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Friday, December 28, 2012

If I'd Written Star Wars II, Part II

For the backstory and Act I, click here. 

Act II
In a scene on the Imperial homeworld we see the Emperor for the first time - not the fearsome villain we know from the films, but the puppet described in Alan Dean Foster's novelization of Star Wars. Two Grand Moffs (played perhaps by Christoper Lee and Oliver Reed) flank the Emperor, looking far more dangerous than the withered old man slumped atop the Imperial throne. Before the Emperor kneels Darth Vader, stripped of his rank and prestige thanks to losing the Death Star plans and the station itself. In a clearly scripted speech prepared for him by the Moffs, the Emperor reluctantly banishes Darth to the galactic rim to show what happens to those who fail the Empire. Clearly the Moffs would have preferred execution, but Darth's mastery of the Force gives them just enough pause to order a lighter sentence. "You allowed a farm boy from some insignificant backwater to destroy the mightiest weapon the universe has ever seen," the Emperor quavers. "Even worse, you have given the rebels a hero to rally around, the name Luke Skywalker galvanizing not only the treacherous rebels, but instilling fear in our own populace. Begone! Let your name be first cursed, then forgotten."

With no cause and no mentor, Darth is left only with dreams of revenge and bitter regrets over the life he might have lived. He's now nothing more than a deformed freak in a life support suit, albeit a freak with some dangerous telekinetic powers. His only consolation is his murder of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but even that victory rings hollow given the mysterious evaporation of his old foe's body.

Darth leaves the Imperial palace to the jeers and catcalls of a riled-up mob, orchestrated, of course, by the Moffs. He's pelted with rotten fruit as he boards an ancient shuttle. His rage hidden by his awful mask, he slides into the pilot's seat and sets course for the edge of the Empire, silently plotting his next moves.

On their way back to the green moon of Yavin, Luke informs Han that if he can get permission from the Rebels for leave, he intends to search for his lost mother. "Kid, this is going to sound harsh but you're talking about a fool's errand. There's no way your mom is still on the same planet where old Ben dumped her - hell, if she had any smarts she'll be parsecs away from there."

But Luke is adamant that he can find her. He's been practicing with the Force, he admits, a revelation that makes Han roll his eyes. "You really believe that hocus pocus? Kid, it's going to get you killed."

"But if I can get close enough to her, if I can even get close to a place she's been, I'm sure that I'll be able to sense her trail," Luke whines. "It's worth a try. She's the only family I have left!" 

The argument continues on the green moon of Yavin. Han expects Leia to back him up, but to his shock and consternation not only does she give Luke permission to go, she insists on loaning him a fast ship - and even worse, she offers to go along. "I know what it's like to be an orphan," she says. "And diplomatic matters here are in good hands. You saved the Rebellion, Luke, maybe even the galaxy - we're in your debt, and the Organa family always pays its debts."

Han, suddenly not liking the idea of Luke and Leia alone together for weeks in a comfortable ship, decides that he'll go along too "To make sure you crazy kids don't get in over your heads!" Chewbacca and R2-D2 stay behind to oversee the latest overhaul of the Millennium Falcon, but Luke invites C-3PO along with his group; on the edge of the galaxy, a translator might come in handy.

As Luke, Leia, Han and Threepio zoom away from Yavin's moon, the sleek, dark shuttlecraft of the Imperial spy crosses into Imperial territory, zooming in toward a Super Star Destroyer. She delivers the plans to the Life Star, and a smirking Grand Admiral orders the plans analyzed, certain that the rebel secret weapon will have a fatal flaw. "Won't those rebel scum be surprised when we snuff out their Life Star just as they destroyed our glorious Death Star?"

Darth Vader flies to Tatooine, where he interrogates - or rather tortures - Luke's remaining childhood friends. To his shock, he learns enough to piece together the fact that Luke wasn't just another Skywalker - a common enough name in the galaxy - but the accursed son of his friend Anakin, the baby he tried and failed to kill two decades ago. And even worse, Obi-Wan had recruited the boy to the side of the rebellion, which ultimately led to Vader's disgrace. Mocked by the universe, hardly able to fathom such coincidences are possible given the vast size of the galaxy, Vader flies into a rage, killing Luke's friends and then tracking down Ben Kenobi's desert home, where he finds the same message meant for Luke. Grinning behind his mask, he follows the same trail as Luke and the others, just a few short steps behind...

Tomorrow: Act III!

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