The Millennium Falcon was in trouble. Chewbacca’s family was waiting for Chewie’s arrival for their Life Day celebration, but Chewie and Han had run into two Imperial Star Destroyers on the way, and the Empire was not feeling very friendly that day. After deciding that turning back was not an option, Han set the coordinates for a quick hyperspace jump to outrun their unpleasant friends. The stars streaked forward, and the Falcon escaped once again.
Meanwhile, in Chewbacca’s treehouse home on Kashyyyk, Chewie’s wife Malla was working in the kitchen while his father Itchy carved an X-Wing Fighter toy for little Lumpy. Lumpy came downstairs, flying another X-Wing toy around and around his grandfather’s head and making noises as he went. Finally Itchy became annoyed and barked sharply at Lumpy, causing him to stop in his tracks.
But right then Malla had other plans for Lumpy. She pulled out a trash can from the kitchen and told him to take it out. Lumpy, disappointed, tried to weasel out of it by appealing to his grandpa, but Itchy would have none of it. So Lumpy reluctantly headed over to take the trash away. As he went, he attempted to sneak a treat from a bowl of wookiee-ookies sitting out on the table, but his mother caught him and made him put it back. She handed him the trash can, but Lumpy managed to grab another and sneak away with it and the trash can without his mother seeing.
Outside, Lumpy set the trash down and looked over the treehouse railing. From there, he could see far, far down into the fearsome lower levels of Kashyyyk, where no one usually ventured. Climbing up onto the the rail, he walked precariously along its top, not thinking about how dangerous this was. Lumpy was often mischievous this way, and sometimes got himself into big trouble.
Inside, Malla was expressing her worries to Itchy about Chewbacca’s lateness. Itchy tried to console her, but she still fretted about nervously.
Itchy pulled a data tape from the shelf and called Lumpy, Lumpy ran in, very excited when he saw what grandpa had. Malla gave her permission, and Itchy popped the data tape into the holograph table. Lumpy watched enthralled as exotic circus performers danced around and performed acrobatics on the table in front of his eyes. At least Lumpy was occupied for a while.
But after the show finished, Malla had more work for Lumpy. She handed him a towel, and despite his grumbles, motioned him towards the dishes in the kitchen. Once again, he reluctantly started his chore.
Malla stepped over to the data terminal and punched some keys, causing Itchy to look up from his chair, concerned. On the screen the words indicated she had reached Traffic Control. But unfortunately, the report indicated there were no starships in the area. Itchy suggested they contact Luke Skywalker to find out where Chewbacca might be, so they went to the nearby bookshelf and opened up their hidden transmitter, located behind a secret panel. Up on the screen came an image of a Rebel hangar, where Luke and R2-D2 were working on an engine part. After Luke greeted them, the Wookiees pointed to a holopic of Chewbacca and indicated that he had not arrived yet. Luke expressed concern at first since Han and Chewie had left on schedule, and they were way overdue. But then he reassured Malla and Itchy, noting that they hadn’t missed a Life Day yet, and probably they were just delayed. Meanwhile, the engine part they had been working on started belching smoke, and Luke had to get back to the repairs. Malla switched off the transmitter, not feeling very reassured.
Stepping back over to the data terminal, Malla called up Saun Dann’s Trading Post. Their human shopkeeper friend Saun Dann was busy with a difficult customer: an Imperial Guard. Saun Dann attempted to sell various items to the Guard, but nearly everything was met with sour disapproval. Then the wall screen buzzed as Malla’s transmission came through. Saun Dann knew just why she was calling. Speaking in careful terms so as not to alert the Imperial Guard, Saun Dann explained to her that the “shaggy carpet” she ordered was on its way, but that it would take some time to get to her. Malla nodded her understanding, and Saun Dann disconnected after telling her he would be dropping by later to drop off an extra proton pack. Turning back to the Imperial Guard, he continued to give his sales pitch, trying to sell a groomer to him. The Imperial, convinced, coldly told Saun Dann he would take it, and walked off with it without paying. As the Imperial left the shop, Saun Dann told him to go ahead and accept it as a “gift”… grumbling once the Guard was gone.
In a darker place in the galaxy, Darth Vader and an Imperial Officer strode along a Star Destroyer corridor. A Rebel ship had been seen in the area. The Officer reported that a blockade and a curfew had been ordered, and it would just be a matter of time before the Rebels were found. The sinister Vader commanded that the Rebels must be located and identified, even if it meant searching every household in the system!
Back on Kashyyyk, Malla switched on her viewscreen in the kitchen, and started a cooking program. On-screen appeared Gormaanda, a popular intergalactic chef. Gormaanda quickly ran through the preparation of a dish called Bantha Surprise, while Malla frantically attempted to keep up. This was complicated further by the fact that Gormaanda had two more arms than Malla did, causing Malla to finally switch the program off and finish up on her own. She placed the pot on the warmer for their Life Day meal, and hoped that Chewbacca would be home soon.
Not far away, Chewbacca roared in frustration. The Millennium Falcon had come out of hyperspace into the midst of another unpleasant suprise–an Imperial convoy! The blockade was in effect. As TIE Fighters began firing on the Falcon, Han and Chewie maneuvered desperately to try and avoid the TIEs, firing the remote cannons and vaporizing one of them. Then suddenly the cannons went offline. Han wondered aloud why he thought getting Chewie home for Life Day would be easy, and he rushed back to operate the cannons manually.
As Malla gazed longingly at Chewie’s holopic, an announcement suddenly came up on the data terminal. A stern-looking Imperial officer appeared on-screen and announced to all viewers that due to suspected Rebel activity on Kashyyyk, the Empire had declared martial law and set up a blockade around the planet. No ships would be permitted to take off or land until further notice. Just then, there was a knock at the door! Malla grabbed Lumpy and held him tight, while Itchy cautiously edged towards the front entrance. To their relief, it was only Saun Dann, bearing an armload of gifts. Itchy opened the door, and the trader stepped inside. Saun Dann quickly noticed their long faces, however, and reassured them that if he made it through the Imperial patrol, Han and Chewie surely would too. So with that, the gifts were presented. For Lumpy, Saun Dann had brought a big box containing a mini-transmitter set. Lumpy quickly ran upstairs to his room to start playing with it. For Malla, the trader handed over a portable holo player. And for Itchy, Saun Dann had a special proton pack for the Wookiees’ “Mind Evaporator” unit. Once Itchy sat down in the control chair and placed the helmet vizor over his head, Saun Dann started the tape. Itchy was soon lost in a virtual world inhabited by a beautiful water creatures, including one named Mermeia who spoke and sang gently to him. Itchy was happy indeed.
Inside a Rebel control center, Princess Leia and C-3PO worked to establish a connection with Chewbacca’s family. A signal sounded, and Malla stepped over and opened the secret transmitter console. Leia wished Malla a happy Life Day… but Threepio translated Malla’s reply saying that she had seen happier ones. When it became apparent that Chewbacca and Han still had not arrived, Leia realized the Imperial patrol they’d run into must have given them more trouble than they’d bargained for. Saun Dann came over to the screen and assured her as a friend of the Rebellion, he would take care of Malla and her family. Leia, seeing they were in good hands, signed off and assured them she’d contact them again later.
Back on board the Millennium Falcon, the flight path was clear now. They had escaped from the convoy, but Han could see Imperial traffic all over the system. Han decided it would be best to land on the north side where it would be safer. Though it was a long walk, at least they’d get there eventually. The Falcon roared by above the giant trees of Kashyyyk.
Lumpy heard a starship roaring overhead, and looked up from his new toy, calling out excitedly. Saun Dann said it was probably Chewbacca now, and they ran towards the door. But as the door opened, a terrible surprise greeted them. Standing in the doorway were two Imperial stormtroopers, weapons at the ready!
The stormtroopers stepped in, followed by an Officer and an Imperial Guard. Saun Dann quickly slipped over to the transmitter and closed the secret panel. As the Imperials looked around the house, the Guard read off the unit occupancy, and the Officer noted that there was a Wookiee male missing from the house. Saun Dann stepped over to offer an explanation, and the Officer demanded his identification, studying it carefully. Saun Dann looked nervously behind him as the troopers searched the area where the transmitter was hidden. Luckily, they did not find the secret panel. The identification was in order, so the Officer ordered Saun Dann to leave. The trader, hoping to stall the Imperials a little more, said he had some things to finish up before he went. As he headed for the kitchen, offering some Wookiee food, Malla tried to pick up the portable holo player Saun Dann had given her. The Imperials quickly raised their guns at her, so Saun Dann defused the situation by offering to show the Imperial Guard how the player worked. The guard sat down in front of it, and after some more stalling, Saun Dann flipped the unit on. The Guard was treated to a holographic band performing in front of him. Despite himself, he began tapping his finger to the rhythm, fascinated by the spectacle.
When the video was over, the Officer again commanded Saun Dann to leave. Having little choice left, the trader headed towards the front entrance. The Officer commanded his men to continue searching the residence. Though Saun Dann attempted to stall the troops further by fast talk, blasters pointed in his direction quickly sent him out the door.
As a stormtrooper headed towards the upper area where Lumpy’s room was, Lumpy bravely but unsuccessfully tried to block the way. Itchy intervened, but was roughly shoved aside by a stormtrooper. Had he been just 100 years younger, no human would have pushed him around, but the elder Wookiee now walked with a cane, and was not as strong as he once was. The Imperial Officer demanded that Malla keep her son quiet, adding a veiled threat as to what might happen if she did not. Having little choice, Malla led Lumpy over to a small video screen. Lumpy put on his headphones and switched on the viewer. Looking around to make sure no one was watching too closely, he started a program containing one of Captain Kazan’s Rebel log reports about an adventure his father was involved in. How he wished his father was there now to save them!
(to be continued)