Prologue – voice of Luke Skywalker
I dreamed of my father last night. I dream of him often, though I never met him. He died before I was born, or so I'm told. I'm never quite sure if Uncle Owen is being truthful when he speaks of my parents, which he only does on extremely rare occasions. I'm not sure why, but I feel like he's lying. More than this – I feel his fear. Of course I can't tell him that; I learned as a very young child to hide my 'special abilities' from him. One of my earliest memories is making my stuffed bantha levitate above my crib. I don't know how I did it; I just did it. I know my aunt and uncle are afraid of my abilities, that's why they've done their best to restrain them in me. I love them both, and I owe them everything; so I don't use them. Much. Sometimes I can't help it though, but that's not something Uncle Owen would understand. I'm not sure I understand it myself.
My father always looks the same in my dream, and I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps I have a preconceived idea of what he looked like, perhaps it's how I wish he looked, because he always looks like me. His hair is blond like mine, his eyes are blue like mine; but he's tall and strong, most unlike me. I never get to speak to him though. There's so much I want to say to him, so much I would ask him if I could; but I will never get the chance. I will never meet him, and that's that. I just wish I wouldn't dream of him so often….
It's the first day of the week, and I'm relieved that I can go back to school. The work they give us there is far easier than the back breaking toil I have to perform at the farm. Not only that, there are other kids my own age to talk to; among them some pretty cute girls. There's one I've had a crush on for almost a year now; but she doesn't even know I exist. Maybe if I wasn't so darned shy I could actually speak to her without sounding like a total loser. I wonder if my father was shy when he met my mother….
"Skywalker, do you have an answer?"
My daydreaming is rudely interrupted by my math teacher, who is staring down her nose at me in the way I know means she's ticked off. So what else is new? I muse.
"Yes Ma'm," I reply, knowing exactly what her question is. "The answer is the square root of five thousand."
She frowns, annoyed that I in fact was paying attention. Teachers hate that. Her lips press together and she gives me a brief nod. "Correct," she says begrudgingly. I smile.
As classes are dismissed for the day later that morning, I am approached by Mr. Kitomar, the head master of the school. Great, I think, with a sinking feeling, wondering why I'm in trouble.
"Skywalker, a word with you if you please," he says, indicating for me to follow him.
"Yes sir," I mumble, knowing better than to ask questions. I follow him into his office and sit down on the well worn upholstered chair facing his desk. I pick nervously at the threadbare armrests as I wait for him to tell me what's on his mind.
"You have an excellent academic record, Luke," he begins, taking me by surprise.
"Thank you sir," I manage to stammer.
"No need to thank me," he replies. "Most sixteen year old boys don't have your dedication and self discipline," he continues. "I'm impressed."
"Thanks," I say again, starting to feel self conscious.
"I'm not the only one who's impressed, it seems," Mr. Kitomar continues, picking up a datapad from his desk. "It seems you've attracted the attention of the Imperial Academy."
My mouth drops open at this point, totally involuntarily. "Excuse me?" I ask him incredulously. "Did you say the Academy?"
The headmaster nods. "I did," he replies. "You see there is a scholarship program that was started three years ago," he continues. "And you qualify," he added, glancing down at the datapad.
"I'm a little confused, sir," I admit. "How did they know about my marks? Way out here? It's not like we're exactly the centre of the universe," I continue.
Mr. Kitomar smiles. "No, not exactly," he agrees. "I sent them in, Luke," he tells me. "You see, I'm aware of your family's…financial situation," he continues, trying to be tactful. I can feel the colour rising to my ears by now. "And I also know a child prodigy when I see one," he added. "You're a brilliant young man, Luke," he declares, looking at me. "And I would hate to see your potential wasted on this…back water planet. You have too much to offer, son. I wanted to make sure you had a chance to show the galaxy what you're made of."
I am too stunned to speak for a moment. The Academy…I have always dreamed of going there one day, but know that Uncle Owen is far too poor to send me. He has been saying 'next year, next year,' for so long I've stopped asking; but now I can go, I can really go!
"Well?" Mr. Kitomar asks as I stare at him, slack-jawed. "What do you think, Luke?"
"I think I'm dreaming," I stammer finally.
He chuckles. "Does that mean you're interested?" he asks.
"Interested? Oh yeah, you bet!" I tell him. "Thank you so much, Mr. Kitomar," I say, jumping to my feet and holding my hand out to his. "You won't regret giving me this chance, I promise," I aver, pumping his hand like an idiot.
Kitomar smiles indulgently. "No, I'm sure I won't," he replies. "Good luck, Luke," he adds. "Now get on home to tell your folks. You'll be leaving at the end of the week for Imperial Centre."
"Yes, sir!" I reply, and dance out of the room, walking five or six metres above the ground.
All the way home, my mind races with what possibilities the future now holds for me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that this could happen to me! Me…an insignificant farm boy, son of an obscure navigator. I stop in my tracks half way to my speeder. Uncle Owen will never let me go, I realize with a cold, sinking feeling creeping into my stomach. He never lets me go anywhere…what makes you think he'll let you go to Imperial Centre? I frown as I slowly continue on my way, my mind now working frantically to find a way to make this work. I have to get off this planet; my very sanity depends on it!
I am greeted by these words as soon as I enter the kitchen. Uncle Owen is looking at me suspiciously as Aunt Beru sets the table for lunch.
"Sorry," I mumble, sliding into my seat. "I had to talk to the head master."
Aunt Beru stops pouring and looks at me, her brow furrowed. "Why?" she asks in a worried tone. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," I assure her. "In fact, I have some pretty exciting news."
"And what might that be?" Uncle Owen grumbles as he shovels food into his mouth.
I look from him, back to my aunt who is looking at me expectantly and then back at my uncle.
"I've been given a scholarship to go to the Academy," I tell them, the excitement evident in my voice. "Can you believe it? I can go to the Academy and it won't cost you anything!"
The silence my announcement is met with surprises me, and I look at my guardians, sensing the fear in each of them.
"Who's giving you a scholarship? And why?" Uncle Owen asks finally, the suspicion clear in his tone.
"The Empire," I tell him defensively. "Mr. Kitomar sent my marks in, and…"
"He sent information about you to the Empire?" Aunt Beru asks, an edge of panic in her voice.
"Just my marks," I reply. "Why? I thought you two would be happy about this," I continue, starting to feel hurt by their lack of enthusiasm. I've come to expect it from my uncle, but Aunt Beru is always so generous with her praise. "Why are you acting like this is a bad thing?" I ask.
Neither of them answers right away, and my suspicions grow. "What aren't you telling me?" I venture.
"It isn't a bad thing, Luke," Aunt Beru finally replies, neatly dodging my second and more difficult question. "We're very proud of you, aren't we Uncle?" she continues, prodding my uncle into a response.
"Of course," he grunts.
"So why are you acting this way?" I ask.
"We …we just don't like the idea of you leaving, that's all," Uncle Owen says. "There's a lot of work to be done around here, and…"
"You don't want me to go to the Academy because I have too many chores to do?" I ask in disbelief. "Is that what you're telling me?"
Uncle Owen frowns, and I can see that I've made him mad. "Lose the attitude, boy," he snaps. "I won't be spoken to in that tone of voice, you hear me?"
I lower my eyes to my uneaten meal. "Yes sir," I mutter as a sinking feeling starts in the pit of my stomach. I'm not going…I'm never going…I'll never get off of this rock…
"Luke, you know we want what's best for you," my aunt begins in her gentlest tone. "We always have. And we know how much you want to go to the Academy. You're a bright young man, and you should go," she continues. "It's just that…we're afraid," she adds, glancing at my uncle. "You see, your father….well…"
"What? What about my father?" I ask, looking up immediately.
"He had a criminal record," Owen speaks up. My aunt looks at him quickly and with a surprised expression. "The name Skywalker is one that will bring you unwanted attention, Luke. Do you understand?"
I'm not sure which feels worse at this point; knowing my father was a criminal or the thought that my name is tainted…and yet, even still, I don't believe them.
"Yeah, sure," I mumble, picking up my fork and playing with my food.
Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are silent for a few minutes, and I can tell that they're in negotiations. I know they want what's best for me, and I know they love me; but I can't let this chance pass me by, I just can't!
"There's only one way this could work," Owen speaks up at last, and I can tell he's labouring with each word.
I look up at once. "What's that?" I ask.
"Don't use the name Skywalker," he tells me. "Use Lars instead."
My immediate reaction is one of absolute refusal. My name is all I have of my family, the only piece of my heritage that I have left. And yet, if it will prevent me from follow my dreams, am I a fool to hold on to it so stubbornly? Would my father understand if I agreed to this?
"Okay," I say at last. "I guess I can do that. We'll have to tell Mr. Kitomar though, before he sends in my stuff to the dean's office."
"Then let's get down there right now before he does," Uncle Owen says, standing up. It's so unlike him to act so quickly and decisively that it troubles me even more. What had my father done that his name was now so notorious? I want to ask, but I don't want to know. Does that make sense?
Mr. Kitomar is just leaving his office when Uncle Owen and I arrive. He doesn't seem surprised at all, no doubt expecting I'd be returning with my guardian at some point.
"Come right in, Mr. Lars," he says, opening the door to his office once more. "I'm sure you've got a lot of questions."
"A few," Uncle Owen replies, stepping into the office. I follow behind and take a seat as the two adults begin their discussion.
"Luke tells me this is all paid for by the Empire," Uncle Owen begins, embarrassing me with his bluntness.
"That's right," Mr. Kitomar replies. "That's the nature of scholarships, Mr. Lars. I'm aware that you….don't have the means to send Luke to the Academy," he continues. Uncle Owen shifts uncomfortably in his chair. "This way he can go and it won't cost you anything."
Uncle Owen nods in understanding and looks at me. "If we do this, I don't want Luke using his own name," he says.
Mr. Kitomar frowns, clearly confused by my uncle's request. "Very well," he says simply. "I haven't submitted any of Luke's information. What name would you like us to use?"
"Lars," Uncle Owen replies. "Luke Lars is how we want him to be known." To my great relief he doesn't explain why.
"Very well," my headmaster replies, making a note of it. "I will make sure of it."
"When do I go?" I pipe up, unable to keep quiet any longer.
"The next semester begins at the end of this week," Mr. Kitomar explains. "I hope that's not too soon," he adds.
Uncle Owen looks at me, and I can feel his apprehension. "I suppose not," he replies, a hint of sadness in his voice. I look away, the look in his eyes bringing a lump to my throat. This isn't something I'd counted on, and the last thing I want to do is cry in front of my head master.
"Well we need to get back to the farm," Uncle Owen says, standing up. "Thanks for your trouble," he adds, putting out a hand to Mr. Kitomar.
"Not at all," the headmaster replies. "Your nephew is a brilliant young man," he says, looking at me. "I'm sure you and your wife must be very proud."
Uncle Owen smiles, ever so slightly. "Yeah, we sure are," he replies.
"Guess you'll be needing some new things," Uncle Owen says as we reach the speeder.
I shrug, uncomfortable with the thought of him having to spend money on me. "I'll have a uniform, so I don't know how much I'll need."
"Well your Aunt Beru would be horrified if you went to Coruscant with shabby underpants," he replies with a smile. "So let's make sure we get you some decent stuff."
I smile, knowing he's right.
"You know, I could sell my speeder to help pay for this stuff," I offer as we park outside the small shopping area in Anchorhead.
Uncle Owen says nothing for a moment. "Not planning on ever coming back, are you?" he says.
"I didn't say that," I reply at once. "I just won't be needing it."
"I see," he replies, holding the door open for me. "Well we'll see if Zach will take it. I know his boy's been bugging him for one for months now."
After purchasing some decent clothes and a few school supplies, Uncle Owen and I leave the shop. The shopkeeper has agreed to buy my speeder, which I will deliver to him in a few days time. I had a lot of good times with it; I hope its new owner will too.
As we reach our speeder, I notice that Ben Kenobi is standing there watching it. He's kind of the local village idiot, or at least that's what Uncle Owen calls him. As soon as he sees the strange old man he gets angry.
"Get out of here, Kenobi," he says, as we place our packages in the storage trunk.
"Is there some law against being sociable?" Kenobi asks. "I merely wanted to say hello to young Luke here," he adds, looking at me. "You know, you look more like your father every time I see you," he comments.
"I do?" I ask. "You knew my father?"
"Luke, get in," Uncle Owen commands, in a tone that I dare not ignore.
"I did," Kenobi continues, walking to the front of the speeder.
"I'm warning you old man," Uncle Owen says, gripping the steering wheel tightly.
Ben looks at my uncle, and then steps back. I guess he figured it wasn't smart to get him mad. Guess he's not as crazy as everybody says.
"Did Ben really know my father?" I ask my uncle as we speed home. "Or is he just delusional?"
"He's just a crazy old man, Luke," Uncle Owen replies, not answering my question one way or another. "Don't let him bother you."
I frown, wishing, just for once, I'd get a straight answer. Maybe I need to talk to Ben Kenobi on my own. Maybe he'd be able to answer some of my questions. I'm leaving Tatooine in a few days, though, so it's not likely I'll get the chance. Probably just as well, I tell myself as we carry the packages into the house. Like Uncle Owen said, he's a crazy old man.