"I know, I know!" Luke shouted, still fighting the controls of his ship. "All the scopes are dead! I can't see a thing. Hang on, I'm going to start the landing cycle.

  Let's just hope there's something underneath us." Artoo squealed again, but his sound were effectively frowned by the ear-splitting blast of the X-wing's retrorockets. Luke felt his stomach plunge as the ship began to drop rapidly. He braced against his pilot's seat, steeling himself for any possible impact. Then the ship lunged and Luke heard an awful sound as if the limbs of trees were being snapped off by his speeding craft.

  When the X-wing finally screeched to a halt, it was with a tremendous jolt that nearly flung its pilot through the cockpit window. Certain, at last, that he was on the ground, Luke slumped back in his chair and sighed with relief. He then pulled a switch that lifted his ship's canopy. When he raised his head outside the ship to get his first look at the alien world, Luke Skywalker gasped.

  The X-wing was completely surrounded by mists, its bright landing lights not illuminating more than a few feet in front of it. Luke's eyes gradually began to grow accustomed to the gloom all around him so that he could just barely see the twisted trunks and roots of grotesque-looking trees. He pulled himself out of the cockpit as Artoo detached his stout body from its cubbyhole plug.

  "Artoo," Luke said, "you stay put while I look around." The enormous gray tree had gnarled and intertwining roots that rose far above Luke before they joined to form trunks. He tilted back his head and could see the branches, high above, that seemed to form a canopy with the low-hanging clouds.

  Luke cautiously climbed out onto the long nose of his ship and saw that he had crash-landed in a small, fog-shrouded body of water.

  Artoo emitted a short beep—then there was a loud splash, followed by silence.

  Luke turned just in time to glimpse the droid's domed topside as it disappeared beneath the water's foggy surface.

  "Artoo! Artoo!" Luke called. He kneeled down on the smooth hull of the ship and leaned forward, anxiously searching for his mechanical friend.

  But the black waters were serene, revealing not a sign of the little R2 unit.

  Luke could not tell how deep this still, murky pond might be; but it looked extremely deep. He was suddenly gripped by the realization that he might never see his droid friend again. Just then, a tiny periscope broke through the surface of the water and Luke could hear a faint gurgling beep.

  What a relief! Luke thought, as he watched the periscope make its way toward shore. He ran along the nose of his X-wing fighter, and when the shore line was less than three meters away, the young commander jumped into the water and scrambled up the shore. He looked back and saw that Artoo was still making his way toward the beach.

  "Hurry, Artoo!" Luke shouted.

  Whatever it was that suddenly moved through the water behind Artoo moved too quickly and was too obscured by the mist for Luke to clearly identify it. Al he could see was a massive dark form. This creature rose up for a moment, then dove beneath the surface, making a loud bang against the little droid's metal hill. Luke heard the robot's pathetic electronic scream for help. Then, nothing… Luke stood there, horror-struck, as he continued to stare at the black waters, still as death itself. As he watched, a few tell-tale bubbles began to erupt at the surface.

  Luke's heart began to pound in fear as he realized he was standing too near the pool.

  But before he could move, the runt-size robot was spit out by the thing lurking beneath the black surface. Artoo made a graceful arc through the air and came crashing down onto a soft patch of gray moss.

  "Artoo," Luke yelled, running to him, "are you okay?" Luke was grateful that the shadowy swamp lurker apparently found metal droid neither palatable nor digestible.