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
Luke Skywalker climbed up to the top of the rock embankment, looked around the cave for several minutes, then slid back down to the ground where he could begin exploring the mouth of a second tunnel. It never occurred to him to be afraid of what he might find. Somehow he felt safe in the cool, quiet darkness, and he enjoyed the excitement of exploring the unknown. He could pretend he was really an explorer on some distant planet, an adventurer like in the books he read, and this cave was full of strange creatures and hidden dangers for him to fight his way through....
Outside, a short distance away, Owen Lars’s patience was wearing thin. “Have you seen Luke? I’ve been searching for him for ten minutes.”
Beru looked around curiously. “If I had to guess, I’d say he’s found the caves and is exploring them.
Owen turned in that direction and heaved a tired sigh. He was dismayed by his nephew’s adventurous spirit and loner nature. “Always off getting into something he has no business getting into,” Owen muttered. “I don’t understand why he doesn’t play with the other boys his age.” Owen waved a hand in the direction he’d just come from where some sort of makeshift stick-ball game was underway.
Beru only smiled. “As I recall you didn’t make friends so easily, growing up on a moisture farm. And neither did I,” Beru finished before he could protest. “It’s an isolated way of life out here; kids pick up on those differences. Besides, it takes a hearty spirit and a lot of determination to make a go of it on this world. I’d rather see him testing himself and learning those things than goofing off with a gang of shiftless friends.”
Owen considered her words for a thoughtful moment while Beru hid traces of a gathering smile. Her husband’s gruff nature had a way of melting into his wife’s gentleness like wax left under the hot suns, especially when it came to Luke.
“All right, Beru,” he gave the usual concession, “but I want him back in time to see the betrothal ceremony; he’s old enough to learn something from it this time around.”
Beru’s smile lit her face. No matter how often she saw it, Beru Lars was always amazed by this side of her husband. Owen took his responsibilities to her and to Luke as a deadly serious commitment. But sometimes she felt like she alone saw what was in his heart. She understood how intensely Owen Lars loved his wife and nephew.
Luke froze in place halfway into a narrow, darkened tunnel, hearing a noise behind him. He put the imaginary adversaries he had been facing aside and quickly scrambled up onto a nearby rock in case the noise had been made by some desert creature returning to its nest. Luke quickly settled himself on the rock and worked at stilling his breathing so he could better listen, but he still felt no danger about being here.
The scraping noise repeated itself a few more times. Then a small voice called out cautiously. “Luke?”
Luke slid down from his perch. “I’m here,” he answered as his feet hit the cave floor.
Breanna made her way to him a few moments later.
“How did you find me?” he asked.
She continued looking worriedly around the cave, but she still couldn’t see anything beyond shadows. “I’m more worried about finding our way out of here,” she admitted with a tremor in her voice. If the truth was told, she had been wandering the tunnels long enough to have lost all sense of direction.
“Don’t worry,” Luke whispered, reaching for her hand. “I can get us out,” he said confidently.
Breanna didn’t say anything more. She just held his hand tighter and followed where he led.
“The main corridor is just here,” Luke offered after they had walked a short ways through several winding tunnels. And after another few steps the narrow cave they had been in opened up around them.
“How did you know that?” she questioned softly. “Can you just, you know, tell?”
Luke shook his head. “I don’t know. It just makes sense to me. I know that nothing in here is dangerous. And I know that this tunnel leads back to the main cavern. It’s almost like I’ve been here before... even though I haven’t been. It just feels familiar,” he finished, his voice certain but puzzled.
“I don’t like it in here. It’s too quiet,” Breanna decided hesitantly.
“I like the quiet,” Luke answered a moment later.
A voice shouting his name broke the silence after that. Breanna jumped at the unexpected noise.
“C’mon,” Luke said softly. He led them past numerous caverns converging on the main corridor until they found Windy standing in the mouth of the cavern, clearly unwilling to go in any further.
“Wizard, Luke,” he exclaimed when he saw Luke emerge from the darkness. “How’d you find your way through there? It’s pitch dark and–”
“Windy Marstrap! Shouldn’t you be somewhere helping Deak ignore Luke? You fair weather friend,” Breanna accused, taking a few steps toward him.
Windy winced but didn’t bother to answer the accusation. “Luke, your uncle sent me after you. He wants you back for the start of the ceremony,” Windy explained cautiously.
“Thanks, Win,” Luke said softly.
Windy looked relieved that Luke wasn’t mad too, despite the fact that Breanna continued to glare at him until he turned and walked out of the cave.
“He’s not so bad,” Luke said quietly. Luke liked Windy, but he had learned the hard way not to tell Windy any more about his adventures. Maybe Breanna had learned that same lesson.... “We’d better go if my uncle is looking for me.”
Breanna nodded, but she hung back, looking around the cave once more.
“What’s wrong?” Luke asked.
“I guess I wish Annalis didn’t have to get married,” Breanna admitted softly.
“Doesn’t she want to marry Kyle?”
Breanna laughed. “Sure she does, for as long as I can remember.” Then her grin faded. “I’m just gonna miss her is all.”
Luke had the feeling that she wasn’t being completely honest with him, but Breanna didn’t say anything else. Finally Luke offered her his hand and the two of them walked outside. Once they reached the small enclave where the adults had gathered Breanna returned to her family and Luke found his way to Owen and Breu.
Nearly as soon as he was seated they began to explain to him what was going on today. A betrothal ceremony was generally held at coming of age, as determined by the parents. Usually it happened when the younger of the couple turned fifteen (and the marriageable age would fall a year and a day later at sixteen), but the betrothal could be done as early as thirteen. Traditionally, the ceremony was held at a point halfway between the two homes to symbolize the two families coming together as one, whereas the wedding would follow at the host family’s home a year and a day later.
Annalis and Kyle stood in the center of the seating arena, each looking longingly at the other, their families surrounding them. The magistrate and the cleric mediated the ceremony as each family confirmed their desire to proceed with the match. Luke couldn’t help but notice that Breanna’s oldest sister, Cairina, and her husband, Britt, didn’t look nearly so happy as they had when Luke and Breanna had watched their wedding a year earlier... but he didn’t have much time to think on it since his aunt and uncle were still taking every opportunity to explain the ceremony and its traditions to him.
After the betrothal ceremony the couple would enter into a courtship period, during which the families would have a window to renegotiate the terms of the arrangement – everything from the particulars of where and when the couple would marry and live, to a complete disillusion of the contract. Either changes in the arrangement would be agreed to, the wedding would be scrapped and the contract dissolved, or they would revert to the original contract between the two families.
The magistrate explained those options to the families. Then the cleric read several verses and charged the couple and the families with the rules governing the courtship phase. The couple agreed and both families pledged their guidance and support to the process. Then the couple joined hands and, with a final blessing, the ceremony was concluded.
One Year and One Day Later
“Wow. Are those real twilight lanterns?”
Owen Lars grunted an affirmative.
“Wicked,” Luke breathed, craning his neck to get sight of the next lantern lighting their path.
The glowing ore that made up the core of the lanterns was harvested from the mines for which Anchorhead had originally been founded. Unfortunately earlier settlers had found that the rock was otherwise useless, and the process used to refine the ore into a luminous orb was time-consuming and very costly. Thus making it almost as great a status symbol as the small decorative pools and fountains that adorned only the wealthiest of dwellings on Tatooine. The Starkiller clan was one of the oldest and wealthiest families this side of Mos Eisley, and tonight the Starkillers had clearly pulled out all the stops to celebrate their only son Kyle’s marriage to Annalis Stargazer.
“Probably scheduled the whole thing at night simply to show off those lanterns,” Owen decided, watching unimpressed as the string of twilight lanterns led them to the Starkiller residence.
“It’s very beautiful,” Beru suggested diplomatically as she watched Owen’s scowl deepen. The ceremony was to be held outside, where there was a small decorative fountain, and the grounds were already teeming with guests strolling about in the light of the twilight lanterns.
Owen gave another more non-committal grunt. He hated waste almost as much as he hated these useless, superficial shows of wealth and privilege. None of it impressed him, not to say that he was ignorant to its value; he knew very well that he could have supported his family for a month with profits from the water that was steadily evaporating in the arid heat from that trickling fountain, closer to a year for the cost of transforming those ridiculous lanterns from a piece of rock into a reservoir for absorbing the twin suns’ more than ample light so that it could shine at them night as well as day.... Truth be told, Owen wouldn’t have bothered coming here in the first place if it wasn’t for Dyllan Stargazer’s personally asking him. Owen extended his hand to his friend and neighbor, who met him and his family outside the Starkiller home.
“Hello Lars, Beru, and how are you, young Luke?”
“Fine, sir,” Luke answered.
Breanna’s father smiled kindly and encouraged Beru and Luke to go inside and enjoy the festivities.
Owen saw them inside, then alertly rejoined Stargazer outside. “Heck of a party here, Dyllan.”
Dyllan Stargazer’s lip moved in a begrudging half smile. He knew the polite words weren’t necessarily a complement coming from Owen Lars, and had learned to respect Lars’s frank appraisal as well as his measured restraint over many years of friendship.
“I guess the Starkillers need to remind their costumers that they aren’t too good for common moisture farmers – once every several generations or so.”
Owen Lars responded with one of his characteristic snorts. Dyllan wasn’t so sure if there was amusement or distaste behind that one.
Dywn and I have been pleased with the match thus far,” he decided more quietly. “Kyle seems a decent young man, fairly grounded despite his privilege... and Annalis is over the clouds crazy for him. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens once the shine wears off.”
Owen nodded, catching the cautious tone that had entered his friend’s voice over that last. He knew better than to pry into another man’s family affairs, but there were rumors that his oldest daughter’s marriage had gotten off to a rocky start, especially between Dyllan and the young man he had taken under his own roof as his son-in-law.
That rumor didn’t surprise Owen terribly. The Shadowlander clan tended to be a rough bunch: quick to anger and long to hold a grudge. It took a strong woman to marry into that clan. One, Beru would say, with steel in her backbone and the iron will to match that of her husband’s. Shadowlander men didn’t tolerate weakness in man or woman. Perhaps Dyllan had hoped to negate the effect by bringing the boy into his home... for the girl’s sake Owen hoped that her father’s careful negotiation would pay off in time.
Along with the Stargazers, of course the Starkillers, and a handful of others, the Shadowlanders were descended from some of the earliest settlers of Anchorhead. That, in Owen’s opinion, was where a lot of these sorts of troubles started. The old families put too much store in matches made amongst themselves, matches that would increase the family’s wealth, position, or prestige, but were not always in the best interests of the couple. Owen knew Dyllan Stargazer to be an honorable man, but he was bound by the customs of his ancestors. The Lars family, young by comparison, with only a handful of generations on Tatooine, had no such obligations. Honestly, Owen had been shocked when Dyllan had proposed the match between Breanna and Luke almost eight years ago... but Owen had weighed the offer and accepted it for no other reason than he had agreed with Dyllan. Their two families were very much alike. That would make the match an easy one for Breanna and Luke.
Owen inclined his head toward the darkening streets of Anchorhead where another speeder had just come to a halt. “I take it this is our new local agriculture magnate. What do you know about him?”
Stargazer also inclined his head. “He’s an out-lander, come over from Mos Entha, I think. Goes by the name Darklighter. From what I hear he’s already bought out three farms that were on the verge of going under, with his sights set on another half dozen.”
“Ambitious,” Lars noted. “Naturally, once he’s decreased the supply he’ll begin selling the water back to us, at a steep markup.”
“Somewhere between two and three-fold over market price, I hear.”
That did draw a distasteful snort from Owen Lars. “Hope you’re looking to be self-sufficient this season.”
Stargazer nodded. “Think we should break even. You?”
“If Luke and I can get another two vaperators up and running steady we might come out a little ahead.”
“Boy’s still showing a knack for overhauling those old vaperators then?”
Owen smiled. “Got more talent for it than I do, but he’d rather be tinkering with my speeder bike.”
Dyllan laughed, and so did Owen. “He’s growing up fast.”
“Too fast,” Owen agreed. “What about your youngest?”
“She’s growing into a little lady, but she’s still a tomboy at heart – which suits me fine,” her father confessed. “Cairina and Annalis hardly left their mother’s side growing up. Brea’s a little more adventurous, little more sure of herself.” He thought about it. “I like having a daughter who can handle a speeder and won’t hesitate to help me strip down vaporators when there’s a storm blowing up.”
Owen Lars nodded his approval. “Fancy dress and manner is nice to look at, but I’d chose loyal, practical, and hardworking any day of the week.”
“Need those things to survive out here,” Stargazer agreed. “One reason I’m glad for this match. Annalis would have been miserable staying on the farm – way of life’s just not in her make up. Her mother and I will miss having her at home, but I think Anchorhead will suit her better. She certainly won’t want for anything with the Stargazers.” He became thoughtful again. “Cairina, I hope we can help smooth her path a bit by having her home. But Breanna, Brea’s one of those who’ll take what comes in life and make it work for ‘em. She’s my baby, and I worry about her least of all my girls.”
“Daddy,” Cairina had appeared at her father’s shoulder. She nodded in greeting to Owen Lars before returning her attention to her father. “It’s almost time.”
Dyllan Stargazer paused to check his watch. “So it is.”
Owen shook Dyllan’s hand and found his way through the house and out onto the grounds where the ceremony was to be held. As it had been with the betrothal ceremony, Kyle Starkiller’s Anchorhead relations were well-represented. Owen spent several minutes looking for Luke among many unfamiliar faces before he finally made his way toward the place where Beru had already taken her seat. She patted his arm gratefully as he sat beside her and answered his question before he could ask.
“Breanna said she’d bring him along.”
Owen smiled and put his arm around his wife’s shoulders. Suddenly even the silly twilight lanterns and the bubbling fountain didn’t seem so annoying. His family and friends were safe and well, the future was bright, and for the moment all was good. Owen Lars knew from bitter experience that these were the moments in life that demanded to be enjoyed and should never be taken for granted.
A short distance away Luke stood in one of the doorways looking out on the Starkiller’s garden. Tonight the frosted glass walls that usually blocked out the desert heat had been retracted, but it wasn’t the rare flowers and trees that caught Luke’s attention. At the moment he was watching Deak and Windy, who were joined by a handful of older kids they knew from Anchorhead. Fixer, Luke knew from his after school job at Tosche Station; Luke often bought spare parts for his uncle in the shop where Fixer worked. Camie was always around the shop too, usually watching Fixer just as she was now. Fixer usually pretended to be annoyed by her unless he was showing off for her, but at the moment he was deep in conversation with a big kid that everybody called Tank. If you got on Fixer’s bad side you could count on a pounding from him and Tank being in your near future.
“Luke.” He turned and saw that Breanna had returned, now changed into a fancy dress; her blonde hair was pulled up into multiple braids and threaded with connecting ribbons which matched the bright color of her dress. That had to have been Annalis’s doing.
Breanna linked her arm through his in an imitation of the adults around them. “This way,” she whispered, pulling him back in the direction she had just come from. But they had hardly taken a few steps before Breanna stopped. Luke quickly followed her gaze. In an empty room off to one side Cairina and Britt Shadowlander were arguing animatedly. Their voices were too low to hear but the force of the disagreement was obvious when Cairina pulled her arm away from him and tried turning her back on her husband. He quickly grabbed her back and the argument continued on more loudly.
“They fight a lot,” Breanna admitted softly, pulling Luke away but more slowly this time. “He was a lot nicer before.... I asked Cairina why. She said marriage wasn’t like she thought it would be, and that’s all she would say.”
Luke frowned but he didn’t have time to question further before they joined the rest of the wedding party. He and Breanna began the procession, followed by other the family members. Then, once Annalis was presented, they took their seats near Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. This time there were more tears from the bride’s family as the daughter was to be given to the son’s household.
Luke leaned closer to Breanna and smiled encouragingly. “It’s not so awful sad, Brea. Someday when we get married you’ll come to live with me and my aunt and uncle.”
She swallowed the tears that she had been fighting, worries about how difficult marriage seemed for her oldest sister and now her other sister’s leaving home, and her expression brightened. The thought of leaving her home, herself, was strange and a little scary, but she liked Luke and his aunt and uncle.
She scooted closer to lean her shoulder against Luke’s. “I think I’ll like that,” she whispered.
They listened as the traditional verses were read. Negotiations that had been finalized over the last year and a day were explained, both families proclaimed the match good, and gifts were exchanged. The couple took their vows, received the blessings of their families and the cleric, and their signatures were recorded into local law. Then the cleric charged them with their duties to each other, their new family, and their future family, and he gave his permission for the couple to show some sign of their vows.
Luke squirmed in his seat when Annalis’s new husband gingerly lifted the veil that spilled over her face and softly kissed his new bride. “Just don’t expect me to kiss you,” he warned Breanna, grossed out by the possibility.
“You have to,” she stated absolutely. “The marriage isn’t done until you do.”
Luke took a deep, steadying breath. “Okay. Maybe just the one time,” he conceded.
Breanna nodded and rested a tired head against his shoulder, reassured.
Behind them Owen and Beru were doing everything in their power not to laugh aloud at the very serious negotiations taking place between the two eight year olds.
Late that night in the Stargazer household a very different set of negotiations were underway. After about fifteen minutes Dyllan threw back his bedsheets and turned on the light, but before he could move from the bed to the door Dywn had grabbed his wrist.
“What are you going to do?” she asked softly. “Go in there and beat him up?”
Her husband nodded. “I would like to,” he decided vehemently, even though he knew it was a bull-headed and unreasonable reaction that wouldn’t help the situation. In the next few seconds his wife had managed to get out of bed and stand between him and door without ever relinquishing her hold on his wrist.
“You’re a good man, and a good father.”
The anger unexpectedly drained from his eyes and he looked at her tiredly, hopefully. “And a good husband?” he whispered, letting his hand slide into hers. Dywn’s smile at that question warmed his troubled heart. “I watch his swagger and his brashness, so certain that he’s entitled– I hope I was never so–” He shook his head, as if trying to clear it of the frustration. “A man should put his wife before himself. He should hunger to win her heart more than he thirsts for the comforts of her body.”
His wife moved closer to him. “Where the heart lies, so the flesh will follow.” She released his hand and placed her palm against his cheek, speaking softly and honestly to the man she had come to love long ago. “I remember a lot of youthful impatience, tempered by a kind heart. You have always been a good husband.”
The noise in the room next to theirs rose suddenly, and then was muffled silent, causing both of them to wince. One way or another the fight had ended... and either way there would be more anger for it in the morning.
“C’mon,” Dywn said, her head lowered. Neither of us is going back to sleep now. I’ll make you a cool glass of tea.”
Dyllan nodded and followed his wife. As the bedroom door opened they glimpsed another door sliding closed across the hall. Dyllan glanced in his wife’s direction and his hand slipped away from her back as he crossed the hall and she wordlessly continued toward the kitchen.
Breanna had just managed to jump into bed and pull the covers up over herself before her father opened the door. Dyllan watched the dim peal of light fall into the room, half of which stood painfully empty tonight in Annalis’s absence. Two of his girls were grown, and he suddenly found himself reminded of how many years he and Dywn had awaited Breanna.
They had had a son, born several years after Annalis, but the boy hadn’t survived to his second birthday. Heartbroken, Dyllan had desperately wanted another son. They had nearly given up hope when Breanna was born eight years after her sister, Annalis... that day she had been the most beautiful sight Dyllan had ever seen.
“Come here, princess,” he whispered, scooping his youngest out of bed and quieting her with a finger to his lips when she started to giggle. Tonight it would be two teas and a midnight mocha.
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004