Hermit No More|
Monday, 26-Jun-2000 07:28:49
Alright. There will be more to follow, including a holo to all the Jedi, but for now, since I had to retype the whole thing, this is all I had time for. It's a description of Luke's return. Rusty told me he'd been off training, or something vague like that, so I modified the basic premise and stuck him on an agricultural planet where he meditated deeply in the Force.
Luke Skywalker's Return
The tall feilds of Brownroot were waving lazily in the mid-afternoon's breeze, whole crops of the planet's indigenous variety of grain scraping the face of the blue sky in a uniform wave that rolled over the field. Across the length of the farm and back again the wind, like a child who has found a new toy, brushed eleven-foot stems and kernels back from the force of its passage with effortless grace and beauty that only an artist could fully appreciate. An artist, or perhaps a Jedi.
In tune with the all-being force of life, feeling the sun's warmth upon the gravely skin of the grain kernals as though it was his own skin the solar body chose to shower its blessings down on. The wind played recklessly through the shaggy, honey-brown mop of hair that adorned his head, and tantalizingly nipped at his cloak. His eyes closed, arms spred out at his sides with palms out to recieve the brush of grain kernels against his calloused skin, the tall, lean shillouete of a man moved through the field without aim or purpose, just delighting in the simple truth of life in the fields. Here, Life was without wars, life was without pains or sufferings. There were no battles out here in the planting fields of Agrias. Only the everyday sort of skirmishes that occurred between the mice of the corn-fields and the old farmer's 'Sarin,' a green-furred feline with a mean streak in him that ran a mile wide, and with room to grow.
Here, there was peace.
"So why have you come?" he asked to the shadow in his mind.
In the physical world of the small agrian-planet, the tall, lean naturalist stopped in the middle of his field and lowered his arms to his sides. Behind him, echoing in his mind, was the presence of a man he'd not seen in a long time. A long time.
"It's been five years, Luke."
Green-gray eyes bored into his back, and a pleading tone in the voice echoed through the hallways of his mind like the call of a fog-horn down on the shores of Loch Re'Alln.
"Has it been that long? Really, I'd had no idea." The return was brisk, unfriendly, and a little insulting, but Luke didn't really care. Without looking back over his shoulder to see that the message had been received, the Jedi-turned-farmer moved off deeper into the grainfield, leaving an old life, and an old friend, far behind. He was a differant man now, and surely someone who could see as deeply as this unwelcome visitor was known for doing could see that old allegiences and past histories mattered little to him now. Or so he'd hoped.
A vain hope, as it turned out. A greenish/purple amalgom of colors and cloth ran past his figure to get ahead of him, panting with the effort of dodging large stalks of grain and trying to rasp out his heart-felt plea.
"Five years, Luke. I mean -- Ugh, coming through, grain! Whoops!" A crackling sound was followed by the sounds of cursing and muttering, and for a moment, Luke's face was creased by a smile.
Again without turning around, Luke brushed back an off-hand comment. "Oh, I'd watch the roots on these poor buggers, friend. They've a nasty habit of tripping you up." He continued on, throwing his day-cloak over his shoulder and hastening his stride. Why wouldn't this cock-fool of a man leave him be? He wanted no part in the rest of the galaxy's affairs, he just wanted to be left alone. Perhaps if he took a stroll through Brougton March the kid would find the bogs not worth the hassle and just give up.
OOps! No such luck. A greenish-purple flash, now intermixed with brown stains and muddy debris, triple-flipped through the air above Luke and pirouetted on its way down, snapping whole stems and kernels off their stalks and tossing them to the ground. Luke stopped short and jerked back a half-step, before shrugging his shoulders. Whatever the younger man wanted, he obviously wasn't going to leave without at least getting a chance to ask for it. Why not indulge the poor fool?
Chest-heaving, blond hair and purple robes caked in grime and dripping with muddied water, tall Rayloth Zander stood anxiously in front of him, hand palm-out towards Luke's chest as if to command him to stop. The years had been kind to Rayloth, he'd never looked stronger, more rugged, or more fit for the rigors of the Jedi life. On the other hand, the man before Rayloth was now the apothesis of the Jedi ideal.
Luke Skywalker was old. In mind and spirit, if not yet in body. A deep sense of weary peace pervaded his whole image, and a carelessness was in the way he wore his hair long and shaggy, his beard and moustache scraggly and unkempt. Even his robes were not much better than rags and a belt that was tied around them to hold them together. Where was the hero? Where did the Jedi go?
And, of most concern to Rayloth Zander, Jedi Master -- Could he ever come back? Ray's eyes, sharp like a hawks, peered deeply into Luke's face, reading the thoughts and feelings he could find there. He did not make any attempt to feel beneath the surface - Luke's mind was his own, sacred to him as Ray's was to himself. But moreover, he did not need to. Luke made no effort to hide how he felt. He projected it with every ounce of body and body language. Ray swallowed, and then slowly, extended his palm outwards towards Luke. Open, friendly, and beckoning, just like his eyes.
"Please, Luke." He smiled kindly, with a hint of a plea. "We've needed you these past years. We need your help - the Galaxy needs your help." He stepped a little closer, trying to break past the unseen walls Luke was throwing up between them. "Will you help me?"
Luke took one look at Ray's hand, and shook his head, reaching for his hip. He undid the clasp of something that hung there, and then drew forth a bag of seeds. He slowly and deliberately placed the brown bag in Ray's open palm, and then closed the palm around it. Luke raised up to his full height, still dwarfed in the other man's 6'5" shadow, and turned pain-filled eyes upwards.
"I gave the galaxy everything I had, Ray." His chest heaved with the force of a pain-racked sob/sigh, and then Luke turned away. He tossed another comment over his shoulder as he moved off, out of the field, towards the open plains, and the pre-fab cubicle he'd dwelt in for three and a half-years. "I gave them all I had, and they took it all away from me."
Ray stared down at the bag of seeds in his hand in silence, listening to the sounds of Luke's boots as he strode up the steps and and towards the door. The message in the seed bag had been plain enough: Luke Skywalker was a farmer now. He no longer even carried a weapon. So, what to say? What to do? How to convince a man who would not listen? Rayloth didn't know ... but he had to try. At least once more. He turned around, pivoting on his heel, and raised his voice to call after Luke as the older Jedi Master moved into the open sun.
"The galaxy is divided, Luke. The Jedi are being hunted, and the people have turned their backs on us. Please come back with me and use your powers to help bring this to an end. Please ... come back with me."
The final plea stopped Luke in his tracks, and Rayloth strained to see past the dust and sunlight shrouding Luke, to where the former Jedi Master's head had dropped down, tipping towards his chest as past-grief and woe began to well up in his oft-broken heart. When at last a voice came from the otherworldly apparition - the last of the Old Jedi - it was gargled, flooded with emotion and tears unshed.
"I gave it everything I had, Ray. Everything I've ever loved was stripped away from me." He buried his eyes in the cloth of his arm for a moment, then brushed his tears away. His eyes were hard now, cold, dark and unfeeling. He coughed once, to clear his throat, and his voice took on a hardened, stubborn quality to it.
"I'm never going back, Ray." He turned around and shot Jedi Zafner a look which would have frozen liquid plasma.
"I'm never going back." Then, Luke Skywalker turned away, and made his way down to the settler's villa, across the horizion, without a look back, or a thought to regret.
Ray's hand reached out vaguely for the shadow of his friend, but as the Sun's rays began to burn straight into his eyes, only Rayloth's ears could register the passing of a man who had gone too far down the road of self-sacrifice.
"Sithspawn!" Rayloth grimaced to himself, and touching the slaveship control on his belt, he started up the engines. But before turning away, Ray took the bag of seeds, and with a mighty roar, cast it deep into the grain field, entrusting new life to the blessing of the Force.
Luke strolled slowly through the town - well, in all fairness - village, and waved at the people as he passed them by. No one recognized the powerful Jedi Master who'd once destroyed the greatest Dark Lords that ever walked the galaxy. No one knew him to be anyone other than Old Ben Lucas, a semi-crazed old wizard who's way with the children had won the hearts of everyone. Even now, as Skywalker trudged slowly up the dirt street to his humble - again, in all fairness - pitiful abode, the children mobbed about him, calling out cries of "Old Ben! Old Ben!"
On his own part, 'Ben Lucas' smiled and nodded at the children, handing them apples and carrots he'd picked earlier in the morning. He hoisted one particular youngster named Luke Skywalker Greggina up over his head, and flew him about like a darting space fighter before his mother came out screaming and yelling in concern.
Even upon reaching his own hut, Luke could not escape the children, who mobbed him from every side, asking for displays of his 'magic' or a trick he could show them. And, as was typical for the Jedi Master who was Jedi no more, Luke would smile and shake his head, but upon the sad looks and boo-ing cries of the children, he would stretch out his arms towards the horizon, and small rocks would dance about in a circle, entrancing the children of the desolate planet for just long enough, time enough for Luke to slip, un-noticed, into the hut, and shut the door behind him.
But today, unlike any other day, Luke did not head directly for the washroom. Nor did he set himself down to watch the holo-proj. No, today, Luke went into the back, and retrieved a bottle of Corellian Brandy, of a very, very old vintage, bottled before Mace Windu'd even been born. Then, he retired mournfully to the den/dinning room of his two-room roach pre-fab, and slid an old box out from under the couch - a box he'd not touched in 3 years. Not since he went AWOL on the galaxy, and retired to this desolate farming planet as a hermit. No one had seen or heard from him since that day, until this morning, when Rayloth Zafner had finally tracked him down.
Luke lifted the top of the old, Alderaanian chest, and removed the silk coverlet that lay there, atop all the momentos of a life lived too long. Nearly a hundred years of travels, memories, and holo-graphs lay in here: picto-graphs from the first Battle of Yavin; a holo-proj freezeframe of his sister, Leia. A touching, one of a kind shot glass from the oldest TapCafe on Corellia, copliments of Han Solo.
And a picture of each of his wives.
Luke chuckled now to think of it. One hundred years and three wives. First Mara, with her charm and fire and inner beauty, a fire that burned so bring it attracted him like a beacon in the night. But that light was forever extinguished by an ambush of Dark Side assassins, an ambush that left Luke without his right hand for the second time in his career as a Jedi, and left Mara bleeding in the streets of Corellia.
And then there was Corerilla, with her funny little laughter and her affinity for drama. Her love of all things Jedi rivalved his own, and she was his match in fury and love. But she died too, slain by the hand of a Vader-clone, one of too many to recount.
And then finally, Ri Sha. Tall and leggy, a natural blonde beauty, the inner glow she gave off in the Force was nearly equal to his own, and her determination, even in the face of all odds, saw her through calamity upon calamity. But, tragedy clings like a wet blanket to the Skywalker name - for Ri Sha was lost, presumed dead, when her spacecraft was found floating adrifit in the asteroid field of what was once the planet Alderaan.
Luke placed the photos of his wife back upon the top of the pile, and then lifted three more. Photos of the only Skywalker Children - children now dead and gone. Keiran Skywalker - missing and presumed dead. Mirea Skywalker - killed in battle to defend her brother from a Sith attack. And Adonis Skwalker - so like his father in every way - slain by the blade a Sith lord, defending his sleeping father. Luke had awoken to the final sounds of his son's fight, had held his last and most beloved child in his arms as he gasped his last breath, and had horribly seen to it that vengence was carried out. The once proud Sith Lord had had his entrails hung from what was left of the Skywalker farm on Tatooine, as a warning.
'That was when I really gave up, wasn't it,' he thought to himself, 'that was when I lost the drive, lost the nerve and the will and the confidence. And so ... here I am. Safe, away from the rigors of war, and completely isolated for the rest of my life.' Luke slammed the top of the crate shut, and then hurled the bottle of Corellian Brandy against the wall. He leapt to his feet and charged out of the hut, gasping for fresh air and open space, trying to lock out what his heart was demanding of him.
And then he saw them. 4 boys, playing a rough and tumble game of pole-ball. The two largest boys were shoving the smallest child around, knocking him back and forth between them with their jaag poles as they pretended to be aiming at the ball. At long last the child collasped to its knees, tears streaming down its face and blood gushing from a cut across the arm. Out on the perimiter, a fourth child, this one nearly as large as the first two boys, stayed silent and out of site, hovering on the peripherary, and to him the bullies paid no mind.
But this was not what caught Luke's attention. It was the mother, as she came stomping out of her house, scolding the two bullies and sending them away, and then dusting off her small, younger child before sending him in. After the youth was gone, the mother called to the fourth, quiet child, and it was their conversation which captivated a one-time-Jedi's attention.
"Angus," his mother chided the child, "why didn't you protect your brother, why did you let those bullies pick on him?"
Angus shrugged his shoulders and bent to retrieve a stone.
"I dunno, mum.' .... I just don't wanna get hurt anymore. I'm tired of getting hurts so that Jannie wont have to be!" Angus's eyes flashed, and he turned on his mother, fist curling up into balls. "Why do I always have to help him! Why is it my job to make sure he doesn't get hurt! Why??"
The child's mother had turned and headed for the door at the start of his tantrum, but as he shouted out the last few sentences, she turned around, and looked her son dead in the eyes, with a conviction that would have caused a fully-immersed Dark Lord to renounce his evil.
"Because only you can, Angus."
"Because only you can."
Luke felt a short, cylindrical object brush his shoulders.
"I thought you'd be here before now," he observed absently, watching the child Angus come to grips with his mother's demands.
"I thought you'd be drunk by now. Looks like we're both even then, hmm?" Rayloth Zafner tapped the lightsaber against Luke's shoulder again. Luke reached up, a bit hesitantly at first, and then willingly grabbed the blade's hilt from Zafner's hands, and turned it over in his own.
Ray smiled and nodded, pleased.
After a moment's contemplation, Luke squared his shoulders and looked up at Rayloth. Gone was the meandering hermit of an hour ago, and the wounded rage. Now, only a dull ache, and willful determination, showed through the irises the Jedi's eyes. The Jedi Master Luke Skywalker was back.
"Okay, then." He looked to Rayloth. "What are standing around here for?"
"We've got a galaxy to save."