Full Circle

My wife has always been after me to get a 'droid that speaks bocce. That means a protocol or translator 'droid. Plenty of 'droids program in bocce, but not many can communicate with humans as well. Fortunately, the Jawas will never likely have a working protocol 'droid. I know they're useful and humanoid, and can be used for a variety of tasks, and are sometimes better than having a hired hand around. My wife Beru misses the one we used to have when my stepmother was living with us ... but since we became responsible for Luke, I don't think I can risk having another one.

We used to have a working protocol 'droid. When my stepmother died, my father gave her protocol 'droid -- C3PO -- to her prodigal son, my stepbrother. It was a big decision, but Anakin had nothing to remember his mother by, and we felt that's what Shmi would have wanted.

Beru and I got married shortly after, and we thought we could afford another 'droid by pooling her things with ours. But Dad took a turn for the worse and we needed to take care of him first. And then we found out how expensive protocol 'droids are, even the faulty ones! The one we had was made by my stepbrother, but he's a mechanical wizard, what I know of him. He was on the farm only for a couple of days and he fixed my swoopbike, the speeder, some 'vaporators. He's good with machines, no doubt about that. I wish I had so much as a tiny fraction of his ability to talk to machines.

I know for sure that C3PO was taken off-planet to Geonosis, about a parsec away -- it sounds short, but it's very far, especially for a man like me. I wasn't born on Tatooine, but I've never left the planet since my parents brought me here as a tyke. I'm sure that Anakin wouldn't sell him; I mean, it's all that he has left from his mother. So C3PO could never come back, right?

I've looked for an appropriate working 'droid any time I've been in Anchorhead or Mos Eisley, just to let my wife know I have. I don't venture much further than that. Most are pure non-working junk, or something's seriously and unidentifiably wrong with their programming. I know those scrapheap machines are what I can afford, but I would never bring a junker home, because our boy Luke would try to fix it.

Luke is not mine and Beru's, except he was orphaned and we got landed with him. That old wizard, Ben -- he brought him here and told us his parents had died in the Jedi hunt -- and we were the only family he had left. It was fate; Beru and I were resigned to having no kids, then suddenly this baby comes in the arms of that crazy man. I wanted to think about it, but you should have seen the look on Beru's face as she held that baby. Anyway, he was all alone in the Galaxy; I couldn't have said no.

Ben came to talk to me a long time later; we met as if by chance by one of the 'vaporators. The things are always leaky, but one was really gurgling water, and it had to be fixed or it could affect the whole field. I was dreading it, I'm not much one with machines, not like my stepbrother. I was cursing and sweating as the suns went down, and in the dark I was wondering if I should just cap the thing, when Ben showed up from nowhere. I've come to hate that of the man, how he pops up from nowhere.

He asked if he could help, and before I could wave him off, he bent down and fiddled with a few things. Son of a blastoid, the creepy guy had done it! The thing was absolutely dry -- I tested it later with the hydrometer, it was better than new! I was trying to find a way not only to thank him, but to ask him how he had done it when he started muttering. He seemed to talk to me without talking. He told me that Luke's father had become a powerful Jedi before he died, but had turned to the dark side. It was essential to protect Luke from that knowledge, and to have him grow up "pure and clean." I knew the guy was nuts, the way he glared at me, talking to me as if I didn't understand him. He made me promise not to tell Luke about his parents, then before I knew it, he was gone.

That's why I don't want to bring home a junky protocol 'droid. Bad enough Luke is so much like what Shmi told me about her son. Always tinkering, a good-hearted, generous boy, but with huge, huge dreams. He's kind, but also a loner. He creates "friends" out of his mechanical toys. Worst of all, Luke has curiosity about anything he can't see -- he wants to travel among the stars.

Before my own father died, he told me that I once had a brother who was Force-strong and a Jedi Knight. I have a vague memory of an older boy coming to visit when I was really young. Dad said he was my brother, and that I had some Force ability, too. That explains some of the feelings I have. Sometimes, I think I know what's going to happen, or what people are thinking. It's hard to describe, but he told me to keep it to myself, or the Jedi might take my children away, like my brother was taken away. And when the Empire came into power, they'd murdered anyone that even reeks of "Jedi."

So all these years I've had Luke, I've been very very careful not to open any cans of dianogas. I try to keep him on the farm, try to keep his mind on the here and now, instead of encouraging his dreams. Beru just sighs that he's got too much of his father in him. She remembers his mother, who came to visit briefly once. Beru often asks me, and what about his mother? Shouldn't he know that his mother was royalty? How could it be dangerous to let him know about Padmé?

I tell her no, no need to give him airs or fuel his fantasies. Plus she's from Naboo, which was all but destroyed when the Emperor came into power. As far away from anything as we are here on this dustball, even we got news of that unfortunate planet. So best not to open that can, either. My Beru's a dreamer, but she understands that with the Emperor in power, we need to make sure Luke stays safe, even if that means lying to him. We tell him we know nothing of his mother.

It's been years now, and I sometimes even forget about Ben living out on the Jundland Wastes -- how he can do that, I'll never know. But just last month, old Ben came around, saying something about Luke being ready for training. That means making him a Jedi -- after all the work we've done to keep that from him! It was the old guy himself who told me to keep that information from Luke, how is father died a dark wizard ... now the crazy guy is reversing himself! No way, I've started down this path, I'm not backing up for anyone, not even that creepy old coot.

Yesterday, the Jawas came around and had some good 'droids for sale, for once. I really needed them -- we'd just lost some farmhands to the Tusken Raiders. It happens from time to time, the Raiders decide to attack homesteaders, and any poor slob left out after dark is as good as poodoo. It's hard to get decent workers; they're are usually hired on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis. A lot of them have problems that don't pay to know about.

Beru has been after me to invest in a good 'droid that can program the 'vaporators, and Luke keeps telling me he can fix anything the Jawas sell us, as long as he can get enough parts. I know why they're after me -- Luke wants to go to the Imperial Academy and he and Beru figure that if we get a few labor and programming 'droids, I won't need him so much around the farm. Luke has Beru wrapped around his fingers, she'll do anything to make him happy.

I made a promise that I would keep Luke safe. I can't think of anything less safe than to let my Force-strong boy out where the Emperor can find him.

Yes, he has the Force -- he can find lost things, can tell when something bad is going to happen. He doesn't know I know, but I saw him fly with that Darklighter boy, and make no mistake, Biggs is good. But Luke is better. I know Anakin once won the Boonta Eve podrace -- the only human to ever survive such a race, much less win one! -- and I don't doubt that if Luke ever had the chance, he could do the same. I've tried to keep his feet on the ground, but it's impossible.

Mostly, he has feelings and premonitions, much stronger than mine. He has dreams and visions that are frightening. I hear him screaming in the night, more and more recently.

You can see, it hasn't been easy to hide all the facts from Luke. He's a special boy, but it's my fate to deny him his specialness.

Like I said, the Jawas came this morning, and their offerings were better than usual, which normally makes me suspicious. I mean, if a 'droid works well, why would it be in a scrap pile? But my normal caution was bypassed when I saw and heard the protocol 'droid.

Even though he was covered in expensive golden plating, I recognized C3PO immediately. There's no mistaking that prissy voice and righteous attitude! I'd forgotten about that, but it all came back. How had he gotten on planet? I couldn't look directly at him, and thank the maker that he didn't seem to recognize me. His memory had obviously been wiped since I'd last seen him, but I'll make sure his memory is wiped again. I can't risk him telling Luke what he might know. I have heard there are ways to access past memories. I don't know if it's true, but I have to be sure.

There was a blue astromech near him that gave me a bad feeling, like I should have known him. I tried to buy a red R5 unit instead, but his motivator exploded as Luke was taking him back to the workshop. I had already given my money to the Jawas; they never give it back once they get it; they don't even make change. So I had no choice but to take the blue one, despite my misgivings.

At dinner, Luke told me about the message the blue astromech was carrying, and claiming he was the property of "Obi-wan Kenobi." I looked at Beru, silently telling her to keep quiet. Again, I lied, and I told him Obi-wan was a friend of his father's and that he was dead. I hid my panic with a bad mood, though I could barely keep the pleading out of my voice when I told him I needed him on the farm. He brought up that he could go to the Academy now that we have two excellently functioning 'droids. Damn it, I knew it!

After Luke had left to work on the 'droids, I told Beru about buying C3PO today. She was as surprised as I had been, and was I sure, couldn't there be other 'droids like him? No, I was sure; he even had the restraining bolt scar I had placed on him when I helped Shmi put the coverings on him.

Beru asked me if it was safe to have him on the farm with Luke, and I told her that I had to buy him -- I couldn't risk Luke finding that 'droid on his own, now that I know it's on planet again. At least this way, I could make sure the memories were completely wiped, even if that meant reprogramming both 'droids again from scratch.

I told Beru about the blue astromech, and she remembered that Luke's mother had one. It can't be coincidence that these 'droids ended up here! "Maybe Padmé sent them to get Luke?" asked Beru, "Maybe she's not dead, after all?" And worse, I remember now, she had an astromech 'droid she called "R2" and I heard Luke calling that name out last evening. It just can't be coincidence!

This morning, Luke has taken the 'droids up to Anchorhead to have their memories wiped, that's what Beru told me. I guess he's really keen to get them functional for the farm, so that he can join Darklighter at the Academy. I don't know how I'm going to handle this one, but I know I can't let him go. I think Ben would agree with me, but I'm not seeking him out; he's after Luke to train him. I guess the sun over the Jundland Wastes has finally gotten to him, and he can't remember stuff so well anymore.

I'm thinking all these things as I work on maintaining the 'vaporators. It's a never-ending job, but we have to harvest all the water we can. The air is so dry, the crop has been awful this year. I worry about Luke, wondering how I can keep him here for just another year. He'll be difficult and surly and will run off to Anchorhead to see those friends of his. Do you know what they call him? Wormie. Damned awful thing to call a boy; I hate to make him stay. He can do so much more, but I made a promise. I intend to keep it, even if I have to injure myself to keep him here!

I'm mulling this over, and I don't notice the time, even though the suns are no longer casting shadows, meaning they're as high up in the sky as they get, and I'm growing faint from the heat. Something makes me look up and my heart stops. I know now I should have passed on the 'droids yesterday, or should have destroyed them completely. A mindwipe won't be enough -- C3PO must have a tracking device on him!

I know this because I see dewbacks on the horizon, a whole line of them! On their backs are men, and when I looked in the electrobinoculars, I see they were men in white armor. I'd never seen any before, but we've all seen holos of Imperial stormtroopers in the newsfeeds we get from time to time. I see them in the cantinas and tapcafs in Anchorhead and Mos Eisley. You used to never see them, but now the news is filled with reports of war and victories for the Empire.

We're so far away from anywhere, the Empire never bothered with us before. Tatooine has nothing the Empire wants. But now, I realize there is something they want -- they want Luke! Beru was right -- the 'droids were sent to find him. I'm an old fool! I've led them right to him!

I view the stormtroopers again, and I see they're heading for home!

Maybe it's the sun, but I can't seem to think straight ... I try the comlink to Beru and then to Luke, but both seem to be out of range. I get only static from Beru, and nothing from Luke at all. Gosh, I hope they're both okay. I get on my old swoopbike -- the one Anakin repaired for me so many years ago -- and head for home.

The small amount of Force ability I have tells me that something terrible is going to happen. I hope I'm not too late! What will they do if they find Beru at home alone? Go faster, faster!

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