"Are you afraid?"

"No," Luke said scornfully, glaring at his uncle. "It's just a speeder."

"You looked a little nervous."

"It's just a speeder!"

Owen Lars ruffled his scowling nephew's hair. "Alright, then."

"Can I drive?"

"Not until you're older."

"I am older!" argued Luke. "I'm seven! Almost. Can I drive when I'm seven?"

His uncle ran a hand through his own graying hair. Rapidly graying. "Maybe."

"Does it really fly?"

"Yes, Luke."

"I knew that."


"Are you afraid?"

"You wish!" Luke revved a handlebar on the bike, zooming to just behind Fixer. His skyhopper was confiscated and locked in the old tool shed, but luckily Biggs hadn't been home. He'd return the bike in one piece. Whether Fixer's would be so lucky remained to be seen.

"Can't catch me, Wormie!"

"Don't make me laugh!"

The bikes roared off into the desert. Luke would be yelled at when he got home, but this was worth it.


"Are you afraid?"


"You should be. I don't care what you've blown up, rookie, no one can rely solely on luck. You've got to be careful."

"I am careful," argued Luke. "Sir."

"You left your squadron and flew directly into Imperial fire."

He could argue that the Force had told him to, but he doubted that would cut it. "I knew exactly where I was headed, sir. Taking out that gunship reduced the risk to my men- the Imps were loading proton missiles- and that wasn't a risk I could take." He was stuttering over his words now. Risk, risk, risk.


"Sir," said Luke again. He was unused to military protocol. "Sir" at the end of every sentence generally seemed to calm them down.

"We made you a commander, Skywalker. Don't make us regret it."


"Are you afraid?"

"No," repeated Luke.

Several seconds passed.

"Afraid you are now, yes?"


"Hrmph. Lying, you are, Skywalker."

"I'm not lying, Master Yoda."

"You are afraid for the friends you left behind. Confused, your thoughts are. Concentrate!" There was a sharp thwack on the back of his knees and Luke nearly fell.

Well, he mused, perhaps he was a little afraid. Of that blasted stick.


Are you afraid?

It didn't matter that the voice was half a galaxy away. He could still hear it. In his head, taunting him. His worst fears made into a black gloved hand reaching out to him.

Are you afraid, my son?

"Yes," whispered Luke, praying that no one could hear him.