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THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK


Written by

                             Lawrence Kasdan
                                   and
                             Leigh Brackett



                       From a story by George Lucas

Prologue:


EXT. GALAXY - PLANET HOTH

A Star Destroyer moves through space, releasing Imperial probe robots from its underside.

One of these probes zooms toward the planet Hoth and lands on its ice- covered surface. An explosion marks the point of impact.

EXT. HOTH - METEORITE CRATER - SNOW PLAIN - DAY

A weird mechanical sound rises above the whining of the wind. A strange probe robot, with several extended sensors, emerges from the smoke-shrouded crater. The ominous mechanical probe floats across the snow plain and disappears into the distance.

EXT. PLAIN OF HOTH - DAY

A small figure gallops across the windswept ice slope. The bundled rider is mounted on a large gray snow lizard, a Tauntaun. Curving plumes of snow rise from beneath the speeding paws of the two-legged beast.

The rider gallops up a slope and reins his lizard to a stop. Pulling off his protective goggles, Luke Skywalker notices something in the sky. He takes a pair of electrobinoculars from his utility belt and through them sees smoke rising from where the probe robot has crashed.

The wind whips at Luke's fur-lined cap and he activates a comlink transmitter. His Tauntaun shifts and moans nervously beneath him.

LUKE (into comlink) Echo Three to Echo Seven. Han, old buddy, do you read me?

After a little static a familiar voice is heard.

HAN (over comlink) Loud and clear, kid. What's up?

LUKE (into comlink) Well, I finished my circle. I don't pick up any life readings.

HAN (over comlink) There isn't enough life on this ice cube to fill a space cruiser. The sensors are placed, I'm going back.

LUKE (into comlink) Right. I'll see you shortly. There's a meteorite that hit the ground near here. I want to check it out. It won't take long.

Luke clicks off his transmitter and reins back on his nervous lizard. He pats the beast on the head to calm it.

LUKE Hey, steady girl. What's the matter? You smell something?

Luke takes a small device from his belt and starts to adjust it when suddenly a large shadow falls over him from behind. He hears a monstrous howl and turns to see an eleven-foot-tall shape towering over him. It is a Wampa Ice Creature, lunging at him ferociously.

LUKE Aaargh!

Luke grabs for his pistol, but is hit flat in the face by a huge white claw. He falls unconscious into the snow and in a moment the terrified screams of the Tauntaun are cut short by the horrible snap of a neck being broken.

The Wampa Ice Creature grabs Luke by one ankle and drags him away across the frozen plain.

EXT. HOTH - REBEL BASE ENTRANCE - DAY

A stalwart figure rides his Tauntaun up to the entrance of an enormous ice cave.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR DECK

Rebel troopers rush about unloading supplies and otherwise securing their new base. The rider, Han Solo, swings off his lizard and pulls off his goggles.

He walks into the main hangar deck toward the Millennium Falcon, which is parked among several fighters. Mechanics, R2 units, and various other droids hurry about. Han stops at the Millennium Falcon where his Wookiee copilot, Chewbacca, is welding on a central lifter. Chewie stops his work and lifts his face shield, growling an irritated greeting to his boss.

HAN Chewie!

The Wookiee grumbles a reply.

HAN All right, don't lose your temper. I'll come right back and give you a hand.

Chewbacca puts his mask back on and returns to his welding as Han leaves.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - COMMAND CENTER

A makeshift command center has been set up in a blasted area of thick ice. The low-ceilinged room is a beehive of activity. Controllers, troops, and droids move about setting up electronic equipment and monitoring radar signals.

General Rieekan straightens up from a console at Han's approach.

RIEEKAN Solo?

HAN No sign of life out there, General. The sensors are in place. You'll know if anything comes around.

RIEEKAN Commander Skywalker reported in yet?

HAN No. He's checking out a meteorite that hit near him.

RIEEKAN (indicates radar screen) With all the meteor activity in this system, it's going to be difficult to spot approaching ships.

Taking a deep breath, Han blurts out what is on his mind.

HAN General, I've got to leave. I can't stay anymore.

Princess Leia, standing at a console nearby, is dressed in a short white combat jacket and pants. Her hair is braided across her head in a Nordic fashion. She overhears their conversation and seems somewhat distressed.

RIEEKAN I'm sorry to hear that.

HAN Well, there's a price on my head. If I don't pay off Jabba the Hut, I'm a dead man.

RIEEKAN A death mark's not an easy thing to live with. You're a good fighter, Solo. I hate to lose you.

HAN Thank you, General.

He turns to Leia as Rieekan moves away.

HAN (with feeling) Well, Your Highness, I guess this is it.

LEIA That's right.

Leia is angry. Han sees she has no warmth to offer him. He shakes his head and adopts a sarcastic tone.

HAN (cooly) Well, don't get all mushy on me. So long, Princess.

Han walks away into the quiet corridor adjoining the command center. Leia stews a moment, then hurries after him.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - ICE CORRIDOR

LEIA Han!

Han stops in the corridor and turns to face Leia.

HAN Yes, Your Highnessness?

LEIA I thought you decided to stay.

HAN Well, the bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell changed my mind.

LEIA Han, we need you!

HAN We?

LEIA Yes.

HAN Oh, what about you need?

LEIA (mystified) I need? I don't know what you're talking about.

HAN (shakes his head, fed up) You probably don't.

LEIA And what precisely am I supposed to know?

HAN Come on! You want me to stay because of the way you feel about me.

LEIA Yes. You're a great help to us. You're a natural leader...

HAN No! That's not it. Come on. Aahhh - uh huh! Come on.

Leia stares at him, understanding, then laughs.

LEIA You're imagining things.

HAN Am I? Then why are you following me? Afraid I was going to leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?

LEIA I'd just as soon kiss a Wookiee.

HAN I can arrange that. You could use a good kiss!

Angrily, Han strides down the corridor as Leia stares after him.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - ANOTHER ICE CORRIDOR

A familiar stream of beeps and whistles herald the approach of Artoo- Detoo and See-Threepio, who appear around a corner and move along an ice wall toward the main hangar.

THREEPIO Don't try to blame me. I didn't ask you to turn on the thermal heater. I merely commented that it was freezing in the princess' chamber. But it's supposed to be freezing. How are we going to dry out all her clothes? I really don't know.

Artoo beeps a stream of protesting whistles.

THREEPIO Oh, switch off.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR DECK

The two robots stop at Han Solo's space freighter. Han and Chewie are struggling with their central lifters.

HAN (to Chewie) Why do you take this apart now? I'm trying to get us out of here and you pull both of these.

Chewie grumbles in irritation.

THREEPIO Excuse me, sir.

HAN (to Chewie) Put them back together right now.

THREEPIO Might I have a word with you, please?

HAN What do you want?

THREEPIO Well, it's Princess Leia, sir. She's been trying to get you on the communicator.

HAN I turned it off. I don't want to talk to her.

THREEPIO Oh. Well, Princess Leia is wondering about Master Luke. He hasn't come back yet. She doesn't know where he is.

HAN I don't know where he is.

THREEPIO Nobody knows where he is.

HAN What do you mean, "nobody knows"?

Han glances at the fading light at the entrance of the ice cave as night slowly begins to fall on the planet.

THREEPIO Well, uh, you see...

Han jumps down off the lift, as Threepio follows him.

HAN Deck Officer. Deck Officer!

THREEPIO Excuse me, sir. Might I inqu...

Han abruptly puts his hand over Threepio's mouth as the deck officer approaches.

DECK OFFICER Yes, sir?

HAN Do you know where Commander Skywalker is?

DECK OFFICER I haven't seen him. It's possible he came in through the south entrance.

HAN It's possible? Why don't you go find out? It's getting dark out there.

DECK OFFICER Yes, sir.

The deck officer leaves hurriedly, as Han takes his hand off Threepio's mouth.

THREEPIO Excuse me, sir. Might I inquire what's going on?

HAN Why not?

THREEPIO Impossible man. Come along, Artoo, let's find Princess Leia. Between ourselves, I think Master Luke is in considerable danger.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - MAIN ICE TUNNEL

The deck officer and his assistant hurry toward Han as he enters the tunnel.

DECK OFFICER Sir, Commander Skywalker hasn't come in through the south entrance. He might have forgotten to check in.

HAN Not likely. Are the speeders ready?

DECK OFFICER Not yet. We're having some trouble adapting them to the cold.

HAN Then we'll have to go out on Tauntauns.

DECK OFFICER Sir, the temperature's dropping too rapidly.

HAN That's right. And my friends out in it.

ASSISTANT OFFICER I'll cover sector twelve. Have com-control set screen alpha.

Han pushes through the troops and mounts a Tauntaun.

DECK OFFICER Your Tauntaun'll freeze before you reach the first marker.

HAN Then I'll see you in hell!

Han maneuvers his mount out of the cave and races into the dark bitter night.

EXT. HOTH - ICE GORGE - DUSK

The jagged face of a huge ice wall sits gloomily in the dim twilight of a Hoth day. Luke hangs upside down, ankles frozen into icy stalactites, his extended arms within a foot of the snow floor. One side of his face is covered in a dried mask of frozen blood. He opens his eyes as a chilling moan of the hideous ice creature echoes off the gorge walls. Luke pulls himself up, grabs hold of his ankles, and futilely tries to unfasten the throngs.

Exhausted, he drops back into his hanging position. As he hangs there, he spies his lightsaber lying near a pile of his discarded gear, about three feet out of reach.

He focuses on the saber and, as his hand strains toward the weapon, he squeezes his eyes tight in concentration.

Just as the ice creature looms over Luke, the lightsaber jumps into Luke's hand.

The young warrior instantly ignites his sword, swinging up, and cuts himself loose from the ice. He flops to the snow in a heap. The startled creature moves back, his giant yellow eyes blinking. Luke scrambles to his feet. He swings his lightsaber and the beast screams in pain.

EXT. HOTH - ENTRANCE TO ICE GORGE - DUSK

Luke staggers out of the gorge into the dark and snowy twilight. Weak and exhausted, he stumbles down a snow bank.

EXT. HOTH - SNOW PLAIN - DUSK

A small, lone figure riding a Tauntaun races through the hostile vastness of snow and cold. As it runs, the Tauntaun's legs kick up large clouds of snow and ice into the snowy air.

EXT. HOTH - OUTSIDE ICE HANGAR - DUSK

Artoo stands in the falling snow, beeping worriedly. Threepio moves stiffly over to him.

THREEPIO You must come along now, Artoo. There's really nothing more we can do. And my joints are freezing up.

Artoo beeps, long and low.

THREEPIO Don't say thing like that! Of course we'll see Master Luke again. He'll be quite all right, you'll see. (to himself) Stupid little short-circuit. He'll be quite all right.

Threepio turns to go back inside the main hangar as Artoo mournfully keeps his vigil.

EXT. HOTH - SNOW DRIFT - DUSK

The wind is blowing quite strong now. Luke struggles to stay upright, but a blast of freezing snow knocks him over. He struggles to get up, but he can't. The young warrior from Tatooine drags himself a couple of feet and then collapses.

INT. REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR DECK - ENTRANCE - NIGHT

Princess Leia stands inside the dark entrance to the Rebel base, waiting for a sign of the two Rebel heroes. She shivers in the cold wind as, nearby, Chewie sits with his head in his hands. In the background, Artoo and Threepio move through the doors.

A Rebel lieutenant moves to Major Derlin, an officer keeping watch with the princess.

LIEUTENANT Sir, all the patrols are in. There's still no contact from Skywalker or Solo.

THREEPIO Mistress Leia, Artoo says he's been quite unable to pick up any signals, although he does admit that his own range is far too weak to abandon all hope.

Leia nods an acknowledgment, but she is lost in thought.

DERLIN Your Highness, there's nothing more we can do tonight. The shield doors must be closed.

He turns to the lieutenant.

DERLIN Close the doors.

LIEUTENANT Yes, sir.

The lieutenant walks away. Chewie lets out a long, mournful howl, somewhat like a coyote. At the same moment, Artoo begins a complex series of efficient beeps.

THREEPIO Artoo says the chances of survival are seven hundred seventy-five... to one.

Leia stands praying to herself as the huge metal doors slam across the entrance of the ice cave. The loud booms echo throughout the huge cavern. Chewie lets out another suffering howl.

THREEPIO Actually, Artoo has been known to make mistakes... from time to time. Oh, dear, oh, dear. Don't worry about Master Luke. I'm sure he'll be all right. He's quite clever, you know... for a human being.

EXT. HOTH - SNOW DRIFT - DUSK

Luke lies face down in the snow, nearly unconscious. Slowly he looks up and sees Ben Kenobi, barely visible through the blowing snow. It is hard to tell if Kenobi is real or a hallucination.

BEN Luke... Luke.

LUKE (weakly) Ben?

BEN You will go to the Dagobah system.

LUKE Dagobah system?

BEN There you will learn from Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me.

The image of Ben fades, revealing a lone Tauntaun rider approaching from the windswept horizon.

LUKE (groaning faintly) Ben... Ben.

Luke drops into unconsciousness.

Han pulls up and leaps off his mount. He hurries to his snow-covered friend, cradling him in his arms. Han's Tauntaun lets out a low, pitiful bellow. But Han's concern is with Luke, and he shakes him urgently.

HAN Luke! Luke! Don't do this, Luke. Come on, give me a sign here.

Luke doesn't respond. Han begins frantically rubbing and slapping Luke's unconscious face. As he starts to lift the youth, Han hears a rasping sound behind him. He turns, just in time to see his Tauntaun stagger and then fall over into the snow.

Han carries Luke to the moaning beast. Then, with a final groan, the Tauntaun expires.

HAN Not much time.

He pushes Luke's inert form against the belly of the dead beast.

LUKE (moaning) Ben... Ben...

HAN Hang on, kid.

LUKE Dagobah system...

Han ignites Luke's saber and cuts the beast from head to toe. He quickly tosses it's steaming innards into the snow, then lifts Luke's inert form and stuffs him inside the carcass.

HAN (reeling from the odor) Whew...

LUKE Dagobah...

HAN This may smell bad, kid...

LUKE (moaning) Yoda...

HAN ...but it will keep you warm... til I get the shelter built. (struggling to get Luke inside the carcass) Ooh... I thought they smelled bad on the outside!

The wind has picked up considerably, making it difficult to move. Han removes a pack from the dead creature's back, taking out a shelter container. He begins to set up what can only be a pitiful protection against a bitter Hoth night.

EXT. HOTH - SNOWDRIFT - DAWN

Four snub-nosed armored snowspeeders race across the white landscape.

INT. SNOWSPEEDER COCKPIT

There is only one pilot, Zev, in the enclosed two-man craft. He concentrates on the scopes which ring his cockpit. He hears a low beep from one of his monitors.

ZEV (into transmitter) Echo Base... I've got something! Not much, but it could be a life form.

EXT. HOTH - SNOWDRIFT

The small craft banks and makes a slow arc, then races off in a new direction.

INT. SNOWSPEEDER - COCKPIT

The pilot switches over to a new transmitter.

ZEV (into transmitter) This is Rogue Two. this is Rogue Two. Captain Solo, so you copy? Commander Skywalker, do you copy? This is Rogue Two.

There is a sharp crackle of static, then a faint voice.

HAN (filtered over Zev's receiver) Good morning. Nice of you guys to drop by.

ZEV (switching transmitters) Echo Base... this is Rogue Two. I found them. Repeat, I found them.

EXT. HOTH - SNOWDRIFT - DAY

The small shelter Han set up is covered with snow on the windward side. A makeshift antenna rests gingerly on top the snowdrift. Han spots Zev's snowspeeder approaching in the distance, and begins waving his arms frantically at the tiny craft.

INT. REBEL BASE - MEDICAL CENTER

Strange robot surgeons adjust a mass of electronic equipment. A switch is thrown and a sudden blinding flash obscures Luke in a bacta tank filled with a thick, gelatinous slime. He begins to thrash about, raving in delirium.

INT. REBEL BASE - MEDICAL CENTER - RECOVERY ROOM

Luke sits up in a recovery-room bed, weak but smiling. His face shows terrible wounds from the Wampa's attack. Threepio and Artoo enter the room.

THREEPIO Master Luke, sir, it's so good to see you fully functional again.

Artoo beeps his good wishes.

THREEPIO Artoo expresses his relief, also.

Han and Chewie make their entrance. The Wookiee growls a greeting.

HAN How are you feeling, kid? You don't look so bad to me. In fact, you look strong enough to pull the ears off a Gundark.

LUKE Thanks to you.

HAN That's two you owe me, junior.

Han turns as Leia enters the room. He looks at her with a big, devilish grin.

HAN Well your Worship, looks like you managed to keep me around for a little while longer.

LEIA (haughtily) I had nothing to do with it. General Rieekan thinks it's dangerous for any ships to leave the system until we've activated the energy shield.

HAN That's a good story. I think you just can't bear to let a gorgeous guy like me out of your sight.

LEIA I don't know where you get your delusions, laser brain.

Chewie is amused; he laughs in his manner. Han, enjoying himself, regards Chewie good-humoredly.

HAN Laugh it up, fuzzball. But you didn't see us alone in the south passage.

Luke sparks to this; he looks at Leia.

HAN She expressed her true feelings for me.

Leia is flushed, eyes darting between Luke and Han.

LEIA My...! Why, you stuck up,... half- witted... scruffy-looking ...nerf- herder!

HAN Who's scruffy-looking? (to Luke) I must have hit pretty close to the mark to get her all riled up like that, huh, kid?

Leia looks vulnerable for a moment, then the mask falls again, and she focuses on Luke.

LEIA Why, I guess you don't know everything about women yet?

With that she leans over and kisses Luke on the lips. Then she turns on her heel and walks out, leaving everyone in the room slightly dumbstruck. With some smugness, Luke puts his hands behind his head and grins.

Suddenly, in the distance, the muffled sound of an alarm is heard.

ANNOUNCER (over loudspeaker) Headquarters personnel, report to command center.

The voice repeats the order and Han, Chewie, Artoo, and Threepio hurry out of the room, bidding farewell to Luke.

HAN Take it easy.

THREEPIO Excuse us, please.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - COMMAND CENTER

Rieekan looks up grimly from a console screen. He calls over to Leia and Han.

RIEEKAN Princess... we have a visitor.

The group hurries over to Rieekan.

RIEEKAN We've picked up something outside the base in zone twelve, moving east.

SENIOR CONTROLLER It's metal.

LEIA Then it couldn't be one of those creatures that attacked Luke.

HAN It could be a speeder, one of ours.

SENIOR CONTROLLER No. Wait - there's something very weak coming through.

Threepio steps up to the control panel and listens intently to the strange signal.

THREEPIO Sir, I am fluent in six million forms of communication. This signal is not used by the Alliance. It could be an Imperial code.

The transmission ends in static.

HAN It isn't friendly, whatever it is. Come on, Chewie, let's check it out.

RIEEKAN Send Rogues Ten and Eleven to station three-eight.

EXT. HOTH - SNOW PLAIN - DAY

The dark probe robot moves past the smoldering ruins of station three- eight and down a ridge toward the Rebel base. It raises a large antenna from the top of its head and begins to send out a piercing signal.

The probe droid has spotted Chewbacca who, not thirty feet away, has popped his head over a snow bank. Instantly, the probe robot swings around, its deadly ray ready to fire. But before it can get a shot off, it is hit from behind by a laser bolt, and explodes in a million pieces.

Han Solo replaces his blaster in its holster and peers intently at the smoldering remains of the Imperial probe.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - COMMAND CENTER

Leia and Rieekan listen to Han on the comlink.

HAN (over comlink) Afraid there's not much left.

LEIA (into comlink) What was it?

HAN (over comlink) Droid of some kind. I didn't hit it that hard. It must have had a self-destruct.

LEIA (into comlink) An Imperial probe droid.

HAN (over comlink) It's a good bet the Empire knows we're here.

RIEEKAN We'd better start the evacuation.

EXT. SPACE - IMPERIAL FLEET

Darth Vader's Star Destroyer, larger and more awesome than the five Imperial Star Destroyers that surround it, sits in the vastness of space. The six huge ships are surrounded by a convoy of smaller spacecraft. TIE fighters dart to and fro.

INT. DARTH VADER'S STAR DESTROYER - BRIDGE - MAIN CONTROL DECK

Controllers working the vast complex of electronic controls hear ominous approaching footsteps and look up from their controls. The squat, evil-looking Admiral Ozzel and the young, powerfully built General Veers, who have been conferring near the front, also feel the approaching presence and turn toward it. Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, enters like a chill wind. As Vader moves across the wide bridge, Captain Piett hurries up to Ozzel.

PIETT Admiral.

OZZEL Yes, Captain

PIETT I think we've got something, sir. The report is only a fragment from a probe droid in the Hoth system, but it's the best lead we've had.

OZZEL (irritated) We have thousands of probe droids searching the galaxy. I want proof, not leads!

PIETT The visuals indicate life readings.

OZZEL It could mean anything. If we followed every lead...

PIETT But, sir, the Hoth system is supposed to be devoid of human forms.

Vader moves to a large screen showing an image of the Rebel snow base. Rebel speeders can be seen approaching the base in the distance.

VADER You found something?

PIETT Yes, my lord.

VADER (studying the image on the console screen) That's it. The Rebels are there.

OZZEL My lord, there are so many uncharted settlements. It could be smugglers, it could be...

VADER That is the system. And I'm sure Skywalker is with them. Set your course for the Hoth system. General Veers, prepare you men.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - TRANSPORT BAY

A captain issues instructions to two of his men at the entrance to the main transport bay. Several Rebel transports behind them are being loaded by men carrying heavy boxes and moving quickly, but not in panic.

REBEL CAPTAIN Groups seven and ten will stay behind to fly the speeders. As soon as each transport is loaded, evacuation control will give clearance for immediate launch.

REBEL FIGHTER Right, sir.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR DECK

Alarms sound. Troops, ground crews, and droids rush to their alert stations. Armored snowspeeders are lined up in attack formation near the main entrance.

In the midst of all this activity, Han does some frantic welding on the lifters of the Millennium Falcon.

Han finishes his work and hops down to the hangar floor. He pulls out his comlink, all the while eyeing problematic lifters.

HAN (into comlink, to Chewie) Okay, that's it. Try it... Off! Turn it off! Turn it off! Off!

Smoke rises from a minor explosion on the lifter. Exasperated, Han surveys the new damage.

INT. REBEL BASE - MEDICAL CENTER

Luke dresses in readiness for the evacuation as his attending medical droid stands by.

MEDICAL DROID Sir, it will take quite a while to evacuate the T-forty- sevens.

LUKE Well, forget the heavy equipment. There's plenty of time to get the smaller modules on the transports.

MEDICAL DROID Take care, sir.

LUKE Thanks.

INT. REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR DECK

Pilots, gunners, and R2 units scurry about. Luke, pulling on his heavy-weather jacket, is headed toward a row of armored speeders. He stops at the rear of the Millennium Falcon, where Han and Chewie are trying to repair the right lifter with even more haste than before.

LUKE Chewie, take care of yourself, okay?

As Luke pats Chewie on the arm, Chewie puts his arms around Luke and gives him a tight hug. Han is discussing the lifter with a repair droid when he sees Luke.

HAN Hi, kid. (to droid) There's got to be a reason for it. Check it at the other end. Wait a second. (to Luke) You all right?

LUKE Yeah.

HAN Be careful.

LUKE You, too.

Luke smiles, then waves at his friend and walks on. After a few steps, he stops and looks back. Han glances up and the two exchange a silent communication, each wishing the other safety, happiness - many things, all difficult to verbalize.

INT. REBEL BASE - CONTROL ROOM.

Alarms sound throughout the hidden Rebel base. In the control room, a controller urgently gestures for General Rieekan to check a computer scan.

CONTROLLER General, there's a fleet of Star Destroyers coming out of hyperspace in sector four.

RIEEKAN Reroute all power to the energy shield. We've got to hold them till all transports are away. Prepare for ground assault.

Rieekan exits hurriedly.

INT. VADER'S STAR DESTROYER - VADER'S CHAMBER - MEDITATION CUBICLE

The dark cubicle is illuminated by a single shaft of light which falls on the brooding Dark Lord as he sits on a raised meditation cube. General Veers enters the room and approaches the silent, unmoving Vader. Although seemingly very sure of himself, Veers is still not bold enough to interrupt the meditating lord. The younger general stands quietly at attention until the evil presence speaks.

VADER What is it, General?

VEERS My lord, the fleet has moves out of light-speed. Com-Scan has detected an energy field protecting an area around the sixth planet of the Hoth system. The field is strong enough to deflect any bombardment.

VADER (angrily) The Rebels are alerted to our presence. Admiral Ozzel came out of light-speed too close to the system.

VEERS He felt surprise was wiser...

VADER He is as clumsy as he is stupid. General, prepare your troops for a surface attack.

VEERS Yes, my lord.

Veers turns smartly and leaves as Vader activates a large viewscreen showing the bridge of his mighty ship. Admiral Ozzel appears on the viewscreen, standing slightly in front of Captain Piett.

OZZEL Lord Vader, the fleet has moved out of light-speed, and we're preparing to... Aaagh!

VADER You have failed me for the last time, Admiral. Captain Piett.

Piett steps forward, as the admiral moves away, slightly confused, touching his throat as it begins to constrict painfully.

PIETT Yes, my lord.

VADER Make ready to land out troops beyond the energy shield and deploy the fleet so that nothing gets off that system. You are in command now, Admiral Piett.

PIETT Thank you, Lord Vader.

Piett's pleasure about his unexpected promotion is not an unmixed emotion. He glances warily at the struggling Admiral Ozzel who, with a final choke, stumbles and falls in a lifeless heap before him.

INT. REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR DECK

With a sense of urgency, Leia quickly briefs a group of pilots gathered in the center of the hangar.

LEIA All troop carriers will assemble at the north entrance. The heavy transport ships will leave as soon as they're loaded. Only two fighter escorts per ship. The energy shield can only be opened for a short time, so you'll have to stay very close to your transports.

HOBBIE Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?

LEIA The ion cannon will fire several shots to make sure that any enemy ships will be out of your flight path. When you've gotten past the energy shield, proceed directly to the rendezvous point. Understood?

PILOTS (in unison) Right. Okay.

LEIA Good luck.

DERLIN Okay. Everyone to your stations. Let's go!

The pilots hurry away.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - SNOW TRENCH - DAY

Rebel troops carry heavy bazooka-type weapons and position them along the snow trench. Men hurriedly respond to their officers' yelled orders and brace themselves against the rhythmic gusts of bitter-cold wind.

Other troops load power packs into a gun turret and swing its guns into position.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - POWER GENERATORS

Near the base power generators, troops rush to set up their heavy battle equipment. Buzzing loudly, the generators send along, sparking fingers of energy into the bitter Hoth wind.

INT. REBEL BASE - COMMAND CENTER

The long line of Rebel controllers is tense, as are Princess Leia and General Rieekan, who are trying very hard not to show any fear.

RIEEKAN Their primary target will be the power generators. Prepare to open the shield.

EXT. ICE PLAIN

The Rebel transport and two escort fighters begin their departure from the ice planet.

EXT. SPACE - IMPERIAL STAR DESTROYER

A huge Imperial Star Destroyer rest against a sea of stars, far above the white surface of the planet Hoth.

INT. IMPERIAL STAR DESTROYER - BRIDGE

An Imperial controller approaches his commander.

CONTROLLER Sir, Rebel ships are coming into our sector.

CAPTAIN Good. Our first catch of the day.

INT. REBEL BASE - COMMAND CENTER

WOMAN CONTROLLER Stand by, ion control... Fire!

EXT. REBEL BASE ICE CAVE - ION CANNON

The giant ball-shaped ion cannon rotates into position and blasts two red energy beams skyward.

EXT. SPACE - HOTH - REBEL TRANSPORT

The Rebel transport and its escort race away from the white planet, closely followed by the two red energy beams.

As the Rebel transport races toward the waiting Imperial Star Destroyer, it is overtaken by the two scarlet energy bolts. The Imperial Star Destroyer is hit in the conning tower by the powerful bolts, which set up fiery explosions on its metal hull.

The big Star Destroyer veers, then spins wildly out of control. As the Imperial ship careers into deep space, the Rebel transport races away to safety.

INT. REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR DECK

Pilots, gunners, and troopers hurry to their stations and their vehicles.

ANNOUNCER (over loudspeaker) The first transport is away.

Everyone cheers at the announcement, which echoes through the hangar. Luke turns and walks on, heading toward his snowspeeder. His gunner, Dack, a fresh-faced, eager kid, is glad to see him. They climb in.

DACK Feeling all right, sir?

LUKE Just like new, Dack. How about you?

DACK Right now I feel like I could take on the whole Empire myself.

LUKE (quietly, strapping in) I know what you mean.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN

A thin horizon line cuts across the bleak landscape. Small dot-size objects begin to appear on the horizon, moving in the direction of the Rebel base.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - SNOW TRENCH

A Rebel officer lifts a pair of electrobinoculars to his eyes. Through the lens he sees a very close view of a giant Imperial snow walker. He adjusts the view which then zooms back to reveal three more of the ominous battle machines. Small flashes of yellow fire billow from the guns of the lumbering snow walkers.

The officer lowers his binoculars as the regular rhythmic pounding begins to make the ground vibrate. The pounding grows louder and is accompanied by a high-pitched, metallic rattling. The officer speaks into his comlink.

TRENCH OFFICER Echo Station Three-T-Eight.

INT. REBEL BASE - CORRIDOR

Pilots and gunners race to their waiting snowspeeders. Ice and snow begin falling from the walls of the corridor, shaken by the pounding Imperial snow walker as they draw ever nearer.

TRENCH OFFICER (over comlink) We have spotted Imperial walkers!

CONTROLLER Imperial walkers on the north ridge.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - SNOW TRENCH

The Rebel troops aim their weapons at the horizon as explosions erupt all around them. They are nervous and their grip on their weapons tightens from the cold and from fear.

Behind the troops a dozen snowspeeders race through the sky.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

LUKE (into comlink) Echo station Five-Seven. We're on our way.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - BATTLEFIELD

The fleet of snowspeeders races above the ice field at full throttle. They accelerate away from the base and head toward the distant walkers.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

LUKE (into comlink) All right, boys, keep tight now.

DACK Luke, I have no approach vector. I'm not set.

LUKE Steady, Dack. Attack pattern delta. Go now!

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - BATTLEFIELD

The cannons mounted on the walker head fire at the speeders. Other walkers loom in the background. Two speeders race away past two of the enormous walkers and bank to the right.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

LUKE All right, I'm coming in.

He turns his speeder and heads directly at one of the walkers, flying toward its towering legs. The horizon twists as the speeder banks between the legs.

LUKE (into comlink) Hobbie, you still with me?

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - BATTLEFIELD

Two speeders race directly at the head of a walker, then split and fly past it.

Three other walkers march onward, firing all cannons.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - SNOWTRENCH

Rebel troops fire on the approaching walkers, as the snow and ice explode all around them.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - BATTLEFIELD

A speeder banks through and away from the legs of a walker. Two other speeders pass the first speeder from the opposite direction. Other Rebel craft race just above the icy plain.

A giant walker head swivels and fires, striking a snowspeeder and sending it crashing in a ball of flames.

INT. IMPERIAL SNOW WALKER - COCKPIT

General Veers and two walker pilots keep a careful eye on the racing Rebel snowspeeders as they maneuver their lumbering war machine forward.

Luke's speeder banks in from the side of Veers's walker and heads straight for its viewport, blasting away. An explosion hits the walker window, but dissipates, doing no harm. The speeder roars up and over the impregnable war machine.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

Luke looks back at the walker as it grows smaller in the distance.

LUKE That armor's too strong for blasters.

On the horizon, another walker moves up past Luke's cockpit window, twisting out of sight as Luke banks and starts another run.

LUKE (into comlink) Rogue Group, use your harpoons and tow cables. Go for the legs. It might be our only chance of stopping them. (to Dack) All right, stand by, Dack.

Dack is at the gunner's controls.

DACK Luke, we've got a malfunction in fire control. I'll have to cut in the auxiliary.

LUKE Just hang on. Hang on, Dack. Get ready to fire that tow cable.

Barely keeping his seat in the tumbling ship, Dack struggles to set up his harpoon gun.

Luke swings his speeder around and heads toward an oncoming walker. Laser bolts and flak fill the air, creating a deadly obstacle course for the tiny craft.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - BATTLEFIELD

Rogue Leader and another snowspeeder fly in tight formation toward the walker as explosions burst all around them.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

After sustaining a heavy volley of fire, Luke turns around to see if Dack is all right.

LUKE Dack? Dack!

Dack is lost. Blood streams down his forehead, which rests on his smoldering controls. Out the back window, an Imperial walker recedes in the distance.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - SNOW TRENCH AREA

Rebel troops fire the dishlike ray gun while explosions erupt around them.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - BATTLEFIELD

Two walkers lumber toward the Rebel base as a speeder between them explodes in a ball of flames.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - SNOW TRENCH

The dislike ray gun is hit by a laser bolt and instantly explodes.

INT. IMPERIAL SNOW WALKER - COCKPIT

Through the cockpit window, Veers and his pilot can see the Rebel power generators in the distance.

A hologram of Darth Vader appears on a control panel screen.

VEERS Yes, Lord Vader. I've reached the main power generator. The shield will be down in moments. You may start your landing.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

LUKE (into comlink) Rogue Three.

INT. WEDGE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE THREE - COCKPIT

WEDGE (into comlink) Copy, Rogue Leader

LUKE (over comlink) Wedge, I've lost my gunner. You'll have to make this shot. I'll cover for you. Set your harpoon. Follow me on the next pass.

WEDGE (into comlink) Coming around, Rogue Leader.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

LUKE (into comlink) Steady, Rogue Two

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

Wedge's speeder races through the legs of one of the monstrous walkers.

INT. WEDGE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE THREE - COCKPIT

WEDGE (to gunner) Activate harpoon.

Wedge's gunner reaches for a firing switch to activate the harpoon. The harpoon flashes out, and speeds toward the receding legs of the walker.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

The harpoon hurtles toward the walker, In an instant it is embedded in one of the walker's legs.

INT. WEDGE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE THREE - COCKPIT

WEDGE (to gunner) Good shot, Janson.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

The speeder Rogue Three races around one of the giant walker's feet, trailing the cable behind it. Continuing around the back foot, Rogue Three then circles the walker around the tail end.

INT. WEDGE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE THREE - COCKPIT

Wedge checks his controls and banks around the front of the walker.

WEDGE One more pass.

JANSON Coming around. Once more.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

The speeder sweeps left to right in front of the giant legs, towing the cable behind it.

INT. WEDGE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE THREE - COCKPIT

JANSON Once more.

Wedge swings the speeder between the legs of the giant walker.

JANSON Cable out! Let her go!

WEDGE Detach cable.

EXT. WEDGE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE THREE

The cable release on the back of the speeder snaps loose and the cable drops away.

INT. WEDGE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE THREE - COCKPIT

JANSON Cable detached.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

The speeder zooms away into the distance. The tangled legs of the enormous war machine attempt a step, but as they do the giant Imperial walker begins to topple. It teeters for a moment, and then crashes onto the icy ground, sending snow and metal pieces flying.

EXT. HOTH - ICE PLAIN - SNOW TRENCH

The troops in the trenches cheer at the sight of the crashing walker.

An officer gives a signal to his men and Rebel troops charge the fallen war machine.

TRENCH OFFICER Come on!

The troops run toward the downed walker, followed by two Rebel speeders flying overhead. Just as they reach the walker, it explodes, the impact throwing some of the men onto the frozen ground.

INT. WEDGE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE THREE - COCKPIT

Wedge lets out a triumphant yell, banking his speeder away from the fallen walker.

WEDGE (into comlink) Whooha! That got him!

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

LUKE (into comlink) I see it, Wedge. Good work.

INT. REBEL BASE - COMMAND CENTER

Large chunks of ice tumble into the command center as Leia and General Rieekan monitor computer screens.

RIEEKAN I don't think we can protect two transports at a time.

LEIA It's risky, but we can't hold out much longer. We have no choice.

RIEEKAN (into comlink) Launch patrols.

LEIA (to an aide) Evacuate remaining ground staff.

INT. REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR

Muffled distant explosions create widening cracks in the ice roof of the hangar. Trying to ignore the noise and falling bits of snow, Han works on one of the Falcon's lifters while Chewie works on one of the wings. Noticing Chewie attach a wrong part, Han grows impatient.

HAN No, no! No! This one goes there, that one goes there. Right?

In another area of the hangar, Threepio watches as Artoo is raised up into Luke's X-wing fighter.

THREEPIO Artoo, you take good care of Master Luke now, understand? And ... do take good care of yourself. Oh, dear, oh, dear.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

The fierce battle on the vast snow plains of Hoth rages on. The Imperial walkers continue their slow, steady assault on the Rebel base, firing lasers as they lumber ever onward. In the snow trench, Rebel troops fire large bazookalike guns and dishlike ray guns as explosions erupt around them. A gun tower is hit by a laser bolt and instantly explodes. Another blast destroys a ray gun.

INT. IMPERIAL SNOW WALKER - COCKPIT

General Veers studies various readouts on his control panel.

VEERS All troops will debark for ground assault. Prepare to target the main generator.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

Luke's speeder and Rogue Two fly in formation, banking from right to left and flying above the erupting battlefield. Flak bursts all around them.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

Luke, glancing over, sees Rogue Two on his left. His ship shudders as flak bursts nearby.

LUKE (into comlink) Rogue Two, are you all right?

INT. ZEV'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE TWO - COCKPIT

ZEV (into comlink) Yeah. I'm with you, Rogue Leader.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

LUKE (into comlink) We'll set harpoon. I'll cover for you.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

The two speeders race across the horizon toward the giant walkers.

INT. ZEV'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE TWO - COCKPIT

ZEV (into comlink) Coming around.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

LUKE (into comlink) Watch that cross fire, boys.

INT. ZEV'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE TWO - COCKPIT

ZEV (into comlink) Set for position three. (to gunner) Steady.

LUKE (over comlink) Stay tight and low.

EXT. ZEV'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE TWO

Luke's speeder moves in formation with Rogue Two, when suddenly Zev's speeder is hit by a laser bolt. His ship bucks violently under the impact and the cockpit explodes in a ball of flame.

Spewing smoke, the speeder hurtles toward a looming walker. Before they collide. Rogue Two explodes in a million flaming pieces.

INT. LUKE'S SNOWSPEEDER, ROGUE LEADER - COCKPIT

Desperately, Luke works the controls of his flak-buffeted ship. Suddenly, the speeder is rocked by a huge explosion. Luke struggles with the controls with a look of terror on his face. The speeder fills with smoke, and electrical sparks jump about the cockpit.

LUKE (into comlink) Hobbie, I've been hit!

INT. REBEL BASE - COMMAND CENTER

Apart from the distant thunder of laser blasts, the corridor is strangely quiet and empty. Running footsteps echo through the freezing hallway, then Han appears. Cracks have appeared in some of the walls and some pipes have broken, sending hot steam billowing into the underground hallways. Han hurries into the command center. It is a shambles, but some people are still at their posts. As he enters, a gigantic cave-in almost obliterates the room. He finds Leia and Threepio near one of the control boards.

HAN You all right?

Leia nods. She is surprised to see him.

LEIA Why are you still here?

HAN I heard the command center had been hit.

LEIA You got your clearance to leave.

HAN Don't worry. I'll leave. First I'm going to get you to your ship.

THREEPIO Your Highness, we must take this last transport. It's our only hope.

LEIA (to controller) Send all troops in sector twelve to the south slope to protect the fighters.

A blast rocks the command center, throwing Threepio backward into Han's arms.

ANNOUNCER (over loudspeaker) Imperial troops have entered the base.

HAN Come on... that's it.

LEIA (to head controller) Give the evacuation code signal. And get to your transports!

Leia looks exhausted. Han grabs her and starts to lead her out.

As Han, Leia, and Threepio run out of the command center, the code signal can be heard echoing off the corridor walls.

HEAD CONTROLLER K-one-zero... all troops disengage.

THREEPIO (to Han and Leia) Oh! Wait for me!

EXT. BATTLEFIELD - SNOW TRENCH

Rebel troops retreat under the awesome Imperial onslaught.

OFFICER Begin retreat!

SECOND OFFICER Fall back!

Troops flee from the battle, the ground exploding around them.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

Three of the giant walkers, firing lasers, advance toward the Rebel headquarters.

EXT. HOTH - SNOW TRENCH

Continuing their retreat, the Rebels see the walkers looming ever nearer.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD - ICE PLAIN

On the battlefield, Luke watches as a walker foot rises and moves over him. He looks up at the underbelly of the huge walker, passing overhead.

Running beneath the monstrous machine, Luke fires his harpoon gun at the walker's underside. A thin cable follows the projectile from the gun. The magnetic head and cable attach firmly to the metal hull.

Still running under the walker, Luke attaches the cable drum to his belt buckle. Soon he is pulled up the cable and hangs dangling underneath the walker.

The walker's giant feet continue to pound onward across the frozen snow. Stray laser bolts whistle by Luke as he climbs up the cable to the walker's hull, reaching a small hatch. Hanging precariously, Luke cuts the solid metal hatch with his laser sword.

He takes a landmine from around his neck and throws it inside the Imperial machine. Quickly, Luke starts down the cable and crashes onto the icy ground far below. He lies unconscious as a giant rear leg passes by - and just misses him.

The giant walker stops in mid-step. A muffled explosion comes from within - and then the walker's mechanical insides are spewed out every conceivable opening. The machine sits dead in its tracks, smoking like a locomotive on stilts.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

Veers's walker continues to advance toward the Rebel base. The smoldering walker that Luke exploded stands smoking just to the right of Veers's path.

INT. IMPERIAL SNOW WALKER - COCKPIT

Inside his walker, General Veers prepares to fire on the Rebel power generators.

VEERS Distance to power generators?

PILOT One-seven, decimal two-eight.

Veers reaches for the electrorangefinder and lines up the main generator.

VEERS Target. Maximum fire power.

EXT. HOTH - BATTLEFIELD

The Rebel troops continue their desperate retreat, pushed back by the relentless Imperial assault.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - ICE CORRIDORS

With Threepio lagging behind, Han and Leia race through the crumbling ice corridors. Suddenly, there is an explosion. Han turns, grabs the princess, and pulls her to the wall as a tremendous cave-in blacks their path.

He takes the comlink from his pocket.

HAN (into comlink) Transport, this is Solo. Better take off - I can't get to you. I'll get the princess out on the Falcon.

Han and Leia turn and race down the corridor.

THREEPIO But... but... but... where are you going? Uh... come back!!

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - COMMAND CENTER

Imperial troops have reached the base. As they push through the blocked passageway, Darth Vader strides behind them.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - ICE CORRIDOR

Han and Leia run toward the entrance of the main hangar where the Millennium Falcon is docked. Threepio still lags behind.

THREEPIO Wait! Wait for me! Wait! Stop!

The door to the hangar closes in his face.

THREEPIO (exasperated) How typical.

Quickly, the door reopens as Han reaches out and pulls the golden droid through.

HAN Come on.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR

Chewie paces under the shelter of the Millennium Falcon's landing gear. The giant Wookiee pats the underbelly of his beloved ship and barks a few reassuring words. As he searches worriedly for his captain, something at last catches his eye.

Chewie lets out a relieved shriek at seeing Han and Leia running toward the ship. The Wookiee runs out into the falling ice, lets out a howl, then runs up the ship's ramp. Han and Leia run up the ramp after him, closely followed by Threepio.

HAN Hurry up, goldenrod, or you're going to be a permanent resident!

THREEPIO Wait! Wait!

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - ICE CORRIDOR

Imperial troops run through the base corridors. Vader surveys the place. A huge chunk falls, almost hitting him, but he calmly, purposefully, continues around it.

INT. REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGER - MILLENNIUM FALCON

A distant, huge, explosion rocks the hangar deck. Ice cakes come crashing down on the Millennium Falcon.

INT. MAIN HANGAR - MILLENNIUM FALCON - MAIN HOLD

Han, standing before a control panel, is busy flipping switches as Chewie watches a troublesome gauge. A worried Leia observes their efforts.

HAN (to Chewie) How's this?

The Wookiee barks a negative reply.

LEIA Would it helped if I got out and pushed?

HAN It might.

Threepio clanks into the hold.

THREEPIO Captain Solo, Captain Solo... sir, might I suggest that you...

Han gives the gold robot a devastating look.

THREEPIO It can wait.

INT. MAIN HANGAR - MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

They move to the cockpit where Han flips some more switches. Leia watches him, impatient, disbelieving.

LEIA This bucket of bolts is never going to get us past that blockade.

HAN This baby's got a few surprises left in her, sweetheart.

Han and Leia look out the cockpit window and see a squad of stormtroopers rushing into the far side of the hangar.

Quickly, Han straps himself into the pilot's seat and Leia into the navigator's chair.

INT. HOTH - REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR

Stormtroopers hurriedly set up a large bazookalike weapon. Behind them the giant hangar doors open slowly.

EXT. MAIN HANGAR - MILLENNIUM FALCON

A laser gun appears on the Falcon and swings around to aim at the Imperial troops.

The stormtroopers, preparing to fire their bazooka cannon, are hit by the Falcon's fire and are thrown about in all directions.

INT. MAIN HANGAR - MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

Chewie rushes into the cockpit.

HAN Come on! Come on! Switch over. Let's hope we don't have a burnout.

A laser hits the window near Chewie as he is settling into his chair. Letting out a loud whelp, Chewie quickly pulls back on the controls and the first stage of engine fire can be heard. Han flashes a big grin at Leia.

HAN See?

LEIA Someday you're going to be wrong, and I hope I'm there to see it.

Han looks at Chewie.

HAN Punch it!

The roar of the Falcon's main engines blasts out everything as the ice- cave wall rushes by outside the cockpit window.

INT. REBEL BASE - MAIN HANGAR

More stormtroopers run into the hangar, closely followed by Vader. Hearing the loud roar of the Millennium Falcon's engines, Vader looks toward the main hangar doors just in time to see the Falcon lift up and disappear outside the cave.

EXT. HOTH - ICE SLOPE - DAY

Luke and two other pilots look up as the Millennium Falcon races above them, flying very close to the ground.

The three pilots turn then, and trudge onward toward their X-wing fighters, each going to his own ship. Luke waves farewell, then heads toward his own fighter.

Artoo, seated on his cubbyhole, chirps an excited greeting as Luke climbs aboard the spacecraft.

LUKE Artoo! Get her ready for takeoff.

From his ship, Luke sees Wedge in his own X-wing, preparing for takeoff.

WEDGE Good luck, Luke. See you at the rendezvous.

Luke smiles and nods at Wedge, then lowers himself into the cockpit of his X-wing while Artoo waits in the cubbyhole, beeping impatiently.

LUKE Don't worry, Artoo. We're going, we're going.

The canopy over the X-wing lowers and snaps shut.

EXT. SPACE - LUKE'S X-WING

Luke's fighter, its wings closed, speeds away from the icy planet. Soon it disappears into the stars.

INT. LUKE'S X-WING - COCKPIT

Luke, looking thoughtful, suddenly makes a decision. He flips several switches. The stars shift as he takes his fighter into a steep turn. The X-wing banks sharply and flies away in a new direction.

The monitor screen on Luke's control panel prints out a question from the concerned Artoo.

LUKE (into comlink) There's nothing wrong, Artoo. I'm just setting a new course.

Artoo beeps once again.

LUKE (into comlink) We're not going to regroup with the others.

Artoo begins a protest, whistling an unbelieving, "What?!"

Luke reads Artoo's exclamation on his control panel.

LUKE (into comlink) We're going to the Dagobah system.

Luke checks his readouts and makes a few adjustments. He rides along with only the soft hum of the instruments to break the silence. Finally, Artoo chirps up.

LUKE (into comlink) Yes, Artoo?

Artoo utters a soft, carefully phrased steam of whistles.

LUKE (into comlink, chuckling) That's all right. I'd like to keep it on manual control for a while.

The little droid lets out a defeated whimper. Luke smiles, and continues on his course.

EXT. SPACE - MILLENNIUM FALCON

The Millennium Falcon speeds away from Hoth, closely followed by one huge Star Destroyer and four tiny TIE fighters.

As it is pursued, the Falcon races toward two very bright star-sized objects.

INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

Inside the cockpit, Chewie lets out a loud howl. Han checks as the ship is buffeted by exploding flak. He appears to be doing six things at once.

HAN (harried) I saw them! I saw them!

LEIA Saw what?

HAN Star Destroyers, two of them, coming right at us.

Threepio bumps and bangs his way into the cockpit.

THREEPIO Sir, sir! Might I suggest...

HAN (to Leia) Shut him up or shut him down! (to Chewie) Check the deflector shield!

Chewie barks a reply as he readjusts an overhead switch.

HAN Oh, great. Well, we can still outmaneuver them.

EXT. SPACE - MILLENNIUM FALCON - STAR DESTROYERS

The Millennium Falcon races toward one of the huge oncoming Star Destroyers. Suddenly, the Falcon starts into a deep dive straight down, closely followed by four TIE fighters. The underside of the Star Destroyer continues on a collision course with two oncoming Star Destroyers. Slowly, it starts to veer to the left.

INT. STAR DESTROYER - BRIDGE Out the front window, the two approaching Star Destroyers can be seen veering to the left.

IMPERIAL OFFICER Take evasive action!

Alarms sound all over the huge ship. The two other Star Destroyers get closer, one of them moving over the bridge so close that it makes brushing contact with it.

EXT. SPACE - MILLENNIUM FALCON - TIE FIGHTERS

The Millennium Falcon races away from the colliding Star Destroyers, still followed by four TIE fighters. Laser bolts spark the pitch-black skies.

INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

Things have calmed down a bit, but the race isn't over yet. Chewie barks at Han. Leia is still trying to recover from the steep dive. The ship is buffeted by laser blasts.

HAN Prepare to make the jump to light- speed.

THREEPIO But, sir!

The buffeting of lasers becomes louder and stronger.

LEIA They're getting closer!

HAN (with a gleam in his eye) Oh yeah? Watch this.

Expectantly, they look out the cockpit window as stars do not go into hyperspace, but just sit there.

Han and Chewie look at each other and are thrown into an acute state of concern.

LEIA Watch what?

Han tries again. Still nothing.

HAN I think we're in trouble.

THREEPIO If I may say so, sir, I noticed earlier that the hyperdrive motivator has been damaged. It's impossible to go to light-speed!

HAN We're in trouble!

The explosions become heavier.

EXT. SPACE - MILLENNIUM FALCON - TIE FIGHTERS - STAR DESTROYER

The Falcon races into the starry vastness, followed by the four Imperial TIE fighters and an Imperial Star Destroyer.

INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

Stars race by as flak bursts outside the Falcon's window.

INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - HOLD

Han works furiously at some control panels while giving various orders to Chewie.

HAN Horizontal boosters...! (Chewie barks) Alluvial dampers...! Well that's not it. (Chewie barks) Bring me the hydrospanners!

Chewie hurries over to the pit and places the tools on the edge.

HAN I don't know how we're going to get out of this one.

Suddenly, a loud thump hits the side of the Falcon, causing it to lurch radically. Chewie barks. The tools fall into the pit on top of Han.

HAN Oww! Chewie!

More turbulence rocks the ship.

HAN That was no laser blast! Something hit us.

LEIA (over comlink) Han, get up here!

HAN Come on, Chewie!

Han climbs out of the hold like a shot. Both he and Chewie run out of the hold and toward the cockpit.

INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

Out the front cockpit window, they see hundreds of asteroids racing by.

LEIA Asteroids!

Han changes places with Leia who has been at the controls, and Chewie gets into his chair. Han works his controls as a chunk of rock crosses in front of the ship.

HAN Oh, no! Chewie, set two-seven- one.

LEIA What are you doing? You're not actually going into an asteroid field?

HAN They'd be crazy to follow us, wouldn't they?

Another asteroid thumps against the ship and Leia winces at the jolt.

LEIA You don't have to do this to impress me.

THREEPIO Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately three thousand, seven hundred and twenty to one.

HAN Never tell me the odds!

EXT. ASTEROID BELT - MILLENNIUM FALCON

The Falcon turns into the asteroid storm and as the ship completes its turn, asteroids start coming straight at the cockpit windows.

A large asteroid tumbles away from the Falcon's path at top speed. Several smaller asteroids crash into the big one, creating small explosions on its surface. Other asteroids of all sizes pass by in every direction, some colliding and exploding. The tiny Millennium Falcon veers around the big asteroid and races past it through the rain of rocks, followed by four TIE fighters, which bob and weave around the asteroids.

One of the pursuing TIE fighters connects with an asteroid and explodes. The other fighters are pelted with a steady stream of smaller explosions.

Two huge asteroids tumble toward the Millennium Falcon, which quickly banks around both of them. The three TIE fighters follow in hot pursuit until one of the fighters scrapes an asteroid and tumbles out of control into deep space.

EXT. SPACE - STAR DESTROYER - ASTEROID BELT

The massive Star Destroyer blasts oncoming asteroids as it follows the Falcon. Smaller asteroids explode across its vast surface.

EXT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - TIE FIGHTERS - ASTEROID BELT

The Falcon twists on its side as it races around an oncoming asteroid. Two TIE fighters follow in the distance, coming from either side.

INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

Asteroids race by the cockpit window as Han pilots his trusty craft through the dangerous field.

Looking out the cockpit window, the Falcon crew sees a big asteroid drop past the window, narrowly missing their ship.

Chewie barks in terror as a slightly smaller asteroid comes especially close - to close - and bounces off the Falcon with a loud crunch. Threepio's hands cover his eyes. He manages a short peek at the cockpit window. Princess Leia sits stone-faced, staring at the action. Han gives her a quick look.

HAN You said you wanted to be around when I made a mistake; well, this could be it, sweetheart.

LEIA I take it back. We're going to get pulverized if we stay out here much longer.

The group watches as more asteroids race by outside the window.

HAN I'm not going to argue with that.

THREEPIO Pulverized?

HAN I'm going in closer to one of those big ones.

LEIA Closer?

THREEPIO Closer?!

Chewbacca barks the same word, only louder.

EXT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - ASTEROID BELT

The Millennium Falcon dives toward the surface of one of the moon-sized asteroids. There is a continued display of explosions against the starry void as smaller asteroids collide with larger chunks of rock. The two remaining TIE fighters follow the Falcon to the large asteroid. The Falcon skims the surface of the giant asteroid as, all the while, small asteroids explode on the surface of the ship.

The TIE fighters approach the Falcon, but a giant asteroid hurtles directly into their path. As the asteroid continues on its way, it leaves remains of the two exploded TIE fighters to tumble into deep space.

INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

Rattled by the violent rocking of the starship, Threepio is nearly in hysterics.

THREEPIO Oh, this is suicide!

Han notices something on his main scope and nudges his faithful Wookiee, pointing.

HAN There. That looks pretty good.

LEIA What looks pretty good?

HAN Yeah. That'll do nicely.

THREEPIO (to Leia) Excuse me, ma'am, but where are we going?

Out the cockpit window, they see that they are skimming the surface of the enormous asteroid and nearing a large crater.

EXT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - GIANT ASTEROID CRATER

The Millennium Falcon dives into the huge crater and disappears.

INT. MILLENNIUM FALCON - COCKPIT

LEIA I hope you know what you're doing.

HAN Yeah, me too.

INT. GIANT ASTEROID CRATER

The Falcon races down into the crater. The walls are barely visible as the ship speed through the tunnellike opening. A small cave appears on one side of the crater, and the Falcon turns, slows, and scoots into it.

EXT. SPACE - LUKE'S X-WING

The tiny X-wing speeds toward the cloud cover of Dagobah. Artoo, riding on the back of the fighter, turns his head back and forth with some anxiety.

INT. LUKE'S X-WING - COCKPIT

Luke watches Artoo's words as they are translated and screened on the computer scope.

LUKE (into comlink) Yes, that's it. Dagobah.

Artoo beeps a hopeful inquiry.

LUKE (into comlink) No, I'm not going to change my mind about this. (getting a little nervous) I'm not picking up any cities or technology. Massive life-form readings, though. There's something alive down there...

Artoo beeps, this time a slightly worried question.

LUKE (into comlink) Yes, I'm sure it's perfectly safe for droids.

EXT. SPACE - DAGOBAH - LUKE'S X-WING

The X-wing continues its flight through the twilight above the cloud- covered planet.

INT. LUKE'S X-WING - COCKPIT

Luke sees the cloud race by as he takes his craft closer to the planet. He must operate his controls carefully since the cloud cover has completely obscured his vision. An alarm buzzes in the background, Artoo beeps and whistles frantically.

LUKE (into comlink) I know, I know! All the scopes are dead. I can't see a thing! Just hang on, I'm going to start the landing cycle...

The blast of the retrorockets is deafening, drowning out Artoo's electronic squeals. Suddenly, there is a cracking sound as if limbs were being broken off trees and then a tremendous jolt as the spacecraft stops. Luke pulls a switch and his canopy pops open.

EXT. DAGOBAH - DUSK

The mist-shrouded X-wing fighter is almost invisible in the thick fog. Luke climbs out onto the long nose of the spacecraft as Artoo pops out of his cubbyhole on the back. The young warrior surveys the fog, which is barely pierced by the ship's landing lights. About all he can make out are some giant, twisted trees nearby. Artoo whistles anxiously.

LUKE No, Artoo, you stay put. I'll have a look around.

Artoo lets out a short beep. As Luke moves along the nose, Artoo loses his balance and disappears with a splash into the boggy lake.

LUKE Artoo?

Luke kneels and leans over the plane looking for Artoo, but the water is still and reveals no sign of the little droid.

LUKE Artoo! Where are you?

A small periscope breaks the surface of the water and a gurgly beep is heard. The periscope starts to move to shore. Relieved, Luke starts running along the nose of the fighter to its tip.

LUKE Artoo! You be more careful.

The outline of the shore is now more than ten feet away.

Luke jumps off the plane into the water, scrambles up to the shore, and turns to look for Artoo. The periscope still steadily moves toward shore.

LUKE Artoo - that way!

Suddenly, through the thick fog layer, a dark shape appears, moving toward the little droid. The dark, sinuous bog beast dives beneath the swampy water, making a loud clunk against Artoo's metal hull. The droid disappears

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