- "The Force is with you, young Skywalker… but you are not a Jedi yet."
- ―Darth Vader to Luke Skywalker
After failing to capture Luke Skywalker during the Battle of Hoth, Darth Vader—Skywalker's father—set a trap for Skywalker on the Cloud City of Bespin. He captured Han Solo and Leia Organa to torture them, hoping to lure Skywalker out of hiding. Skywalker saw a vision of his friends' suffering while on Dagobah, where he trained with Jedi Master Yoda, and rushed to Cloud City to help them.
When he arrived, Skywalker briefly encountered Imperial troops and Boba Fett, who was taking a carbon-frozen Solo to his ship. Skywalker avoided the enemy forces and made his way to the carbon-freezing chamber and found Vader waiting for him, and the two engaged in a lightsaber duel throughout the chamber. They moved into the lower levels, where Vader consistently held the upper hand before finally cutting off Skywalker's right hand, causing Luke to lose the lightsaber that once belonged to Vader, leaving the Jedi apprentice defenseless and at the mercy of the Dark Lord of the Sith. It was then that Vader revealed the truth: he was Skywalker's father.
Rather than allow himself to be captured, Skywalker threw himself off the platform where they had fought, before landing and hanging helplessly at the bottom of the city. Skywalker was rescued by Organa, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian in the Millennium Falcon before returning to the Rebel fleet, where they began plotting a mission to rescue Solo from Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine.
- "I've got to go to them."
"Decide, you must, how to serve them best. If you leave now, help them, you could, but… you would destroy all for which they have fought and suffered."
- ―Luke Skywalker and Yoda
The Alliance to Restore the Republic had recently been dealt a disastrous defeat in the Battle of Hoth. Though the Alliance had managed to stave off total destruction, the conflict had seen the Alliance's new headquarters destroyed-suffering many casualties-and their surviving forces scattered across the galaxy. As the Imperial assault had neared completion, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Chewbacca, and C-3PO managed to escape off-world in Solo's personal ship, the Millennium Falcon, just before snowtroopers, led by Darth Vader, entered the hangar. However, the Falcon had been undergoing extensive repairs prior to the battle, and, unknown to its crew, its hyperdrive motivator was damaged to the point of being non-functional.
Vader, who had led the Imperial assault, had been working to track down and capture Luke Skywalker in order to turn the boy into his apprentice. Recognizing Solo's ship, and realizing who was aboard it, Vader devised a plan to lure Skywalker to him by capturing and torturing his friends. He realized that the suffering of Skywalker's friends would be felt by him through the Force, and that the boy would come to aid them. To that end, he sent part of his personal armada, Death Squadron, to capture the Falcon. Solo managed to evading his pursuers, but he soon came to realize that the damage to the Falcon's hyperdrive was so extensive that it could not be repaired without landing. Unable to meet up with the remains of the Rebel fleet, Solo attempted to seek refuge and repairs at the nearby planet of Bespin. An old friend of Solo's, Lando Calrissian, had become Baron Administrator to Bespin's largest settlement, Cloud City, and Solo believed Calrissian could help him repair the Falcon. However, the bounty hunter Boba Fett had informed Darth Vader of Solo's destination, and, with the advantage of functioning hyperdrives, an Imperial detachment under the Dark Lord's command arrived at Bespin just before Solo's crew. After Vader arrived Cloud City, he informed Calrissian of his plan to use Solo and his friends to capture Skywalker, and that in return for his cooperation, the Empire would leave Cloud City to its own affairs after Skywalker had been captured. With the threat of Imperial occupation looming over his head, Calrissian was forced to comply. With his cooperation, Vader captured Solo and his companions shortly after they landed, when Calrissian led then to Vader under the pretense of going to dinner. He then began torturing the Rebels in accordance with his original plot. The plan was successful; Skywalker sensed his friends' anguish on Dagobah, and prepared to go to Bespin to save them. In doing so, he disregarded the advice and pleas of his masters, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the latter of whom told Skywalker that his friends' suffering was almost definitely part of a trap.
Luke approached the Cloud City in his X-wing starfighter, unaware that the Imperial forces occupying the city had been tracking his progress since he arrived at Bespin. He landed his craft without incident, and proceeded cautiously into the city. As he and R2-D2 began the search for his friends, he encountered Boba Fett and a group of Imperials who were transporting Solo-encased in carbonite-to Fett's ship. Skywalker, hoping not to reveal his presence, quietly followed the group for a short time until they disappeared from sight. As Skywalker prepared to continue through the city, Fett suddenly reappeared and fired on Skywalker, who ducked around a corner to avoid the shots. After firing a few blaster bolts to deter pursuit, Fett disengaged from his target. Skywalker, clueless as to what Fett's cargo had been, did not attempt to follow him. Shortly after, he encountered Organa and Chewbacca, who were being brought to Vader's flagship as prisoners. The stormtroopers escorting the pair began shooting at Skywalker, who took cover again. Organa saw him and, aware of Vader's trap for him, desperately tried to break free of the grip of an Imperial in an attempt to warn Skywalker. As the group of Imperials with Organa broke off the fight and dragged her away, Luke attempted to follow. Just as he passed through the door where Organa had disappeared, it slammed shut behind him, cutting him off from R2-D2.
Making his way through the catwalks and elevators of the lower levels of Cloud City, he eventually reached the dimly lit carbon-freeze chamber. Suddenly, the chamber lit up, revealing Darth Vader, standing atop a flight of steps to the walkway above. Vader taunted Skywalker, claiming that, while the Force was with him, the boy was no Jedi yet. Striding up to the Dark Lord, Skywalker ignited his lightsaber. Vader responded by calmly activating his own saber, and the duel began.
- The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (First appearance)
- Use the Force! (Appears in final page preview illustration)
- Epic Yarns: The Empire Strikes Back (Non-canonical appearance)
- Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (Mentioned only)
- Bloodline (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens (Vision to Rey) (Sounds only)
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens novel (Vision to Rey)
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