ALTERNATIVE ENDING

by Adrian Tullberg first written in 1989, revised 1997.

Crossover - read the story to find out who. Alternative Universe.

***

Lieutenant Yeger looked through the binoculars again, although he knew exactly what he would see. The Imperial Walkers, massive all-terrain attack vehicles deliberately constructed to resemble gigantic grey monsters, were striding their way across the frozen surface of the planet Hoth.

The Rebel defence - comprising of a fixed trench-based artillery section, where he was currently commanding a squad of men, and an assault squadron of Snowspeeders led by Commander Skywalker - were so far useless. The Walkers were too heavily armoured for the Rebel's weaponry to have any noticeable effect, and soon the Imperials would be in range of their heavy weaponry to utterly destroy the force field generators that were keeping the inevitable fleet of Star Destroyers at bay.

With the generators destroyed, the Alliance would be unable to escape in time. The Empire would crush, without mercy or favour, any chance that this benighted galaxy had for freedom.

Yeger abruptly handed the binocs over to the nearest man, and walked away. Yeger knew that there was only one way of buying enough time for the Alliance to escape Hoth - but all the chances that this option would give the Rebel forces to flee the Empire it would also condemn him as many times over as somebody's slave.

***

He quickly walked along the trench until he reached the portal leading to the living quarters of the officers. Ducking into the small hole, he crawled along a small tunnel until he reached a circular chamber ten metres wide, of which the ice walls were covered with the metal frames of Alliance issue double bunks. He then quickly strode over to his sleeping area. Pulling out his regulation foot locker from under his bed, he quickly deactivated the normal lock, and the second, more advanced lock which he had purchased and installed himself. What was in his case was too dangerous for the casual thief to tamper with.

Inside, apart form his clothes, blaster maintenance kit and small personal items was a flat, thin metal box. He opened the lid to reveal two items. The smallest was a thin metal rod, the size of a matchstick, coloured black with golden clasps on both ends. The larger item was a metal headband, which met and curled slightly at the forehead. As far as Yeger could tell, this item was made of solid gold.

Yeger held the headband, held it as he remembered. It was a gift from his grandfather.

His grandfather had been a Republic Hyper- Jump explorer, once described as the gipsies of the cosmos. They were brave adventurers, who risked materialisation in the heart of a sun or a black hole, using the most powerful hyperdrive engines to slingshot themselves out of charted space, into nearly unconceivable distances - even other galaxies. All for fame and fortune.

Once, grandfather had boosted the drive engines of his ship to maximum velocity for a total of fifteen days - a record that nobody had dared even match to this day.

He and his crew had emerged in a lonely solar system in a far off alien galaxy. There was only one inhabitable planet, so they decided to land in order to see if it could be colonised. Landing on the larger continent, they had discovered a human civilisation - not in a high stage of development, they had just discovered paper and hadn't even grasped mechanisation, but it fell under the guidelines of Established Society, and so they left it alone.

His grandfather, as official discoverer of the planet, was permitted to take a few souvenirs. These were two of them. Yeger had been taught by his grandfather the use of these items. Tremendous power - somebody else's power.

The chamber shuddered, bringing Yeger back to reality. No time to reminisce, just to choose - the power of these items, or the Imperials? Yeger immediately pulled off his thermal suit's hood, and fitted the headband snugly onto his head. The stick was wedged into his ear.

Remember, tell the Sage why you want his help. Be polite, and appeal to his ego as well. Ask of him at the most dire of emergencies.

Yeger cleared his throat and spoke out loud. "Great Sage, Equal of Heaven! I call upon your power and your strength, so save the people of the Rebel Alliance on this planet. If you don't help us get off this planet - well, nobody will be free - here or anywhere."

As soon as Yeger uttered the last syllables, his body began to glow with a pale blue light, and within that halo of phosphorescence, he began to change. His body became shorter, more stocky. His features grew darker, his hair changed to a wavy light brown to a curly black. His personality altered, shifted, and then gave way to one more powerful and arrogant. As the level of changes grew, so did the intensity of the light until it reached a peak, and then died away.

In Yeger's place was a new individual, shorter, wearing a bright red tunic, blue pants, red boots covered in gold decorative patterns - and also wearing the headband. His posture, his whole being radiated confidence and power.

Monkey, Great Sage, Equal of Heaven had been called, and he had answered.

***

He soon became aware of his surroundings, felt the rumblings in the ground - the regular clumph- clumph of the Imperial Walkers. He muttered to himself as he surmised the situation.

"Hello, what's this? Somebody wants me for something.....perhaps I should take a look." He quickly ran out of the room.

***

The Walker's massive metal head turned, tracking the agile Snowspeeder. The weaponry flashed, and the twin energy bolts hit the rear of the Snowspeeder, hitting it's power plant. The 'speeder exploded, destroyed instantly in a burst of red-orange light and sound. The Commander of the Walker allowed himself a brief smile before tracking the next Rebel vehicle. The com-link pinged gently for attention.

"Fleet to Walkers. Fleet to Walkers. You are now within three minutes of reaching maximum range for your heavy weapons to destroy the shield generators. Proceed with all speed. Fleet out."

The commander nodded absently as he centred the cross-hairs of the targeting computer on another Snowspeeder, wondering what motivated officials to remind you of things you already knew while you were in the middle of having fun.

***

Monkey came of the tunnel entrance, grumbling about the cold. He looked up and surveyed the situation.

Large - gigantic, actually - grey beasts were lumbering towards the encampment he was in now, spitting out some form of fire towards the - soldiers? Large birds were flying around the beasts, trying to spit their own fire on the dragons. Somehow, the bird's fire must be of inferior quality - it just bounced off or was absorbed by the hide of the creatures.

Monkey looked around him - men were running about, setting up armaments; sticks which shot out the same kind of cheap fire, while others were trying to just flee the creatures. Somebody ran near him, trying to shove past Monkey in his haste. Monkey simply grabbed the man by his tunic, and lifted him off the ground.

"Hey! What's the big idea? Haven't you learned any manners?" snapped Monkey. The man, his face reflecting sheer terror, gibbered some kind of nonsense to his captor.

"Speak properly - oh.....you don't speak my language, do you? Don't worry, I'll speak yours." Monkey closed his eyes, and muttered one of his spells. When he opened his eyelids, he now spoke the man's tongue. "Now, what's the rush?"

The man who Monkey had picked up was terrified, and wanted desperately to run like hell.

"Idiot! Don't you realise? the Imperials are coming after us! We'll all die.....what's with that outfit?"

Monkey dropped the man as he looked towards the advancing Walkers. "Now, the, ah ....... Imperials are those beasts over there, right?"

The soldier inwardly groaned. A soldier suffering the combat crazies. "Yes. We have the birds, the Imperials have the monsters. We have to run...." With that last word, Monkey whipped his head around, his eyes full of fury.

"Run? Monkey never runs from a fight! Never!"

"But the Walkers will kill us all!"

Monkey turned around, a smile on his face. He hadn't been released outside onto the world for a very long time now, and was itching for a good fight. So he cast the spell again, whistling once, making the pass seven times, and one final time, a sound reverberating like a great drum.

Private Teger looked up from his conversation with the crazy towards a flash in the sky, expecting it to be another Snowspeeder being destroyed by the Walker's assault.

He felt like he had been punched in the gut when he saw a bright pink cloud materialise out of the bright flash, and then fly towards the crazy who had just interrogated him.

The same man shouted "Hup!", and leap into the air - impossibly far into the sky, towards the cloud, and land on it like it was an anti-grav platform! Teger got up from the ground, to watch this 'Monkey' fare against the Walkers.

***

Monkey rose high into the stratosphere, riding on his cloud, looking at the situation in progress. So far, the metal birds of the men down below were not winning the fight against the mammoth Imperials. As another bird exploded from the fire of the beasts, he decided it was now time to act.

Plucking the piece of metal from his right ear, he gave it the command as before - and it instantly grew into a two metre metal staff. Giving it an experimental twirl to test it's weight, Monkey then pointed his cloud towards the nearest Walker.

***

The Commander pressed the firing stud, and the energy bolt hit the 'speeder's left engine port, sending the vehicle spinning down into the snowy tundra beneath his war machine. He checked the range meter, and noted that he was nearest to the shields out of all the Walker squad. He quickly set maximum telescopic magnification, and centred the cross-hairs of the target selector at the semi-circular humps of the shield generators.

He selected a full power energy pulse for the heavy laser cannon at the nose of his Walker - maximum range and maximum destruction. He checked once more, pressed the switch that automatically locked the centred target into the computer - no chance of missing such a large target, but with Lord Vader personally overseeing this mission, there had to be no mistake.

His finger applied pressure to the button - and then something flashed across the screen, an unidentified flying object. His finger darted away from the firing control and he quickly zoomed out to get a proper picture. It was a flying man - zooming outside on a pink cloud. Tracking the object, the Commander's first thought was that it was an anti-grav platform, disguised or covered up in some fuzzy material to give a psychological effect of a mythological creature on those who watched. It flew past his Walker, circled, and flew straight into his sights. The Commander decided to dispatch this thing quickly, selected a fifty per cent pulse into the forward guns, and fired.

***

Monkey circled around the first beast, looking for some weakness. It was slow, but big and incredibly powerful.

Main problem was it's fire.

He started to fly straight towards the beast - and the creature looked up at him, and spat it's fire. The energy bolt hit him dead centre in the chest, and Monkey felt like a mountain of lava had landed on his stomach.

"AHHHHRRRGGGHHH! K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K- KA!" Monkey gibbered, as the energy field enveloped him, the tendrils of photons criss-crossed across and around his body. The pain and confusion lasted only a few seconds, and he snapped out of it quickly enough in order to flyover the head of the beast which had loomed dangerously close while he suffered the effects of the energy bolt.

"Ohh, I hurt! Damn that beast! I'll show you to hit Monkey with your fire!"

***

The Commander of the Walker looked up from the firing control panel. He had hit the flying platform. Why hadn't it been destroyed? It would have to be a small platform underneath that pink - whatever, and there wasn't enough room for an anti-grav device and a shield generator. And the only unshielded thing that could resist a point-blank energy blast like that was a bunker buried ten metres deep.

Then the AT-AT shuddered with the shock wave of an explosion, knocking everyone standing to the ground, as something solid and power hit the side of the Walker.

***

Monkey hovered over the right-hand side of the beast, hefting his staff like a club. He swung it again, and it connected with the side of the Walker, increasing the sizeable dent in it's hull and starting a side-to-side swaying motion which fairly threatened to topple the All Terrain Armoured Transport.

"One more time, and......!" Monkey slammed the Golden Clasped Wishing Staff into the side of the Walker for the third time, and the impact lifted the massive vehicle off it's feet, and it slowly fell to it's left like a gargantuan tree trunk, and hit the ground with an ear-numbing bang.

***

Teger peered through the binocs with growing disbelief. "He's hit the AT-AT again - and it's falling! Monkey hit it and it's falling!" This running commentary was for the benefit of the growing crowd gathered around him who were bereft of a pair of binoculars.

"Skud! What the hell is he doing now, Teger?"

"I don't know - he's flying around to another Walker - the point man, it looks like......he's under it....." After a few seconds, he knew what Monkey was doing.

***

Monkey flew under the leading Walker, and slowly came to a halt underneath it's underbelly. He placed his staff down on his cloud, and positioned his palms on the cool metal plating, talking all the while.

"I know this is heavy, cloud, but I'll be taking most of it, right? Now, one - two - three!!!"

The cloud then rose two metres higher, with Monkey hefting the incredible thousand tonne weight of the Walker. He then straightened his arms, and the feet of the Walker rose of the ground with one clean jerk. Monkey then gritted his teeth, and shoved the Walker to the left. The gigantic vehicle flew forward several metres, and down, landing on the side of another Walker. The impact was followed by the immediate detonation of both Walkers, both being consumed in a raging fireball.

"Yes! Victory!" Monkey flew away from his current position, because the other Walkers were starting to spit their fire at him, since they saw what he could do. Monkey lined his cloud up with one such Walker, and began to fly at top speed towards it.

The mechanical beast started to fire a fusillade of energy bolts at the charging Monkey, with pin-point accuracy. Monkey picked up his staff, and began to twirl and twist it in rapid and complicated patterns. The energy blasts by the Walkers hit the constantly moving staff instead of their target, and were repelled by the magical metal.

Monkey flew up to the head of the Walker in this manner in a matter of seconds, and in the last possible second before impact, levelled the staff along his shoulder like a spear or lance, and kept on going.

Monkey hit the head of the vehicle an instant later with the end of his staff, and crashed through the armour plating of the vehicle. He continued, going through the head, smashing his way into the weaker interior of the Walker.

He emerged from the rear of the Walker, crashing his way through the armour plating like paper, with an engine part impaled on his Staff like meat on a spit, while the disembowelled Walker exploded behind him.

***

Others were watching the battle with interest.

Underneath the frozen surface of the planet, a fortified bunker nestled, it's thousand-odd occupants preparing to abandon it in the face of the Walkers and the space fleet above - while three watched Monkey single-handedly fight the Walkers. One was in his fifties, the general of a loyal and dedicated army, another was a young woman - indeed, the only woman here to hold such a high rank to command the General - the other was a mechanical, covered in gold-coloured metal plating.

"What do you think about this, Princess?" asked the eldest, while the woman looked on, her face nearly touching the screen in her fascination.

"It's a miracle - whoever this 'person' is, he's giving us enough time to evacuate the base. Nearly everyone and all the equipment is loaded on the ships we may be able to recover some of the power plant fuel if we hurry ...... Threepio, how's the progress going with the evacuation?"

The robot spoke, with enthusiasm, reporting on something good for a change.

"Remarkably well, Your Highness. All craft are fully loaded and ready to go, with the exception of some of the personnel carriers assigned to carry the troops outside, of course, and Captain Solo states that he's found a critical malfunction in his ship's hyperdrive with the extra time available. He's requesting docking space on one of the outgoing carriers."

The Princess turned towards the robot. "Tell him to go ..... oh, what the hell, give him some space on carrier L-345. It should be able to haul Solo's hunk of junk. Where's Luke, by the way?"

"Master Luke's Snowspeeder went down recently - no trace of him yet, I'm afraid."

***

Monkey saw the man drop from the underbelly of the Walker into the snow. He hefted his staff, and jumped down to the ground to encounter this person. Landing in a crouch, he then balanced his staff along his palms, ready to attack. This man, clad in orange, looked up at Monkey and saw his aggressive attitude.

"Wait! Don't attack! I'm with the Alliance!"

Monkey wasn't convinced. "So? Who are you anyway?"

"Skywalker. My snowspeeder got winged, and that Walker there-" he gestured to the monster-like vehicle he had dropped from, now some distance away '-crushed it, with my gunner still inside it. I planted an explosive shell inside it though...."

As Luke Skywalker spoke, the Walker he had dropped from suddenly stopped, and an audible crump boomed from it's direction. Smoke started to issue from join seams on it's hull, and it suddenly fell forward, landing ungracefully on it's 'chin' with a loud crash and rending of metal.

Monkey looked at the destruction of the Walker with professional interest. "Very good! You should do that for a living, you know? You're good at it ... what spell do you use?"

"What spell - I just used a standard....look out!"

Monkey turned, just in time to see a Walker, now dangerously close, place a massive foot on him. Skywalker stumbled backwards in shock - he was just talking to him a second ago, now he was.....

Then the impossible happened. The foot rose upwards, and underneath, was Monkey pushing the thing up. Luke could only stare in his astonishment.

Monkey, his eyes clamped shut with the strain of keeping the foot up, quickly looked at Skywalker. "Get away from here! Go! You'll get hurt otherwise!"

Luke was doubting his eyes, but he knew he could rely on his ears. he ran like hell, while the Walker remained stationary, trying to crush it's victim underfoot.

After what felt like hours of non-stop running, Luke looked back, to see the immobile Walker, now several hundred metres distance, suddenly get pulled forward by one of it's front legs, and crash into the frozen ground.

He turned away from the sight, to see the two remaining Walkers approaching towards Monkey, instead of the original target of the shield generators. Luke decided to hightail it back to the base, hoping that Monkey could handle two of them at the same time.

***

Monkey stiffly got up from the immense footprint of his attacker, feeling sore all over, and very angry. "Damned thing .... should have more respect ..... don't they look where they step ...... ?"

He turned around, seeing the final two Walkers head straight towards him. At this point in time, they must have seen him too, because that was when they decided to open fire.

Monkey was tired of monster killing now - it wasn't as fun as fighting - but when you started a job......

Monkey placed his staff along his shoulder, sighting it at the first Walker. "Grow!" He snapped. His staff grew, covering the one hundred and forty- five metres in less than a second. It immediately speared the target Walker, piercing the armour plating without pause. Monkey now held the weight of the Walker at a pecarious angle, and swung the staff to his left. The Walker swung along with the staff as Monkey intended it, falling to the ground on it's side as the vehicle slid cleanly off the staff.

The other Walker decided to concentrate on long distance tactics and started to fire a continual rain of energy bolts at it's target.

Monkey had no desire to be hit by one again, and quickly placed his now shrunken staff in his right ear. He plucked a hair from his neck, and made the appropriate spell. It transformed into a shiny metal sphere thirty metres in diameter. He placed the sphere on his shoulder in the manner of a shot-putter, and threw with all his might. The sphere, travelling at fantastic speeds, landed in the exact middle of the Walker, where the power plant was located. The war machine instantly exploded with a fiery roar and a cherry-red blossom of heat.

Monkey dusted his hands together, preparing to head off. He began the spell to summon his cloud when he heard something on the cusp of his hearing. Looking around, he saw the source of the sound - a man, wearing the same orange uniform as the other one. It was his faint moaning that Monkey heard.

Walking over, he saw a bright red bloody gash streaked across the man's chest.

"You don't look very well ..... do you know where a doctor is?"

The pilot weakly looked up at this last comment. "The base ...... over there ....." He pointed to the direction where the Walkers were headed. Monkey summoned his cloud, and quickly jumped up, deciding to drop this man off - and find out just where he was .......

***

"Look! It's the man who fought off the Walkers!"

Monkey had reached the entrance of the base, carrying the snowspeeder pilot, while everybody there was starting to look at him, point, see the miracle man. Monkey was soon surrounded by an enormous throng of cheering people and strange creatures that looked like they were made of metal. Monkey had an ego that rivalled large moons in size, and usually craved attention, but being unfamiliar with this place, he just smiled, asking where the nearest doctor was, and keep moving.

He approached a large cave, filled with strange metal houses and buildings, some as big and bigger than the Walkers. Looking around, Monkey saw the man who had destroyed one of the Walkers, talking to an older taller man, and a smaller woman, in front of one of the metal houses shaped like a thick dish with bits added at the front. He strode forward, hoping that the man he had met earlier could tell him where a doctor was, the crowd milling around him.

The three people, deep in discussion, turned at the sound of the enormous crowd, and saw who was at the centre of attention. The woman saw Monkey, and the wounded fighter pilot he was holding, and started forward. She held up her hands for silence - and that's what she got, the quiet dropping like a curtain. Monkey realised that she must be very important to get this type of authority.

She spoke softly - Monkey realised how pretty she looked. His natural arrogance took over, willing to impress and dominate the attention of all.

"Welcome to Hoth - I'm Princess Leia Organa. You must be the one who fought the Walkers - single- handedly, I hear."

"I am Monkey! Great Sage, Equal of Heaven! I was - nearby, and I decided to help. Anyway - I came to see if you could help him." He proffered the wounded pilot to demonstrate his point. Leia quickly made a motion with her hands, and two soldiers efficiently bundled the man out of Monkey's grip and out of sight.

Leia turned back to Monkey. "We owe a great debt of gratitude to you .... 'Monkey'. you've given us enough time to evacuate the base with all our remaining personnel and equipment. If you wish a formal reward, and it's within my power ..."

Monkey held up his hands in protest. "Don't bother. Anyway - ! I'm off. If you need help again, I'll fix things up for you."

With that, he pressed his hands together, and bowed from the waist. He then quickly rearranged his hands to form a cross with both his left and right index- and fore-fingers. Monkey closed his eyes, recited the spell, and disappeared in front of nearly a thousand witnesses.

***

He hadn't disappeared at all - he just turned into a fly and flew high and fast to where Lieutenant Yeger of the Rebel Alliance had first changed into Monkey, Immortal, Great Sage, Equal of Heaven.

Monkey was now in his normal form, and looked around him. The bunk beds were stripped down and dismantled, the only remaining thing being Yeger's locker, with nobody claiming it. The Great Sage sat cross-legged in front of the locker, his shrunken staff already in the flat metal box.

Buddha had been wily all right. After the trek with Tripitaka, Sandy, Pigsy and Horse, the great Buddha had proclaimed that Monkey had not learned patience - and in order to do so, would only know existence if a human being conceded to momentarily give up his living for a short time, thus knowing humility by understanding their sacrifice.

Once, a man had summoned Monkey for help, back in China, and the Great Sage had been desperate enough to exist to take the man's life for seven years. When Monkey finally conceded, he remained in limbo until Yeger's grandfather first summoned Monkey, fifty years later.

Would Monkey be called again - or be condemned, the means for his existence forever locked away in this metal box before him? Monkey had felt Yeger's fear of virtual possession being battled for his belief in the Alliance's cause, and placed his head on the Sutra Headband.

"Oh well, it's not really fair to you Yeger, if I keep this body all to myself now, is it?"

Well, you did help the Alliance. You're a hero now.

"Just promise me you won't lock this thing up for another fifty years or more, would you? It's boring where I go. Limbo has nothing to look at, you know?"

Silence.

"You don't want me going on about it - until the next time!" Monkey clenched his eyes, steeling himself, and tugged the headband from his forehead. Immediately, he was swallowed up by a blue phosphorous halo, his features warping and changing.

On the magical plane, transformation can be likened to stretching an elastic band, and reverting to your old form similar to letting go - easier and quicker. When Monkey snatched off his headband and placed it in the box, the hand was Yeger's again.

He closed his eyes, remembering being somebody confident and powerful, flying on clouds, being the centre of attention instead of the one in the background.

Still - at least when he was the one in the background, he was himself, not somebody else, physically and mentally. He quickly closed the small box and sealed his locker. He ran to the hanger - remembering that although Monkey had stopped the first wave of attackers, more could land and attack.

***

Yeger ran to the very last ship, which was in the middle of a take off pattern, his legs aching and his lungs burning. "W....wait....for....me!!!"

Obviously somebody on board was watching out for people like him, because the loading ramp began to descend. Yeger doubled his speed, and virtually dived into the transport.

When he finally caught his breath inside, he saw a corporal looking at him curiously. "Where were you Lieutenant? Two minutes more, and you could have waited for the Imperials to pick you up."

Yeger dropped his locker on the deck plating. "Corporal, I have just spent most of the battle digging my way out of a tunnel cave-in while fetching my spare blaster magazines. Don't ever comment on an officer being late if he's just been through that, okay?"

The corporal nodded, and picked up Yeger's locker. "There's a spare bunk left in the officer's quarters, I guess you can use that, sir. Pity you missed the battle of the Walkers though - I saw it through a pair of binocs. You see, what happened was...."

Yeger waved his hand at the soldier to shut him up. "I know all about it - it was all over the com- link channels. It was the only thing that I heard when I was digging out of that damned tunnel, so don't remind me about it - and tell me where the officer's quarters are."

The corporal was rather taken aback at the Lieutenant's attitude, but had soon learned never to try and predict the reasons behind an officer's decisions. He led his superior through the corridors of the ship as the massive craft took off.

"You know sir, I heard the Princess reckoning that most of us wouldn't have gotten off Hoth if Monkey hadn't shown up. I mean, the energy shield's still up and the Imperial fleet hasn't been able to attack us because we can still use the ion cannon remotely........damned lucky sir."

Yeger discretely smiled.

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