Chapter 12: Identity Crisis
Luke slowly exhaled in relief. He’d been fast enough when chopping through that trooper’s speeder bike controls, and the fireball the bike had made as it hit a tree was impressive. There was no chance that the stormtrooper riding it had lived. The fact that Leia had used Imperial equipment to keep any possible warnings from getting back to their base was an extra relief. The Rebel presence on the Endor moon was still a secret, thanks to Luke and the Princess.
A stray worry about Leia’s well-being crossed Luke’s mind as he deactivated his lightsaber in order to rejoin Han and the strike team, but he already knew that no one was as capable or resourceful as the Princess. She would be fine, and probably beat him back to their temporary camp.
The signal from Han’s locator beacon flashed brightly on the tiny grid readout that Lieutenant Madson had given him right before they’d left the Rebel fleet. After once again making certain he was going in the right direction, Luke began walking through the verdant undergrowth, setting a fast pace for himself. Ferns and leaves slapped his face, and the occasional tree root tripped him up, but other than that, Luke thoroughly enjoyed this forced march through the Endor greenery. There wasn’t much opportunity for him to experience such an expanse of untouched forest, and he intended to enjoy every minute of it. Growing up on a desert planet had ensured that he would always appreciate the unpopular feeling of humidity on his skin, and even though it made him break out in an instant sweat, Luke wouldn’t have changed the conditions for anything.
The thrill of walking through the forest soon lost its appeal, however, when Luke walked right into a spider web strung between two giant trees. The second he felt the gossamer threads encase his face, he automatically reached out through the Force to locate the spider that had made the web. After connecting with it, he did his best to calm it, putting a stop to its mad rush forward to enshroud the one who had destroyed its home in more clinging threads, saving it for later eating. Luke then considered that maybe the Endor forest wasn’t much better than the wastes of Tatooine after all. Both places had hidden dangers if one wasn’t careful.
Determined to remain more alert, Luke set off again. Yet despite his determination, his mind immediately slipped into another trance-like train of thought, now fixed on the way he’d so quickly utilized the Force to establish a connection to this latest creature bent on his demise. It hadn’t been a purposeful action at all, but an instinctual one. Now he more closely examined that instinct. Master Yoda would have been delighted with Luke’s quick reaction, but Luke himself felt a little uneasy about it, wondering if being able to call upon the Force so successfully was the good thing he’d always been told that it was, or if it was in truth a curse.
Sometimes, Luke wished with all his heart that he could just be normal. It would be a relief to spend his life dealing with nothing more threatening than the next target he was supposed to zap with his X-wing instead of worrying about his role as the guardian of all that was good in the galaxy. What would it be like, he mused, to just wake up, eat breakfast, then spend his day in the flight simulator with Wedge and Kamlyn as he attempted to get that elusive high score at virtual bogey destruction? To not have to concern himself with always controlling his emotions, with who his father was, with playing a pivotal role in the future leadership of the galaxy, with the fate of the Rebellion riding on his every move? It was often so exhausting that on some days, it was all Luke could do to force himself out of bed in the morning.
Being the last, best hope for a beleaguered people had lost its shine of importance long ago. Barely before he’d even gotten started with his Jedi training, his good intentions had faced the ultimate test, the truth about his parentage. He might as well have been carbonized with his friend Han Solo for all the good he did for the galaxy in the following months. Had he faced another test of his abilities during that time, he would have failed in a spectacular fashion and lost everything that was important to him, including his friends’ unquestioning trust in him as a person.
Luke shook his head. Thinking this way did nothing but cause panic attacks. Soon, his sweat would turn into something much less simple if he didn’t get control of himself. It would be just like the time he’d spent planning Han’s rescue. The fears that had plagued him during that time had been too numerous to count, and if he wasn’t careful, would rise again to take over his life. He could recall in detail his past terror at the idea of someone somehow discerning the horrible truth about his parentage. His worry would then inevitably turn into nausea, so sure was he that he would eventually have to defend himself when his secret was discovered. He might be barred from the Rebellion at that point, or jailed, or even worse. It hadn’t taken much imagination to convince himself that eternal silence was his best option.
It astonished him that he was now considering ending that silence. But he knew that his father could feel his presence on this moon, that he was in turn jeopardizing the continued secrecy of the team and their mission here. As of right now, Vader had no proof that Luke had any particular motive for his presence, but Vader was also far from stupid. It was only a matter of time before he pieced together his son’s designs to help take down the Death Star’s supposedly infallible shield generator. The longer he stayed with the team, the more likely it was for them to be captured. It would be best for everyone involved if he turned himself in before something far worse came to pass.
Despite these thoughts, panic threatened to engulf him right there on the forest floor. Luke automatically used the calming techniques that Master Yoda had taught him, thus reminding himself of how this new train of thought had begun. Again he wished with all his heart that he was normal.
At the same time, he understood how selfish such a desire was. It might be nice if things had turned out differently, but instinctively knew that he would never be able to live with the devastating consequences if he tried to change so much as a small particle of his fate. All he had to do was think about his sister’s pureness of heart to solidify his resolve. The idea that she might be captured and live the rest of her life as a prisoner of the Empire, to be tortured, or worse, was enough to chase away any residual feelings of doubt that he might harbor. The further threat that friends such as Han or Chewie or Wedge or Lando might join her in Imperial incarceration hardened his determination anew. He might be the son of his most ardent enemy, and carry the fate of the galaxy on his shoulders, but that didn’t mean that he had to give in to doubts and despair.
Again Luke gave a vigorous shake of his head. He just couldn’t predict how things would turn out one way or the other. If he surrendered, he would ensure the continued safety of his team and its mission on Endor. If he didn’t surrender, and the team was captured as a result of Vader sensing them through his presence with them, and then the Rebellion eventually lost this battle as well as the war, he would never be able to live with himself. He just wasn’t schooled enough in handling Force visions to know what would happen.
But it really didn’t matter what he might or might not see of the immediate future. It all came down to what he was willing to do for his friends, for the Rebellion, and for the galaxy as a whole, whose fate once again rested on his shoulders.
Luke sighed one last sigh of regret for what could not be, then squared those shoulders in determination. If the galaxy was counting on him, so be it. He was more than ready for the responsibility. He would prevail because he had to. It was as simple as that.
More determined than ever, Luke reached out through the Force for the team members as he drew closer to their temporary camp. There they all were, crouching in the open, or hiding in the undergrowth. No matter where they were, he felt them all, as well as his faith in them and their abilities to do the impossible once more. More importantly, he sensed their returning faith in him, welcoming it for what it was, once again resolving not to let them down.
As he rounded that last forestry bend, the spark of determination he felt blossomed into a positive storm. Yoda would say that he had finally accepted his destiny, but to him it was much simpler than that. This was truly a case of doing, not just trying. From here on out, it was entirely up to him.