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
Over the next three months Biggs was at the Lars farm most every day. Biggs and Luke were inseparable, and trouble behind the controls of the speeder. Luckily Luke was a good mechanic and Biggs learned quickly. Actually the problem was not with picking up the basic skills; Biggs had done that fairly easily under Aunt Beru’s supervision. But Biggs had a near-obsession with pushing himself and his vehicle to the limit, a trait that Luke also shared. They were constantly egging each other on, taking chances, frequently wrecking out, repairing, and even rebuilding the Lars land speeder from the ground up.
For the most part Owen and Beru had no objections to their nephew’s new hobby. Uncle Owen’s only demand was that the speeder be ready to fly at any time he needed it. The boys had taken that mandate as a challenge, and as a result had become extremely efficient at moving the speeder from any state of disrepair to fully functional in a very short period of time. Then, once they felt they had done all they could with the speeder as it was, they had begun a new overhaul, this one intended to make it resemble a T-16 skyhopper as much as possible. Many of the control capabilities were similar, but they soon realized that a speederbike would much more closely match the speed and maneuverability of a skyhopper – especially once they could modify it a bit....
“Luke finish his chores early?” Owen Lars asked as he walked into the kitchen.
Beru nodded as she set a bowl of soup and a glass of milk at his place on the table. “And his studies. You don’t have to guess where he is.”
“Darklighter boy too?”
“As usual.” Beru smiled and sat down in front of her own lunch. “I took them a plate of sandwiches a little while ago.”
Owen smiled back. “For learning how to drive, those two spend an incredible amount of time in the garage.”
“I guess it’s a good thing, to know what they’re driving and how to fix it.”
“They should be able to build landspeeders from scratch at this rate,” Owen decided tersely.
Beru nodded, watching her food. Owen knew that as of late the boys had spent a great deal of time repairing the broken speederbike, which Luke had not been allowed to touch while grounded. Normally Owen would be pleased to have them repair it, but he knew full well that the bike was faster and more maneuverable than any landspeeder. Luke and Biggs would likely find ways to make it even more dangerous as they reassembled it.... He had been careful not to voice those concerns to Breu, but he didn’t think for a second that she didn’t already know them.
“It’s just a phase that boys go through,” Owen reassured her. “He’ll grow out of it, probably about the time he starts noticing girls.”
Beru smiled and nodded a little easier.
Out in the garage Luke shimmed out from the space where he’d been stretched underneath the elevated speederbike and wiped his hands on a rag before he sat up.
“Try it,” he told Biggs.
Biggs reached over the top of the bike and punched the ignition. It sputtered and reluctantly turned over when Biggs gave it more fuel, then died out again.
Luke shook his head, wondering for the millionth time what in the suns old man Kenobi had done to get and keep this thing running long enough to deliver him and Windy home. Biggs also appeared at a loss. He sat back against the garage wall and bit into one of the sandwiches Aunt Beru had brought out. Luke slumped down on the other side of the sandwich plate and followed suit.
They ate in silence for a few minutes, occasionally pausing to suggest some solution or another for the bike only to decide against it a few minutes later. Once the sandwiches and milk were gone they got back to work.
“I just hope, after all the work we put in, your mom and dad don’t back out on getting you the T-16,” Luke decided, eying his friend playfully over the half assembled speederbike. Luke meant it as a joke. They had both enjoyed working on the speeders over the past several months, and the two boys had formed a lasting friendship in the process. But Biggs didn’t laugh at Luke’s joke.
“Actually it’s just me and my dad,” Biggs countered softly without looking up from the bolt he was tightening into place. “My mom died just before we came here. And Pop usually gives me whatever I ask him for – as long as I can prove I’m ready for it.”
Luke fell silent, not knowing what else to say.
“What about your folks?” Biggs asked hesitantly. “How come you live with your aunt and uncle?”
Luke shrugged. “I don’t know,” and that was the truth. He knew very little about his real parents. No matter how he asked the questions his aunt and uncle resorted to the same vague answers they’d always given him. “They died when I was little,” he told Biggs. “I’ve always lived with my aunt and uncle.”
Biggs studied his friend curiously for a minute but neither said anything more on the subject.
“Whoa,” Luke breathed. It was barely past daybreak when he heard the engines and looked up from the vaporator he’d been working on. Today was Bigg’s eleventh birthday and from the look of it his father had already followed through on his promise. A brand new top-of-the-line T-16 skyhopper hovered next to Luke for a minute before Biggs circled around and put down in a clearing free of vaperators.
“Your father doesn’t mess around,” Luke said approvingly when Biggs hopped down from the cockpit. “Incom T-16 skyhopper, E-16/x ion engine, capable of 12 hundred km an hour–”
“With a fully pressurized cockpit, a repeating blaster, holographic mapping system, and the flight controls – almost identical to an X-wing fighter,” Biggs finished proudly.
Luke’s grin widened even further. “Wicked.”
“You gonna help me break it in?”
Luke stared at Biggs for a moment, speechless. Then he quickly rolled the set of tools he’d been using back into their protective casing, tossed them into the speeder bike’s storage compartment, and followed Biggs toward the skyhopper. He couldn’t believe he was being given the chance to pilot a real T-16 skyhopper. The vaperator could wait. All of ‘em could all wait.
The boys arrived at Beggar’s Canyon a short time later. Luke had no trouble keeping up on the speeder bike; Biggs was deliberately taking it easy on speed until the engines got a little more flying time, but even from the ground Luke could see that the skyhopper’s maneuverability was incredible. They spent most of the morning taking turns piloting through Beggar’s Canyon, taking potshots at the occasional womp rat that dared to venture out in the blistering heat.
Finally, after each of them had had several turns behind the controls and the suns had started to descend into afternoon, Luke and Biggs sat down in the shade of the canyon and talked excitedly for another hour about the skyhopper’s capabilities and everything they had learned about it that morning.
“I’m gonna come back early tomorrow,” Biggs decided, “while it’s still cool out. I bet I can get it up to 12 hundred on that straight stretch between here and Achorhead.”
Biggs paused in his planning when he saw the surprised and disappointed look on Luke’s face. “What?” he asked.
Luke shrugged and got to his feet. He had just processed for the first time today that he had skipped out on his duties on the farm. He hadn’t even told his aunt and uncle he was leaving – at the time he had been completely distracted by the skyhopper and never expected he’d be gone half the day.... Still, he’d be lucky if they didn’t ground him for a month; and there was no way they’d let him come back here tomorrow, even if he wasn’t punished. There was too much he had to do around the farm.
“I can’t come back in the morning. I’ll probably get it for wasting half of today here.”
Biggs stood and caught his arm. “Hold up, Luke. What if I help you with your chores? With both of us working on the vaperators we can probably get them finished by dinner. Then your uncle can’t be too mad.”
Luke watched him in disbelief for a minute. Biggs was right. The two of them working together could do it, and he was sure Biggs could handle it; a vaporator was a lot simpler than a speeder after all.... He had just never expected the offer. Luke grinned and gratefully accepted. As the two of them headed back to the farm Luke realized that he had underestimated Biggs. Anybody could hang out, wasting time doing what they enjoyed, but only a true friend would give up his free time and work alongside you in the oppressive heat simply so that you wouldn’t get in trouble.
Uncle Owen was just about to power down for the night when Luke and Biggs trudged into the courtyard, covered in a layer of stuck on dust and looking utterly exhausted.
“Well, Luke, did you get those vaporators in the north-east quadrant back up to capacity?”
Luke nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Owen nodded thoughtfully. “Your aunt missed you this afternoon.”
Luke swallowed hard. Here came his punishment.
“You’ll have to double up on your studies tomorrow to catch up.”
Luke blinked, shocked. “Yes, sir,” he agreed.
“Well then,” Owen decided, “you best get inside and get cleaned up. Biggs, I told your father you’d be with us for dinner. Beru made a cake, special, for your birthday.”
Biggs grinned. “You didn’t need to go to trouble for me. Thank you, sir.”
Owen shrugged and turned to go inside, leaving the boys to follow eagerly.
The conversation around the dinner table that night revolved around Bigg’s birthday present. Owen had already gotten an earful about the skyhopper when he had spoken to Huff Darklighter but he and Beru listened attentively to Luke’s and Bigg’s more animated descriptions.
By the time they started on the cake Biggs was already talking about entering his new skyhopper in a handful of races frequented by the local teens, and Luke’s face had taken on a noticeably more somber look. Owen Lars’s grimace deepened. He had always known that the Darklighters were what Beru politely called “well off.” During the short conversation he’d had with Biggs’s father Huff had been sure to tell Owen how much that top-of-the-line skyhopper had cost him no fewer than three times. Never in his wildest dreams could Owen afford to buy something like that for Luke, and the look on Luke’s face showed that he knew it too. Normally the absence of luxury purchases wasn’t a thought that troubled Owen Lars in the least, but in this case he was a little surprised to find that it did trouble him.
The Darklighter boy might be more than willing to let Luke pilot his skyhopper for kicks like he had today, but Luke wasn’t the sort to content himself with just taking a few joy rides then sitting on the sidelines while Biggs took all the risks and had all the fun. Luke had so little connection to life outside the farm as it was... and racing was the universal right of passage for teenage boys on Tatooine. Owen only wished that he could give his nephew the same opportunities other boys his age enjoyed. Owen Lars continued considering that dilemma after the boys had gone back outside to admire the skyhopper a little longer. He sat in the kitchen sipping at the cup of strong tea Beru had given him, wishing there was some solution for it, until he heard Luke come back inside.
Luke sat down at the table opposite his uncle. “Uncle Owen, I was thinking. I know I’m a good mechanic. I can fix up most anything that flies. And a skyhopper’s not all that different from a landspeeder or a speederbike. I could fix up a skyhopper if I could get my hands on one.”
Luke paused to get his uncle’s reaction. His aunt and uncle were extremely practical when it came to money. As a rule they didn’t buy anything that wasn’t absolutely needed, and with a working speeder and speederbike already sitting in their garage Luke really had no hope of arguing that they needed a skyhopper... but Uncle Owen only gave a non-committal, slightly amused grunt.
“If I could find one I could afford, and I could earn enough money to pay for it, could I have your permission to buy a skyhopper?”
Owen smiled tightly. Leave it to the boy to come up with an ambitious solution. “If you can find a skyhopper like that, and if you can pay for it with money you earn on your own, I don’t see why not,” he decided, to Luke’s obvious glee. “But I expect it’ll be difficult to find, and it’ll take a long time to earn that much money, Luke.”
“I know, Uncle Owen. But Biggs and I talked about it, and I’m sure I can do it.”
“If you set your mind to it, Luke, I’m sure you can.” Owen stood and patted his nephew on the shoulder, genuinely proud of the boy. Luke was full of determination, and not afraid of hard work. “Just understand, I won’t have you neglecting your duties around here. This farm comes first, for all of us. That’s the only way we get by.”
That was all Owen had said about Luke’s transgression this morning, and it was all he had to say.
“I understand, Uncle Owen.”
For the next six months Luke thought about little else but earning the money to buy a skyhopper. He saved every cent and did every odd job he could come by, even if it meant having little time for anything else. Biggs helped him in finding and doing many of his odd jobs, and the boys were especially successful at providing mechanical repairs for the surrounding moisture farms: most all of them had a stubborn vaperator or two that they hadn’t been able to get running. Once Luke was able to fix that, he could usually talk his way into a couple of speeder or droid tune ups, sometimes even household repairs. And when work was short Biggs talked his father into letting Luke work on the vaperators for the farms he managed – and Biggs’s father paid very generously.
Biggs was a great help to Luke in earning money to put toward the skyhopper, but he also added inadvertently to Luke’s motivation. After six solid months practice Biggs outstripped Luke as pilot, and that was more than Luke’s pride could handle. Every time he flew Biggs’s skyhopper Luke wanted more than anything to be out there competing with his friend, and that desire redoubled his intentions to get his own T-16.
Luke sat back on his heels. He only had a couple of hours good daylight left and the vaporator he was working on for Biggs’s father was proving more difficult than expected. Luke was just formulating his next line of attack when he caught sight of a speeder barreling toward him.
“Luke, get in,” Biggs demanded. “There’s something you’ve got to see.”
Biggs drove at breakneck speed past Tosche Station, through Anchorhead, and he didn’t stop until they came upon a small junkyard on the far outskirts of Anchorhead. Luke was just about to ask what they were doing there when he saw it. There was a beat up T-16 standing in the corner of a used vehicle lot adjacent to the junkyard.
The two made a beeline for the skyhopper and Luke circled it slowly, taking in every detail. It wasn’t much to look at. It would need a lot of work but– then Luke caught sight of the price. They were asking 800! Luke barely had 500.
“Biggs,” he wined, devastated, “I can’t afford that!”
The owner of the junkyard had just noted his visitors. He emerged from a small building that had managed to blend itself into the rest of the junk until the door opened. Now he was walking in their direction.
“Let me do talking,” Biggs urged at a hushed whisper.
The man took one look at the boys and his gaze hardened. “Interested in buying, are you?”
“Maybe, after a test drive,” Biggs replied.
“Sure,” the junk keeper responded cooly, “just let me see your credits – the whole purchase price.”
Luke paused in his motion, and the man snorted.
“More like a joy ride, I think. Sorry. No credits, no joy ride today, boys.”
Biggs let him turn and take a few steps away, to Luke’s horror. They couldn’t just give up!
Then, lazily, Biggs said, “You’ll have a hard time selling this piece of junk.”
The man rounded on them. “What did you say?”
Biggs shrugged. “The power supply for the repulsorlift generator is shot; it’ll need new a whole new capacitor system. The cockpit needs a lot of work, but I guess that’s okay; it’s not going anywhere. By the look of the rigging under the lower airfoils this thing hasn’t been off the ground in years. I doubt you could get the engine to fire if your life depended on it, and even then it wouldn’t fly, at least not in a straight line, not given the state of those anti-grav coils.” Biggs paused in his assessment of the skyhopper long enough to let it sink in with the junk keeper.
“You’ll be lucky if you find some sucker who’ll give you 700 for it and then charge you another 100 to tow it off. But,” Biggs offered slyly, “for 300 my friend and I will take it off your hands ourselves.”
The junk keeper watched Biggs for a full thirty seconds, impressed in spite of himself.
“600,” he demanded.
“400,” Biggs countered.
The junk keeper walked forward and roughly shook Biggs’s hand. Then he retreated into the little shack, presumably to find the ownership papers.
Luke grinned at his friend. “I can’t believe you did that!”
“Don’t thank me yet. I wasn’t joking about this thing, and he knew it. It’ll take months just to get it running.”
Luke ran a hand along the wing. Now that it was his Luke was already imagining what it would look like fixed up. “I don’t care. I’ll get it running.”
“I tried to get you a little more spare parts money, but I don’t think he was going lower than 450.”
Luke shook his head, still awestruck. “I’ll keep up the odd jobs, barter parts and supplies from Fixer’s shop. After raising 500 this will be easy.”
Biggs grinned at his friend’s enthusiasm. “You stay here and don’t let him change his mind; we shook on that price. I’ll go get my hopper and we’ll tow this thing back to your uncle’s garage.”
“Biggs–” Luke called after him. “Thanks.”
Luke and Biggs eagerly recalled every detail of the transaction in the retelling that night. Owen was impressed with the boys’ ingenuity, as he had been with Luke’s hard work and dedication in raising the money.
Beru waited until they left the room before she voiced the worry Owen could read in her face. “Those things go so fast, Owen.”
“Let boys be boys, Beru,” he chided his wife gently. “Look on the bright side, by the time he’s spent all his money and sweat getting that thing running it’ll be his most prized possession. He won’t want to risk anything happening to it.”
She didn’t look reassured.
“The most danger he’ll be in from that thing for a good long while is my anger if he gets too fancy with my tools,” Owen decided next.
The mock threat made her smile.
“Boys, come in for dinner,” Beru called in the general direction of the garage. “If you’re going to be working on that thing half the night at least you can start on a full stomach.”
“And I’ll expect all your chores to be done first before you even look toward that garage, Luke,” Owen warned his nephew as they all sat down to eat.
“They will be, Uncle Owen,” Luke promised, grinning widely.
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004