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Even More Empire Strikes Back: Parallel Universe

In More Empire Strikes Back: Parallel Universe we left our alternative heroes in gloomy times. Han, Chewie, Leia and the Falcon have flown into an asteroid field. Yoda and Luke are stuck in the swamp. Read on for more from a parallel universe that lies somewhere between George Lucas’ imagination and the more familiar world around us.

[In a hovel in the swamp on Degobah, Yoda is encouraging Luke to sit down and eat.]

Luke: Look, I’m sure it’s delicious, but I want to begin my training now…

Yoda: Patience, for a Jedi it is time to eat as well, hum? Hm-hmm. Eat! He-he-heee. (Luke takes a bite of the swamp stew. He pulls a face.) Good food, good, hm-hmm?

Luke: (Bangs head on ceiling as he makes room for Yoda) Ow! Your ceiling is so low. You can’t have many visitors.

Yoda: My home, this is not. Dump, this place is! Rent this so you had somewhere to stay whilst here. I lodge with Jedi Master Tanah Lot at his house. Will present bill for rent on this place when training, you have completed.

Luke: Couldn’t you have got me somewhere nicer?

Yoda: No. Peak holiday season on Degobah, it is. Booked ahead, you should have. Not just arrive and expect to find somewhere to stay. Lucky I found this, you were. Nearly had to put you in the YACA.

Luke: YACA?

Yoda: Young Alien’s Christian Association. Clean beds but full of aliens with moustaches and tight leather trousers, if know what I mean, you do.

Luke: (Tips his bowl out of the window whilst Yoda is not looking). Look, Master Yoda, I’ve finished eating (shows Yoda his empty bowl as proof). Can we begin the training now?

Yoda: Eager are you. Why must you become Jedi?

Luke: Mostly because of my father, I guess.

Yoda: Father? Powerful Jedi was he… hmmm… powerful Jedi.

Luke: Aw, come on, how could you know my father? I’m wasting my time (throws bowl away in anger).

Yoda: I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience.

Obi-Wan: (Disembodied voice) He will learn patience.

Yoda: (Turns to look at Luke) Much anger in him, like his father.

Obi-Wan: Was I any different, when you taught me?

Yoda: Yes, you was only twelve years old! It took another thirteen years to complete your training. This one wants to be trained in just five weeks!

Luke: I’m ready! Ben, I can be a Jedi, tell him, I can be a Jedi!

Yoda: A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one, a long time I have watched. Never his mind on where he was (pokes Luke with his walking stick). Adventure, hah, excitement, hah, a Jedi craves not these things.

Obi-Wan: Be reasonable, Yoda. It’s not like we learned light sabre skills so we could sit in an armchair and watch telly whilst eating chocolate digestives, did we?

Yoda: (Pokes Luke with his stick again) You are reckless…

Obi-Wan: So was I, if you remember.

Yoda: Yes, and look what a mess we are in now! You decided you had to train this one’s father. I warned you! You trained him to come back and hunt us all down! Trained him to kill you! Trained Vader to eat hob-nobs and watch ‘X-Factor’, you should have.

Obi-Wan: You got me on that point.

Yoda: (Looking at Luke) He is too old.

Luke: But I’ve learned so much.

Yoda: Really? So you already know how to leap thirty feet in the air?

Luke: No.

Yoda: Into the future, you can see?

Luke: No.

Yoda: Then you know how to persuade the feeble-minded to do what you will? Like, with hot chicks, how to get dates?

Luke: I wish.

Yoda: Then what, so far, have you learned?

Luke: I can make things levitate.

Yoda: Show me.

Luke: Here goes. (He reaches out with his hand towards a bowl on the table. The bowl shakes a little, rises up an inch above the table, then suddenly falls down again.)

Yoda: (Sarcastic) Hmmm, impressive! Almost complete, your training is!

Obi-Wan: He’ll pay double the going rate.

Luke: Yes, I’ll pay double, just train me.

Yoda: Will he finish what he begins? Not that it matters, I want payment up front, and no refunds!

Luke: I won’t fail you. I’m not afraid.

Yoda: (Sticks out ears) You will be. You will be.

Obi-Wan: But Master Yoda, you used to say: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

Yoda: Who’s teaching the boy, you or me?

Obi-Wan: Sorry. You are.

Yoda: Good. (Turns to Luke) Time to begin your suffering… I mean your training.

[In the Asteroid field, two TIE Bombers repeatedly drop bombs on to the surface of the asteroid that the Falcon is hiding within. The bomber pilots are talking to each other over the radio.]

Bomber Pilot 1: This seems like a shocking waste of bombs. I can see there’s nothing beneath me but this stupid asteroid. I can’t see the ship we’re supposed to be chasing. So why are we dropping bombs?

Bomber Pilot 2: I think it’s meant to be like scaring crows. They’ll hear the noise, get frightened, fly off, and then we can chase them again.

Bomber Pilot 1: That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

Bomber Pilot 2: I’m just following orders like everybody else. They say ‘drop bombs’ and I drop bombs. But I admit, it’s going to blow a hole in our munitions budget.

Bomber Pilot 1: You know what happened last time someone overran their budget like we’re about to? It was when they were building the Death Star. All they needed to do was fit some cheap, lousy safety grills over their exhaust vents, but they ran out of money. Then the next thing you know… boom!

[Inside the Falcon, Leia listens to the distant rumble of the bombs exploding far above the subterranean cavern where they have landed. Something flits outside the window. Leia gets up and looks closer.]

Gandark: (Smacks itself against the window, oozing a white substance from one of its orifices) Squeak, wibble, squawk.

Leia: Argh! There’s something out there!

Gandark: (With one of its tentacles, it smacks a piece of paper against the window screen) Squawk.

Han: I’m going out there. (Puts a mask on and goes outside. Outside, he walks around to the front of the ship and confronts Gandark.) Hey, what’s the problem, buddy?

Gandark: Squawk Squawk (translates as: “You can’t just park here. This a private parking cave. I can’t see no permit on display on the dashboard. That’ll be a two hundred credit fine. If I was you, I’d pay up before we tow this hunk of junk away.)

Han: (Looks around, noticing all the other spaceships parked in the cavern) So where do all these other ships come from? And why are they allowed down here?

Gandark: Squawk Squeek Squawk (translates as: “Jabba the Hutt’s private collection. Let’s just say he doesn’t want them becoming part of his divorce settlement.”)

Han: Look, it’s not like I want to park here. We’re having some problems with the engine.

Gandark: Squeek Squawk (translates as: “Then call a repair van, and get them to tow it away before I get someone else to do it for you.”) (Gandark flies off.)

Han: (Climbs up and removes the parking ticket from the windscreen of the Falcon) To hell with Jabba the Hutt. (Rips up the ticket) If he wants me to pay a parking fine, he’s welcome to come and collect it in person.

[Luke runs through the swamp, with Yoda on his back.]

Yoda: A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defence, never attack.

Luke: Wow, that’s an impractical rule.

Yoda: How so?

Luke: Well, what if I see some people beating on old woman in the street, can’t I attack them?

Yoda: No. Defend the old woman you can, but not attack her attackers.

Luke: Okay, what if two guys are creeping up behind you with guns, can you attack them?

Yoda: Defend yourself by striking first you can, but attack them, you cannot.

Luke: It seems to me you’re making a pedantic distinction between what is attack and what is defence. Why…

Yoda: No, no, there is no why!

Luke: How long did you say you have been training Jedis?

Yoda: Eight hundred years.

Luke: It’ll take me eight hundred years to understand what you’re talking about.

Yoda: (Climbs down). See that spooky cave? In you go.

Luke: What’s in there?

Yoda: Only what you take with you.

[Luke goes into the cave. Half an hour later, he comes back.]

Yoda: Well?

Luke: Well what? I was in that stupid slimy damp cave for half an hour, waiting for something to happen. Then I got bored and came back. You didn’t say what I was supposed to be doing in there.

Yoda: Did you not see Darth Vader? And then chop his helmet off with the light sabre? And then your own face see behind his mask?

Luke: No! Don’t be so silly. How corny would that be – me chopping off Vader’s head and discovering it’s my face behind his mask. Geez.

Yoda: Strange, that kind of thing always happens to me in that cave. Perhaps ready to be a Jedi you are, after all.

Luke: Not so fast – I paid for a five-week course. I’ve still got another three weeks to go…

[On board his Super Star Destroyer, the Executor, Vader gives instructions to a line-up of Bounty Hunters.]

Vader: I’m glad you could all make it in person. They’ll be a substantial reward for the one who finds the Millennium Falcon

Bossk: How much?

Vader: Excuse me?

Bossk: How much is the reward? It’s customary to agree the bounty in advance.

Vader: Twenty thousand credits?

[The bounty hunters all laugh amongst themselves.]

Boba Fett: It cost me more than that just to fly here.

Vader: Two hundred thousand credits?

Bossk: Plus expenses, right?

Vader: Okay. Plus expenses. But I expect to see receipts.

Boba Fett: We’ll show you the receipts. We have a code of honour. We’re bounty hunters, not Members of Parliament.

Vader: Very well. You are free to use any methods necessary, but I want them alive. No disintegrations.

Boba Fett: Of course. We’d hardly get paid for returning some disintegrated ashes to you and saying, ‘look, here’s your man!’

Admiral Piett: Lord Vader! My Lord, we have them.

Vader: Where?

Admiral Piett: Look, out of the window. (Points) There they are.

[The Falcon is being closely chased by the Executor.]

Boba Fett: Wait, wait, I saw them first. I claim the bounty!

Bossk: No, I saw them first! The bounty is mine!

[The other bounty hunters start arguing that they should each have the bounty.]

Vader: (Aside to Piett) You were right, we really don’t need their scum, do we?

[The Falcon is managing to hide from the Imperial Fleet by hanging on to the side of a Star Destroyer.]

Han: (Looking out of the window) The Fleet’s beginning to break up. If they follow standard Imperial procedure, they’ll dump their garbage before they go to light speed, and we’ll just float away…

Leia: … with the rest of the garbage.

C-3PO: Sir! Your referring to a rather outdated Imperial procedure. The Imperial Fleet has adopted a policy of 100% recycling – no more dumping of garbage. It’s the cornerstone of their environmentally-friendly policies.

Han: We’ll just have to risk it. Here we go Chewie, standby… detach.

[The Falcon detaches moments before the Star Destroyer jumps to lightspeed.]

Han: Those dolts – they never saw us. Heh heh – they should have kept a better lookout.

[The Falcon’s engines fire up, and they fly towards Bespin. Boba Fett’s ship follows them from some distance.]

Boba Fett: Easy money. I’ll have these clowns captured in no time. But let’s follow them for a while and bump up the mileage claim first.

[At Jedi Master Tanah Lot’s respectable three-storey, four-bedroom abode on Degobah.]

Tanah Lot: (Ring at the door) Coming, coming!

[Opens door to see Jedi Master Bora Bodur and Jedi Master Chechen Itcha. Bodur is holding a bottle of wine whilst Itcha has brought a box of cigars.]

Tanah Lot: Master Bodur, Master Itcha, I knew it was you! I sensed your presents.

Bora Bodur: Very droll. I would ask if everybody is here yet, but I can sense that we’re the first to arrive.

Tanah Lot: Come, sit down at the poker table. It’s always the same. You tell people the game starts at nineteen hundred hours, but they saunter along at nineteen thirty. No wonder we lost the war.

Chechen Itcha: We won the war, but were fighting for the wrong side.

Bora Bodur: No, we were fighting for the right side, but were betrayed by the Emperor and by our troops, who swapped sides.

Chechen Itcha: Yeah, but they swapped sides after they’d already won. So how does that work?

Tanah Lot: Master Bodur, Master Itcha, please, let’s leave off the argument of how we lost the Clone War, shall we? Why don’t you sit yourselves down at the poker table.

[They go through into Lot’s living room, and seat themselves around a circular poker table, with card decks and chips already laid out neatly. Chechen Itcha motions to hand out a cigar.]

Tanah Lot: Thanks, but you know we can’t smoke inside. You know what grumpy-guts Yoda is like when there’s smoke around.

Chechen Itcha: Where is Master Yoda? I can sense he’s not here already.

Tanah Lot: You won’t believe this, but he’s got a new apprentice.

Chechan Itcha: What!?!?? That old duffer’s persuaded someone to train with him? Obviously they haven’t heard about his reputation…

Bora Bodur: (Impersonates Yoda) ‘Judge me by my size?’ ‘There is no why!’ ‘Do or not do. There is no try!’ What a lot of rubbish.

Tanah Lot: I know. Seriously old school.

Bora Bodur: Eight hundred years old school. But you can’t teach an old frog new tricks. (Laughs)

[There is a ring at the door.]

Tanah Lot: Come in! It’s open!

[In walks Jedi Master Sha-na-ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong. He has brought a cake.]

Sha-na-ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong: Master Lot.

Tanah Lot: Master Sha-na-ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong.

Sha-na-ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong: Master Bodur.

Bora Bodur: Master Sha-na-ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong.

Sha-na-ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong: Master Itcha.

Chechen Itcha: Master Sha-na-ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong.

Tanah Lot: Where’s your friend, Master… erm… what was his name again?

Sha-na-ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong: Bates? He’s visiting relatives on planet Pugwash.

Tanah Lot: Let’s cut the deck and start dealing, should we? I sense Yoda will not be here for hours. He’s doing his ‘lifting the spaceship out of the swamp’ thing.

Chechen Itcha: That old trick? Why doesn’t he just call the breakdown service and get them to tow it out like everyone else?

[The Falcon touches down at Cloud City. The heroes exit the ship. Lando Calrissian arrives to greet them.]

Lando: (Hugs Han) How you doin’ you old pirate? So good to see ya! What’ya doing here?

Han: Repairs. (Gestures to the Falcon) I thought you could help me out.

Lando: What you been doin’ to my ship? You cheap chiseler, can’t you afford a decent breakdown service, like everyone else? I’ll have my boys take a look at it. And how you doin’ Chewbacca, you still hanging around with this loser?

Chewbacca: Growl. (translates as: “Yeah, I’m still hanging around with this loser.”)

Han: Thanks.

Lando: (Sees Leia. Pushes Han to one side.) Hello, what have we here? (Licks lips.) Welcome, I’m Lando Calrissian, and I own this whole city. Big, isn’t it? Isn’t it so groovy and white and high up in the clouds? We call it Cloud City. And who might you be?

Leia: Leia.

Lando: (Kisses Leia’s hand) Lay ‘er? That’s just what I was thinking.

Leia: Huh.

Han: Hey, wait your turn!

Leia: What?

Han: I mean… I mean… that’s no way to speak to a lady!?

Lando: (Turns towards to Leia again) So when should I take you to Cloud Nine?

Leia: Puh-lease. You won’t even be getting to first base.

To be continued…

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