This story was written on the idea that Owen and Obi-Wan were brothers, as stated in the Novelisation of “Return of the Jedi” and is one of two ideas which grew from the same scene.
Untimely Arrival: A Clear Choice
by Catriona Campbell Boyle
The landspeeder's engines groaned and whined in protest as Luke Skywalker pushed it to its limits, willing the vehicle with every fibre of his being to find an extra spurt of speed, to cover the kilometres to his home with a power it simply did not possess. Anxiety and fear pounded within him; he should have realized something like this was going to happen, he should have linked the droids' arrival to that space battle he'd seen the day before, he should have known the droids would be sought by the Empire after he'd heard the message the Artoo unit carried. But he'd been so taken by everything that had happened, so intrigued by everything Ben had been telling him, so stirred by thoughts of adventure that the very idea of danger and death had not entered his mind; until he and Ben had come across the burned-out Jawa sandcrawler.
"...And that would lead them back home!"
"Come on!" Luke screamed at the labouring craft as it skimmed over the arid ground. If only he hadn't busted his skyhopper, if only he'd been a little more responsible during his last fly-through of the Canyon, if only he hadn't allowed Fixer to goad him into that last race, he would be home by now and his guardians would be safe.
At last he could see the homestead growing steadily on the horizon. It looked quiet, it looked peaceful, it looked normal, and he felt the first stirrings of relief, his panic receding to an almost controllable level. Braking quickly, he brought the speeder to a halt beside his uncle's and threw himself out. "Uncle Owen! Aunt Beru!"
It was then, with squirming horror, he heard the first rumblings of an approaching vehicle. Glancing up, and shielding his eyes from the suns, he spotted a tiny moving speck on the horizon. It was rapidly growing in size as it neared the farm. Luke sprinted toward the dome and leapt down the steps to the open courtyard. "Uncle Owen!"
Beru Lars emerged quickly from the living area, alarmed by his harassed appearance and by the anxiety she heard in his voice. "What is it, Luke? What's wrong?"
A slight smile of relief flickered on his features for a moment when he saw her, and then it dropped back to consternation. "Where's Uncle Owen?" He glanced around frantically. "We have to get out of here. Now!"
Beru felt the first stirrings of fear. "Luke, tell me what's wrong." She cocked her head and looked up at the courtyard walls, as she caught the sound of the approaching craft and her fright intensified, flooding quickly through her.
"There’d better be a good explanation for this, Luke," Owen Lars warned as he entered the atrium from the garage, drawn from his work by Luke's shout and the growing noise of vehicle engines. There was anger in his voice, but he, too, was concerned at Luke's panic; even during the Tusken attack of two years earlier the youth had remained calm and in control. This display of behaviour was certainly out of character for his nephew.
"There is," Luke told him, urgently, but somewhat calmer for his uncle's presence. "But I can't explain, not now. We have to leave." He took his aunt's arm, trying to lead her, trying to coax her into moving.
"Luke, where did you get that?" Beru's words were a gasp of dismay.
At first Luke didn't know what she meant, couldn't associate her words with the current events; then he followed her gaze to the lightsabre hanging from his belt clip. He glanced back at her, at Owen, and saw fury fill his uncle's face. "No, please," he begged in dismay and panic. The Imperials were close now, so very close. "Not now. Uncle Owen, there's no time to explain. Stormtroopers are --"
"Damn that wizard," Lars exploded as he strode toward Luke, not hearing the boy's words, not yet grasping what was happening, so deep was his anger, so strong was his fear. Luke had found Kenobi! "What did he tell you? What lies did he fill you with?"
Luke took a step back from Owen, startled by his guardian's anger. "Nothing!" he burst back, his fear and frustration building. He couldn't be drawn into an argument about Kenobi now. "We're in trouble. Please." Tears of fright and frustration filled his eyes; the noise of the arriving Imperial carrier was now echoing around the sunken plaza.
Beru touched her husband's arm, convinced by Luke's urgency. "Owen, listen to him." Her words silenced Lars. He looked to his wife, and Beru could see reluctant resignation enter him. It had happened; Luke had found Ben. Luke had stumbled upon the fate they had tried to shield him from and, soon, their tragedy would be his too.
They turned, sprinting toward the exit steps.
"My speeder's just --" Luke began, but his words were stopped by a sudden brief silence.
Then, "You in the homestead! In the name of the Emperor, you are commanded to surrender yourselves. Place your hands on your heads and come out, slowly."
Luke's steps faltered at the sound of the order. He threw a quick, scared glance to his uncle, looking for some kind of lead, some way to escape the invading soldiers.
Owen Lars returned his gaze. The farmer was furious, angry at this invasion, angry that the peaceful life they had enjoyed for eighteen years had shattered and crumbled, that their fugitive past had resurfaced to threaten their future. Luke's future. However, he was more angry with himself because he had fallen into the trap of believing that if they kept their heads down, if they didn't get involved, if they kept the boy here, then they would be left alone and no one would ever know who they really were and nothing would change.
"Do as they say," Owen heard himself tell his wife and nephew, realizing they could do nothing but comply or risk a quick death -- and Luke must not die.
There were sounds of footsteps above them and several Stormtroopers appeared on top of the walls, covering them with blaster rifles.
As Luke stared in fright and anger at the Imperials, his fingers closed around the sabre Ben had given him and he pulled it from his belt.
"Drop it!" one of the troopers barked at him raising his rifle.
Owen turned then, and smiled. It was a smile of a parent who knows their child, it was a smile of gentle chastisement, and it was a smile full of knowledge. "No, Luke," he said simply. "There are other ways." He raised his hands and turned again for the steps. Eighteen years was a long time for a dream to last; inevitably the dreamer has to wake.
"Owen?" Beru did not sound so sure. The moment they had feared for almost two decades had arrived. The moment they had discussed during many evenings when the child had slept was upon them and Beru was torn, uncertain of what they should do. Their choice was simple; let the boy die with them, or attempt to save his life. She looked briefly at her nephew before following her husband's example. Beru prayed they would make the correct decision.
Luke looked in turn toward the soldier who had him in his sights, to his uncle and aunt slowly making their way from the courtyard and to the sword in his grasp. This was his new symbol for his father, a navigator suddenly turned hero, a common man who had suddenly become a Jedi Knight. He felt anger and frustration grow upon his fear. There was nothing he could do here. He impotently held a dangerous weapon, because he didn't know how to use it. He tightened his grip for a moment, then opened his palm and let the sabre fall uselessly to the dirt and, covering his head with his hands, he followed his guardians from the farm.
On leaving the dome, the family was lined up and searched. Owen and Luke's utility belts were removed, Beru's ID taken. They waited nervously as an Imperial officer -- a captain -- emerged from the troop transport and sauntered over. A stormtrooper, having extracted Luke and Owen's IDs from their belt pouches, handed them and Beru's to the officer.
He studied them and glanced at their owners, then turned to the waiting trooper and handed back the cards. "Check them out," he ordered, walking toward the family. He drew another look over them all, studying each in turn before directing himself at Owen. "I apologize if we have alarmed you, farmer.“ He paused, watching the anger grow on Lars' face. He smiled. "We are searching for a couple of droids, and we have been told you recently purchased a pair. May we see them?"
Luke turned his attention away from the officer and his uncle, turned to watch another soldier search his landspeeder. Torn and desperate, afraid and angry, he realized this whole situation was his fault. He had persuaded Owen to purchase new machines, he had taken the restraining bolt off the Artoo unit, he had gone tearing after the absconding droid, he had left the two robots with Ben at the Jawa sandcrawler. He also carried the information to end this. He could tell the soldiers what they wanted. He could explain everything that had happened, explain who had the robots and where he was headed, explain that Owen and Beru had no part in it. Once the soldiers realized they were innocent they would leave. Wouldn't they?
Owen fought an urge to look over at his nephew. He could feel Luke's twisting emotions, could almost hear the boy's thoughts as he argued with himself, as he took all the blame for their situation upon his own shoulders. However, he kept his gaze upon the soldiers, not wishing the attention of the officer to fall onto Luke yet. He knew the droids were not here and he had a fair idea of who had them, but he didn't know why they were so important, though Luke had mentioned something the previous night about a recording. "They're not here," Owen finally answered. "They're out in the fields."
Luke held his breath after his uncle spoke, not daring to watch the exchange. His uncle would guess Ben had the robots and yet he had chosen to lie. Why? There was no love lost between the two men.
He watched more soldiers leave the farm buildings; one of them carried his lightsabre and handed it to the captain. Luke quickly turned away as the officer listened briefly to the trooper and looked sharply over in his direction.
The Imperial smiled as the nervous youth directed his eyes away. He looked back at the sword hilt in his hands; a lightsabre. Where would a Tatooine farm boy obtain such an ancient weapon? Captain Oquarn was beginning to realize that perhaps he had stumbled onto something bigger than two rebel droids being accidentally bought by an innocent farmer.
"Out in the fields, you say," he directed back at Owen. "Isn't that a little unusual? Leaving droids alone in the desert, inviting Jawas to pick them up?"
"Jawas don't wander onto marked territory," Owen informed him.
Oquarn turned at the shout to find the squad leader jogging over from the transport with the farmers' IDs. "What have you found?"
The stormtrooper handed the cards back to his superior and delivered his report. "They’re all fakes."
Luke's stomach dropped in shock. He turned to his guardians in surprise and caught his aunt's eyes. She merely shook her head at his silent questions.
"We've found it difficult to trace them," the soldier continued. "However, we matched the man and woman with an Owen Lars Kenobi and a Beru Mera Kenobi. They--"
"Kenobi!" Luke finally burst, unable to maintain his silence at this revelation. "What --"
Oquarn turned at the words. "Silence!" he barked.
Beru quickly hushed him, afraid of quick Imperial tempers. "Not now, Luke. Let it pass."
Luke held his tongue with difficulty. He was confused and scared. How could they be named Kenobi? Were they related to Ben? Why was there such animosity between Owen and Ben? And where did he fit into this? Why were their IDs fakes? What was happening?
Oquarn returned to the soldier. "And?"
"They are JedI. Criminals and fugitives from the Wars. Death warrants were issued eighteen years ago."
The trooper was looking in Luke's direction. "There's no trace of him, sir," he said. "Either his birth was never registered, or it's a completely false identity. According to records, there is no Luke Skywalker."
Luke's mind reeled at this information, as his entire self concept - who he thought he was - shattered. This morning, with the revelations about his father, Ben had swung the first blow to his beliefs, now these soldiers had completed the demolition. His ID was a fake! Luke Skywalker didn't exist. So who was he? Who were his aunt and uncle? How could this be when his ID was renewed every year, when he had been enrolled in school without question? His uncle had seen to everything, and -- He shot a glance toward Owen and saw the farmer watching him.
Owen could see the questions race through the boy, could see the fright and confusion as they gripped his nephew. Obi-Wan had obviously not told him everything. They should have explained it all to him as he grew, they should have taught him all he needed to know. It was clear to him now. But they had thought only of Luke's safety, of having his childhood remain clear from the pain of his background. They had sought only to protect him; instead they had left him open and vulnerable.
Owen had been afraid. Afraid of being discovered, afraid of Luke following his father, afraid that Luke would choose to walk the same path, and so he had spurned Obi-Wan, sending his brother back into the desert, telling him it wasn't time, telling him it was too soon, telling him never to come to the farm again. He had turned his back on the Force, on the training he had taken. He had seen what the Dark Side could do and wanted no part of it. He had chosen to hide, to live a simple life and have nothing more to do with the Knighthood. He had become selfish. He had wanted to keep his family with him, wanted to hold onto the peace he had found. He had fought Luke's wishes to apply to the Academy, not only because an application would have meant discovery, but because he wanted to keep Luke here for himself, wanted to delay the day he would have to part from the child he privately called son.
But how to save Luke now? How to convince these soldiers that the child should live?
Conflicting fears tore the farmer. Should Luke be allowed to live at all? Wouldn't it be best for the Galaxy if he were to die? Wouldn't the Galaxy be saved from the combined powers of a father and son? But then, hadn't Obi-Wan and Yoda explained Luke was their hope, their salvation, the last living Jedi offspring?
And he smiled again at Luke, a smile the youth couldn't possibly understand. His choice was clear; he loved the youth, loved Luke as a father would a son - though he knew Luke would refute that fact - and a father would never willingly allow his son to perish.
"Well, well," the captain spoke with quiet satisfaction -- a youth with an ancient Jedi weapon and without identity living among outlaws. This find could prove to be lucrative to his career. "Quite a little situation we have here." He ignited the Jedi sword and looked at Luke. "It would appear we have stumbled upon a Jedi nest. Or perhaps you have another identity?"
Still confused and hardly able to grasp the events, Luke merely looked back and shook his head slowly. To be honest, he didn't have a clue now as to who he really was.
"He is Luke Skywalker." It was Beru who spoke. She lowered her hands and moved closer to Luke, ignoring the stormtroopers around her, wanting only to succour and comfort her nephew. "And he is the son of a Jedi Knight." The last was said more for Luke's benefit than the officers. So much had been taken from him in the last few minutes, and she wanted to give him something back, something to hold onto and believe in.
"Which explains the sword," Oquarn answered, admiring the pulsing shaft of light. "But not much else." He glanced back at Owen. "I still need those droids."
"We don't have them," Owen responded, truthfully.
Oquarn returned his attention to Luke. "The droids?"
"We don't have them," Luke was surprised to hear his voice responding with Owen's words.
"But I think you know who does," the captain retorted. He extinguished the sabre and hooked it to his belt. He studied the three captives, gauging their relationships to one another, watching the boy exchange a lost glance with his aunt. Oquarn directed his next words to his soldiers. "Kill the woman."
"No!" both Owen and Luke responded at once.
The officer turned on Luke. "Then tell me who has the droids."
This was wrong. Everything was tumbling from him; his life was being wrenched from his control. Too much responsibility had been placed on his shoulders. It was a simple choice: the rebel princess and Kenobi, or his aunt and uncle
"No one," Luke answered. "I took off their restraining bolts," he blurted out quickly when the soldiers lifted their weapons. "They ran away and I --"
"You did what?" Owen blustered at his nephew, faking his anger and lending some credence to Luke's half-truth.
"Well, you said I was t-"
"Enough!" Oquarn barked, staring intently at Luke. Could this simple frightened boy be feeding them false information? "Which way did they head?”
Luke waved his hand in a westerly direction. "I followed their tracks toward the dune sea, toward Bestine."
Oquarn appeared to be at least partly satisfied. "Raze the farm and kill them." He turned to leave the scene. Three fugitive Jedi deaths; Lord Vader would be pleased.
"Captain!" Owen called. "Captain, please. A word."
Oquarn turned; there was something about the farmer's voice which compelled him to listen. "Bring him here," he ordered.
Sweat formed on Owen's brow as the troopers walked with him to the captain's side. How to word this? How to plead for Luke's life? "It's about the boy," he began, risking a glance at Luke. He swallowed with difficulty. "He isn't what you think."
"Go on," Oquarn ordered, his interest piqued.
Owen hastily continued, trying to find strength from the faith he had long ago abandoned. "He is the son of a Jedi, but...one who chose the path of the Sith, one who is now your commander." He hesitated to form the name, to acknowledge what Anakin had become. "Darth Vader."
"Vader!" Oquarn gasped, gaping at the youth; then a smile erupted on his features and he laughed at the absurdity of the farmer's words; the Dark Lord's son secreted away on the dust world of Tatooine, a small insignificant lad. Then the laugh died as Owen spoke again.
"Can you take the chance that he isn't who I say he is? Will you face the Dark Lord and tell him you executed his son?" He spoke quietly, his voice low, his tone measured as he made a minute gesture with his hand. It was the only way he could think of to save his nephew, save the last hope for the Galaxy. He only prayed that he was acting correctly and not plunging the Galaxy into extended darkness by revealing Luke's identity to Anakin. “Take the boy.”
Oquarn turned to regard the youth who was standing with his aunt. He looked slight, confused and frightened. Could Lars' words be as true as they sounded? He looked back at Owen and found the farmer's gaze steady and penetrating. His decision came easily. "Take the boy," he ordered his men.
A stormtrooper behind the prisoners immediately prodded Luke forward with the butt of his blaster. Luke resisted, digging his heels into the dirt. "No!" He turned on the soldier, but his aunt caught his arm.
"Go with them, Luke," she told them softly, realizing what Owen had told the officer. It was one of the options they had discussed many times while Luke slept. "They won't harm you."
"But, you --" he protested as a second soldier approached and his arms were taken in armoured grips.
Beru smiled, and placed a palm on his cheek, searching his eyes as she spoke. She saw fear there, anger, and hatred for these Imperials -- the emotions of darkness. However, she also saw his love, his innocence, and light, and prayed he would always retain this balance. "Be strong, Luke. Listen to what he tells you, but take your own meaning. Trust in your heart and your feelings. Remember the image you hold, for that is his true nature."
"Who?" he tried to ask, but he was being led away toward the waiting carrier. "No!" He pulled against the hands on his arms, struggled to release the troopers' grasp. He was carried past his uncle and he twisted his head back, trying to see his guardians, wanting to understand what was happening. But all he saw was the first flames and smoke that began to flicker from the homestead.
Owen returned to Beru's side and took her hand in his. The smoke which rose from their home stung their eyes, clogged their lungs. He watched as the soldiers bundled Luke into the carrier. His nephew would survive, his father would welcome him and for once Luke's destiny was firmly in his own hands. He would have to make his own choices. Owen heard the troopers cock their rifles and steeled himself for the brief burst of pain he imagined would precede his death.
He has too much of his father in him.
Owen smiled. Beru had not meant Vader's darkness. She had referred only to Anakin, to the man he had been and not the thing he had become. Luke was his father's son, and suddenly Owen was no longer afraid.
Luke was pushed into a seat and his hands cuffed before him. As he turned to stare out of the vehicle at his ruined home, he heard two sharp bursts of laser fire.
“No!“ he cried, fighting to stand. But they pushed him down, fixed his binders to his seat. He slumped, stunned, and lowered his head. He grimaced, squeezing his eyes tightly shut and swallowed with difficulty. Nausea pushed at his throat. The taste of sour bile filled his mouth. He pushed his sickness down, fought the sob which threatened to rise. Tears quickly coursed down his cheeks.
Be strong, Luke.
He heaved in a steadying breath and lifted his head as Oquarn settled into the seat opposite him. He stared for a moment at the man, and then shifted his eyes to the lightsabre on the captain's belt.
Oquarn followed the gaze and unhooked the sword, then caught the youth's eyes once more. He shivered in the intense, hateful stare, feeling the first stirrings of fear and he prayed the farmer had been lying about Skywalker's heritage. He placed the sabre to the side as the hatch closed, shutting out the bright afternoon sunlight and the sight of the burning farm.
But the stench of smoke and death remained in the air as the vehicle's engine gunned to life and carried them away from the homestead.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, seated on a rock near the burned-out Sandcrawler, bowed his head in a moment of grief. He had misjudged the visions which had sent him on this path, misjudged Luke's impulsiveness and now the galaxy tottered on the brink of total darkness. Without training and guidance Luke surely could not withstand his father, could not resist the draw of the night, the power the Dark Side offered.
He could not condemn his brother for his actions. As always, Owen had acted out of love, out of the depths of his feelings. Obi-Wan had often thought that Owen would have made the better Jedi -- so intense was his light, his understanding of right and wrong. Owen had chosen to do what he felt was right and had saved Luke's life; but at what cost to the Galaxy?
He lifted his head to look at the droids as they waited for their next orders, at the Jawas' funeral pyres, at the brightness of the day. Anakin had both Luke and Leia. The twins had stumbled into their father's grasp without the knowledge and experience they required. What occurred next would very much depend on their natural strength and their natural light.
The Jedi rose and stared at the horizon, trying to see into the future, but the images were hazy, unaligned and fragmented. Instead he turned toward the robots; he still had to return them to Alderaan.
"Come," he told them. "We have much to do."
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