It started with a song.
A simple melody that disappeared from her mind when she opened her eyes, heart pounding with loss. Something so important, so achingly beautiful and delicate, and now it was gone. Not gone like the Starkiller base exploding, not gone like a Jakku sunset, but the kind of gone where you still feel the warmth on the pillow next to you if you reach out your hand.
She reached out her hand. She was alone in her bunk, alone in her quarters. A small porthole high on the wall let in the pale green glow of the planetshine below. The resistance had taken over a space station, twirling in orbit around a planet in unrest.
She hadn't slept much for the last few cycles, maybe that's why her dreams were so strange.
"Finn…" she said, without thinking, the start of so many sentences. She wanted to talk to him, but what could she even say? I heard the most haunting song and then I forgot it? Doesn't really compare with the battle stories and philosophical debates they'd been having lately. Maybe it would be good just to see him; shake it all off.
"Finn," she said, and this time she was dressed, scooping green curry from the simmering communal pot. "Are you hearing from the chief medic today?"
"Nope," he answered, serving himself. He walked away from her confused face and sat down at a round table.
"What do you mean, 'nope'?" she said, chasing after him. "I thought you couldn't wait to be cleared for hyperspace!"
He waited until she sat down before cracking a massive grin. "They approved me last night. I can go on long range missions as soon as a ship's set up for me."
She beamed back, thrilled. "For us, you mean."
"Oh, you gonna tag along?"
"Tag along!?" she balked. "I know you're Mr. Big Deal, but I'm the one with the spooky force powers."
"You know," he replied, spooning up a heap of sprouts, "You're not gonna be able to make fun of me for that anymore. Pretty soon it's gonna be true."
"So I should just keep calling you Big Deal then?"
"Yes," he challenged her, squinting his eyes and leaning in. "Every day you should come up to me, and say 'Hello, Big Deal, how can I help you save the galaxy today, Big Deal?' and bat your lashes in appreciation of my heroicness."
She kept a straight face listening to this for about 5 seconds before bursting out in giggles.
Everyone else at the mess hall stared at them as she rocked back on the bench laughing and Finn stole some root vegetables from her plate.
"Hey!" she shouted, as she came back to her senses, "What do you think you're doing?"
"I'm taking your tubers," he replied nonchalantly.
"I might have eaten those."
"No you wouldn't."
"Oh really?" Rey rose up from the bench to lean over the table. She drew a finger through the sauce on his plate and licked it. She stared at him and said low and mercilessly "If you like being called Big Deal so much, then maybe I'll only call you Finn."
She saw his adam's apple bob as he watched her. "That- uh, that would be fine with me."
She suddenly got embarrassed and rocked back down to her seat. Why was she always making a scene? After all these months, she still didn't know how to be around people. "Gotta go. See you later," she blurted the words stiffly as she grabbed her empty dish and rushed away. Were people still watching her? Why couldn't she just disappear? She'd always be the weird desert girl.
She knocked her head on a pipe as she crawled inside the open wall panel she'd been working on. A cluster of wires in her fist, she couldn't see where the yellow one was headed. The aliens that built this space station had long, thin arms and antennae. It worked well enough, but with the fighting on the planet below getting worse, the Resistance needed everything defense-ready. It was left to her, the most experienced mechanic with the smallest frame, to make tweaks. The problem was simply finding the automatic door controls was impossible. The problem was she couldn't focus.
"Hey, are you ok?"
She balled up even more. "How did you find me?"
Finn raised his eyebrows at a red wire that hung out of the hole in the wall and crisscrossed the corridor. "You're not exactly a master of stealth."
She stuck her head out. "Have the stealth chips arrived yet?"
"They'd tell you before me if they did. But wouldn't you be able to sense that, anyway?"
"The force doesn't work like that."
"People are always saying that…"
She pulled back inside. "Anyway, I'm fine."
He swept a hand over his face. "Listen, Rey-"
"I said I'm fine. I'm fine."
He leaned against the wall beside her impromptu alcove. "I was just kidding around earlier. You know me." He rested his head against the panel. "I'm not gonna leave you behind."
You did, she almost wanted to say. Back on Takodana. She hated that she felt so entitled to him, to his attention, his time. He'd given up his freedom to stay in this struggle, he came back for her. That could be enough. "Don't worry about it," she answered, stripping some copper apart. She'd make her own controls.
A long terrible cycle found her lying in her cot, blanket over her head. It had taken the whole day to fix the door controls. She'd picked the wrong part of the network to try her hijack, and for over an hour every time someone flicked a light switch the doors would open and shut. News from below was that First Order forces had taken back a city. There wasn't time to waste fixing the problems she herself created. There may not be time enough for any second chances; resources were so tight, the war so close. Rey curled up with her arms around her knees. Sleep was shallow, something she could only wade in.
The light flashed. She was flat on the bed, the blanket heavy around her. It was completely dark before the door opened. Beyond it was the planet Exedine, pale green glowing atmosphere, spinning slowly. She could see the lights of the cities, then the bursts of explosions, consuming them. They spun out of view before she could cry out. The planet was moving slowly away from her. The door shut and there was darkness. When it opened she saw ice, columns of ice with water dripping sweetly. The chill of the air gave her goosebumps, and she could just hear the melody of the dripping water against hollow ice before the door closed again. She struggled against the blanket. This wasn't right, why couldn't she move? The door opened and she whipped her head to it, seeing inside the cockpit of a TIE interceptor. When the pilot pushed a button, the station bloomed into view in front of them. Their gloved hand went towards the trigger of the ship's blaster, and she saw blood. Rey struggled against the blanket, desperate to stop them. They turned their helmeted head to laugh at her before the door shut. Her heart was racing, she couldn't stop them. It was so dark and she was alone, and she was the only one who knew. The door opened and dark pink light spilled in. She heard footsteps. Someone was coming down the hall; she held her breath. When he came through the door frame she gasped. Finn was rushing towards her, his eyes filled with concern. He kneeled at her bed, and moved the sweat-streaked hair from her forehead. "I was so scared," she told him. He smiled at her patiently, his beautiful brown eyes crinkling. "I can't move," she explained. "The blanket…" He pulled it off of her, and she suddenly realized she had been naked underneath. She raised an arm to cover her breasts and he gently took it instead, resting her hand against his slightly stubbled cheek. When he leaned in to kiss her it felt like coffee in her blood. He was naked too, she could tell even as her eyes were closed. The weight of his lips against hers was solid and sweet like nectar, she hungrily opened to him. How she'd needed this. His fingers tapped that same melody against the soft skin of her ribcage as his hands moved lower, closer.
The sweat on her forehead was real. That was it. Her lungs were pumping air too quickly, the blanket had been shoved down to her ankles by her restless sleep. Rey's room was the same as it ever was. The porthole high on the wall, the door firmly shut. She touched a wall panel to wake up the display. It was morning, technically. Only a few minutes before her alarm. Pinching the bridge of her nose, she decided to get out of the room before she committed too much of that dream to memory. She did not want anything written on her face. Blushing was out of the question.
Changing from her sleep shirt into the daily uniform brought a foolish wave of embarrassment. How could she feel this way about her own body? It was the same as ever, no one had touched it, and even if they had it would still be the same old body. If her skin was a little more sensitive, or the seam between her thighs a little more obvious in its pressure, it was nothing to analyze.
She opened the door with deliberation and the hallway quietly buzzed around her.
The briefing didn't have good news. The battles on Exedine weren't going well. Points of key value were being lost, to the enemy or to laser fire.
"The latest explosion," U.O. Statura said, bringing up a hologram of a wrecked building, "eliminated a large munitions factory that had been supplying guerrilla fighters in the area. It's unclear if it was done by our allies or the First Order, but if we examine the-"
Rey was jittery. Through the pale blue impression of a shattered window she could see Finn sitting on the other side of the room. He was attentive to the briefing, looking over the hologram with his deeply strategic mind. His eyes would pass over Rey, but they were focused a few feet in front of her. It felt strange. A flimsy separation. She didn't know if she wanted him to look at her, truly see her. He had a habit of reading her mind sometimes. She tapped her foot anxiously.
"Although the manufacturing arm of the planet is of course immensely valuable to the Resistance, we still have to focus on protecting this sector," he switched to a satellite view, "where our best information places Dr. Prosau's lab. The shipment of stealth chips she promised us has, of course, not arrived, so defending the remaining prototypes is essential."
"Sir," one soldier piped up, a dark green twi'lek with young eyes. "Not to be dramatic, but our entire fleet depends on getting that stealth technology. Many planets, including ones with much larger populations, are hanging in the balance. Should we really be splitting our resources here? Why not focus all our attention on the stealth chips and leave the fighters on the ground to fight their own battle?"
"Those are the people we're fighting for!" a human countered. "If anything we should be focusing less on the damned stealth chips. I know the regular old fashioned cloaking devices are pricey, but we know they work and we know where to get 'em!"
"It's not the cost of the device," Rey said, relaxing into what she knew. "The real cost is tactical. Traditional cloaking devices don't permit communication between our ships. It'd be like everyone was flying alone."
"She's right," said Statura. "Our numbers are small enough as it is. If we don't communicate, the First Order can divide and conquer."
Rey nodded. She had seen their monolithic presence first hand. Faceless soldiers following orders, while the Resistance was made up of people from dozens of planets with so much more to lose. They didn't stand a chance if they weren't united.
Finn's eyes caught hers across the room. He tightened his lips, a sign of affirmation. If he looked into her mind, he'd see her unflinching determination to win.
"Finn, Rey, hold up a second."
Statura was collecting some data sheets as the room cleared out.
"Yes, sir?" Finn asked. His back was ram rod straight. Life long habit.
The officer hushed his voice. "Our informants are confident that the First Order didn't even hear about our shipment, let alone get their hands on it. Good news, but still not what we're looking for. This only leaves three options. Either it was destroyed, she never sent it, or-"
"It's lost in the post."
"Exactly. We're trying to confirm with Dr. Prosau what happened, but getting a message in and out without leading the First Order right to her lab is no small thing. We've risked that enough already."
"Do you want us to go planetside?" Finn asked.
"I'm hoping that won't be necessary," Statura said, looking meaningfully at Rey.
She was confused for a moment. "Oh!" she said. "Oh, you want me to try to…" she wiggled fingers in front of her forehead.
"Is that something you can manage?"
"I can try. I've never done it before."
"What do you want me to do, sir?"
"You'll be mobilizing a ship as soon as possible to go pick up the package."
"Obviously we can't risk you being detected, so we'll be equipping a cloaking device. You'll be on your own until you return, so I'm trusting you to handle this operation blind."
"I'll bring Rey with me," he blurted.
Statura lowered his brow. "We need her here to upgrade the station's defenses."
"If she can communicate telepathically over distances, she could be the difference between success and failure on this mission."
"I-" Rey started. She wanted to go with him. Of course she did.
"Yes?" Statura asked.
"I want to be wherever I'm most useful."
"Mm," he replied. He mulled something over before inclining his head. "This mission is incredibly important. I didn't… I didn't want to mention it in the meeting, since it's just a rumour at this point, but we're hearing that the First Order can hack our current cloaking tech. If that's true, the stakes are very high right now. No room for error. I'll consider my decision while we wait on that information." He straightened and adjusted his uniform. "I can have a meditation space prepared, if you need it."
"Thank you," she nodded.
"Thank you, sir."
Statura turned stiffly and walked away. The responsibility was immense; planets rested on their shoulders. Made it hard to find balance when there was never any time.
The provided room was warm and dark, with sticks of incense smouldering beside bowls of fresh water and small candles. Open flames inside space stations are generally frowned upon, but mysticism gave you exceptions on every side. Rey lay down a tatami mat on the floor, smoothing the ripples.
"Should I go?" Finn asked. He'd stayed with her after the meeting, discussing what they'd learned. It was small in here though, intimate.
"It's ok," Rey answered. "As long as you're quiet. Although let me know if anything starts levitating."
"You got it," he smiled, sitting down in the corner as Rey crossed her legs on the mat.
She closed her eyes and moved her head from side to side, trying to relax.
"Should I hum or something? Repeat a mantra?"
"Just be quiet," she bickered. He did help ease some of the tension though. This was really important, but she had to focus on the force, not just the pressure she was under. The force, the force. Where was it? She opened and closed her hand. When you unclench your fingers, where does the fist go? The movement between states of being, pure potential, that's where energy thrives. She reached for it, letting her mind stretch out.
She was sitting by a creek, where snow flaked across rocks and cool water smoothed jade-green pebbles. The sky was blue with pale green curving on the horizon and there were tall trees shaking off their needles. In the air a bird sang those notes again, the melody she couldn't keep in her mind. Then she was in a courtyard under a lime green sky, the dirty ground around her stained with oil and a big metal building stood before her, shining in the heat. The sound of soldiers' boots thundered towards her from behind. When she looked over her shoulder she could see white armour and raised blasters. She snapped her eyes shut. When she opened them again she was facing the wrong way in the pilot seat of a U-wing, her legs splayed open, with Finn thick and hot, pushing into her. His broad hands raised her legs higher, while hers grasped desperately around the back of his neck. She groaned and threw her head back. Above her was an icicle, pointed to her heart, ready to crack and fall. It was so cold, her eyelashes blinked with frost as tears surfaced. When she looked below her she saw a glass floor, where a lab was laid out beneath. A woman was rushing around, throwing data pads into a crusher. She turned on a holomessage to check its contents. Rey saw Statura's blue face urgently saying something. The woman slammed it off and threw it in the crusher too. "I sent it to the right place!" she shouted. The door ripped open as a trooper burst inside. The woman dropped into a chair, surrendering. "Just… a little too late." The glass shattered, and Rey was falling through it, but the lab was gone. There was nothing. There was no light, no…
Finn's voice knocked her back into her body, laying crumpled on the floor of the meditation room. He rushed over to help her sit up.
"Finn, I… I don't think I did it right." She pressed the heel of her hand to her temple. "I couldn't get a message through. I didn't have any control."
"Shit," he said. He stroked her back, shaking his head slowly.
"I think I saw her? It looked like her lab was under attack." She grimaced. "But everything else I was seeing… it definitely hasn't happened. Isn't happening."
He leaned back in shock, blinking. "Like what? What are you seeing?"
Rey blanched. She didn't want to lie to Finn, but she couldn't tell him what she'd been seeing, what she'd been feeling. It wasn't really him. It looked like him and it smelled like him and the feel, oh god the feel- But it wasn't him. It was some creepy, indecent, very hidden urge he didn't need to know about. Maybe it wasn't even her fantasizing. Maybe all these visions were implanted, and the sex stuff was there to throw her off. Distract her and confuse her. Break them apart. She wasn't going to let that happen. She would be useful to the Resistance.
"There's… There's a lot of stuff I can't make sense of. I don't know enough about the force to know if I should analyze it or let it go. I don't… I don't want to lose my mind."
"Yeah," Finn said, getting to his feet to pace. "Was this the first time?"
"No. I've had a few dreams."
"Anything reoccurring?" His strategic mind again.
"Uh…" The press of his thumb against her thigh came painfully into her mind. "Nothing repeats exactly the same. But I don't think it's completely random."
He stopped pacing and crouched in front of her. "Listen Rey, you looked like you were in pain, so if you need to protect yourself from what's happening, I got your back. But stuff like seeing Dr. Prosau's lab under attack when you've never even seen her lab before? That sounds important. You should write it down at least. You don't need to show anyone, but if you can compare what you wrote to the material information we're getting-"
"Then I can prove if any of these visions are real."
"That could be helpful, yeah."
She let out a breath through her teeth. "Ok."
He helped her to her feet. "Neither of us are new to nightmares. Whatever's going on, you can handle it. I know you can."
Rey's smile was sad as she looked into his eyes. "Are you… are you having dreams?"
"Yeah," he said, adjusting his jacket. "But you know. They're better these days."
She watched subtle expressions move across his face. "Is that true?"
He shrugged, caught out. "Well, some of them are. And I have something better to wake up to. That helps."
The corner of her mouth twitched. "It helps me too."
Rey was on the floor, leaning against her cot with a datapad in her lap. She'd tried keeping a journal before. Eventually the practice wore her down, and she went back to just scratching new days on the wall. Her life was different now, though; off Jakku. Less repetitive, less lonely. It was still a hard habit to pick back up. She wasn't sure how formal to be. Finn had said no one else needed to read it, but she doubted that would last. She went into detail about the ice cave, and the soldiers in the courtyard, but when it came to the parts that made her skin flush, she simply wrote 'room' and 'starship, u-wing'. Describing the melody was impossible. She wondered if even people who studied music their whole lives could work it out. Even more than the dreams of Finn, it felt personal. The song was meant for her to hear.
How to write that without sounding crazy?
If only Leia were here, she'd tell Rey there was nothing wrong with being crazy. She could probably tell her a lot of things about the force, stuff no one else could understand. She was busy on the Outer Rim though, dealing with her brother, dealing with the war. So many different fronts, now the Starkiller base was gone. First Order units were like cockroaches, scattering from the light. Always showing up where they weren't wanted.
She looked over her notes. If this was something real, and she could find a way to focus, it could make a real difference. If only it had happened to someone who knew what they were doing.
There was sudden yelling in the hallway and she heard someone run past her door. Stuffing the datapad into her hip pocket she jumped up and followed the sound. A crowd was growing at the end of the corridor, where Statura was accosted by a coms officer.
"There are more reports confirming, sir. Dr. Prosau has been taken by the First Order, and her lab has been seized. We have no idea what data they now have access to. They could be coming here or they could be picking up the package. It doesn't look good."
Rey hit a wall of molasses and shuddered to a stop. She had to force her brain to keep going, her voice to stay even. "Are there any pictures?"
The coms officer turned, large eyes questioning. "Yes. Just the outside. Why?"
"Can I see them?"
Statura nodded and they were handed over.
Lime green sky, dirty courtyard, metal structure pierced with blaster holes...
Her fingers quivered. "She… she knew they were coming. Dr. Prosau had time to destroy most of the data, including the correspondence with you, sir. But I think she might be dead."
Stunned was an understatement. "What do you mean, you think she might be dead?"
"I don't know for sure. Things went black."
"Things… went… Ok, I'm gonna need everyone to clear out. Rey? You're coming with me. The rest of you, prepare for invasion within the cycle. We need full defenses up if they come for us."
The briefing room was awkwardly empty with just the two of them. The holosurface was lightless. The door firmly shut.
"You got through to Dr. Prosau?" Statura was excited, stressed. Too intense for her to confidently face.
"Not exactly. It was kind of like I was there, but she didn't see me."
"And you saw her destroying data. What else? Did she do anything else, say anything else?"
Rey squeezed her eyes to remember, before pulling out her notes. "She said she'd sent the package to the right place. But too late."
"Too late? What does that mean?"
"I don't know. That was all I saw that was useful. Everything else was starships and snowy forests and…"
"Snowy forests? Did you recognize it?"
Rey tucked hair behind her ear. "I've seen snow before, on Starkiller. But it wasn't like that. It was nice. The sky was blue and there was flowing water."
"What else?" He looked like he wanted to shake her. It was his job to protect everyone.
"There were birds? And on the horizon, there was some green in the sky, like-"
His eyes widened. "Like you could see Exedine. Rey, you're describing the moon!"
"The moon? But why…" She'd never thought about Exedine's moon. Didn't even know it's name. Why would she dream of it? "The package!" she burst, "Dr. Prosau tried to send it to our coordinates, but her timing was off. If she didn't correct for the station's orbit-"
"The package would be pulled into the moon's gravity. It's somewhere on Thanbar. Our stealth chips might still be retrievable."
"We could pull this through, sir."
Statura pulled at his chin, brows furrowed. "There's still too much at play. But we need to seize on this. You and Finn need to get a ship ready immediately."
Her heart beat punishingly against her ribcage as she slid open the door and marched down the hall. This was really happening.
Finn had been summoned to the hangar bay and was imputing permissions to a docking console when she arrived.
"What are we taking?"
"U-Wing, it's almost ready to go. I'm guessing your visions panned out."
"Yeah," she gulped. "We're gonna need some cold weather clothes."
"Anything's better than desert," he shrugged. "I've already got two packs here."
"I'll get someone to issue us extra supplies." She was turning to run off when he grabbed her arm.
"Damn, I don't think I've ever seen you so nervous." He took both her shoulders. "What's going on?"
"Just, the mission, and…"
"Look, just because one part of your vision came real, doesn't mean it all will, ok? You still have control. You said some of that stuff hadn't happened yet, right? Nobody can tell the future. Nobody."
"It's not as simple as that."
"Are you gonna tell me?"
She looked at the floor. "It's hard to explain."
"I know," he said, softening his voice. He pulled her into a hug. "It's hard enough reliving battles you've actually been through." His cheek pressed to her hair as he spoke. "Rey, it's not your fault the doctor got hurt. If the First Order hurt more people, it doesn't matter if you see it, it's still not on you."
She buried her face in his shoulder, wrapping her arms around his back. She needed the comfort, even if fear and guilt weren't the only things she was feeling. How to explain that some of the stuff she saw, kind of made her hope?
With the life she'd lived, hope could be far worse than fear.
Shuddering wings, piercing alarms. Finn had gotten in a few lessons about piloting, but practice makes perfect, and he did not have the practice.
"Pull that lever! No, that one!"
"Why are there so many!?"
She squirmed in her seat. "Oh god, can you please just let me do it? If you can't handle atmosphere you certainly can't handle mountains!"
"I got this! What's that red light mean?"
"That would be the engine overheating."
He whistled. "Ok, you deal with that, I'm gonna find a way to slow us down."
Rey hopped out of her chair and found a wrench to ease the pressure on the coolant. "Hitting trees is not an acceptable way to slow us down, Finn."
He finally got control of the wing flaps, and the ship smoothed out. He cracked his knuckles. "Wouldn't dream of it."
She smirked just before a small burst of steam came out. She wrangled it shut with her wrench, but her fingers were flaming pink.
"Shit, Rey, are you ok?"
"I'm fine, focus on flying."
"Where are we even supposed to land? Did your vision include a docking bay?"
"Just aim for somewhere flat!"
Against the odds, once again, they didn't die.
The moon was just as beautiful as she'd seen in her vision. Tall wildflowers grew between rocks draped in moss and mountains turned pale violet at their peaks beneath bonnets of cloud. It was clear blue above them, the way they'd entered the atmosphere, but all around white and grey was crowding at the edges. Rey sunk her fingers into a small patch of snow and sighed.
Finn patted down his parka, leaving it open to the sun but fluffing the collar. "Where do we start?"
She thought of her vision. "We need to find running water."
"Oh good, I'm actually trained in that."
"So what should we do?"
"Walk downhill," he smiled.
"Do you always like to let gravity do the work for you?" she mocked, standing in front of him. The normalcy of bickering was a better salve than anything.
"Hey, we landed in one piece, didn't we? You really should thank me."
She poked his chest, "Is that so, Big Deal?"
He grinned at her, leaning down to put his face inches from hers. "I thought you were only gonna call me Finn."
She raised her chin and blinked twice slowly with smarm. "In my vision I could see the horizon. We'd be wasting our time in a valley."
"Is that so? In this vision, was I there? Or had I been torn apart by moonwolves at that point from us getting hopelessly lost in the woods?"
"Completely eviscerated, I'm afraid. Arm there, leg there. What's that thing floating in this lovely brook? Oh dear, it's Finn's head. And he looks just like this:" She rolled her eyes together and stuck out her tongue.
He laughed and hit her playfully on the shoulder. "Oh come on, you know I'd be more like this:" He pouted and gave her smoky eyes.
She giggled. "Ah yes, there's a decapitated corpse I could fall for."
"Oh yeah?" he said, with that lopsided grin she knew she'd fallen for.
"Finn…" she sighed. It just felt good to say, even if she had no idea what she wanted.
He softened too, looking at her. When a chilling breeze blew over the plateau Finn adjusted her puffy coat before she could shiver. "Wherever we're going, we'd better get moving soon. Looks like it's gonna rain."
Rey nodded, heart racing under all those layers. She didn't want to stop looking at this gorgeous man she was alone on a moon with, but there was never enough time, was there?
Gazing around at the slowly darkening landscape, she took in the surroundings. She had a short range beacon on the ship so they could find their way back, but low-tech looking around and remembering couldn't hurt. The mountain range rippled beside them, purples and lilacs written into the chunky stone. As she turned, she saw a unique formation. The stone was muted green, like jade. Her eyes brightened. The pebbles in the creek had been jade-green. "This way," she pointed. "And grab a couple rain ponchos."
"Way ahead of you," Finn said, loading up backpacks for them both.
The rain started just as they breached the alpine woods. It meant the drops bounced from needled branch to branch, surprising them with the ricochet. Rey pulled forward the hood of her poncho and muddled on. The ground was uneven with fallen logs and tumbled rocks cracked open from some long ago avalanche. As they climbed higher mist pooled around them. The fog of grey made the moss look more vibrantly emerald than before, the occasional bush of tiny orange berries look more enticing.
"Can we eat those?" Rey asked.
"Wait until we run out of rations before poisoning yourself."
"Are they poisonous?"
"No clue. But this place looks too nice for me to trust them."
"Are the berries going to attract those moonwolves you're so worried about?"
"Could do," he joked. Finn was hiking behind her; she could only guess what sort of face he was making. "Hey Rey?"
"Did… Did you see me in your vision?" He sounded nervous to ask.
Not nearly as nervous as Rey was to be asked. "Yeah, I did."
"You'd tell me if you really saw me dead, right?"
"You weren't dead, Finn."
"I was ok?"
"Yeah, you were… " Oh god, how to say this? "You looked happy."
"Good," he said. It sounded stunted.
"We were together."
"Good," he said, and this time she heard the smile in his voice.
She couldn't help being warmed by that.
That was, until they came out of the woods and the light rain of before became freezing sleet, pelting them viciously.
"We need to find shelter!" she yelled at him over the rush of noise.
"Over there!" he called, "I think it's a cave!"
They ran together, feet slipping on the wet grass and chalky pebbles. Barrelling into each other they made it through the stony mouth of the cave, gasping. Finn was laughing, wiping water from his face.
"Still better than a desert?" Rey snarked, bouncing from foot to foot to stay warm.
"D-d-definitely," he answered, teeth chattering.
"You packed a change of clothes, right?" she whined. Her leggings were soaked through, and rain had spilled over from her collarbone to chill her front.
"Yeah, yeah, don't worry about it." He popped his pack off and they both saw the problem immediately. "Oh hell no."
"The zipper came undone."
"So they're soaked."
She pulled off her backpack and had a look. "Mine are all fine, but… I'm not sure they'll fit you."
"Thanks for the offer," he said, rolling his eyes.
She broke a lightstick and lifted it towards the rest of the cave. There were natural tunnels leading a few different ways. At least she had options. She started exploring while Finn pulled clothes out to air dry.
One way felt cold, absurdly cold. She was not interested in that right now. Another smelled a little bad, but it did seem warmer than where she was standing now. A third way curved slowly and then whistled with wind as she peaked out onto an outcropping. The sight nearly took her breath. Roving behemoths of fog crisscrossing the foothills and weaving between the tall trees. In the distance she saw a faint green glow between the horizon and the clouds. A sliver of Exedine.
As she curved back to the central cave, Finn accosted her.
"Rey, did you see this?"
"See what?" She let him pull her to the second passage, where the smell got stranger, like fox beer and sweet copper. She wobbled with him as the cave floor got lumpier and when it looked like the passage was about to open up he stopped her. Finn took the lightstick from her hand and tossed it over his shoulder. "What are you doing?"
She heard a splash. He let her past into a grotto, illuminated by her light under the water. It was incredibly warm in here. Wafts of steam feathered from the surface of a pool, and she couldn't understand what she was looking at.
"It's a hot spring!" he said, amazed at his good luck.
Rey was trying to remember if she'd ever heard of those. Nevertheless, it wasn't a hard name to decipher. "It's not going to boil us if we get in, is it?"
Finn laughed, and crouched down to dip his hands in it. "Let's find out."
He started stripping off his wet layers, and Rey did the same. Propriety was in the back of her mind, getting warm took precedence. Left in just a slip and goosebumps, she slid cautiously into the hot spring. Suddenly her muscles were made of pudding, and her brain a lovely sponge. "This is amazing!" she gasped.
Finn splashed in beside her and his whole body shivered like a cat. "Oh god, that's good."
She wiggled her fingers as the sparks of feeling came flooding back into them.
"They're not going to fall off, are they?" he said, taking them gently into his own hands.
She glowed at the contact and indulged in a brag. "I hope not. There's no way we can get that U-Wing flying without them."
"They've saved my life more times then I'd like to count," he said before tapping at the tip of each finger, "One, two... three…"
"I don't think I've saved you ten times yet," she laughed.
"Mm, but there will be more times you save me, in the future." He lifted the last few fingers to his mouth, and delicately kissed the pad of them one by one.
Rey was completely devoid of breath, suddenly aware of her skin showing through her slip and the immense privacy of this moment.
"Maybe that's how I stay alive in your visions. Staying by your side."
Was that what this was about? Was he afraid? Of her powers, of the terrible situation they were in? She couldn't let him think he was trapped. He deserved better than that. "You- you can go wherever you want."
"Wherever I want…" he mused. He looked at her with those perfect, space-dark eyes, too deep for her to handle. Maybe he saw how stiff she'd gone. The expression on his face changed and he suddenly let go of her hand, looking away and biting his lip. "I'm gonna unpack and check the damage." His voice was a little strained, and as he climbed out of the hot spring he didn't face her.
In the low light she could see the rivulets of water caressing the scars and muscles of his back, down the lean strength of his legs. All the places she was dying to touch. To dig into, to let relax under her fingertips. These fingertips, she remembered. He had just kissed them. He'd kissed her, some part of her at least. She wanted to savour that moment, but it only left her feeling lacking. God, she was so greedy. Why couldn't she just appreciate what she had?
Whatever she had, she still wanted more. That want burned inside her, felt like it was burning a hole in her. She got out of the hot spring, squeezing out the hem of her slip.
Her bare feet found purchase in the now dark passageway. The smell started to lift, the air got clearer. Clear her head, that's what she needed to do. It was quiet here. Quiet enough she could hear that melody again. That beautiful, terrible song from her dreams. It played like water just on the edge of her hearing. The light at the end of a long, long shadow. As she turned into the firelight of the central cave, the sound of crackling twigs and heavy rain overwhelmed whatever she thought she heard.
Finn was hunched over a small flame, blowing oxygen into the cinders. He put a rod of fire fuel over it, something that would last the night.
"Is it night?" she asked. Outside the cave, everything looked indigo.
"This moon isn't tidal locked, so I think it'll be night pretty often." He crawled over to unpack more things, pulling out a vacuum-sealed bag of rations and a sleeping bag. He looked bitter, sitting on his heels. "Well. That's not great."
"Sleeping bag wet too, huh?"
He groaned. "At least the rations are fine. Do you want a..." he picked it up and squinted in the low light "radish stew bar?"
"I think I'd prefer a wet sleeping bag," she gagged.
"That's fair," he said, and let his head fall into his hands. He pushed the heels of his palms deep against his brow bone, trying to burrow.
"Are you ok?"
"Are you?" he asked, not looking up.
"Yeah, I think so."
"Then we're both ok. Great. Two ok people."
She swivelled her foot against the cave floor, her knees knocking together. "I just wanted…" Now there's a word. "I just wanted to offer my sleeping bag." Definitely not what she was going to say, but this way she was useful.
He lifted his head up, looking sympathetic. "That's ok, Rey. I can… I can sleep in the grotto. It's warm in there."
"But it's damp and it smells," she grimaced.
"Yeah," he ran his hand over his hair. "It is. And it does."
"We can share the sleeping bag. I don't mind, really. That way we can both be warm and dry."
He looked up at her from his crouch, those eyes of his tired but grateful. "Thanks, Rey."
And oh, if her heart swelled a little. If her next exhale made her feel more stable. It couldn't be as easy as that for him to make her happy.
"Can you grab the clothes we left by the water? We need to hang those to dry too."
"Of course," she said, glad to help.
If she could just be helpful to him, that was all she wanted. Walking back towards the passages she realized she'd forgotten a lightstick. It would be simple enough to follow the tang in the air to find the grotto, though. If… If she didn't hear that song again. There's no way she was imagining it. A pull came from her gut, turning her footfalls to the left, taking her into the cold.
Her eyes started to adjust, seeing the faint glow of lichen on the walls. Her breath puffed in clouds before her, and she was blinking rapidly against the chill. A drop of water fell on her bare shoulder and she gasped. Above her were stalactites, no, icicles. The deeper she went, more and more ice expanded before her. Walls of ice thick as an airlock. Columns of ice that rose up into the cavern like the pines outside. She traced her fingers along the ice, feeling the smoothness, seeing the faint light refract green. The song was coming from her now, the rhythm of her heartbeat was playing it the same as the water dripping. She was close. To something she wanted, to something that wanted her.
Her body was nearly naked and chilled to the bone, but she didn't stop until she saw it. Protruding from a rockface framed in ice; a clear, perfect crystal. She reached out to it, hungering for the harmony to be complete. With her fingertips grazing it, the crystal turned green.
This wasn't like Luke's lightsaber. It wasn't like the immense laser beam that took out planets. This was just hers. Her very own kyber crystal.
When she walked back into the central cave, with the wet clothes hanging over one arm and the crystal squeezed tightly in the other, Finn was heating rations over the fire.
"I mixed the two flavours together, I thought maybe it would taste better. Based on the smell, I'm guessing that's not- Whoa, what happened to you?"
"Hm?" she said, blinking dumbly.
He jumped up and came towards her, confused. "Rey, you have frost in your hair!"
"Oh," she said. She set down the clothes and held the crystal to her chest. She felt warmer somehow. The kyber was active. "Um," she said. There was a lot to explain.
"What have you been doing?"
"Finn…" She squinted, piecing it together, "I don't think the visions were helping me find the stealth chips. I think they were bringing me here to find this…" She opened her palm so he could see.
His eyes widened.
"It wanted me. I wanted it. There was this pull… These dreams I've been having, they had this song in them. It was the crystal's song."
"I don't understand," said Finn. "What about what you saw in Dr. Prosau's lab? What did that have to do with the crystal?"
"I wanted to see her, wanted to see what she was doing. Just like the soldiers. I've been thinking about defenses so much, I wanted to see their tactics."
He was shook. "That's an incredible power, Rey. To see whatever you want. We've got to tell Statura."
She looked at the crystal in her hand. "It's not like that. I think the crystal was using those other images to explain. To associate it with things I want, in the war and… for myself. Powerful things. So that I'd seek it out."
"You're saying this rock is more powerful than you are?"
"I don't know." She wasn't up for more interrogation. "I- I'd like to eat."
"Yeah, sure," Finn said slowly, bordering sarcastic. He eyed the kyber as he turned to check on the rations.
Rey grabbed a dry coat from her bag and draped it over her shoulders, slipping the crystal into her pocket. The coat was soft and quilted and it poofed out air as she sat next to the fire.
Finn looked agitated, stirring wet strips of rations into a loose paste.
Rey worried her bottom lip. 'Finn', she wanted to say. Predictable. She watched the flames spark and burn. Inevitable. "Finn," she finally said, voice deliberately clear, "I know you're upset. Help me understand."
He flopped some ration paste into a travel bowl. "Don't worry about it."
"I want to know. What was it you were expecting from this trip?"
He scoffed as he handed her the earthy smelling paste. "Well, first off, it's not a 'trip', it's a mission. Our first mission. Together, as a team, as real members of the Resistance. We were sent here because of those force visions and people are counting on us. Millions of people. It's not so easy for me to let that go."
"I'm not letting that go! You think I don't care about that too?"
"I'm not sure what you care about. It's like you're in a whole other world sometimes."
"I'm right here!" she shouted. "I've been here, fighting fascists, helping the Resistance since you first lied about it, learning the force. I am right here." She slapped her hand to her chest.
"So learning the force means being manipulated by a hunk of shiny rock? And helping the Resistance means having us an extra ship down in the fight while dragging me out here on a phony mission?"
"Dragging you out here!? You were the one saying I can 'tag along', or is it inconvenient to remember Statura gave you this mission first?"
"Oh come on," he rolled his eyes. "Like the sun doesn't revolve around you enough."
"You were the one that wanted me here!"
"Of course I was! I'm always fighting for you, I'm always looking out for you, always putting myself on the line for you."
"I never asked for that! I can take care of myself. I already told you, you can go wherever you want."
"AKA you wish I'd just leave you alone."
"I didn't say that," she groaned.
He spitefully ate some of the terrible rations, refusing to look at her.
She set her bowl down, not hungry any more.
"What I don't get," Finn said, spinning back to face her, "is that you said the visions were showing you what you wanted, and you said I was there, and we were together. So you see us together on a future mission and then you go and tell me to 'go wherever I want', and I'm just supposed to understand."
"We weren't on a mission," she said, correcting him before she could think.
"So what the hell did you see, then? You're always dancing around it," he accused. "Don't you think I have a right to know?"
"I didn't tell you because we were fucking!"
The last word reverberated around the cave.
Why did she have to shout it? Why did she have to say it at all? She was shaking.
Finn didn't say anything, barely moved except the heartbeat visible against his chest.
"It… it was wrong," she said. "It's one thing spying on the enemy, but seeing you like that, feeling you like that… You didn't have any say. Just because some part of me wanted it, I didn't have any right-"
"Some part of you?" he asked.
She looked down. "Most of me."
"Rey," he said.
She shook her head "I'm sorry, I-"
Finn started laughing.
Her heart stopped. She was staring.
He ran a hand over his hair, laughter in his eyes. "God, if you're feeling guilty over some crystal visions, I can't imagine how I should feel about all the times I've fantasized about you."
His hand came around to half-hide his face. "I wasn't just upset about screwing up a mission. I was worried if we messed this up they wouldn't send us out together anymore. Being alone with you… god Rey, it's like a drug."
She couldn't speak.
"Rey," he said, "you've got to know how badly I want you."
There was no laughter on his face now. It was completely, beautifully sincere, and tense with urgency. "You've got to know how I feel."
"I…" She hadn't known. She had shut down her own hoping so many times, she hadn't allowed herself to consider he might want her just as much. It seemed like a dream. It had been a dream. Suddenly realizing she wasn't projecting, and there was a real living person in front of her saying these things- it was very, very new. "I didn't know."
He probably noticed her being nervous. She could see the look in his eyes go from desperation to sympathy. "I guess this proves you can't read minds," he joked, lightly.
"What," she said, figuratively dipping her toe into this new feeling, straightening her back, "What would I have seen?"
His brow quirked at her, and oh god, it was so good to see him like this, relieved and excited and slowly moving closer. "You really want to know?"
"Yes," she said decisively, but as he got close enough she could feel the heat off him, she let out a searching, breathy, "Yes?"
He leaned forward, and she closed her eyes, ready to be kissed.
"I asked first," he whispered in her ear. "Tell me about your vision."
Her body was throbbing. He was so close. And he wanted her. "Which one?" she asked flirtatiously, "The one in my bed, or the one in the U-Wing?"
His breath caught. She opened her eyes to see the pulse in his neck racing.
"The U-Wing…" he said under his breath. "Is that why you were so nervous in the hangar bay?"
She was about to respond when he slipped his fingers under her coat to stroke the sensitive skin of her neck, and she couldn't think for all the tingles going through her body. She might have moaned.
"You know, I had a dream where we were both naked in a cave," he said.
"Really?" she said, shrugging her coat off slowly. "Sounds very symbolic."
"I hope not," Finn replied, tracing along the neckline of her slip and gently pulling the straps one by one over her shoulders.
"When did you have this dream?" she asked, pushing a hand to his shoulder, rising to her feet. As she stood the slip fell to the ground in a silken pool, leaving her bare.
He gazed at her in absolute wonder and adoration. "A few minutes ago, actually."
"Stand up," Rey said.
"I like the view down here," he smiled.
"I want to touch you," she countered.
He leapt up, standing eagerly in front of her. The firelight beside them did wonders for his gorgeous brown skin. The shorts he still wore were terribly out of place, disrupting the strong lines of his obliques. She wondered if he'd remove them or she would.
"Turn around," she said.
"Having fun giving orders?" he asked, crossing his arms.
"You want to try?"
"Sure," he answered. "Turn around."
She laughed, but did as asked. Rey liked to be contrary to his contrary-ness. She closed her eyes and let her body feel the difference of skin warmed by fire and chilled by night. Waiting.
Everything changed when he pressed up against her, his chest hot and firm against her back as he put his hands on her hips, planting kisses along her shoulder and up her neck. He nuzzled in her hair and breathed "Rey…" His hands slid up her chest and found her breasts, grasping them with fervour.
She gasped and let her head fall back. She could feel her breasts surging between his fingers as he massaged her desperately. She could feel his erection against her ass as he mindlessly pushed forward, no space between them. She could feel the surge of blood to her cunt and the radiation of warmth overtaking her body as arousal deepened. She wanted him and she could have him. She could have him however she wanted…
He circled her nipples with his thumbs as his palms pressed luxuriously upwards, lifting her breasts almost high enough he could kiss them.
She wanted those lips. She pushed away his hands and turned around, finding him looking desperately aroused. "On your knees," she said, breathier than she'd intended.
This time he obeyed, dropping his knees to the discarded coat on the ground.
It was quite a view. She wasn't going to leave it to imagination. Rey lifted her leg onto his shoulder, pulling him towards her with her foot, and he immediately took the hint.
Plunging his mouth up against her cunt, he grabbed her hips to stabilize her, ravenous. She let out a high pitched noise, biting her lip. His nose pressed against her curls as he drove his tongue into her, humming in pleasure, sending vibrations everywhere. It went on and on. How many times had he thought about doing this? Thinking about her cunt on his tongue, her splayed open like this. Open and wet and almost painfully hot.
She was getting dizzy, but she didn't know how to tell him to stop. She didn't know how to want him to stop. His lips tugged against her clit, sucking at it before neglecting it again, circling her cunt with a broad, eager tongue. He thrust it inside her again, spiralling deliciously. He was so fucking hungry for her.
"Finn," she gasped.
"You taste so good," he groaned, muffled against her skin.
"I'm gonna fall!" She threw out her hands as her balance left her, his quicksilver reflexes catching her before she could hit the cave floor.
He laughed at her, a circus acrobat tangled in his arms. "You look like I feel," he said, warmth in his eyes.
Her hair was still wet in places, burst from the buns and drying in all the wrong ways. Her cheeks felt hot and her mouth was gaping like a fish, chasing each sweet breath. "What's that supposed to mean?" she smirked, raising her eyebrows.
He sucked his lips. "Let me show you."
Laying her on the coat, he crawled over her, kissing her thigh, her hip, her chest. He suspended himself over her, giving her full view of his face. His beautiful, debauched, curious face.
She stared at him, mesmerized.
"Do you…" he started to ask. He shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut before trying again. "Do you feel the way I feel?"
"Like this can't be real?" she chuckled. But no, that wasn't it. So Rey dug deeper. Deep enough it hurt. "That…" she took a breath, "I need this to be real."
His look was so intense when he dipped down to kiss her, and it was nothing like her dream, because now she knew, she knew in every cell of her body that she loved him. That she could never push him away again. She could never close up her heart to him, never deny the absolute pleasure it was to be touched by him. Never let her want turn to guilt. When she pulled his tongue between her lips, when she tasted the heady mix, she completely let go. All she had to hold onto was his strong neck and short-cropped hair, pulling them deeper into the kiss.
His mouth was both gentle and relentless. Both of them syncopated; as greedy, as generous. A hand traced down her sternum, giving her shivers as it moved down, swivelling on her curls and dipping down, his finger tips instantly wet as he curled them into her. Rey's back arched as the heel of his hand grinded against her clit. She felt herself close and open around his fingers, squeezed on them with ferocity and then letting him gasp against her mouth as he realized how deep he could go. "Fuck, Rey."
"Please," she whined, raising her hips to find his body restless above her. The weight of his cock on her thigh was intoxicating, insane, her mind could only think of it filling her, obsessive.
Finn pulled his fingers so slowly from her cunt, stroking circles inside her. He stopped kissing so he could look down, see every knuckle soaked. He wrapped them around his cock, his breath catching as he worked the fluid across the head and down the long shaft. "Rey…" he shuddered, guiding forwards.
When his cock slipped inside her, the world couldn't compete. It was so fucking big, but she was so wet and so wide and so wanting, as he pressed deeper and deeper there was nothing at all, nothing but this perfect, dirty feeling. Stretching and squeezing and being penetrated. She felt made for fucking, and she wanted Finn to know it. "We've both needed this so long," she whispered. "Don't you dare hold back."
And oh, there was no hesitation. He rammed into her with the force of months of wanting, months of jerking off alone in his bed when she could have been there, could have been taking him in like she was now. All the times his name came thoughtlessly to her lips when she could have been screaming it. Years of lust and desire pushed down, now let loose, even begged for. His hands gripped roughly into the flesh of her hips as he drove into her hard and deliberately. Almost out and then in so deep her whole body moved with the power, her coat shifting on the floor beneath her as he thrusted. When his pelvis would hit her clit and she'd cry out and whine and gasp, her voice a foreign thing, so wild, higher than she thought she could go. She tried to muffle it with her hand, but he pulled her wrist away and held it hard against the ground. "You sound so fucking good, Rey," he growled, his cock driving into her again and again. "Let me hear it. Let me see what I can do to you."
Rey screamed. She couldn't open her eyes. She couldn't control her hips that rose up to her lover, her cunt that pulsed around the cock it took in so wantonly, her nipples straining, toes curling. There was no going back.
Finn thrusted three more times, biting his lip as his own groans turned to whines. He pulled out, leaning back on his knees, and Rey opened her eyes in time to see cum splash up against his sculpted abs, his hand riding the pulses of his orgasm and his head thrown back, such a fucking luxurious sight.
"Oh god, Finn," she panted, still overwhelmed.
"Oh fuck, Rey," he gasped, another surge of cum streaking his chest. His swollen lips opened wide, trembling. "What," he panted "what did you do to me?"
Rey grinned. She pushed up from the floor, sitting up and stretching forward. She ran a single finger through his cum and brought it to her tongue.
He stared at her, eyes wide, incredibly turned on.
"I've done nothing," she said, "compared to what I have planned."
He had that goofy lopsided grin again, the one she fell for.
"Rey," he said, and it sounded like a question.
"Yeah?" she smiled.
"I don't think I'll ever get over you." He was sincere, though he followed it with a laugh. "I mean, I'm sitting here naked with you after you fucked my brains out, and… now I'm just thinking about getting to fall asleep next to you. I… Is that normal?"
In this moment, there was only honesty. She wore it with a smile. "I hope so."
Finn washed himself clean in the rain outside while Rey scarfed down the leftover food. Her hunger had come back fiercely, she didn't even mind the taste of the frankenstein rations. Finn had made them, anyway. She saw him run back in, shivering and wet, and couldn't help but giggle. "Refreshed?"
"It's freezing!" he said through gritted teeth, bouncing from foot to foot.
She made room for him by the fire and tipped the bowl up to her mouth to get the last little bit.
"I suppose you think it's my fault," he said, holding his hands towards the flames.
Rey lowered her eyebrows, confused.
"I'm the one who packed," he explained. "I could've brought condoms."
"You could have closed the zipper on your backpack too," she said playfully. A sympathetic pout. "I'm glad you make do."
He rolled his eyes, but he was smiling ear-to-ear.
Rey still felt little pulses of heat and sparks of energy in her body, but exhaustion from the hike was pulling her like a heavy anchor towards deep rest. Laying out the sleeping bag and fwomping down into its quilty reprieve, she let out a warm sigh.
She blinked up at Finn and adoration shimmered from his every feature. That wonderful, wonderful man. Rey patted the space next to her, and he put a hand performatively to his chest. "Me?" he mouthed. Rey rolled her eyes and then rolled over. Soon enough he was sliding in beside her, the rain mostly dried from his chest as he wrapped an arm over her, swinging the blanket artfully over them both.
She reached over to her coat on the floor, pulling the crystal from her pocket. Holding it close in front of her she stared into its depths. She felt gratitude, powerful as a wave but light like silk, washing over her. What a perfect little corner of the universe she'd found.
In the morning, or rather midday since the moon spun way too fast, Rey found Finn twitching beside her. She leaned on an elbow, seeing the sweat on his forehead as his eyes darted side to side. He looked pained, scared.
"Finn," she whispered gently. "It's ok, wake up, it's ok."
He only responded when she touched his shoulder, and he burst awake like blaster fire. He wasn't breathing right.
"Finn," she said, concern deepening. "It's just me. You're safe, I promise."
He dropped his head back and breathed out slowly. "I know, I know."
"They really don't go away, do they?" Her voice betrayed their mutual struggle.
Finn squeezed the bridge of his nose and pulled down at the flesh of cheeks. "What I'm relying on," he said, "is that they'll go away when the First Order is demolished."
"Let's make that happen," she said, kissing his forehead.
Breakfast wasn't all rations. Finn conceded that eggs probably couldn't be poisonous, so Rey was able to pluck some from a nest and cook them in the hottest part of the hot spring. "This is good," she garbled with a full mouth.
"I was thinking," Finn said, more reserved in his eating habits, "The package was meant to be picked up with our tractor ray, not fall through atmosphere and hit a mountain."
She grunted agreement through another mouthful, trying not to spill any yolk on the fresh clothes they'd put on.
"So when it hit, it probably hit hard. There might be some impact damage visible from a distance. Maybe not a crater, but… something."
Rey stood up, dropping her empty bowl to the floor. "Good idea. Let's look now!"
He was confused, but followed her through the cavern tunnel that led to the outcropping. Sun had melted away the fog, leaving the view green and lush and long. Waterfalls and wildflowers littered the spaces between tall, prickly trees.
"What's that?" Finn asked.
Her eyes followed where he was pointing, but she couldn't see anything. "A valley?" she risked.
"But it's not, it's…" his voice grew excited, "It's invisible!"
Rey's eyes widened too. The crash must have disturbed the stealth tech!
They packed up everything in a rush and scrambled down the mountainside.
"I can't believe this!" she laughed, bounding over rocks and dodging branches of berry bushes.
"You mean that I was right?" Finn said, weaving between evergreens. "We should've gone downhill from the start?"
Rey bumped him roughly as she jogged past him, her hair bouncing. "You wish we never found that cave?" she teased over her shoulder.
"Very overrated," he said, giving her ass a grope.
She gasped before laughing, skipping past tiny winding creeks and only stopping as she nearly collided with the edge of the forest.
Finn came to a bumbling halt beside her. "This is it," he said.
She had to admit, if this was a desert, they never would have found the damn thing. But the rugged and lively terrain here was too hard for the stealth chips to completely copy. There was an unnatural symmetry. Perfect for starships. Not great for water.
Once inside the bubble it was easy to see the package, half-imbedded in some terribly wounded brambles. They pulled it out together, and agreed to share the load back to the U-Wing. Stronger with the delight of success.
Night was already beginning to fall again as they found their ship, the long purple shadows looking strange against the faint green glow of planetshine on the horizon. They didn't know what they'd be coming back to.
"I'm glad we had this mission," Rey said, taking a last look.
"It was a good trip," Finn agreed.
Together they got the ship initiated, flipping switches in tandem. She took the pilot seat this time, and they exited the atmosphere in a markless streak.
Once they were in space Finn was timid. "I don't suppose you want to…"
Rey smiled, "When we have enough time to do it right."
"Mm, I would like to take my time," he said.
She couldn't believe how she shivered at that. Mentally she scolded her groin for reacting so quickly. They were on a mission. It was important.
When she landed in the hangar bay it was to a station in chaos. People would huddle to whisper and argue, then someone would shoot out of them like an atom losing an electron, overactive, a nervous hurry.
The dark green twi'lek was the first to rush up to Rey and Finn, concern painted on their face. "It's been almost a cycle, what happened?"
"We found the chips," Rey beamed.
The soldier's eyes brightened. "That's great news! Wish you'd been here a little earlier!"
"Why, what happened?" Finn asked.
"First Order on the planet figured out we exist, and our orbital height. They're sending ships as we speak."
This was exactly what she should have been here for, preparing the station's defenses. Guilt poured over her, heavy and thick. Her eyes darted around to the other pilots that were about to put their lives on the line. It was all happening so fast. But she couldn't discount the importance of the mission. Her and Finn had succeeded, and not only in finding the package. They'd found something real. She let herself listen to the part of her that said that mattered, beyond just them. Truth, passion, these things have consequences you can't always trace.
"I have an idea," Rey said, giving the twi'lek her full attention. "Take me to Statura."
If the groups in the hangar bay were like atoms, the briefing room was like a cell. A stalwart outer edge, only opening to essential resources, and a center powering it all. Rey broke through, and the room stilled as Statura looked up from his blueprints. "Report," he said.
"I need to know sir," she said, eyes taking in all the half-known faces, "The rumour you told me about, is it true?"
"Rey," he ground. "This is not the place." His face told her clear enough.
"Good," she grinned. "They think they have us, let's let them think that." She held up one of the stealth chips. "There's more where this came from. I need a projector."
The room was overwhelmed with different reactions, anger and joy and dismissive laughter. Statura was stoic, unreadable until he sighed and raised his eyebrows. "Ok, I'm listening."
"They're getting too close, Rey!" Finn shouted from the gunner chair.
She bounced from wall console to her datapad, hastily double checking the code and rearranging the wiring. "I'm still waiting on the signal, hold tight."
"I have a bad feeling about this," he said under his breath, tracking a TIE interceptor in his sights, zooming closer.
The ping came, and Rey flipped a switch, rushing to the window. An enemy pilot had just sent the hacking signal that disabled cloaking tech. She saw the station bloom into existence, the interceptor followed by a dozen others, circling the station, zeroing in on their prey.
"It's good to have doubts," Rey said, sitting back in the pilot seat. "The weakness of the First Order is they are too fucking cocky."
They both watched as the ships fired their blasters, bursts of colour and violence flinging through space. Simply… through space. They'd surrounded the station and fired inward, and as their lasers passed through Rey's projection the crossfire took effect.
Almost instantaneous explosions rippled through the ranks, the ships bursting under their own weaponry. Over the coms, the voices of Resistance fighters gasping and whooping overwhelmed the cockpit. The battle wasn't over, but they had a hell of a head start.
Rey pushed forward on the joystick, taking the lead of the advanced stealth squadron. "You ready, Finn?"
"With you til the end," he answered.
"Let's do this."