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Ad Utrumque Paratus

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In a moment of unaccountable boldness, a system under Hutt influence is added to a Republican document by a hand paid by the gangster lords. The action is unnoticed in the middle of a constitutional amendment pushing emergency powers on the Chancellor’s Office, and the corrupt Senate is already split in focus between passing the amendment and grasping for control over a war in their systems. The Hutts have detected weakness and capitalised on it, finally planting a seed in the spread-thin Republic.

War has pushed Separatist forces to the Outer Rim while interpretations of peace and democracy––and how they are achieved––muddle hearts in the Core of the galaxy. Those who hesitate to give power to the Chancellor’s Office can easily be accused of dragging the war on, and, especially if they are Jedi, being more concerned with dodging congressional oversight than ending the war. Some believe that the moral uprightness of the Jedi Order give weight to the Order’s word in politics, while most believe such uprightness has been wasted on the frontlines and that the Jedi have no spare patience for the difficulties of the Senate. All sides feel alone.

No one knows of Etra and Tyun, Justice and Vengeance, the twin dragon-eggs burning with promise in children’s folktales scattered across sand.

No one knows that they have finally hatched over Tatooine’s horizon.

Except the slave-born, who absorb the whispers with disbelief, at first, then hope. Etra scents liars, no spear or blaster can penetrate his scales, and one swing of his tail carries boulders into the air. The corrupted souls, he simply visits…and leaves them moral, disappeared, or dead in his wake. Tyun moves as smoke and snatches traitors in her claws; the evil, she destroys with a breath of fire. The twin dragons consume evildoers in positions of power too quickly for the ultimate gangsters, the Hutts, to find replacements for, until Tyun finally garrotes Jabba with her tail and Etra visits Jabba’s palace. The monolith is now the final resting place of Jabba’s guards, assassins, slave-dealers, and a rancor.

Tatooine’s economy and security is a mess in the sudden power vacuum. No former slave-dealer dares to fill it. The less supersticious hesitantly accomodate for their employees more and tell themselves in the crushed velvet of night that they don’t engage in what the ruthless, big-time criminals did that earned them the fates they received. The believers cleanse their hearts so that Etra doesn’t slink through their front door. Instead, freed slaves find employment in Tatooine’s economic and communications branches with the sudden need for people to stabilise and run what feels like the entire planet, and they have more than enough experience.

A level-headed woman with a determined spirit as sure as the desert suns builds a government from scratch, and she is successful partly because her unshakeable belief that things will get done inspires those around her. Suddenly, everyone around her is strong. She is Leia, but her blonde-haired shadow calls her Princess. Her trusted people around her, now government officials, form the backbone of Tatooine, but she is the head and heart. “Princess” is more than befitting. Tatooine has no monarchy, nor do they desire another form of masters, but their Leia is a child of the desert suns and of morning dew on evaporators––even-tempered but unstoppable.

In contrast, the unofficial founder of Tatooine’s planetary defence is as fleeting as the wind, and just as catchable. He is soft-spoken and gentle and can bend a blaster in half if he has to. Tatooine’s defence is the mutual agreement between the able––the smugglers and the bounty hunters retiring or taking a pit-stop––to blast anyone who breaks the rules. Even pirates have a code, after all. Tatooine becomes a safe haven for anyone seeking to catch a break, a drink, or a bunk, and the economy prospers even more than when the planet had been under Jabba. The decisions of pirates cannot be pinned on any governmental action, technically, so Tatooine is, for the first time in too long, a secure and…proper planet. The mysterious negotiator is Luke. He can be seen playing with younglings, healing aches of the old with his hands, or, in the rare occasion, humbly and embarrassedly sitting cornered by pirates in a booth as smiles, chatter, and drinks went around. Some criminals affectionately call him, “kid.” He is as characteristic of Tatooine as the binary sunset.

It was only a matter of time for the Hutts to try to reclaim what was theirs.

~

~

Grakkus is the only one of his kind operating from outside Hutt Space with connections even the CIS cannot afford to make enemies out of. Based on Nar Shaddaa, finding him is as easy as falling into trouble on the nicknamed “smuggler’s moon.” After Jabba, Grakkus is the last Hutt anyone wants to meet face-to-face with from the wrong end of a conflict.

Luke goes to him first.

He doesn’t take his secret project, an incomplete yet sleek beast of bought and spare parts that already has sublights and crossed wings. Instead, Luke pays a pair of freighter pilots with a sense of self-preservation that is less than what should be healthy, and orders them to fly him to Nar Shaddaa, stay put, and, for goodness sake, don’t gamble. He clips his lightsaber to his belt, dons a hooded cloak, and enters a cantina for directions. Two humanoids almost abduct him halfway across the floor, and Luke gives them a piece of his mind when they try to drug him or steal his lightsaber. He walks himself into Grakkus’s fortress dragging his abductors along.

“Lord Grakkus,” he greets just before a pair of iridiite hall doors slide open to reveal the Hutt. No doubt Grakkus knows that Luke is Force-sensitive; no point in trying to hide it, so he might as well let Grakkus know that he is always one step ahead. Luke speaks in Basic to grieve the Hutt with the use of a translator, just because, but Grakkus responds in Huttese without hesitation.

“Etra, my, my.” The name is spoken sarcastically. The Hutt has an idea of who and what are behind Tatooine’s dragon tales. Grakkus dismisses his escort and hired abductors, and leads the conversation into a treasure room. Weapons, storage items, and clothing of endangered societies dominate the space, and most prominent of them are Jedi belongings. Luke picks up a holocron from a display and reminds himself that he is a Jedi, that his father died loving him, and that fixing the galaxy in an era not his own is not impossible.

~

“It is a rare pleasure to host you, young Skywalker.”

The young one lifts his head a tad too quick to not be a reaction to the insightful guess. Contrary to the Republic’s knowledge, Skywalker is a common surname on Tatooine––and a name for a line of wine––but only among those of slave descent. Most free people change their last name to a variation of, in order to distance themselves from the implication, but young Luke is not most people. Grakkus has eyes and ears that have their own eyes and ears; he sees all and thus knows all. With his gift to assemble a big picture, Grakkus knows that the deliberate absence of young Luke’s known last name is to preserve Anakin Skywalker’s faultless image and because Luke knows no suitable replacement for a surname. The move is entirely political. It also reveals that young Luke possesses the same gift as Grakkus.

The experience is like searching for a clear reflection in the ghostly-reflective quality of iridiite. By sharing the ability to see the big picture, Grakkus can peer into Luke’s plans, but only vaguely. Young Luke expects significant attention from the Republic in the future and is open to cooperation between him and them, but not under their terms. He is quick-witted, Force-sensitive, and tamed; once, he possessed the recklessness of a free––moisture farm?––boy, but calculated trauma has excised it out of him. Former fighting arena slave, perhaps? With all of Tatooine free and the Outer Rim slave trade in disorder, Grakkus cannot know for sure. He only knows that in certain areas where the Jedi Order and, by extension, the Republic will attempt to step in, young Luke will not budge.

Because whoever traumatised Luke miscalculated. Recklessness can be burned out, but not determination, which is a veritable star hotter than any whip. The master had only pushed Luke to evolve, and now tame is a laughable substitute for Luke’s self-control and precision that allows him to become the focused power of a lightsaber.

Names are for heroes. Mystery is the trait of a warrior.

Luke Skywalker is what Jedi should be.

The Republic and the Order will not see it. Intensity, emotion, willingness to kill––they will label him a vigilante and never look back. Grakkus’s obsession with flawed Jedi history and artefacts can be blamed for his opinion of young Luke, but he already knows that he is not wrong, and that in this, he and young Luke can agree. Kriff, he is actually starting to not want to enslave the young one.

“I know of you,” Luke levitates a holocron in a circle away and back into his palm, “but I really don’t want to work with you in any capacity.”

“You need Tatooine out of my clan’s targeting sights,” Grakkus plays. “I was not close with Jabba. You came to me first.”

“I chose you because you are the most troublesome Hutt alive,” Luke shares, his correction unexpected. “You can respect that, I know. Being someone’s worst nightmare.” Grakkus greedily drinks the truth in Luke’s words. Blue eyes flick up to Grakkus’s face.

“Perhaps we can come to an agreement,” Grakkus agrees.

“Direct the Hutt Clan’s interests away from Tatooine, permanently,” Luke says. “We are both nightmares to your clan, from my understanding. This will only be proof of that.” Grakkus is thrilled to hear his reputation stated so, as fact. If the gangster isn’t already sold, the holocron floating up from Luke’s hand and slowly unlocking with a blue-white light does the trick. “A treat,” says Luke generously.

~

~

Grakkus becomes the first Hutt to defy his clan in centuries, and Luke sips blue milk tea.

The Hutts’ reconquest of Tatooine never comes.