- "No more, Luke Skywalker! I've thoroughly tested you…made you perform in a hostile environment…probed your emotions by placing your friends in jeopardy. I now know your limits…and your limitations."
- ―Darth Vader, to Luke Skywalker
In 0 ABY, a mission was carried out by Luke Skywalker in an effort to convince the isolationist Order of the Sacred Circle to join the Rebel Alliance. However, it was soon discovered that the mission was a trap set up by the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader to test Skywalker's skills.
The mission began when the leader of the Order, Domina Tagge, tricked by Vader and acting on his orders, asked the Rebellion to send one of its heroes, Luke Skywalker, to the planet Monastery as an envoy. General Jan Dodonna agreed and also sent Princess Leia Organa, who was later captured by Imperial forces but managed to escape. Meanwhile, Skywalker met Vader and was forced to accept a duel with him. However, before the duel began, Organa had unwittingly brought Domina's brother and former baron of the House of Tagge, Orman Tagge to Monastery. Vader used Tagge to test Luke's mastery of the Force by making him appear to Skywalker as the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. Skywalker killed Orman Tagge, and, realizing that he was not ready to fight the real Vader, escaped on the Millennium Falcon.
- "A Galactic war, such as you have begun, could well sunder the circle of life…with our many followers in many systems, our influence might tip the balance to end such a war swiftly. The order wished to hear from both sides before making a decision."
- ―Domina Tagge
After learning that the pilot who destroyed the Death Star during the Battle of Yavin was his own son Luke Skywalker, a Rebel hero, Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader planned to set a trap for him. Vader tricked Domina Tagge, a member of the Order of the Sacred Circle located on Monastery, into cooperating with him, promising power and prestige. Tagge also craved revenge against Skywalker, for she believed her brother, Orman, was killed by him in a battle with the Rebels over the Feswe Corridor. In fact, Orman had been only wounded during the battle and rescued by Vader afterward. Vader, who had been keeping Orman Tagge in hibernation since then, had his own plans for this mission; he planned to use it as a test for his son and to lure him into the fight he was not ready for.
Not long after, Skywalker saved a civilian vessel from an Imperial attack and escorted it to the Rebel base on Yavin 4. Aboard that vessel was Domina, who informed the Rebels that her homeworld of Monastery—which had stayed neutral throughout the course of the war—was willing to join someone. To decide between the Alliance and the Empire, she requested that both sides send an envoy to Monastery and asked Skywalker to go. The Alliance agreed and sent him along with his droid R2-D2. However, since Skywalker did not have much skill in diplomacy and only one representative from each side was allowed, General Jan Dodonna—commander of the Yavin Base—also secretly sent princess Leia Organa, former smuggler-turned-Rebel Han Solo, protocol droid C-3PO and Solo's co-pilot Chewbacca, on the Millennium Falcon to make sure that everything would proceed smoothly and to help Skywalker if needed.
Contacting the Order
- "What was this thing, sister Domina…?"
"A Nightshrike[…]I can't imagine why it was out during the day…the sunlight must have driven it mad, made it attack."
"Perhaps it is an omen…a hint of how disruptive to the natural order even one Rebel can be."
- ―Luke, Domina and Vader
As soon as Skywalker landed, he was attacked by a Nightshrike, a native beast on Monastery. After defeating it, he met Darth Vader, who was acting as the representative of the Empire. Skywalker wanted to attack him, but remembering his promise to keep the mission peaceful, agreed to meet Vader another time after the mission. Meanwhile Organa and Solo established a laserwave link with R2-D2 to monitor his activities.
However, the Falcon was soon captured by an Imperial Star Destroyer under the command of Captain Mulchive Wermis, who was informed by Vader that the Alliance would also send Princess Organa on the mission. Wermis ordered a search of the ship but did not find the princess. Nonetheless, he imprisoned Solo and Chewbacca, but Organa, who was hiding in the ship's smuggling compartments, decided to rescue them and warn Skywalker. She contacted him via R2, and tried to inform him that the mission was a trap. However, Skywalker interrupted the transmission when Domina appeared and told him that the Order was ready to make a decision. She then escorted him to the main chambers and said that the Order had decided to join the Empire in an effort to eliminate the Rebel Alliance. Skywalker tried to attack Vader, whom he suspected of using the Force to cloud Domina's mind, but she said that this was not the time to fight and proposed a place to settle their dispute.
Meanwhile, aboard the Imperial ship, Princess Organa, using proton grenades to set a distraction, managed to free Solo and Chewbacca. After they escaped from the ship, they discovered that their long-time enemy and former baron of the House of Tagge, Orman Tagge—who had previously aided Imperial efforts against the Rebellion—managed to break free from his life support capsule where he had been kept hidden from his sister by Vader in perpetual stasis. Orman sneaked aboard the Falcon and, believing that his sister was in danger, decided to rescue her. By threatening Solo and Organa with a blaster, he ordered them to pilot the ship to the surface of Monastery.
Skirmish in the Crystal Valley
As Vader was approaching the ceremonial Crystal Valley, a place proposed by Domina to fight Luke and an exceptionally dangerous territory in a constant state of eruption with pillars of crystal falling and coming up through the ground, he noticed the Falcon preparing to land. Meanwhile, aboard the ship Organa and Solo were at last able to subdue Tagge, but were soon attacked by pursuing TIE fighters. In the midst of chaos, Orman escaped and ran into the valley. One pillar nearly fell on Tagge, but the former baron was saved by Vader. The Dark Lord explained that killing Tagge would be far too easy and unimaginative, and proceeded to inform the man that his sister was no longer unsullied and uncorrupted. Distraught, Tagge begged Vader to kill him there and then, but the towering Sith Lord had one final purpose for him. He intended to use Tagge as a test for Skywalker.
Soon enough, Skywalker fought whom he thought to be Vader in the valley, but when he delivered a final blow, he realized that it was in fact an illusion and he had killed Orman, who had been disguised as Vader by the Force. When the real Vader appeared and told his son that the whole mission was meant to test Skywalker's abilities, the young Rebel decided to run, because he felt that the only way to win that battle was to stop playing Vader's game.
Above the valley, Solo and Organa informed Domina that Vader was lying to her and that Orman had been kept in hibernation the whole time. However, when Skywalker appeared without Orman Tagge and tried to explain what had happened, Domina refused to listen and said that despite the fact that the Order would not join the Empire, her wrath would always be against Skywalker. The young Jedi also realized that with all Vader had learned, he would not be cautious again about attacking him or the Rebels, as he did in their previous encounters. With such thoughts, Skywalker watched as Vader departed Monastery, and then left as well.
Behind the scenes
This mission first appeared in the Marvel comic book Star Wars 35 and was continued throughout the two subsequent issues, ending in #37. It featured the death of Orman Tagge, a major Marvel Star Wars character introduced in issue #25. It was also notable for being one of the last Marvel stories prior to the adaptation of Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back with issue #38 scheduled to be the first part of the adaptation as stated by the teaser on the final page of issue #37. However, a change in a distribution system forced Marvel to push the debut up to issue #39.
- Star Wars 35 (First appearance)
- Star Wars 36
- Star Wars 37
- "Vader Adrift"—Star Wars Insider Special Edition 2012 (Indirect mention only)
- A New Hope: The Life of Luke Skywalker (Indirect mention only)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 19 (VAD8, Darth Vader)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual (Indirect mention only)
Notes and references
- Star Wars 35
- According to The New Essential Chronology, the events of the Archie Goodwin comic strips occur after the events of the Marvel series.
- The mission takes place concurrently with the Yavin blockade, which lasted until 0.5 ABY, according to The New Essential Chronology.
- Star Wars 37
- Star Wars 36