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by Molly
March 2000

Luke was sure of one thing: the absolute terror he felt at first being yanked under the scummy surface of the filthy water.

It made sense; really, it did, more sense in fact than most aspects of his life recently. Get yanked underwater by some slick, pulsating tentacle, you're bound to get a little frightened. Especially with a lungful of accidentally-inhaled water burning in his chest.

But things quickly got weird. Or as much weirder as they could get, aside from the initial irregularity of being stuck in a sealed Empirical garbage compactor with a smuggler, a princess, and a wookie. The real oddity, stranger even than the plain and simple reality of this assault, was the nature of it.

Luke was ready to be scared. He was ready to fight off attackers. He'd been doing both, quite well, for days now. He was *not*, however, ready for the abrupt realization that this *thing* possessed smaller, secondary tentacles, which were just suddenly...everywhere.

Splashing up through the surface of the water was a shock, and the very real presence of Han and Leia, struggling to help him, provided at least a brief respite from the startling sensation of thin muscle sliding against his skin.

But back down he went, and this time the once-troublesome fact that he needed to breathe didn't seem quite so urgent. Not compared to the squeezing, could those things possibly be so warm in the cold water...caressing attention lavished upon him by scaly, bumpy flesh.

Something - and he hesitated to try and discern exactly what it was - was winding its way, slow and steady, into the bulky stormtrooper gear, getting lower and closer and...

Luke closed his eyes, ignored the painful pressure in his chest in favor of concentrating on the tingling, searing heat snaking deeper into his body. He felt himself sinking deeper and deeper in the water -

And after a dull metallic clank, was bobbing to the surface so abruptly that the hands hauling him to his feet were as surprising as the air that was all too available. In the following minutes, as the chamber began to narrow and he forced himself to concentrate, a thought dug into the back of his mind, one that simply wouldn't go away.

It was *definitely* a good idea to come after the princess.