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En route to Tatooine, Leia Organa Solo has a vision of a black cowled figure that turns into Darth Vader and then turns into Luke warning her to stay away from darkness.

 

chapter 1:

 

She finds herself in the crash webbing. C-3PO asks if she’s alright. She thinks she just nodded off and had a bad dream. This one is different from others and reminds her of the apparition of her father that had appeared before her asking forgiveness for acts she could never forgive him for.

 

In orbit of Tatooine, they find the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera last known to be in service to the Empire. While many other Imperials are scrambling to pick up what’s left of the territory Warlord Zsinj left behind eight months ago, it’s said that Chimaera’s captain, Gilad Pellaeon, is loyal and competent.

 

Chewie isn’t sure they should approach the planet, but Han reminds him that the Killik Twilight hung in the palace on Alderaan. The painting had been on its way home from Coruscant where it had been on loan to a museum, but it dropped out of sight after the destruction of Alderaan. It had been assumed destroyed until Lando Calrissian had reported it included in an auction here on Tatooine.

 

Chewie thinks it might be a trap which is why Leia shouldn’t go, but she tells him she wouldn’t do it for any other painting.

 

Han tries to call her on it until she is forced to admit it’s not just the painting. There’s a Shadowcast code key inside of it. They are used to send messages to spies behind Imperial lines. Han wants to know why she didn’t tell him the Provisional Council was behind this. She explains that she was the one who came up with the idea of hiding the code inside the painting and was the one who thought it had been destroyed. Mon Mothma is the only other person who knows this so she had to persuade the Council to grant funds to purchase the painting.

 

Han is not particularly happy with Mon Mothma or the Provisional Council right now. Eight months ago, they had been eager to marry Leia off to Prince Isolder of the Hapes Cluster. Leia blames herself for that. She should’ve made it clear to Ta’a Chume that marrying her son was not possible, especially considering her feelings about having children. Han would not have been hurt then.

 

She didn’t realize this would turn into a mission. Even though the key is old, the Imperials could still use it to break new codes. They would also uncover a network they hadn’t detected in almost a decade, as well as cost the lives for former agents on enemy worlds.

 

The Chimaera challenges the Falcon which is flying under, as usual, an assumed name. Han putsPO on the comm. and tells him to pretend to be a Gand, then goes back in the cargo hold and loads cases of Chandrilan brandy into a cargo pod. The comm. officer aboard the Chimaera knows that Gands can speak Basic and that the one aboard this ship can understand him. Han brings the ship around toward the Destroyer with the assault shuttle containing the boarding party in between them.

 

The Destroyer cannot shoot without risking hitting the shuttle. Han jettisons the bribe of brandy and flies off, hoping they’ll stop for the cargo. The shuttle only puts a tractor beam on it.

 

He drags her to the laser cannon access and tells her not to hit anything for real. Obviously the boarding officer wants to at least make sure he tries to catch them before convincing Pellaeon he couldn’t. Then the shuttle blows up the cargo pod.

 

The Falcon tries to outrun the pursuing TIEs while avoiding hitting them. The Chimaera cannot risk shooting them while they’re on the planet, especially if they are just considered smugglers. Then the ship shoots one of its own Interceptors. Han thinks it makes a point to the other TIE pilots.

 

He decides they are going to start shooting back until the TIEs are recalled. The shuttle, however, remains on course toward the planet.

 

They aim toward a sandstorm before more TIEs come at them and they are caught in a tractor beam. Han waits until they are close enough to launch a couple of missles that free them in enough time to fly into Tatooine’s atmosphere and land in the middle of the sandstorm.
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  • According to the chapter, it’s been five years since Leia had her vision of Anakin Skywalker on Bakura which took place during the Truce at Bakura. If that’s the case, it’s been 5 years since ROTJ which makes this book take place 9 years ABY instead of 8 as Wookieepedia states. Nine years makes more sense as it was already 8 years in Solo Command and The Courtship of Princess Leia and it’s been 8 months since the latter. That puts it more like 9 years, than 8. Han and Leia have been married a little over six months.
  • And Leia seemed to be reconciling Vader as her father at the end of Bakura but I suppose there’s a difference between forgiving him and being willing to talk with him if he shows up again.
  • We last saw the Chimaera in Choices of One. Ditto for Captain Pellaeon.
  • Oh, and one more thing. Leia certainly seemed like she was seriously considering Isolder’s offer. While there were times in which she felt pushed to make a decision in his favor, I never read anything in the first half of “The Courtship of Princess Leia” that led me to believe that a marriage between them was impossible. Han certainly believed it was possible, otherwise he’d never have kidnapped her!
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chapter 2:

 

In Mos Espa, Han and Leia wear disguises but are still unnerved by the appearance of Imperial stormtroopers. Capt. Pallaeon isn’t taking any chances. They enter the Performance Hall where the Weequay Grunts recognizes Han by his smell and tells them the stormtroopers came with a couple of officers who are here to make sure the auction contains authentic items.

 

They spot the Imperials which includes a full bridge commander. Someone that highly ranked is not here for smugglers, but for the painting. She wonders if they know its secret.

 

They try to keep an eye on the officers while perusing the auction items when Leia catches sight of a small holocube with a jubilant young boy featured in it. She recognizes the boy’s eyes as Luke’s but the boy doesn’t look particularly like Luke.

 

A man of about 50 appears and explains that the holo is of the boy who won the Boonta Eve Classic around 40 years ago. Han tells them that, even when pod-racing was legal, no human could survive, especially a child.

 

The man wouldn’t part with it normally as the boy was his best friend, but times are hard. Han leads Leia away and she admits the boy reminded her of someone. She’s more concerned that the man may have recognized her. She has a habit of clasping in hands in front of in a way that could make her recognizable. Winter has reminded her many times to watch that when she doesn’t want to be noticed.

 

He takes her to a Squib booth and gives them the credits to view their material, but, once inside, they want the Squibs to buy the Killik Twilight for them with funds they’ll supply. He wants to keep himself and Leia away from Imperial attention while they’re here. The Squibs – Sligh, Grees and Elama - want them to buy all their auction items in return. They negotiate that until they come to an agreement.

 

Sligh accompanies them to the painting so he’ll know what he’s bidding on. There is high security involved here so they are blindfolded and led into a small room. Leia is finally able to lay her eyes on the beautiful painting that so captured the sorrow of Palpatine’s rise.

 

Watching Han’s awestruck reaction, she is amazed he can still surprise her.
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  • I would like to take a moment to remind you that, in the 5 years after Return of the Jedi, we have yet to see a conversation between Luke and Leia regarding anything having to do with Anakin Skywalker’s past. Of course, we’ve only really had The True at Bakura and The Courtship of Princess Leia, but there’s never really been any dialogue in either book to indicate it happened when we weren’t reading! The reason, of course, is that both books were written prior to the release of the prequel trilogy. As Tatooine Ghost was written afterwards, we can have a scene where Leia sees a picture of her father as a small boy.
  • And, as we know from Rebel Force #1: Target, C-3PO should have access to records that prove a human won a pod race. And, in fact, if he has access to those records, then they exist somewhere which, as I pointed out in my chapter summary of that book, means that, at the very least, racing aficionados should be aware of the precedent of a human winning a pod race.
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chapter 3:

 

Han is incredibly moved by the sight of Killiks turning to face the storm headed their way and identifies with that sentiment himself. He appreciates that Leia herself has never flinched from doing that herself. He wants Leia to have the painting because it is a physical reminder of the home she lost and, despite salvage laws applying to artwork, it probably belongs to her anyway.

 

At the auction, he spots various sellers, including the dark-haired man with the holocube. Han reminds Leia she never told him who she thought the kid in the picture reminded him of. She obviously thought he was cute and Han thinks it’s because she likes kids and really does want one.

 

She tells him that they spoke before they married about this and agreed. She thought he understood why she doesn’t want any. He thinks she’s being irrational. She would rather he admit he has a child by Bria Tharen because she can live with that. He is pretty sure he doesn’t just as he’s sure the Dark Side doesn’t run in Leia’s blood.

 

She doesn’t think she has the right to bring someone who could potentially become another Darth Vader into the world. The fact that Luke hasn’t doesn’t mean the risk isn’t there for others. Han has known how she feels about this since Bakura. He should have let her marry Isolder if he didn’t like it.

 

Han asks if she told Isolder she didn’t want children. He doubts Ta’a Chume would have allowed the wedding to take place. He knows she loves children and wants them as much as he does, but she’s both afraid of and mad at her father.

 

He knows that he said he could live without children but he loves being married and wants to provide a safe home that he didn’t have for a child.

 

She tells him that she would have had to have told Isolder eventually, but it doesn’t matter now. Any child she brought into the Hapes Consortium would have more likely become what she feared anyway. That’s why she wasn’t so worried when the Hapans came to visit.

 

They watch the auction which begins with the auctioneer displaying the holo of the young boy which is being sold by Kitster Banai. Some of the off-worlders boo while many locals cheer which covers up part of the name when the auctioneer announces that the boy is Anakin Skywalker.

 

Leia hears enough of the name to think that’s who it must be, much to Han’s chagrin. He said it could be Anakin. Luke had done a search and found Anakin might have lived here as a boy. If so, it would explain how a kid could win a pod race.

 

Unfortunately for Han, Leia realizes that he gave Sligh permission to bid on the holo, but Sligh is going higher than agreed upon. Han admits she thought she might like to have it.

 

He does leave the booth to hold Sligh to task for bidding higher which only serves to get him the attention from the Imperials that he didn’t want. To make matters worse, he spots a repulsorlift and a hand with a ring on it in the crowd that he believes belongs to Threkin Horm, a member of the Alderaanian Council and one of the chief proponents of Leia marrying Isolder.

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  • We met Threkin Horm in The Courtship of Princess Leia.
  • Also, with the exception of a brief mention at the very end of that book, there is nothing to indicate that Leia was particularly concerned about having children when considering whether or not to marry Isolder. In fact, a great deal of that story involved her wanting to do what’s best for the New Republic versus determining whether or not she loved Han at all. And, as I pointed out earlier, she certainly acted like someone seriously contemplating Isolder’s proposal. Additionally, they could always adopt a child that isn't Force sensitive, right?
  • Nice shout-out to Bria Tharen. Obviously, Han has had the opportunity to tell Leia about her. We remember her as Han’s girlfriend in The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn.
  • We all remember Kitster, don’t we? He was Anakin’s best friend while still a slave on Tatooine. About 50 years old would be right on target.
  • Oh, and Luke found some information on the HoloNet and learned that Anakin might have lived on Tatooine. Didn’t Luke always know that? I mean, surely Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru told him that and even Ben Kenobi told Luke that Owen thought Anakin “should have stayed here…” which implies that Tatooine was Anakin’s home. But I digress, this just goes with what I’ve been saying all along that information about Anakin Skywalker shouldn’t be that hard to find, Imperial tampering, notwithstanding.
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chapter 4:

 

The holocube sells to a Gotal for a huge sum but he looks quite happy. Leia notes that power has its worshippers, after all.

 

While the auction continues, Han frets over Threkin Horm. If it was him, it makes sense as he would be interested in preserving pieces of Alderaan’s culture. Ordinarily, Han would have gotten word to him that the New Republic was already working on it but he’d rather not help Horm at all.

 

It ends with the painting. The Imperial officer, Commander Quenton, starts off with a quarter million credits.

 

Sligh ups it by one credit. The officer bids 275 thousand credits and uses his bodyguards to stare down the other bidders in the hopes of intimidating them.

 

Then Sligh bids that plus one credit. Seeing the Squibs are not intimidated, the others begin bidding as well. Sligh shows up in Han and Leia’s booth and gives them a bunch of credit transfer chips to dispose of then takes off. Elema continues bidding at 5 million, but then the auctioneer is told the owner wants verification of funds before continuing. Han believes Threkin Horm is the owner. Leia thinks he’s reaching but Han remind her that his family owned the Alderaanian spaceline on which the painting was transported.

 

He considers confronting Horm but he can’t do that with Imperials here and in orbit, as well as the security for the Performance Hall. Several bidders find that their credit chips are gone, obviously Sligh doesn’t play fair, including the Imperial commander who just has his bodyguard give him another one.

 

Soon, only a few bidders are left and then only the Squibs and Commander Quenton. The New Republic credit chip is only good to 15 million which Leia had thought was more than enough but she hasn’t expected the Imperials to get involved. This is money that the New Republic could use elsewhere. She pulls a thermal detonator out and asks Han how close they’d need to be to destroy the painting.

 

He doesn’t think they’d survive that. Besides, he’d hate for her to destroy something she’d loved so much. He takes Leia to Horm’s booth and muscles his way in.

 

They threaten to tell the Provisional Council that he’s been hiding a precious Alderaanian artifact for years and is now selling it for his own profit if he doesn’t end the auction now. It will go even worse for him if the Imperials get it. Sligh offers 15 million but, when Horm’s bodyguard tries to communicate the new instructions to the auctioneer, Quenton realizes what’s going on and bids higher. The auctioneer can only explain to the crowd that the owner refuses to sell to someone who represents the Empire that destroyed Alderaan.

 

Quenton calls a squad in but the Squibs won’t have it and attack him. During the carnage, Han, Leia and Chewie identify disguised Imperial intrusion team members who are shooting neurotoxin-filled darts at people.

 

They jump behind Horm’s repulsorchair, but Han thinks he’s dead anyway, while Leia pulls the detonator out. She’d rather not count the bodies of rebel agents so he tosses it, then notices the Squibs hovering over the painting. He yells a warning to them, drawing Imperial fire to himself when, suddenly, Kitster Banai jumps up on stage, kicks the detonator away and runs off with the painting.

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chapter 5:

 

Grunts takes the group to Kitster’s house where it looks as though the Imperials have already been. Grunts isn’t convinced they have. After all, no one would have told them where Kitster lives once Quenton called in the troops. Leia asks him to keep watch as she doubts it will take the Imperials long to find out.

 

C-3PO asks the maintenance droid what is going on and is told there are three Squibs inside. A woman in her mid-thirties is crouching while the Squibs run around, searching. They demand the woman tell them where Kitster is. Han and Leia, no longer in their disguises, but hooded, come in and tell the Squibs to back off. Chewie grabs the combative creatures and drags them outside. The woman’s name is Tamora and she is Kitster’s companion.

 

Her children aren’t here. Leia tries to draw her out by asking about them and Kitster. She notes the missing space where the holocube sat.

 

Tamora explains she hadn’t wanted Kitster to sell it as Anakin Skywalker was his best friend. After Anakin won the Boonta Eve Classic, the Jedi who took him away sold the podracer and Anakin gave some of the credits to his friend who used it to buy a book on etiquette. Kitster became a steward and earned enough credits to free himself and then became a majordomo on the Rendala Estate.

 

Leia tells her that they’re not here to hurt anyone. They are actually grateful to him for taking the painting, but would like it back. They can compensate both of them and make sure they are safe.

 

Tamora isn’t convinced that she should trust these newcomers, but the Imperials are bound to be here soon and Leia knows that the children are here somewhere. Tamora insists on seeing their faces. It’s evident that she recognizes both Han and Leia. She leads them out the back where her children are hiding.

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  • Kitster was a slave. Yet he earned money as a steward. I would guess, then, that Kitster’s master allowed him to earn money during whatever free time a slave on Tatooine has.
  • Anakin gave Kitster credits in The Phantom Menace novelization.
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chapter 6:

 

They are all cramped into a landspeeder as Tamora directs them through the bustling streets of Mos Espa. Leia realizes that this city is quite dangerous on normal days and, while Tamora would not do anything to jeopardize her children, dealing with strangers often involves betrayal.

 

Tamora had assured them that Kitster would not sell the painting to the Imperials but that leaves questions as to why he stole it. The house had clearly been the home of an art lover so he might have wanted to preserve it or sell it to an Alderaanian. On the other hand, it’s hard to think highly of someone who kept a holocube photo of Darth Vader in his house. One would think he would have put it away once he’d learned what Anakin had become.

 

Even more disturbing was the amount of local interest in the cube. Is there something in the Force here that blinds the natives? Is this the reason for the dream she’d had on the way here? Did Anakin sense her coming here and some trace of him reached out to her? She is disturbed because she saw Luke turning to the Dark Side in it and wonders if Luke’s Force presence has become intermingled with Anakin’s on this planet.

 

Tamora takes them to a shop called “Wald’s Parts”. That’s when they spot TIEs in the air and stormtroopers in the street. Han and Leia wonder if they were recognized at the auction.

 

Inside, the shop is a mess. The Squibs were here, too. Wald isn’t prepared to trust them while they are armed and insists Tamora and the children come into his office before he will talk to Han and Leia. He explains that Kitster came here but a Kubaz named Jergo pulled a blaster on him and tried to steal the painting. Wald knocked Jergo out with a hydrospanner, but then the Imperials showed up. Kitster took Wald’s speeder out into Arch Canyon.

 

Wald had told him to just sell it to the Imperials and be done with hit but Kitster wouldn’t hear of it falling into Imperial hands. He was going to hide it here and send a message to Princess Leia whom he thought was on Coruscant. But, Wald knows she’s not.

 

He points out the combined clues of the droid, the Wookiee and the painting. They’ll have to be careful because the Imperials have a new admiral they are in much awe of.

 

Han asks if Wald has a speeder that they could use to catch up with Kitster, but he doesn’t. Kitster has the fastest one – built from plans Anakin Skywalker’s mother found in his room. Leia is surprised that Wald knew Anakin. The Rodian says they were pals and fellow slaves. Shocked to learn that her father was a slave, she is told by Wald that they were children born into slavery.

 

She is just surprised to hear that a slave grew up to be Darth Vader. Wald accuses her of lying. He knew Anakin well. She doesn’t understand what it took for a slave to win his freedom in those days. Anakin managed to do so by winning the Boonta Eva podrace. Leia isn’t all that impressed.

 

Han reminds her they need Wald’s help, so she apologizes and says they just have different views of Anakin Skywalker. Fortunately, Wald will not risk his friend’s life just because Leia has a dim view of her father.

 

There is a swoop out there that can catch the one Kitster took but it’s still at Ulda’s house. Ulda is Kitster’s first wife.

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  • Quick note here: Obviously, people know that Anakin Skywalker is the father of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. But has it not yet been released that Anakin became Darth Vader? If it has, did that part not reach Mos Espa? I could see if the Mos Espans knew everything and just preferred to remember Anakin as he was, but to know one bit of information and not the other seems strange.
  • Wald was also in The Phantom Menace.
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chapter 7:

 

In the landspeeder, Leia watches the terrain and considers how Tatooine seems to be working on her. Still a dangerous place, she sees it as the home of normal beings who try to eke out a living and find some measure of happiness. It’s hard to think of Anakin Skywalker as a victimized slave.

 

They enter the Mos Espa swoop arena which had previous been used for the pod-racing. Han reminds Leia not to throw a fit if it has a holograph of Anakin Skywalker on a pedestal. Convincing Ulda to help her ex-husband will be hard enough.

 

Looking out on the arena, Leia can almost hear the crowds and wonders at the hope a young boy had of winning his freedom and seeing the galaxy. If he had known what would become of him, would he have chosen to remain a slave?

 

Ulda is clearly delighted to have Tamora coming to her for help, but less so when she learns the Imperials are after Kitster for stealing a painting and racing a swoop into Arch Canyon. It seems Kit can’t ride swoops.

 

Ulda knows which painting he stole but doesn’t know why. Tamora said that he was trying to save it after a Devaronian – Han in disguise – tried to destroy it. Now the Imperials think something is inside of it.

 

Ulda doesn’t think Han is going to be able to catch up with Kit at this point, but agrees to test his swoop riding skills first. She has an old pod-racer named Ody bring out an old Novastar. Han looks it over while Ulda approaches another old pod-racer named Teemto to tell Leia about his racing days.

 

He talks about some of his injuries due to crashes occurring because of the dangerous speeds or the cheating of the other drivers. He lost his eye in the Boonta the year the kid won it. Anakin Skywalker was still young enough to believe he could win a race honestly and everyone says he never cheated. Leia finds this hard to believe.

 

Han had raced swoops as a boy, one of the few fond memories he had of childhood, but Leia knows there’s something wrong with this bike. But Han handles it very well and shows off. Ulda tells Ody to bring out the other swoop but several Imperial troops on speeder bikes race into the arena and head out toward Arch Canyon.
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  • Ody and Teemto were two of the pod-racer drivers in The Phantom Menace: Ody Mandrell and Teemto Pegalis.
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chapter 8:

 

The swoop in question is a seat attached to a pod-racer engine. Han has to admire the ingenuity that went into its design. A vidmap is put on the handlebars marking a small house where Kit would go to find peace of mind. When Han jokes about breaking the sound barrier with this thing, Ulda tells him the swoop wobbles before it punches through. She’s serious.

 

After he leaves, Tamora takes Leia and the others into Mos Espa’s poorest section where a parts yard and slave hut sits. This is where Anakin Skywalker’s master, Watto, had done business. Leia is surprised to find the place seems comfortable. She asks if Anakin lived here with his parents. Tamora knows only about a mother.

 

Leia sends a holocomm message to Luke who is reviewing records recovered from Chu’unthor. She explains how they came to get the Killik Twilight which contains the code key and how the Imperials tried to purchase it before it was stolen.

 

Their attempt to destroy it only alerted the Imperials to the fact that there’s something even more valuable about it. She wants him to tell Mon Mothma personally and starts to tell him to tell her if she doesn’t hear from them before the Wraiths leave.

 

Luke didn’t know the Wraiths were going anywhere, but Wedge cancelled seeing him on short notice. The Wraiths had been scheduled to leave in two days to capture a Grand Moff, but they would be using Shadowcast and operating under total comm. silence. They have to get that code key before the Imperials find it and crack the code.

 

For the time being, if Mon Mothma hasn’t heard from her in two days, she should assume the Shadowcast has been compromised. He asks her what else she wants to talk about. She asks why he never told her Anakin Skywalker grew up in Mos Espa.

 

It turns out Luke knows quite a few things, but didn’t bring them up to Leia because of the way she feels about their father. She complains that people here treat Anakin like a local hero. Luke reminds her that he was only a child; it’s not like he was born the villain of her nightmares.

 

Leia explains the strange feeling that the Force is leading her on a Skywalker-directed path and she doesn’t like it. Luke advises her not to fight it and trust what she finds. The Force is responding to her, not because she’s a Jedi, but because she is in danger of being destroyed by her fear and anger. It’s not Darth Vader she needs to make peace with.

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  • This is the first mention we’ve gotten that Luke knew anything about his father’s youth and it was the result of yet another HoloNet search. I wonder what else he could find with a search?
  • The Chu’unthor was the wreck found in The Courtship of Princess Leia.
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chapter 9:

 

Han loves the speed of racing through the canyons, having already blown past two Imperial speeder squads. He spots a swoop up ahead, moving from the desert hideout and pursues Kitster.

 

Then he gets fired upon and wonders who this guy thinks he is. It’s only when he gets closer that he realizes the three Squibs are aboard it. They argue over whether or not their deal is still on before he turns back to the branch he needs.

 

He passes more Imperial scouts in Tuskens’ Escape and spots a sandstorm. He roars into Dead Man’s Turn where he has to stop to drink some water. He smells a crash ahead. He finds the remains of a podracer engine and the treadmarks of a Jawa sandcrawler.

 

Comming Leia, he explains that he thinks Kitster ran into a sandcrawler and hitched a ride with them. There’s no sign of the painting so it’s probably with him. Han doesn’t want to come back to Mos Espa considering the attention he got out here on the swoop. The treads look like the crawler is headed to Anchorhead so he arranges for her to meet him there.

 

Through the sandstorm, Han slowly follows the trail of the crawler, a glow rod on his swoop, stopping ever couple of minutes to service the engine. But he persists because he knows that the Provisional Council is cutthroat enough that Leia would be forced out if it became known that she had allowed the Shadowcast key code to fall into Imperial hands and cost the lives of spies.

 

Eventually, though, the swoop loses power. Han tries to comm. the sandcrawler and tell the Jawas they’ve got salvage, but they aren’t stopping. As it get further away, Han comms Leia.

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  • I’m sorry, but would the New Republic Provisional Council really ditch Princess Leia just because she failed to retrieve this painting?
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chapter 10:

 

Leia still can’t get ahold of Han to tell him they’ll be late to Anchorhead. There are too many Imperial troops around to risk getting the Falcon out of the smuggler’s cave. They’d left Tamora behind in Mos Espa and are traveling via landspeeder but get only static.

 

Leia is concerned that Han may have been caught in the storm and tries to replace that image of him with one of him sitting in Anchorhead impatiently waiting for her. However, she knows that isn’t true. She can almost see the packed swoop buried in sand.

 

Then realizes that she can see it in her mind but the image vanishes. They decide to wait out the storm, finding several farms along the way. One of them is the inviting Darklighter farm, where Luke grew up, owned now by Gavin Darklighter’s parents.

 

Han’s head is now dizzy and pounding. He’s used all his water and is doing his best to conserve body moisture. A TIE fighter flies by and drops a capsule to mark location. It’s only a matter of time before the Imps find the swoop. At least someone will find him soon, but he doesn’t know if he can resist Imperial interrogation the way Leia can.

 

So he heads off again.

 

At the Darklighter farm, Jula wonders what’s happened to his son. Leia assures him Gavin is in perfect health. Jula tells them that the Imperials have come and gone already. He’d thought they were looking for the Squibs who showed up right after the Imps left.

 

Amidst the bickering over whether or not they are still partners, Leia finds out that they saw Han near Mesa Flats. Jula tells her that no one made it into Anchorhead last night, but he cannot let her go out in this storm to look for Han.
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  • We met Jula Darklighter in the X-Wing book, The Krytos Trap, where we learned that he had bought the Lars homestead. He is the father of Rogue Squadron pilot Gavin Darklighter.
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chapter 11:

 

Leia isn’t the least bit interested in a tour of the farm, even though part of her now understands the lonely life Luke left behind. She is more worried about Han. Silya Darklighter assures her that everyone is but she will not allow a guest to go without eating.

 

Jula will allow them to start a search as soon as the storm lifts. As for Kitster, the Jawas know how to protect their sandcrawlers, so they’ll drop him and the painting off in Anchorhead.

 

Jula is keeping Chewie busy and 3PO is giving himself an oil bath. Odd the way the droid knows his way around here. Leia reminds her that the droid lived here for a short time. That stirs Silya’s memory and she gives Leia a datapad that was left behind by the Larses.

 

It’s a journal that her daughter found buried in the mushrooms by a vaporator last month. They were going to ask Gavin to give it to Luke the next time they saw him, but Leia can take it to him instead.

 

She thinks Leia might like to pass the time by viewing it. Leia gets the idea that Silya has seen more of this than she will admit, but turns it on and finds video and audio journal kept by a worn-looking woman with dark hair. A blue-skinned Toydarian chastises the woman for wasting time while she is supposed to be working.

 

The next entry has the woman telling the journal that she thought the viewer might like something to remember Watto by so she kept the first entry. Watto isn’t as bad as masters go and she really thinks that he misses her son. This journal is intended for Anakin so that he’ll know that she is always thinking of him. She knows his destiny lies in the stars where he will do great things.

 

Leia realizes that she is viewing her grandmother’s journal.

 

The third entry expresses the woman’s concern over Anakin’s safety. Watto told her that the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn had been killed on Naboo. He has been chastising her for letting Anakin go. She hopes he’s alright.

 

Though some of the entries are damaged by the time in the sand, many are still there, detailing the day to day events of the woman’s life as she puts up a brave front over having no news of her son. She’d even spent some of her own savings on a news search which gave her little information.

 

Leia knows what it’s like to worry for a loved one as she continues to view the sandstorm outside. She wonders how her grandmother could have waited so long and is glad she is not the one to have had to tell her what awful thing had happened to her son.

 

Han has found a small crevice where he heats up a cooking stone and blasts sand on it to cause moisture to appear on his face mask. He uses it to drink.

 

Anakin’s 11th birthday arrived. Some of his friends came to visit. His mother gave Wald some of his tools, but not the droid Anakin was building.

 

Young Wald appears and wants to know how Jedi school is coming along and when he will return to free them all. He and Kitster are building a rocket swoop Anakin designed. Young Kitster shows Anakin the etiquette book he bought with the credits. He’s been promised a job as a steward if he memorizes the whole thing.

 

Anakin’s mother tells him that he has given his friends the courage to dream of things they never would have before. She sees him every time they come around so she keeps baking pies so they won’t stop.

 

Leia tries her comlink again. She will have to be like her grandmother and assume the best.

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  • Did Shmi take her journal with her the day she was kidnapped by the Tuskens? She was gathering mushrooms by the vaporators that day. After over 30 years in the sand, I’m surprised much of it is still intact. I’m also surprised no one found it before a month ago. Did the Larses give up on mushrooms after she died or was that vaporator just left to rot?
  • How did Watto find out that Qui-Gon had been killed? I would have a hard time believing that any news item mentioning the death of a Jedi would also ignore the details surrounding it, including a young boy piloting a ship that helped win the battle.
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chapter 12:

 

The Darklighters take their market skiff out to search for storm survivors using the insight the Squibs have in where Han might’ve sought shelter.

 

A stormtrooper patrol questions their presence as Search and Rescue volunteers and demands to search the skiff. Leia, Chewie, the Squibs and 3PO hide in body bags. Jula and Sylia pretend to also be in the scavenging business, grabbing the remains of goods and bodies, as well, in case there are rewards for some of them. They deny seeing Kitster Banai or any Squibs.

 

Conversation turns to the buried swoop in the sand. Leia spies out and sees that this is the image from her Force vision. Jula points out something on the ground and the patrol takes off.

 

Inside, they are all glad to be away from the smell of rotting animals. He really didn’t spot anything the sand, just pretended he did and the Imperials’ minds did the rest. The vid map Han had with him is gone, though, which means he must have gone elsewhere.

 

They narrow down the possibilities and head to the Bantha Burrows where the Squibs search for scavenging animals. They find Han who refuses to come with them until he sees Leia. Over the comlink, he tries to tell her where the painting is headed. They already know it’s going to Anchorhead.

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  • The Darklighter family is pretty well known in this area. I’m surprised that the patrol didn’t recognize Jula and Sylia.
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chapter 13:

 

Anchorhead has a medcenter, an Inn and the best way to intercept the sandcrawler.

 

Han is recuperating in the next room while Leia enjoys a bath, but she feels badly for getting him involved in New Republic business again. She’s also concerned about the two Force visions she’s experienced since coming here, as if the twin suns of this world represent the evil eyes peering at her.

 

She is not ready to be a Jedi, not when she can only think of her father as the man who interrogated her, destroyed Alderaan and had Han frozen in carbonite. Not when she thinks of her children and sees his mask.

 

She opens her grandmother’s journal again. Anakin’s mother had sent a message to the Jedi Council asking if her son had survived the Battle of Naboo, but has gotten no answer for three days. Watto thinks the Jedi can at least afford to respond if she can afford to send them the message in the first place.

 

A woman named Dama appears with some food. Dama is the younger sister of Luke’s Aunt Beru. She and her husband turned a small farm into a comfortable inn. The Darklighters had assured Leia that Dama can be trusted due to her hatred of the Empire for killing her sister and brother-in-law.

 

When Dama notices the woman on the journal screen, she identifies her as Shmi Skywalker, whom she’d met a few times. Shmi had married Owen’s father. This news confuses Leia who thought her grandmother was a slave. Dama explains that, after Anakin left, Owen’s father bought Shmi from Watto.

 

She has to explain that Shmi wasn’t bought to be Cliegg Lars’s slave, but his wife, when Leia fears that Luke was actually the property of Owen and Beru. She doesn’t know if Shmi ever saw Anakin again, but she does know that Beru told her that Anakin returned once after becoming a Jedi and rescued his mother from the Tusken Raiders who’d kidnapped her. He brought her body back anyway. No one knows if she was alive when he found her.

 

She was buried on the moisture farm and then Anakin left again. Cliegg is buried there, too, but Owen removed the markers because he didn’t think anyone needed to know where Shmi was buried.

 

She also brings up the subject of the Squibs which are using a lot of water. She’ll run dry if it doesn’t stop. As it is, the sandcrawler bringing more is late and the Askajian refugees waiting on their supplies are about to give up. She reminds Leia about the false room in the back where she can make a quick escape if necessary.

 

Leia sends Chewie to deal with the Squibs as she thinks about what she’s learned. Part of her wants to believe that Anakin found his mother before she died. For the first time, she is forced to see Anakin Skywalker as the son his mother loved.

 

The next journal entry explains that Coruscant finally returned Shmi’s message, telling her that Anakin was well but the Jedi do not discuss their padawans even with parents.

 

Kitster is working at the Three Moons, earning enough to have his freedom by the time he is grown. Wald is planning to race his swoop when he finishes it so he can earn his freedom, too. This is the example Anakin set.

 

Kitster patched together the audio from Shmi’s vidscreen and a recording of the race given to him by his new employer. It’s included in the journal and Leia can hear her grandmother’s concern and then anger when Anakin has to deal with treachery on the course before finally winning.

 

Had she known Anakin then, she would have agreed with Wald that he could not possibly be Darth Vader.

 

After checking on Han and getting him something to rehydrate himself, she goes back to the journal. Shmi hopes Anakin can forgive her worry about racing, but she wanted him to survive. However, she couldn’t say no when he came up with the plan to race for the parts the Jedi needed to repair his ship. After all, Qui-Gon was right in that Anakin always gave without thinking of himself.

 

It should have been the Jedi helping him instead, but she couldn’t refuse lest Anakin always

remember he didn’t get the chance to be a hero.

 

Over time, Shmi tells him how his friends are doing or expresses concern over Watto who seems to genuinely miss Anakin, even forgiving the ten credits she borrowed from him to send the message to Coruscant in the first place.

 

Han wakes up feeling much better.
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  • Not sure why Leia would think that Anakin’s mother being a slave once would mean that Luke was the slave of Owen and Beru just because he was her descendent. Did Luke ever give Leia the impression that he was a slave?
  • Another thing. At one point, Dama mentions that Anakin might have been better off staying a slave from what she knows of his life. So what does Dama know of Anakin Skywalker’s life considering she’s here on Tatooine when Wald didn’t believe that Anakin had been Darth Vader? Did or did not the information get released? If so, are there just some people here on Tatooine who refuse to believe it?
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chapter 14:

 

Han wakes up and hears the telltale sounds of Imperial troops. He and Leia look over a datapad rigged to view the lobby which Dama had given her and see a squad leader intimidating the night clerk.

 

Another stormtrooper calls the sergeant on it because efficiency is more important than brutality. Being brutal only gives a subject the motivation to give the minimum. As an example, he knocks the sergeant to the floor and asks him if he feels like doing the trooper any favors.

 

They are here to find the rebels and the painting. The admiral wants to know who was in disguise at the auction and why they were prepared to destroy the painting rather than let the Empire have it.

 

Dama appears and tells them she has no rooms available. The squad leader apologizes for the treatment of the night clerk and says they are looking for two humans, male and female, a Wookiee and a protocol droid. Dama denies registering anyone like that and confirms with the night clerk. She also denies having any Squibs here despite some being seen in her lobby.

 

She offers to take them to a room where Ranats are staying that could have been mistaken for Squibs. Several stay behind and question the night clerk. They believe Dama is lying and that the clerk can help by revealing the information.

 

The clerk insists she doesn’t know and is rescued once again by the mystery stormtrooper who tells the sergeant that she may still be able to help them. He asks where someone could be hidden in this inn if needed. She indicates the luxury suites which are never used since Jabba and Gardulla stopped coming here.

 

The stormtrooper orders the others to proceed to the secret exit which must be there if Hutts ever used it. This is clearly an officer and one who allows his men to ask questions.

 

Han, Leia and Chewbacca head out the door and try to alert the Squibs. After getting in the room, where the three are stuffing bottles into their packs, they run out of time so they hide in opposite rooms and leave the secret exit door open.

 

Sure enough, the forces believe the rebels have already left, but the officer doesn’t think so and orders the squad leader to take off his armor so it won’t be damaged when the rebels kill him first.

 

He also orders the owner and her escorts brought here to help flush out the rebels. Han and Leia begin planning and what erupts is a quick firefight involving blasters, Squibs, tossed packs and the empty stormtrooper helmet of the very efficient officer that Chewie hoped included the man’s head.

 

What surprises Han is locking eyes with the officer and seeing red eyes before he escapes. They race into the old farm’s garage, hoping to steal a speeder but Grees points out that it would bring all the Imperials down on them. The idea is to escape into the planet’s landscape.

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  • I would have to say that mistreating someone who works with the public actually does result in exactly what the officer says it does: the minimum. If you want the extras, be sure to be sweet. Someone is more inclined to volunteer information or find another way to get you closer to what you want than he will be for a person who is impatient or ill-tempered.
  • An officer in regular stormtrooper armor bossing around a squad leader? But that was somewhat callous being more concerned about the armor than the man behind it. And red eyes? Where have we encountered those before?
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chapter 15:

 

The Askajians water their dewback herds at the Inn where the Squibs are trying to cut a deal. The refugee leader, Borno, isn’t buying their smooth sales talk. Chewie and 3PO are tied under dewbacks while Han and Leia are disguised as refugees, and the Squibs are concealed in smuggling bundles.

 

The troopers have found their landspeeder and the Squibs’ swoop. To their credit, the refugees do their best to conceal the newcomers. Leia apologizes to Borno for the trouble she’s caused his caravan. He understands the need, but warns them the deal is off if they are discovered. He cannot risk his people.

 

It seems Sligh made a deal with the Askajians but neither Han nor Leia know exactly what the terms of that deal are.

 

They travel along the sands when a TIE fighter flying in low causes the dewbacks to panic. After it leaves, they tether the pack together and keep going. Leia is worried that Han hasn’t recovered from his experience out here and thinks they should go to the Darklighter farm to hide for a couple of days.

 

The TIE comes back and the refugees fire at it with their blasters before it flies off again. Leia tells Borno that the next ship will be an assault shuttle. He agrees but it will be looking for them along their course thus far. They will actually be in another direction where the vaporators are hiding.

 

Sandcrawlers sometimes shelter themselves from fierce winds there. They can start looking for the one they need there.

 

Borno takes 3PO to ride on his dewback and approaches Leia about payment. The Squibs offered the vid map which Leia and Han still need. The refugees aren’t interested in money.

 

Borno is unhappy that the Squibs were allowed to make a deal if they weren’t able to promise the goods. Leia realizes the Squibs know this terrain and promised the vid map so that she and Han would be dependent on them. She is not happy about it, but Han tells her a deal is a deal. They will have to depend on Grees, Sligh and Elama.

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chapter 16:

 

The ride is difficult and Leia knows it’s hard on Han who hasn’t fully recovered from being stuck out here during the sandstorm.

 

She is about to talk to him about the Force visions she’s had, hoping he will understand more her fear of having children. A ship passes by, probably an assault shuttle. She needs to comm. Mon Mothma at some point so it won’t be assumed that Shadowcast is compromised.

 

The Squibs appear to urge Han to go to the Darklighter farm. It wasn’t Leia’s idea, but she thinks it’s a good one anyway, especially since the Imps are probably searching for them to find out why they left their original course.

 

Han points out that the Great Chott is a giant mirror. The reflection blast is hiding the caravan from orbit. The Imperials will have to come down here and do a grid search to find them. They are urged to separate their dewbacks so that they are such a large target that might be spotted from the sky.

 

To keep her mind off things, Leia opens Shmi’s journal again. A Falleen had shown up at the shop with a gift for Shmi from Qui-Gon Jinn. The girl had insisted she was only an errand runner, but finally told Shmi that Anakin was in good hands.

 

His mother hopes the girl went back and told him how happy his mother is that he is following his dreams.

 

Leia wonders if she could be so brave as to allow her child to help the Jedi even if it meant keeping him as a slave. All of this is sad enough even when not considering where following his dreams led Anakin.

 

Inside the box was a message from Qui-Gon stating that he had asked someone to start a galaxywide HoloNet search. The message is one of the degraded ones, but it appears that Shmi was humbled by the fact that a Jedi would take the time to try to help.

 

Watto heard about the visit and began treating her much better. She told him that Jedi aren’t allowed to race pods but that Anakin’s training is going well. She’s sure that’s the truth.

 

Leia doesn’t understand how her grandmother could be so patient with such an ill-tempered owner but many relationships are complicated. From what she can tell, it appears that Watto really did miss Anakin. Though he blamed others for his bad luck, he was less argumentative with Shmi. He gave her extra credits for refreshing drinks. She defended him to customers who talked about him behind his back.

 

Four years of entries pass before one in which she describes a handsome settler who came in looking for some booster coils. The man seemed so different that she wanted to help him and even earned Watto’s ire after she foiled his attempt to cheat the man.

 

After several entries of telling Anakin how proud she is of him, she explains that Watto got over it. It appears that he became concerned about her happiness, giving her an afternoon off and giving her cloth to make a new robe.

 

After two weeks, the settler came back. Watto wouldn’t bargain with him so he left, but Shmi found him again in the market. They had talked and she found him so jolly. He asked why she had helped him before and, while she meant to make up some story, she had to admit because she found him so handsome.

 

He’s a good man by the name of Cliegg Lars.
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  • The chapter does not mention what Qui-Gon had done a HoloNet search on, but it did state that he was doing it while Anakin was being tested by the Jedi Council.
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chapter 17:

 

As the day goes on, a TIE fighter flies over and over. Leia knows it will eventually spot them. Borno will give them up rather than risk his people’s safety. She wonders if it’s a good idea to separate from the caravan now.

 

The dewbacks start galloping near a mirage that Leia thinks might be the shadow of the Chimaera. Most commanders wouldn’t risk their ship so close to a planet, but this one seems to be smarter than normal.

 

Han droops in his saddle before falling off his dewback. Leia jumps from hers and the Squibs help her carry him to a large boulder. They give him water and then try to carry him to the canyon. Chewbacca comes toward them and grabs Han, tossing him over his shoulder and carrying him the rest of the way.

 

Leia runs, then trudges before dropping over the rim of the canyon into the shade. The TIE fighter returns and she hopes she’s concealed enough. Unfortunately, she’d fallen on Sligh. They want to cancel the deal since she’s trying to kill them. Chewie points out the real reason they want to cancel…the Jawa sandcrawler is here.

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chapter 18:

 

The Askajians wait inside the shadows. Scavengers fly above and the smell is overpowering. She doesn’t understand the Squibs. They are the most selfish beings she’s met, yet have saved Han’s life twice. They place great stock in partnerships but keep the arrangement fluid enough that they alter it at a moment’s notice. They are like Lando Calrissian – help your friends while it serves your interests.

 

It turns out the smell is from the dead carcasses of both Jawas and stormtroopers. Apparently, Tusken Raiders got to the Jawas first which is why they didn’t make their appointment.

 

Unfortunately, the patrol was searching it at the time and got caught.

 

The TIE will fly over shortly and may see the tread of the sandcrawler. The refugees help hide that while Leia asks Chewie to look for a set of stormtrooper armor with a functioning cooling unit. The Squibs have taken off.

 

C-3PO tells her the Squibs feel betrayed that she didn’t tell them the credit voucher given to them to bid on the painting was identity-coded so they don’t believe she has the funds available to pay for it. They are probably trying to get the painting in order to sell it to the Imperials.

 

She tries to get Han to drink some water, while worrying that Kitster might have been caught in the ambush, before she passes out. An hour later, she awakens to find Han in a stormtrooper’s armor while Chewie tries to give him water.

 

One Jawa seems to have survived and Borno wants to leave soon. He hasn’t heard any TIEs in the time she’s been unconscious. They didn’t find the painting or the human but the Squibs wouldn’t let them search the upper portions of the sandcrawler.

 

Han is irritated that she would let the rodents get a chance at the painting after all they’ve gone through to get it. Borno tells her that they may travel with the refugees as far as Motests where an Imperial deserter named Gwend will help them. Gwend is also helping the Askaj refugees with another tribe that will here soon.

 

Leia guesses that they will be here after the tour the Grand Moff is taking. Borno wonders how she knew. Leia said the timing was close. Borno tells her the tribe has already left their village and cannot be communicated with until they arrive on Tatooine. He asks if the ship will be waiting when they arrive.

 

Leia hopes so. She doesn’t know the details of the mission. She can try to contact the New Republic Intelligence team, but she doesn’t know if she can stay with the caravan. Borno points out that they are a hundred kilometers from the nearest hut, the Squibs are already claiming salvage rights for the sandcrawler that they may not get started and, even if they did, are not likely to give the humans a ride. He doesn’t think they’ll make it on foot.

 

They convince him they can cobble something together from the parts here. Besides, they do not wish to push their luck much further as the Imperials will surely find the caravan and it’s better if they not be among the Askaj when it happens.

 

She also offers Borno the portable holocomm if he will use it to let the Imperials know that he left them in the Great Chorrt during the first TIE fighter pass.

 

In the meantime, the Jawa survivor has a broken leg and would like to barter for healing. Instead Leia trades it for information. The Tusken Raiders took both Kitster and the painting. Leia wonders why Han is still willing to go after it, especially considering his feelings about the Provisional Council.

 

He explains that he’s still not a fan of them, but he’s got too much invested in the New Republic to let their enemies get the drop on them this time.

 

Borno sets up the signal and will be gone by the time the Imperials get his message. Hopefully, they’ll go straight to the Great Chorrt without delay. Leia contacts Mon Mothma and explains that neither they nor the Imperials have the painting yet.

 

She also tells her that the indigenous forces are already moving into position and cannot be contacted. Mon Mothma has already recalled the Wraiths and cannot cancel that order without the painting.

 

Leia understands what they would be risking if the Imperials get the key code.

 

They give the holocomm unit to Borno and say their good-byes, offering the New Republic help if he needs it. He laughs and tells them governments are what they are hiding from.
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  • Leia doesn’t have a very favorable impression of Lando if she thinks he only helps his friends when there’s something in it for him!
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chapter 19:

 

After putting together a hoverscout from the pieces in the canyon, Han is feeling good about being on Tatooine for probably the first time in his life. Besides, being on the move with the woman he loves, he has no price on his head, no hibernation sickness and no Jabba the Hutt to deal with. Additionally, the Squibs have no initializer core to get the sandcrawler going because it’s in the speeder’s cargo bay.

 

Herat , the Jawa Leia helped, will be back with her clan mates to reclaim the hauler after she is finished guiding them through the canyons. The Imperials had behaved exactly as expected and are now sweeping the Great Chorrt. He hopes that Borno and his tribe have gotten away.

 

Herat points them to an oasis where an entire tribe of sandpeople had been slaughtered by what the other tribes call an angry ghost. The ones who took Kitster intend to sacrifice him and the painting to this ghost.

 

It’s near the old Kenobi place, but they needn’t worry because Ben Kenobi’s been gone for a long time.

 

Leia knows she cannot risk Kitster’s life, the lives of the rebel spies or the chance that the Imperials will catch them just to stop at the abandoned hut. Along the way, she activates the journal again. Shmi describes how Cliegg Lars came to visit her again. When Leia explains what she’s listening to, Han asks her to turn the volume up. Not remembering his grandparents, it might be nice to get to know Leia’s.

 

Shmi describes Cliegg’s brother, Owen, as being about Anakin’s age, but doesn’t quite look like what she thinks her son would. As Cliegg and Shmi see more of each other, Watto becomes more clingy, but also indulgent. He rebuffs several attempts by Cliegg to buy Shmi. Though she wants to marry Cliegg, she feels sorry for Watto who has no other friends. And, even if they tried to take her without his consent, there’s still the transmitter bomb.

 

Leia had been Jabba’s slave for one night and strangled him. How Shmi could have found fondness in her heart for Watto is incredible. Of course, Watto and Jabba were two different personalities.

 

Qui-Gon Jinn had sent Shmi a Tobal lens – a very rare part for a very expensive racer. One day, Owen Lars comes in, dressed very well, and poses as the prospective buyer for just such a racer that Watto has in his possession. The racer does not have a Tobal lens.

 

Shmi tells Watto that Cliegg has one.

 

Chewie expresses his concern that Watto would figure out where it came from, but Han points out that it doesn’t matter. Watto has already taken the bait.

 

As it darkens, Leia asks if Han can see to pilot and he activates the display panel on the viewscreen. It also activates the communicator and they are contacted by the Imperials. They putPO on the comm. pretending that they are troopers being attacked by Tuskens.

 

Which works great when the Tuskens actually do attack. Firing at them is exactly what the Imperials want because it will give the TIE fighter in the area a visual by which to find them.

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  • If Chewie is concerned that Watto may suspect where the Tobal lens came from, does that mean that Qui-Gon stole it from Watto?
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Undoubtedly.

 

chapter 20:

 

Han takes cover in the dark side of a huge boulder and powers down so that neither Imperial nor Tusken will find them.

 

While they wait, he tells her to play more of her grandmother’s journal. He’s dying to find out whether Watto fell for it and can see where Leia gets her nerve.

 

Shmi is nervous, excited, and a little guilty because she feels sorry for Watto. Cliegg Lars brings in the lens which Watto knows had to have belonged to him. The Jedi must have given it to her.

 

Cliegg refuses to bargain for credits. He wants Shmi and refuses to take anything else. Watto finally gives her up and reveals they really don’t have to deactivate the transmitter bomb. He did that after Anakin left because Shmi was so downtrodden he’d feared she’d get herself blown up.

 

However, he forgets that the lens converts heat to light at 100% efficiency and opens the box without being careful. The light that erupts from the box fills the viewscreen.

 

After the TIE passes on its rescue attempt, Han suggests they move on. Leia wants to stop at the Kenobi place. He reminds her that it’s better to get to Kitster first. She explains she senses danger acting right now and tells him about the visions she’s been having. She thinks that being on this planet is inspiring the Force to confront her with her father’s past.

 

Herat would rather go back and find her clan’s sandcrawler, but Han’s not agreeing to that. Knowing that Han is right about staying on course, Leia returns to Shmi’s journal. More of the entries are degraded, but she finds several of them filled with memories of Anakin’s childhood and speculation as to what he’s doing with the Jedi.

 

She tells him about her wedding day which was delayed because Cliegg didn’t ask her for a long time, just to make sure she loved him and not freedom. A few of the Larses friends came, as well as Kitster, Wald and Amee. She knows Anakin would not have been allowed to come even if the Jedi had accepted the message that had been sent.

 

Watto showed up and recognized Owen. He offered her a job if things got bad on the farm. Wald isn’t such a good assistant. He still hasn’t found a buyer for the ship, but she notes he’s charging too much for it anyway.

 

Life on the farm is hard, but it can be full of love. Shmi tells him the secret to moisture farming is that you have to take life as it comes.

 

Leia thinks on this and tells Han she needs to stop at Obi-Wan’s. She has a feeling that they won’t be able to save Kitster or anyone else until they do.

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  • Wald was Watto’s assistant, but were Kitster and Amee still slaves? If they were, were their masters kind enough to let them travel from Mos Espa to Anchorhead where the wedding took place? This is about 5 years after TPM, by the way, so Anakin would have been about 14 or 15. I would say Kitster was about the same age.
  • I’ve got some questions about Qui-Gon’s plan. The way this seems to have happened, Qui-Gon took the lens from Watto’s shop while he was on Tatooine and then sent it back to Shmi with a message about a galaxywide HoloNet search. The entry didn’t mention what the search was about. Was it to see what value the lens would be to the ship in question? Otherwise, I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t just give Shmi the part before he left Tatooine and tell her what she should do with it. Additionally, I’m very surprised Watto didn’t consider the lens stolen property and demand it back. He obviously knew Qui-Gon had taken it from him.
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chapter 21:

 

Herat guides them to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hut where Han searches for spare parts. Leia isn’t sure where to start searching as she doesn’t know what she’s looking for. They are distracted when Herat finds a military datapad in the cargo area that she claims as hers. Leia will allow it so long as she lets them look at it first.

 

The datapad turns out to have much-needed information. The Imperials know that Han, Leia and Chewbacca are on the planet and that the Millennium Falcon is somewhere near Mos Espa.

 

They also suspect that something valuable is inside the painting which is why its destruction was attempted.

 

The orders specify that the rebels are to be taken alive with punishment proscribed for the platoon of any trooper who disobeys. However, they can shoot to kill if the rebels would otherwise escape and the painting is to remain undamaged, as well. The penalties for disobeying those orders are very severe.

 

C-3PO points out the TIE Fighters over the oasis. Leia’s senses had been right. They would have come in right under them had they continued on their path. She marvels at how the Force has been guiding her. She doesn’t understand the feelings she has or if they are like Luke’s but she does know that the Force is laying claim to her. That’s been the reason for her visions.

 

The hut has been cleaned out for the most part. Leia wants to go but Han finds a submerged compartment beneath the cistern. A bag hidden there contains a datapad and star chart.

 

Leia activates the pad and Obi-Wan’s face appears and asks for the password. She tries a couple of things but is afraid that she will inadvertently wipe it if she tries further. C-3PO attempts to talk to it before it shuts itself off. He says the datapad was being used to store research on hyperspace lanes entering the Unknown Regions and that Kenobi may have been considering conducting a search for the Outbound Flight Project.

 

No one knows anything about that.

 

She doesn’t know why she had them come here, but they can at least think of a way out of this mess. Remembering what her grandmother had said, Leia thinks that, because they’re on Tatooine, they must just have to take life as it comes.

 

As dawn approaches, the Imperials take up positions around the oasis, probably waiting for Leia and her team to arrive.

 

While they wait, Han and Leia get into a debate over what the Killik Twilight represents. Leia insists it points out the cost of surrendering to darkness. The Killiks are fleeing the approaching storm, looking back to see what they’ve lost. Han claims that he thinks they are twisting to confront the storm instead.

 

They agree that there can be more than one vision and that’s true for a lot of things. She knows he’s not just talking about the painting anymore, but their future.

 

She doesn’t want to talk about this right now. He wants to know when she will.

 

She watches the oasis while he takes a look around. She’s too confused about Anakin Skywalker to make a decision, especially now when there is so much danger around them. Leia turns to Shmi’s journal.

 

Shmi celebrates Anakin’s 20th birthday and tells him all about Owen’s girlfriend, Beru Whitesun, whom he will probably marry. His mother wonders if he’s happy, if he’s a Jedi Knight yet and if she would recognize him if she saw him.

 

They’ve heard banthas out on the plain and the entry is full of concerns about the Tuskens. The men keep their blasters near them at all times and no one goes out at night. She’s sure the sandpeople will move on soon.

 

There are no more entries. Leia knows that Shmi must have tossed the journal where her loved ones could find it when the Tuskens took her. She does know that Anakin never saw it and wonders what his life would have been life had he.

 

She begins to regret decisions she’s made over the years and that doubt is physically overpowering. She can almost feel Kenobi beside her and wonders if he stood here each morning, remembering the names of his dead friends, second-guessing the lessons he’d taught Anakin and blaming himself for his failure.

 

He must have thought little else but his fallen student, just as Leia allows her anger to cloud her view of her father. And that anger will only harm herself and Han.

 

She thinks she understands what she came here for.

 

But Han isn’t ready to discuss it because the sandcrawler is headed this way. The Squibs have followed them. Leia realizes that they can strike a bargain. After all, this is Tatooine and they have to take what life hands them.

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  • We know from The Last of the Jedi #1: The Desperate Mission that Obi-Wan did, indeed, remember the names of his dead friends on a daily basis.
  • Obviously, Shmi’s final entries came around the time of Attack of the Clones.
  • I’m surprised that, at least, Leia would not know of the Outbound Flight Project. A huge ship, full of colonists, heading out to the Unknown Regions would have been something talked about. Of course, we know what happened to it as we have read Outbound Flight! But would Obi-Wan really have been planning a search for them? I mean, did he hope to find a bunch of Jedi to bring back and fight the Empire? Wasn’t he committed to watching over Luke?
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chapter 24:

 

The Tuskens open fire fairly quickly which draws the fire of the Imperials who fear that the rebels will be killed.

 

Since they are wearing stormtrooper armor themselves, Han and Leia can hear the conversation from the ship to the troopers on the ground. It is reported the rebels are fleeing into the Tusken camp wearing captured armor. The officer on board ship tells them to set blasters on stun and start adopting nonsecure communications since the rebels can obviously hear them.

 

Han and Leia run through the camp as Tuskens are shot by the stormtroopers. Han feels weird shooting at troopers who are, in effect, saving his life. Inside the hut, they find Kitster still alive but he just wants out of here. The painting isn’t in here and he’s not talking.

 

But, of course, he thinks they’re stormtroopers. Once he realizes who they are, he insists on going with them because he’d rather see his children than serve time in an Imperial prison. The painting is hanging above them on the ceiling.

 

Han carries the injured man while Leia grabs the painting. Emala covers them with grenades and detonators. The Imperials report to the ship that the rebels have rescued a captive and have the painting. The officer aboard ship finds this interesting and tells the troopers to shoot the legs.

 

Trying to shoot the rebels, keeping themselves from being shot and protecting the painting is very difficult for the troopers to do at once, especially with Leia and Han shooting back at them.

 

The firing is causing a bantha stampede and, after a run in with a few Tuskens, including children, Han wonders why Chewie is taking so long.

 

They run to banthas and try to climb up, but Han struggles and Kitster, on Han’s back is very weak. Fortunately, Elama is on one and helps pull them up.

 

Having used the distraction of the Imperials over the loss of their AT-AT, Chewie flies the Falcon across the mesa quickly, not bothering to hide because the Imps already knew they’re here.

 

The encounter TIEs at the Jundland Wastes before heading to the Dune Sea and finishing them off. Having found rest at an outcropping, Leia assures Emala that Wookiees do not double-cross. She pulls the Shadowcast key code out of the painting and destroys it. Then she tells Emala how to take care of the painting.

 

Han asks her if she’s sure she wants to do this. Leia reminds him a deal is a deal.

 

They distract the Tusken Raiders by shooting toward the bantha herd, making it move faster. Forced to choose between violence and protecting their herd, they choose the latter. The Imperials go after the Tuskens at first before heading up the slope toward the Solos.

 

That’s when a concussion missle from the Falcon takes them out.
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  • So I’m guessing that Leia agreed to give them the painting, minus the key code, if the Squibs would work with them on the rescue and escape operation.
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chapter 25:

 

Han tries to urge the Squibs to stay with them. When they get to Coruscant, he assures them that the New Republic will pay more for the painting than anyone else will.

 

Emala isn’t convinced the ship will make it to Coruscant and would rather take her chances with the Imperials. They will be happy with her once she sells the painting to them. Kitster is furious at the thought.

 

Leia agrees to make it look like they are stealing the painting from her so that the Imperials are less likely to interrogate them too badly. So focused on the escaping Squibs, the troopers don’t notice the people escaping into the ship.

 

They put Kitster in an escape pod with the diagnostic kit they’d promised Herat for her part of the deal. He assures them he’d rather do it this way as he wants to see Tamora and his children again.

 

He thanks them for helping him as he’s sure the Imperials wouldn’t have bothered. Leia warns him that she has an idea that the new admiral might want to know why Kitster stole the painting. Kitster explains he did it for her.

 

He wanted to do something kind for one of Anakin’s children. She tells him to stop as she knows all about what Anakin did for Kitster and many other things Anakin did here, too. He asks her if she knows about the Tusken camp. She realized that through the Force but wonders how he did.

 

Kitster tells her that the Tuskens did a ritual dance the first night they brought him here, leaping with sticks and making buzzing sounds. Since he knew that Anakin had brought his mother’s body back from the camp, it wasn’t hard to figure out what had happened.

 

He also wants her to know that he thinks Anakin was sorry for what he did. Kitster had gone out to see Anakin when he’d heard his friend had been at Watto’s, but, by the time he arrived at the Larses, Shmi was buried and Anakin was gone.

 

Beru told him Anakin told his mother at the gravesite that he had not been strong enough to save her and would not fail again. Kitster believes Anakin knew he’d failed as a Jedi and that he was sorry for what he’d done. At least, the boy Kitster had known would have been sorry.

 

They send the escape pod down to the planet and fly out into space where they encounter the Chimaera, the Judicator and the Death’s Head. Leia tells Han to fly them in-system toward the binary suns.

 

They have 14 seconds until they can’t escape the gravitational pull, so Han decides to break out at 16 seconds because the Imps won’t be expecting that. Leia asks him why it’s so important that he have kids. He doesn’t know why she wants to talk about it right now with three Destroyers on their tail and two suns ahead. However, he thinks it’s his way of facing the future. Believing in it. She believes in it, too.

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The End

 

  • Oh, great, so Kitster can just tell the Imperials he stole the painting for Princess Leia, right? I mean, the Imps know he was the culprit so unless the Squibs actually do sell it to them, I doubt they'll be placated.
  • Nevertheless, the story was engaging and we can see that Leia's journey toward accepting her heritage is a slow one.
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