While my waking moments are agonizing, sleeping is even worse.
One morning, I stood on the balcony of a lodge, meditating with my eyes closed, when I sensed Padme's presence. No, I'm not going with that cray-cray "Suddenly Padme" crap anymore.
I asked her not to leave, since she was about to do that. "Your presence is...soothing."
Moment of silence.
"You had another nightmare last night," Padme said accusingly.
"Jedi don't have nightmares," I replied tersely. Is this really any of her business?
She wasn't buying it. "I heard you," she replied.
I didn't doubt that she had. This nightmare was the worst one yet. "I saw my mother," I replied. Turning toward Padme, I tried to keep my voice from trembling. "As clearly as I see you now. She's suffering, Padme." I let out a long sigh, barely releasing the pressure building up with me. This isn't a premonition. It's a vision of events that already happened. "She's in pain. I know I'm disobeying my mandate to protect you, but I haven't got a choice. I have to save her!"
She offered to go with me. That way I could still protect her. Obi-Wan will surely disapprove, but it's not his decision.
Without notifying Obi-Wan or the Jedi Council of my plans, Padme, R2-D2 and I left in Padme's slim H-type Nubian spacecraft. Believe it or not, the fragrant scent of Padme's lush homeworld remained fresh in my nostrils when I sighted the barren sand planet that used to be my home.
We descended through the atmosphere and flew toward the Mos Espa spaceport. Also, I know now why Qui-Gon landed in the desert. He wouldn't settle for any negative attention.
Anyway, Padme and I got on board a rickshaw droid to carry us to Watto's shop. R2-D2 rolled along behind us.
Ya know, I'm really not sure how I'll react when I see Watto again. I know he's been kinder than most slave owners, but I've always resented the fact that he refused to free my mother. Otherwise, she never would have come so close (or worse) to death and we'd still be on Naboo.
Well, I guess he isn't entirely to blame. How hard exactly did Qui-Gon work to free Mom? Slavery is allowed here, and Watto's just a businessman.
Anyway, we've made it. The old Toydarian is sitting out front. Surprisingly Watto didn't even recognize me at first. Obviously I'm too smart for you.
I'm not just going to give it to him. Instead, I asked him about my mother.
"Ani? Little Ani? It is you! Ya sure sprouted, huh? A Jedi! Waddya know?" His voice lowered to a whisper. "Hey, maybe you couldda help me wit some deadbeats who owe--"
Dude, shut up! I'm not interested. I have a job to do. "My mother..." I repeated.
"Oh, yeah. Shmi...she's not mine no more. I sold her."
What?! "Sold her?"
"Years ago," he replied. "Sorry, Ani, but ya know, business is business." He told me about her new husband, Cleigg Lars, and that he had freed my mom so they could get married. So apparently Cleigg's my stepdad.
Luckily Watto's records showed us where the moisture farm was.
It was only a matter of minutes before our starship brought us there. The moisture farm consisted of moisture-collecting vaporators spread out across a small, domed building. The dome was the entrance to an underground homestead.
"R2, stay with the ship," Padme told him. R2 beeped. Yep, I'm so sadistic. Not questioning Padme's order. Then we left toward the dome.
Before we could make it, we were greeted by a fully plated protocol droid.
"Oh!" exclaimed the droid when he noticed us. In case you're wondering, this awfully familiar droid was making a minor adjustment to a Treadwell droid. "Um, hello. How might I be of service?" I could already sense this one coming. "I am C--"
"3PO?" I finished helpfully. OK, is my mother responsible for putting on the droid plating?
The droid was confused...until it hit him! "Oh, the maker! Oh, Master Ani! I'm so happy to see you both! I knew you would return! Somehow I knew it! And this young lady must be...Miss Padme?"
"Hello, 3PO," she replied.
"Bless my circuits! I'm so happy to see you both!" Cute. I told him I'd come for my mother. He replied by ushering us inside the farm. So if this is where my new stepfather lives, clearly this droid lives here.
The droid led us down a flight of steps, where a surprised young man and woman greeted us. Oh yeah, and they're dressed in drab stuff like most people here on Tatooine...well, except the slave owners, and Podracers, and...whatever. The man was sturdily built, with strong farmer's hands. Unlike Qui-Gon Jinn though. I'd think just by logic our Jedi hands are more calloused due to all the rigorous and sometimes--no, frequent--agonizing training we undergo. But yeah, it's been fun.
OK, back to the subject. The drab-ridden people were named Beru and Owen Lars and Owen said something about being my stepbrother.
OK, isn't it nice that now TCO has a sibling and a father?
Anyway, another guy--he was fat and also dressed in drab and had lost a leg--told me my mother wasn't here and I'm like, "WTH? Where is she then?"
"Come inside," he said. "We have a lot to talk about."
Then we seated ourselves comfortably in some chairs around a table. Now that I realize it, the amputated man--Cleigg Lars, to be exact--is my stepdad and I can't call him drab-ridden and fat and--well, admittedly those were rude descriptions in the first place.
And then Cleigg told us some horrific news:
The sun was barely starting to peak through the horizon when Mom was going to pick mushrooms on a moisture vaporator. The Tuskens ambushed her and kidnapped her! A squad of 30 people, presumably led by Cleigg Lars, went after her but 4 came back.
I can feel my head ringing. If only she'd left with me...if only I hadn't left her behind! I haven't had much time to develop an opinion about my new stepdad. Initially I'd once felt some gratitude for him liberating Mom from Watto. But now I'm starting to hate this twerp...he took her to live in an area where Tuskens roamed. If only you hadn't brought her here!
I got up and left for the door. Padme and Owen asked me where exactly I was headed.
I turned around, peeved. "To find my mother."
Padme rushed after me. Yes, I know you want to help. But there's no way I'm going to risk your life any further. "These are good people, Padme," I told her. "You'll be safe."
We embraced. For a second I wished I could have frozen that moment, just to keep Padme close to me forevermore. And yet...duty calls.
Thus I boarded a speeder, ready for whatever lies ahead.
I'm on a quest.