Author's Note: I was a bit hard thinking up something that was delaying the Fleet, but I finally came up with something. Sorry if it's not very good, but it's not an easy thing to delay an entire fleet, you know! Your average mechanical problem just wouldn't work and I felt I just couldn't ignore the missing fleet – though that was tempting! Hope it was worth the wait!

The Fleet

The Rebel armada, hundreds of ships strong, hung in space like a vast cloud. Nerves were tight as the approaching hour for battle would soon be upon them and many gathered there now would surely die horrible deaths. But it was worth it if they could win freedom from the evil Empire.

Mon Mothma stood on the bridge of one of the lead vessels along with the alien known as Admiral Ackbar. The waiting was sheer torture, each minute seeming to take an eternity. But once the battle was joined, things would seem to move faster. But the wait was necessary, for they had to give their friends time to get the shield down. With the shield generator intact, it would be impossible to destroy the second Death Star.

The beeping of the radar broke the silence.

"Sir!" one of the young bridge officers called sharply. "Something massive is approaching our position at vast speeds!"

"Is it a Super Star Destroyer?" Admiral Ackbar asked, his fish-like eyes focused on the young radar officer.

"No! It's bigger!"

"Could it be the Death Star itself?" Mon Mothma asked.

"It's even bigger than that, Sir! I don't know what it is!"

"Put it on the main screen." Ackbar ordered. 

All eyes turned to the main viewscreen as it showed the empty reaches of space before them. There was a blinding flash of light and almost everyone threw up an arm to shield his or her eyes. The flash faded, leaving what appeared to be a thick bank of fog behind.

"Analysis! What is that out there?" Admiral Ackbar snapped. Now wasn't the time for some strange space phenomena to bother them! They were ready to attack the Death Star!

"I … I don't know!" One of the bridge officers admitted. "But I'm getting life-form readings. It appears to be alive!"

The fog swirled as if the solar winds were affecting it and who is to say they weren't? Gradually, as every eye on every Rebel ship watched, the fog began to take a form. It moved this way and that, gathering thicker in some places, that piece growing longer, other areas shrinking. Soon they all could see a massive head with a maw filled with sharp teeth, strong legs and arms with giant hands.

"By the Force! It's a giant rancor!" Mon Mothma gasped.

The rancor made of white space fog drifted nearer their ship and soon the warning klaxons began to blare loudly.

"Collision! Everyone brace for collision!" Admiral Ackbar shouted as the rancor opened its huge mouth to take a bite of the lead Rebel ship.

Mon Mothma gripped the armrests of her chair tightly as the viewscreen turned all white with fog.

The next instant only regular space was visible.

"It's … it's just gone!" The radar officer said. "It didn't jump to hyperspace or anything. It was there one second and gone the next! I can't explain it!"

"I doubt if anyone could explain that." Mon Mothma remarked, her heart slowing down towards its regular beat.

"Oh, I think I can!" A man remarked, a wide smirk on his face.

Everyone turned to look who had spoken and saw a stranger dressed in a gray Imperial Navy officer's uniform, hat and all. The spooky thing is, he hadn't been there a second before.

"Who are you?" Mon Mothma asked as she rose to her feet to face him. After what they had just witnessed, she doubted if he really was an Imperial officer.

"I do love to make a flashy entrance, don't I? Did I impress you?"

"That rancor was you?" Admiral Ackbar asked, finding it difficult to believe. "How is that possible?"

"My dear … whatever you are, I'm an advanced species! I'm as far above you as you're above a tiny bug that crawls on the ground. And like that proverbial bug, I could smash you all out of existence in a second. But I won't. Because what you're doing here today interests me."

"What do you want from us?" Mon Mothma asked.

"Why, I want to understand why you're all willing to throw your lives away, as short and pitiful as they are. Look at you! Here in this hull no thicker than a cobweb and yet you're going to go up against a big weapon! Well, not that I consider it big. To me that Death Star is nothing but a pool ball I could flick with my finger. But studying humanity is a hobby of mine, so here I am!"

"So you want to know WHY we're going to attack the Death Star?" Mon Mothma watched the stranger fold up his legs and float about two feet above the deck.

"Yes, if it isn't too much bother. Of course, I can't let you go until I'm satisfied with the answer."

"You'd hold us prisoner here? All of us, the entire fleet?" Ackbar still sat in his command chair, the chair swiveled so he could face the entity, if that was even the correct word.

"Yes, why not? I can do anything I want!"

"No one can do anything they want!" Mon Mothma told him. "Even the Emperor can't just do anything he wants, although he certainly tries.

"Ah, yes. Dear old Palpy!"

"Palpy?!" both Ackbar and Mon Mothma gasped at the same time.

"Hmmm, yes. Things should be getting very interesting on his old chewed up apple about now, interesting and very, very WET. Oh, but I've been such a naughty boy!" The man rubbed his palms together and giggled like a schoolboy.

"What did you do?" Ackbar demanded to know.

"Oh, like I'm just going to tell you? I think not! You people didn't even answer my question yet. I'm supposed to be asking the questions, my dear fish man, not you. Otherwise you can go back to your water world."

"Very well. I'll answer your question." Mon Mothma agreed since she was the politician. "We are attacking the Death Star to win a war. Many years ago Supreme Chancellor Palpatine took control of the Old Republic and declared himself Emperor. Soon after that he did many terrible things. He destroyed the Jedi Temple, built an army and huge military fleet, blew up planets, killed billions of innocent people and committed horrible atrocities. So we are trying to retake our galaxy away from him to win our freedom. We are willing to die for that and many of us have already."

"But surely you'll know you can't win? You'll all die horrible deaths if you go today!"

"You can't scare us that way. We will win. The Force is on our side." Ackbar told him.

"The Force? The Force?" the stranger laughed, throwing back his head. "That's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard! It's your enemy that has the Force, not you!"

"While it's true that Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader are Force-users, Luke Skywalker also has the Force and he's on our side. We believe goodness is stronger than evil, so we will win." Mon Mothma pointed out.

"Skywalker? That klutz? Ha!" The man laughed even harder until he hung upside-down in the air, legs still folded in the sitting position. The fact that he was upside-down didn't seen to bother him at all. "Your precious Skywalker handed himself over to Vader and Palpatine!"

"NO! That's not true!" Mon Mothma gasped, horrified.

"Oh, YES. See, he has a tender spot in his heart for dear old Dad. You DO know who his father is, don't you?"

"His father was a Jedi that was killed by Darth Vader sometime around the Clone Wars or just after. It's not exactly clear when he died. So many records from that time period were lost or destroyed." Mon Mothma stared at the stranger. "Why? What are you implying?"

"So he didn't tell you, did he? Well, not that I blame him!"

"Tell us what?" Mon Mothma asked.

"Well, I really shouldn't…"

"Tell us." Ackbar encouraged, leaning forward to hear well. Everyone on the bridge was waiting eagerly to hear what the man would say.

"No, I couldn't!"

"Please. We really want to know!" Mon Mothma was shocked that he could manipulate them all like this. She normally wasn't a gossip, but somehow the things he said were just so fascinating! Could it be the way he said them? Perhaps she could learn a few things from this man on how to captivate an audience when speaking….

"Oh, all right! You convinced me, I must admit. Skywalker's father is none other than Darth Vader himself!"

Everyone on the bridge gasped loudly.

"In fact, this very moment your precious Skywalker is working for Palpatine! Quite eagerly, I must admit. He's doing a swell job of it, too! Oh, I just can't wait to see what exciting thing happens next! It's soooo much better than those boring holovisions you people watch!"

"NO! That can't be true! Luke would never fall to the Dark Side!" Mon Mothma protested loudly. "How do we even know you're telling the truth? Everything you told us could be a lie."

"My dear pathetic mortal, I have no reason to lie to you! Everything I told you is true, I assure you! And I do like to play games…"

"Games? What sort of games?" Ackbar asked, curious about this strange man.

"The kind that's happening on the Death Star right now…"

The stranger waved his hand and a new image began to form on the viewscreen, one showing the interior of Palpatine's private quarters. They could see Luke sitting at a desk doing something. Palpatine was further in the background along with Lord Vader. The tree men didn't seem to be aware they were being watched and they continued to do their own activities. The sound, however, was missing so their mouths moved but it was impossible to hear what they were saying.

"Is this real?" Mon Mothma asked.

"Whose side are you on?" Ackbar inquired.

"Why, neither side! I'm just here to conduct my game and you, my dear players, are about to enter it as well!"

With a loud pop, the man vanished from the ship.

"I have a bad feeling about this." Mon Mothma stated.