As fans of George Lucas’ Original Trilogy will no doubt know, Luke Skywalker escaped with his life (sans right hand) following his revelatory fight with Darth Vader at the end of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, but the Jedi-to-be’s path could have taken a very different turn had luck – and gross incompetence on the Empire’s behalf – not been on his side.
A particular story featured in recently published anthology The Empire Strikes Back: From A Certain Point of View provides some fascinating insight into life as a soldier in Palpatine’s galactic dictatorship, specifically those responsible for its daily upkeep. Telling the tale of a team responsible for reviewing footage recorded by Imperial Probe Droids, Kiersten White’s Eyes of the Empire short story contains a particularly noteworthy scene.
Maela, an officer tasked with the aforementioned mundane job, is revealed to have spotted early signs of the Rebel Alliance’s Echo Base on Hoth, intel that would, of course, ultimately lead to the full-scale invasion depicted in Empire‘s opening sequence. This, it turns out, wouldn’t be the only time Maela sniffed out the hiding place of an enemy of the Empire, as White later reveals that a Probe Droid dispatched to the seemingly unremarkable planet of Dagobah returned with an interesting discovery as well.
The except reads as follows:
A swamp planet, a riot of plants and bogs, mud and vines, nothing that indicated they should give it a second glance. Except – there, the outline of something in the night. Inorganic. Something that looked distinctly like a half-drowned X-wing.
No doubt due to its location far away from any civilized or densely inhabited planet, the sighting is essentially dismissed as an unimportant one that, had it been acted upon, could well have resulted in Luke being captured before his Jedi training with Master Yoda was completed. And while Star Wars canon dictates that the hero is never found, White’s story certainly serves as fuel for an imaginary what-if scenario.