The Cloud City
Lando Calrissian stood on the balcony of his quarters, gazing at the city that he had governed for the last twenty years. He sighed through his nose, relishing the peace that was here on this planet.
There were no wars or threats from the Empire. No gloom or despair. The Cloud City had become a haven for those wanting a peaceful life away from the conflict of the galaxy. It was here that he had finally settled down, choosing to govern Bespin and leave the rebellious path behind. In doing this he hadn’t seen his friends in years. But news traveled fast.
There was now a new faction that threatened peace in the galaxy called the First Order. It seemed that Han’s only child, his son named Ben Solo, had joined the First Order. And now, the faction’s might was so powerful that they singlehandedly destroyed the New Republic in one fell swoop, leaving the galaxy in chaos.
Here, on Bespin, such tedious occurrences seemed far away but he knew it wouldn’t be long before trouble came knocking on his doorstep.
His wife, Pearl, joined him on the balcony. He turned to her, smiling. She was absolutely beautiful with long curly hair studded with golden rings, brown skin that shimmered with oil, and mesmerizing golden-brown eyes that gleamed in the sunlight.
“Is something bothering you?” she asked, stroking his cheek.
He turned his attention to the rising sun that sent majestic rays upon the city. It was a sight one could only experience in Cloud City.
“I have lived in this city for many years. I have tried to keep war from touching this planet.” His expression saddened. “But I know it’s coming.” He looked at her. “I know we will not be able to stay away from this conflict for much longer.”
Pearl nodded. “And when that time comes you will have to be ready to help your friends. To fight and protect what you have grown to love so much.”
He leaned his forehead against hers. “I know.”
There was a long moment of silence as they stood on the balcony, touching foreheads and closing their eyes in deep thought. And then there was the loud bang of a door shutting.
Lando and Pearl turned to see their daughter, Keeli, running toward them. She was a beautiful brown-skinned woman in her early twenties with curly hair cut short and wearing a maroon jumpsuit with a long flowing white vest and white boots.
“Keeli, what is it?” he asked.
She thrust a datapad to him. “It’s Leia. She has sent an important transmission.”
Lando took a deep breath before pressing the button that revealed the hologram. Leia stood with her hands clasped, gazing forward with a grim expression. His heart panged as he saw her, for she looked so much older than last he had seen her. The stress of war was aging her tremendously. His expression saddened.
“Lando, it’s been a long time,” she began. “I know you are governing Bespin as a neutral world and I don’t hate you for it. I understand your motives of wanting to stay away from the pointless disputes in the galaxy. Believe me,” she chuckled humorlessly, “I wish I could do the same myself. But now, I need your help.
“The First Order has become too powerful. Han’s dead,” Lando’s eyes widened, “and the Resistance is on the verge of defeat. I will soon be captured by the First Order but I sent the surviving remains of the Resistance coordinates to Bespin. To you Lando. I hope you will help them and in doing so, help me. For old times’ sake.”
Her head turned as something distracted her and when she faced forward again the hologram ended. Lando held the datapad in his hands, tears welling in his eyes. His wife and daughter gazed at him solemnly. Pearl placed a hand on his back.
“What are you going to do?” Pearl asked him.
He looked at her. “They killed Han Solo. I will do whatever it takes to help the Resistance win this war.”
With that, he left the room to prepare for the Resistance’s arrival.
Rey sat in the cockpit, gazing quietly at the blue streaks that made up hyperspace. There was a sense of sadness over her due to the Resistance’s defeat. Yes, they had killed Snoke but the galaxy didn’t seem any better. In fact, with the state the Resistance was in, things seemed worse.
She could not stop thinking about Snoke’s ominous last words: They’re coming. And you can’t do anything about it.
What was he talking about? Who was coming? It didn’t make any sense.
She sighed, closing her eyes. And then she heard heavy footsteps. She turned to find Kylo limping into the cockpit, cradling his arm against him. She quickly stood, helping him into one of the chairs.
As she sat back down she noticed that his eyes were wet. There was a brief moment of silence before Kylo spoke.
“When I destroyed Luke’s Jedi temple and joined Snoke and the First Order I thought I was doing what was right. At the time I was alone. I felt that…no one cared to understand me. Not my parents. Not Luke. But Snoke. He would tell me that he could give me everything I ever wanted. Power. Purpose.
“I believed him. I followed his every word, did everything he ever told me to do, including killing my father.” A tear fell from his eye, coursing down his cheek. “And then he discarded me. Told me that I was weak. That I was useless. And I still believed him. I wanted to prove him wrong. I wanted to show him that I was powerful.”
He looked at Rey. “That’s why I would go to you in your dreams. To manipulate you into joining me so I could take you to Snoke. To prove to him that I was worthy of his teachings. Of his respect. But then I realized, what I was doing was wrong.
“I actually started to care about you. You…saved me, Rey.”
Rey’s lips quirked into a slight smile.
“You showed me the right path to take. And for that, I am more grateful than you could ever know.”
He looked away from her and out of the window. “But now Luke tells me that my mother had been captured by the First Order. And once again, I have failed.”
“How have you failed?” Rey asked.
He looked at her. “If I hadn’t joined the First Order. If I hadn’t turned against the people who truly love me, would this be happening? No.”
Rey shook her head. “You don’t know that. We all have our journeys. There are many paths that we can take. You went down a dark path, yes, but your destiny isn’t over yet. This is just the first step into your redemption.”
Rey reached out and took his hand. “And I will stand alongside you the entire way as you have stood beside me in my darkest times.”
Kylo gazed at her fondly. “And together we’ll save her. We’ll save Leia. No matter what it takes.”
Rey smiled. “No matter what it takes.”
When Luke Skywalker felt the familiar jolt from the Falcon signaling that they had left hyperspace he left the lobby, entering the cockpit where he found Rey and Kylo Ren.
He looked out of the window at the world before him and his eyes widened, for it was none other than Bespin. A small smile came to his lips.
“Good job, Leia,” he whispered.
A few X-Wings soared by followed by the last remaining cruiser. Rey turned to Luke Skywalker as they flew into the planet’s hemisphere.
“What is this place?” Rey asked, navigating through clouds bedazzled with the gorgeous rays of the rising sun.
Luke smiled. “We are heading to Cloud City…to meet an old friend.”
Lando Calrissian stood on a massive landing pad, watching as the Cloud Cars escorted the Resistance vessels to the landing. His brown cape fluttered in the wind as the ships began to land around him. His wife and daughter stood beside him. Pearl was resplendent in a white and gold robe with a matching shawl that swept around her shoulders beautifully. His daughter wore a violet suit with a shimmering black cape to match.
Behind them stood his personal guard and his newest Cloud City computer liaison officer, a bald woman who went by the name of Vobot.
When Lando saw the Millennium Falcon he couldn’t help smiling. So many memories he had made on that ship. And so many times that ship had saved his life. Now, years later, it was still flying better than ever.
It landed before him and Lando watched anxiously to see who would exit the ramp. Around the Falcon, members of the Resistance were approaching him from the cruiser and the X-Wings.
A tall woman with a stern expression and blond hair walked toward him with a pilot, a dark-skinned man, and Chewbacca right alongside her.
“Baron Administrator Calrissian, how nice it is to finally meet you,” she said, extending her hand. “I am Admiral Sterk of the Resistance. I must give my incredible appreciation for your allowing us to stay here, considering that this is a neutral world.”
Lando smiled, shaking her hand. “It was a neutral world but after hearing what has happened I’m willing to choose sides and help you in your fight against the First Order.”
The dark-skinned man and pilot smiled. The pilot stepped forward.
“Mr. Calrissian, I’m Commander Poe Dameron. Leia had spoken so very highly of you whenever you crossed her mind.”
Lando chuckled. “That’s good to hear. There was a time when we weren’t the best of friends.”
Chewbacca chuckled in response.
Lando turned to the dark-skinned man. “And you are?”
“Finn,” the man said. He paused before continuing. “I was once a stormtrooper for the First Order but I was able to escape and join the Resistance.”
Lando nodded, impressed. “You are a lucky young man.” He looked at the three individuals before him in turn. “Admiral Sterk, Commander Dameron, Finn, meet my wife and daughter, Pearl and Keeli Calrissian.”
There were formal greetings all around before several Resistance soldiers holding stretchers with the wounded approached them. Lando turned to Vobot.
“Lead them to the infirmary,” he told her.
Vobot nodded before leaving with the Resistance soldiers following close behind.
Suddenly the ramp to the Falcon opened, catching Lando’s attention. He smiled as he recognized none other than Luke Skywalker exiting the vessel and approaching them.
“Luke,” Lando called. “So nice to see you again. It seems you have come back from the dead.”
Luke laughed. “Yes, it would seem.”
There was suddenly a horrified gasp followed by the unmistakable racket of blasters being drawn. When Lando looked to see what was wrong he found all of the Resistance soldiers training their blasters on a group of five individuals clothed in dark hooded robes. The group was led by a woman and a man who was leaning against the woman in pain.
Poe, Admiral Sterk, and Finn whirled. Poe immediately drew his blaster, pointing it at the man. “Kylo Ren,” he gasped.
Lando was confused. “Who?”
Keeli gasped, touching his arm. “That’s Ben.”
He looked closer at the injured man and his eyes widened, for it was indeed Han and Leia’s son, Ben Solo.
Luke raised his hands in a non-hostile manner. “Please, it is not what you think. Ben Solo and his Knights are here not as enemies but as allies.”
“I find that very hard to believe,” Admiral Sterk commented, glaring at Kylo Ren.
Rey looked at everyone. “He saved Luke’s life. He helped me defeat Snoke. He can be trusted.”
There was another massive gasp.
“Supreme Leader Snoke is dead?” Finn asked.
The young woman nodded. “Yes. But that was only possible because of Ben.”
There was clearly still dissent from the Resistance as they glared at Ben and the dark robed people. Lando stepped toward the injured son of his best friend, gazing at him with narrowed eyes.
Ben had changed since the last time had seen him. Now a scar marred half of his face. But he still had those same dark eyes that he had possessed as a child when Lando would find him playing with his daughter, Keeli.
He turned to look at everyone on the platform.
“The Cloud City is a sanctuary devoid of violence and conflict. If Luke Skywalker trusts him then you should too.” He looked at Admiral Sterk who was still glaring at Ben Solo. “All of us.”
She still wore a suspicious snarl but with a gesture, all of the Resistance holstered their blasters. Ben looked at Lando with a deeply appreciative expression.
“Thank you,” he said.
Lando nodded, before recognizing that Ben’s right arm was a severed limb. He turned to his personal guard.
“Take him to the infirmary,” he told them.
They hurried forward, taking him from the young woman with the brown hair. The young woman and Ben locked eyes for a second before he was led off. A hint of a smile touched Lando’s lips before he turned to her.
“And what’s your name?” he asked.
She smiled at Lando. “Rey.”