(Translated to English from zonble’s promptbook in Mandarin. Those readers with a background in Asia will recognize the story as an Asian take on Star Wars as well as a Star Wars take on Asia.)
It’s time to let you know.
Son, I’m not sure if you recall—in your teenage rebellion several years ago, before you mastered the Force, you kids blew up the Empire’s most important military facility at that time.
You probably still remember the thrill of conquest as your young self swiftly destroyed the giant enemy core. As if a classmate never paid you any attention, then one day you scored with her—eventually a forgettable experience, but not for a while. Your father was young once, and knows the need for bragging rights among buddies.
You might have wondered. As a Force wannabe who could only receive calls from other Jedi Knights—calls that perhaps you mistook as gut feelings stirred by the Force—how could you have blown up the Death Star with Molotov cocktails and a bunch of X-Wing fighters, or “X-Wees” as they were universally disparaged? How could a military facility that was indestructible by all accounts have crumbled in your hands? But when you dived into the heart of the Death Star in your X-Wee, you might have been surprised, behind the pretty facade—that is what Father wants to tell you about.
The Death Star would have been blown up, sooner or later. More precisely, it had to be blown up.
The day after you kids blew up the Death Star, the Emperor was to send a henchman to certify its construction before acceptance.
As you know, since its dawn, the Empire had been pouring in tremendous resources seized from the galactic population into the Death Star’s construction. Of course, this crucial military project was top secret in the Empire, from the design blueprints to the firepower statistics. Naturally, the Imperial budget of the Death Star was the top secret of top secrets.
As for how much of that budget was actually spent on construction, it was the top secret of top secrets of top secrets.
Few were privy to this secret. First, the Imperial commander in charge of the construction. Second, the building contractors—though they were all killed shortly before construction came to a close, they and their planet turned into milky, starry dust by the Death Star’s very first shot (exhausting the facility’s firepower, as it were). The commander in charge presented it to the Emperor as secrecy maintenance. It was true: the mere existence of the contractors threatened a leak. The Emperor thus sentenced the whole planet to some made-up crime, as was Imperial business as usual—naturally, the secret that was maintained was not the secret the Emperor had in mind.
When the Death Star blew up, the only witnesses on it were those blindly loyal clones, completely out to lunch (look, even robots fall in love, but have you seen clones fall in love?), who also all died. Who could doubt the truth? After the destruction, the Empire allowed no doubts, and any doubts would have found no corroboration. After all, the Death Star was a military facility, and all military facilities are subject to attrition.
Still, others knew, and they were the dearest to you. Your sister Leia knew. You might now realize why, as you kids wandered from system to system in the last several years, wherever and whenever the Millennium Falcon docked, Leia always told you first to visit the local financial institution for an account.
There was also your Uncle Obi-Wan. I’m really sorry what I did to this old friend, but I had no choice. Sigh!
Speaking of Leia, I shouldn’t have relied on her. When I gave her the designs of the Death Star, I told her especially to stay on the down low, to enlist you only, but she was still so unsure of herself as to ask Obi-Wan for help, and so inept at hiding her plot that my cunning old friend saw right through her. I tried so hard to call her back, oh did I try. Damn that Obi-Wan—think of it, twenty years! After twenty years out of touch, the first thing this old friend contacts me for at this crucial juncture was to blackmail me for hush money!
Despicable Obi-Wan! It was him who created this gulf of misunderstanding between you and me, father and son. Did he tell you that your father had perished under Darth Vader’s lightsaber? He made you think you had no father, made it unthinkable who your father really was. That’s why you thought my guys looking for you were the Empire hunting you down. The true reason, besides the money under your name, that Father looked for you, after twenty years of humiliation, after calling you with the Force to finish off the biggest money-laundering scheme of the Galaxy, was of course to enjoy the loot with a loving family, in another galaxy, unfettered.
It turns out, Obi-Wan had it all planned. I took care of him, but he passed the news and you to that greedy old fart Yoda! Did Yoda then lure you with his magic while pretending to shoo you away? Did he then tell you that you were not skilled enough with the Force to leave him? —When will you be skilled enough for him? When he gets your account information, of course!
Your sister, on the other hand, went from inept to dishonest. I don’t know if she fell under that wicked Yoda’s magic too, but after the Emperor stopped investigating the done deal, she tried to leave Father behind. Does she think she can outwit Yoda the old fox? Do you think they are just old fencing fogies spewing nonsense about the Force? Do I have to remind you of the Jedi Council of the Republic, of how much Yoda and Obi-Wan embezzled from classified clone-army accounts?
Son, were you also influenced by them to think that the Republic was progressive, glorious, wonderful? For them, of course it was—I couldn’t believe it when the Emperor first told me—they each took a cut! As I kept trying to teach you, to convey to you, don’t let them fool you with the Force. Yes, the Force is good to have, but could it protect your right hand? No, just as it could not protect my body back then. But with enough dataries (or other currency; dataries are not worth much these days), you can buy a new right hand. Do you really think the Jedi Knights kept the Galaxy running during the Republic with just that measly Force?
But you were young; you didn’t listen to me. Oh well; I was never good with words. Though I did tell you: You don’t know the power of the dark side.
Father is not telling you all this to reminisce, but to help you deal with some new developments in the Dynasty.
First, the Emperor recently ordered a second Death Star built. He hand-picked the contractors and sent a separate team of inspectors on-site. The Emperor believes in two things: the Death-Star technology he got in the Clone Wars, and that practice is the only criterion of truth. Once a second Death Star is finished, any difference between it and the one you blew up would call into question the construction of the first Death Star, and thus Father’s fate.
Second, the Emperor just sent his Royal Guards after you, so watch out: the Imperial soldiers you are about to encounter are not my guys looking for you, even though you might mistake both as the Empire going after you as the chosen Rebel leader.
The real reason the Emperor wants you is that you are an eyewitness. Everyone perished with the Death Star, except Father, on whom the Emperor’s shock-and-awe mind-control techniques are ineffective, but I don’t know about you. If the Emperor were to pry his purple lightning into your visual memory for a full-scan query that reenacts the workmanship of the Death Star, then Father would be in real trouble. In the worst case, Father might have to fight the Emperor to death. Even a Jedi Knight at my level faces the Emperor with uncertainty—the thought, as I enjoy a majestic view of stars large and small from this observation deck, brings a chill to my spine.
Son, it is through this window that I followed your life journey from afar over the years. Even your mother would be pleased, I think. But it is also through this window that I see in you more and more of myself.
And of the Emperor.
I have no idea how you’ll turn out.
The Emperor and I were both poor kids from the countryside. Our childhoods were miserable—of course, the Siths were probably more miserable in those days. I bet neither Obi-Wan nor Yoda told you that Sith and sex are cognates. The Siths had to bribe Jedi Knights for sex, and the Jedi Council derided the Siths as evil, only because the Siths thought all day long about sex in that environment. That’s why, when the Emperor couldn’t get any in those days, he resolved to become a power monger and eliminate corruption. He believed that totalitarianism was the least corrupt form of government.
He really went overboard, and I can understand why you kids turned anti-establishment. Where did the Emperor get the idea for his Edict on Sex? Maybe fidelity is worth legislating, but a minimum of five times a day? What got it into his head that this kind of sex would earn him loyalty and admiration from his subjects? Strangely enough, it did win some people over. I have no clue why.
It was this jealousy, this hate, that led the Emperor to me, a young Knight unvested in the status quo, shunned by the old boy’s club of corrupt Jedis. He got what he wanted from me—my aversion to Jedi nepotism, my help, almost my sex. After I sent y’all off, my lightsaber sliced through the other Jedi Knights like butter, even though I got my training on the grounds of the Jedi Academy and my milk through the nipples of the Jedi Council. If anything, it was that training, that milk, that made me hate all the world’s injustice, all the guys’ corruption, and what’s more—why couldn’t I get in?
I was yellow with greed. I was greedier than them all!
I wanted numbers that Obi-Wan and Yoda couldn’t imagine for their lives!
You grew up the same way, in the wastelands of Tatooine. Blame Father if you want, but how could I appear to be weak when you were still in the cradle? I know you don’t always love your uncle and aunt either. They knew Father was a Jedi Knight. They thought I was keeping enormous corruption proceeds all to myself, sharing nothing with my family but the burden of raising my son, so it was understandable that they disavowed me as their older brother. In reality, I had no proceeds to keep to myself, much less to share. On the other hand, don’t blame them now that I’ve made it. If they were still around, well, neither a borrower nor a lender be, and we’re not really brothers anyway.
Poor kid, we all used to be poor, but what now? It’s up to you.
Do you want to be rich? Or dead?
At the beginning, Leia let you join the Rebels just to finish laundering the Death Star money, not to lead a bunch of poor kids hoping to strike it rich in a role-playing game. I don’t know what Yoda and Leia have been giving you to smoke, that you think a circus can overthrow an empire, but they’ve kept you completely in the dark. They start these fights only to keep you around and get rid of me on the side, because I am the only one left who knows about this dirty money and where it came from in the Universe.
Yoda hasn’t bothered me directly, actually. I guess Obi-Wan’s fate showed him.
If you keep fighting against the Empire and, the Force forbid, fall into the hands of the Emperor, then even setting your life aside, you should keep in mind the hordes of cash in your four billion accounts throughout the Galaxy (as for which accounts, you need to check your own books), and in six billion accounts under Leia’s name. What’s more likely is if, as you lead the Rebels, they get to your accounts. Neither you nor I know what would happen then—revolts always come with casualties, don’t they?
Another possibility, son, is that you are a true Skywalker, not ruined by Jedi Knights as a child like your tragic father was—though I don’t know how they affected you more recently. Then you would hate corruption to your bones, especially when you find out that Tatooine was dirt poor precisely because the Death Star broke people’s backs with taxes, taxes that fell into the pockets of people like your father—strictly speaking, pockets of you currently, though you’re not yet sure which pockets.
By the way, you might all despise the Emperor for your poverty, but he’s actually quite thrifty in private, wearing nothing but a threadbare robe. You may not know that the Emperor’s frugality branding helped with his coup to some extent.
Anyway, your jealousy and ability may steer you in the footsteps of the Emperor. You might just overcome the grim dangers around you one day and even overthrow the Empire with your Force and charisma. You might just clear away, as the morning sun clears away a pea-soup fog, the world of us old people—of course, the chance is minuscule—and be chosen to lead the Galaxy.
What new order do you want to bring to the Galaxy? Do you want to return to a republic? Or establish a second empire?
Republic or empire, the name of the game is corruption; the Galaxy will not change its course just for you. The only issue is whether you want corruption to occur among the select few, or among the select fewer; whether you want tacit corruption practiced by a privileged class, or invisible corruption practiced under everyone’s nose; whether you want people like Obi-Wan and Yoda to be corrupt under your rule, or people like your father to be corrupt. All heroes become corrupt, or rather, all heroes become heroes in order to descend finally into corruption.
In the Republic, some people were happy and some people were unhappy; Obi-Wan and Yoda were happy, whereas people like the Emperor and me were unhappy. Same thing with the Empire: some people are happy and some unhappy. If the Empire were overthrown, you kids might be happy, but another group would be unhappy, just like when the coup replaced the Republic by the Empire, making some people unhappy but others happy. It’s always the same, some happy and some unhappy. The only possible difference is—is it others who are happy, or is it you, but do you really know what makes you happy? You might think now that a republic would make you happy, but that’s just because you have not experienced a republic. I have. Republic or empire, I’m not happy.
—Do people really know what makes them happy? Sometimes people are happy because others are happy, or unhappy because others are unhappy. But sometimes people are unhappy because others are happy, or happy because others are unhappy.
There’s another way. We can evade our pursuers and head to another galaxy to create an unprecedented society, a truly pure galaxy. On every star—green stars, red stars, black stars, gold stars, stars of all colors and stripes, we will be a united galaxy of Skywalker clones. Son, if you wish, they can all be Luke Skywalker clones. Yes, we can. We’ve got the dough.
Please contact me ASAP. The situation is tight. Stay away from the Emperor. Beware your friends. Beware those you think are mentors. Beware those you think are family.
I know it’s not like you ever believed I was your father, but I must still remind you, when push comes to shove, don’t even trust me. But I hope you trust me a bit right now. After your mother passed away, everything I did was for you and Leia. It is also at great peril that I send this letter to you, even authenticating it with my red lightsaber—but I actually don’t think I can trust Leia nowadays.
To close, I must still bless you as usual, however ridiculous the blessing sounds coming out of my mouth. It’s looking more and more as if I doubted the Force. —Until now, all species in the Galaxy believed that I command a mighty Force, to the point where even I thought so, and it was indeed handy for a while. However, after losing one confidant after another, I don’t even find the Force trustworthy anymore.
What I mean is this. In the past, even though I doubted the Force had two sides, I did grant that each individual’s Force is limited. What matters is how the Force admits the individual to something bigger, even if the real point is that something bigger. But what I now doubt is, does the Force even deserve its name? Even if you’ve got the Force, and even if you’ve got that something bigger, yet…
I’m at a loss for words.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about something Yoda used to say—never mind how nasty he is with money—he retold an ancient prophecy, that someone will bring balance between the light side and the dark side of the Force, namely me. I’ve always thought the old man was talking rubbish, simply because nobody actually knew what balance means for the Force, or how to achieve it, I bet not even Yoda himself.
I actually barely remembered what Yoda said, but now that I’m reminded, I want to forget again. In the time since I used the Force to call you to blow up the Death Star, facing this observation window, I seem to have figured out, bit by bit, what it means to restore balance to the Force. I’m not sure—but maybe to restore balance is to eliminate the Force from the Galaxy. Of course, as we both know, that is impossible. We both have been immersed in the Force, inflamed by the Force, imbued with the Force senseless. We both know that the Force is there, will always be there.
The next best thing may be for the whole Galaxy to forget the Force. Well, with an Imperial officer like me and a Rebel leader like you, the Galaxy can hardly forget Jedi Knights or the Force. Moving on to the third best thing, we can make a wish in lieu of reality. People like Yoda and Obi-Wan cannot be the Chosen One, then, not because they fence badly or their strength is impure or their conduct is immoral, but because they’ve never had the wish, they don’t want to forget the Force, they even pose as tutors of the Force. Perhaps the true meaning of the prophecy, I’m thinking, is that I will be the first Jedi Knight to want to forget the Force, the first time a Jedi Knight has carried such a wish in the epic yet elusive pages of history—though this interpretation is still incredible.
I really want to forget. I want to forget the Force.
It probably won’t affect the Galaxy, but I have such a wish. To forget the Force.
I want no Force but to bless you. The phrase dooms me to ridicule as I said, snaring me firmly in an awkward loss for words. Oh Galaxy, how I curse you! I can attack you, damage you, ignite you, trample you, but in the end I am at a loss for words to you. Oh son, I departed you then pursued you, abandoned you yet recollected you, but in the end I am at a loss for words to you.
May the Force be with you,
P.S. I looked into the company you’ve been keeping, which worries me.
I think you should stay out of Han Solo and Chewbacca’s relationship. They got the Millennium Falcon in the first place to elope from their legally assigned partners under the Edict on Sex. I know what you’re thinking; young Skywalkers tend to be fascinated with exotic furry creatures. When I was a kid, I was quite taken by a certain long-eared species. They were naturals at viscous fluids and balloons. But son, I don’t want you to be disappointed when the time comes. Really, muscular does not mean big. Besides, you don’t want to attract the vigilance of hidden enemies around you.
If you really need to, ask R2D2. D2 used to be with me, and I’ll tell you this: when it comes to Skywalkers, it’s still the vacuum cleaners that know our bodies best. If you wipe off the video Leia taped, you’ll find other holograms from when I was a kid. Maybe it’s too old-fashioned for you, but you can try and splice Chewbacca in too. If you need anything else, C3PO is also good.
In any case, great works call for great caution. If you still can’t control yourself, just cut it off. You know lightsabers; it won’t hurt long. Put it in a box and hang it on your chest for daily motivation. Once it’s all over, you can always pay to have a new one made.