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“Lobot, we’re home.” Lando lifts a dubious eyebrow as he looks around, exasperated. “Guess the Empire didn’t keep up with housekeeping.”
This is the Casino level. Game machines line the smooth blue alactite floors far as the eye can see. Sabacc tables, too. And pazaak. And jubilee wheels. Along the far wall are banks of holoprojectors meant to show the latest swoop race down on the track-tubes piped through Bespin’s toxic Red Zone atmosphere. Once, this was a shining pillar of gambling excess: classy and bright with light coming in through windows looking out over the sun-kissed clouds. Now it’s wrecked. Trash drifts and tumbles. Machines have been turned over, their credits cut from inside like food from a beast’s belly. The windows are covered over with metal. The holoprojectors are dark. Lobot steps up alongside Lando. The computer forming a half-moon around the back of the man’s bald head blinks and pulses, and at Lando’s wrist is a communication from his friend and cohort.
I’ll look into rehiring staff immediately.
“Do that,” Lando says. Then he thrusts up a finger. “Ah. But make sure we’re hiring some refugees, will you?” The galaxy’s like a cup that’s been knocked over, and now everything’s spilling out. Whole worlds have been displaced by the war. Lando can’t let Cloud City turn from being a city of luxury to being a tent city of expats and evacuees, but he can damn sure give those people jobs. That’s his favorite kind of arrangement: the kind where everybody gets something for their trouble. They win. He wins. The ideal for how everything should work.
As they walk, Lobot looks over at him as a new communication flashes across his wrist: I am told to remind you that the princess will soon give birth and you have not yet procured for them the standard natal gift.
“What? That’s impossible. She was just—I swear they just got married—didn’t I just get them a nuptial gift?”
It has been the proper biological time. You just do not realize how much time has passed. We have been busy.
“So have they, I guess.”
Also, you never got them a nuptial gift.
He sighs. “Okay, okay. Buying gifts for a kid. Can we get him a cute little cape and a mustache so he looks like old Uncle Lando?”
Lobot doesn’t respond, offering only a humorless stare.
“Fine, fine, I’ll think about it.” His mind drifts briefly to Han and Leia. Han, one of his oldest and greatest friends. And sure, one of his greatest rivals, too. He misses that old reprobate. The crazy times they had!