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
“You’re too late for dinner, Luke. I guess you’ll be on time for breakfast tomorrow.”
Aunt Beru gave Uncle Owen a pleading stare. She was always fussing over how fast Luke was growing, both in height and in appetite; she obviously thought that a growing boy needed his dinner, even if he was an hour late for dinnertime. Uncle Owen didn’t share her opinion.
“I mean it, Beru. I’m tired of this. Disappears when there’s still work to be done. Daydreaming all the time. He’s got no focus. Spends all his time tinkering with that skyhopper or wasting the day with that shiftless crowd around Tosche Station. Lucky if we see him for meals now. It’s time he starts acting like a member of this family and not a good-for-nothing farm hand.”
Aunt Beru gave a heavy sigh but held her silence. Used to the drill, Luke sat down at the kitchen table and let his uncle continue to rant about how disappointed he was in Luke, how he should apply himself, try harder, stay focused... until he finally saw fit to send Luke to bed.
Once alone in his room Luke collapsed onto his bed, pausing only to pull off his boots. He didn’t bother to turn on a light, preferring to let the room remain dark. His eyes wandered to the shelves full of books and models he’d collected since he was a child, but he made no move to retrieve anything that might entertain him. Luke sighed and turned onto his back, tilting his head toward the small window that ran length-wise along the top of the room. It was designed to let just a little light but no heat inside during the day. Luke could just get a glimpse of the stars through it. When he was small he would climb up on his dresser once he was supposed to be asleep and stare out at the stars for hours at a time, fascinated by the constellations and the way they moved across the night sky....
He just didn’t feel the same way about the farm as Uncle Owen did. He had tried to tell his uncle that once but his uncle wouldn’t listen. His uncle never listened. The only thing Luke loved was flying. It was the only thing he was good at, and in a couple more years he and Biggs would be eligible to go to the Academy. They already had it figured out. Biggs was going to stay behind a year so he and Luke could both enroll together. After that... anything was possible. Luke turned to stare at the ceiling. Here nothing was possible. Fix the same vaperators over and over, watch for Sandpeople and sandstorms, prepare for the harvest and complain when there was never as much as expected, then start working toward the next season.... It was all the same.
Luke lived for the time he spent racing. Even just being at Tosche Station with Biggs, working on their skyhoppers, was a welcome break in the endless monotony (and it had also become a necessity in order to avoid Owen’s wrath). Deep down Luke knew his uncle had a point. Despite Luke’s earlier promises to Owen, Luke had become steadily more lax in his chores over the past three years, and even when he was working he had trouble staying focused on the work. He just couldn’t seem to help it. Every day he felt it more and more: he didn’t belong here. When he was flying he felt alive. Here he felt trapped. No matter how many lectures he sat through or how many groundings he endured nothing would change that. He would still do anything to escape, knowing full well that the escape was only temporary... only a few hours of running his skyhopper full out, taking the corners in Beggar’s Canyon as hard and fast as he could... and feeling free.
“I don’t know what to do with the boy, Beru– ”
Luke reached over to his bedside table and pulled a set of headphones over his ears. He turned the volume on the music loud enough to drown out the scraps of still-angry conversation that floated down the hall, and Luke closed his eyes. Uncle Owen was pretty angry this time, but he hadn’t grounded Luke; Luke wondered how much time he’d have to put in at the farm to appease his uncle... until he could get away again. Luke was still considering that trade off when he fell asleep.
“Hey, Hotshot! I knew you’d make it out,” Biggs exclaimed.
“I would have been here sooner but I had to redo the droid interface on two convection units. Uncle Owen was watching me like a hawk; he refused to let me go until I got it up to standard. Up to his standards is more like it.”
Biggs laughed and took Luke by the arm. “C’mon. I want you see what I did with the fuel intake manifold; ought to give me a twenty percent boost in acceleration off the starting mark.”
Luke followed Biggs through the unusually crowded streets of Anchorhead. This was Boonta Eve, and Biggs was entered in all the annual Boonta Eve races. It had taken Luke two solid months of being on his best behavior for his uncle just to be here now, but all that time spent on the farm meant that Luke hadn’t been able to scrounge up enough credits to pay the absorbent entry fees for the races.
“When you didn’t show, I thought you might have given in to a fit of boredom and gotten yourself grounded again.”
“Are you kidding? I made sure I didn’t put a toe out of line. The only way I was going to miss this was if I actually died of boredom!” Luke looked all around, trying to take in everything at once. Anchorhead’s celebration was nowhere near the scale of Mos Espa and the other port cities, but all the locals had come out for it – and especially for the night’s races. This was the time and place for all the local hotshots to show off their T-16s, and for Biggs Darklighter to defend his title. He had won the Boonta Eve Cup two years in a row.
Luke let out a low whistle as he pulled himself loose from the T-16's aft access panel. But before he could say anything Biggs motioned him silent. Then Luke caught sight of Fixer gazing curiously in their direction while he pretended to be checking over his own Skyhopper. Luke turned his back in that direction.
“Fixer doesn’t know?”
Biggs grinned. “I bought about twenty different parts from him over the past few weeks just to mess with his head. He knows I’m up to something; he’s dying to find out what.” His grin widened. “Better close up that panel. He’s just sent over his spy.”
Luke got the panel sealed and locked down just in time to turn and see Camie sauntering toward them with a little more sway to her hips than was really necessary. Luke looked away and tried not to laugh. Camie was beautiful from head to toe, no doubt about that, and it was a good thing the races started at dusk because the way she was dressed at the moment would have left a great deal of her skin susceptible to sunburn... but there was no way she was getting any information out of Biggs about his skyhopper before the race, at least not anything that Biggs didn’t want Fixer to know.
The two of them watched Camie circle the skyhopper pausing every once and while to bat her eyes at them and ask questions that they knew Fixer had to have fed her. For all the time Camie spent hanging around Fixer and the other pilots at Tosche Station, she had absolutely no knowledge or interest in the workings of a skyhopper, and that was obvious by how easily she believed what Biggs was telling her. Luke had to work hard at keeping a straight face while Biggs pretended to part with his secrets, answering her questions with completely bogus information.
Only once Camie had sauntered back in Fixer’s direction did Biggs’s suave and playful expression abruptly change. Luke quickly turned his head to follow his friend’s now blank stare.
“I don’t get it,” Luke confessed when Biggs continued to stare, entranced. “Who is she?”
A smile crossed Biggs’s face, not the usual carefree grin, but a slow, pleasantly distracted smile. “That, Hotshot,” Biggs said, looking back to Luke and concerning himself with one last inspection of his ship, “is Kandji Sunstealer. Her father is the new Tri-Seat Magistrate. They just arrived on the shuttle a week ago. I’ve seen her around Tosche Station. She’s amazing.” Biggs grinned his usual grin. “She won’t give me the time of day.” Luke winced at that surprising fact. “But,” Biggs amended as he locked down the last maintenance hatch, “I found out she’s giving out the trophy tonight in her father’s place. I’m gonna make sure she hands it to me, and then she has to notice me, now doesn’t she?”
Luke shook his head in confusion at the rhetorical question. “I still don’t get it. So she’s pretty and all, but, you can have any girl you want, Biggs. You walk into the room and girls watch your every move, hoping you’ll notice.”
“That’s just it, Luke,” Biggs insisted adamantly as he climbed up into the cockpit to run the engine through its pre-flight check, “there’s no challenge in that.”
“Challenge.... I never thought of it that way,” Luke admitted. The callous sounding phrase reminded him of harsh talk that sometimes went on between the boys at Tosche Station when there weren’t any girls around, the kind of talk that made his ears go red, things he hated to imagine Uncle Owen or Aunt Beru finding out that he had even listened to.
Biggs caught a glimpse of crimson in his friend’s face as he vaulted back to the ground. “I just mean that anything worth having is worth fighting for,” he tried to explain. Then he shook his head. “She’s worth fighting for,” Biggs decided breathlessly. The awe in his tone of voice when talked about this girl couldn’t have been further removed from that harsh, callous talk.
“I’m sure she has every young hotshot in the territories trying to get her attention, but she’s not going to give me or anyone else the time of day until they can prove to her that they’re worth it. That’s the challenge,” Biggs stated certainly. “Winning the races won’t prove anything, but it will gain me a few minutes of her attention, and that’s a start.”
Luke nodded, not quite comfortable over the idea of competing for a girl who still may not want anything to do with you, but Biggs clearly did like the idea. He was as determined as Luke had ever seen him to win that trophy, simply because Kandji would be handing it to him.
Biggs did beat out Fixer and a host of other pilots to win the Boonta Eve Cup. By the end of the night he had won seven of the ten races in which he competed to take the trophy in impressive fashion. And as Biggs stood before the crowds, with holo stills being taken, the beautiful Kandji handed him the trophy.
“You know,” Biggs offered as they stood there posing for the holos, “it’s tradition for the cup winner to take the trophy presenter for a celebratory drink.”
Kandji smiled deviously. “Then you and Magistrate Hardress must have had a nice time last year.”
Those within hearing distance snickered at the idea of Biggs taking Flint Sunstealer’s Pacithhip predecessor out for a drink. Luke winced. But Biggs only nodded, amused by her rebuttal.
“Good try, Darklighter.” Fixer slapped him on the back and proudly left the stage with his second place trophy in hand.
Kandji waited until the others cleared off a few steps, then walked behind Biggs. “That doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up,” she whispered, but by the time Biggs had turned in her direction the girl had already moved away.
Biggs took her encouragement to heart and they made a game of pursuit and indifference over the next month. Biggs pursued Kandji relentlessly, in spite of his father’s delight and her father’s dismay. Huff Darklighter loved the match. Meanwhile Flint Sunstealer tried to convince his daughter that his placement here was only temporary; they would leave Tatooine soon enough and she would be unwise to become attached to the locals, especially to the ambitious Huff’s son. Still Kandji managed to show up at the right places and times to run into Biggs around Anchorhead or Tosche Station, or see him racing his T-16 at Beggar’s Canyon.
“Let me buy you a mocha,” Biggs offered. “One cup. After that, if you don’t want any more of my company, you can go and I won’t bother you again.”
Kandji glanced in Luke’s direction, as if expecting him to jump in and vouch for the quality of his friend’s company. Luke squirmed nervously under her glare for a few seconds before looking away. He couldn’t argue that Kandji was beautiful. She had shoulder length straight black hair that fell in curtains around her face and shimmered with just a slight tint of midnight blue as she routinely swept it out of her eyes (the locals said she got that exotic touch from her mother, who had been only part human). Her eyes were a magnetic shade of midnight blue against otherwise normal, if flawless, features. And when she smiled, which she did sparingly for Biggs, she was truly amazing.
She smiled now, and took a step closer to Biggs
Biggs was really turning on the charm, and outdoing himself in persistence. Luke wondered if Kandji would refuse him again.
She cupped her hand against his cheek and Biggs swallowed hard. At that particular moment he wouldn’t have been surprised if she kissed him or slapped him across the face. But she did neither. Her smile widened.
“Just one cup,” she said, leaning a little closer. Then she withdrew.
Biggs was so ecstatic it was all he could do not to whoop in celebration as she walked away. “I knew I could convince her,” he whispered. Finally Kandji had agreed to something resembling a date!
“What about her father?” Luke asked cautiously. “He still doesn’t want her to see you.”
Biggs shrugged. He had no intention of letting minor details bring him down. “It’s just a cup of mocha. If it goes beyond that I’ll talk to him about seeing her,” he conceded.
Luke nodded. To pursue her otherwise would be dishonorable, to both Kandji and her father. “Your father?” he asked next.
Biggs snorted. “I don’t know if I can endure his gloating, but for Kandji, I’ll try,” he grinned.
Luke shook his head. Biggs’s only Achilles heel was an ardent desire for rebellion against his father. It didn’t matter if it was something big or small, if Huff Darklighter was for it Biggs was usually against it, and vice versa. The two of them were like night and day, and that was the way Biggs liked it. Luke knew that it must have greatly pained Biggs to do something his father was so much in favor of... and it didn’t help that Huff would never let him hear the end of it. He would brag on the match far and wide, confident that an alliance with the Sunstealers would greatly improve his own standing.
“You really like her,” Luke offered.
Biggs sighed. “It’s more than ‘like’. There’s just something about her, Luke. I can’t explain it. It’s like, the person I am when she’s around is the person I want to be all the time....”
Luke nodded, even though he didn’t understand what that was supposed to mean at all. But from the smile on Biggs’s face it was a very good thing. Luke silently hoped that Kandji would turn out to be worth his friend’s affections.
Later that evening the two sat facing each other over their mochas in a small, out-of-the-way shop, one Biggs had chosen for its quiet atmosphere. He didn’t want any of the regular crowd from Tosche Station to come crashing in on them. They had just started on their second order; neither was eager to remember that the original agreement was only for one cup.... They sat there with undivided attentions solely on each other, slowly sipping at their drinks as the conversation developed, each fascinated by the other.
Biggs found talking to Kandji was both difficult and easy. As hard as it was at times to find the right words, he felt compelled to share, compelled to show her who he was. And he hoped that she would like the person he showed her. He told her about coming to Anchorhead with his father and meeting Luke. He talked about how he had worked alongside Luke to earn enough credits to buy that run down, piece-of-junk skyhopper, then the two of them had overhauled it piece by piece until Luke was satisfied that it was as good as anything else flying. And he also talked about his father. Huff Darklighter proudly offered his son a life of privilege, all the best that money could buy... and he had raised his son to be strong-minded and independent. Naturally Biggs rebelled.
He disagreed with the mind set of privilege and attitude of entitlement that Huff lived by. Biggs took pride in tuning his skyhopper with his own hands and working alongside Luke on the moisture farm, and he refused to take favors from the locals wanting to make nice with the local agriculture magnate through his son.
“I figured out a long time ago they were using me,” he said of the locals who had tried to curry favor through Biggs. “No matter what I got out of it, it wasn’t worth it. Same way anything I get from my father isn’t half as rewarding as what I can do with my own hands.”
He had never really tried to put those things into words, the things he believed, the way he wanted to live his life – what made him who he was. But he enjoyed talking about those things to Kandji. Not only did he want her to know who he was, but it was like he started to better understand who he was as they talked.
“And flying?” Kandji asked.
He shrugged, widening his characteristic, infectious grin. “Something I do on my own, for myself. And I’m the best at it,” he answered without humility.
Biggs could be incredibly cocky, arrogant even, when it came to his skills as a pilot, but those qualities didn’t extend into the rest of his life, and they didn’t determine how he treated people. That made him different from every other hotshot pilot Kandji had encountered on the numerous backwater worlds where her father had taken assignments. For Biggs, competition was only a way to test himself, to prove himself to himself. The things he truly valued were more ordinary things, things many beings took for granted. Friendship. Loyalty. Fair play. Hard work. She had come here expecting him to regale her with stories of his racing triumphs, meant to showcase his superior skill and nerve – and after a cup’s worth of swagger and bragging she would be out the door.
Kandji lowered her eyes hesitantly. Biggs Darklighter had surprised her. She would readily admit that in the beginning she had been toying with him. She had expected him to quickly lose interest; after a few rebuffs his ego would tire of rejection and he would return to the sure comforts of his admirers. By the time that happened she would have learned all she wanted to know about the local hotshot, enough to appreciate that his loss of interest in her was no big loss.... Only neither of those patterns had played out as expected with Biggs. He had continued to pursue her, and the more she learned about his character the more intrigued she had become.
But another strange thing had started to happen lately. She had begun to worry that her own plan might backfire on her. She couldn’t shake the worry, or was it already a fear, that maybe that competitive part of his nature was all that really attracted him to her.
“Is that all I am to you then,” she asked coyly, trying to cover her newfound wariness and the disappointment waiting to blossom behind it, “a challenge, to win my affections?”
“No,” he answered. You are the most beautiful, exciting thing I’ve ever seen.”
She smiled. It was a line, and a good one, one that he’d maneuvered her into as expertly as he maneuvered his skyhopper through the canyon turns.
“No,” Biggs whispered. He took her hand. “I mean it. I don’t know anything about you and I want to know everything about you.”
She blinked, her pretty eyes, the color of midnight, colored with surprise. “Why?”
Biggs’s bright green eyes blinked back at her. “You’re special. And when I’m close to you I feel a part of that. I feel alive and at home and... I haven’t felt that...” he hesitated and swallowed hard, “not since my mother died,” he finished quietly. His eyes lowered and he studied the table under his cup, afraid that he’d said too much, yet knowing there was no way to call the words back now.
This time she reached for his hand and for a long moment he sat still, feeling her fingers against his own, unwilling to look up.
“I know what you mean,” her reply came very softly; his ears strained to hear it. “I was really little when my mom died, but it’s like a part of you stops being whole. And you’re always waiting for the next loss.” Silence settled over them again. Biggs slowly looked up; he watched her face as Kandji watched the stroking of her fingers against his hand. “I think that’s why father’s always kept us moving. No time get close to anyone, no time for loss to catch you unaware again.”
Biggs wrapped his other hand around hers, gently stilling her fingers. Kandji cautiously lifted her eyes to him, surprised. Then they smiled at each other, and they sat there holding hands, no need to say anything more.
Once the evening had grown late enough Biggs stood and walked Kandji home, both of them walking as slowly as possible under the moons and a sea of stars. They lingered even longer outside her home, until Kandji had promised to see him again tomorrow. She glanced toward the house, where a light had come on in the front window.
“I have to go,” she whispered regretfully. But she remained motionless.
Then she stood on her tip toes to leave a soft kiss on his cheek.
Biggs smiled widely, watching as Kandji disappeared inside. He’d knew he’d never forget that kiss.... Biggs saw her father peering anxiously through a curtain in the front window, but even Flint Sunstealer’s disapproval didn’t concern him tonight. He was sure he could find a way to smooth things out with the girl’s father, and there would be time to worry about that later. For now Biggs walked slowly for home... his head filled with the promise of seeing Kandji again tomorrow, remembering the soft feel of her fingertips against his hand, basking in the way his cheek still felt warm from the touch of her lips.
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004