General Calrissian - Creative Punishment|
I first met General Calrissian during an informational debriefing, the one just following Mon Monthma's decision to attack the yet incomplete Death Star II. Honored to fly as copilot in the legendary ship that had helped destroy the first Death Star, I was equally pleased to find that the captain of the Falcon, Calrissian, understood Sullustian perfectly, and without the cumbersome delay of the universal translation units. One day I shall have to ask him where he learned our language.
When he wasn't flirting with the females -- and I say females because it mattered not to the charming General what species the being was, so long as she was a she -- Calrissian was telling stories of his gambling days, his days running with General Solo, and about the extraordinary luck and hard work it was to rise to the position of Facilitator of a sucessful tibanna gas mine. Of particular interest were the stories he told about the Bespin gas mine, Cloud City. He told us about a renagade and crazed EV-9D9 unit (a droid with a facsination for droid torture?) that nearly overturned his city in the clouds, and about how she later fingered him while undercover at Jabba the Hutt's palace on Tatooine. I guess anyone could have revealed him with that sorry disguise he described.
It was during the hyperspace jump into the Endor system that Calrissian made the biggest impression on me. That jump was the longest of my life. It seemed like an eternity -- the entire Rebel armada jumping in unison to destroy a fearsome battle station and to secure the future of the free universe -- it was a tense time for everyone. Two hours into the jump, the General told me why he was there, in Jabba's palace, a good year and a half before Princess Leia, the Wookie, the droids, and Skywalker. "Guilt," he said. "I turned Han over to Jabba, I let him go and I didn't have any choice." Lord Vader and his shock troops had arrived at the General's facility an hour before Solo. Vader gave him two choices: give up Solo or give up Cloud City. It was a difficult choice, and the General did what any man would have done -- he chose to protect the thousands of people who lived in Cloud City. I can't blame him. Sadly, in the end, Calrissian lost both his friend and his beloved city.
It was Calrissian's idea to arrive early at Jabba's palace and establish the trust of the crime lord and his group. He says he couldn't wait, actually, to reconcile what he had done. "It made me feel better to be there, protecting Solo, even if he was encased in carbonite," he explained. "It was a difficult year, living in the old monk palace, but it's not like I had anywhere else to be."
On Sullust, there are many creative punishments for crimes against other citizens. The General, in my mind, had created a creative punishment for himself, much like he had sentenced himself to confinement in a dangerous prison. His punishment, however, was invaluable in restoring General Solo to the New Republic, and in helping the present mission succeed. His was a good punishment.