Star Wars fan fiction
introduction and preview
Only For A Season
Chapter 1: Desert Visitor
Chapter 2: Game of Marbles
Chapter 3: Stargazer
Chapter 4: Dewbacks and Darklighter
Chapter 5: Skyhopper
Chapter 6: Beggar’s Canyon
Chapter 7: Boonta Eve
Chapter 8: Sunstealer
Chapter 9: The Stone Needle
Chapter 10: Shifting Sands
Chapter 11: A New Season
Chapter 12: Japor Strands
Chapter 13: Farmer’s Holiday
Chapter 14: Starkiller
Chapter 15: Setting Suns
Chapter 16: Seeds of Rebellion
Only For A Season
Game of Marbles
A cloud of dust drifted across the rocky ground in a wide shaft, kicked up by whining repulsorlifts as Owen Lars brought the speeder to a halt in the late afternoon shadows of a wide ravine. He powered the vehicle the rest of the way down and sat behind the wheel for a couple of minutes while Beru shuffled out. She set Luke on the ground, smoothed out his hair, brushed a little of the clinging sand and dust from his clothes, then sent the boy off to play with the other children.
“Go on now,” she said, giving him a little push when Luke hesitated. His aunt’s smile was kind but the tone of her voice convinced Luke that at the moment she expected obedience. He gave one more reluctant look toward his aunt and uncle, then broke off at a run.
Beru watched the precious child dart away toward the spot where a handful of other children were gathered. The adults were cloistered in a shady area against the opposite ridge, many of them seated; the ceremony must have already gotten underway. Owen emerged from the other side of the family speeder and collected their belongings from the back. Beru stood watching Luke, her arms folded over her chest. Over the past five years Owen had come to associate that gesture with one of two things: she was worried about Luke, or she was second guessing the situation. In this case, he suspected both.
“No use arguing with me, Beru,” he warned gruffly, “my mind won’t be changed.”
She wove her arm through his free one and steered him around the speeder toward the gathering of their neighbors and friends. Owen Lars was as stubborn a man as she had ever seen once his mind was made, but Beru could tell that he was as worried as she was this time.
“I don’t think he can help it, Owen,” she whispered.
“He’s going to have to learn to help it, Beru.”
She shook her head, unconvinced. “It’s part of who he is, what’s in his blood–”
“No,” her husband replied abruptly, stubbornly. “Who he is is our nephew, and what he is is grounded.”
“Owen, please – be reasonable. He’s just a child.”
“Breu.” Owen’s voice lowered, all traces of his earlier anger gone. “How long do you think it will take for others to notice, and to start asking questions about his parents? The boy has to learn to hide it, control it, block it out – whatever. So long as he doesn’t attract attention to himself, and this strangeness he’s capable of.... The sooner he learns that lesson the better,” Owen concluded gruffly.
Beru remained silent, and he could see the conflict in her face. Owen knew what troubled her. Like him, she understood that Luke needed to be protected from his father’s legacy. But Beru had a tender heart and she couldn’t stand to see the boy’s feelings hurt, especially over things he didn’t understand.
“My anger is nothing next to what awaits him if the truth is discovered, or even suspected.”
Beru swallowed hard and her hand’s grip on Owen’s arm tightened as she suppressed a sigh. She understood his logic but she hated the harshness of it all – all of that hurt, and all of it over things that Luke was too young to understand, things they couldn’t risk trying to explain to him even when he was old enough to know.... Her step faltered as another sobering thought occurred to her. No one would ever understand what Luke was going through... except Kenobi. And asking Kenobi’s advice was out of the question.
Kenobi had honored the agreement made between him and Owen and had not so much as stepped a foot on their farm since the night he had left Luke in their care. Over the past five years Obi-Wan Kenobi had stopped using his first name and had established himself as a strange but harmless old hermit who rarely left the solitude of his desert home and even more rarely spoke to anyone. Beru often wondered if his self-imposed exile was meant more for his protection or for Luke’s... with perhaps a touch of penance for earlier failures mixed in. The answer she usually decided on was a combination of the three. Owen was right. Any connection to the Jedi was a very dangerous thing. Even out here, it was well-known that Darth Vader and the Empire had hunted the Jedi Knights to extinction. And on many worlds like Tatooine a simple suspicion of someone using the Force could easily earn that being a death mark by vigilantes trying to avoid the Empire’s wrath.
She glanced at Owen, then nodded reluctantly. It still felt wrong to keep the truth from Luke, just as it felt wrong to ignore his natural curiosity about his parents, to expect him to ignore the fact that he was undeniably different from everyone around him....
“I just wish...” she whispered, but the rest of her thought remained unspoken.
Owen patted her hand affectionately. “I know.” They both wanted so much more for Luke than was in their power to give.
Luke ran across the dusty ground, occasionally breaking stride to jump an uneven rocky patch, but he slowed to a near halt well before he reached the place where the other children had gathered in a circle. Three of them, about his age, were kneeling on the ground, probably over a round of marbles. And if the match was already in progress they wouldn’t welcome his interruption in the middle of a shot. Another child sat nearby, meant to be watching over the younger children, but she was staring longingly toward the area where the adults had gathered, hoping to get a glimpse of what was happening there.
Luke approached slowly, just in time to see Deak take his shot. Judging from Windy’s dismayed howl a moment later, the shot had been a good one. Windy looked around at the others, as if hoping for help, then he spotted Luke.
“Hey, Luke’s here.”
All three heads turned in Luke’s direction.
“What took you so long?” Deak demanded. “I already creamed Windy three games in a row.”
Luke moved closer, pretending to study the collection of homemade marbles while Windy argued the record of wins and losses with Deak.
Deak ignored him. “So, how come you’re late?”
“Problem with the speeder,” Luke mumbled, keeping his eyes on the playing circle.
Deak gathered his pieces, setting up for another game. Meanwhile Windy turned toward Luke. Either he was really interested in hearing Luke’s story, or just trying to further extract himself from the game. If it was the later he needn’t have bothered. Luke had beaten Deak in plenty of close matches, and Deak was always looking for an opportunity to even the score with his rival.
“Broke down again, huh?” Windy asked quietly.
“Not really,” Luke answered shiftily.
“What do mean ‘not really’ either it did or it didn’t,” Deak argued impatiently.
“Well... I kinda figured out the problem before it could break down.”
Windy looked interested but before he could ask another question Deak laughed. “Sure you did. Windy, move over. Luke’s taking your spot.”
Windy scrambled aside, trying to gather up his own playing marbles in the process, and a few seconds later the match had begun. They each won a game, then Luke went ahead by two, but Deak came back by one in the next round. Between games Windy continued trying to get information out of Luke about his adventure with the speeder. Even at an early age Luke had discovered a knack for fixing things, and he was especially good with speeders and speeder bikes. Windy was fascinated by Luke’s talents.
Luke tried to keep his answers short and his concentration on the match. “It was nothin’ Win,” he persisted impatiently as he set up for the next round. “Just a coolant leak.”
“Enough jabbering. Get on with it,” Deak insisted.
Luke finished setting the match and Deak quickly won the tying contest. Tension rose to a new high as they sat for the deciding game. No one had to be reminded to stay silent. Players and onlookers all fell silent in anticipation. This game took a while. Both made their moves cautiously, not wanting to leave their opponent an opening to steal the victory.
When they began the suns were casting early shadows through the canyon, now the shadows continued to steadily deepen around them. Not a sound was uttered until Luke hit the winning shot. Then a strangled cheer rose from the little circle. Luke’s friends were happy for him, but they also didn’t want to offend Deak, who wasn’t known for taking defeat with good humor.
“You’re a cheat, Skywalker,” he accused heatedly. “No one can make a shot like that unless the pieces are rigged.” No one argued Deak’s point. Both players had handled the marbles and found nothing out of sorts with them.... That didn’t mean Deak was entirely wrong though. Luke simply had a way of making impossible shots. He could almost make the marbles go where he wanted if he concentrated on them hard enough.
Deak stood and kicked sand across the playing circle. Some of it flew in Luke’s and Windy’s faces, leaving them momentarily speechless as they tried to dust themselves off.
“I called you a cheat, Skywalker, and you’re a liar too. If your speeder was leaking coolant, I bet you loosened a gasket when you were messing around with it, then pretended you didn’t do it. Maybe I ought’a go tell your uncle about your bragging.”
Luke’s face went pale. He wanted to say something to stop Deak, but his mouth had gone dry. He was already grounded. If Uncle Owen thought he was telling tales too... he wouldn’t be able to sit for a week.
“Just because you lost the match, Deak, doesn’t make Luke a cheat,” a new voice argued. The little girl stood up and planted her hands on her hips. “Are you gonna go tattle to his uncle just cause he beat you?” she challenged the older boy.
Deak stared at her for a long moment. Then he knelt, gathered his marbles as quickly as he could, and left.
“C’mon, Windy,” Deak called once he had turned his back on them. It was more an order than a request. Windy cast an apologetic look in Luke’s direction, then reluctantly followed Deak away. Windy hero-worshiped Deak even more than he did Luke, only Deak was a bully about it. And Windy never had the guts to stand up him.
Luke waved as Windy left, then knelt over the playing circle to gather his own marbles together. When he looked up he found that Breanna’s older sister, Annalis, had finally taken note of them. Luke didn’t much like Annalis. Whenever Breanna played with them Annalis was always interrupting, and always worrying about stupid things like the condition of her sister’s dress or hair. But today she was watching the little group of youngsters disband with an expression of boredom on her face. Her gaze rested suspiciously on her sister for a moment, probably deciding again how unladylike her behavior was, but by the time Luke had gotten to his feet she had returned her attention toward the adults. Annalis was a girly girl. Luke got along with Breanna much better. She played hard with the boys, and when sides were taken she always took Luke’s. Luke shoved the bag of homemade marbles into his pocket just as Breanna slipped her hand into his loose one.
“I believe you,” she said firmly. “No matter what Deak and Windy think.”
Luke shifted his weight, causing his grip to shift slightly in hers. “I just hope Uncle Owen doesn’t find out. He doesn’t like it when I do things like that.”
“Like what?” Breanna questioned.
Luke shrugged. “Mostly anything I can’t explain how I did.”
“Why? I think it’s kinda neat,” she offered cautiously.
“I don’know,” Luke whispered shiftily. Then he admitted very quietly, “I heard them talking before. I think it has something to do with my father.”
Normally Luke’s father was a fun topic. In the absence of facts they had spent many hours coming up with wonderful adventures that would explain why he had left Tatooine and then sent Luke back here. Some of the stories ended with him really being alive and returning for Luke... but in this case neither of them could deny the facts. Luke’s father and mother were dead. The adults tried not to talk about them at all, but when they did it was like they were talking about ghosts they were afraid might come back to haunt them if they spoke too loudly. Anakin Skywalker scared them, and maybe they thought Luke was too much like his father.
Breanna remained silent for a long moment. “I won’t tell anyone. I promise,” she added.
A year and a day later the same families and neighbors had returned for a second ceremony, this time held at the Stargazer’s home. Owen and Beru Lars arrived early and their speeder had hardly come to a halt before Breanna Stargazer rushed topside to meet them. Luke scrambled out of the family speeder but he had hardly started toward his friends before he was immediately snubbed by Deak and a guilty-looking Windy.
Owen and Breu watched the scene unfold before they also started toward their neighbor’s homestead. Owen made a sharp grunting noise under his breath that coincided with Beru’s grimace.
“Luke having trouble with the other boys?”
“Deak’s been out of sorts with him for a while. Seems he doesn’t like to lose at marbles.”
“What about the Marstrap boy? They got on well enough last time his folks were over our way.”
“Windy gets on well with Luke except when Deak’s involved,” Beru explained.
Owen gave another grunt, decidedly unimpressed with either boy’s character. They had almost caught up to Luke when the youngest of the Stargazer’s three daughters came running in their direction. Luke forgot the embarrassment of having his friends snub him and looked up at her hopefully. Breanna took a few seconds to catch her breath before she spoke to Luke.
“Come with me, Luke. I’ll show you where to sit.”
Luke nodded and followed her off toward a large tent that had been set up outside the house. Owen and Beru followed the youngsters at a slower pace, watching as Luke and Breanna took their seats.
“Well, at least he has one friend,” Owen noted as Breanna eagerly seated herself next to Luke.
“And an important one,” Beru agreed. “The best matches are made between good friends.”
Owen nodded. “Yes, they are,” he agreed, smiling at his wife.
There was an early understanding between the two youngsters that they were meant for each other. Their families had worked hard to make that truth an easy and comfortable one, one that both had grown up with just as they had grown up with each other.
Owen and Beru were seated just behind Luke and the ceremony soon began. They listened as the traditional verses were read. The negotiation that had been finalized over the last year and a day was explained, both families proclaimed the match good, and gifts were exchanged between the families as had been agreed upon years ago. In this case the son was to be given to the daughter’s household. The newlywed couple would live with them, contribute to their household, and be supported by them as they learned the skills that would allow them to make their own way; in time they would be given an allotment of land on which to make their own homestead. The bride’s family would help with the raising of children and eventually the bride and groom would repay their parents for their start by caring for them as they grew too old to maintain their own farm.
Verses were read outlying the sacred progression, and once that aspect of the ceremony was completed the couple took their vows, received the blessings of their families and the cleric, and their signatures were recorded into local law by the magistrate. Then the cleric closed the ceremony by charging them with their duties to each other, their new family, and their future family.... Beru wiped her eyes on her sleeve when the couple gingerly kissed, prompting Owen to put his arm around her shoulders. But his gaze fell restlessly on the pair in front of him.
The younger children had been still and well-behaved, but the ceremony did little to hold their interests. Now that the gathering was no longer silent they were busily conversing among themselves.
Owen leaned forward to get his nephew’s attention. “Don’t you two wander off, Luke, we aren’t staying long. I’ve got work to do at home, and you have studying to finish.”
“Awww,” Luke groaned.
“Are you sure, Uncle Owen?” Breanna asked hopefully.
“Yes, I’m sure. But tell your folks we’ll expect them around for lunch one day next week.”
She brightened at the prospect of another visit. “I’ll tell them,” the girl promised.
Owen and Beru said their goodbyes and quickly extracted themselves and Luke from the celebration. They were halfway home before a curious voice spoke up.
“Aunt Beru, how are the bride and groom going to have babies like the cleric said?” Luke asked.
Beru and Owen exchanged slightly mortified glances before Beru managed an answer. “Your uncle will talk to you about that when we get home.”
So when they got home Uncle Owen went with Luke to his room and they talked a lot about the goopy things adults do when they feel goopy things about each other. As with any subject that could be diverted to his own parents, Luke’s curiosity peaked with questions about them and about how he had been born.
His uncle did his best to keep the conversation general, but even the possibility of discussing his parents couldn’t overcome the way Luke’s curiosity was squashed once he learned that at the beginning of the baby-making process kissing was involved. He quickly informed his uncle that he didn’t want to kiss a girl, ever, then immediately asked if that was why the bride and groom kissed at the wedding. Owen was equal parts amused and relieved at not having to figure out how to go into further detail about the facts of life with a six year old.
“They kiss because they’re married and they want to show they love each other, and eventually they’ll have children for the same reason, because they love each other and they want to make a family together,” Owen explained, wishing that Beru could have helped him out about here. He wasn’t good at talking about what Luke liked to call “goopy” feelings.
“But not all married people have children,” Luke pointed out.
Uncle Owen nodded.
“That’s good,” Luke decided. “You and Aunt Beru may not have taken me if you already had other children.”
Owen’s heart gave him one of those curious lurches that he had become accustomed to whenever Luke said those kinds of things. He hated to imagine that being true, but it may easily have been. Under other circumstances Owen might have turned his nephew away. He and Beru had felt obligated to take the boy in, even knowing that there could be great risk to them if the truth about his parentage ever came to light... but if they had had children of their own the risk Luke’s circumstances presented may have been too much for Owen to accept.
And it was all but impossible now to imagine their lives without Luke in them, even more painful to imagine the boy out there somewhere alone in the universe, unprotected against the dangers that he was blissfully unaware of here. Owen Lars didn’t consider himself a religious man but sometimes even the most practical man had to bend his will to the way life could use the most extenuating circumstances to bring good along with, and even out of, the worst life had to offer.
“So they kiss and do other things and the daddy makes a baby grows inside the mommy,” Luke summed up.
“Right,” Owen agreed. “That’s why you have to be married and love that person very much, because you can be a father and she’ll be a mother. Then you become responsible for her and for the family you make together.”
Luke’s face screwed up in a newly occurring thought. “So one day I’ll be a father, once I’m married to Breanna.”
“I hope so, Luke,” Owen answered him honestly. “Your aunt and I picked Breanna for you and we think she’ll make a good match for you. That’s a very serious and important connection the two of you share. Everything you do is linked to her the same way it’s linked to your aunt and me. That’s why you have to behave carefully around girls as you get older. You don’t want anything you do to dishonor your aunt and me or to hurt and dishonor Breanna. A man is judged by how he shoulders his responsibilities. And you have a very important responsibility to Breanna since she’s going to become your wife one day.”
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004