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Saga Tales from the Lars Homestead - Part 5 (Update 12/29)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by gaarastar58, Apr 1, 2016.

  1. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    UPDATE 01/15/18 - STORY COMPLETE!

    A story from Cliegg's childhood about the death of his younger brother. Feedback and concrit welcome.

    Part I

    Owen Lars ducked beneath the low hanging door to the Lars homestead and looked out across the vast expanse of desert. The Jundland Wastes stretched away from him like a brown ocean, complete with rippling waves were the wind had swept the sand into furrows. The first of Tatooine’s twin suns was rising, casting its light across the plain to where his father sat in front of a row of grave markers near the homestead. The chill of the desert night hung in the air and Owen blew into his hands to warm them as he walked up to stand beside his father. Cliegg’s head was bowed, staring down at the plain headstone which marked the place of Shmi Skywalker’s final resting place. It had been nearly a year since she had been taken from them but Cliegg’s grief still showed no signs of abating, and Owen doubted he would be able to move on until he stopped blaming himself for her death.

    ‘The desert takes everything from us,’ said Cliegg without looking up, and Owen now saw that he was staring not at Shmi’s grave but at a smaller headstone, the one belonging to Cliegg’s fourteen-year-old brother. The stone bore a simple inscription:

    Edern Lars
    Beloved Son and Brother

    Cliegg had never spoken of his brother to Owen. If not for the marker, he would not have known he had existed. Grief hung around his father’s shoulders like a thick outback cloak, tangling him with the weight of memory and loss. Owen wished that he could turn away from it but he stayed by his father’s side while the dawn rays spread across the plain, turning everything they touched into gold. The shadows of the grave markers stretched like long black fingers behind them.

    ‘I should have taken better care of you,’ said Cliegg, staring down at his brother’s headstone and Owen saw that he had tears in his eyes. They streamed down his face and melted into his coarse beard. Owen turned and walked back to the house. There was nothing he could do to reach his father when he was like this. He paused in the doorway and looked back at the man who for most of his life had been indomitable. He looked small now, a hunched figure staring into his own past, burdened by guilt.

    *​

    Cliegg got to his feet and stretched the aching muscles in his lower back. He had been up since before dawn working on a faulty power relay in one of the farms forty-six GX-8 moisture vaporators. Closing the access panel he sucked at a cut on the back of his hand. Moisture vaporators were complex pieces of equipment and Cliegg was forever cutting and bashing himself while maintaining them. Wrapping his hand in a scrap of cloth he stared out across the flat landscape. A sandstorm was brewing. Cliegg kicked at a stone. Getting sand inside a vaporators refrigeration coils could render the machine inoperable, and it was likely he would be out here again repairing this unit once the storm had blown through.

    Gathering up his tool kit he lashed it to the back of his speeder bike and headed for home. Each vaporator had to be spaced at least five hundred metres apart for maximum efficiency, meaning that moisture farms could cover dozens of square kilometres, and he seemed to spend his life zipping to and fro between the towering metal structures on his trusty speeder bike.

    The Lars homestead was situated right on the edge of the Jundland Wastes, one of the farthest flung outposts of the town of Anchorhead. Why his father had left the relative comfort of running a repair shop in Mos Eisley to eke out a living as a moisture farmer Cliegg could never quite comprehend. It was a hard life. At sixteen years old, Cliegg’s skin was already leathered by exposure to the harsh desert winds and relentless sun. He pulled his speeder up at the domed entrance to the homestead and descended the long flight of steps that led to the sink-hole around which the house was built. Dumping his tool-kit, he went across to the dining area and found his little brother sitting at the table with his hands wrapped around a mug of hot chai, still wearing his pyjamas.

    ‘Have a long lie-in did we?’ asked Cliegg.

    ‘Leave me alone,’ said Edern in a thick voice. ‘I’m not well.’

    Cliegg laughed. Ed could be such a softie sometimes. While Cliegg was clearly his father’s son, Ed took more after their mother Gredda, including her love of chai. Cliegg had never developed a taste for it, unable to fathom the sense behind enjoying a hot drink on a scorched planet like Tatooine. Yet it had become a sort of ritual for mother and son to get up in the morning and sit together drinking their chai before starting work. She liked her chai dark and strong while he drank his with bantha milk and plenty of sweeteners. He might be fourteen, but he was still such a kid.

    ‘Where’s dad?’

    ‘Number seventeen’s got a leaky tank again, he’s out there patching it up.’

    Cliegg cursed. A leak in a vaporator tank was a serious malfunction and unit seventeen was a repeat offender. The whole unit needed replacing but they didn’t have the money for that right now. It had been a difficult season and a poor harvest and right now they needed every vaporator in top condition.

    Ed took a slurp of his chai and yawned. ‘Better not let mom hear you swearing,’ he said.

    Cliegg shrugged. ‘What’s she gonna do? I’m twice her size.’

    ‘You’re not too old for me to put over my knee Cliegg Lars,’ said Gredda, stepping into the room with a handful of washing in her arms. She was a stout woman with kind, crinkly eyes which bunched up when she smiled. She put down the laundry and placed a hand on Ed’s forehead. ‘How are you feeling?’

    ‘Not too bad,’ he said with an exaggerated cough. Cliegg rolled his eyes, but was prevented from making a scathing remark by the appearance of his father, Lef Lars. The burly man was carrying a large pack on his shoulders and had a grim expression on his face. Like many settlers the desert had aged him beyond his forty-two years, lines of care etched into his skin like deep sandstone canyons.

    Number seventeen is a complete bust,’ he grunted, sitting down at the table. ‘The condenser system is knackered and the binary brain has shut down.’

    ‘Is it repairable?’ asked Cliegg.

    ‘We’ll need a new central processing unit and condenser, but I should be able to get it up and running again. I need you to head to Tosche Station right away. We need power converters too so you might as well pick those up at the same time.’

    ‘Storms coming in,’ said Gredda.

    Lef steepled his fingers in front of him and sighed heavily. It seemed like the farm was always on the edge of going out of business and the constant stress was starting to take its toll on him.

    ‘I’ll head back out and take the unit down. We can repair it in the shop when the storm hits, but we need those parts.’

    Cliegg got to his feet. ‘I’ll head out just now.’

    ‘Can I go too?’ asked Ed.

    Lef shot him a stern glance. ‘I thought you were too ill to work today.’

    ‘I’m not too ill to sit in a speeder. Besides, I really need some new boots. My feet are all squished up in my old ones.’

    Lef shot a look at Gredda and Cliegg could tell he was thinking about Ed’s uncanny ability for time-wasting.

    ‘Let him go dad, I’ll keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t get side-tracked,’ said Cliegg.

    ‘Alright. Go and get out of your pyjamas then. I’ll head back out and get started taking unit seventeen down.’

    I didn’t take long for Cliegg to drag the family’s old V-35 speeder out of the garage. Lef had bought the battered vehicle several years ago intending to give it a full overhaul but never got around to it. Cliegg stashed the broken binary brain into the starboard cargo compartment. Hopefully they could find someone at Tosche station who would want it for parts. He was about to climb into the pilot seat when Ed bounced through the door.

    ‘Can I drive?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘Aw come on. I’m fourteen now.’

    ‘You’re still a kid as far as I’m concerned. Besides, I’ve seen your driving.’

    ‘Pleeease!’

    Cliegg sighed, looking down at his tousle-haired brother. Ed was short for his age, appearing much younger than his fourteen years and he still had the wide-eyed excited expression of a boy half his age. Cliegg rubbed his aching neck. He had been up since before dawn and he already felt dog-tired. The rest of the day was likely to consist of repairing the faulty vaporator in the workshop and he might as well take the opportunity for a break. He saw Ed’s face light up before he’d even opened his mouth, knowing that yet again he’d got his own way.

    ‘Alright. Get her started.’

    Ed grinned and clambered up into the pilot seat while Cliegg unfolded the angular panel in the nose of the craft and climbed inside. Pulling a pair of old goggles out of his tunic, Ed snapped them over his eyes. The speeder rumbled as he brought the repulsor field generator online and gunned the engine. They shot away across the salt flats, heading in the direction of Anchorhead. Craning his neck, Cliegg yelled at his brother to keep the speed down. There were few obstacles in the flat expanse, but every now and again the wind would uncover a rock or piece of wreckage.

    Cliegg studied the cut on the back of his hand, which was already starting to scab over. He sat back and watched the desert whip past beneath them through the dusty windshield. Sometimes he dreamed about leaving Tatooine and travelling to a planet with oceans. He had read about worlds such as Alderaan and Naboo, places where water stretched from horizon to horizon. Maybe he’d meet some beautiful Alderaanian princess, get married and settle down somewhere near the sea, where he could listen to the sound of running water. He chuckled to himself. Moisture farming was a profession that had very little call for an imagination, yet there had been nights when he and Ed would sit together and talk about what life would be like someplace else.

    The speeder jolted as it went over a hump in the ground. Cliegg unbuckled himself from his seat and wiggled up beside Ed.

    ‘So are you gonna tell me what this is about?’

    ‘Eh?’

    ‘Don’t give me that. You don’t need new boots. Your feet haven’t grown since you were twelve.’

    Ed blushed. ‘I just have something I wanted to do.’

    A grin cracked on Cliegg’s face. ‘Oh, I see. This is about a girl, isn’t it?’

    ‘No!’ said Ed, a little too quickly.

    ‘So who is it? Freeta Darklighter? Muna Corchas?’

    ‘No.’

    ‘Who is it then?’

    ‘Just leave it.’

    ‘Aw come on. Being a big brother has very few perks,’ said Cliegg, nudging his little brother in the ribs. ‘Teasing you is one of my few pleasures in life.’

    Ed flashed him a sarcastic smile. ‘I figured that out already. I just don’t think—’

    Something in the corner of Cliegg’s eyes snatched his attention away from the conversation. Directly in their path was a long shaft of rusted metal, sticking into the air. He reached towards the steering column but it was too late. The speeder hit the metal object at over a hundred kph. The impact flung Cliegg from his seat as the vehicle spun out of control. The nose hit the ground and the speeder flipped over. He caught a quick glimpse of the sky as he tumbled through the air and an even quicker glimpse of the sand before he smashed into the sandy earth and blacked out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
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  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh, I like the tone of this!!!! The everyday homey feel mixed with warmth and hard work and also a lot of losses, and you know Cliegg feels guilty - although it was not his fault directly that they crashed. But you can tell it still eats him up. @};- I like the mention of wanting to see other places, particularly those with water. [face_laugh]
     
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  3. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    I may have said this before, but I'll say it again: the way you breathe complex spectres of emotion into otherwise underrated characters is just magic. :) And just like in the case of your longest story, there is something eerie in the idea of picking Cliegg as the character to explore here, something that not many people would be capable of doing, either.

    Then, we see a completely different side of him, a man much like what his son would later be - somewhat of a cynical character who aged too early and who is stuck in the rut of the life as a moisture farmer. He takes life for granted, just like his father, while his little brother, with an undisclosed condition, wants to live every day like it's his last - which it might as well be. And that gives Cliegg more complexity - he's not broken just because he lost Shmi and ended up in a hoverchair - he's been broken since his earliest days. :(

    [hl=black]If I figured this out well, Cliegg is to blame for his brother's death because he let him drive, yet the boy was clearly ill, no longer growing and he would have died at some point soon, perhaps? EEEK[/hl].

    I totally did not expect this. But I love abrupt endings. I love things suddenly crumbling to pieces. And this is a great thing that crumbled to pieces.

    The only thing I (still) don't get is how you picked a "common Drall name" for a Human character, but there's nothing weird about it or anything.
     
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  4. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    You really managed to give Cliegg quite a back story here. Recently, I checked on him on wookiepediea, for some research. But your fan fic gives him real substance. I understand his character a bit more now. All the grief, the guilt, the losses.

    Go raibh maith agat.
     
  5. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Seems to be a running theme for those who grow up on Tattoine. I don't blame them. Sand is coarse and rough and it gets everywhere!

    Tá fáilte romhat!

    Having Cliegg as the main character was a lot of fun as we really don't know too much about him and so I could be a bit more creative than using a more well-known supporting character. Making the primary focus of the story Ed happened pretty much by accident after reading up on Cliegg. This is Ed's page and all I had to work with:

    "Edern Lars was the younger brother of Cliegg Lars. He was killed at the age of 14 in a landspeeder crash.
    His tombstone could be seen outside the Lars homestead. Shmi Skywalker Lars was buried next to him."


    I actually never really considered the idea of Ed being ill with some life-limiting condition, although in a way that makes their story even more tragic and adds a new dynamic to the brother's relationship. I did always consider that Ed was somehow the favourite child, perhaps if he had some underlying illness that could be the reason?
     
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  6. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Part II

    Cliegg floated on the surface of the Dune Sea, bobbing up and down on its rippling sand banks, dipping beneath the surface as he slid in and out of consciousness. The sky spread itself over him, one great expanse of blue just like an ocean. His first clear thought was that he was alive. He had to be, because he hurt so much. His shoulders and neck were filled with a dull ache and his left leg was screaming as if it had been dipped in molten lava. He blinked sand out of his eyes and tried to move, but a spike of pain pinned him to the ground.

    ‘Hey, over here!’

    He felt the heavy pounding of feet through the ground and a figure appeared in his field of vision, kneeling over him with a worried look on his face.

    ‘Cliegg, can you hear me?’

    Cliegg recognised the face but his scrambled brain couldn’t piece a name together. He opened his mouth and was surprised that his voice came out clear and strong.

    ‘I can hear you.’

    ‘Don’t try to move. You’ve been in an accident, you’ve been badly hurt, but we’re gonna take good care of you.’ He looked up and called to someone else. ‘Hey, Cassy, get over here and help me!’

    Cliegg blinked. He remembered the crash in frightening detail, remembered tumbling though the air and knowing that he was about to hurt an awful lot. He remembered seeing the speeder flip and… oh god!

    ‘Where’s Ed? Is he okay?’

    ‘Don’t worry, we’re helping him too. Just you keep still.’

    ‘Where is he?’

    ‘He’s still in the wreckage but we’ve sent for tools to get him out and for a doctor from Anchorhead. They’ll be here soon.’

    ‘Is he alright?’ Cliegg was vaguely aware that he was repeating himself but seemed unable to stop.

    The man patted his arm. ‘We’re doing everything we can for him.’

    The women named Cassy crouched down next to them and placed a pair of bags on either side of Cliegg’s neck to keep his neck stable. She helped run the next farm over from the Lars farm, which meant that the man had to be her husband Mitch. He heard them talking in soft voices but couldn’t catch any of the words.

    ‘I don’t feel so good,’ he said.

    ‘Where do you hurt?’ asked Cass.

    ‘Inside,’ said Cliegg. He saw the two moisture farmers exchange a worried glance over his head.

    ‘You’d better ride out and let Lef know what’s happened,’ said Mitch, but Cassy shook her head.

    ‘I’m staying with the boys.’

    ‘I think I’m okay,’ said Cliegg. He tried to move again but Mitch placed a firm hand on his chest.

    ‘You may have internal injuries. We’ll wait until the doc arrives.’

    ‘But what about Ed? What about…’ began Cliegg but there were coloured lights dancing in front of his eyes now. He reached up a hand to swipe them away and felt something move inside of him. A rush of nausea swept through his body and he convulsed, bringing up vomit which dribbled down his cheeks. Some of it went back down and he choked on the bitter taste. Shadows crept into the corners of his vision and he felt like he was falling.

    ‘Cliegg? Cliegg honey can you hear me?’ said Cassy. It sounded like she was calling to him from very far away. Cliegg opened his mouth to tell him he couldn’t breathe but the darkness swallowed him up again.

    *​

    This time when Cliegg fought his way to the surface of consciousness he didn’t hurt, at least nowhere near as much. He was lying in a bed staring up at a white ceiling and for a brief moment he wondered if it had all been a nightmare. Then he tried to sit up and winced as a bolt of fire raced up his leg.

    ‘Don’t try to move,’ said a voice nearby. Gredda’s face swam into view above him. Her greying hair hung in ragged disorder around her face.

    ‘Where?’ said Cliegg. This time he felt a lot more confused about where he was and what was happening.

    ‘Mos Eisely med-centre. You had internal bleeding and a broken leg and you were transferred here last night for surgery. Do you remember what happened?’

    ‘Yeah.’ Cliegg’s throat felt sore. ‘What about Ed?’

    ‘He’s here too.’ Something in his mother’s face sent a cold shiver up Cliegg’s back.

    ‘How bad is it?’

    ‘We don’t know yet.’ Gredda’s hands were shaking.

    Blackness threatened to flow over Cliegg again but he fought it off and placed his hand over Gredda’s and gave it a squeeze. She smiled back, but it was a smile of worry and fear.

    ‘Where’s dad?’

    ‘He’s back at the farm. He wanted to be here but we need to keep the place up and running.’

    ‘I’m sorry,’ he blurted.

    Gredda combed a hand through her eldest son’s hair. ‘Nobody is blaming you Cliegg. Nobody. It was an accident, it’s that simple.’

    A door opened and a man walked into the room carrying a data card, and Cliegg recognised the slim figure of Dr Coplun who had taken care of him since he was a little boy. The man was every inch a frontier doctor, his rolled up sleeves exposing his tanned and freckled skin and he wore the high boots of an eopie rider.

    ‘G’day,’ he said, nodding at Gredda and looking down at Cliegg. ‘How d’you feel?’

    ‘Sore.’

    ‘I’m not surprised, you took quite a battering.’ Dr Coplun took hold of Cliegg’s hands. ‘Do me a favour and squeeze my hands. Very good. Now push against me. Good. We had to do some minor repair on the muscles in your left arm but you should get full functionality back with a bit of physiotherapy.’

    Coplun did a full examination, shining a light into Cliegg’s eyes and checking the various bacta patches that were covering his wounds. Gredda gave him a kiss and left to spend some time with Ed.

    ‘Hey doc?’

    ‘Yeah?’

    ‘How bad is my brother?’

    Coplun pulled a chair up to the side of the bad and sat down, balancing his datapad on his knee. ‘He’s not doing so well. Ironically the fact that you were thrown clear probably saved you from much worse injuries. They had to cut Edern out of the wreckage.’

    ‘Will he get better?’

    Coplun blew air through his cheeks. ‘I really can’t say. We’ve managed to repair most of his injuries but our fear is that he suffered severe cranial trauma, which could have resulted in a brain injury. If we were in a state of the art medical facility I’d be able to tell you more but out here we just have to do the best we can with what we’ve got. I wish I could tell you more. I’ve asked a colleague in Bestine City to send us over a neural imaging scanner. Hopefully when it gets here we’ll have a better idea of what we’re dealing with.’

    Cliegg stared up at the ceiling, his eyes filling with tears. ‘It’s all my fault.’

    ‘Pish,’ said Coplun. ‘Kids younger that Ed drive speeders all the time. It was an accident.’

    ‘I should’ve been paying more attention.’

    ‘Listen kid, we could spend all our lives going over what we should have done, but it doesn’t get us anywhere. You’re alive and you’re going to recover and I haven’t given up on your brother yet, so make sure you don’t either.’

    ‘Can I see him?’

    ‘In a little while. First of all I want you to get some rest. I promise I’ll tell you if there’s any change in his condition.’

    ‘Thanks doc.’

    ‘Just doing my job.’ Coplun got to his feet and placed and hand on Cliegg’s wrist. ‘Take care kid.’

    He left the room, leaving Cliegg alone. A dull ache had stared in his leg and he closed his eyes breathing deeply. Earlier that day he’d woken up and everything had been completely normal. Somehow he had the feeling that from tomorrow nothing would be the same ever again.
     
  7. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    One can feel the drama ahead, but together with Cliegg one worries. Together with him one hopes for the best... against all odds.
     
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Whew, so glad Mitch and Cass got there in the nick of time. Serious injuries for Cliegg and even heavier sense of guilt. @};-

    I like Dr. Coplun - he's candid and compassionate. :)
     
  9. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Part III


    ‘Alright Cliegg, just take your time, there’s no rush.’

    Bracing himself, leaning heavily on the pair of crutches under his armpits, Cliegg took a tentative step. Pain shot upwards from his foot but the brace that encased his left leg meant he was able to put a tiny amount of weight on it.

    ‘That’s it, well done,’ said Coplun. He had a supportive hand on Cliegg’s arm in case he fell.

    Taking a shuddering breath, Cliegg took another few steps. The crutches cut into his oxters painfully and he could feel sweat breaking out across his face but at least he was out of bed. The past few days had been a blur to him. The shock and impact of the accident seemed to have drawn all the strength from his body. He found that he was unable to focus on anything for very long without becoming exhausted. Coplun assured him that this was a natural physiological response to trauma and Cliegg hoped he was right. He had grown up in the Tatooine outback and to suddenly feel so weak was alarming. He swayed for a moment as a wave of dizziness washed over him and felt Coplun’s grip tighten a little.

    ‘Do you want to sit down?’

    Cliegg nodded and sank gratefully onto the chair that Coplun pulled up for him. He looked back at the few metres between himself and his bed that had cost him so much effort and fought back tears.

    ‘It’ll take a while for you to feel like your old self again, but trust me you’ll get there,’ said Coplun, patting him on the shoulder. ‘Most patients who suffer your kind of injuries stay bedridden for weeks. You’re doing incredibly well.’

    ‘I’ve got something to motivate me,’ said Cliegg. He looked up at the doctor. ‘You said that if I was able to get out of bed I’d be able to go see Ed.’

    ‘Hmm, I did say that, didn’t I?’ said Coplun, rubbing his chin. ‘Perhaps we should wait a little while until you’re feeling stronger though.’

    ‘Please. I need to see him.’

    Coplun sighed. ‘All you moisture farmers are the same: stubborn as banthas. Alright, but I still want you to take your time. You’ll be doing nobody any good if you tear an internal suture.’

    Cliegg had to stop and rest several times on his way to the intensive support unit. Coplun stayed beside him the whole way, giving him words of encouragement and trying to prepare him for what he was about to see, but nothing in the galaxy could have prepared Cliegg for seeing the state his little brother was in when they reached his room.

    Ed had always been a small kid but he now looked tiny to Cliegg, cocooned in wires and tubes, lying motionless in spotless white sheets. Plasteel braces were moulded around his feet and his arms were drawn up to his chest, hands contorted outwards in an unnatural position. Around his chest was a pacer unit. Probes attached to his skin sent impulses to his phrenic nerve stimulating artificial breathing. His head was encased in a cage-like device with steel pins immobilising his head and spine, while tubes inserted into his skull helped relieve intracranial pressure. Gredda Lars sat next to her youngest son, her hand on top of his. Lef stood in the corner, as far away from the bed as possible without being outside the room.

    Coplun helped Cliegg into a seat next to the bed. Gredda put an arm around him and he sagged against her, staring at Ed’s motionless form. His brother’s eyes were closed, his face swollen and discoloured. Fluid lines containing kolto and other medicinal compounds snaked in and out of his body. An inco-pad was wrapped around his waist and his legs were propped up on pillows. Cliegg noticed that someone, probably his mother, had tied a blue ribbon around his wrist.

    ‘You can hold his hand if you’d like,’ said Gredda, rubbing his back gently.

    Reaching out, Cliegg wrapped his fingers around Ed’s inert hand. It was surprisingly warm and soft. Cliegg always used to tease Ed about his blisters, telling him he needed to toughen up. Ed’s mouth was slightly open, his breath rattling in his throat as artificial impulses from the phrenic respirator provoked his lungs to expand and contract.

    ‘He’s still on full cardiovascular life-support,’ said Coplun. ‘So far he’s not shown any signs of spontaneous breathing.’

    ‘How long could he stay like this?’ said Lef.

    ‘I can’t say. Comatose patients tend to re-emerge gradually over time. It could be a matter of days or weeks…’

    ‘Or never?’ said Lef.

    Coplun nodded. ‘I have to be honest. The longer we see no sign of improvement, the less likely he’ll recover. Hopefully now that we have the neural imaging scanner we should be able to find out more about what’s going on inside your son’s head.’

    Lef crossed his arms. ‘But there’s a good chance he’s not going to recover, isn’t there?’

    Gredda made a little hiccupping noise and pulled out a cloth to wipe her eyes. Cliegg looked up at the doctor and saw him staring straight at his father.

    ‘Yes.’

    Lef gazed at Coplun for a moment, then walked to the door and left the room. Cliegg gathered his mother into a hug, feeling her sobs more than hearing them. Ed lay unmoving, his chest rising and falling with unnatural regularity, oblivious to the drama unfolding around him. It all felt so wrong. Usually it was him who gave out cuddles to Gredda when she was upset. Cliegg rocked her back and forth, feeling his own tears prickling at the backs of his eyes. Everything felt so wrong.
     
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  10. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Excellent story. What a harsh life they have. I guess the community really has to all work together to survive. A tragedy like this will either pull a family together or destroy it. Such a harsh life Cliegg has had!
     
  11. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    A harsh life they have out there on Tatooine, but at least they have one another. And that is the most important thing I would say.
     
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  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    How incredibly touching and heart-wrenching for the whole family! You have this hope mingled with dread. @};-
     
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  13. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Thanks AzureAngel2 divapilot and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha for your kind feedback. I started out writing this for my Snippets thread but it rapidly grew into somenthing biggere when I realised just how much there was to explore with Cliegg. This is definitely a story about a tough family. Hopefully I can post the next part soon :)

    Cheers!
     
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  14. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Part IV


    They got the results of the neural imaging scan back two days later. Doctor Coplun invited the Lars family into his office, a cramped space with only enough room for a desk and a couple of chairs. Slatted windows looked out over the skyline of Mos Eisley and shadows whipped across the room as freighters and transports took off from the nearby spaceport. Coplun sat behind his desk, his hands clasped in front of him and Cliegg didn’t need to hear his voice to know that he had bad news for them.

    ‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘I’m afraid the scan results have shown massive damage throughout Ed’s brain, including the brain stem. We think that when the crash occurred his head was hit in such a way that the brain literally ricochets around inside the skull and it’s this which caused such widespread damage.’ Coplun spread his hands in a gesture of defeat. ‘I’m afraid that any meaningful recovery when faced with an injury like this is very rare.’

    ‘And very expensive?’ put in Lef.

    ‘I’m afraid so. Even with the best therapy on a core world I doubt Ed would make a great deal of progress. He’d be profoundly disabled, unable to walk or communicate. He’d require round-the-clock care. Essentially he’s in a state of permanent unconsciousness and coma. He’ll never be like he was before the accident.’

    So that was it. Cliegg sat next to his parents, unable to comprehend the doctor’s words. Ed couldn’t be gone. It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be. There had to be something, some treatment they hadn’t tried. His mind was full of noise like howling wind.

    Lef was speaking again. ‘So where do we go from here?’

    ‘We have funding to keep him in this facility,’ said Coplun. ‘Our paediatric care unit has been the recipient of a number of generous donations from local businesses. However now that we need to know what we’re dealing with we have to consider what’s best for Ed.’

    ‘What do you mean, what’s best for him?’ snapped Gredda. Lef’s hand moved and gripped her wrist.

    ‘He means we have to think about what Ed would want,’ he said in a quiet voice.

    Gredda shook her head, and Cliegg realised she had the same internal storm raging inside her as himself. Only Lef appeared calm. Cliegg never had any idea what was going on inside his father’s head.

    ‘I know this is something you’ll need to talk about as a family. There’s no need to come to a decision right away.’

    ‘Thank you doctor.’ Gredda sat stiffly in her chair, eyes drilling into her husband. ‘Could we use your office for a moment?’

    ‘Of course. Take as much time as you need.’

    Gredda waited until Coplun had left the room before rising to her feet and crossing to the window. Lef sat with his head bowed, staring at his knees. ‘I’m just trying to be realistic Gredda. We can’t afford the kind of therapy…’

    ‘I don’t want to hear it,’ snapped Gredda. ‘I know we don’t have the money and I don’t care. I’m not losing my son.’

    Lef got to his feet and walked up behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. ‘We have to think about what’s best for Ed. He wouldn’t want to live like this.’

    ‘You don’t know that.’

    ‘I do know that and deep down so do you. We have to do what’s right for him.’ he looked over his shoulder at Cliegg. ‘What’s right for all of us.’

    Turning around Gredda buried herself in his chest. Lef rested his chin on top of her head, his eyes staring at nothing, face expressionless. Cliegg gazed at the floor, the storm inside of his head was deafening now. It screamed at him in his own voice.

    This is all your fault. This is all your fault. You killed your brother.

    ‘I can’t do it Lef. I can’t just let him go,’ said Gredda. ‘Don’t make me do it.’

    ‘Alright. We don’t have to think about this right now. Why don’t you come and get something to eat? When was the last time you had a decent meal?’

    ‘Ages ago,’ she said, wiping her eyes. ‘I think I’m going to go and sit with Ed for a while first.’

    ‘Alright.’

    Gredda wiped her eyes and left the room, walking unsteadily, leaving Cliegg and his father alone. Lef stood framed in the light filtering through the window slats, staring out at the bustling town, his hands held loosely by his sides, as if frozen in place. Slowly Cliegg got to his feet and, using his crutches to support himself, left the room.
     
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= =D= =D= Heart-tugging and no easy choice for any of them :( ... Poor Gredda - bless her :* and Lef - you know darn well he is tearing himself up wishing he could solve this [face_thinking] and Cliegg - he's carrying the heaviest burden of all - guilt.

    @};-
     
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  16. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Guilt is always the heaviest wound a person can carry around. :(
     
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  17. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    First off, congrats on your nominations for this story. Second, now that I've read it I know why you got them!

    This is, as always, extremely well - written and subtle. We learn a lot about the life of a moisture farmer family even though you don't describe it in detail, we learn a lot about the personalities of and the relationships between the Larses...

    We've been missing you here on the boards, and now I hope you come back to continue this story (and a few others!)
     
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  18. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Yeah, congrats! [:D]

    And thanks for the latest update. It shows that the people around a person that is chronically ill have extreme trouble to make the right decision. Even if an advance decision exists.
     
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  19. Findswoman

    Findswoman Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    What a powerful story! I love stories that explore the "regular people" of the GFFA and the hardships, struggles, and challenges that they face right there alongside the epic, galaxy-wide struggles of the Saga. You've really done a fantastic job fleshing out this established tidbit about Cliegg's past, and given how little has been established about this group of characters you've done wonders with the characterization. It's intriguing think that the stolid, matter-of-fact Cliegg and Owen Lars had someone like Edern in their family—a dreamy, slightly lazy, head-in-the-clouds type with a romantic streak (who was it he wanted to meet up with in town? We never learn). For some reason that makes his death all the more tragic to me; he kind of brought balance to the family, in a way, and if he had lived, I think he would have gotten on very well with Anakin.

    All the characters' feelings and reactions to Edern's injury and coma are portrayed very believably and understandably: Cliegg's self-blame, Gredda's insistence that there must be some other way (even though there isn't), and Lef's resignation. And I am guessing that a lot of your own experience reflected in the story here, as this is probably a situation you encounter often in your own line of work—and that kind of thing adds so, so much to a story. (It's why I enjoyed The Broken Boy and the Blind Master so much, too.)

    It looks like the story isn't finished yet, and of course I would love to see more whenever you're able. Bravissimo on this moving and heartfelt piece! =D=
     
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  20. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    The rest of the story has been so painful. The rescuers did their job great, so did the doctor, but this won't mean much for Gredda, Lef and especially not Cliegg. I have seen people having to decide if their pets will be cured because it's expensive, but a family member?

    One can tell that each of the family members is taking this differently - Lef sees nothingness, Gredda sees hope and Cliegg is consumed by guilt. Conflicting emotions - you're staying true to your, how to call it, neo-realism vibe.

    What else is scary is the possibility of Cliegg actually being at fault to a certain extent - what happens to him later in life comes back to haunt him. Is that why Owen gets so thoughtful at the beginning of the story?

    Either way, a perfect piece! =D=
     
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  21. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Thanks you WarmNyota_SweetAyesha AzureAngel2 Chyntuck Findswoman and Ewok Poet for your lovely comments and feedback and sorry it has taken so long to get back to some of you, I've been away for longer than I intended.

    I love writing about the "forgotten stories" of Star Wars, and Cliegg has been so interesting to explore. This whole story literally comes from a single sentence in the novelisation of AotC.

    There is a final part still to be uploaded which explores more about the family's reaction to the situation, as well as answering the question of who Ed was so keen to meet up with. It was never posted because there were aspects of it I wasn't satisfied with, specifically one scene which I felt didn't ring true at all with Cliegg and Lef. I'm going to have a look over it and see if I can solve the problem so that the story finally has a conclusion. As you say I have know many families in these situations. I would love to finish The Broken Boy and the Blind Master but I hit a bit of a brick wall with that and haven't been able to climb over or tunnel around it yet.

    As quite a few people have said, this is a story about guilt, and yes, Cliegg shares some of the fault for the family's situation, but I've fond most people regardless of circumstance will find a way to take blame on themselves, especially at Cliegg's age. As you say, each family member reacts to Ed's injury in a different way, but they all feel guilty to some extent.

    Again, thanks so much to all of you for the kind feedback! I will try to get the final part posted soon.
     
  22. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Take you time, mate. Darth RL has a lot in stock for most of us these days. [face_good_luck]
     
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  23. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Sorry for the delay in updating this story, I am determined to finish off some of my current stories before getting my teeth into something new. All I can say it this story will definitely have an ending by the end of the week, and hopefully I will get around to finishing some others as well if I have the time.

    Part V


    The Lars homestead felt different somehow to Cliegg when he got home two days later. Nothing had changed, and yet nothing was the same. It took quite a long time for him to get down the steps from the domed entrance to the inner compound. He had to take each step one at a time, carefully placing his crutches on the step below, stepping down with his good leg and bringing his broken leg alongside. When he finally reached the base of the sink-hole he felt exhausted, as if he had run the perimeter of the farm. His mother helped settle him in Ed’s room, which had fewer steps leading up to it than the loft bedroom that Cliegg had occupied since he was little.

    Cliegg sat on Ed’s tiny cot, looking up at the pictures tacked on the walls of starfighters and the cheap models hanging from the roof. Like him Ed was a dreamer, but while Cliegg hankered after the ocean, Ed longed for the velvety blackness of space. It was impossible to believe that he would never again sleep in his bed or trail into the dining area in his pyjamas, late for school for the hundredth time. The quietness of the compound spooked him. It felt unnatural. Oppressive.

    Gredda and Lef hadn’t spoken during the whole trip back to the homestead. They had borrowed a speeder from Mitch and Cass in order to get Cliegg home. As soon as they arrived Lef had gone out to check on the vaporators, leaving his wife and son alone. Cliegg could hear his mother bustling about in the kitchen, banging pots and pans and obsessively tidying to cover up the absence of her youngest son.

    There had been no further discussion on the matter of Ed’s future. Cliegg didn’t like to think about it, much less talk about it, and he realised his parents weren’t interested in his input anyway. And why should they be? He was the cause of it all. His leg twanged with pain. Cliegg lay back on the bed and closed his eyes. The quilt cover had been patched together for Ed two years ago on his birthday and Cliegg wrapped it around himself, running his fingertips over the soft material. His brother’s smell filled his nostrils. Cliegg felt like he wanted to cry but he had shed so many tears over the past few days there didn’t seem to be anything left.

    He heard footsteps outside and quickly sat up. Gredda stepped through the low doorway, drying her hands on her apron. Her face, once so prone to smiling, now simply looked old and worn.

    ‘Hey there,’ she said, coming to sit next to him. She looked around. ‘How come that boy can never keep his room tidy?’

    Cliegg shrugged. ‘Dunno. I guess it’s just part of being a kid.’

    ‘He is such a kid, isn’t he?’ said Gredda. She laced her fingers into Cliegg’s. ‘I can’t imagine how difficult this has been for you. I’m afraid your father and I have been so focussed on Ed we’ve been ignoring you.’

    ‘You haven’t ignored me.’

    ‘No, but we haven’t been there for you enough. Your father tries, he tries very hard, but he’s not used to letting his emotions out. He’s worried about you.’

    Cliegg was taken aback. There seemed to be far more important things for his father to worry about at the moment. Gredda seemed to sense his train of thought.

    ‘Nothing is more important to us than you and Ed. Not the farm, not anything. We know you’ve been blaming yourself for what happened.’

    ‘It was my fault. I let him drive the speeder.’

    Gredda pulled him in close and, despite his age, he let her hold him. ‘I know you want to blame yourself. I feel the same way, and so does your father even if he doesn’t show it. We’ve all found ways to blame ourselves for what happened, because when we get angry it’s always easier to have something to be angry at. But we can’t change what happened, we just have to stick together the way we’ve always done and hope for the best.’

    Cliegg held on tight to his mother, aware that this was probably the most open and honest she had ever been with him, and he felt some of the weight that had accumulated on his shoulders slip away. Not much, but enough.

    The sound of the comm unit came floating through the air. Gredda got to her feet. ‘That’s probably Mitch looking for his speeder back.’ She walked down the steps and headed towards the dining hall. Hauling himself to his feet, Cliegg followed slowly, not wanting to be left alone in Ed’s room right now. They found Lef was standing in the dining room leaning over the comm unit, staring at the blank screen.

    ‘Was it Mitch?’

    ‘No.’ Lef looked up at them. ‘It was the med-centre.’

    Gredda froze and Cliegg sensed her whole body go immediately tense. Lef walked to her and gathered her up in his arms. She collapsed against him, sobbing uncontrollably, her moans echoing around the compound. Cliegg felt a numbness creep though his body. Lef clutched his wife close, rocking her back and forth and whispered in her ear.

    ‘It was very quick. His heart just stopped. He wasn’t in any pain.’

    ‘No!’ She pushed him away but Lef held on with grim strength.

    ‘It’s over. He’s not hurting anymore.’
     
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I have no words @gaarastar58 which does not happen very much. @};- Thank you so much for posting this poignant wonderful update, very realistic and heart-tugging! @};- =D= [:D] =D=
     
  25. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    :_| :_| :_|

    This was, once again, very touching, but what I appreciated most in this chapter is how you portrayed Lef (through the eyes of his wife) as very similar to the person Cliegg will become as he grows older – the gruff moisture farmer who isn't good at expressing his feelings, but who has very deep feelings regardless.

    Oh, and the end of the week came and went, so I'm hoping we'll read the end of this story soon!