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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Alex Wheeler on Believing In Yourself

Luke Skywalker pilots his father's Pod-racer
across the sand dunes of Tatooine
in the Lego-inspired TV series The Yoda Chronicles

In Target, the first novel in his Star Wars Rebel Force series, Alex Wheeler reminds us of one crucial fact: it takes money to fund an army. As the bulk of their money was lost with the destruction of Alderaan, Han Solo and Chewbacca transport Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and their droids C-3PO and R2-D2 to the planet Muunilinst, the former home of the InterGalactic Banking Clan. There, they hope to contact Mak Luunim, with whom the Rebel Alliance has entrusted a portion of their finances.  

As the Millennium Falcon emerges from hyperspace, a TIE Fighter attacks them before they can land on the planet. Another ship, a Preybird, comes to their aid, but it suffers damage while Han and his new ally drive away the TIE Fighter. The Preybird crashes on Muunilinst's Moon, and Han follows as quickly as he can. Still, it takes a while to locate the ruined ship, and longer still to find the injured pilot, who has wandered away from the wreckage. 

Han may be suspicious of the way the TIE Fighter found them, and how quickly the Preybird came to their aid, but he administers medical treatment, and agrees to transport the pilot, Tobin Elad, to Muunilinst. He even agrees to let Tobin Elad accompany them as they try to locate Mak Luunim. Unfortunately, when they reach the banker's lavish apartment, a servant tells them that his master has departed this mortal realm. Then stormtroopers burst into the apartment, and Tobin Elad proves his worth, killing a stormtrooper who had sighted Han with his rifle, and then assisting the others with their escape.

In a cantina, they learn that the Rebellion was unwise to invest their funds with Mak Luunim. The former banker owed everyone money, including the Empire. The bartender points them toward Nal Kuunim, a moneylender who reportedly plundered Mak Luunim's apartment after his death. Han and the others wonder: if this Nal Kuunim has the Rebellion's funds, or knows where they are located, what enticement can they offer to convince him to hand them over?

They locate a local named Grunta, who takes them to meet the moneylender. But then they are trapped by stormtroopers. In the ensuing firefight, Grunta is killed, and Han and the others are stripped of their weapons and imprisoned. When a stormtrooper visits their cell to bring them water, Luke tries the Jedi Mind Control that Obi-Wan Kenobi, his former mentor, used so proficiently. 

"You don't want to hold us prisoner any more." Luke stared intensely at the guard. "You want to let us go."

There was a long pause.

"No I don't," the stormtrooper said. The door shut behind them, and darkness closed in again. 

So, maybe Luke has a ways to go before he masters the Force.

Later, Nal Kuunim, who employed the stormtroopers, visits their cell. They've heard him described as a rich, greedy man, but the moneylender describes himself as a man of honor. He tells them he will give them the Rebellion's funds if they replace what they took from him. And what exactly did they take from him? Why Grunta of course, his servant and Pod-race pilot. Nal Kuunim likes to bet on Pod-races, and he had expected to win big on the next one. If a member of their party will pilot his craft, and win the race, Nal Kuunim will return the Rebellion's funds.

It seems an unlikely result, as most Humans lack the reflexes necessary to handle such powerful crafts. But Luke volunteers before the others can stop them. He doesn't know that his father Anakin once participated in Pod-races on Tatooine. (He doesn't really know anything about his father at this point). He just knows that the Rebellion needs that money. Besides, he destroyed the Death Star, a feat few others believed was impossible. So despite his lack of experience, he's willing to risk his life for the Rebellion again. Who knows? Maybe he'll be able to handle the powerful vehicle and win the race! 

One thing you have to say about Luke: he never gives up. He always believes in himself, despite the odds stacked against him. Sure, he lacks expert training in a whole host of areas, but at least he's always willing to tackle new challenges. In our world, it's easy to be cynical, and not believe in anyone or anything. Being like Luke is difficult, especially when trying so many things means you will frequently fail. But in this aspect of my life, I want to be like Luke: an eternal optimist, always willing to try new things. Every day. Including today.

How about you?

Dragon Dave 

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