Late March, 1802; in the southern regions of the English Channel.
Captain Watto had had quite enough of the trouble his latest French prize was giving him.
If the fact that the French frigate had luffed up across their bow during dinnertime of all hours hadn’t been enough, their shooting away his foremast hadn’t been necessary at all. Add on top of that the loss of twelve men and several livestock, and his heart condition – which had an unfortunate tendency to leave him short of breath and blue around the gills – and he was really rather fed up.
Then they found the dragon egg in the enemy’s hold, and everything really went to pot.
It took him nearly half an hour of scrabbling through his orders to find the scrap of paper included from the Admiralty that reminded him of a “BRITISH EGG STOLEN FROM EDINBURGH COVERT, NECESSARY TO INSPECT AND RECOVER ALL PRIZES.” It was an odd little (or rather large) thing – a dull cream color not unlike a chicken’s egg, though in the right sorts of lights it looked sky-blue instead. It took six strong hands to haul it out of the Frenchie’s hold and row it across to the HMS Espa, and ten more to hoist it up on deck, it was that heavy, and the height of a full-grown man.
“What’ll we do with it, sir?”
“Buggered if I know,” Watto groused. “If it hatches we’re in a right mess. It’ll have to be harnessed.”
The next morning there was a crack round the top of the egg, near enough as though it was being served as someone’s breakfast, and the chaos that ensued as every spare scrap of leather to be found was hastily sewed into a messy tangle that resembled a badly put-together horse’s bridle was simply deafening.
“Will it be you, sir?”
“Good God, I hope not,” Watto said, though once the possibility had finally been suggested to him it was an alarming enough proposition that his breakfast (cold, blast his useless steward) threatened to reacquaint itself with the wider world. “Officers, form ranks!”
That would give him enough of a buffer, he thought smugly, as his young lieutenants, all pale and trembling-kneed to a man, stood in a makeshift circle around the now-violently shaking egg.
“God, spare us,” one of the lieutenants moaned under his breath. “I’ve barely paid back my commission! I can’t go join the godforsaken Corps – ”
“Shh!” another said sternly, though the effect was rather spoiled by his voice cracking as the egg wobbled and fell with a thud onto its side, splitting open along previously-unseen seams.
Watto thought it was ugly. Keening, still covered in its viscera, the dragon was ungainly and weak-muscled in its first moments, gamboling awkwardly along the slippery deck. It was the same color as its egg – a rich, muddied white, the undersides of its scales and its wings flashing blue.
The harness had been thrust into one of the lieutenants’ unwilling hands, and he took a halting step forward – but the dragon, with a distinct look in its eyes that Watto could have sworn was disgust, ignored the young man and began casting its gaze elsewhere, its big head swaying on its neck.
It pushed through the crowd of hands, which parted nervously before it. It sniffed the air, double lids blinking over its enormous eyes. And then –
And then it hummed with something approaching contentment, and put its muzzle gently into the hands of a shellshocked, open-mouthed powder monkey.
Watto shoved his way through his men, scowling down at the little mop of blond hair and the dragon huffing out a sigh into the boy’s jacket. “Boy,” he barked. “What’s your name?”
The child looked up at him, wide-eyed, unbelieving, ecstatic.
“Anakin, sir,” he gasped. “Anakin Skywalker.”