inter-


  "I understand," Luke replied calmly. Then, turn-

ing to his droid, he said, "Artoo, fire up the power


  Artoo, who had already unfastened the power

couplings on the ship, whistled happily, grateful to

be leaving this dismal bog world, which was cer-

tainly no place for a droid.

  "Luke," Ben advised, "use the Force only for

knowledge and for defense, not as a weapon.

Don't give in to hate or anger. They lead the way

to the dark side."

  Luke nodded, only half-listening. His mind was

on the long journey and on the difficult tasks

ahead of him. He must save his friends, whose lives

were in danger because of him. He climbed into

the cockpit, then looked at his little Jedi Master.

  Yoda was deeply concerned about his appren-

tice. "Strong is Vader," he warned ominously.

"Clouded is your fate. Mind what you have

learned. Notice everything, everything! It can save


  "I will, Master Yoda," Luke assured him. "I

will and I'll be back to finish what I have begun. I

give you my word!"

  Artoo closed the cockpit and Luke started the


  Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi watched the X-wing

gear its engines and begin to move away for take-


  "Told you, I did," Yoda said sorrowfully, as

the sleek fighter craft began to lift into the misty

heavens. "Reckless is he. Now things are going to


  "That boy is our last hope," Ben Kenobi said,

his voice heavy with emotion.

  "No," Kenobi's former teacher corrected with a

knowing gleam in his large eyes, "there is another."

Yoda lifted his head toward the darkening sky

where Luke's ship was already a barely distin-

guishable point of light among the flickering stars.



  Luke and Artoo moved cautiously through a

deserted corridor.

  It concerned Luke that thus far they had not

been stopped for questioning. No one had asked

them for landing permits, identification papaers,

purpose of visit. No one in Cloud City seemed at

all curious about who this young man and his little

droid might be-or what they were doing there. It

all seemed rather ominous, and Luke was begin-

ning to feel very uneasy.

  Suddenly he heard a sound at the far end of the

corridor. Luke halted, pressing himself close against

the corridor wall. Artoo, thrilled to think that they

might be back among familiar droids and humans,

began to whistle and beep excitedly. Luke glanced

at him to be still, and the little robot emitted one

last, feeble squeak. Luke then peered around a

corner and saw a group approaching from a side

hallway. Leading the group was an imposing figure

in battered armor and helmet. Behind him, two

Cloud city armed guards pushed a transparent

case down the corridor. From where Luke stood it

appeared the case contained a floating, statuelike

human figure. Following the case were two Im-

perial stormtroopers, who spotted Luke.

  Instantly, the troopers took aim and began to


  But Luke dodged their laser bolts and, before

they could shoot another round, the youth fired his

blaster, ripping two sizzling holes into the storm-

troopers' armored chests.

  As the troopers fell, the two guards quickly

whisked the encased figure leveled his laser blaster

at Luke, sending a deadly bolt at him. The beam

just missed the youth, and nicked a large chunk

out of the wall next to him, shattering it into a

shower of dustlike particles. When the particles had

cleared, Luke peeked back around the corner and

saw that the nameless attacker, the guards, and the

case had all disappeared behind a thick metal door.

  Hearing sounds behind him, Luke turned to

see Leia, Chewbacca, See-Threepio, and an un-

familiar man in a cloak moving down yet another

hallway, and guarded by a small band of Impe-

rial stormtroopers.

  He gestured to catch the princess's attention.

  "Leia!" he shouted.

  "Luke, no!" she exclaimed, her voice charged

with fear. "It's a trap!"

  Leaving Artoo trailing behind, Luke ran off to

follow them. But when he reached a small ante-

room, Leia and the others had disappeared. Luke

heard Artoo whistling frantically as he scooted to-

ward the anteroom. Yet, as the youth swiftly

turned, he saw a mammoth metal door crash down

in front of the startled robot with a thundering


  With the slamming of that door, Luke was cut

off from the main corridor. And, when he turned

to find another way out, he saw more metal doors

bang shut in the other doorways of the chamber.

  Meanwhile, Artoo stood somewhat dazed by the

shock of his close call. If he had rolled just a tiny

bit farther into the anteroom, that door would

have squashed him into scrap metal. He pressed

his metal nose against the door, then gave out a

whistle of relief and wandered off in the opposite


  The anteroom was full of hissing pipes and

steam that belched from the floor. Luke began to

explore the room and noticed an opening above

his head, leading to a place he could not even

imagine. He moved forward to get a better look,

and as he did, the section of floor he stood on be-

gan to rise slowly upward. Luke rode up with the

lifting platform, determined to face the foe he had

traveled so far to meet.

  Keeping his blaster clutched in his hand, Luke

rose into the carbon-freezing chamber. The room

was deathly quiet, except for the hissing of steam

escaping some of the pipes in the room. It

appeared to Luke that he was the only living

creature in this chamber of strange machinery and

chemical containers, but he sensed that he was not



  He spoke the name to himself as he looked

around the chamber.

  "Lord Vader. I feel your presence. Show your-

self," Luke taunted his unseen enemy, "or do you

fear me?"

  While Luke spoke, the escaping steam began to

billow out in great clouds. Then, unaffected by

the searing heat, Vader appeared and strode

through the hissing vapors, stepping onto the nar-

row walkway above the chamber, his black cloak

trailing behind him.

  Luke took a cautious step toward the demonic

figure in black and holstered his blaster. He ex-

perienced a surge of confidence and felt completely

ready to face the Dark Lord as one Jedi against

another. There was no need for his blaster. He

sensed that the Force was with him and that, at last,

he was ready for this inevitable battle. Slowly he

began to mount the stairs toward Vader.

  "The Force is with you, young Skywalker,"

Darth Vader said from above, "but you are not a

Jedi yet."

  Vader's words had a chilling effect. Briefly Luke

hesitated, recalling the words of another former

Jedi Knight: "Luke, use the Force only for know-

ledge and for defense, not as a weapon. Don't give

in to hate or anger. They lead the way to the

dark side."

  But throwing aside any fragment of doubt, Luke

gripped the smoothly finished handle of his light-

saber and quickly ignited the laser blade.

At the same instant, Vader ignited his own laser

sword and quietly waited for the young Skywalker

to attack.

  His great hatred for Vader impelled Luke to

lunge at him savagely, bringing his sizzling blade

down upon Vader's. But effortlessly, the Dark

Lord deflected the blow with a defensive turn of

his own weapon.

  Again Luke attacked. Once again their energy

blades clashed.

  And then they stood, staring at one another for

an endless moment through their crossed light-




  Lightsabers clashed in Luke Skywalker and

Darth Vader's battle on the platform above the

carbon-freezing chamber.

  Luke felt the shaking platform shudder with

every blow and parry and thrust of their weapons.

But he was undaunted, for with every thrust of his

sword he drove the evil Darth Vader back.

  Vader, using his lightsaber to ward off Luke's

aggressive lunges, spoke calmly as they fought.

"The fear does not reach you. You have learned

more than I anticipated."

  "You'll find I'm full of surprises," the confident

youth retorted, threatening Vader with yet another


  "And I, too," was the calm, portentous reply.

  With two graceful moves, the Dark Lord hooked

Luke's weapon out of his hands and sent it flying

away. A slash of Vader's energy blade at Luke's

feet made the youth jump back in an effort to pro-

tect himself. But he stumbled backward, and tum-

bled down the stairs.

  Sprawled on the platform, Luke gazed up and

saw the ominous dark figure looming above him at

the top of the stairs. Then the figure flew right at

him, its sable cloak billowing out in the air like

the wings of a monstrous bat.

  Quickly Luke rolled to one side, not taking his

eyes off Vader, as the vast black figure landed

soundlessly next to him.

  "Your future lies with me, Skywalker," Vader

hissed, looming over the crouching youth. "Now

you will embrace the dark side. Obi-Wan knew this

to be true."

  "No!" Luke yelled, trying to fight off the evil


  "There is much Obi-Wan did not tell you,"

Vader continued. "Come, I will complete your


  Vader's influence was incredibly strong; it seemed

to Luke like a thing alive.

  Don't listen to him, Luke told himself. He is try-

ing to trick me, to lead me astray, to lead me to the

dark side of the Force, just like Ben warned me!

  Luke began to back away from the advancing

Sith Lord. Behind the youth, the hydraulic elevator

cover silently opened, ready to receive him.

  "I'll die first," Luke proclaimed.

  "That won't be necessary." The Dark Lord sud-

denly lunged at Luke with his lightsaber, so force-

fully that the youth lost his balance and tumbled

into the gaping opening.

  Vader turned away from the freezing-pit and

casually deactivated his lightsaber. "All too easy,"

he shrugged. "Perhaps you are not as strong as the

Emperor thought."

  As he spoke, molten metal began to pour into the

opening behind him. And, while his back was still

turned, something rose in a blur upward.

  "Time will tell," Luke quietly replied to Vader's


  The Dark Lord spun around. At this point in the

freezing process, the subject certainly shouldn't be

able to speak! Vader glanced around the room and

then turned his helmeted head up toward the ceil-


  Hanging from some hoses draped across the ceil-

ing, Luke was suspended, having leaped some five

meters into the air to escape the carbonite.

  "Impressive," Vader admitted, "your agility is


  Luke dropped back to the platform on the other

side of the steaming pit. He reached his hand out

and his sword, lying on another part of the plat-

form, flew back into his grip. Immediately the light-

saber ignited.

  Vader's sword sprang to life at the very same

moment. "Ben has taught you well. You have con-

trolled your fear. Now release your anger. I de-

stroyed your family. Take your revenge."

  But this time Luke was cautious and more con-

trolled. If he could subdue his anger, as he had

finally controlled his fear, he would not be swayed.

  Remember the training, Luke cautioned himself.

Remember what Yoda taught! Cast out all hatred

and anger and receive the Force!

  Gaining control over his negative feelings, Luke

began to advance, ignoring Vader's goading. He

lunged at Vader and, after a quick exchange, be-

gan to force him back.

  "Your hatred can give you the power to destroy

me," Vader tempted. "Use it."

  Luke began to realize just how awesomely pow-

erful his dark enemy was, and softly told himself,

"I will not become a slave to the dark side of the

Force," and moved cautiously toward Vader.

  As Luke approached, Vader blocked it, he lost his

balance and fell into the outer rim of steaming


  Luke's knees nearly buckled with the exhaustion

of battling his fearsome opponent. He gathered his

strength and cautiously moved to the edge and

looked down. But he saw no sign of Vader. Switch-

ing off his lightsaber and hooking it into his belt,

Luke lowered himself into the pit.

  He dropped to the floor of the pit and found

himself in a large control and maintenance room

that overlooked the reactor powering the entire city.

Looking around the chamber, he noticed a large

window; standing silhouetted in front of it was the

unmoving figure of Darth Vader.

  Luke slowly moved closer to the window and re-

ignited his lightsaber.

  But Vader did not light his own sword, nor did

he make any effort to defend himself as Luke drew

nearer. The Dark Lord's only weapon, in fact, was

his tempting voice. "Attack," he goaded the young

Jedi. "Destroy me."

  Confused by Vader's ploy, Luke hesitated.

  "Only by taking your revenge can you save your-


  Luke stood locked in place. Should he act on

Vader's words and thus use the Force as a tool of

revenge? Or should he step away from this battle

now, hoping for another chance to fight Vader

when he had gained better control?

  No, how could he delay the opportunity to de-

stroy this evil being? Here was his chance, now,

and he must not delay...

  There might never again be such an opportunity!

  Luke grasped his deadly lightsaber in both hands,

tightly gripping the smooth handle like an ancient

broadsword and raising the weapon to deliver the

blow that would slay this masked horror.

  But before he could swing, a large piece of ma-

chinery detached itself from the wall behind him

and came hurtling at his back. Turning instantly,

Luke flashed his lightsaber and cut the thing in

half, and the two massive pieces crashed to the


  A second piece of machinery sped toward the

youth, and he again used the Force to deflect it.

The weighty object bounced away as if it had

struck an unseen shield. Then a large pipe came

tumbling toward him through the air. But even

as Luke repelled that enormous object, tools and

pieces of machinery came flying at him from all

directions. Then wires, that pulled themselves out

of the walls, came twisting and sparking and

whipping at him.

  Bombarded on all sides, Luke did what he

could to deflect the assault; but he was beginning

to get bloodied and bruised in the attempt.

  Another large piece of machinery glanced off

Luke's body and crashed out the large window,

letting in the screaming wind. Suddenly everything

in the room was blown about, and the fierce wind

lashed Luke's body and filled the room with a

bansheelike howl.

  And in the very center of the room, standing still

and triumphant, was Darth Vader.

  "You are beaten," the Dark Lord of the Sith

gloated. "It is useless to resist. You will join me

or you will join Obi-Wan in death!"

  As Vader spoke those words, a final piece of

heavy machinery soared through the air, striking

the young Jedi and knocking him through the

broken window. Everything became a great blur

as the wind carried him, tossing and rolling, until

he managed to grab hold of a beam with one hand.

  When the wind subsided a bit and his vision

cleared, Luke realized that he was hanging from

the gantry of the reactor shaft outside the control

room. When he gazed down he saw what ap-

peared to be an endless abyss. A wave of dizziness

swept over him and he squeezed his eyes closed

in an effort to keep from panicking.

  Compared to the podlike reactor from which he

hung, Luke was no more than a speck of squirm-

ing matter, while the pod itself-just one of many

jutting from the circular, light-dotted inner wall-

was no more than a speck itself in comparison with

the rest of the immense chamber.

  Grasping the beam firmly with only one hand,

Luke managed to hook his lightsaber on to his belt

and then grab the beam with both hands. Hoisting

himself up, he scrambled onto the gantry and stood

on it, just in time to see Darth Vader walking to-

ward him down the shaft.

  As Vader approached Luke, the public address

system began to blare, echoing through the cavern-

ous rooms: "Fugitives heading toward Platform

327. Secure all transports. All security forces on


  Walking menacingly toward Luke, Vader pre-

dicted, "Your friends will never escape and neither

will you."

  Vader took another step, and Luke immediately

raised his sword, ready to renew the battle.

  "You are beaten," Vader stated with horrifying

certainty and finality. "It is useless to resist."

  But Luke did resist. He lunged at the Dark Lord

with a vicious blow, bringing his sizzling laser blade

to crash onto Vader's armor and sear through to

the flesh. Vader staggered from the blow, and it

seemed to Luke that he was in pain. But only for a

moment. Then, once again, Vader began to move

toward him.

  Taking another step, the Dark Lord warned,

"Don't let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan was."

  Luke was breathing hard, cold sweat dropping

from his forehead. But the sound of Ben's name

instilled a sudden resolve in him.

  "Calm-" he reminded himself. "Be calm."

  But the grimly cloaked specter stalked toward

him along the narrow gantry, and it seemed he

wanted the young Jedi's life.

  Or worse, his fragile soul.


  The wind that shrieked through the reactor shaft

entirely absorbed the sounds of the clashing light-


  Luke moved agilely across the gantry and took

refuge beneath a huge instrument panel to evade

his pursuing foe. But Vader was there in an instant,

his lightsaber thrashing down like a pulsating guil-

lotine blade, cutting the instrument complex loose.

The complex began to fall, but was abruptly

caught by the wind and blown upward.

  An instant of distraction was all Vader needed.

As the instrument panel floated away, Luke invol-

untarily glanced at it. At that second, the Dark

Lord's laser blade came slashing down across

Luke's hand, cutting it, and sending the youth's

lightsaber flying.

  The pain was excruciating. Luke smelled the

terrible odor of his own seared flesh and squeezed

his forearm beneath his armpit to try to stop the

agony. He stepped backward along the gantry until

he reached its extreme end, stalked all the while by

the black-garbed apparition.

  Abruptly, ominously, the wind subsided. And

Luke realized he had nowhere else to go.

  "There is no escape," the Dark Lord of the Sith

warned, looming over Luke like a black angel of

death. "Don't make me destroy you. You are

strong with the Force. Now you must learn to use

the dark side. Join me and together we will be

more powerful than the Emperor. Come, I will

complete your training and we will rule the galaxy


  Luke refused to give in to Vader's taunts. "I will

never join you!"

  "If you only knew the power of the dark side,"

Vader continued. "Obi-Wan never told you what

happened to your father, did he?"

  Mention of his father aroused Luke's anger. "He

told me enough!" he yelled. "He told me you killed


  "No," Vader replied calmly. "I am your father."

  Stunned, Luke stared with disbelief at the black-

clad warrior and then pulled away at this revela-

tion. The two warriors stood staring at one another,

father and son.

  "No, no! That's not true..." Luke said, refus-

ing to believe what he had just heard. "That's im-


  "Search your feelings," Vader said, sounding like

an evil version of Yoda, "you know it to be true."

  Then Vader turned off the blade of his lightsaber

and extended a steady and inviting hand.

  Bewildered and horror-stricken at Vader's words,

Luke shouted, "No! No!"

  Vader continued persuasively. "Luke, you can

destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is

your destiny. Join me and together we can rule the

galaxy as father and son. Come with me. It is the

only way."

  Luke's mind whirled with those words. Every-

thing was finally beginning to coalesce in his brain.

Or was it? He wondered if Vader were telling him

the truth-if the training of Yoda, the teaching of

saintly old Ben, his own strivings for good and his

abhorrence of evil, if everything he had fought for

were no more than a lie.

  He didn't want to believe Vader, tried convic-

ing himself that it was Vader who lied to him-but

somehow he could feel the truth in the Dark Lord's

words. But, if Darth Vader did speak the truth,

why, he wondered, had Ben Kenobi lied to him?

Why? His mind screamed louder than any wind

the Dark Lord could ever summon against him.

  The answers no longer seemed to matter.

  His Father.

  With the calmness that Ben himself and Yoda,

the Jedi Master, had taught him, Luke Skywalker

made, perhaps, what might be his final decision of

all. "Never," Luke shouted as he stepped out into

the empty abyss beneath him. For all its unper-

ceived depth, Luke might have been falling to an-

other galaxy.

  Darth Vader moved to the end of the gantry to

watch as Luke tumbled away. A strong wind began

to blow, billowing Vader's black cloak out behind

him as he stood looking over the edge.

  Skywalker's body quickly plunged downward.

Toppling head over foot, the wounded Jedi desper-

ately reached out to grab at something to stop his


  The Dark Lord watched until he saw the youth's

body sucked into a large exhaust pipe in the side of

the reactor shaft. When Luke vanished, Vader

quickly turned and hurried off the platform.