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Sand, Sky and Iron (The Afterlife Remix)

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Anakin dies in Luke’s arms, and he expects to be delivered directly into the gaping maw of hell or wherever it is that will offer a severe enough punishment for his crimes.

Instead, he finds himself in cradled in the arms of the Force, some distance above the surface of the forest moon and watching Luke as he stands in front of Anakin’s own funeral pyre. He isn’t entirely sure what’s happening to him, only knows that very few people get to watch their own bodies as they flame up into smoke and carbon, so he decides to think about where he is instead. He thinks back-- the Death Star had been stationed above Endor, hadn't it?

Endor is an odd place, really, like a toy version of Kashyyyk. It’s been a long time since he was on Kashyyk, Anakin thinks, looking up at the canopy and remembering the vastness of the trees there, physically and in the Force, huge in the way that only very old things can be.

He’d liked the Wookiees, and Anakin is struck suddenly by sadness at the thought that they would not welcome him if he did somehow end up there now: he had personally made sure that the great forest planet and its inhabitants had been among those who suffered most under the Empire, as a punishment for continued Wookiee insurgency long after it was convenient for Palpatine's administration. He feels sadness, a great deal of it, and remorse, for the person he has been

There is a voice at his shoulder: ‘It’s good to see you again, Anakin.’ Anakin turns, and sees that it’s Obi-Wan, standing beside him for the first time in so many years-- as he should be, Anakin thinks with a ferocity he’s been barely awake enough to feel for equally as long. He looks down, and realises with some surprise that he appears to have a body now-- a slightly translucent blue one, but clothed in Jedi robes and wholer than he has known for quite some time-- and also that the scene has changed.

Where before there had been the Luke, silhouetted against the flames of the pyre, it now appears that the Rebel forces and the Ewoks now are having a party, bottles of bootleg liquor and exhausted laughter strewn around the forest. Luke is nowhere to be seen, but his daughter is in the crowd somewhere; he thinks he can feel her presence in the Force not far off, like her brother’s, a bright enough light to drown out the stars.

Anakin nods, and turns to look at Obi-Wan. He is also somewhat translucent, but he looks younger than he had when Vader had killed him. Anakin suppresses a shudder and presses this new, nauseating degree of remorse down underneath the feeling of how glad he is to see Obi-Wan again. ‘You too, Master. It’s been too long.’

Obi-Wan puts a hand on his shoulder and looks at him fondly. ‘Indeed it has. Death has been very dull without you around,’ he says. ‘But you needn’t call me Master. You’ve been long past that for at least twenty years by now, and we’re both far too old.’

‘I doubt that, Obi-Wan,’ Anakin says. ‘You seem to have been quite busy enough helping Luke.’

‘He is hardly as much of a handful as you were,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘I haven’t had to discipline him for illegal street racing even once, and I believe that he meditates of his own accord now.’

‘Padmé’s influence, no doubt,’ says Anakin, watching for his son through the crowd. The boy will have to leave his funeral pyre eventually. He’d thought he’d been able to see a sandy blond head only a second ago, but it’s gone now.

‘Perhaps,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘But he’s very much like you as well.’

Anakin sees, or rather, remembers, sand, and the near-blinding flash of sunlight off the surface of an oasis, and the golden hair and laugh of his son.

‘Desert children,’ he says vaguely, wondering where the image came from. But the words sound true, and Obi-Wan nods.

‘Tatooine is a far better teacher than I,’ he says. ‘He children are as strong and fair as anyone could hope.’

‘She wasn’t for me,’ says Anakin. ‘The desert was harsh, and she took what she wanted. That’s no way to teach.’

‘Maybe,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘It isn’t how I would do it. But you know that.’

Anakin nods, smiling. ‘I know that.’

‘Still, you said she was a harsh teacher and not that you didn’t learn.’

‘I had no choice but to learn,’ Anakin says. ‘From that perspective, she was the best teacher of all.’

‘You had a choice of what to learn,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘If the desert was harsh and incapable of feeling or kindness, did you also learn to be harsh and unfeeling and unkind?’

‘Yes,’ says Anakin. And he feels once more a great wave of guilt, crashing over him like water on the seashore. All this remorse is a strange thing, like waking up after long, terrible sleep. His mind feels the the gaping maw of a cave in the desert, newly exposed the the shifting of the sands and and a hideous, dangerous thing, unknown and unknowable.

‘That isn’t true,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘You would never have been half so dangerous if you didn’t care.’

‘You’ve always said that,’ says Anakin, ‘and I still don’t understand it.’

‘I know,’ Obi-Wan says. ‘I know you’ve never understood it. I think you’ve misunderstood me for a long time. And perhaps I was misguided myself. But you have to know yourself well enough to know that love like yours is always a double edged sword, one that has cut down too many of the things you hold dear to ignore like this.’

‘As if you can say any differently!’ says Anakin. But he can still smell the burning flesh of the Tusken Raiders as he cut them down around his mother’s corpse, can see the broken bodies of children on the floors of the Jedi temple, Padmé’s crumpled body as his feet on Mustafar, any number of the unnameable atrocities he committed under Palpatine.

‘Of course I can’t,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘But we were never as lacking in commonality as you seemed to think we were.’

‘I don’t know about that,’ Anakin says. ‘You’re far more patient than I’ll ever be. And you have much more control.’

‘Those can be taught.’ Obi-Wan smiles. ‘As you might recall, I spent a not-inconsiderable portion of my life trying to do just that for you.’

‘And, apparently, failing,’ Anakin says, and he does mean it to bite, just a little. ‘Given how all this has ended up.’

‘Well, we have nothing but time now.’

‘I’m sure we’ll need it,’ Anakin says, and tries for a lopsided smile.

‘Surely not,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘I thought you were a fast learner.’

Obi-Wan opens his arms, and Anakin steps into them, and they embrace as easily as if it’s been a week since their last proper meeting, as friends and brothers-in-all-things and not as enemies, and not more than twenty years.

‘Now, come on,’ Obi-Wan says, when they break apart, ‘I have someone I think you’ll like to meet again.’

 

&&&

 

This time they’re standing by Old Ben’s hut on Tatooine. The desert is as relentless and uncaring as ever; the structure itself is already half buried in sand, its furnishings either stripped away by scavengers or in a bleached state of decay.

Obi-Wan is looking at the dwelling with an unfamiliar expression on his face, and so Anakin doesn’t say anything, just lets the silence stretch into the heat until someone is willing to break it. These days they have, after all, nothing in the galaxy but time.

‘I didn’t much like this place,’ says Obi-Wan, after long enough that the sun has moved noticeably in the sky.

‘But you hid here,’ Anakin says. Obi-Wan, he thinks, will understand the implied from me and the why that he can’t bring himself to tack onto the end of this sentence.

‘Of course,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘It was the first place anyone would think of, and therefore the last anyone would actually expect. Besides--’

‘I hated Tatooine,’ Anakin finishes. ‘So much that I would not have come here if I had even the slightest amount of choice about it.’

‘Exactly,’ says Obi-Wan, and the he pauses, looking thoughtful. Anakin doesn’t interrupt him. ‘Just before, I said I didn’t much like it here, but I think I loved it by the end. Or at least parts of it.’

‘I can’t imagine how,’ says Anakin, not really thinking about what he’s saying.

‘The stars,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘The sky is always so clear, even compared to Chandrila or-- Alderaan. The dunes are beautiful in their way. And I came to appreciate the simplicity necessary to living somewhere even water is so hard to come by.’

They’re both silent for some time. Anakin doesn’t know if it is death that has brought this new tolerance for stillness or simply the enjoyment of being able to breathe and move freely as he could not for so long, but he has never welcomed peace like this before, and nor has it ever come to him so willingly. Obi-Wan has barely had to teach him patience at all. Or perhaps that work was done already when they both numbered among the living, and he had only needed to reach the right frame of mind to feel it. 

‘It’s almost like the desert is a part of me,’ says Anakin at some point, trying to explain the feeling pressing its way up under the surface of his skin. ‘It’s hard to love something in that way when it feels mostly like a limb or a part of your face.’

‘Funny,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘I never much found anything I loved about Coruscant, but Force knows I missed her when I found myself in unexpected exile.’

‘It was home,’ says Anakin. ‘Coruscant is different now. I miss her too.’

‘You did always love the city,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘Do you remember how much I used to struggle getting you into bed when you first arrived with the Jedi, because all you wanted to do was sit up all night and watch the lights of the hovercars flash by outside of your bedroom window?’

‘Yes,’ says Anakin, and he smiles. ‘You know--’

And they’re off, conversation flowing between them as easily as it always has. Night falls on the desert, and the two of them are still talking. Ghostly bodies, apparently, don’t overheat or freeze as real bodies do, and nor do they tire of standing. Then there is a silence that stretches on into the air, long after either of them had the opportunity to break it.

‘I killed you,’ Anakin says into the night. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘It was time,’ Obi-Wan replies. ‘I made my peace with it a long time ago.’

‘I’m still sorry,’ Anakin says. ‘For everything.’

‘I know,’ says Obi-Wan, then he smiles, an expression which is mostly hidden by his beard. ‘And your apologies are still quite lacklustre, you realise. You did only destroy the Jedi, oppress most of the known galaxy for a good twenty years, and kill your dear old mentor, but I still think it warrants a bit more grovelling than a simple “I’m sorry.”’

Anakin laughs. ‘I don’t know why you’ve forgiven me,’ he says.

‘Oh, Anakin,’ Obi-Wan says, his whole ghostly body taking on the quality of a sigh. ‘As if there was any way at all that I couldn’t.’

‘You shouldn’t say things like that,’ says Anakin.

‘Why not?’ asks Obi-Wan.

‘You make it sound like it’s so easy to forgive me,’ Anakin replies. ‘Like everything I did when I was Darth Vader was nothing.’

‘When did I say it was easy?’ Obi-Wan says. ‘I grappled with my own conscience for years, still loving you but working to destroy whatever it was that you’d become.’

‘I didn’t know,’ says Anakin.

They’re both quiet again. The stars and moon are full in the sky, and the sand is pale blue beneath them, stretched out like an undulating carpet as far as the eye can see.

‘Also,’ says Anakin, breaking the silence after only a short while, ‘when did you learn to start talking about your feelings?’

‘Well,’ Obi-Wan replies, ‘I died, and then I realised I had nothing anymore to lose. So from a certain point of view you have yourself to thank.’

Anakin rolls his eyes and disappears into the desert air like he’d never existed there in the first place. Obi-Wan follows shortly after, chuckling to himself.

 

&&&

 

Time passes. Luke grows older, Leia has a child somehow in all the bustle of rebuilding, and the new Republic finds its feet amongst the wreckages of the Empire. Also, the very first green shoots of a new Jedi Order force their way into life on Luke’s new mid-rim temple. Anakin watches.

He first appears to his son almost a decade after the battle of Endor, when Luke is on Naboo for some business with his new Jedi. He isn’t staying in Theed itself, but instead in one of the estates on the outskirts of the city. According to reports found amongst the belongings of one of the late Queen Apailana’s retinue, there had been Jedi fugitives given shelter on planet after the Clone Wars.

Anakin isn’t quite sure what Luke is hoping to get out of this trip aside from a new bundle of other people's tragedies to set themselves on his shoulders-- Anakin knows that none of the Jedi on Naboo had survived to see the fall of the Empire-- but he’s glad nonetheless that he will at last get to see Padmé’s home planet for himself even if the trip does come to nothing else.

In the very early morning, Luke is standing at the window of the in the dining room of the house, looking out over the garden, and away over the rolling green country that stretches to the very first inklings of a sunset on the horizon. Anakin materialises at the other end of the room, wondering how to make his presence known, when Luke speaks to him.

‘Hello, father,’ he says, without turning around. ‘Obi-Wan told me to expect you.’

‘Hello,’ says Anakin, struck quiet for a moment. ‘You do realise that doesn’t really explain how you knew I was there without seeing me, don’t you? It’s not like ghosts make any noise when we appear.'

‘I was concentrating quite deep in the Force, just now,’ says Luke, gesturing around himself. ‘You have a very distinct presence, even if your death seems to have muted my perception of it somewhat.’

Anakin feels a swell of pride for his son’s abilities. ‘That’s interesting,’ he says, instead of something far more revealing. ‘I had wondered to Obi-Wan what effect being pure spirit would have on our presence in the Force in the more physical realms, but he didn’t know any more than I did.’

‘No?’ says Luke. ‘Hmm. Can’t imagine there’s much information out there.’

‘So why are you on Naboo?’ Anakin asks him, although he already knows.

‘Tracing some information I had about Jedi who hid here during the Empire,’ Luke says, then he's quiet for a moment. 'They’re dead,’ he continues. ‘But you knew that already, didn’t you?’

His voice is very measured, but Anakin can hear the anger and the hurt behind his calm facade.

Anakin nods. ‘I did. And I’m sorry for it now. I was sorry for it then; some of those Jedi were my friends, and all were my brothers and sisters.’

‘Then why did you do it?’ asks Luke, sounding very close to horrified.

‘Because I was angry. And I thought I was right, about the dark side of the Force, and about the Emperor’s vision for the galaxy. It is a failing of mine, perhaps, that I was always quite willing to do other people’s dirty work, if I thought it needed to be done. Even as a Jedi my hands weren’t exactly clean.’

‘But you were a hero,’ Luke says. ‘Everyone who knows about Anakin Skywalker says that.’

‘I know I wanted to be one,’ says Anakin. ‘And maybe I was. But it came at a cost; maybe one I shouldn’t have paid.’

Luke nods. ‘Tell me about the Jedi who died here,’ he says a few seconds later. ‘And tell me why the last Jedi Order fell.’

Anakin looks him in the eye, and holds his gaze for several long moments. He can see the brightness of the sky behind Luke’s eyes and the hard-won steel of the years in his jaw.

‘Very well,’ Anakin says. ‘If you tell me about you sister in return.’

Luke looks at him in askance, and Anakin shrugs. ‘Somehow I don’t think she’d welcome a visit like this from me,’ he says.

‘She wouldn’t,’ Luke tells him, and Anakin is impressed by his forthrightness. ‘And she wouldn’t really want me to tell you about her either, but I think I could at least give you a vague update on what’s happening in the Organa-Solo household these days without her being able to raise too strong an objection.’

Anakin nods. ‘Thank you,’ he says. ‘I know that she and Han have had a child, but not much beyond that.’

‘Yes,’ Luke says, smiling. ‘Ben. I’m surprised Obi-Wan didn’t tell you they’d named their kid after him, but maybe he didn’t want to boast. Or maybe he thought Han’s father was called Ben or something and he didn’t want to say anything lest he’d misinterpreted.’

Anakin laughs, and Luke smiles back at him.

‘He’s still very young, but he’s powerful in the Force. Leia is frightened, I think. She’s worried she won’t be able to help him, and she’s worried that he’s too angry, even now. Too much like her, but she tells me she’s worried he’s too much like you.’

Anakin shifts from one foot to another, not quite sure what to say.

‘I tell her not to worry,’ says Luke. ‘He’s still only five, and I’ve yet to meet a five year old who didn’t have the odd, or even frequent, temper tantrums, but it doesn’t seem to make an impression. And maybe she’s right, but I can barely train adults in the Force, so goodness only knows what I’d do with a five year old.’

‘I think you’re doing fine,’ says Anakin. ‘Even the old Jedi never found training easy or uncomplicated, and Force knows they had enough rituals for it. I think your way would have suited me better, at least.’

‘Really?’ says Luke. ‘Well that’s something, at least.’ He runs a hand through his hair, and gestures to the dining table. ‘So do you want to sit? I think your stories might drag on longer than mine.’

Anakin nods, and sets his jaw. ‘Sure,’ he says.

 

&&&

 

Years later, they’re at the site of the first Jedi temple on Ahch-To. There is a larger continent somewhere to planetary north, but this part of Ahch-To is all fog and dark, shifting seascapes, tiny islands jutting out of the waves and iron sand beaches.

He and Obi-Wan are standing on an outcropping of rock some distance away from Luke’s home. They visit him sometimes, but the girl from the desert has arrived only recently and they have decided to stay back for the time being.

She-- Rey, is down on the beach, staring out to the sea and the sky with an expression on her face belying emotion that Anakin can almost feel reflected in his own heart. Luke is in the house, probably meditating, as is his wont for this time of night. Then the door opens, and Luke walks out as well, following her down the carved out steps down the cliffs.

‘There was a dream I had once,’ says Anakin.

‘Yes?’ says Obi-Wan, smiling at him. ‘I seem to recall you having quite a few.’

‘This one was… different,’ Anakin replies. ‘It didn’t involve anyone I love dying horribly.’

Obi-Wan is still smiling. ‘Shocking, really.’

‘I think I met Luke and Rey,’ Anakin continues. ‘There was a desert-- not Tatooine, and the Force was gone. It was just them, and the desert, and they said the Jedi were dead. And then I woke up on Naboo next to Padmé and I think I forgot all about it until now.’

‘Was that--?’

‘It was just before my mother died.’ Before I killed the people who killed her, Anakin thinks. Before I knew what that kind of slaughter felt like.

‘Yes.’ Obi-Wan is quiet for a moment. ‘The Force can have a strange way of telling us what we need to know, even far before we need to know it,’ he says, eventually.

‘Perhaps,’ says Anakin.

‘You could talk to them, you know,’ says Obi-Wan. ‘I think you’d understand each other.’

‘We do,’ says Anakin. ‘I mean-- we did.’

‘Well that settles it then,’ Obi-Wan says, looking pleased. ‘They’ll both be near the beach by now, you can talk to them together.’

‘Now?’ asks Anakin. He never thought he’d see the day it was Obi-Wan telling him to do something and his own instincts trying to let him know to be cautious.

‘Yes.’ He smiles.

Anakin vanishes.

 

&&&

 

He reappears on the bottom step of the path down to the beach, Rey on the sand in front of him, and he knows Luke is behind him, further up the cliff.

The desert is a strange common tongue, but it is one they all speak. Rey looks at Anakin, recognition in her gaze, and he sees that her eyes are flinty and sharp like scrap metal buried beneath the sand. She looks out to the ocean, feet and hands buried in the sand, and Anakin knows what she means. It's a long way from the desert, here. Look how far they've all come. Look at what is still ahead. With the sea lapping at the sand, it seems very far away, for all that the first battles of this new war were fought months ago now and by rights they should be preparing for more to come.

Anakin and Luke look with her, and then up to the stars, absolute and distant.

‘Once I had a dream,’ Anakin says.

‘We all had dreams,’ Rey replies. His eyes must still look as hungry and burning as they had in life if she assumes he’s talking about something he’d desired.

He shakes his head. ‘Not like that. Not a dream an aspiration, a dream a night-time vision.’

‘I know the dream you mean,’ Rey says.

‘I dreamt of the desert, unending and unafraid.’ He can see it now, sand and sky and three children standing by the water of an oasis.

‘I know the dream you mean,’ Rey repeats.

‘As do I,’ said Luke, standing higher up in the staircase.

Rey looks at them, and Anakin nods.

‘I don't know when your dreams happened, but mine happened on Naboo. I had not been to Tatooine in ten years at that point and when I returned my mother was dead. I slaughtered all those responsible.’ He stares straight into Rey's eyes, asks her to make something of this if she dare. ‘I suppose that was the first step I took on the road to being Darth Vader.’

Luke lays a comforting hand on his shoulder, and Anakin leans into it, closes his eyes.

‘Did you really expect the Force to be kind?’ Relentless, this girl, Anakin thinks. Jakku must have taught her well. ‘Does the desert care about the grain of sand? Does the ocean care about the wave? Does the night sky care about the star? No. Why then should the Force care for any individual life?’

It’s Rey who is speaking, but it’s as if Anakin knows the words even as they fall from her mouth. ‘Some are brighter or best beloved or chosen, but in the end the storm comes, the dawn rises and the wave must break.’

She stands, and walks to the water’s edge, now appearing taller and older than what Anakin had first taken her for. He and Luke are silent. They stand together, watching. The waves continue to lap on the beach, a new constant for all of them.

‘The Force will do what must be done. It comes for us because we are desert children. Harsh is not the same as cruel.’

Now finished, she looks young again, and Anakin is struck with the same pride he can feel fairly radiating from his son.

‘Fire is nothing if you cannot control it,’ Anakin says, ‘and steel is nothing without fire for tempering.’

‘And all of that can erode with long enough spent in the sand,’ Luke continues. ‘But I think you know this.’

Rey turns to face them, and nods, her face set. ‘I’m ready.’

 

&&&

 

Anakin did not realise that spirits could dream, but soon after the meeting of the three of them on the beach, dream he does. He dreams of himself, on Tatooine as a child, born and raised on the rolling, wind-scoured dunes of sand in the palm of her hand, among her dull, weathered people and under the unforgiving light of her brothers, Tatooine’s twin suns.

He dreams of himself, but he does not dream as himself-- it is as if he’s watching his early years through the eyes of some creature far older and perhaps far wiser and perhaps simply far stranger than himself.

He sees the boy that he was, dreaming of water-- of wells and reservoirs that don’t run dry, of the cave-oases in Jawa myth, of the baths it is rumoured Jabba the Hutt maintains in his palace. Of the streams and rivers and waterfalls spacers in Mos Espa sometimes talk about, and even the oceans, which he imagines to be much like the vast expanses of dune outside the city, only greater and a deeper blue than the sky, without the sand or the Hutts. Anakin dreams also of podracing, and mechanics, and of someday winning freedom for himself and his mother, and of finally leaving Tatooine, and of the infinite emptiness of space.

Often he dreams about all of these things at once, and he thinks that this means he cannot belong to the desert as fully as she wants him to, that he cannot be only a child of sand and grit and the struggle to survive, but also of something beautiful. He forgets, of course, that even in the desert flowers grow, and that although she is a tyrant, it does not mean the desert does not treasure her her own in whichever odd ways she can: Anakin grows hardy and strong, with a bright smile and a brighter light in the Force.

The desert-- for it is the desert whose dream he has become part of somehow-- watches him, and she smiles, caresses his cheek with her rough, hot fingers, and when Anakin is nine, she bids him farewell. She is sure, in the same way that Anakin is sure that it is time for him to go, that it will not be forever. And besides, the desert has taught him well in her ways-- the boy loves as fierce as a sandstorm and twice as ruthless, burns bright as two suns in the Force, and possesses a capacity for gentleness as deep and unbreachable as her hidden reserves of water. She only wishes she could have taught him her stillness as well, but humans are ever impatient creatures and there is at least a decent chance it will not be his undoing.

The thought fades, and he sees Luke now as the baby he was when Obi-Wan brought him to Tatooine, then as the child of Owen and Beru Lars, then as the soft-haired teenager Anakin can still see behind the man he has become. Anakin feels the desert wind brush through his hair, hot and full of dust.

The desert herself isn’t any kinder to him than she was to Anakin-- she doesn’t understand kindness any more than she understands plenty of anything but sand and sky-- but others are, and Luke takes living on Tatooine far better than Anakin ever had. Luke dreams too of the ocean, and of mechanics and flying and one day leaving Tatooine, but also of the Jedi and their swords of light, myth and superstition woven into the fabric of the dreams as if it were truth. There is a shadow over Luke’s desert, cast by something very far off but no less dangerous for it. Anakin breathes, and the shadow breathes with him, but Luke doesn’t seem to see a thing. He grows, and still the shadow breathes, casting itself far wider across the galaxy than any would have thought possible, tearing root from earth and child from family and hope from anyone brave or reckless enough to carry it. Even Tatooine, very far out towards the edges of the known galaxy and left more or less alone by the grace of some strange power of emptiness, is not left untouched, and Luke’s life on his aunt and uncle’s moisture farm is not without hardship.

But still, Luke’s restlessness is all internal, frustrations with the smallness of his life and not with abject difficulty of circumstance, and the desert and Anakin both smile to see him grow, resilient and bright as his father before him, and gentler, like his mother or Tatooine’s soft nor’easterly wind. He leaves the desert in a southerly wind of grief and change, and she whispers with the loss, and releases him as gladly as she ever could.

The images fade again, and he sees Rey as she is cast away from her parents under the unfaltering light of the Jakku sun. Jakku is not Tatooine is not Jakku, but the desert is the same wherever in the galaxy it happens to be found, and she takes Rey and places her in the very centre of her hand, with all the best and the worst of the desert to her left and right and above and below. The desert teaches her survival: how to find food and water, how to fight for it, how long it is possible to go without it, and Rey takes to it exactly how one would expect for a child who has found her life depending on it.

When she can, she dreams as well. In her dreams her parents return for her, and they leave Jakku, and there’s water and food and laughter as much as she could wish. Outside of this, she does not allow herself to imagine, though the desert encourages her dreaming in subtle ways. The great broken ships, their cargos of death and junk and occasionally wonder, become as a new world to her, offering new stories and skills and an opportunity to trade scrap for more food than Rey is getting from anywhere else.

Next Anakin sees her in the hulk of a downed star destroyer, carving out a home for herself in the cabin, fashioning a life for herself from the wreckages of Anakin's wars. In her teens, she helps some other children repair a ship for leaving, and the desert watches as she watches that same ship fly off into the atmosphere. The desert feels her rage, and her regret, and then her forgiveness, and the desert smiles. 

Only a scant few years later, war marches once again on Jakku's surface. The heavy boots of stormtroopers hit the sand, and a village burns with the earth beneath it now scarred.  It is then that the desert sends her off, Rey, this child of dust and alloy, and hopes to see her again victorious. It is always a risk, Anakin hears, but the desert does not teach as she does for no ends. If there is something that needs doing there must be someone to do it, but there is only ever hope it will be done right, says the desert. And so Rey is called as Anakin and Luke were before her. 

Now everything disappears at once, and when Anakin awakes, he is alone in the deserts of Tatooine, the sun nearly at its zenith over the great wastes, the shadows of stones and rocks directly underneath them, giving the earth a false impression of flatness.

He bows his head, and gives thanks.