Sam was still angry with his mother when he woke. He rose early, grabbed his bag and the disc, and headed outside to his speeder. He didn’t go near the kitchen where he figured Ellen was making breakfast, judging by the greasy smell permeating the halls. He started up his speeder and took off. In the swirl of sand in his rear-view mirror, he caught a glimpse of Ellen hurrying out of the homestead calling after him, and then she was obscured by dust.
Sam drove faster.
The drive was long and Sam let himself get lost in the feeling of it. Of manipulating his speeder over and around the dunes, slicing by canyons and rocky outcroppings closer than most people would dare. Jo had always said he was insane for driving the way he did, but Sam had just always found that kind of maneuvering effortless – and really, really fun.
As Sam was enjoying the feeling of his hair whipping in the warm air blasting past him, his speeder shuddered and coughed. He took his foot off the accelerator, frowning in dismay. He worried something was genuinely wrong with his trusty speeder as it slowed to a sputtering halt. His eyes landed on the fuel gauge, blinking a very unpleasant “empty” signal.
Sam cursed himself for his stupidity. After all the hauling he’d done the day before, all the way out to the pod and back and now this, of course he was low on fuel. He tried to coax the speeder to go a little farther on fumes, but it jolted to a complete stop and stubbornly refused to turn back on.
Checking his map, Sam
didn’t think he had too much farther to Bobby’s. He could definitely
walk it. The problem, of course, was that he was stopped dead in the
middle of Tusken Raider territory. ‘Dead’ being the operative word if he
didn’t get the hell out of there. He scooped up his bag, patted his
pocket to ensure the disc was still on him, and retrieved a long stave
from the back of his speeder. It wasn’t much of weapon, but he didn’t
own a working blaster. He’d made do with the stave before.
Of course, that had been against just two Tuskens. Sam trekked for maybe ten minutes across the rocky valley floor when he was abruptly surrounded by at least six or seven Raiders. He swore creatively, whirled on the spot, and tried to decide what to do next.
He didn’t have time to form much of a plan. Two Tuskens howled and attacked. Sam dodged and ducked to the side, bringing his stave up to meet the club of the first Tusken. The second one came in close, howling and grunting, and took a wild swing at Sam’s head with the crude wooden weapon in its hands.
Sam managed to scoot out of the way, but then a third Raider joined the fray, waving its club in a wide arc over its head while the others cheered it on. With three-on-one odds, Sam didn’t last very long.
The trio of sand
people came at him from all sides. Sam attempted to roll out of the way,
only to get a heavy boot in the gut. Several harsh hits from all three
Tusken clubs bombarded him. Sam covered his head with his arms as the
clubs rained down more blows. He struggled to get away and then one of
the clubs smashed into the side of his head.
He had no time to think, no time to react as another club came barreling down and collided with his shoulder, his knee, his chest. Sam cried out – the remaining Raiders were closing in, he was going to be clubbed to death in the desert...
A loud wail sounded from somewhere Sam couldn’t see. The Tuskens ceased their pounding and hollering and looked up as one to the source of the sound. There was a second strange wail and the Raiders took off, terrified and whimpering.
Sam blinked against the spots in his vision. He hoped whatever had frightened off the sand people wasn’t interested in him because if it was, he was pretty sure he couldn’t get away right now. He struggled to sit up, and that’s when he spotted a figure dressed in a plain, hooded brown cloak tromping towards him over the rocks and sand. Sam briefly considered fighting whoever it was, but his stave was too far away, and besides, he had a sneaking suspicion this stranger had just saved his life.
“You all right?” asked the figure as he approached, his gritty voice colored with a slight accent.
Sam touched his head where the worst blow had hit but his fingers didn’t come back bloody, thankfully. Still hurt like hell though and he was definitely going to have a lot of bruises.
“I think so,” he mumbled.
The stranger held out his hand to help Sam get to unsteady feet. Sam clutched his spinning head for a moment while the man removed his hood. Beneath the cloak was an older man sporting a beat-up blue and white baseball cap. He looked to be somewhere in his fifties, with graying hair and a beard to match. Even though it had to be going on nearly twenty years since Sam had last seen him, he recognized the man immediately.
“Bobby!” Sam grinned in surprise.
“Yeah, it’s me, and we can catch up later,” said Bobby, glancing over his shoulder. “We need to hightail it before those bastards come back. They’re easy to scare once, but they’ll be back real quick with friends.”
Sam nodded and followed the older man at a rapid pace across the rocky terrain to Bobby’s small, rusting land speeder. Sam bit back the comments he wanted to make about the speeder’s condition – and he thought his speeder was a little worse for the wear – especially when Bobby had to try more than a few times to get the thing to gear up and go. A couple minutes later, they were off, leaving behind Bantha calls and Tusken yowls in the distance.
they made it safely to Bobby’s homestead, Sam let himself mourn the
loss of his canvas bag and his stave. He’d lost track of both in the
melee with the Raiders, and based on how the Raiders scavenged, he knew
his things were long gone. He had little hope that his speeder would be
in one piece when he made it back to it with some fuel.
Sam belatedly remembered his whole purpose in coming to Bobby’s in the first place. He frantically checked his pockets, praying the disc was still there and had survived his run-in with the sand people.
“What is it?” asked Bobby, his eyebrows scrunching in concern.
Sam exhaled as he slid the disc from his pocket... then promptly swore when he realized the disc was cracked.
“It’s the reason why I came looking for you,” said Sam. He sighed. “Which might have been all for nothing.”
Bobby gently took the damaged disc from Sam and turned it over in his hands, inspecting it closely. “If the core’s intact, we might be to get something from it. Sit tight.”
Sam settled onto the cushy rust-colored couch while Bobby retrieved tools to fiddle with the disc. Bobby’s home was pleasantly cool, mostly faded whites and browns, with an eclectic collection of bizarre artefacts scattered around for decor. There was a holopicture of Sam’s birth parents situated on a shelf beside a picture of Ellen and Bobby, and Sam took a closer look.
The picture of his parents was the same picture Ellen had given him as a child, which Sam had tacked up on his bedroom wall. His father, John, was handsome with dark hair, a salt-and-pepper beard, and twinkling brown eyes. He was beaming at Sam’s mother, Mary, who was dressed in a flowing blue outfit that accentuated her blue-grey eyes. Her long blonde hair was tucked away in a neat braid and she was grinning back at John. Sam loved how incandescently happy they looked in that moment in time and always wondered what was happening when the picture was taken.
one side of Bobby’s main living area was a massive collection of old
books. He knew they were old not only by the worn look of them, but
because he hadn’t seen this many books since a trip to the museum
archives with his school class when he was eight or nine years old. It
was a beautiful and impressive collection. Sam couldn’t help wondering
how Bobby had come by it; books were rare and expensive.
Bobby pulled the disc apart and brought a small silver chip across the room. He popped it into one of several readers he had stacked on a shabby desk in the corner.
“Any idea what was on this thing?” Bobby asked over his shoulder.
Sam shrugged. “A message for you, but it was corrupt. There was only a short piece that would play before it fuzzed out.”
A blue-tinted hologram sprang to life over the reader, depicting the same man Sam had seen earlier.
him,” Sam confirmed and hopped up from the couch to join Bobby by the
desk. The man in the hologram began to deliver his message just as
before in Sam’s bedroom, except this time it didn’t cut out.
“This message is for Bobby Singer,” the man said. He raked his fingers through his hair. “God, I hope this gets to you. I’m in deep shit with those Imperial assholes again. They’re running us down and I’m not gonna be able to get this message out to anyone else without them intercepting it.”
An explosion somewhere on the man’s ship momentarily rocked the image. When he continued, his voice was more urgent than before and he rushed through his words.
“I’m not going to make it to Alderaan and it’s important that the stuff on this disc gets into the hands of the Alliance there. Bobby, if this is you, you’ll know how to get it there and how to get the information off the disc – I still use the codes my father set up with you during the Clone Wars. If I can’t hand deliver this, hopefully you can.”
He took a deep breath and ran his hand through his hair again, looking terribly grim and desperate.
“And if this isn’t Bobby, then I sure as hell hope that you have the good sense to get this to him – last known address: middle of nowhere, Tatooine. Good luck.”
The image was briefly muffled by another explosion before the man came back one more time.
“Please help us, Bobby. You’re… uh, kinda my only hope right now.”
One final explosion had the man ducking for cover and then the
hologram flickered out. Bobby rocked back on his heels a little and sat
down heavily, his face a blender of emotion.
Sam bit his lip to hold back his questions and give Bobby a moment to think. He could only bear to wait a minute however, before he needed answers. He settled back onto the couch so he was sitting across from Bobby.
“Who is he?” said Sam.
“His name is Dean Winchester. He’s a well-known leader for the Rebel Alliance.” Bobby shook his head and frowned, stroking his beard thoughtfully.
“Why’s he sending this... whatever it is, to you? Are you part of the Alliance?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Bobby sighed. “If he’s callin’ on me, it’s got to be bad. I’ve been out of the game for years – well, more or less. Still provide intel when I can. Shelter and passage to fellow Rebels in need, that sort of thing. I stayed in contact with Dean’s father until he was killed two years ago. He was a senator from Alderaan, playing nice with the Empire and helping his son and the Rebels under the table where he could.”
“Is Mom… is Ellen part of the Alliance?” For some reason Sam found himself hoping Bobby would answer yes.
shook his head and Sam’s heart sank a little. “No. That was a big part
of why Ellen told me I was no longer welcome anywhere near her or her
kids. Specifically you.”
Sam scrunched his eyebrows together. “Why? What did you do?”
Bobby sighed once again. “How much did she tell you, son?”
“Nothing. All she would say was ‘it’s complicated’,” said Sam, more bitterly than he’d intended.
Bobby scrubbed his hand over his worn features. “Yeah, s’pose ‘complicated’ is as good a word as any for it. I barely know where to start myself.”
“Start with the war,” Sam suggested. He knew the basics from history classes in grade school and from copious leisure reading (Jo always teased him that his brain was practically an archive itself). But he wanted to hear about the war from someone he knew, someone who knew his father, who was there. Someone who was willing to tell him about it, unlike his mother.
Several moments of silence passed while Bobby marshaled his thoughts and Sam waited as patiently as he could. It was difficult, now that he was finally this close to learning about his parents’ past.
“Long before I was even a twinkle in my folks’ eye, there was long standing peace in the galaxy. Then that peace started to fracture. Maybe not a lot at first, and there’s always goin’ to be planets and species goin’ at each other no matter what, but the unrest started to spread and lines started to get drawn... I mean, you know what happened from your history books.”
Bobby breathed out through his nose before continuing.
“Full-scale war broke out all over the galaxy. Republic versus Separatists at the core of it, but friends against brothers, ally against ally – there wasn’t any place safe, no place not touched by the war in some way.”
“But what about the Jedi?” Sam cut in. “I thought they were, you know, the Keepers of Peace and Justice and stuff. That’s what the legends say, anyway. Didn’t they... well, try and keep the peace?”
The older man nodded. “They sure as hell did try. They spread out over the galaxy, doin’ their best to solve the ‘verse’s problems. Then one day, the clones up and turned on us. Just one minute they were on our side, watchin’ our backs and our homes, dyin’ to protect to the innocent, and then they just... flipped a switch. Fired on the people they were fighting with a minute before.”
Sam swallowed against the lump in his throat. “You and Mom... Ellen.”
Bobby’s eyes were hollow and haunted as he met Sam’s gaze. “And your parents.”
“Is that how they died?”
“Yeah,” Bobby answered, his voice layered thick with memories and emotion.
Tears stung Sam’s eyes and he blinked them away.
“Your father was a hero,” Bobby went on. “You oughta know that. John saved my skin a helluva number of times, and Ellen’s too. He was... he was one of kind. Strong, smart, damn good fighter. Could pilot a snub like nobody’s business. John made a name for himself in the war – put a hefty target on his back because of the problems he was always causing the other side.
“Then your mom – well, she was a force of nature, and she...” the older man trailed off, hesitating. “How much did Ellen tell you about Mary?”
Sam shrugged. “She married Dad. She worked in Coruscant before she met him and then she quit her job and fought with him in the war until they were killed in action.”
“She ever tell you what that job was?”
“Not exactly,” said Sam. “She was always a little vague. She kinda made it sound like she was a bodyguard for Senators or something, so that’s what I always pictured.”
Bobby chuckled. “She was definitely not a bodyguard.” He got up from his chair and crossed the room to a battered old trunk stuffed beside the bookcase. He popped open the lid and rummaged around before retrieving an oblong shaped object wrapped in cloth. He stepped around the low table to pass it to Sam.
“This was hers,” said Bobby. “She wanted you to have it when you were old enough, but Ellen forbid me to give it to you.”
The object was moderately heavy in Sam’s hands as he unwrapped it. His breath caught in his throat as he peeled back the last layer of cloth. Hidden beneath the white folds was a silver tube-like object. From all the archive reading he’d done over the years, Sam recognized the thing at once.
It was a lightsaber.
“No way...” he breathed. He turned it over in his fingers gingerly, hardly daring to believe his eyes. These were ancient weapons, as extinct as the Jedi themselves, if the things he’d read about them were true. “Can I...?”
“Just don’t cut through my furniture,” Bobby warned and stepped back to give Sam plenty of room.
Sam’s fingers tingled as he gripped the lightsaber and turned it on. A long beam of blue light emerged from the end with a distinct hum. Sam gave it a few experimental waves, enjoying the sound when it moved. It was brilliant, dangerous, and mesmerizing.
Then his brain caught up with him. He jammed the off switch and the blue column disappeared.
“Wait, my mother was a Jedi Knight?” Sam gaped at Bobby. He tried to match the image of his birth mother in the holopicture on the shelf, delicate and blonde and dressed in blue, to the image of a fierce warrior defending the galaxy wrapped in traditional Jedi robes. He couldn’t reconcile the two in his mind.
Bobby re-seated himself in his chair. “Was being the key word, there. See, Jedi aren’t supposed to form attachments. That way, they can go where they’re needed without hesitation and lay their life on the line. It’s why they’re not supposed to get married. After Mary met John… hell, there was a war going on and they fell in love. In the end, she had to choose between him or the Order. She chose him.”
Sam stared, trying to process all the information Bobby was laying on him. Bobby waited, letting it sink in.
“She left the Jedi Order?” Sam eventually managed.
“It’s very rare, but it happens,” said Bobby. “Just a few months after they were married, she found out she was pregnant.”
Bobby shifted in his seat. When he continued, his voice was heavy. “She gave birth only weeks before a massive attack on Threstosii. We – Ellen, me, your parents – managed to avoid the worst of it, though we lost everyone we knew and cared about. I lost Karen…”
He dropped his gaze to the dull gold wedding band on his left hand, eyes shining, lost in memories. Sam turned his mother’s lightsaber over and over in his fingers, still trying to picture her wielding it.
“What happened next?” Sam asked softly when he felt enough time had passed.
Bobby cleared his throat. “The Sith came.”
The name sent a shiver down Sam’s spine.
“John, Ellen, and I were out on the front lines with the clones. I took a blaster bolt to the leg, so John and Ellen got me the hell out of there. At the time it seemed like horrible luck, but somehow the universe must’ve been lookin’ out for us, in a way.” Bobby shook his head. “We left the battlefield, and then all hell broke loose. Thousands of droid reinforcements stormed in and that’s when the clones turned. As far as I know, we three were among a very, very small pool of survivors from that battle.”
Sam tried to picture it and his heart ached.
“John was worried about Mary,” said Bobby. “She’d been home with you. Not that she couldn’t take care of herself, we knew she could, but there had been a dozen clones stationed at our safehouse to, well, keep us safe.” He spit the last few words.
He went on, grimly, “We showed up in time to save you. She was already gone. There’d been a Sith with a red lightsaber standing over your mother and John took off after him. Ellen and I took on the men – the clones – who’d been our friends just hours before.” The older man frowned. “John didn’t have a snowball’s chance, going up against a Sith with nothin’ more’n a blaster, even on his best day...”
Bobby rubbed his eyes tiredly. “We found John less than an hour later. Lightsaber through the heart.”
Sam swallowed and struggled to rein in his emotions. He kept his gaze trained on the lightsaber clutched in his white knuckled hand.
“We got wind they were searching for John and Mary’s kid, to end the family line. Ellen and I did the only thing we could do: we ran and we hid. We kept you safe from the Empire that was trying to hunt you down.
“We wanted to keep you away from all the shit that we’d been through, so when you and Jo were young, we kept this crap from you. But as you two began to grow up, and the rebellion against the Empire started to take shape from the corners of the ‘verse… I thought it was time you knew what had happened and what was going on beyond this dusty rock. Ellen didn’t agree.
“We had a blow out over the whole issue and in the
end she told me to never see you again. ‘Course she couldn’t stop me
from keeping an eye on you from a distance.” Bobby smiled a small, sad
sort of smile, and then lapsed into silence.
Sam stared at the lightsaber in his hand. It was so much to take in after knowing next to nothing. It may have been a few minutes, it may have been closer to an hour, before either of them finally spoke.
“So when she said it was complicated...” Sam began.
Bobby chuckled. “Yeah.”
Sam let out his breath in a rush as he stood. “Well, thanks for telling me, Bobby. Good luck with the Alliance.”
The other man’s eyebrows crunched together. “You’re not comin’ with me?”
“To Alderaan, of course,” said Bobby, rising from his chair. “We have to get this chip to the Rebels there for Dean.”
“Yeah, and I said good luck with that,” Sam said, and meant it. “I’ve got to get home and talk to my mom about everything you just told me.”
“Fair enough,” Bobby agreed with a nod. “We can leave tomorrow then.”
Sam laughed. “Bobby, I’m not going with you.”
“And why the hell not? The Rebels need your help – Dean needs your help.”
“No, they need your help,” Sam corrected.
“Son, I’m getting too old for this shit,” Bobby grunted. He fixed his gaze on Sam. “I need your help.”
The younger man sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Bobby... look, I want to help you. You don’t even know how badly I want to help and get away from here. But I can’t leave Mom behind, after everything she’s done for me. Not now... not after all this.”
“She always knew a day like this would come.”
Sam pressed his lips together. God, he wanted to go. Here was the chance he’d been dying for: to leave Tatooine and finally make a difference, help the rebellion against the Empire. But after everything he’d just learned, how Ellen had protected him, how could he leave now?
course he still wished she’d told him everything ages ago and he didn’t
exactly agree with her choice to keep it from him, but he understood
why she had. She’d had more than her fair share of death, destruction,
war, and loss, it was no wonder she didn’t want to relive it and no
wonder she fought so hard to keep him and Jo out of it – to protect them from the same horror she’d been through.
“I can’t, Bobby,” Sam whispered, then added, “Maybe someday.”
Bobby nodded slowly, his gaze on the floor.
“I’m sorry,” said Sam.
it’s all right, son,” Bobby replied, and crossed the room to put his
hand on Sam’s shoulder. “I understand. You gotta do what’s right for
you. Now, you said your speeder was outta juice? Let’s see if we can’t
do something about that.”
Sam smiled a little. “If it’s still in one piece.”
Bobby shot him an amused look. “I wouldn’t count on that.”