If you don’t want your grand entrance spoiled, make sure you keep those blast doors oiled!
This post was sponsored by Stormtrooper Larry and Watto’s WD-40.
Imagine you are one of the last two Jedi left in the galaxy. From a considerable force once numbering in the thousands, in one broad stroke your entire group was suddenly and almost completely annihilated, until only two of you were left.
Your sole hope rests in two infants, a boy and a girl. You hope that someday they will grow strong in the Force like their father, and continue the millennia-long tradition of the Jedi. For now however, they are simply too young, and they must be kept hidden if the light side is to endure.
So you decide to split them up: one is sent to a backwater planet that attracts little attention, the other goes to a staunchly independent world firmly opposed to tyranny.
And yet, the risk is too great. All over the galaxy, the shadow of darkness is creeping, and it would be unthinkable to pin the Jedi’s continued existence on two helpless infants that could be caught at any time. As the Choon’ta saying went, “Don’t pour all your credits in one bet.”
And so you adapt. The old Jedi order is gone, and with it all traditions and long-held beliefs. Just as the Sith evolved to take over the Republic, so too must the Jedi change to avoid extinction.
In your desert world of exile, you encounter a woman strong in the Force. She is too old to be trained, and you have already failed with your last padawan.
So instead of taking on an apprentice, you do the unthinkable: you begin a relationship with the woman. As a man of the galaxy, you easily win her affection, since the gifted but naive girl has never even seen the stars.
In time she falls in love.
Unfortunately, you don’t feel the same. After all, you are a product of the old order, one that forbids attachment or affection. You’ve grown too old to be flexible, and it fills you with loathing to be using someone who loves you with all her being.
Eventually, you accomplish your goal: she sires your offspring. You look forward to settling down and molding your son in the light. However, the enemy is everywhere, and a flame that shines brightly cannot be hidden for long. Shortly after your son’s birth, you experience the first attack, one out of many to come. By the fifth incident, it has grown grave enough to involve the dreaded troopers in black.
There is no respite from the Empire. To ensure their survival, you abandon your family in the middle of the night. While your wife sleeps, you kiss her one last time and pull the old Jedi mind wipe. As far as your family is concerned, you were killed in a Tusken raid during the Great Drought.
Filled with a deep sense of shame, you continue to watch them from afar, making sure their needs are met. Each time you can’t help but feel the sense of sadness and heartbreak radiating from the mother. But there is little you can do, for you know that returning will put their lives at risk.
You spend your time watching between your two charges: one sired by your former apprentice, and the other from your own seed. It’s funny how the Empire combs the hyperlanes, ruthlessly hunting down sentients who show even modest Force potential. While on this backwater planet in the Outer Rim are the beings who could someday challenge the Emperor’s reign, the same planet where it all started.
You remember a briefing you gave to your clonetroopers a lifetime ago: “For every Plan Aurek, there must be a Plan Bacta. And it doesn’t hurt to have a Plan Crishna.” You have no idea how the female twin is doing, for to contact Alderaan is to put them at risk. So you operate on the assumption that the future rests on this barren desert world. You only know that now there is a real possibility of survival. And now that you are caring for two of them, you resolve never to get caught alive.
As the months become years, the sadness of your lonely exile grows into guarded hope. Both boys show strong potential, though you’ve had to secretly intervene several times in their wild adolescent years. One day, one or both of them will be old enough to carry on the Jedi tradition. Perhaps one day they will even have their own academy, and train a new generation of guardians. Or maybe it will be their offspring, still imbued with the Force, who will restore freedom to the galaxy. This is the dream that keeps you alive in your lonely hovel in the desert.
And yet, knowing all of these doesn’t assuage your feeling of guilt for abandoning her. You can only hope that someday, you can finally explain everything to Riella. And finally connect with your own son, Ren.
Liked this story? Then be sure to read this one about the showdown on Sunset boulevard!
He stood in the shadows, waiting.
So far today, he had already dispatched three: one human, one Tydian, and even a droid, an old 2-LOM model. And he had only been trailing the boy for six hours.
Overhead, the twin suns of the desert planet beat down relentlessly. Cloaked figures rushed down shaded avenues to escape the stifling heat. Grimly, he knew that on planets like this, beings tended to stay indoors during the day, and activity tended to pick up at dusk. Three were already down — several more to go at sundown.
One hundred meters away, the subject of his attention turned to look at some useless baubles on a dusty window. The blonde head swung to and fro, like the hyperactive arm of an oscillator set to overdrive. The boy’s wide-eyed innocence at all the things around him was refreshing, if not mildly amusing.
What the boy found fascinating, his watcher considered little more than a hellhole. In fact, just the latest in a series of hellholes he had to live in, after the fall of the old system and the rise of a new order. Mos Etnoh considered itself a cosmopolitan place, with its rundown tourist attractions and “historical” landmarks that were likely put up a fortnight ago. Whereas Mos Espa prided itself on being a gambling zone and home of the Boonta Eve, and Mos Eisley was unabashedly a smuggler’s hive of scum and villainy, Mos Etnoh still clung to its pretensions of being the planet’s cultural center, if ever the world even had one.
Further ahead, a female voice called, calling the boy back to his guardians. The watcher took the opportunity to cross the street, ending in the same dusty window formerly occupied by his charge.
Without meaning to, he caught a glimpse of his reflection: a hooded figure in brown, with a graying beard and the tanned leathery skin of an old desert hand. Had he really aged that much? Even the most brutal years of the Clone Wars did not take such a toll on him.
His musing were cut short by movement to his right. An old Xhillian rushed down the street, muttering about the infernal heat. Xhillians were a long-lived species, easily matching a Hutt. By the mottled gray skin of this one, he was obviously past the 500-year mark. And yet, he moved faster than a newly hatched spawn.
The bearded man pretended to study the same baubles that fascinated the boy, watching the Xhillian’s reflection on the unwashed pane. A moment later, his suspicions proved correct — there was a brief flash of silver on the old being’s sleeve. The split-second glint would have been unnoticeable to most, but not to the watcher. It was the unmistakable silhouette of a holdout blaster.
Slowly he turned. The Xhillian glanced once in his direction before hurrying on, intent on pursuing the same quarry. That was his fatal mistake.
After making sure there were no additional eyes on the street, the watcher lashed out, catching the alien midstride. The blaster, already primed for action, fell from his robe.
The Xhillian’s gray hide briefly flashed yellow in alarm. As the blaster clattered loudly on the ferrocrete, his skin took on a deep crimson red. Anger.
The two figures faced each other in the canyon of the alley: one snarling, the other quietly confident.
In the blink of an eye, the red alien raised his other sleeve, revealing a second holdout blaster. But the tanned human was faster — before the arm was even halfway up, its owner was already embedded with three prongs of a Kamino saberdart, coated with their trademark poison.
The Xhillian fell. The human remained standing over his quickly graying corpse.
The only witness to the duel was a hunched beggar, who quickly learned to look away and mind his own business.
The watcher hurried on to catch the boy. Four down so far, several more to go. Dusk was quickly approaching.
As he moved, he turned to look back at the being whose life he just took. Unlike before, the man no longer felt any pangs of regret, no sudden bouts of conscience in his new role. His head swung back to his fair-haired quarry. The Xhillian was already the past — he had to focus on the present.
As he did, a sudden tingle of alarm gripped him, the same sense that enabled him to survive all throughout the Clone Wars and the turbulent period that followed. There was something familiar about that beggar.
Just as he turned to look, a sudden flash of emerald brilliance bathed the street, before being quickly extinguished. The watcher looked at the cauterized hole on his chest, gasped, and staggered.
A hand steadied him. The old beggar.
“Quietly now, my friend.”
The man looked up at a face much like his own. Graying beard, tanned skin, crisscrossing lines of worry permanently etched by years of hardship and countless battles. But the blazing blue eyes were unmistakable.
The shadows deepened and dusk settled. As his breathing shallowed and faded, the watcher mused on the irony of it all. After three long years, he had finally tracked his ticket to a Core promotion: the rumored son of Skywalker himself. Only to be caught by the boy’s real guardian, a figure who was long thought to be dead. A figure that he had served with during the Clone Wars, no less.
Before he slipped into oblivion, the watcher’s last thought was how bitterly unfair it was that the Emperor or anyone in the ISB would never know what he discovered.
Overhead, the twin suns set. The old beggar blended back in the shadows, as the boy and his adoptive guardians went on their way, across the undulating sands of the Dune Sea.