Nineteen Years Before ?A New Hope?
The heating element was reaching its required temperature for operation. The operator watched as the green light blinked, indicating that it was on. He stared at the hallowed ground before him, disgusted at what he was about to do.
My wife and I just made an important choice. There is no going back. This is one of the possible consequences we have to avoid, for now.
Owen Lars stood up, wearing protective clothing to shield him from the heat. His body was sore from working all night.
"Owen, are you certain you wish to do this?" Beru asked solemnly from behind him.
He turned and faced her then. Her beautiful young face looked sad.
"Beru, get back downstairs, please. I have to return this equipment to Anchorhead today. It's too dangerous for you to be around this equipment without protective clothing, much less out here at this time of night. I didn't want you to have to see this."
Beru frowned and turned around to go back downstairs. She was clutching a small, sleeping bundle in her arms.
"I wish you would reconsider,? she said desperately as she walked away, "this isn't going to harm him."
I told Kenobi?I told him we would have nothing to do with his past. I have to do this. It's for the best, my darling wife.
Owen Lars opened the valve to the nozzle in his hand, and bluish-green flames leapt from its emitter, piercing the darkness of night. He began melting the sand, forming solid rock around it.
Nineteen Years Later, During ?A New Hope?
They were dead.
Luke gaped in horror and disbelief at the charred remains of his aunt and uncle. For the rest of his life, he would be glad that at least he didn't have to see it happen. But for now, his entire life crumbled?both around him, and inside of him.
Luke fell to the sand. He cried. He sobbed. At points he screamed and slammed his hands into the sand. Other times he grabbed fistfuls of it and threw it against the wreckage of the Lars? home -- his home. He would later recall that this went on for what seemed to be an eternity to him at the time.
The Imperials were not anything Luke considered honorable. They were cold, vicious killers.
His entire world just seemed so much darker. The Imperials are going to pay. I will destroy every one of them for taking everything away from me. At one time as a younger man, Luke had very briefly entertained the notion of joining the Imperial Academy. The thought now made him nauseous.
It wasn't enough that they decimated the entire farm and had taken his aunt and uncle's lives needlessly. It was the fact that they did it with no remorse for those lives they were taking. Luke wondered how many other beings they had killed in this manner; how many other lives they had destroyed.
I knew I would leave someday, but I didn't want it to be like this!
Luke sat in the sand in which he had fallen during his tirade, longing for the scene before him to disappear and for things to go back to the way they were. But, wishing was not going to make it so.
He stood up after a very long time, almost falling again. His knees hurt and buckled from being on the ground for so long. He stumbled around, assessing all the damage for what it was worth. His walking soon became aimless, as he began to wonder if the stormtroopers had left anything intact. Hopelessness and despair were flooding his senses until he saw something that he had missed when he first stood up.
I can't keep Ben waiting. But first, I've got something to do.
He walked over to where it was standing, unscathed by a single blaster bolt or detonator charge. His hands working feverishly, he spent at least another hour piling sand on it until it was completely covered up.
I'm never coming back to this place again. There is nothing left here for me now.
He climbed into his speeder and headed back to an undoubtedly concerned Ben Kenobi.
Six Years before ?A New Hope?
The landspeeder roared to a stop as it completed its approach to the Lars? homestead.
This is the most annoyingly long day I think I've ever had, Luke thought. When is Uncle Owen going to give me a break?
These blasted vaporators, always breaking down on my days off. Normally, Luke would just shrug this off. Today things were annoying him extraneously for some reason. His energy was spent, knees and legs burning with pain from a long day's work. He stumbled out of his speeder clumsily and began to walk inside.
"WEEEP! DOODOPBEEP!" an impatient, offended electronic voice behind him wailed.
Oh, Luke thought idly, his mind and body simultaneously thirsting for rest. That thing.
His uncle, Owen Lars, had just purchased this droid two days ago and had ordered Luke to take it to the north ridge to see how well it performed today.
Luke failed to understand why Uncle Owen kept dealing with those slimeballs in the local shops. Ten years ago, Owen had bought the finest new set of moisture vaporators available from one of the more reputable and trustable dealers in Mos Eisley. Uncle Owen spent his life savings on those machines. The ?plan? after was to buy a decent set of used droids that could help maintain all of them. But it seemed that no one around here had any affordable droids available that were properly retrofitted to reliably stand up to the Tatooine sun.
We go through one of these droids a year. They're always breaking down. If only he'd listen to me just once and deal with the Jawas when they came around. I'll have to humor him for now. Better to not rouse his temper.
Uncle Owen had indeed been in a particularly foul mood lately, much more so than usual. Luke's little ?stunt? in Uncle Owen's T-16 five days ago in Beggar's Canyon had nearly cost him his life. The shields held up well when he wrecked it, but his failed turn through a tight loop sent the old Skyhopper off balance and careening into the canyon wall. Luke swore with dread as he saw Uncle Owen's speeder pull up that the old man was going to kill him. Uncle Owen didn't like seeing something he had owned (owned since he himself was a teenager) destroyed in what he had called a 'moment of complete, reckless stupidity'.
I did almost have that womprat, though. Luke smiled at the thought, the recollection of his uncle's wrath washing away with the expression on his face.
Luke carefully hoisted the oily, smelly, impatient astromech droid out of the speeder. The little nuisance had barely been any help at all in repairing the vaporator today. It showed its gratitude for being helped out of its backside position by spitting oil out of its dome, splattering Luke?s already dirty garments. The oil was hot and immediately stung his stomach like a thousand needles when it hit him.
"Agh!" Luke screamed. "You know what, no oil bath for you!" He spat, pointing at the dirty old droid. It was already rolling away from him, ignoring what he had said.
Luke mused for a moment about taking the droid to Anchorhead to have its memory wiped, but then reconsidered...
..a worn out droid with its memory wiped would still act like a worn out droid.
Luke felt some pity for the poor thing as it hobbled along on a very bad motivator. His pity ended when it spun its dome and uttered a hiss of nasty sounding beeps and chirps, then continued to roll away from him. Anyone and everyone in the galaxy that had ever been around an astromech droid knew exactly what that series of beeps was -- a form of droid profanity.
"You know, I think Uncle Owen likes picking out droids that act just like him," Luke muttered quietly to himself.
He always gripes about me spending my credits on my speeder upgrades, about wasting credits playing games, or wasting time with my friends. But he should be one to preach -- he won't even buy a newer astromech droid, or even a protocol droid that can communicate with our vaporators worth a...
"Luke!" a female voice stammered from down below. "Dinner's been ready for over an hour! I've kept it warm for you!"
I'm late again. Great. He hadn't even noticed the time until Aunt Beru called out to him. The twin suns were beginning their descent into the horizon.
"All right, I'll be right down!" he called back promptly.
Aunt Beru was the only person whom Luke felt he could really turn to when times were tough. Calm, and a polar opposite to his raving uncle, she was more like an affectionate friend. He confided in her many things he felt he wanted to do with his life. A passive and kind person, she was always willing to listen to anything he had to say.
Sometimes that was part of the problem, as she was not very proactive in their conversations during the few occasions they had quality time (away from daily chores, and out of earshot of Uncle Owen) to talk.
Uncle Owen was a different story. True, he loved his uncle as much as Beru. It was in Luke's nature. But that didn't mean that he liked him most of the time.
Luke stood on the threshold of the top of the steps, about to head down for dinner. Wait. I need a minute tonight. Luke was already in for it, anyway. Might as well do it. Since he was already going to be in trouble, there would be no harm in doing one of the few things that gave him a lot of happiness.
He stood on the edge of the homestead as he had done many times since the oldest memory he could recall, watching the twin suns of Tatooine sink into the horizon. Luke didn't know what drew him there. Maybe it was just a place to relax and think for a quick moment. He only knew that this was his moment of calm, and that it gave him peace. It was in this moment he would look beyond his monotonous and bonded life here. He had so many dreams of something more for himself, some greater cause he wanted to commit himself to. He knew in his heart he would leave eventually, and never look back.
Never look back.
The wind seemed to almost whisper those words to him. It began to pick up and blow his hair all about his head, shifting the sands around. Gusting rapidly, it gained in speed. The distant upsurge of air in the horizon clouded the two setting suns from his vision.
A sandstorm is coming. At least I got a moment to myself before I had to go inside.
He looked back at the homestead for a moment expecting the usual from Uncle Owen. Just before he did, something caught his eye...
"LUKE!" An unfriendly, enraged voice bellowed from the main entrance hall. "Beru called you down here half an hour ago! Get down here and eat so I can shut the blasted power down!"
Why does Uncle Owen always have to be so overbearing? Why? Biggs doesn't have this problem with his family. It was true; the Darklighters were always kind and friendly to him...even during bad times.
With the Tatooine suns completely obscured from sight, Luke stormed down the stairs, trying to hide his anger from his uncle as he passed by him. Apparently it either didn't matter, or it didn't work.
With no time to react, Luke heard a hand slam against the wall, blocking his way. Owen stared at him with blazing eyes, his nose less than a centimeter away from Luke's.
"Every night we go through this with you, and every night it?s the same thing. When is it going to change?"
A long, uncomfortable silence passed between them.
"Well?!" he bellowed again. Owen was obviously not yielding; but neither would Luke.
By this time Luke saw that Beru was standing in the doorway, looking sternly at the entire situation.
Luke remained silent, simply looking defiantly off into the distance. He did not dare to make eye contact with Owen. The man's temper completely disgusted him when he acted this way.
I'm not going to give in, but I'm not going to be like him and fight back, either. One day, I'll be gone...and he'll be wishing that I were here to help him.
"Vaporator seventeen is fixed, just as you asked of me,? Luke said, finally looking at Owen. "The new astromech malfunctioned, so I had to finish the work manually. It took ...some time."
Owen slumped his shoulders and released his hand from the wall, and stepped away from him in the corridor. Beru remained listening in on the conversation.
Luke knew that Owen still wasn't going to let this go, but he spoke to Luke with a more restrained tone.
"Luke, listen to me. When night falls, this planet becomes a different place. You know that, and yet you risk your safety anyway. You don't know what it's like to deal with a Tusken--" Owen started.
"I've heard this lesson before!" Luke interrupted. His voice then took a more pleading tone. "I'm not going beyond the perimeter of the homestead, I just like to watch the sunset! Is that really too much to ask?"
Owen gritted his teeth under pursed lips. His hand subconsciously went up to his scruffy beard to hide his boiling anger. He started away from Luke, heading back to the dinner table.
Just as he was about to exit the corridor, Owen turned around to face Luke and raised the tone in his voice again. "When you're out there, kilometers away from us, crying out in pain where no one can hear you because you've lost a leg from a gaffi stick or a sandblaster rifle, you'll think differently about these little ?moments? you just have to have for yourself."
Finally, Owen's tone calmed down. "Now get cleaned up and get yourself some dinner and rest," he said quietly. "We have another long day ahead of us tomorrow."
That 'Lose Your Leg' story again, Luke thought. How many times have I heard that one, and why does he keep repeating it to me?
Owen blew off steam from his mouth and wiped his hand across his face as Luke walked away from him, down the opposite end of the corridor to bathe. Noticing a faint smell, Owen cursed as he looked down and discovered astromech droid oil and grime all over his shirt.
Later That Evening
As she cleaned up the last of the dinnerware, Beru thought to herself, I wish I could tell him the truth. Owen is never going to figure out a way to break it to him lightly, and when he finally does tell him, we're going to lose him. He's going to run away recklessly, and get himself into trouble.
She appeared more concerned with her husband during Owen?s confrontation with the boy. They do have one thing in common, and it's not a cohesive trait to form a parent-child bond, she thought. They are both so stubborn...
Beru sat down at the dinner table with a poured glass of her favorite drink. The glass was half-empty after just a few seconds. Imported from Alderaan, the drink was sweet and refreshing, even more so tonight. Two birthdays ago, Owen had bought her a flask of it from the Mos Eisley Cantina. She didn't drink often, but tonight she felt she needed it. Beru was a bit tipsy from the alcohol because her body was not normally accustomed to it.
She looked up to see Luke heading into the dining room. He initially offered her a smile, but his face betrayed a look she had seen before; it was cringing, holding back.
All her life, Beru had always been an intuitive woman. She had always been able to bond with people she trusted. Beru had a natural aura and charm about her as a housekeeper and a homemaker. She was always a very motherly person, and knew the boy well. She and Owen were never able to have a child of their own, and it was a truly amazing gift from the stars when Luke had been brought to them to be adopted.
He sat down and began to eat. Carefully reading Luke?s facial expressions and mannerisms, she knew he needed someone to talk to. She was likely going to have to try and comfort him.
"Does Uncle Owen need any other help tonight?" Luke asked her.
Luke had truly worked his heart out for his uncle today. Beru could see it in his eyes. But hard work never ends when you own your own business, and you have no one to answer to but yourself. That was a lesson Luke had yet to learn.
"No, he's turned in for the night. He was very tired,? Beru said. "While you were out today, vaporator twenty-five's power core went down, so he had to go repair it himself, and--Luke...what is it? What's wrong?"
Luke started to take a bite of his food, then stopped. Now that he was an adolescent, he rarely had moments like this. A few stinging tears that had welled in his eyes had begun rolling down his face.
Beru regarded her nephew's relationship with his uncle with deep regret.
Luke is so unlike Owen. Now that he was thirteen she doubted he was ever going to develop that fatherly bond with her husband. The boy had an amazing intellect and efficiency Owen was appreciative of, but that appreciation was only from a business standpoint. He never acted very fatherly to Luke, and had a great deal of trouble expressing gratitude; or any other emotions, for that matter. That was just Owen's way. He had developed a much harder philosophy of life after Cliegg had died. He felt he had to be the strong one. So naturally, his only attitude toward Luke was to push him harder and faster, and make him better and even more efficient.
Nevertheless, Beru did not agree at all with the way Owen treated him. Beru finally did persuade Owen to at least give the boy something. On his tenth birthday, Beru finally convinced Owen to reward Luke with a small allowance for his work.
Owen was still not prepared for the consequences of staying so emotionally disconnected from his adopted son once the boy reached adolescence. Now that Luke was a teenager, he was starting to rebel. But being from a strict subservient upbringing, Beru did not feel it was her place to tell Owen any of this.
For now, she simply listened to Luke ventilate his emotions as he gave his despondent side of the story. The frustration; the broken vaporator; the incapable droid and how this was supposed to be his day of rest. She never once interrupted him. Beru let him vent, and gave him time to get it all out.
"--I'm sorry, Aunt Beru. I'm sorry I always come to you like this," he said, finishing at last, wiping his eyes, trying to hide the tears that had long since come and gone. "I wish the time I spent talking to you these days could be full of happier stories." Luke continued to eat his dinner.
Beru was filled with sympathy for the boy. She loved her husband, but sometimes she couldn't stand it when he made Luke this unhappy.
She wished she could say what was on her mind to Owen.
What would Beru say to Owen? She pondered it for a moment. He IS still just a child. I wish you wouldn't be so overprotective of him. He has to learn from his own mistakes, and your constant chiding, belittling and running him over is not going to make it any easier.
Luke sat quietly, finishing his food, wondering what his aunt would say regarding last comment.
Finally, she responded. "You never have to look too hard for it, Luke. Happiness is found in here", Beru said, standing up, leaning over the table and placing a single finger on Luke's heart. She winked at him and smiled. "If watching the sunset gives you comfort, then no one can take the love of that memory of that away from you, ever." She kissed him on his forehead, and then sat back down.
No sooner had she sat down than she started, "...and don't you dare tell your uncle..."
"...that you told me this," Luke finished for her.
They exchanged a grin. For him, it was a bittersweet one. Luke was still sad because he knew ? he knew somehow that his future would not be here. He would miss his relationship with Aunt Beru when that day came. Her answers in life were so simple and easy to follow.
"You're growing up, and beginning to find yourself, Luke. You're thirteen years old now. Oh, and don't beat yourself up about the T-16 so much. It was your birthday, and Owen consciously made the decision to let you fly it as a present. I thought it was a wonderful idea. Besides, if you save your allowance, I'm sure you can salvage your uncle's old one later and build a new one for both of you...you know your uncle is planning on buying a T-16 chassis eventually,? she said as she winked at him.
Beru?s words seemed to cheer him up, at least a little. But Luke's thoughts still seemed elsewhere, hanging onto the very first thing she said as he continued to eat.
"You said I'm starting to 'find myself'. But who am I, I wonder? Uncle Owen said he'd tell me when he thought I was ready. It's kind of hard to find yourself when you don't even know where you really came from." Luke's eyes darted down again. He felt lost. Beru said nothing, just continued to smile at him.
Luke knew that he wasn't going to get an answer. He never did.
He stood up and thanked Beru both for listening and for dinner as usual, and went to bed.
Luke laid down and shut the power in his room down for the night, listening to the sandstorm rage around him.
The fact that his uncle constantly invaded the one personal, private moment he savored to himself above all other things infuriated him. Something deeper than just a simple 'need', something in the core of his very soul called him to that place almost every night that he thought he could get away with it, to watch the sunset.
I want to know why I feel so...so pulled there...why does it give me comfort...and another thing...
What was that thing he saw in the sandstorm?
Those were his last thoughts as he drifted off to sleep.
THE NEXT DAY
Owen Lars and Luke Skywalker were walking through the streets of Anchorhead. The annoying little R4 droid rolled along pitifully behind them. Its attitude had changed considerably since it knew that Owen was going to try to sell it back to that horrible garbage dealer, Velpa.
They approached Velpa's shop. Owen said, as he always did, "Let me do the talking."
Always the same, Luke thought through a clenched jaw. Things never change with him. Ever. They went inside?
One hour and one very heated argument later, Owen walked back out of the shop with three-fourths of the credits he had spent buying the piece of junk. The poor droid squealed and beeped for its ex-master to come back and save it, only to be silenced by Velpa with a restraining bolt. Luke wasn't with Owen when he had originally purchased the droid, but was now even less sure of why he bought it in the first place. Velpa?s shop was full of scrap, and judging by the fact that the R4 unit was the only working astromech droid in the place, Luke surmised that Velpa pieced it together hastily from spare parts to sell it.
Owen cursed as they walked out of the shop. Luke learned to remain silent and calm around his uncle at times like this, only speaking when spoken to.
They walked the streets for a few more minutes when Owen noticed another shop, owned by a Toydarian. He told Luke to wait outside in the speeder. "I don't trust this guy, his family has a bad reputation", were his last words before going in.
Pulling a cloak over himself as protection from the twin suns (which were reaching their blistering peak), Luke sat back down in the speeder and waited. Compared to the boring life of moisture farming, a day trip to Anchorhead was always a treat for him. He began to assess his surroundings.
Structures of heated and hardened sand filled the streets, most of them filled with shops. All of them were thriving with buyers and traders.
Yeah, buyers and traders of garbage, he thought. Anchorhead was a vast flea market, primarily full of locals. It was still nowhere near the size or caliber of Mos Eisley or Mos Espa.
Nearby, Luke noticed a sign written in Basic that read:
"Imperial Academy: Human Applicants Over the Age of 18 Welcome"
Luke?s mind went straight into the clouds.
The Imperial Academy. How wonderful it must be to be a star pilot. Seeing different worlds, expanding your horizons, encountering countless races and planets with new technologies, the possibilities are so-
"Well, young lad, it's been a long time,? said a familiar voice from behind him, interrupting his train of thought.
Luke turned around in the cockpit seat and removed the cloak from his head.
"Ben? Is that you? I'm sorry, my mind was...elsewhere."
The old man was standing by the speeder, in the same cloak and robe Luke remembered him wearing when he last saw him. He was nine at the time...the time Uncle Owen had run him off in a fit of --
Uncle Owen! Luke began to feel the panic welling up in his throat, but remained outwardly composed.
"Ben, it's really great to see you!" said Luke, shaking the old man's hand. "Hang on a second, ok?" Ben nodded politely with a wave of his free hand, as if he already knew what Luke was up to.
Luke walked briskly to the end of the street and peered into Watto's shop. Uncle Owen was still talking with a flying blue creature, hovering above different astromech droids, rambling about different prices in Huttese. Good.
"Sorry?? Luke said as he returned. "?I'm with Uncle Owe-"
"Yes, I know,? Ben said, plainly. That didn't surprise Luke at all. Ben's perception was beyond that of any human being he'd ever met.
"We're trying to find a new astromech droid. Uncle Owen won't spend any real money for a newer one in good condition. But you know the junk they peddle around here."
"Actually, you'll find the Jawas have much better deals, if you know how to bargain with them,? Ben offered, but Luke cut him off...
"Yeah, I know. I keep trying to tell Uncle Owen that! The Darklighters have had very few problems with the droids they've bought from the Jawas, but he won't listen to me!"
"Well, my young friend,? Ben started, invoking a word Luke would hear from him for years to come, ?you might find that patience is one of the greatest virtues we have. May I offer a suggestion?" he asked.
"Sure!" Luke always welcomed hearing any words of wisdom from Ben.
The old man grinned at him.
"Don't suggest it to him anymore," Ben said, as he glanced further down the street towards the Toydarian shop, his eyes narrowing. "Your uncle is a hard man to convince. Sometimes in life, people have to learn these things on their own. The harder you try to push them, the further they pull away from your?suggestions."
"I thought if I kept hammering away at him like he does at me, then I'd get somewhere,? Luke said jokingly, laughing in spite of himself.
The mysterious hermit managed a slight smile. Never once had Luke remembered him laughing, but his smile always told Luke he understood what the boy was trying to say. "Keep those happy thoughts inside yourself, Luke. They do you credit."
Ben then changed the subject. "That was quite a sandstorm we had last night."
"Yes, it was,? Luke said, realizing now that Ben was just chewing the Bantha fat until Uncle Owen would emerge from the shop -- at which time Ben would have to disappear.
"Sandstorms of that magnitude don't come around very often. My hut out past Dune Sea was almost torn down."
He was looking at Luke with an utter seriousness that caught the boy off-guard. "Sometimes the storms shift the sand so violently, they uncover things. For example, a sandstorm of similar power uncovered the archeological dig that they found out by Mos Espa a few years ago. I wonder if the last storm uncovered anything else this time."
This fascinated Luke. Archeological dig? Just as he was about to ask Ben about it, his mind suddenly went blank...
"Luke--Luke!!" Owen screamed in his face. "Are you listening to me? What's come over you?"
"Huh?" Luke said. Then he realized what had happened ? it was the same thing that happened every time Ben appeared. Luke's mind went blank, and when Luke had ?recovered? ? the old man had disappeared.
Luke came up with the same excuse. "I'm sorry, Uncle Owen. I must have fallen asleep."
Uncle Owen looked at him very quizzically for a long moment, and then got into the speeder. "Let's go home,? he said. "We're not getting anywhere here, all these junk dealers want to do is rip us off."
Remembering Ben's advice, Luke simply said, "Well, I guess we'll keep looking until we find one. Whatever you decide, I'll help you find one as hard as I can."
Owen looked at his nephew almost in shock that he didn't fight back nor disagree with him.
The speeder picked up momentum as they exited Anchorhead and returned home.
ONE MONTH LATER
Luke had been very careful to do as Uncle Owen asked and not to agitate him in any way. Heeding Ben's advice, he accompanied his uncle on every trip to Mos Enley, Mos Eisley, Bestine, Mos Espa and even Anchorhead one more time. They searched and searched until Owen was at his breaking point. Frustrated, Owen completely gave up on searching for a few weeks.
The very day at the end of the month when the Jawas stopped by, a distraught Owen finally gave them an audience.
Ben was right! Once I stopped pushing, he was open to other suggestions. Luke watched in amazement that Uncle Owen was even talking to the little creatures, much less doing business with them.
At the end of the day Owen was the happy new owner of an R5 astromech droid that was still in good shape (for a piece of junk) that went about its work quite well with little fuss.
?Heck,? Luke had overheard Owen say to Beru that day, ?with Luke around it might even last five more years in the heat with good maintenance.?
Pleased with the results of his patience, Luke remembered his motives for keeping Uncle Owen's anger in check. He found himself happier this way, but also he found that Uncle Owen started to let Luke get away with more of the 'little' things. There was less griping going on, and more productivity.
Luke did his work well, making sure he worked a full day, if not longer. He even had to turn down running off with Biggs to go racing through the Dunes of Esla a few times to get his work done. But he was working hard towards something he really wanted:
Freedom. Luke kept reminding himself. My freedom to do what I want with my time.
Through it all, something else continued to tug and nag at Luke?s mind. All month long he thought of the storm ? and his encounter with Ben. The mysterious old man reminded him of wizards he read about in fairy tales as a small child. In those stories, wizards always showed up when they did for a reason. Luke couldn't dismiss any of this as coincidence. But he had to plan carefully, and keep his uncle sated.
Luke would leave earlier than Owen to get started in the morning. He showed up for dinner on time, every single night.
Uncle Owen would chuckle and say sarcastic things like, "Well, look who showed up on time for a change!", or ,"Someone must have taken a shortcut in his work to get home so early!" ?- only to find out that Luke had not only done all his chores, but had also done some extra work ahead of schedule for the next day.
Both Owen and Beru had been pleased with his improved performance. Beru gave him that knowing smile once during dinner, to reassure him that he was doing the right thing.
A few more days passed. Finally, Luke felt the time was right. Finishing up dinner in a rush one night, he stood up and said, "R5 really needs oiling before tomorrow. We've got several vaporators and condensers to work on, and I don't want any chance of it breaking down."
Owen didn't look up from his food. He casually waved a hand in Luke's direction, acknowledging acceptance of Luke leaving dinner early to go take care of business.
Just before leaving the dining area, he called out, addressing both of them. "And, um?I'd like to watch the sunset tonight while the oiler is doing its work, will that be alright?"
A mere second passed after Luke?s question when Owen's eating utensils suddenly dropped from his hands as he glared up at the boy. Before the harsh words could come out, he felt a soft hand on his own. Owen looked to find Beru gazing at him longingly. This was out of character for her, but her look said it all. It spoke volumes in kindness, which was why he fell in love with her in the first place.
After a long pause, Owen looked up at Luke and said begrudgingly, "All right, but I expect you to be in before I shut the power down; without me having to call you."
After Luke was out of earshot, Beru walked across the table and kissed her husband tenderly on the cheek. "Please, Owen. Let him do this. He did ask your permission. He's worked very hard at improving his attitude. He?s done that for you. As long as he does what you say, then there's no harm in him watching the sunset."
"His mind is always in the clouds, Beru.? Owen grunted, then changed the subject slightly. "I've never known you to speak your mind about the boy before now."
Beru continued to smile. No matter how much she aged, her smile was as timeless as the day he met her. "Well, maybe it's time I did. Owen, you and I both know he won't stay with us forever. You are my husband, and you know I love you. But I have always held a concern for your relationship with him. There will come a day--"
"I know,? Owen said with a sad look on his face. "I don't want to think about it until then."
"Maybe you should consider thinking about it before then."
Beru leaned over him and said, "Because, if you don't tell him the truth sooner or later?your actions or lack of actions could taint him for life. Luke does not enjoy making you angry, anymore than you enjoy getting angry with him. Try seeing him for what he is rather than what you would have him become. If you can do this, maybe you'll both find a bond you never knew you had. He already sees and accepts you for what you are."
She continued to smile at him. "He has made an effort to understand and be supportive of you. Now you must try to do the reverse. There are two choices here, and the one you make will determine whether or not he loves you more or despises you more when the time comes for you to tell him who he really is. He has a harder burden to bear coming to him than either of us ever will."
"Alright, I'll start thinking about it,? he said reluctantly. "You know me, though. It may take me ten years to figure out how to tell him. But I promise you that I'll start thinking about it now." He looked into her eyes with a seriousness that made Beru know he was telling the truth. "That much I can promise to you, Beru."
Owen kissed his wife tenderly, and Beru said nothing more. The kiss she returned was all the thank you he needed.
Luke worked furiously at getting R5 into the oiling machine. This astromech droid was far more polite than the last, but was still lodging complaints at the boy for handling it so roughly.
"I know, I know, I'm sorry..." Luke said hurriedly. "Tell you what?I'll give you an extra ten minutes in the oiler if you just humor me, ok?"
The droid beeped in delighted agreement as Luke set the timer and the droid was lowered happily into the oil bath.
He hoped he wasn't too late as he bolted up the stairs and out of the garage entrance.
Although he did have an agenda other than the sunset tonight, he did manage to think to himself, Oh, good! First one I've gotten to watch in a month!
There was still plenty of light left outside. Luke looked and tried to remember with every fiber of his being exactly where he stood the night the sandstorm occurred. He stood in slightly different places each time, but always within the safe perimeter of the homestead and its sensor beacons.
I think -- I was close by the roof of the main living area, just off center to the left.
He looked at his chronometer. Fifteen more minutes.
I've got to find it. Luke didn't understand why this was so important to him. He just simply knew that it was.
Luke stood firmly, to the best of his knowledge, in the spot he thought he was in a month ago. If only I could have done this a day later, my tracks in the sand might still have been visible!
More time passed. He began to feel panicked. Where the heck is it? I know I saw it plain as day, and it was right over here!
Luke started thinking maybe the sandstorm just swirled up a mirage.
No. What I saw was too obvious to be a mirage.
He looked, and searched with growing dismay. He checked his chronometer again.
Ten more minutes.
I'm not going to find it. Luke finally resolved, sadly. It's just not here. If it was, it's gone now. Maybe Uncle Owen knew about it and took it away. Maybe-
The oiler sounded loudly from the garage, letting him know the droid's oiling would be finished in another five minutes.
Drat, I didn't even set my chronometer right! he thought, as he whirled his head behind him, then turned it back towards the twin sunset--
Wait a minute. What I'm looking for is right over there!
Though his mind was racing, he could make it out faintly. A large hill of sand stood about ten meters away. There were three peaks on top of a small sand hill that looked like mini-dunes.
He started off towards it, carefully marking in his mind where it was. He knew he was out of time, and would not be able to do anything about it until tomorrow. He had one minute to get back to R5 and get inside.
Uncle Owen said he didn't want to have to call me in. I don't want to make him mad, not when I'm so close.
Hastily running back to the garage, he pulled the droid out of the oiling machine quickly. The R5 unit once again protested, but Luke said quietly, "Hey, we had a deal, remember?"
The droid reluctantly let out a beep that sounded like ?Ok,? and was shut down and put on the power-charger for the night.
He walked back to the main entrance of the homestead, entering right on cue. Uncle Owen was still five minutes away from shutting the power down. He walked past Owen and Beru as nonchalantly as possible, telling them that all was well and he was ready for another hard day's work, so he was going to turn in early.
THE NEXT MORNING
"Luke...Luke! Wake up!" Luke heard Owen say as he shook the boy lightly.
Luke's sleep-filled eyes adjusted to find his bedroom light on. Uncle Owen was looking down at him with a wide-eyed, worried expression on his face.
Luke's mind began to spin with dread. Oh no, surely he couldn't have found out about this! Could he?
Owen spoke quickly and erratically. "It's early, I know. But I need you to get up and get things started this morning for me. I've already powered on R5 for you. I've got to head into Mos Espa this morning, I got a holonet call from a prospective customer that's willing to help us and the Darklighters hire more hands if I can get there in an hour and close a deal with him. Can you do that for me?"
Relieved but also trying to hide his excitement at the obvious opportunity, Luke said, "You bet I can."
"Alright, here's the keypad with the encryption codes in it for today's system combinations."
Uncle Owen actually smiled at him. "This could be a really big break, Luke. This could be it!"
He started to exit Luke's room, then turned around and started to say, "Oh, and don't forget to check the power grid to make sure that everything's sync-"
"I've got it all under control, Uncle Owen. You can count on me,? Luke said calmly and sleepily. ?And I know where your projectile rifle is if I spot any Sandpeople.?
Winking at his nephew (making the boy even more befuddled at his glee), Owen left. A few moments later, Luke heard Owen?s speeder, already powered up, bolt away rapidly.
This is my chance, Luke thought.
Luke dressed and ran outside immediately after making sure he could no longer hear the departing landspeeder. He grabbed his uncle's projectile rifle and headed across the main courtyard.
It was still very dark outside. A chill rushed through him -- it was cold, too! The suns were just beginning to show the faintest sign of rising.
Going into the main computer center for the farm, he powered up the forward grid to the vaporators and the homestead.
Why does it take Uncle Owen so long to do all this stuff? Luke pondered as he programmed in the settings for the day. He set the system on standby so that it would turn itself on in about twenty-five minutes.
I hope that's enough time.
He set out to the garage, and brought R5 out to begin his automated prep duties.
Okay, that should be everything.
Luke walked around to the spot that he had mentally marked in his mind, almost expecting it to be gone again.
It was still there. He took out his nightlight, turned it on and clipped it to his belt.
A hill of sand (as there were many hills on this planet) stood before him, about half a meter tall, but with three unmistakable peaks at it.
He knew Aunt Beru would not be up for another hour. Hmm... I could use the sandblower to clear the hill away, but the noise would risk waking her up. I guess I'll have to use the only thing I can.
Setting the projectile rifle down next to him, Luke began pulling away at the sand with his hands. Some of the outer layers were thin, but the inner layers were coarse and thick. He kept digging persistently, as if some kind of magnet was drawing him to whatever was inside. The sand had definitely been there a long time, and the coarse sand underneath looked like it had been imbued with a chemical to make it hard.
If I get caught, they're going to think I've lost my mind. Digging in the sand, they'll say, how absurd!
The sunrise turning from a faint whisper of light to a deep blue mixed with red as he continued to work. The coarse sand was working its way underneath his fingernails, and it hurt -- like crazy! He kept digging and looking nonetheless, hoping to find something.
A few minutes later he reached a chunk of coarse sand that finally gave way. He dug in again past it and -- OUCH!!
He hit stone, or what felt like the top of something stone.
Whatever it is, this is definitely not sand.
He continued clawing away at it, trying to find the edges. Sweat poured down his forehead as the twin suns drew ever closer to showing their first signs of life on the horizon.
In just a few minutes, he had uncovered the top of the stone. It was dark brown, and very dense. He was trembling with excitement?
?when the entire system went online.
All the lights and power generators turned on in a massive mechanical-electronic exodus that would have awakened the dead. Luke cursed at the noisy technology, but he continued to ignore it.
This is taking too long!
Luke?s fingertips were getting sore from digging at this stone. Now that the lights were on, he could see one of his fingernails was bleeding underneath. He brought forth a small metal utility blade from his belt and carefully carved away the rest of the coarse sand from the front of the stone, beginning to notice markings on it.
I don't know why I didn't think of my blade in the first place. What was left of the sand fell away quickly...
Luke sat in the light of the morning suns cresting over the horizon, reading the faded markings on this stone.
Darling Wife, Loving Mother
Forever Loved, Forever Missed,
His emotions began to swirl like the sandstorm that almost uncovered this gravestone a month ago. He wanted to cry, but that would have to wait.
Skywalker. My last name. Who was this? Was this his birth mother?
Luke felt plastered to the sand -- as much as the sand was plastered to the stone. He couldn?t move, nor did he want to even if he could find the strength.
I need to get back to work. I can just cover it back up. Maybe I can unearth it from the ground and hide it somewhere sa-
"Oh, no,? came a sudden voice from behind him. The voice startled him and made him snap his head around to find the source.
Luke sat motionless, watching Aunt Beru?s silhouette block out the sunrise from his view. He was immediately aware she knew the truth.
"I always knew you were bright. I guess you realize that Owen really didn't go to bed early the night of the storm. He was out here in a face mask, trying to cover this back up.? Beru?s voice was calm, but Luke could still feel a hint of dread in her voice.
Luke remained still, his jaw hanging open. He was in shock from the discovery he had made, but also from the secondary shock of being discovered by Aunt Beru.
Aunt Beru laughed suddenly and nervously, and said, "Your uncle is so stubborn sometimes. He actually didn?t get it covered back up until the storm was over. Still, we never thought you would find this."
Luke's shoulders slumped. This entire search had all been in vain, now that he'd been found out. I?m really going to get it now when Uncle Owen gets home. All the trust Luke had built with Owen now broken and gone, he was certain all his newly earned freedom was going to be taken away with it.
Luke at last began to cry silently, his tears giving way to short sniffles and sobs. He uncovered something that he knew they felt he had no business looking into. But? he was also crying for reasons that he could not fully understand. The grief was partially his own?yet it wasn?t. Some of his tears seemingly belonged to someone else. There was joy mixed with sorrow. Pain mixed with happiness. Guilt mixed with reverence.
Beru came to him immediately, kneeling by his side. Luke was so lost...he didn't know what to do. He held Beru back tightly in a hug, waiting for her harsh words. But the harsh words did not come. She hugged him back instead.
Beru put one hand on Luke?s head in an attempt at soothing his emotions as she embraced the boy. Luke?s sudden outburst of grief had caught Beru completely by surprise. Certainly, she had seen him cry before, but not like this. But it was there?Beru had seen it on his face, in those innocent blue eyes of his. Also apparent to her was that he had been expecting a scolding from her, then who-knew-what from his uncle. She sat down next to him and put her arm around him.
"Don't let yourself be troubled, Luke,? she said to him softly as she rocked him. "You've worked hard, and I can handle your uncle. What's important now is that you must be told the truth, so that there are no misconceptions in your mind."
Luke?s voice was barely audible, but she could still hear him sobbing uncontrollably...and obviously ashamed of his tears, as well as of his actions.
"Hey?" Beru started. "?Luke, look at me." She pulled away and gently cradled his chin in her hand, bringing his shamed and grief-stricken face up to meet hers. She was crying quietly with him.
How he looks so much like his mother when he's like this, she thought.
Beru let out a big smile through her sadness. The genie had been let out of the lamp. Now she had to at least tell him what she could about what the boy had uncovered.
"Luke, tell me what you already know about your real parents."
"I-I-I..." Luke said in a whisper, still sniffling, "I know I had -- a [sniff] father, and a mother, and that they're both dead. Uncle Owen said...something about my father being a navigator on a spice freighter ...and that?[sniff]?he would tell me when he felt I was...old enough...about them. That's all I know! [sob] I swear!!" Luke?s last two words were very defensive, and he raised his voice when they were spoken. He was almost hysterical.
Beru felt a surge of enormous pity for him. I know I'm right. The burden he will have to bear when he learns the full truth will be so very hard for him. He already feels anger that we did not tell him as much as he knows now.
"Luke, please still yourself and listen to what I have to say. There's nothing to be ashamed of." Beru continued to hold him tightly. At last his cries turned to barely audible whimpers, then he was silently listening.
"Okay, then", Beru said, keeping her voice calm and stroking the boy's hair. "I can?t tell you about your mother and father, which is still for your uncle to do. He will tell you when he feels you're ready. But I think I can tell you who Shmi is........."
She pulled away from his embrace, both of them looking at the gravestone together.
"Shmi was your grandmother. She was your father's real mother. Her husband was your Uncle Owen's father, Cliegg Lars. You remember Uncle Owen telling you about Cliegg, don't you?"
Luke nodded, sniffling. ?Yes,? he said.
"Uncle Owen lost his mother at a young age like you did, only not quite so young. Cliegg later met Shmi, and they married. She was kidnapped and killed by a band of Tuskens. Cliegg went after them and tried to save her, but he lost his leg in the process."
Luke looked stunned at the revelation. ?So that's why Uncle Owen is so protective of me in the dangerous hours of the night,? he said, his voice barely a mutter.
He seemed to have regained his composure. "So, was Cliegg my grandfather?"
Beru looked off into the distance then...you must tell him the truth, Beru, but only so much can be said right now.
"No. He was your step-grandfather. Your father was already fourteen years old by the time Cliegg married Shmi. Your true biological grandfather remains a mystery to this day."
Beru paused, and hugged him again.
"So now you know, Luke. Shmi was your grandmother. She was one of the kindest, gentlest people I have ever known, and I have to admit to you that I have spent my life trying to be like her. Your Uncle Owen loved her dearly as he did his real mother." Beru started to cry again, trying not to relive the painful memories too much. But it was okay, for the moment.
As his tears faded, they had turned into tears of relief.
Luke found comfort in all of this now. He knew Beru was going to tell him no more, but that was ok. He learned that day that despite his impatience, the truth unraveled itself slowly through time.
But this would be one of the less painful times in his life that Luke learned the truth about whom he was and where he came from.
Beru and Luke leaned against one another a few moments longer, gazing at the gravestone. The twin sunlights breaking the horizon behind them shone on it brilliantly. It truly was a treasure to Luke.
"Now, to deal with your uncle,? Beru said suddenly. "Luke, you've done a wonderful job getting everything started this morning. I want you to go to the north ridge with R5 and start working. Take the other speeder. Get going, as fast as you can. I will need to deal with your uncle when he comes back and sees this -- and don?t worry. There will be no punishment. Everything will be fine. Right now you need to tend to your chores; and you need to trust me. Off you go, now!"
Although he did exactly as his aunt said, Beru observed that Luke did worry. She observed it every time he came in for supplies or to check in. She watched him scan the area for his uncle, who was nowhere to be found each time Luke came to the homestead. Beru knew ? as Luke did -- that for Owen, the truth about Luke's past was a sensitive subject. It was the one thing that Owen did not ever want to deal with when the boy asked him about it.
But Beru knew in her heart, that everything would be all right this time.
Later that Evening
Owen and Beru were at the dinner table preparing to eat when Luke came in. He was on time, as he had been for the last month. Beru noticed a faint hint of shock on the boy?s face, and it was not surprising to her at all. It was very likely shock at the fact that Luke had found her and Owen chatting about Owen?s trip to Mos Espa, and Owen was wearing a pleasant look on his face. Beru smiled and greeted Luke as he seated himself and joined them with a nod, but a look of apprehension. She knew the boy expected punishment as soon as he walked through the door, as this was Owen?s way of disciplining him when he was in trouble.
But there would be no punishment this time. Beru sighed softly to herself, knowing she was right. Everything would be all right.
After Luke was seated, Owen looked up at him cheerfully and said, "We closed a deal! Our new partners are going to help us and the Darklighters hire more hands! We'll be making some real money now, Luke. Some of which could go to an education at a later date, should you decide to?well, you know?make that choice."
Beru simply sat there with her ageless smile. She beamed at Owen for being a bigger person this time, and at Luke for making the effort to try and understand his uncle better.
Luke continued to maintain his look of shock. Without a word, he proceeded to eat his dinner.
It hadn't been easy calming Owen down when he saw the uncovered tombstone, that's for sure, she thought to herself. Owen had put her through twenty questions about what she had and had not revealed to Luke, his rage making him sound more like more like the horror stories she had heard from outlanders in Mos Eisley about Imperial interrogators than her husband. He had become a man she didn?t know. Letting him vent was the easiest thing to do?plus, Beru was good at it. Owen raved for many minutes, but it wasn?t until Beru saw him gaze down upon the tombstone of his step-mother for the first time in thirteen years?that he at last fell silent and calmed down.
As the day drew to a close, Owen stole a chance and peeked up the entryway at Luke. The boy was standing off in the distance, flanked by the tombstone on the left, and the twin sunset on the right. Owen would always wonder what the boy thought about when he stood there.
That?s nonsense, Owen, he thought to himself. You know what he thinks about. He thinks about the one thing you don?t want to deal with.
Owen had to do it. Not for Beru, not even for himself. He came outside, and joined Luke, standing beside him.
The boy immediately looked uncomfortable that he was there, as if expecting another scolding from Owen.
?You did a good job getting everything started up today, Luke,? Owen said. ?Is R5 working better than that last piece of junk I bought??
Luke simply nodded, continuing to stare off into the sunset.
?Luke, look?I know you like technology, spaceships, adventure?you have since you were little?there isn?t much of a farmer in you. I?m not going to keep you here forever if farming is not what you want to do. You should know that. But you know that you still have chores to do as long as you?re living here.?
?Uncle Owen, about today, I?? Luke started.
Owen raised his hand. ?No, let me finish, Luke.?
Luke fell silent.
?Obviously, I know what it was you found today. I didn?t act like it was that important to me when you got home, but that?s because I let it go. Maybe you shouldn?t have been digging for it, and then again maybe I shouldn?t have hidden it from you, but I?m not going to punish you for it. Yes, I was mad about it. There are things that I just can?t??
Owen trailed off for a moment. For a split second, he just wanted to tell Luke everything and get it over with. He wanted to let it all out, and be done with it.
?I know, Uncle Owen,? Luke said before he could finish.
?You?re?growing up now, Luke. I know I?m not the easiest person to get along with. And yeah, I?m gonna be a downright grouch from time to time. I admit all this to you. I will start to learn to trust you to handle yourself. All I ask is that you follow our rules as long as you?re with us. Some rules I?ll start to let you bend and even break, but not all of them. You and I aren?t always going to agree on everything, and I guess that?s just life. Maybe?I don?t know?maybe life would be more boring if we always agreed on everything, you know??
There was a long pause as the curvature of the last sun sank into the distance.
Luke turned to Owen at last, offering him a smile.
?Anyway,? Owen said, ?when I think you?re ready?I?ll tell you what you want to know. I promise, I won?t keep things from you forever. Until then?study what you like about the Academy, or whatever you want to do with your life, but keep your chores done. Watch your sunsets if it makes you happy, but be in before complete dark. Deal??
Owen extended his hand. Luke stared at it for a moment.
?Deal,? said Luke, taking Owen?s hand, then putting both of his hands on his uncle?s.
?Well, you should get inside,? Owen said, ?we wasted some power out here talking a few extra minutes.?
After Luke had gone in for the evening, Owen remained outside for a few minutes to do some pondering of his own.
Something tells me I'll definitely have to let Luke go one day. Then, I?ll have to tell him. I hope he will be ready as much as I hope I will be, he thought to himself as he shut the power down for the night.
In the end, it was Owen himself who realized that he missed seeing that headstone. Shmi was as much a mother to Owen as she was to...Luke's father. Owen even decided to have Cliegg's and the other Lars? tombstones uncovered once he heard Beru's side of the story.
He saw no harm in hiding them now that Luke knew the truth about his grandmother. The knowledge of the boy's father and mother were still intact.
Owen also had a revelation after he spoke to Luke that evening. Covering the gravestones was indeed a mistake, even though he thought that simply blotting out the past would be best for the boy. He hoped that Luke would understand one day. But he also finally accepted the fact that Luke would one day discover his true heritage, whether Owen told him or not.
Luke and Owen still had their scuffles, but they were not nearly as intense as they had been in the past. Luke did work hard, and Owen always remembered to give him credit where credit was due. But Owen came to the sad realization that he and the boy would never fully bond like he would with a son.
There would be times in the future when Luke would poke and prod at Owen for information about his father, but Owen would still not tell him. Owen tried to keep Luke with him as long as he could; because he truly loved the boy, even if he did have trouble showing it.
OUT BEYOND THE DUNE SEA
Ben Kenobi sat meditating in his small hut one month after he had met with the thirteen-year-old boy in Anchorhead. A small flicker in the Force had at last answered the question he sought.
A smile then ran across his face, knowing he planted the seed inside the boy to start the inward journey....
...the journey to find out who Luke Skywalker was.
Master Yoda would not be pleased with the knowledge I have helped the boy find. ?Adventure and excitement are not what a Jedi needs?, he would say?
But long has this child been so unhappy as I have watched him. I had to help give him some hope. I also had to give him belief in himself, and the realization that his identity would not remain a mystery to him forever.
Perhaps even if I had not planted the idea of the sandstorm in his mind, he may have found the grave on his own, regardless.
Kenobi found solace in that notion; that this was the will of the Force.
As for Luke, he was happy the day he found his grandmother's resting place, because he gained the first piece of himself that he had been searching for. Kenobi continued to smile as he felt this through the Force.
EPILOGUE -- 70 YEARS AFTER ?A NEW HOPE?
Cool dawn breaks through early morning.
The sands of time do not hold still, they are ever constant. Footfalls on the dunes could be heard, if there was anyone there to hear them. A distant past sits lurking in the sand, its ruins long since deserted and looted. The footfalls approach the ruins and make a guided turn, stopping at a precise place.
A black hand rises into the air, calling upon the power it holds to make a hill of sand swirl and wash away from it, like a rushing waterfall down a mountain. The sand is removed and displaced elsewhere. A single stone is unearthed.
Built to withstand the ravages of time, it is a simple stone, dark brown and very opaque.
The black-hooded figure kneels before it. He removes the glove from his hand and places his hand on the stone, feeling the smoothness of it against his fingers.
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker removes his hood. He has aged gracefully. His mind, body and soul are all culled and tempered by many wars and struggles, but strong with the Force.
I have returned to Tatooine many times, but never to this place. I always felt there was too much pain here. Too much sorrow to deal with. Too many roads that lead down the path to anger.
But there is no anger here; there is peace. He can feel the past in this place through the Force, and many rich memories flood his senses.
I understand now why I was taken care of by two farmers. They were my family, just as much as anyone else that watched over me. My experiences here taught me to want for nothing, to be resourceful, self-reliant and so much more. They were a good start for my life. I cannot thank you enough for all you did for me. I know now that you were not hiding the truth anymore than Obi-Wan was, but you did not know how to tell me. I left here, sobbing and mourning your deaths. In life, I was never even afforded the chance to say goodbye. That is why I could not face returning here. For that, I am truly sorry. But now that I have returned, I now know that you are at peace.
He has come prepared for this moment.
Master Skywalker lifts a single finger towards his old X-wing. R2-D2 is lifted out and lands on the ground. The old faithful astromech droid opens one of the storage compartments on the side, the machinery revealing and bringing down a small, heavy black colored stone. R2 uses an anti-gravity cart to bring the stone over, and sets it down next to Shmi Skywalker's gravestone.
Simple white letters are engraved against the black stone. It reads:
Beru Whitesun Lars
Full of love, nurturing care and guidance --
--and ever watchful guardians.
Servants of the Old and New Republic
Your Loving Memory Shall Never Be Forgotten.
A newer V-wing lands beside the X-wing, and Luke can feel a familiar presence approaching him.
"Father?" a voice calls from behind him.
Ben Skywalker, an able-bodied man in forties, comes up behind Luke, who is sitting cross-legged in the sand near a black stone. Called by his father through the Force to join him, he senses something familiar about this place in spite of the fact that he has never been here. Looking down upon the stone, he knows exactly why his father wished to share this moment with him.
"It's beautiful," Ben says, admiring it, "and a fitting tribute. I am glad you decided to return here, Father."
"I had to, Ben. The Force has been calling me to this place for a very long time. These people watched over and protected me as their own during a time of evil and horror in the galaxy. My life began here. They are as important a part of my life as the people I knew in the Alliance, the Jedi Academy or the New Republic. I have never forgotten them. Nor have I forgotten the memory of my grandmother?who somehow was able to watch over me as well when I was a small child, even though she had long since become a part of the Force prior to my birth."
Luke Skywalker smiles into the sunrise of the place he once and always calls home. He decides to stay for a day, so that he may watch the twin sunset one more time. He realizes now after so many, many long years why this place gave him comfort as a boy.
I know why watching the sunset gave me comfort. The Force was calling to me every time I stood here.
Shmi had been here. The beginning of his life had been here. His father?s life had been here. The legacy and genesis of his entire family began here, and all of those things resonate powerfully through the Force and into Luke, giving him comfort.
Sometimes in life, questions we can never answer as children simply come to us after maturity. Although much older and wiser, Master Skywalker feels young and full of life again. He feels like he felt?
?during the days of the past when he was simply called Luke.
The answers we seek always unfold over time. If we are lucky, those answers even spawn other answers about so many things. I now realize all of them and feel the truth inside of me.
I came back to say...Thank you, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. I will always love you both.
Original cover by rhonderoo. HTML formatting copyright 2005 TheForce.Net LLC.