Thursday, September 25, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 62: Hope Springs Eternal

Luke Skywalker turns Darth Vader against the Emperor.  The Emperor is eliminated.  Vader dies.  The second Death Star is destroyed.  Across countless worlds, statues of the tyrannical regime are toppled.

And even after all that, they still lost.  The Rebellion failed.  The Empire endures.

It's inconceivable.  On Coruscant, which was once capitol of the Old Republic, a world that has long been famous for being one big city, a massive urban sprawl, a little girl is huddled in an alley, scared and alone and cold.  Her parents were executed as enemies of the states earlier this year.  She's listened to all the stories of the great heroes who were going to end the reign of the men responsible for making her an orphan.

Now everyone's calling the Rebels what the Empire has long labeled them: terrorists.

Luca is trying to decide if she still considers them heroes herself.  It's hard to make decisions like that on an empty stomach.  The only way she was able to survive the last few months was believing the heroes would succeed.  It was the secret hope of billions.  She hasn't slept in days.  She was told their final assault happened a month ago.  She knows all the names.  Everyone knows all the names.  But names are suddenly meaningless again.

The Empire survived.  Levels and levels of bureaucracy.  Only ideals end cruelly.  That's what she's been thinking.  She's had a long hard life and she's only eight years old.  She wonders if life will always be like this.  She allowed herself to believe in change, and now what?

There are people on this world who want Luca to accept change anyway, social workers who want her off the streets and in a new home.  She's resisted until now.  What other choice does she have?  Good things don't happen.  Life takes you wherever it wants you to go.  Free will is a myth.  If your only options are bad, what's the use of making choices at all?

There are angry voices accompanying the demonstrations that persist, the demonstrations that began as soon as the Stormtroopers landed in the wake of the celebrations.  Many more lives have been lost.  Wasted.  Luca coughs.  She's been doing that a lot, too.

She had a friend until recently, someone to share her misery with, but she died.  Luca doesn't know what caused it, but that's just another of her concerns, if she'll die of it, too.  She understands the galaxy has a lot of wonders, a lot of cures.  She doesn't believe in those, either.  She's starting to wonder if she should even bother with her worries.  What's the point?

Then, something happens.  Normally she's distracted by her thoughts, by the feet that swarm all over the place, by the speeders that flit constantly through the dark skies.  But this is no ordinary moment.  She's losing all hope.  And then she sees it.

For the first time, Luca sees life that isn't humanoid.  It's what she once was told about by her parents.  What was the term her father used, ...wildlife?  How does something like that even survive on Coruscant?

It's a...bird.  Yes.  It's flying, like the speeders, but it's nothing like the speeders.  It's graceful.  She realizes her mouth is hanging open.  She closes it.  Her eyes remain wide with wonder.

She's following it as best she can, but it's soaring so fast.  She loses sight of it for a moment, and then spots it again.  She finds the strength to stand up for the first time today.  It seems like she hasn't moved in months.  Her legs are stiff.  She doesn't feel like a bird at all.  But she doesn't care.  The bird fascinates her.

She wonders if she can find where it rests, when it isn't in the air.  It can't stay there forever, right?  And there it goes!  Touching down as if on cue, hopping along a little.  She's never seen anything like it.

It looks, actually, a little like hope.

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