Wednesday, July 30, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 35: Fostering Hope

A long time ago, there was a young man who hated the idea of living out his life on the desert world of Tatooine.  He stared longingly at the horizon as the twin suns set.

His name was Owen Lars.  The son of an idealist who risked and lost everything battling against the terrible forces that plagued his world, Owen married early but found he could never have children of his own.  At first he was overjoyed when he was given custody of his unruly brother-in-law's young boy.  It was a chance at a fresh start, not only for the boy, but for himself.  He saw Anakin Skywalker as the source of all his problems.  And he saw Anakin's boy Luke as the potential to solve all of them.

As Luke grew older, Owen was troubled to see signs of all the problems Anakin had embodied.  He struggled to keep Luke from a similarly bad ending.  He knew the boy resented him for it.  No boy likes to have barriers set around him.  But Owen knew about limits.  He wanted to overcome them, too.  He wanted Luke to help him.  Luke wanted nothing to do with him.  It hurt.

One day, they were purchasing a pair of new droids together.  Luke had been making the case for attending the Imperial Academy again, saying that it was unfair that all his friends had already gone and there he was stuck on the moisture farm fixing evaporators instead of doing something with his life.  The argument continued as soon as they got home.  It never ended.  It didn't help that the boy spent the free time he didn't waste with his friends hanging out in the hut of the old hermit, the one who had given Owen custody of Luke in the first place.  The friend of Anakin.  Luke had no idea who the old hermit was.  But Owen did.  He knew all too well.

He had gotten remote.  He'd never been especially communicative, but lately he'd been on the verge of giving up on the boy.  He knew a losing cause when he saw one.  Such was the story of Tatooine.  He no longer tried explaining himself rationally.  He made vague promises he had no intention of keeping.  He was dismissive.  He didn't even try to tell Luke what he knew about the old hermit.  There had been a time.  But that time was past.

Then the Storm Troopers showed up.  The boy had gone off early in the morning.  He'd been gone too long.  Owen wasn't concerned.  The only danger on this world was dying of boredom.  The soldiers of the Empire asked him about the droids he'd acquired, implied that they were stolen property.  He tried to tell them that was the case with all Jawa goods, with everything on this world.  A world of scavengers.  The only way to survive.  The Storm Troopers didn't care.  They threatened him.  They threatened his wife.

When they left, he realized he had an opportunity.  He suspected the droids were more important than they appeared.  The tracking device told him one of them had run off in the direction of the old hermit.  The moment had come.  There could be only one reason for this.  Finally the galaxy was coming back to Tatooine.  Finally the fight was lost.  He had lost Luke forever.

So he had a decision.  If the boy hesitated, Owen didn't know what to say.  He couldn't live like this anymore.  He needed a new start.  The only way to get one was to create a clean break.

He remembered what Anakin had once done to solve his problems.  He'd done what had to be done.  So Owen tracked down the Jawas that had sold him the droids, and he slaughtered them.  He told himself while he was doing it that it was a necessary evil.  He doubled back home and told his wife that they were leaving, and that they would have to make it look like they hadn't left by choice.  He found a couple of corpses.  It was best to not think of who they had once been.  And they set the corpses, and their whole homestead, on fire.

He knew what the boy would think.  It would be the most logical conclusion.  Affirmation for the course he had already been set on.  A better one, Owen told himself, than his father's.  He could admit that now.  He had released himself from the resentment he'd felt all his life.  Resentment for a life that had never gone his way.

He tried not to think about what he'd done.  He tried to forget.  He told himself his wife would stop looking at him that way, in time.  Still, he had a bad feeling.

They settled on Coruscant.  In previous days it had been a beacon of civilization.  Since the dawn of the Empire, it had come to know oppression.  But Owen had known oppression, too.  This was nothing like it.  From this unique vantage point, he could watch what his adopted son accomplished.  And he could work toward redemption.  He really believed that.

All things were possible, even hope.

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