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
The Stone Needle
As Biggs had predicted, a generous influx of credits had quite an effect on the application process. Not only was Biggs accepted, he was cleared to enroll (along with Tank) in the current semester even through it had started a few weeks earlier. As a result Biggs left for the Academy almost immediately, off to a life of excitement and challenge... while Luke was off to work on vaperators and condensers.
The following week was the worst of his life; Luke had lost his best friend and he wondered if he had lost his future as well. He felt abandoned and trapped, like he’d never leave the farm, never get off Tatooine. Those thoughts left him feeling angry and depressed. He couldn’t focus on anything, he had no patience. As a result, everything he touched seemed to fall apart spectacularly – so spectacularly that Uncle Owen actually told him to stop working on the vaperators until he got his head together. Nothing else to do, he worked on his skyhopper, but the motivation just wasn’t there. Without Biggs it didn’t feel fun anymore.
Luke headed for Beggar’s Canyon at the usual time and ran the usual speed runs. That, at least, was an activity that didn’t allow him to think. For a few precious minutes at a time there was only the feel of speed, action and reaction, and flying on pure instinct. He whooped in celebration when he beat his own best time, but there was no one there to share the victory.
“Would you look at this,” Fixer’s voice came over the comm. “Wormie’s out here blasting womp rats all by his lonesome.”
“Lay off, Fixer,” Luke growled. He brought his skyhopper back toward the start/finish line and saw Fixer lining up alongside Deak and Windy, set to race. Suddenly the anger he’d been holding under the surface started to bubble up over the top. “So Biggs is gone a week, and you think you’re gonna take his place around here.”
“Skywalker’s always thought he was as good as Biggs,” Deak laughed.
“You think you can take me, line up, Wormie,” Fixer challenged.
Luke hit the accelerator and swung his skyhopper into position on the start line. Last in a line of four skyhoppers was poor track position; he’d be lucky to get anything on the turns.... Luke was still lining up when the flag dropped. He swore in anger and punched the accelerator hard, but the others had already beaten him off the start. Fixer was laughing.
“How you doing back there, Wormie?”
Luke was gaining on Deak for third place but he knew he had no hope of passing him in this stretch of the canyon so he fell into line with the others, hugging the first few turns. Then Luke made his decision with a smile. So they wanted to play dirty... he’d show them there was more than one way to beat Beggar’s Canyon.
“I’ll see you at the needle, Fix,” Luke called and peeled off through the shortest passage. The other racers continued on Fixer’s tail.
Luke emerged from the passage into the flat at the same time Fixer did. Taking the short pass had allowed him regain time and given him a shot at the lead. He knew his skyhopper could beat Fixer’s in a straight out drag race, and so did Fixer.
They fought for the lead, banging and beating on each other, until Fixer finally got the better of the exchange. He pushed Luke off course then peeled away toward the finish. By the time Luke had recovered he had two options: follow Fixer and the others and likely take last place or... Luke pulled off the throttle and started climbing.
“Luke, what are you doing?” Windy squawked.
“No turning back now,” Luke mumbled to himself. The needle was dead ahead. “Guess we’ll see if I am as good as Biggs,” Luke answered over the comm. He climbed steadily, ignoring the battering of the crosswinds. “Here goes nothing,” Luke breathed.
He lined the ship up with the needle, fighting against the controls to stay on course as the needle drew closer. A second later he was almost through it. Luke whooped a victory cry. Then the wind shifted just enough to cause his dorsal foil to scrape the needle. The skyhopper shuddered violently as it cleared the needle, and Luke abruptly lost maneuverability. He worked the controls frantically, trying to level the ship, but he was going down.
“Luke’s in trouble!” Windy yelled over the comm, pulling up just as Fixer and Deak sped for the finish.
Luke tried everything he could to slow the ship and keep it level but there was no way to prevent the crash. He hit the ground and skidded across the packed sand for a few seconds, gritting his teeth and trying not to imagine the damage being done to his wings. Then the starboard foil caught a rock ledge buried under the sand and the ship was sent flipping end over end. Luke closed his eyes and concentrated, praying silently to himself that the cockpit would hold together. If it shattered and he was thrown out... at these speeds, he was as good as dead.
A minute later the world had come to an agonizing stop. Luke cautiously unstrapped and forced the cockpit canopy open. The skyhopper was a mangled mess. He winced and ran his hand alongside one of the wings. All three foils had taken heavy damage; he felt sick, and not just from the wild ride.
Windy came racing up beside him followed by a curious Deak, and Luke assured his disbelieving friends that he was all right; in fact there was not a scratch on him. Fixer remained on the finish line, sour that Luke had still managed to steal his glory even though Fixer had won the race. Luke scowled in Fixer’s direction; Fixer knew Luke was better than him, and if he hadn’t raced dirty none of this would have happened.
“Ah, don’t worry about him, Luke,” Windy urged. “I’ll help you get your skyhopper home. But I’ve got nowhere for you to ride,” he added in apology.
“I’ve got my speeder. I’ll take him,” Breanna offered.
Luke turned in her direction. “Thanks.” He hadn’t seen her approach, yet he wasn’t surprised that Breanna would be here when he needed her.
She waited for him while Luke and Windy got Luke’s skyhopper set up to tow. Then Luke flopped into the passenger side of her speeder where he spent most of the long ride back in silence. He felt exhausted. Sure, Fixer had raced dirty, but Luke had known that he would. It was Luke’s pride and his recklessness that had nearly gotten him killed. And even worse, his skyhopper was scrap.
“Can you fix it?” Breanna asked cautiously.
Luke shrugged. “It’ll take a while.”
“I’m sorry, Luke.”
He looked in her direction, surprised. He hadn’t expected her to be worried about his skyhopper. If anything he should have been apologizing to her; he knew she worried over him; seeing him crash had probably scared her half to death. Luke shrugged again, feeling even worse. “It’s not important.”
She looked back at him. “Yes it is,” she said quietly. “I know how much flying means to you, and you and Biggs rebuilt that skyhopper almost from scratch.”
Luke nodded, feeling a new wave of guilt and inadequacy wash over him. “It was a stupid mistake,” he growled. “In a fair race I could cream Fixer. I don’t know why I let him goad me into it in the first place. Then I tried to thread the needle. I should have known I couldn’t do it; I’m not Biggs.”
“You’re not,” Breanna said softly. It wasn’t an accusation, just a simple statement, but the way she said it managed to make him feel better all the same.
“I really miss him, Brea,” Luke said softly.
Breanna nodded. “I know you do, Luke,” she said softly. And she let Luke remain silent for the remainder of the trip. She was worried for him. Biggs’s leaving for the Academy was hitting Luke really hard. He had reacted badly, and he knew it.
When they arrived at the farm Windy was just unstrapping what was left of Luke’s skyhopper from behind his own skyhopper. Uncle Owen was standing on the lip of the courtyard watching, arms crossed, every line of his body and face tense, like he was about to explode.
“Uh oh,” Luke said.
“He’ll be glad you weren’t hurt,” Breanna offered optimistically.
“Yeah, for about two minutes. Then he’ll yell at me for two hours and ground me for at least a month.” Luke got out. “Thanks again.” He smiled hesitantly at her, wanting to thank her for more than the ride home.
Breanna nodded back. “You sure you don’t want me to stay around for a little bit; the yelling may not be as bad.”
Luke grinned. “Thanks,” he said again, “but you ought to get home too. I’ll ask Windy to fly with you, make sure you don’t have any trouble on the way.”
She nodded. “Take care, Luke,” she said with a little smile.
Luke nodded in return, and he went to talk to Windy next.
“Wow,” Windy craned his head to look around Luke, “your uncle looks real mad.”
“I know. Why don’t you head out before the fireworks start,” Luke suggested.
Windy nodded eagerly. “Yeah.”
“Hey, Win,” Luke added, “could you give Breanna a fly by? I’d do it myself if I could.”
“Sure, Luke,” he answered with a sympathetic nod. The Sandpeople didn’t usually bother moving landspeeders, even though the average speeder didn’t have much in the way of defenses. Sandpeople weren’t usually active during the day either, unless they were migrating; their hunting parties usually went out at dusk or dawn... but they had all been more cautious about Sandpeople over the past couple months.
Luke shook Windy’s hand, thanked him again, and waved to him and Breanna as they left. Then he turned to face his uncle. Uncle Owen was furious. Luke had expected that. Luke let him yell for a while, until he had had enough and couldn’t tolerate any more, then Luke yelled back, went to his room and shut the door behind him. He didn’t feel any better, and his outburst had just increased his grounding to two months.
Luke fell across his bed; he felt completely exhausted and he was asleep in minutes.
Before dawn the next day Luke had moved the skyhopper into the garage (Owen had permitted that but no more). As soon as it settled to the floor the cockpit split down the center seam, finally giving out from the stress of the crash landing. Luke stood there staring as he took a deep breath, remembering how fervently he had hoped it would hold together through the crash. And before that, he had somehow maintained just enough control over the foundering ship to bring it down into a skid and avoid a head on impact with the canyon floor. In other words Luke knew as surely as he had the first time he had crashed at the needle that his survival was more than luck.
Like Breanna, Aunt Beru kept saying it was a miracle that Luke hadn’t been hurt. Luke knew it was more than that. He was so tired of not understanding. As long as he stayed here he would never understand anything but sand! Luke stood back from the skyhopper. Uncle Owen was bellowing for him; if he didn’t come in to breakfast now he’d go without... and something snapped in Luke. He decided he didn’t care. He didn’t know where he was going, he didn’t care that he was grounded. He hopped astride his uncle’s speeder bike and took off at full blast.
By late afternoon Luke found himself in a cave out in the middle of nowhere, or to be more specific: it was somewhere between the dune sea and the Jundland Wastes. That particular cave would have been nearly impossible to find if you didn’t already know it was there, which was one of the reasons Luke liked it. It had been his get away spot since he had stumbled over it at as a kid, years ago at Annalis’s betroval ceremony. Back then he had explored the caves, doing battle with invisible foes on strange worlds. Times since he had come here just to sit in the quiet and think. Today he was attempting to work out his restless energy through the physical exertion of testing himself against the cave. He had scouted the caverns until he found one with a steep cleft wall, and set to climbing it. The exercise helped clear his head from his troubles since he had to focus on what he was doing or risk a nasty fall to the rock floor, but the challenge of it made him feel energetic and alive.
That morning he had headed to Tosche Station, but his situation hadn’t improved any once he got there. Biggs was gone and without him to keep them the others in check Fixer and his gang were ruthless. Even Windy didn’t dare go against them enough to stand up for Luke. Further dejected, he had taken the long way home and ended up here, needing someplace to stop and think.
Luke paused in his climbing, startled when heard the hum of an approaching speeder. A faint smile crossed him as he worked his way back toward the floor. Even if he hadn’t recognized the sound of the engine he would have known that only one person would have come looking for him here.
“Sounds like you used a horizontal booster to increase the repulsorlift power,” Luke said when he entered the main tunnel.
Breanna was standing near the entrance, looking into the cavern where Luke had stowed the speeder bike. She turned toward his voice and smiled, relieved to see him.
“I noticed that yesterday,” Luke added, “but I forgot to ask how you did it.”
“I used a power adapter to control the surge so I could hook it into the repulsor coil without the coil burning out,” Breanna answered.
Luke nodded, impressed. “I bet the increased repulsorlift power adds about thirty percent to the thrust.”
“And takes half the pressure off the thrusters, less resistance.”
Luke nodded again. That was a good way to increase power capability, and it reduced wear on the engine at the same time.
“I went by Tosche Station this afternoon...” Breanna told him, “couldn’t believe it when they said you’d been there. I thought your uncle would ground you for sure.”
Luke grimaced. “He did.”
“Oh.” Breanna grimaced too. But she came inside and sat down on a rock ledge. Luke paced across the floor.
“I’ve got to be crazy for disobeying him. Ever since Biggs left – I just feel like I’m flying blind and I can’t get my bearings. I’ve always had this feeling like I didn’t belong, but now it’s all the time – I don’t belong here. I wish I could have gone with Biggs to the Academy.” Luke paused in his thoughts and in his stride, then he sat down beside Breanna. “That day we fought... Biggs said something. He basically told me I was afraid to go after what I wanted, and maybe he’s right. I can’t imagine staying here, like this, forever, but I could have tried to go with Biggs and I didn’t. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru need me here.” He glanced at her, deliberately ignoring Biggs’s other thought on why Luke was willing to stay behind. “They might always need me here.”
“What’s wrong with that?” Breanna finally asked softly.
“Nothing, I guess,” Luke admitted. He felt torn by the two sides. “I’ve just always felt like, I don’t know, like I was meant to do more.”
Breanna nodded, taking that in. “You can still go to the Academy.”
“You really think Uncle Owen will let me go?”
She thought about that. “If it’s what you want, then you should go. You’d come back after four years. They may not like it,” Breanna conceded, “but they’d be able to make due without you.”
Luke looked at her for a long moment. “Would you?”
Breanna’s cheeks flushed bright red. “I would wait for you to come back, if we were betroved officially.”
Luke nodded and lowered his head, feeling his ears start to go red. Biggs had been right. Luke had always thought of Breanna as being a part of his future, and Luke didn’t want to loose that.
“You’re right, you know,” she said softly. “You can do more. Windy, Deak, Fixer, and the others, they’ll never leave here, never do anything special, but you will. I believe that.”
Luke lifted his eyes to stare at her, and he shook his head in confusion. “Why?”
She only shrugged. “You’re special, Luke. You’re my husband – one day,” she amended with a smile.
Luke felt a rush of something rare for him: pride. “I’d better get you home,” he said softly.
They stood and walked to the front of the cave, but Luke soon realized that what he had taken for growing twilight was actually a huge sandstorm. It obscured the sky for as far as he could see, and it was coming fast.
“What do we do?” Breanna asked. “We can’t go out in that.”
“We’d better bring everything we can into the cave, and quick,” Luke added.
Together they unloaded the emergency supplies from Breanna’s speeder; the speeder wouldn’t make it through the cave’s entrance so Luke wedged it as best he could behind some rocks and strapped it down under a protective tarp. They pushed his uncle’s speeder bike further into the cavern it was resting in, then moved further into the cave themselves. By then the storm was already upon them.
“How long do you think it’ll last?” Breanna asked cautiously.
“I don’t know,” Luke answered. The storm had been massive, but fast-moving. There was no way to know if it would last an hour or for days.
They settled in to listen to the howling winds. Within ten minutes the cave was pitch dark and bathed in an eerie red tint. That proved the suns were still shining outside, but it was already freezing cold in the cave. Luke didn’t look forward to nightfall under these conditions.
Breanna started to shiver, prompting Luke to retrieve the thermal blankets he’d taken from the speeder and wrap her in one. For now he’d keep himself warm by moving around. They had positioned themselves well away from the entrance, wary of the gusting winds and blowing sands, but Luke still went over every so often to make sure the winds didn’t pile a sand drift against their only exit. There was nothing else they could do but wait it out.
Hours passed with only the howling winds and the creaking stone to listen to, so they made conversation to take their minds off the situation as best as they could. The cold deepened, as did the darkness. They had huddled together under the blankets for warmth, and Luke was in the middle of telling a story about how Uncle Owen had once punished him for reprogramming a field droid to do his household chores. He was startled when Breanna stifled a sob.
“Hey, it’s all right,” he soothed her. “Don’t cry,” he pleaded helplessly.
She shook her head, trying to control the tears, frustrated at herself for breaking down. Then another gust of wind came howling through the cave’s entrance, causing her to jump, and fear got the better of her again. “We could die in here and no one would know, no one would even find us,” she sobbed.
Luke put both arms around her and held her against him. “That’s not going to happen, Brea. I promise.”
She smiled in spite of her tears. “You promise?” she asked skeptically.
Luke smiled sheepishly. They both knew he had no way of controlling the storm or getting them out of here. He just wanted to reassure her. And strangely enough, his promise did reassure her.
“I’ll do everything I can to get us through this and get you back safe to your family.”
She took a steadying breath and tried to smile as she looked up at him. “I know, Luke. And I feel better, just having you with me.”
Luke carefully wiped her cheek with his thumb. “I’ll take care of you. I promise,” Luke whispered.
They stared at each other for a long moment, and both were stunned when the awkward moment of attraction became an almost kiss.
Then Luke pulled back. He couldn’t do this; it wasn’t right. Uncle Owen had drilled into him enough lessons about honor and responsibility, especially where girls were concerned.... But it wasn’t just what he had been told; it was what he understood and what he believed. He had responsibilities to Breanna, but no rights. Besides, she was scared and she wasn’t thinking clearly. She didn’t need him further confusing the matter with the way he was attracted to her.
Breanna dropped her head. Foolishness, she thought bitterly to herself... to think Luke would want to kiss her. “It’s okay,” she whispered. “I see the way other girls look at you, wanting your attention. I don’t blame you....”
“No,” Luke whispered, startled. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
She looked back up at him. “You mean....”
Luke shook his head, blushing profusely. “I wouldn’t kiss any other girl, not when I’m promised to you.”
Breanna smiled, not the tentative smile from a few minutes ago but a bright, hopeful smile.
Luke smiled back. He wouldn’t dishonor his commitment to her, not by ignoring it, and not by taking advantage of it.
“I’m sorry, Luke,” Breanna said softly. “I should have known you weren’t like that. I guess I let my imagination get the better of me sometimes. You know, all those stories Annalis tells, the way girls in Mos Espa throw themselves at the pod race pilots....”
“Nothing like that would ever happen to me,” Luke insisted skeptically. “I’m just another hotshot brush pilot with a souped up T-16.”
She smiled secretively. “It still made me jealous though. Even if it was just Camie fawning over you and Biggs... I didn’t want her anywhere near you,” she admitted.
Luke continued to blush. “Really?”
Breanna laughed and she nodded as she leaned her head against him again.
“Actually,” he admitted slowly, “you’re the only one who’s ever made me feel like I’m anything special, just for who I am.”
“I can’t believe I’m the only one who treats you like you’re something special...” she answered softly.
Luke sighed. With his arm draped around her shoulders he could smell the wonderful scent of her hair, calming and relaxing, and it amazed him that she felt the way she did about him.
“Uncle Owen yells all the time. Aunt Beru tries to keep peace between us but she won’t stand up to him, even if she thinks he’s wrong. I know they love me,” he admitted quietly. “Sometimes I just feel like they don’t understand me at all. They just want me to be who they want me to be.... Biggs was the one who always pushed me to do more, be more.
“I can’t believe it was only a few days ago, last time he came by the farm.... I hadn’t seen him since that day in Tosche Station, when he told me he’d transmitted his application. We talked for about a half hour before he had to leave for Anchorhead, catch the shuttle off world. Now he’s gone. I can’t believe how much I miss him.”
Luke fell silent for a few minutes. “When I was at Beggar’s Canyon today I kept expecting to hear him on the comm. And when I thought I had made it through the needle all I could think was that I couldn’t wait to tell Biggs....”
The silence held for a few more minutes.
“When you crashed at the needle,” Breanna asked cautiously, “was it, you know, like before?”
Luke sighed, but if he was uncomfortable talking about the crash he didn’t show it. “I didn’t feel a warning this time. I don’t remember a whole lot about the race, actually. I was so angry and determined to show Fixer.... But as I was crashing– I know it should have been worse. I know it was more than luck that kept me from being hurt or killed.
Breanna nodded and let go a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. She adored him. Luke could have died in that crash. She could have lost him.
“I wish I understood what it means,” he said softly. “I can’t tell anyone else about those feelings I get. Even Biggs thought I was imagining things. If I even mention anything like that to Uncle Owen he flips out; Aunt Beru gets all quiet like she doesn’t want to even think about it.” Luke paused heavily. “If it wasn’t for you, I’d really think there was something wrong with me.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being different, being able to do things other people can’t. We’re all different, Luke. Don’t let anybody tell you the way you are is wrong.”
“You’ll figure out what it means. I know you will,” she answered.
Luke tightened his arm around her. He wasn’t nearly so certain but he appreciated her vote of confidence. The way she believed in him made it easier for him to believe in himself.
They spent most of the night talking. They talked for hours about their families and what they dreamed for the future. Their conversations were interrupted from time to time by the weather outside the cave. Breanna would shiver and burrow closer against Luke, like she was trying to block out the reality that frightened her. Luke didn’t blame her. In the blackness, with the sandstorm doing its worst outside, it felt like each new gust of wind would bring the cave down around them. He just held her closer and whispered that it would be all right, they were going to make it through the storm. Breanna would nod against him, wipe away the tears, and try the best she could to conquer her fear.
“It’s okay,” Luke whispered more softly, his voice warm against her ear.
“You must think I’m such a coward,” she confessed, her voice shaking.
“No, I don’t think that. I know you’re very strong and very brave. You’re just scared right now.” Luke took a deep breath. “It’s okay to be scared. Just don’t give up hope, Brea. You’ve got to believe we’re going to get through this; it’s the only way we can.”
She nodded, understanding, and held tighter to him. As long as he was with her she did believe. Together, the two of them would be all right.
In a short span of time everything had changed between them. The bond they shared was much more than friendship. For the first time in their lives they each understood what it would mean to care for each other as husband and wife. They both wanted that bond and welcomed that commitment.
Luke woke to a million unpleasant aches, pains, and numb spots that came from sleeping wedged between a rock floor and a rock wall. His stomach was rumbling in protest of multiple missed meals, and his throat felt prickly and parched... but none of those discomforts concerned him at the moment. Breanna slept close beside him, warm, and soft, and utterly beautiful. He eased away, careful not to wake her, and walked to the cave entrance as he had done countless times during the night. The sand drift hadn’t grown any higher since the last time he had cleared it away and the granules barely pelted him when he reached a cautious hand outside. It was clearing. He could even see the beginnings of sunrise lightening the sky.
He returned to Breanna and knelt down beside her. He could make out her golden hair framing her face in the new morning dimness. She was the most beautiful thing....
“Okay? she mumbled sleepily.
He smiled, looking down on her. “Better than okay,” Luke answered. “The storm is passed.”
She blinked her soft grey eyes in surprise and sat up.
“We can go home,” Luke confirmed, smiling.
Breanna smiled and hugged him enthusiastically. Luke hugged her in return, suddenly wishing he never had to let her go.
“C’mon,” he said a moment later when she pulled back cautiously. Luke offered her a hand up. “Let’s see how your speeder weathered the storm.”
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004