The Lady Luck descended into the atmosphere of Yavin 4. Lando flew past a Mon Calamari Cruiser and four Nebulon B frigates that were stationed in orbit. None of the ships contacted them but they were scanned multiple times.
“Yavin control to Lady Luck, please state the nature of your visit,” came an almost childlike voice from the comm.
“Yavin control, this is Lady Luck. We are here to speak with,” Lando paused for a second giving Nien a glance who shrugged. “Grand Master Skywalker.”
“Affirmative, Lady Luck. Sending coordinates for landing now. Please be aware, we do not have automated guidance and the skies are busy.”
“Copy that, control. Coordinates received.”
Lando banked the Lady Luck and descended toward the jungle below. In the distance he could see the crescent of the gas giant rising and below a jagged hung of superstructure from the original Death Star. Vines had overgrown most of it, almost making it look like part of the surrounding landscape.
Lando glanced at the scanners to see another, slightly larger ship following them down. “Hope we don’t have to stop fast,” Lando muttered, not taking the time to get a better read on the ship as they were getting close to the destination.
The landing gear hissed as the Lady Luck settled onto ferrocrete landing pad, kicking up dust and leaves. Lando had already started down the ramp as Nien stayed behind to do the post flight checks. He heard a growling in what could only be Wookie coming from nearby. He looked over and saw a large greying Wookie lumbering toward him followed by a slightly smaller one.
He barely had a second to register the Falcon sitting in the spot next to him before the Wookie snatched Lando off his feet and into a huge hug. “Chewie, it’s good to see you, but I gotta breath.”
Chewbacca let Lando go and stepped back growling and chuffing. He motioned to the shorter Wookie that had come up beside him. Lando looked at the other one as Chewbacca talked. Lando’s Wookie was not the best, but he was able to pick up that this was his nephew. The other wookie was about a head shorter than Chewbacca but still quite a bit taller than Lando. It wore a belt as well as a bandoleer. Attached to the bandoleer was what looked like a protocol droid face, though the eyes were lit up. The other thing he noticed was a stick hanging off the belt where the belt and bandoleer met.
The other Wookie spoke. “Hello, General Calrissian,” the droid face said. “I am MTD, Protocol Translator.” The wookie sighed and growled something. “Sorry,” the droid said, “This is Lowbacca, Padawan to Master Solo and Nephew to Chewbacca.”
Lando looked at MTD and nodded then looked back up at Lowbacca. “Pleased to meet you, and please call me Lando.” Lando took the outstretched hand from Lowbacca firmly in his.
Lowbacca said something as they shook hands. “What brings you to Yavin, General Solo?” MTD asked for Lowbacca. Lowbacca thumped the droid and growled something. “I am sorry, Lowbacca insists on informal, Lando?”
“Lando is fine. I am here to see Luke or Ben,” he said.
“We will probably need to find C3PO,” MTD said, “He will know where Grand Master Skywalker and Master Solo are.”
Chewie growled something and took Lowbacca into a hug. From the muffled fur between them, MTD could be heard. “Chewbacca cannot stay. The Kashyyyk Senator and his staff are aboard Millennium Falcon and need to return to Coruscant as soon as possible.”
Chewie patted Lando on the shoulder, not quite hard enough to stagger him. “Yeah, you take care of yourself, Chewie. We will catch up next time I am on Coruscant.”
Lando and Lowbacca watched as the Falcon rose up from the landing pad on its repulsers then turned and sped upward. Lowbacca tapped Lando on the arm then indicated the temple that was not the home of the Jedi. Lando took time to look around the landing pad. There were buildings around the edges of it, even a cantina. It looked as if there were a little more than just Jedi here. It had been a rebel base for years leading up to the destruction of the first Death Star.
They entered the hanger that was built into the temple’s lower level. Once it had held X and Y wings owned by the rebels. Now, while there were a couple of X-wings and Y-wings, there were several other ships, some combat, most not. They made their way around the edge of the hanger and into the interior of the temple.
Lowbacca almost ran into C-3PO as he turned a corner. “Oh, my. Padawan Lowbacca, it is good to see you. I received a message that the Falcon had landed.” C-3PO’s head turned and it saw Lando. “Lando Calrissian, I was not expecting you. How are you doing?”
“Hello C-3PO. I didn’t exactly announce myself,” he said. “Do you know where Luke is?”
“Grand Master Skywalker is off planet to try to recruit a few younglings. He is due back in a few days. Is there something I can help you with?”
“I believe that he could speak with Master Solo,” MTD offered.
C-3PO nodded stiffly. “I believe that Master Solo is in training room 3. I can call him if you wish.”
Lowbacca shook his head and growled something. He stepped around C-3PO and motioned Lando to follow him. “I think we are just going to go find him,” Lando said and nodded to C-3PO as he walked past.
They wound their way through the temple. Lando heard an electrical humming sound and the occasional spark of electricity. Lowbacca lead them through an open doorway into what looked like a small arena or perhaps auditorium. Two figures faced each other, each holding what at first glance Lando thought were lightsabers but upon second glance he could see that they were actually rods that electricity could be seen dancing up and down.
One of the figures was a girl, probably around 16 standard years or so and the other Lando recognized as Ben Solo though he was quite a bit older since the last time that Lando had saw him. Both were dressed in the traditional brown tunic and trousers that the Jedi had been known to wear though out the Republic. The girl was sweating and looked like she was getting frustrated. Ben looked relaxed, almost bored as he faced her.
“You are letting your anger get the better of you, Padawan,” he said. “You need to center yourself or you will never best me, or anyone.”
She made a face then moved in quickly, her weapon hissing she struck at him again and again. Each swing, he parried as if he were bored and with as little motion as possible on his part. A loud zap sound happened each time the rods touched, and electricity sparked bright. Lando could see she was getting frustrated at not being able to get through his defenses. Rae danced back a little so she could get her breath.
“Are you even trying to use the force, Padawan?” Ben asked. “You should be centering yourself in the force and using it to anticipate your opponent’s actions. You should be relying on the force to help direct your actions.”
Rae sighed. “What is it supposed to feel like, Master?” she asked.
“A moment of peace in the chaos of combat,” Ben said. “The absolute certainty of will and action.” He met her eyes. “You should be practicing your meditation as you spar, as you do everything.”
“You cannot meditate while fighting,” Rae said for certain.
Ben laughed at her. “You saw the last demonstration that Luke and I gave. We were both meditating as we fought. We were letting the force guide our actions as we directed the force.”
Rae thought about that fight. Their lightsabers were a blur during that fight. It was difficult to follow their movements they were going so fast. “But you have had many years of experience.”
“No excuse. Several of the masters here were doing it as padawans. I expect no less from you, Rae,” Ben said then added a little louder, “Nor you, Lowbacca.”
Lowbacca grunted and sighed. He glanced at Lando was a bit surprised that Ben knew they were there even though he shouldn’t have been.
Rae growled before lunging forward swinging down at him hoping to take advantage of what seemed like a slight distraction. But it was for not as he blocked her attack with casual grace then snapped the wrong down and tapped her thigh with the rod.
The girl screamed and dropped to the ground, her rod going dim as it hit the floor. She grabbed her leg that was spasming and twitching. “I have warned you in the past you need to stop leading a lunge with your leg, Rey.” He knelt next to her and put his hand on her thigh, squeezing it. The muscles quit spasming and her body relaxed. “While you are doing better though, your form is still sloppy.” He met her eyes. “I know you can do better than this, Rae. You need to keep practicing.”
Ben glanced over at the entrance to see Lowbacca and Lando. He offered Lando a smile. “Lando, long time no see. Lowbacca, you are back a little sooner than I expected.”
Lowbacca growled something and Ben nodded. “Well, I am sorry I missed seeing Chewie.” He walked over to where they stood and offered his hand to Lando. “And why are you here, if you don’t mind me asking.”
Lando shook the offered hand. “I came to talk to you or Luke,” he said. “I got involved in a deal with what turned out to be Imperials. They had a Raider class ship that could produce an Interdiction field and a Tie variant that had hyperdrive.”
Ben frowned. “You should probably bring this up to my mom. The chancellor can bring the resources of the Republic to look into it.”
“I did.” Lando sighed. “I sold them some small arms and armor that I recovered from an abandoned Imperial Cache. Leia said she can’t officially look into it because if she does, I will get investigated too.”
“I understand.” He sighed and eyed Lando. “She sent you here, didn’t she?” Ben asked.
Lando nodded. “Yeah, she said you or Luke might be able to help.”
“What do you know about the buyer?” Ben asked.
“I know the ship that met up with me before the Raider showed up and a few other things. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of information.”
Ben hummed to himself. “I will need to talk to Luke and some of the other Jedi masters before we get a Jedi involved in this.” He looked to Lowbacca. “Did you finish your dealings?” he asked.
Lowbacca nodded and pulled the lightsaber from his belt. He pressed the button and with a snap hiss a green blade appeared. Ben smiled. “Very good, Lowbacca, perhaps you will keep this one for longer than a year?”
Rae laughed as she walked up beside them and Lowbacca scowled at her as he shut the lightsaber down. “I wouldn’t laugh too much, Rae. You have yet to best either Lowie or myself in sparring,” Ben said with a sideways glance to her. “Why don’t the two of you take Lando down to the archives while I go try to reach Luke. Help him any way you can to try to find more information about these Imperials.”
“Yes, Master Solo,” Rae said and Lowbacca chuffed in agreement.
Ben smiled and sighed, “My manners are lacking. General Calrissian, this is my Padawan, Rae. Rae, this is General Lando Calrissian. He used my father’s ship to destroy the Death Star at the Battle of Endor.”
Rae pushed her sweaty hair back from her face with one hand and offered the other to Lando. “It is nice to meet you. We learned about you in history class. Never thought I would get to meet anyone that was there except for Grandmaster Skywalker,” she said.
Lando took the offered hand and chuckled. “Just call me Lando.” He looked at Ben. “I don’t think I will ever get used to hearing that I am being taught in history books.”
Ben chuckled. “Probably not. I know that both dad and Luke are still a little uncomfortable about it.” He made to move past them. “Go see what you can find and I will go talk to Luke and the others. It might be a few days until I have some answers from the council.”
Lando nodded. “As long as we do something. I am worried that something is coming, and we don’t have a clue as to what.”
Ben nodded. “I am sure something is coming, something always is. We just need to find out what.” He nodded to them. “Now, if you will excuse me.”
Lando shook his head as Ben walked out of the arena. “He has changed so much since I last saw him.”
“Did you know him when he was younger?” Rae asked him.
Lando shrugged. “Not really. I am friends with his father. I did see him several times growing up when we were pushing the Empire back to the Inner Core. Not much after that. And he spent most of his time with Luke here on Yavin.”
“I was wondering if he was always so intense like he is when he trains us,” Rae wondered. Lowbacca chuckled and patted her on the shoulder. Rae nodded. “I know he is our teacher and he is supposed to be hard on us. I just feel like I can never impress him.”
Lowbacca chuffed and nodded. “Lowbacca feels the same,” MTD said, more for Lando’s benefit. “From my observations, Master Solo is quite serious about his training which is why he is hard on the two of you.”
She looked toward the exit. “Come on, let’s go down to the archives.”
“How long have you two been here?” Lando asked as they walked.
“I was picked up on Jakku when I was eight,” she said. “Grandmaster Skywalker found me. He said that he was lead to me through the force. I have lived on Yavin since then. At least it isn’t dry and sandy here.”
Lowbacca chuffed a moment. “Lowbacca has been here for seven years,” MTD said. “Master Chacora had been sent to Kashyyyk by Grandmaster Skywalker. Master Chacora found Lowbacca and convinced him and his family to let him come to Yavin to learn. Master Chacora already had two padawans and was not willing to take on another.”
“Another that was a wookie with a temper,” Rae chided and skipped ahead out of Lowbacca’s reach as if he were going to swipe at her.
Lowbacca growled something and stuck his tongue out at her. “That was very impolite, Lowbacca,” MTD said.
Lando laughed. “I have spent enough time around Chewie to know that phrase.”
Lowbacca continued talking with MTD translating for him. “Both Rae and I were getting of the age and skill that Master Skywalker believed that we were ready to become padawans. Master Solo’s first padawan had just been named a Jedi Knight. Master Skywalker convinced Master Solo to take us both on.”
Rae nodded in agreement. “We have been studying under Ben for almost six years now,” she added. “I think we are close to being given our trials to be Jedi, but Ben won’t tell us what we are going to be expected to do. He also won’t tell us what he did for Master Skywalker.”
They entered a large room that was filled with computer banks and holotables. “Hey R2,” Rae said as they walked to one of the tables.
R2-D2 whistled and shifted side to side a little then rolled over whistling. “Hello R2D2,” MTD said.
The astromech droid made a flat sound before continuing to whistle. “I am not a poor copy of C-3PO. C-3PO offered part of his database to Lowbacca so that I would have the language base for him. I know a dozen different languages and cultures.”
“Would you two please not antagonize each other?” Rae said. She motioned Lando toward the holotable.
“Hello R2. It’s been a while,” Lando said looking over at the polished droid as he brought up the controls on the table. R2 whistled in agreement.
“The ship that they were using was called the Star Dust. It is an old CEC XS-1200 freighter. Crew that we saw was a tall human woman by the name of Mars and a male named Finn,” Lando said. “Made the initial contact on Kinyen with a Gran by the name of Yaps Kleec. He put me onto the lead of another buyer. A, I believe, human by the name of Armitage Hux. I thought that Hux was some up and coming criminal leader or perhaps someone working for the Hutts or Black Sun, I don’t know for sure. He offered me 60% market value for what I was trying to offload. Not what I would have liked to make but it was enough to pull Nien and myself out of debt with the Sun so I wasn’t asking any questions.”
“What was it that you had to sell?” Rae asked. “R2, can you link into the database and see if there are any matches to the names and systems?”
R2-D2 plugged into the data port. “Think he will find anything?” Lando asked.
Rae shrugged. “If there’s nothing to find, he will find it much faster than we will,” she said. She looked down at the droid. “So, why were you in debt to the Sun? The Black Sun is just about as bad as the Hutts are.”
Lando leaned against the edge of the table with a rueful laugh. “That would be a long story. Truth is, I owed a bit of money to the Hutts due to a bad business dealing that didn’t go the way that Hutts wanted. I had a friend, and that term is used loosely, that was with the Black Sun. He got me in touch with someone to loan me some money to get the Hutts off my back. It was better to owe the Sun than the Hutts but not by much. I got lucky a few months ago and found an intact Imperial Cache. Sold off most of the equipment. The guns and armor were the last of the stuff I needed to sell off. At least we were able to get the money before they tried to kill us.”
Lowbacca chuffed a few times. “I agree,” MTD said, “Mr. Calrissian, you don’t seem to have much in the way of luck.”
“Luck comes and goes,” Lando said. “I am lucky that we had the cloaking device or we wouldn’t have survived that.”
R2 whistled and the Holotable’s display changed showing an image of the Star Dust. Lando read the data. “The ship was lost six years ago. Looks like they were just a standard freight runner doing courier work.” He scrolled down on the information. “It was owned by an Ithorian. There weren’t any Ithorians aboard that I could see.”
“Could it have been sold?” Rae asked.
“Sold or stolen,” Lando answered. R2 whistled and the screen changed. A Neimoidian wearing Jedi robes sat in the center of the table. “I think that the Imperials may be up to something. I have just returned from Kinyen. While I was there, I found out that some of the locals had been running a smuggling operation that was reclaiming Imperial equipment. I do not know where it was being sent to though. I am hoping I can find a trail. This might lead us to the remains of the Empire. I am going to head to Takodana and see if I can find any information there.”
“R2, who is that?” Rae asked. “He looks familiar.” The screen flickered showing a bio. “Lott Palla” showed on the screen. Rae snapped her fingers. “Jedi Palla. Wasn’t he Master Solo’s first padawan?”
R2 whistled in the affirmative. Lowbacca spoke up for a moment before MTD translated. “Lowbacca remembered that Jedi Palla refused to take on a Padawan. He told Master Skywalker that he would not be a good teacher for younglings. He said he felt that he would do more by going out in the galaxy and helping rather than staying on Yavin and teaching. Master Skywalker was not happy about Palla leaving but he relented and gave Jedi Palla permission.” Lowbacca touched the controls returning Palla to the screen. “I see it,” MTD said. “Jedi Palla went missing about a year after he was named Jedi. This was dated just before he vanished.”
“I wonder what he found,” Rae mused.
“Or what found him,” Lando added. “Well, at least I have some place to start looking.”
“You mean, we,” Rae said. Lowbacca looked at her, an expression of surprise on his face.
“Oh no,” Lando said. “Takodana is on the other side of the galaxy.”
“Help him any way you can to try to find more information about these Imperials,” Rae quoted Ben. “He didn’t say we had to stay here and it will be days, maybe even a week before Luke and the council make a decision on investigating this.”
Lando shook his head. “I am not going to be responsible for you.”
Lowbacca studied Rae for a long moment. “Oh no,” MTD said. “You are actually considering this, aren’t you?” Lowbacca put his hand over the droid’s mouth and it went quiet. He growled a few things to Rae.
Rae shrugged. “He didn’t tell us that we couldn’t leave.” She turned to Lando. “How fast is your ship?”
Lando’s eyes narrowed. “Fast enough but I am still saying no.”
Rae sighed. “Look, we have a point to look at. We will go there and see what we can find on Takodana. If we don’t find anything or even if we do, we can return here and give the council some better information.” She looked to R2. “Did you find anything else?” R2 gave a flat sound in the negative. “And we aren’t going to get any more information here.”
“I can go do the looking myself,” Lando said.
Lowbacca looked at Rae then back to Lando. “But,” she said, “we are chasing after a Jedi. How much do you know about the force and the Jedi? We have had training.”
“You aren’t Jedi,” Lando said.
“We are close and we have both been off world before.”
Lowbacca spoke up. He pulled his hand from over MTD’s mouth. “Lowbacca brings up a point. What happens if you run into one of the Imperials and they recognize you? They won’t recognize Lowbacca or Rae.”
“You already said that they tried to kill you,” Rae added. “At least with us there you would have some protection. And we might see something having training that you would miss.”
Lando sighed. “And do you think that Master Solo would allow you to go?” As much as he would hate to agree, having two almost Jedi would be better than not having them with him.”
Rae and Lowbacca grinned at each other, baring teeth when they did. “Better to go forth and do then ask for permission than to timidly ask for permission and be denied.”
“You’ve done this before,” Lando asked.
Both laughed. “Yes,” Rae said. “We will take the heat for it. You can just say we tricked you into doing it,” she added and waved her hand purposefully.
Lando sighed. “This is a bad idea,” he said. He didn’t know why, but he had a feeling that if they waited, this might not ever get to looked into. “Fine, lets do this before I change my mind. But let’s get one thing clear, you do what I say, no questions.”
Lowbacca and Rae nodded. “When do we leave?”
“How soon can you be ready?”
C-3PO stood next to R2-D2 watching the Lady Luck ascend into the sky. “I wonder why Lando did not stay.”
R2-D2 whistled and turned around to face toward the entrance. “What do you mean?” C-3PO asked. “He decided to go and investigate things on his own?”
R2-D2 whistled and headed into the temple. C-3PO followed after as quickly as it’s legs would go. “What do you mean that you can’t say? You are so infuriating. Just because Master Skywalker put you in charge of the network doesn’t mean that you can hide things.”