Chapter 20: Full Circle
The mess hall chatter typical of the Home One sounded loud in Luke’s ears as two days later he shared his midday meal with his sister. A group of pilots sat at the next table, teasing, shoving, behaving like toddlers bent on a playdate, and occasionally remembering to eat in between bouts of general rowdiness. The Rebel command staff sat two tables over, attempting to ignore the pilots as they planned the next move of the Alliance’s new government. Princess Leia would usually eat with those higher-ups who had also survived the war with the Empire. She had even been known to share an odd lunch or two with Han Solo, but now her attention was completely focused on her brother’s commentary.
“It was the most amazing feeling,” Luke enthusiastically told Leia, his smile so big that it would have easily eclipsed the second Death Star’s explosion. “I haven’t felt that good in…” How long had it been? Since working with Yoda, maybe? Since leaving the second Death Star alive? Since claiming his heritage? Had he ever felt that much alive? He finally had to lamely say, “It’s been a long time.”
Leia smiled. “Then it’s a good thing that Wedge talked you into liberating Idris. Were all the inmates as grateful to you as Chloe Jansen was?”
“No. But that didn’t stop the good feeling. Truly Leia, this was the first time I’ve felt that being a Jedi was about more than just solving galactic catastrophes. I was doing something good for somebody for a change, something that had nothing to do with saving the galaxy, or balancing the Force.”
The Princess laughed. “According to the glowing look on your face, I’d say that liberating a work camp rivals saving a friend from a gangster any day.”
Luke’s grin was sheepish, but wholly satisfied. “You have no idea.”
“Since you had such luck at Idris, Han says that you should help him and…” Leia’s voice trailed away when she noticed the attentive expression that had abruptly replaced Luke’s grin, meaning that he had felt something… possibly a disturbance in the Force. “Luke, what is it?”
Luke was so focused that he couldn’t respond right away. His blood was humming, his every muscle suddenly attuned to a noise that he could hear, but clearly Leia couldn’t. It was like someone had idly plucked a string inside his mind as they walked by. Reverberations clanged among his brain cells and danced along his neurons. Luke continued to ignore his sister to try with all his might to pinpoint the source of the noise in his head before it dimmed.
Leia was starting to get worried now. This wasn’t the first time she’d seen Luke go into a Force trance, but this was definitely the most intense he’d been while in one. “What do you feel?”
Quickly scanning the crowd, Luke tried to zero in on the source currently bombarding him with sensation, but kept missing it. “It’s right here!” he exclaimed in frustration, his hand curling into a fist. “This is the fourth time I’ve felt it since we returned from Idris. If only I could figure out where it’s coming from!”
Leia joined her brother in scanning the mess hall crowd, though she had no idea what she was looking for. “Give me a target area to concentrate on.”
Luke’s wave took in everything at the front of the room. “It just walked through the main door. Now it’s standing in the food line… I think.” Luke jumped up from his spot at the dining table, his food forgotten to stare intently at the group of individuals who had just come in. He could feel the singing in the Force, but he just couldn’t find the cause. A moment later, he walked away without another word.
Rolling her eyes, Leia watched him go. “Don’t worry… I’ll clean this up,” she called to his back, gesturing to his half eaten lunch. He kept walking like he hadn’t heard a word she’d said. With a sigh, she carried both their trays to the recycle bins to dump in the leftover food prior to depositing the dishes and trays. Then she simply walked out the main doors, leaving Luke behind without a second thought. She knew that her brother would find her when he needed to, and not a moment before. Until then, it would be like she didn’t exist.
Just as Leia suspected, Luke didn’t pay a bit of attention to her, much to his later chagrin. The twanging of the Force was just too insistent for him to pay attention to anything else just now. He strode meaningfully in the direction of the line of people waiting to eat, minutely studying each one of them in turn.
They all seemed perfectly normal to him, just like they had seemed each of the other times he had conducted this kind of search. The group of individuals all stared blankly back at him, or ignored his perusal altogether, or chatted with friends, oblivious. Whatever they were doing, it wasn’t their actions that was calling out to him through the Force.
But he could feel it so clearly! If only he could locate--
His scanning stopped as abruptly as it had started, like he had hit a wall.
Not a wall, he thought, silently chiding himself. A barrier of some kind. No, not a barrier… a hole. Closing his eyes, he stretched His Force sensations to feel every one of them, probing with senses that he didn’t know he had until two days ago. There it is again… and there. Here it comes… and there it goes. How did I miss it?
Luke opened his eyes, and for the first time, noticed the slight gap between a man and the one standing behind him. It was a hole, just as Luke had suspected. Only it wasn’t a hole in the typical sense of the word. The two men were talking over someone’s head. Luke looked down… and was nearly blown off his feet.
He hadn’t felt that much raw power in the Force, ever, not even while dealing with his father and the Emperor. Staggering, he automatically caught himself on the table beside him. His balance wavered, and his knees shook for another moment. The people sitting at the table stopped their conversation and looked up at him in concern, but he barely noticed them. He had eyes for nobody except a young boy of about five years old standing patiently in line, a bored look on his face as the two men he stood between carried on a conversation directly over his head.
The boy slumped against a nearby table, finally propping his head up on his hand. Then suddenly, he straightened to look frantically around, as if he had heard a far off cry for help. Without a word, he jerked around to stare right back at Luke standing a few feet away.
The boy’s straight sandy brown hair swung with his sudden movement. He brushed it out of his eyes, and stared at Luke as if he couldn’t look at him closely enough. His avidity would have unnerved Luke on any other occasion, but now the Jedi only stared back, nearly overwhelmed by the power of the Force aura surrounding the boy.
But they eventually had to do more than just stare at each other. Luke slowly stepped forward until he stood right next to the boy, moving in the most unthreatening manner he could. “Hello. You called me.”
The boy unabashedly studied him. “Are you Darth Vader?”
Luke was so surprised that he choked on his next sentence. “Why… why do you think that?”
The boy gestured to Luke’s clothes like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “You’re wearing black. Doesn’t Darth Vader always wear black?”
One of the men he stood beside suddenly pulled him back. “Anney, don’t ask such silly questions!”
The boy looked up at the man beside him. “But I want to know, Labe.”
The man gestured at Luke. “This isn’t Darth Vader. This is the man who saved us. You saw him.”
“He used a light sword, didn’t he?” The boy turned to mildly accuse Luke, “Doesn’t Darth Vader use a light sword?”
“He does… did,” Luke corrected himself, unsure of how to speak about Vader without saying more than he wanted to.
Though he had apparently said enough already. “Did?” The boy tilted his head to the side in open curiosity. “What happened to him?”
“He… died.” Puzzled by the banality of this exchange, Luke pulled his own lightsaber from the hook on his waist. “Is this what you mean by a light sword?”
The boy’s eyes lit up. “That’s what we saw you waving around at Idris right before you messed up all those computers. That was droovus!”
“Droovus?” Luke hadn’t heard that term before.
The second man beside the boy spoke. “Er, he means that it was cool, icy, shiny, snowy, groolit, or whatever you say when something is especially nice.”
“Ah.” Luke nodded his understanding before turning back to the boy. “Yes, it was very droovus, if I do say so myself.”
“Can you show us now?” the boy enthusiastically asked.
Luke grinned in spite of himself. “Uh, no, igniting a lightsaber in a crowd like this wouldn’t be a good idea. People tend to get upset when they see one. Someone might get hurt.”
The boy looked critically at the crowd. “Maybe you’re right,” he said in all seriousness. “We should light it up in the corridor!”
He would have walked right out the main doors and into the empty corridor if not for the hand gripping his arm. “Not now, Anney. It’s time to eat.”
So the boy wouldn’t get any more alarming ideas about inappropriately igniting lightsabers, Luke reattached the weapon to his belt just as the boy dismissively said, “We can eat later. Let’s go!”
Labe’s hand stopped him again. “Eating’s on our schedule at this time, and we don’t want to cause any problems for these nice people who are letting us stay with them while we look for your parents.”
Not at all fazed by this exchange, the boy quickly gave up on igniting the lightsaber, and turned to critically study Luke again instead. “If you’re not Darth Vader, who are you?”
“I’m Luke. Luke Skywalker. Your name’s Anney?”
The boy nodded importantly. “My real name’s Anakin.”
It was all Luke could do not to choke again.
“Only no one ever calls me that,” the boy went on, oblivious to Luke’s sudden distress. “They call me Anney… unless they want to yell at me. Then it’s ‘Anakin Octavius.’” He confidingly leaned towards Luke. “Mrs. Walley gave me the Octavius part. I hate it.”
Puzzled, Luke asked, “Didn’t your parents give you that name?”
Anakin’s brow furrowed as the men with him smiled tolerantly. The first one explained, “Anney has no parents. Mrs. Walley was the oldest prisoner at Idris, and watched him when we were out in the Badlands.”
Anakin grimaced. “I still don’t know why no one would let me go there. It wasn’t that bad, even if it was called the Badlands.”
The first man sighed, as if this subject had been revisited many times.
“And I have so got parents,” Anakin protested. “Just not here.”
“Not here?” Luke gestured at the man beside him. “Isn’t this man your..?”
“No, that’s Jenner,” he said, once again in a tone that implied that Luke should know that. “He and Labe and everybody at the camp raised me. My parents are in another camp.” He said this like families being separated at camps happened all the time. “But I do have this.” He held a necklace out for Luke to look at. “I don’t know what the symbol on it means, or where I’m from, besides a camp, but there’s a holo of my mom in there.”
Luke knelt to take hold of the large circle that Anney held out to him without removing it from around his neck. The necklace was the kind that opened up, and Luke assumed the holo that the boy had spoken of was inside. Not wanting to pry, he didn’t open it, but looked instead at the letter ‘T’ that was inscribed on the outside. It sat in the middle of a large circle in the lower right hand corner of the necklace charm, and two more circles hovered above it on the left. Luke recognized the symbol the moment he saw it as the flag of his own home planet. “You’re from Tatooine.”
Anney’s nose wrinkled in perplexity. “Tatoo… what?”
“Tatooine,” Luke said again. “This is the flag of the planet. I’m from there, too.”
Anakin studied his necklace with new purpose. “Oh. I always wondered what that ‘T’ was for. That must be where he’s from…. the guy I’m named after.”
The tolerant look settled again on Jenner’s face. “The holo that came with Anney said that he was named for a man who once helped his grandfather.”
“Yeah,” Anney said, “we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him.” Then he grinned as if just realizing something. “We wouldn’t be here it if it wasn’t for you, either, Mister Luke!”
Anney’s grin was infectious, and Luke found himself grinning back like he hadn’t grinned in ages. “Right.”
“I bet that was fun,” Anney said, adding, “You really showed Colonel Redic a thing or two.”
Luke hadn’t heard about the Colonel part. “I bet Colonel Redic won’t be giving anyone any trouble for quite a while. Since he’s not in charge of you anymore, do you want to find your mom?”
Anakin frowned. “But mom’s at another camp. I don’t know which one. How can we find her?”
“Um…” Luke paused nervously, his gaze darting to Jenner, then to Labe, then back to Anakin. “Now might be the right time to tell you why I’m here.”
Anney spoke. “Yeah, you said something about me calling you. I didn’t call you. You found us.”
Luke slowly stood. “Not exactly.” How should he explain this? Mindful of what his fellow pilot Wedge had said about everybody being afraid of him and his Force abilities, he began slowly. “Anakin, you asked if I was Darth Vader, remember?”
Anakin gave him a look that said ‘don’t be stupid.’ “Yup.”
“Well, that’s not far from the truth. I’m a Force sensitive just like Darth Vader was. That’s why I’m a little like Vader.” The less said about that, the better. “I can move things without touching them, and it’s why I have a lightsaber.”
Again Anney’s nose wrinkled. “Is it why you’re wearing black?”
Luke wavered a bit before answering. “A Force sensitive doesn’t have to wear black. You can wear whatever color you like.”
Anney stared critically at Luke. “But black makes you look strong. And tall. And like you don’t want to be messed with.”
A half smile lifted Luke’s lips. “Maybe. My point is that you’re a Force sensitive, too. I could hear you calling through the Force. You probably didn’t even know you did it. But it’s why I’m talking to you. Right before he died, my Force teacher told me to pass on what I’d learned from him about the Force. I’ll teach it to you if you want to learn.” He looked at Labe, then at Jenner. “As long as it’s okay with your...” One of them had mentioned that they were looking for Anakin’s parents, not that either was one of Anakin’s acting parents.
But Anakin’s eyes had already lit up again. “You mean I can go with you?”
Luke didn’t quite know what to do, considering he wasn’t speaking with Anakin’s parents, or even his legal acting parents. “I don’t know how this works. I’m new at this.”
Anakin’s nose wrinkled again. “But you’re a grup… haven’t you done this before?”
Anakin spoke before Jenner or Labe could explain. “Yeah, you’re tall… big… you stopped growing.”
Once more, Luke smiled in understanding. “You mean a grown up.”
“Yeah. Grup’s know everything.” His tone was again very certain.
It was clear that Anakin’s grasp on reality wasn’t as complete as it should have been, which wasn’t surprising since he’d been raised in a work camp. “Grown ups know a lot, but they don’t know everything. I know about the Force. My sister knows about politics. Her husband knows about ships.” Saying that was better than saying that Han knew what made up a good hand of sabacc. “I also know some things about ships, but not as much as Han does. He’s the man who brought you here.”
“Can he take me to my parents?” Anakin wanted to know.
“Well,” Luke hesitantly began, again studying Anakin’s necklace. “We can start looking for them on Tatooine. There’s a good bet that Han has already liberated the camp that one of them is at, since he’s liberated so many by now.” Han and Lando and Wedge had tentative plans to liberate three more camps, though they hadn’t yet worked out how that might be accomplished, but this boy didn’t need to know that. “Do you think they’ll agree for you to go with me if we find them to ask?”
Anakin shrugged. “Don’t know. I’ve never met them before.” Then he conceded with a roll of his eyes, “I mean, I’ve met them, or at least I’ve met my mom, but I was a baby, so I don’t remember her. Or my father.”
His nonchalant tone indicated that he didn’t much care, either. The orphaned Luke was astounded at such a cavalier attitude. “Why don’t you remember them?”
Anakin shrugged, and began to explain, “I was born in a camp on Aldin IV--.”
“Aldis IV,” Labe corrected.
Anakin shrugged again. “Whatever. You can’t have kids at that camp. So I was sent to Idris.”
Why? What went on at that camp? More importantly, why didn’t Luke already know about shady camps like that? “Where’s your father?”
Another shrug. “Don’t know. Another camp maybe?”
Which all boiled down to they could be anywhere. Luke cringed internally at the idea of such a monumentally difficult undertaking as finding either of them. But he knew how important it was to know your own lineage, and resolutely said, “We’ll find them if the Force is with us.”
Anakin’s nose wrinkled. “You talked about that before. What’s the Force?”
Luke sighed; was he going to have to teach everything to this boy? He hadn’t anticipated needing to do this. He’d been under the impression that everyone knew about the Force. Out of desperation, he simply repeated the words that Ben Kenobi had once said to him. “The Force is an energy field that surrounds us, and penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.”
Anakin’s nose wrinkled as he considered this. With a young person’s limited understanding of the workings of the galaxy, he brightly asked, “Does it make a lightsaber work?”
Luke wavered again. How could he explain how a lightsaber worked without mentioning kyber crystals? But a five-year-old wouldn’t understand that. “Yes and no,” Luke said at last, his desperation making him give a vague answer to such a big question. “It doesn’t make it work, but I can make it work better if I use the Force.”
“Is that what you did at Idris? Use the Force?”
“And I can do the same things?”
“Yes. I’ll help you.”
“Droovus! When do we start?”
Luke smiled; this was easier than he had thought. “We can start right now.”