It was odd that the two notes would arrive at the same time. Odder still that letters of such weight would come immediately after graduating the academy. It seemed that he had been at the academy all his life. Sitting there in the sterile barracks Luke could hardly remember the boy he had once been, dusty and wild-eyed, spending his spare time at Tasha Station or pegging off wamprats in his old T-16.
What an odd hobby, he thought to himself.
He couldn’t bring himself to regret that rash choice, a year earlier. Biggs was going to the academy and it hardly seemed fair for Uncle Owen to forbid him from joining him. Even though everything had changed between him and Biggs since then (rumors were that Biggs had gone AWOL and joined the rebellion), he still couldn’t bring himself to regret. Even with the first letter in his hands.
It is with deep regret that we inform you of the tragic events that have recently occurred on Tatooine. Your aunt and uncle have been savagely murdered by the roaming bandits you call Sand People. The tiny Imperial presence in the area has already made it their number one priority to hunt down the murderers and bring them to swift justice. You have my deepest condolences.
Out in the cold, dark abyss of space, Luke could not really realize that they were gone. In a way, they had been gone for a full year. He had never actually believed that he would see them again. So the letter, though depressing, could not completely overshadow the other message he had received.
You are commanded to report to DOCKING BAY FOUR at 2300hrs tonight for transport to your new posting. At the moment this posting is classified TOP-SECRET and you are ordered to share the new of this posting with NO-ONE. Upon arrival you will be awarded rank of FLIGHT OFFICER.
Wing Commander Jestman
The sympathy letter from Felth was in his right hand. The posting order in his left. He looked at them both. One seemed brighter. One seemed bigger. One had a future. He put the note in his right hand down on his bunk. Half-smiled to himself.
That clinches it, he thought, moving out was the right choice. I would have been killed along with them. There never was a future for me on that rock.
He lay down to sleep what little he could before his post.
There were no windows in the cargo bay. Only people. Rows and rows of people. Most of them were older, gruffer than Luke. Only a handful had been in the academy with him. And those, he remembered, were near the top of their respective classes, like he himself had been. No one spoke to him as they cruised through hyperspace. Few spoke at all. It was as if most of them had never met each other. Not that it mattered. Their job was not to socialize, Luke knew and understood this. He was a little ashamed of the foolhardy boy he had been, playing around and wasting time with friends when there was such a conflict going on in the galaxy. A wasteful one that refused to allow peace and order to take charge.
Well, at least he was on the right side now.
Luke felt the ship drop out of hyperspace. They were close. Announcements sounded over the PA system. Assignments were handed out. Luke learned the name of the new post: Death Star.
It felt like walking onto a starport on a planet, not a space station. The artificial gravity had no fluctuations. The sleek design and brightly-lit corridors were wide open, as if there was plenty of room to spare. And the hangers, oh the hangers!
Luke didn’t pay much attention to the hanger his transport docked in. It was the TIE hangers that drew him. His old T-16 seemed like a child’s toy next to these ships. More maneuverable than anything he had ever laid his hands on, the TIE fighters seemed made for him, their quick reactions to every delicate touch thrilled him and told him a deep truth: You belong here with us.
And, of course, he did not spend all his time staring at them. He flew them. Oh how he flew them! His heart flew when he found out that he had been selected to train with an elite TIE squad. To study under them, fight alongside them, and help bring order to the galaxy. Life could not have been better.
He trained long. The other pilots became close friends. He went on missions, kept the peace. He even provided escort once when Lord Vader (who lived on that very station!) went out for his weekly flight. Life was good.
And peaceful. There was not much need for battles after the Death Star began pressing the wasteful rebellion down. The last battle he remembered was at a far-away system called Yavin. A rebel base was lodged there. The Death Star moved in. The rebels reacted with violence. There was a terrific battle. Luke fought in it. On his own he took down four X-wings and a Y-wing (on his own!). The battle fizzled out and the rebel base was removed. The rebellion faded away after that. Faded into nothingness, with no will left to fight.
On the other side of the galaxy another force was fading. The force residing in a small green creature, once strong and vibrant, drained away. Leaving a shell of despair and sadness and the repeating words, “Why…why?”
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