Luke Skywalker stood in the cooling sands of Tatooine, his wife by his side.
The strip of sky at the horizon was still painted with the last orange of sunset, but the first stars had emerged. Luke peered at them, searching for something he knew was already gone.
“What did you think you saw?” Camie asked.
He could hear the affection in her voice—but if he listened harder, he could hear the weariness as well.
“Star Destroyer,” he said. “At least I thought so.”
“Then I believe you,” she said, one hand on his shoulder. “You could always recognize one—even at high noon.”
Luke smiled, thinking back to the long-ago day at Tosche Station when he’d burst in to tell his friends about the two ships sitting in orbit right above their heads. Camie hadn’t believed him—she’d peered through his old macrobinoculars before dismissively tossing them back to him and seeking refuge from the relentless twin suns. Fixer hadn’t believed him, either. Nor had Biggs.
But he’d been right.
His smile faded at the thought of Biggs Darklighter, who’d left Tatooine and died somewhere unimaginably far away. Biggs, who’d been his first friend. His only friend, he supposed.
His mind retreated from the thought, as quickly as if his bare hand had strayed to a vaporator casing at midday.
“I wonder what the Empire wanted out here,” he said, searching the sky again. Resupplying the garrison at Mos Eisley hardly required a warship the size of a Star Destroyer. These days, with the galaxy at peace, it hardly required a warship at all.
“Whatever it is, it’s got nothing to do with us,” Camie said. “That’s right, isn’t it?”
“Of course it is,” Luke said, his eyes reflexively scanning the lights that marked the homestead’s perimeter. Such caution wasn’t necessary— no Tusken Raider had been seen this side of Anchorhead in two decades—but old habits died hard. The Tuskens are gone—nothing left of them but bones in the sand.
For some reason that made him sad.
“We’ve hit our Imperial quota for five years running,” Camie said. “And we’ve paid our water tax to Jabba. We don’t owe anybody anything. We haven’t done anything.”
“We haven’t done anything,” Luke agreed, though he knew that was no guarantee of safety. Plenty of things happened to people who hadn’t done anything—things that were never discussed again, or at least not by anyone with any sense.
His mind went back to the long-ago days he kept telling himself not to think about. The droids, and the message—a holographic fragment in which a regal young woman pleaded for Obi-Wan Kenobi to help her. Let the past go.
That’s what Camie always told him. But staring into the darkness, Luke found that once again, he couldn’t take her advice.
The astromech droid had fled into the night while Luke was at dinner with his aunt and uncle. Fearing Uncle Owen’s fury, Luke had taken a risk, slipping away from the farm despite the threat of Tuskens. But no Sand People had been on the prowl that night. Luke had found the runaway astromech and brought it back to the farm, pushing the landspeeder the last twenty meters to avoid waking Owen and Beru.
Luke smiled ruefully, thinking—as he so often did—about everything that could have gone wrong. He could easily have died, becoming one more foolhardy moisture farmer claimed by the Tatooine night and what lurked in it.
But he’d been lucky
Luke assumed he’d never learn the mysterious young woman’s identity. But he’d been wrong. It had been blasted out over the HoloNet for weeks, ending with a final report that before her execution, Princess Leia Organa had apologized for her treasonous past and called for galactic unity.
Curiously, the Empire had never shared footage of those remarks, leaving Luke to remember his brief glimpse of the princess—and to wonder what desperate mission had caused her to seek out an old hermit on Tatooine.
Whatever it was, it had failed. Alderaan was a debris field now, along with Mon Cala and Chandrila—all destroyed by the battle station that had burned out the infections of Separatism and rebellion, leaving the galaxy at peace.
Or at least free of conflict. That was the same thing, or near enough.
He realized Camie was saying his name, and not for the first time.
“I hate it when you look like that,” she said.
“Look like what?”
“You know what I mean. Like you think something went wrong. Like you got cheated, and this is all a big mistake. Like you should have followed Tank and Biggs, and gone to the Academy like you wanted to. Like you were meant to be far away from here.”
“Far away from me,” she said in a smaller voice, turning away with her arms across her chest.
“You know I don’t feel that way,” he said, placing his hands on his wife’s shoulders and trying to ignore the way she stiffened at his touch. “We’ve made a good life, and this is where I was meant to be. Now come on—let’s go inside. It’s getting cold.”
Camie said nothing, but she let Luke lead her back toward the dome that marked the entrance to the homestead. Standing on the threshold, Luke lingered for a last look up into the night. But the Star Destroyer—if that was indeed what it had been—hadn’t returned.
Luke woke with a start, instinctively scooting up to a seated position. His mechanical hand whirred in protest, echoing the thrum of the insects that lived in the hardy grasses of Ahch-To.
He tried to shake away the dream as he dressed, donning his woolens and waterproof jacket. He opened the metal door of his hut, then shut it quietly behind him. It was nearly dawn, with the pale coming day a glimmer like a pearl on the horizon, above the black void of the sea.
The oceans of Ahch-To still astonished him—an infinity of water that could transform from blank and placid to roiling chaos. All that water still seemed impossible—at least in that way, he supposed, he was still a child of the Tatooine deserts.
Farther down the slopes, he knew, the Caretakers would soon rise to begin another day, as they had for eons. They had work to do, and so did he—they because of their ancient bargain, and he because of his own choice.
He’d spent his youth resenting chores on Tatooine; now they gave structure to his days on Ahch-To. There was milk to harvest, fish to catch, and a loose stone step to be put right.
But not quite yet.
Luke walked slowly up the steps until he reached the meadow overlooking the sea. He shivered—the summer was almost gone, and the dream still had him in its grip. That was no ordinary dream, and you know it.
Luke raised the hood of his jacket with his mechanical hand, stroking his beard with the flesh-and-blood one. He wanted to argue with himself, but he knew better. The Force was at work here—it had cloaked itself in a dream, to slip through the defenses he’d thrown up against it.
But was the dream a promise? A warning? Or both? Things are about to change. Something’s coming.
Copyright © 2018 by Lucasfilm Ltd.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.