Problems with the Press
Disclaimer: This is my disclaimer. It says that I did not create these characters. I didn't even create half the action. So there. I said it. Now I can't be accused of not giving credit where it's due.
"Now Jar Jar," George Lucas was serious, "I want Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and the Emperor got it?"
"Mesa got it," Jar Jar Binks was eager to please, "Yousa want dem for a newsa talk."
"Yes," Lucas had his doubts about sending the Gungan, but he pushed these to the back of his mind. "Dismissed."
After being dismissed, Jar Jar sprinted to the Nubian style craft he was to pilot. He strapped himself in and took off never noticing the movie playing in the back ground or the time-warp button he leaned against . . .
"But I was going into Toche station to pick up some new power converters," Luke Skywalker tried to turn a scheduled meeting with his friends into a chore so his uncle would let him go.
Owen Lars however saw right through his nephew's plan. "Don't lie to me, boy," he said in a voice gruffer than usual, "you can waste time with your friends after your chores are done."
"Luke, oh Luke!" Luke tilted his head to hear the voice better, that wasn't Aunt Beru, but it had to have been.
"Coming Aunt Beru," he called as he ran toward the voice. What he saw made him stop dead in his tracks. A tall humanoid stood there. He wore well-worn bell bottom pants and a vest both of which were earthen collared. Yellow dust covered him. Like everything else on this pathetic world, Luke thought. Dog ears flopped down the humanoid's muscular back and duckish lips were parted to reveal horselike teeth. When he spoke, Luke could see a frog's tongue coiled and ready.
"Mesa no Aunt Beru," the creature stated in heavily accented Basic. "Mesa come to take yous to a newsa talk."
"Who are you?" Luke asked in a mixture of Basic and the humaniod's home language. He'd read about Gungans and studied their language, but had never expected to meet one on his home planet of Tatooine and least of all in his own back yard.
Jar Jar took a step back on hearing his native tongue coming from the boy. He quickly recovered and began burbling rapidly to Luke. The youth held up his arms and motioned for Jar Jar to slow down and start over Jar Jar took a deep breath and repeated the garbled message. "Mesa Jar Jar Binksa. George Lucas send mesa to take yous to a newsa talk."
Luke thought for a moment and saw his chance to get off the desolate world. This truth realized he happily followed the Gungan to the Nubian ship in which the creature had come. Of course the fact that he had some things to say to Lucas for sticking him on such a pathetic rock might have influenced his decision, but Luke pushed this thought away.
Senator Princess Leia Organa grabbed the blaster from Luke's hands and blasted the grate over the garbage chute.
"What'd you do that for?" Luke asked as she handed him back his weapon.
"Well someone had to save our skins," was the curt reply, "into the garbage chute flyboy!" At that she took her own advice and jumped into the hole.
"Wonderful girl," Han quipped, "either I'm going to kill her or I'm beginning to like her." Chewie growled something. "I don't care what you smell," Han replied. "Get in there," he yelled as he kicked his partner down the chute. Han then proceeded to dive headfirst into the tunnel, followed closely by Luke. They hit a hard surface and rolled, nearly toppling Leia who was just recovering from her fall. They were in the cargo hold of a Nubian ship. Presently, a Gungan entered. He looked perplexed when he saw Han and Chewie, but when he saw Luke he stopped being perplexed and was merely confused. Confusion then became curiosity which became amazement.
"What do you want with us?" Leia asked. She had recovered enough to remember her Senatorial training.
"Your Highness," Jar Jar said while bowing low to the startled Leia. "Mesa need you for a newsa talk with George Lucas."
Leia relaxed when she heard who was hosting the press conference. "Good," she breathed, "I have a few things to say to George for landing me with such imbeciles." She eyed her rescuers, pausing longer than necessary on Han's face.
"Come Highness," Jar Jar implored beckoning toward the passenger section. When Leia was through the door, he explained. "Mesa no need dem, back dey goes!" Then he pushed the cargo release button, dumping the rest of the characters back into the garbage pit. "Okeday," Jar Jar commented wiping his hands. "Now wesa pick up de others." He led the way toward the cockpit. Sitting in the copilot's seat, staring at Leia, was Luke, still dressed in his farm boy outfit. He had been so absorbed with watching her he had forgotten to wonder why he was in a stormtrooper's uniform in the scene he had just witnessed.
"But I thought you . . . you were," she stammered, ". . . the garbage chute . . . and, and the drop . . . " Finally she recovered. "Why are you staring at me like that? You act as if you've never seen me before"
"I . . . I, I haven't," he managed. Then elaborated, "The ship picked me up from my homestead on Tatooine."
Leia snorted. Either Jar Jar had screwed up royally or Luke was the biggest liar this side of Coruscaunt. She decided to reserve judgment until later.
"Hey! Hey Chewie! Calm down, pal," Han Solo tried to quiet his best friend. "This isn't going to help me. The Princess, you have to take care of her." His attention switched from Chewie to Leia. They stared into each other's eyes and he leaned down far enough for a passionate kiss. A stormtrooper finally pulled them apart.
"I love you!" She called as Han was forced back onto the carbonization platform.
"I know," he replied his eyes never leaving hers.
Suddenly, a Nubian starship crashed into the room. Using the brief moment of distraction provided by the craft, Chewie broke loose grabbing the nearest trooper and slamming him against the wall. Leia grabbed the downed trooper's pistol and began firing at Boba Fett and Darth Vader. Her shots at the Dark Lord were ineffectual, but she hit Bobba's rocket pack with a well-timed blast. It exploded subsequently taking out Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and six stormtroopers. In the pandemonium following the blast, Han, Leia, and Chewie ran toward the ship that had just saved them. They entered the cargo hold. Jar Jar was already waiting. He beaconed for Han to follow him.
"Chewie, I'm having a really weird dejavu," Han commented.
"Han," Leia observed, "I didn't know you had such a big vocabulary."
He gave her a softer version of his "if looks could kill . . . " as Chewie burst out laughing. "Laugh it up fuzzball." He challenged as he stepped through the door. Once through he was confronted by Leia as he knew her from the Death Star. "Hey baby," he purred, "Do you still love me?"
Leia was stunned this idiot had the audacity to ask if she loved him! Drawing back a small, shapely hand, she let fly with a slap that whirled the pirate around and sent him to the floor. "How dare you ask me that?" she ranted, "I never have and never will love you!"
"That's what you think," Han muttered to the floor. Aloud the said, "But not five minutes ago you told me you loved me. And what are you staring at Junior?" he asked noticing Luke for the first time.
The youth favored him with a bemused smile. "She obviously doesn't like you so why do you keep asserting that she does?"
"But she just told me . . . Oh, I see, you two are in on this together."
At this comment Luke became defensive. "No, I didn't even know she existed 'till ten minutes ago."
"What do you mean you 'didn't even know she existed'? You've been working with her for the last year and a half!"
When this comment brought questioning stares from both Luke and Leia, Han turned to Jar Jar for explanation. Unbidden, the whole story came tumbling out of the Gungan including the part about George Lucas's press conference. Luke relaxed because Jar Jar was speaking fairly intelligible Basic. Leia relaxed because this was just another one of Jar Jar's screw-ups and Luke wasn't lying to her. Han relaxed when Jar Jar told him why he was sent. So this wasn't another threat to his life or future wealth. Instead, this was a welcome chance to unload on Lucas how aggravated he was about the betrayal and carbon freezing.
"OK, let's go," he said as the Nubian went into, by Han's standards a rather slow hyperspace jump.
Chewbacca watched as Luke flipped Artoo a jaunty salute. At that signal, a compartment on the droid's dome opened and a small projectile shot out. Simultaneously, Luke jumped from the plank he was on, spinning in midair to grab the board with his fingertips. Letting it catapult him up into a double flip with a half-turn, he landed behind the startled guards, right hand casually raised to catch the lightsaber now hurtling toward them. Before either guard realized that the prisoner was now behind them, Luke had caught, activated, and run them both through with his lightsaber. Turning around, Luke then proceeded to slice the binders holding Han and Chewie. For the next thirty minutes, they battled their subsequent monsters and men. A burst from the Sail Barge nearly sent Han over the edge. Chewie grabbed onto the pilot's ankles, hoping against hope that it would be enough to keep his friend from being eaten by the monster below. Chewie was so intent on keeping Han from falling that he noticed nothing else until Han addressed him.
"Chewie, hand me that blaster," Han pleaded.
"Hey, I thought you couldn't see!" Lando Calrissian objected from somewhere below.
"Don't worry, I can see much better now," Han reassured him.
Before Chewie could add his two cents to the Sabacc pot however, Han had shot the Sarlacc tentacle which had wrapped itself around Lando's ankle. "Pull!" Han shouted. Chewie pulled, grunting with effort. Luke brought the second skiff along the side the first just as Chewie managed to pull Han and Lando onto the damaged vehicle.
Just then, a Nubian spacecraft flew out of the sun and swallowed both skiffs in its cargo hold. At first no one moved. They all lay panting on the floor wondering at their escape. Then for some unexplained reason, Leia started giggling. This set Chewie off and before it was done, they were all rolling on the floor clutching their sides.
Luke was the first one to notice they were being watched. "Uh . . . guys?" he muttered standing up. "Don't look now, but I think our past is watching us." Leia and Han, still laughing, got up and turned around. They became silent as their eyes locked on the passengers in the cockpit. Luke, by that time, was staring at himself. Man I was a dork! he thought. His younger self began to wave franticly and Luke turned away in disgust. Meanwhile, Leia stared as the Leia in the cockpit slapped the Han in the cockpit. She saw the ease with which the Senator had established command of the ship and was proud of herself.
In the cockpit Luke gapped at the Jedi Knight before him. I am going to be so cool! he thought in giddy delight. Then he began waving rapidly. He stopped when his Jedi self turned away.
While that was going on, Leia stared at the scantily clad woman in the cargo hold. "Well I never . . . ," she began. She would have continued but her profession did not condone vulgar language. She eyed the girl's attire with disgust. Then she noticed the circle of metal around her throat. She focused on this choke-collar and soon found what she was looking for, a small length of chain. Good, so I don't become a slut, she noted satisfied.
"Whoa, baby!" Han gasped behind her, "You are a real hottie!"
Gravely insulted, Leia spun and without further ado slapped him upside the head. "Don't you have any manners?" she asked turning around. Then she noticed the Han in the cargo bay. Giving the man a brief glance, she added to the Han behind her, "or another set of clothes?"
Jar Jar had seen enough of this so he went into the cargo hold. Chewie, knowing he could probably help Han better in the cockpit, went quietly.
"You have paid a price for your lack of vision," Palpatine cackled to Luke sending a bolt of lightning to stress his point. "Now, young Skywalker, you will pay the price in full." A new barrage of lightning assaulted the nearly unconscious Luke. "You will die!" The Emperor finished then threw his head back and laughed as the outpouring of bolts continued to pound on Luke.
"Father, Father please!" Luke gave a final, agonized plea before his body succumbed to the bolts. The Emperor laughed ever the louder, but before he could renew his attack on the now lifeless body, Vader grabbed him from behind. The Dark Lord dragged the struggling Emperor over to the reactor shaft. However, a Nubian ship stormed up from the pit. The cargo hold opened, scooping up Vader, the squirming Emperor, and the unconscious Luke.
TWO HOURS LATER . . .
Luke opened his eyes to a fuzzy world. Large but indistinct shapes filled his vision. He lifted his arm to try to soothe the waves of pain which pulsed in his brain. As if his arm were a lever, his vision cleared when it came up. The first face he noticed was that of Darth Vader. Now fully aware, Luke scrambled out from under the Dark Lord's sight, doing a backwards summersault/handspring to end in a crouching position lightsaber activated and ready. Then he noticed the stump at Vader's right wrist. He lowered his lightsaber just as a strangely familiar Gungan interposed himself between the father and son. Luke was pushed, pulled, and wrestled to the far corner of the cargo hold as Vader and the Emperor were herded into the passengers' area.
As Vader and the Emperor stepped through the door, Leia gasped, and Luke took a step back. Han made an involuntary motion toward his thigh for a blaster that wasn't there because he had been stripped of his weapons at Bespin. For their part, Vader began to move threateningly toward them and lightning bolts crackled anew from the Emperor's fingertips.
"No! No!" Jar Jar pleaded nervously, stepping forward. "Yous no fight on mesa ship. Now wesa all gos peaceful-like to the newsa talk with George Lucas."
"George Lucas!" Vader rumbled happily clenching the hand Artoo had spent the last five minutes reconnecting. "Now I can tell him how I feel about you," he concluded with a menacing glance at the Emperor.
"You're no prize to work with yourself Darthie," Palpatine whined. "Maybe I can convince Lucas to give me more screen time without you in tow."
Chewie growled something. "Yeah, I agree with you," Han translated, "Chewie has a problem with Jabba being on my tail."
"Okeeday," Jar Jar sighed, "now wesa can gos." With that he went into hyperspace and sped off toward the press conference.
George Lucas let out a sigh of relief when the Nubian ship landed more or less in one piece. As soon as the ramp opened on the craft, Leia descended all pomp and circumstance. "Mr. Lucas," she breathed using formal addressing as a way of distancing herself from the man who dreamed up and directed her life, "I have a problem with the imbeciles you have paired me with."
"How do you mean, Leia?" he asked concerned. He knew Jar Jar was a bad choice of pilot, but "imbeciles" was plural. Who else?
As if in answer to his question, Han Solo walked down the ramp. "Hey Lucas!" he yelled letting the entire galaxy know how miffed he was. "You got a lot of nerve calling me here after what you pulled with Lando."
"You see my point?" Leia sighed looking at the sky for some clue into her life. "Why, out of all the males in the universe, was I stuck with him?"
Chewie came down the ramp next and immediately began growling. Han turned to Lucas with a face that said he didn't even know you could put so many insults in one breath. "Loosely translated," he began, "Chewie said 'Why did you let Han get encased in carbonite? A prisoner, I can deal with, by carbon freeze?'"
Luke cut the bilingual tirade short by shouting from the ship. "Uncle George!" he cried running full tilt down the ramp and nearly knocking his "uncle" over with a hug. "Can you put me on a different planet please?" he asked putting on the saddest puppy face he could think of. Han thought it looked like a mynok with a face lift.
"Like where, Luke?" George Lucas asked.
"Like Alderaan," Han and Leia choked simultaneously at this response, but Luke continued as if he hadn't heard, "or Dagobah or someplace green you know? Anywhere but Tatooine."
By this time Darth Vader and the Emperor had joined the group. "George Lucas," Vader's voice was full of Jedi manipulation, "you will change the Emperor so he is not a decrepit old man, make him someone I can look up to."
"Don't try it, Darth," George warned him. "I invented Jedi voice manipulation remember? And to get someone you could 'look up to' I would have to find a seven-foot emperor."
"I am not decrepit," the Emperor wheezed, "and I'm not as old as you think."
"You're old enough to be my father," Vader pointed out.
"Darth, you have no father," the Emperor parried the verbal blow.
"Before I forget, I believe the ruler of the galaxy should have more screen time, without his right-hand man."
"Sorry, Palpatine, but Darth is the main villain in the Star Wars movies. You were just the other villain that was needed for Anakin's redemption."
"What?!?" Lightning bolts crackled all around the Emperor.
"All right, now that that's out of the way, let's go inside." Lucas suggested leading the way.
They went inside amid the flashing of hundreds of cameras. The Emperor cringed noticeably, hating the bright lights that interfered with the darkness in his soul. Leia, on the other hand, basked in the glory of the moment. Soon, the pictures stopped and Lucas began the meeting. After stating the purpose of the press conference, he said, "All right we'll take questions now, who wants to be first? . . ."