Halfway up the long walkway, Isolder stopped and pointed to two women playing some type of game involving rackets and a net on the immaculate front lawn. "Who are those smoking hot ladies?"
Leia frowned. "That's my mother and my best friend, Winter."
"I don't believe I've ever met either of them," Isolder said, taking out a comb and running it through his long hair. "That is my loss, and I shall endeavor to make up for lost time." He waved wildly. "Hello, stunning nymphs! Allow me to introduce myself. I am Leia's fiancé, The Gorgeous Rich Royal with Manly Flowing Locks."
"He was engaged to you and he never met your mother?" Luke questioned Leia.
"My mother is seldom home," Leia replied. "She's quite busy being a Queen, you know."
"No, I didn't know," Luke returned, annoyed that Leia would automatically assume he knew her mother was a queen.
Both women stopped their game, and Leia's mother walked over, holding a small white object in one hand. "Hello. My name is Padme, the Altruistic and Forbidden Queen." Padme waved toward the white-headed girl she'd been playing the game with. "And this is Winter, the Friend with a Photographic Memory." Padme smiled at Jar Jar. "Why, hello there, Jar Jar Binks. Have you located your missing intellect yet?"
"Yes, ma'ams," Jar Jar said, bowing deeply. "Mesa glads to meets yous againer."
Padme turned to look at Luke. "You've got such pretty blue eyes," she said with a sniff. "I had a baby boy with blue eyes, a long time ago."
"What happened to him?" Luke asked.
The older woman began sobbing, and Leia grabbed Luke by his arm. "Our family never talks about it," she whispered into his ear. "Obi-Wan, the Wizard of B'Ooz, ordered his Tusken gypsy raiders to kidnap the baby boy out of his warm, safe crib one bitter cold winter night, when the moon was full and the sky was crystal clear."
Leia glared at Luke. "How would I know? Didn't I just get done telling you we never discuss it? I never even heard them speak the poor blue-eyed baby's name aloud."
"Oh, okay," Luke said, feeling sorry for the family. He looked over as Isolder was bowing to the women, and recalled dreams he sometimes had of having a beautiful mother like Padme.
"Salutations, beautiful ladies," Isolder said demurely, kissing each of their hands in turn. "If you are bored with this game, I could take you out to a lovely dinner tonight. Wine and dancing to soft jizz music under warm, romantic candlelight."
"Do you flirt with every female you see?" Han shouted at the Prince. "I thought you wanted to marry Leia!"
"Of course I want to marry Leia," Isolder said, baffled at the question. "I don't see the problem with being polite."
"What sort of game are you playing?" Luke asked Padme, hoping to distract her from her crying. He watched the white object in the Queen's hand start to flutter in an attempt to escape.
"Oh, this is a game called Bad Mittens," Padme explained. "You whack a birdie back and forth, from one side of the net to the other with a racket, and hope you don't miss."
Luke looked appalled. "You hit a bird? Isn't that cruel?"
"We only hit the birdie very lightly." Padme said, sounding miffed.
"Besides, it's much more cruel to miss," Winter added knowingly.
"Is Father home?" Leia asked. "I have to talk to him about which guy I'm allowed to marry."
"Yes, dear. He's in the library. Just ring the front bell, and our lovely new maid will let you in."
"We have a new maid?"
"Yes," Padme replied. "She came up to the door one day wearing rags, and claiming she was destitute and starving. I felt sorry for her, so I hired her. But now the family jewels are turning up missing. I think, perhaps, our maid's spice habit is over-riding her better judgment."
"You hired a maid with a spice habit?" Luke asked. "Isn't that taking a chance?"
"Life is full of chances," Padme said, then turned to Winter. "Now, where were we?"
Both women returned to their game, and Padme soon missed hitting the bedraggled bird. It fell on the lawn, squawking loudly. A second later, a small black animal with white paws shot out from under a bush, grabbed the bird in its jaws, and took off.
"BAD MITTENS!" Padme cried out, chasing the animal around the bush and waving her racket in the air. "Bad, bad Mittens! Put that birdie down!"
Leaving the bizarre game behind, the group arrived at the gilded front doorway, and Leia rang the bell. Inside, a loud, wailing horn sounded, echoing though the enormous home.
"Why don't you just go inside if it's your house?" Luke asked.
Leia held out her arms. "And where on this outfit do you think I'm hiding a key?"
Han grinned. "I'd like to do a complete body search, sweetheart."
"Solo is so crass," Isolder huffed. "I'd never say such things to you, Leia."
"Now I remember why I never cared that you disappeared," Leia muttered.
The huge door swung open, and a young woman with auburn hair wearing a frilly maid's uniform and a crisp white cap stood inside the threshold. "May I help you?"
"BRIA?" both Han and Isolder screeched out simultaneously. Both men turned and glared at one another. "How do you know Bria, the Idealistic, yet Quaintly Flawed Femme-fatale?" Isolder demanded.
"I… I …" Han spluttered.
"Han!" Bria cried in joy, flinging her arms around Han's neck. "My one true love!"
"Hey!" Isolder said, crossing his arms. "What about me? You used to call me your one true love!"
"Oh, that's right," Bria said, tilting her head coyly and hurrying over to hug the Prince. "I love you, too."
"Wait a star's end second," Leia yelled. "Both of you are in love with my father's MAID?"
"No!" Han and Isolder replied in perfect sync. They glared at each other, and Han turned to Leia. "Sweetheart, Bria is from my distant past. She betrayed me about six or seven times before I finally figured her out. I swear I thought she was deader than a flattened womp-rat."
"I see," Leia said frostily. "So I'm good enough once the old girl kicked the dura-bucket."
"I'm not old," Bria said, pouting demurely. "Just wise beyond my years." She turned and batted her eyes at Luke. "And who are you? You're cute."
"He's taken," Mara snapped, grabbing Luke's arm.
Luke looked from Mara to Bria and back again. "You two look a lot alike. You're both redheads. You both have green eyes. You're both quaintly flawed femme-fatales."
"I am nothing like her," Mara growled out in warning, her eyes flashing with rage.
Luke nodded. "You're right. I can't imagine what I was thinking. Never mind."
A loud, deep voice boomed from inside the house. "What is going on?"
"That's my father," Leia explained to Luke. "The Vile Vicar of the Vest. Come inside, and I'll introduce you." She hurriedly pushed past Bria, pulling Han along in the process.
Seeing that both Han and Luke were currently attached to other females, Bria gladly grasped Isolder's arm and guided him into the mansion. "Ohh, you have such strong muscles," Bria breathed.
"Yes, I do," Isolder stated. "I have my very own private gym and personal trainer, as well as a nutritionist and hygienist. All this perfection does not come cheaply."
Everyone followed Leia through the foyer and into a large, darkened library. "Father! I'm home!"
The Vicar stood up from the winged chair he was seated upon, and turned to face the large group. Luke could immediately see why the tall, blond headed man was referred to by his vest. The man's chest area was covered with a heavy black metal chest-plate which contained hundreds of tiny colorful buttons that blinked on and off like psychotic holiday decorations. His face, however, was perfectly normal, and although he had a long scar running down one side, which gave him a bit of a menacing look, his blue eyes seemed kindly enough.
"What are you wearing?" Vader hissed out, shocked at his daughter's outfit.
"Oh, this," Leia replied, glancing down at her skimpy clothes. "Pimpletime caught me and made me wear this gold bikini. He's a wrinkled old loser with delusions of grandeur."
"I'll kill that oozing old freak!" Vader roared, shaking his fist. "How dare he humiliate my baby girl like that."
"I'm NOT your baby girl, daddy," Leia grumbled. "As a matter of fact, I'm all grown up and I've brought both of my boyfriends back with me."
Vader turned his steely gaze at Han and Isolder. "I thought I'd taken care of you." He shrugged. "You may now plead your case, and I will decide who gets Leia and who gets to die."
"Selling me to Pimpletime was mean," Isolder cried out, dropping to his knees. "I beg of you, Vile daddy dearest! Spare my life and allow me to sire your grandchildren! I am of Royal lineage, and I'm certain my offspring will inherit my glorious good-looks."
"Uh, Vader?" Han said nervously. "I ain't begging for nothin'. I love Leia, and you'll have to do something a lot worse than carbonite to keep me from marrying her. We'll run off and elope if you won't give us your blessing, but one way or the other, me an' Leia are gettin' hitched."
Vader sighed. "Prince Isolder, arise."
Smirking toward Han, the Prince got up and hurried to stand next to Vader. "I knew you'd pick me." He put his arm around the man and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Isolder wuvs you, daddy dearest."
Barely flicking his wrist, Vader sent the Prince sailing across the room and into a tall bookshelf, which promptly dropped dozens of dusty old tomes upon the Prince's dome. Bria gave a high-pitched screech, and hurried over to Isolder's side and helped him to his feet. "Poor Issy-doodle!" Bria commiserated. "Let me kiss your boo-boo."
"I've told you a million times not to call me Issy-doodle," Isolder complained, rubbing his head. "It sounds like a description of a mutt, and I am the exact opposite of a mutt!"
Vader turned to address Han. "Although I am not pleased with having a smuggler for a son-in-law, at least you have proven to me you have a spine. Therefore, you can marry my daughter."
"Oh, Daddy!" Leia shouted in joy as Han grabbed her and spun her around in glee. "Thank you!"
"We'll see if you'll be thanking me five years from now," Vader grumbled. "Now, who are all these other losers?"
"Well," Leia began, pointing first to Jar Jar. "That's Jar Jar Binks, the Gungan who finally found his brain. And standing over there is Chewie, who rediscovered his courage. The droids are C-3PO and his friend, Artoo. They ended up working in Pimpletime's kitchen with Isolder. And you already know Mara, the Good Witch of the Mouth. She's fallen in love with Luke Skywalker, the Son of the Chosen One."
"WHAT?" Vader shouted so loudly that everyone cringed in fear.
Shaking, Luke stepped forward. "Hello, sir. My name is Luke Skywalker. Yoda, the Wise Green Sage, told me I was the Son of the Chosen One, and it was my destiny to destroy Pimpletime. But, honestly, I failed in that task. Will you be able to help me find my way home?" He turned and smiled at Mara. "And will you come back to Tatooine with me, my love?"
"I'll go anywhere with you, Luke," Mara said sincerely. "Even a hot, dry desert planet without a single redeeming feature, out in the farthest reaches of the galaxy."
Vader blinked hard, and to everyone's utter shock, a tear rolled down his cheek. "But you are already home, son. I AM the Chosen One."
"You mean…" Leia gasped. "Luke's my long-lost blue-eyed brother? Get out of here!"
"Your twin brother, actually," Vader added.
"Ha!" Han said, snorting with laughter as he slapped Luke on the back. "Didn't I say you'd turn out to be related to someone? More than one someone, too."
"Wowsa," Jar Jar piped up. "Dats so cool. Now everybody isa related!"
"Wait a second," Luke interrupted. "Pimpletime said he ate Anakin, not Vader!"
"My given name is Anakin," Vader admitted reluctantly. "But it's such a girly name, I had to think of something scarier to fit my image."
Luke frowned, and felt Vader's arms. "You look pretty much in one piece to me."
"Don't believe anything Pimpletime tells you," Vader told Luke. "He can't recall fact from fiction, especially after I sent him a vision to allow him to believe he'd eaten me so he'd leave me and my family alone."
"What about me?" Isolder whined. "I'm a Rich Prince and no one is paying any attention to me anymore."
"How about I find you a dirty toothbrush?" Han taunted. "That was the bet… remember, Issy-doo?"
"Han, I really don't want Isolder hanging around our mansion scrubbing toilets with Bria," Leia declared.
"So we can leave?" Isolder asked hopefully.
"The sooner the better," Vader barked out, pointing at the exit.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Isolder and Bria hurried out of the door, and ran away together down the purple paved path.
"There go two people that richly deserve each other," Han stated, waving goodbye to his crazy ex-girlfriend and the galaxy's most perfectly annoying prince.
"Now I really need a new maid," Vader mused. "Jar Jar Binks, do you need a job?"
"Mesa loves to worker for yous and Miz Padme," the Gungan shouted in happiness.
"And Artoo and I will be pleased to remain and assist you in preparing for both upcoming nuptials," Threepio added.
"Thanks, Threepio," Luke said. "We'd appreciate that." He smiled at Mara. "If you're interested in arranging our nuptials, of course."
"Of course I am," Mara replied. "Besides, I need to perform my good deed for the year. Marrying the Son of the Chosen One will do just fine."
"It looks like you're gonna get to boil after all, kid," Han said, grinning widely.
"I can't wait," Luke replied, feeling a sense of pure happiness and bliss flow through his entire being. He gazed around the opulent mansion, smiling. "This really is a wonderful place to live. I guess there truly is no place like home."
"There's no place like home," Luke repeated, mumbling into the pillow. "There's no place like home…"
A gentle hand shook his shoulder. "Wake up, Luke. The storm has passed and it's safe to go home now."
Luke sat up abruptly, blinking the sleep from his eyes. "Obi-Wan?"
The old wizard looked startled. "Obi-Wan? No, my name is Ben. Ben Kenobi."
The young man looked around the dusty hut, and felt the familiar dry air of Tatooine. "I fell asleep."
"So you did."
"I had the weirdest dream. There was a heartless smuggler named Solo, and a Wookiee who had lost his courage, and a Gungan who couldn't remember his own name…"
"Really?" Ben asked gently. "Perhaps the electricity in the dust storm had a strange effect on you."
"Maybe," Luke conceded. "There was a nice Good Witch named Leia, and a beautiful Good Witch named Mara. It all seemed so real…"
"Maybe what you saw was the future," Ben suggested. "The Force can work in mysterious ways."
"You were there, too," Luke said. "But it's all getting kinda hazy now that I'm awake."
"Dreams do fade," Ben agreed. "Even the most vivid of dreams disappear once we awake."
"I wish I had remained asleep," Luke replied sadly. "I wanted to stay in the Land of B'Ooz and marry Mara."
Ben Kenobi patted Luke's shoulder. "Give it time, Luke. Just give it time."
"I'd better get home," Luke said, rising from the small cot. "Uncle Owen is going to be furious."
"He will be glad to see you are alive and well," Ben reassured the boy. "Someday, you will visit me again."
Luke stopped at the door, and looked back over his shoulder. For a brief moment, he believed he saw the same small doorway where the droids had disappeared, but when he looked harder he could tell it was only a supply cabinet that sat slightly open, and it was filled with food supplies. Still, beyond the stacks of jars and cans, a thin beam of bright light filtered out, almost beckoning Luke to push aside the supplies and enter inside. Luke reached inside his pocket and felt a small metal object. He pulled it out, and smiled as he saw the Red-Fang transmitter.
"Yes," Luke said quietly. "I'll be back. Real soon."