My father was, of course, stunned to learn of my new job. I had gone round to the house to tell him and was not really surprised at his reaction. Like Rys, he too believed that it was an offer I could not refuse. We sat in silence, in the cool of the evening, drinking his home made Moonglow. I sensed he had a great deal on his mind and I got the feeling he wanted to tell me something but he did not know how to do it. I wasn’t going to prompt him, I had had all the bad news I could take for one day.
The next morning I went into the main office there was a subtle air of ‘we know something you don’t know’. I got the full message when Bib’s slimy little assistant handed me a congratulations on the new job holo. Bastard, I had the sneaking suspicion that he was the reason the Empire knew about me. I was just betting it was he who sent in an application ( on my behalf). Well, there was nothing to be done about it, in the end it was not as if the Hutts cared about their office staff, people came and went all the time, people like me were easy to come by, mechanics and pilots, office assistants dancers, all expendable, what is one more or less.
I had begin my career at the Hutts dancer at the palace, but it had been too rough and too far away so I had taken a spot in one of the many nightclubs Jabba owned. Once word got around that I was a pretty okay mechanic and could handle a ship okay, it was easy to take a step upward. I loved to dance but working as a dancer in a night club was not my idea of a life time job, and I loved working on and being around the ships even more.
The office stuff had started after one of the office temps had run off with a pilot out of Mos Espa and they were short staffed, I pitched in, it was extra money. I was used to handling that sort of paper-work, I had done it for my father, after my mother had died. My father owned a fairly busy well respected docking port and there was always a lot of paperwork associated with the ships, import export cargo manifests and so on. It was a busy life but I loved it. I was good at my job and I was working my way up. I don’t think too many here are unhappy to see me go, I was in the way, I guess.
I packed up all my stuff, there wasn’t much but I sure was not going to leave anything of mine behind and then I went t meet up with my father because he had said he had something he needed to speak to me about. I had sensed it and now time was growing short. I got the feeling that what ever it was he had to tell me I wasn’t going to like it much.
My father had the speeder fired up to go when I got home and we headed out to Bestine which is a glorious little hell hole that just happened to be the capital of Tatooine and was currently the seat of Imperial power that here on this planet. I always suspected that the Hutts had a few choice things to say about it when the Imperial garrison had been set up there. The rumours had all said that the Imperials there were as corrupt as Jabba the Hutt, but that wasn’t something I had ever wanted to test.
Just outside of Bestine is the house we used to live in. I had been very young when we had moved into Mos Eisley, when my father had bought the docking bay. My mother was still alive then, she had been sad to leave the house near Bestine. She never liked the city as much as my father had hoped she would so the house was never sold. She would sometimes come out here to get away from the noise, she would say. After she died, my father had the house boarded up but he never sold it. I don’t think he could bear to part with something she had loved so much. It became just another abandoned dwelling, there are many of those on Tatooine. Many ghost towns around, it was a hard planet to settle, too harsh an environment for most, too many things try to kill you. Most prospectors eventually give up and leave. Tatooine is not a planet for the weak.
We got to the house late in the afternoon, the twin suns had already begun their slow descent. My father undid the lock on the door and we walked in. It smelled unused and dusty. There was that strange decayed scent that taints everything left alone too long. The sand had begin to creep through every crack and open space, and eventually there would one day be no more house to see, it would vanish in the sand. The sand people had a saying about it, ‘the desert reclaims all that it was.’ The sand people laughed at the settlers and hated them for what they saw as a desecration of a living breathing thing, to the sand people, the desert was God.
It was eerie in the house after being away for so long. I was only thirteen when my mother was killed but a speeder accident, someone running from the law ran her down in the street while she was on her way home. I had not been here since, yet I had memories of this place, they seemed dream like now and I felt haunted by them. The late afternoon sunlight filtered through the cracks in the boards and the dust particles danced about us like fireflies as we moved through the stillness. A thick dust covered everything, no one had been in here since my father’s last visit. He made his way to the study, a tiny excuse for a room in the lower back of the house where the sun’s heat would not fry it, and dug around in one of the desk drawers.
“Papa, why are we here?” I asked. It was strange to be here, like some sort of half forgotten dream, I could have sworn I smelt my mother’s perfume. It made me edgy.
My father looked at me and was nervous, I didn’t need my weirding way to know that, he always fiddled with his beard when he was worried or nervous about something.
“Papa, what is it?” I asked I was getting worried.
He took a deep breath and said the last thing I ever expected to hear. “Merlyn, there is no easy way to say what I have to tell you so I will say it now. Your mother and I could not have children of our own, so when you suddenly came into our lives we jumped at the chance to adopt you and raise you as our own.”
I opened my mouth but no words came out.
He put his hand up to stop me from speaking and went on,” You were just a baby when we found you in the transport ship I used to run, tucked away behind one of the extra cargo bays. That day, Bedi Nuale and I had probably shuttled at least two hundred different folk from one place to another, most of them trying to avoid something or someone. It was a very bad time in the Galaxy, you must understand, neither of us could have traced who had left you, although we did try. I can tell you, that your mother must have been very afraid of something to abandon her child. She left a note, saying that she was not leaving you because she didn't want you but because she was afraid that you would be killed because of what you were but she didn't say what that was."
I sat down hard on the nearest chair. I could not believe what I was hearing.
My father sighed. “Well, it didn’t take your mother and I long to sort out that you were a bit different than most children. You knew things before they happened, you could sense people’s thoughts and you were always more sensitive to what was going on around you especially when people lied to you. Before you really got control over your ‘gift’ you could even move things about just by thinking about them."
I laughed. “Papa, I still can do that, I just don’t let anyone see me is all.” and I did, it was a real pain to have to get up and fetch a tool I needed so often I just used to think about it being in my hand and, suddenly there is was. I never really thought about it before, I have always had this ability to move stuff around, sense what was coming next, figure people out.
He shook his head. “Well you should keep that gift of yours a secret. That gift has a name, it’s called the Force and it will get you killed if the Imperials find out about it.”
“The force is a myth, papa, fairy stories.”
“That is what the Empire would have you believe. Around the time of your birth the whole galaxy was in turmoil. There was a great war going on and those who supported the republic and the way of the Jedi Knights were quickly eliminated.”
I was puzzled by this. Of course I had heard of the Jedi, who had not, but what was true? Stories about them being witches or something, betrayers of the Empire, just lots of rumours and none of the tales made much sense. I usually ignored them when people started up talk about the Old Republic and the Jedi Knights. By the time news gets out to this part of the galaxy it is often more rumour and myth than truth and who cared anyway?
"I once saw a Jedi Knight use this strange power and it was the most amazing thing I ever saw. I have often watched you and wondered what would happened if we could have found someone to train you properly. That was and is forbidden, of course, now that I look back, it seems that there was always someone about who would take you undertheir wing, especiallyJyrki, who had a great fondness for you." he paused."We had thought that it was best you knew nothing, that, foolishly, perhaps it would go away, then you could lead a normal life. I guess that was never meant to be.” He said with a sigh. “It is not your destiny.”
He dug further around in the back of the deep drawer in the desk and found the hidden compartment he was looking for. It opened with a loud ‘snick’.
"This is what came with you." he said handing me an incredibly ornate wooden box, intricately carved with tiny symbols that I had never seen before.
When I took it from him, I gasped as a jolt of recognition shot through me. I could feel power from it and knew instinctively that the box and its contents were special. It felt warm and at home in my hands, almost as if the box was humming.
"What's in it?" I asked.
My father shook his head. "I don't know, it will not open for me." he said.
As I brushed my fingertips across the lid of the box and it opened smoothly, silently. Inside the box lay a small book. I put down the box and lifted the book out gingerly, it made my fingers tingle. I opened it and read the first few lines written there.
"It's a journal." I said softly.
"How can you read that?" my father asked. “That language no longer exists in the Known Universe.”
I looked at my father then looked again at the hand written script and shrugged. "I don't recognize the language but I understand it anyway."
"You don't recognize it because it's Mandalorian, child." He said.
"But Mandalore was destroyed in the Clone wars." I looked at him.
"And you are reading it as if it were common tongue. Keep that book close to you. I think that you will need it." He said.
"Will it be that bad working for the Empire?"
"No worse than working for Jabba the Hutt."
"I nodded." My father had hated that I had gone to work for Jabba the Hutt.
"I have heard tales about the Imperial Palace and those that work there. Be very careful, Merly." My father said as he locked the desk up and gathered some things he wanted to take back with him.I shook my head.
“I don’t know what to think. Why didn’t you tell me I was adopted?” I wanted to be angry but somehow I felt relieved as if deep in the back of my mind I had always known something wasn’t quite right about me but I just never knew what. Now I knew and it all made sense in a strange kind of way.
He looked at me, I must have looked so lost and worried and he was not making me feel any better. “We thought it best under the circumstances. You were a force sensitive child in a time when the Empire was systematically wiping those with force abilities out. We both thought it best that you know nothing about your past and believe that you were born here. I am sorry, I don’t know what else we could have done. You were a gift to us, we were not going to lose you.”
With a sigh I put the little journal back in its box. "Do you think my birth parents were Jedi?"
"I don't know were they were from or who they were but I do know that you are not what you appear to be.” He said and then added, “and I just know I will worry about you."
I took one last looked around the room. I looked at the box I held in my hands. "Well, I don't seem to have much choice about the matter, but I will do the best I can. Who knows, Papa, perhaps this could be a good thing?"
"That's what I love most about you, always optimistic." he gave me a hug. "But try to keep your gift a secret, Merlyn."
"I will." I promised quietly but in my heart I wasn’t so certain it would be that easy, this gift had a way of making itself known whether or not I wanted it to.My father nodded and as we had arrived at the house, so we left, quietly and thoughtful.