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In Search of Home

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The woman showed every one of her seventy-six years. It seems to Kylo Ren that she has aged more in the nine since he last saw her than in the previous sixty-seven. That had been on Bespin, back when he was still Ben Solo. He and Skywalker had gone to her home, and for what had to be the six-hundredth time, his uncle had tried to persuade her to come to the Jedi Temple. She had refused; stated that she didn't belong there. Dismissed the argument with a tired smile and just poured more tea. A week later, she had vanished and had not been seen by anyone in the galaxy until today – when the First Order captured her without incident. Almost as if she had been waiting for the Finalizer to come along and scoop her up.

He was looking forward to delving into that brain of hers; if only Hux would leave the two of them alone.

For her part, the woman remained motionless, her arthritic riddled hands resting on her lap, perfectly calm. He wasn't too surprised at the serenity; this was a woman who had lived through the Clone Wars, the rise and fall of the Empire, and the aftermath that followed. She wasn't afraid; of him or of General Hux, who was clearly annoyed that she wasn't showing the normal reaction of any First Order prisoner. Most would be begging for release, or cowering in fear.

He had the strong feeling that the old woman saw him as nothing more than a petulant little boy and the General was – well, just another general.

“Bosha Thandu.” Hux spat. “You disappeared nearly a decade ago in an ancient freighter that you supposedly lost fifty years ago. Then you turn up out of nowhere in a lambda-class shuttle that was reported stolen thirty years ago.” He shook his head. “Where did your ship go and where did the shuttle come from?”

“At my age, my memory is a bit fuzzy.” She answered, and she glanced at Kylo, then back at the general. “Since you view both of the crafts as junk, does it really matter?”

“What matters is where you have been!” He screamed in her face. “This isn't the first time you've pulled a stunt like this! The same thing occurred when you were captured by the Empire!”

“You're going to burst a blood vessel if you continue that tirade, young man.” She shifted in her seat, flexing her hands inward and outward, and Kylo felt something ripple through the Force; he caught her thoughts – she was holding something back from the pair of them. He had always suspected that she hid her true strength. Now he knew she was just a snake readying herself to strike.

He would very much like to throw Hux out of the room and just have Bosha tell him everything. How she acquired the kyber crystal for her lightsaber, which now hangs next to his. He'd seen it before, of course – she carried it with ease. But the blade – it did not explain the color of the blade. He needed to know about the significance of the objects in the bag she always carried. Why did she nearly always have gloves on? She knew so much, he was almost giddy with the prospect of it. He wants to hear about her time as a prisoner on Naboo, what she knew about his family history. The things that no one else in his family ever talked about, or even knew about. How she kept slipping through Palpatine's clutches, how she wasn't consumed by either side of the Force, but walked in the middle. Strangely, he wants there to be tea and cookies – the spice ones she always made when he came to visit. They were bigger than his fist and she always stated a serving started at three a piece.

Where the Force she had been for the last nine years was the least of his concerns.

Hux backhanded her on both cheeks. “Jedi filth.”

“I am no Jedi.” She spat the last word. “That was my sister.” Her gaze lifted slightly. “One might argue that she was the good twin.”

“Your sister was a traitor to the Republic and you are a thief.” The general cleared his throat. “And if you think I have an issue ordering your execution because you are old and feeble, you are mistaken.”

“Old? I am not so old...” Her head came up, and there was the ripple again. “I was told I had to come here the long way around.” She straightened her shoulders, her expression changing. “You contribute nothing.”

“What?” Hux frowned. “I am...”

“You are nothing.” Bosha rose to her feet; she didn't even come to the general's collarbone, but in this moment, she seemed to tower over him. “Petty, arrogant, and cruel... spewing out nothing but hate, death, and scorn.” She raised her left arm and spread her fingers, and then her hazel-brown eyes shifted to yellow.

The general's next words were cut off, and he let out a weak gasp and his whole body twitched, whatever was happening, it was swift – and the ripple Kylo had felt a moment ago became focused. It flowed between the woman and Hux; or rather, out of the general and into her. He was on his feet as he saw Bosha's face begin to change. The wrinkles and lines smoothed out, her ash colored hair turning black; the affects of age vanishing. Hux was going the opposite way; his hair went from red, to gray, to white – then fell away as his skin began to shrink, his legs giving out so he was kneeling in front of the woman. She reached out and took his chin in her hand.

“Now you have given, and I thank you.” She smiled, and with a simple flick of her wrist, she snapped Hux's neck, letting his emaciated and shriveled body fall at her feet.

Kylo fumbled with the clasp of his helmet and dropped it, not certain what had just happened. It's impossible to believe. If he were to give it words, he would say that Bosha had just drained the life energy out of Hux, a man of thirty-five years, and had exchanged it for her own. Now she could pass for his slightly older sister - instead of his grandmother. “How...”

“It's more complicated than you think it is.” She answered and then staggered back, holding her face. “That stung.” She shook her head, and he set a hand on her arm. The malevolence he felt from her a moment ago was gone; if he had not been there to witness what just transpired, he would not believe it. She rubbed her eyes and blinked up at him, her eyes once again dark brown. “We should leave.”

He nods in agreement. It will not be long before someone comes to investigate. He does the only thing he can think of that makes sense. He replaces his helmet and then hands Bosha her gloves. After she pulls them on, she raises the hood of her cloak to cover her hair and shade her now youthful visage. He opened the door and the two of them went out into the corridor; he led her towards the nearest docking bay, knowing that somehow, this will be the last time he leads her anywhere.

Who sent you? Kylo keeps his mental voice calm; something he hasn't done very often. But given what he'd just seen her do to Hux, he doesn't want to find out what else Bosha is capable of – especially when he considered that a handful of hours ago, he believed that she was just barely Force sensitive.

That's complicated. I told you, I had to take the long way around. Surprisingly, her voice doesn't sound young to him; it's still the gentle voice of an aged former – something. He never knew what, exactly, she was.

I don't understand. He counters as they cross the docking bay and he moved so that she was in front of him, nudging her towards one of the crafts and she plays the part of a prisoner perfectly. No one stops them, none of the stormtroopers turn to watch them.

One who walked a different path sent me. The loading ramp of the upsilon class shuttle fell towards them with a soft hiss and they headed inside, and when they were alone within, she pulled back her hood, looking up into his masked face with the same calm expression she'd worn in the interrogation room. “We need to leave a false trail.”

“Who is this one who sent you?” He intoned, nudging her mind gently with the Force, only to catch a glimpse of another ship; an ancient freighter. “I do not...”

“The Watcher.” Her expression changed. “And the Lark.” She held out her hand. “Might I have my bag back, please?”

Kylo untied the leather pouch from his belt and handed it to her, then walked to the front of the shuttle, ready to be gone. When he looked back, Bosha was still standing where he left her, and in her bare hand, she was holding a worn steel ring. She didn't speak as she settled down in the copilot's seat, she merely let out a long sigh as he powered up the ship and they flew out into space, away from the Finalizer. “Maybe you should start with what you did to Hux.”

“I've been having nightmares of a screaming man since I was five years old. He did not have a face until roughly forty years ago.” She swallowed. “It's complicated.”

“I believe complicated is you in one word, Bosha Thandu.” He couldn't repress the snort at the end of his sentence and he nearly laughed.

“You don't even know the half of it.” She shifted in the seat so her chin was resting on her knee. “This whole bloody mess I've been caught up in started with a dream and a message.”

“The Watcher?” He punches in the coordinates for the first planet that comes to his mind; Ord Mandel.

She nodded again, and tucked the ring away before turning to face him. “and it surprises me that you're not demanding answers.”

“I take it we shall be traveling for some time – so there is plenty of time for questions.” He sat back slightly in his seat, hitting the last of the required keys on the console in front of him. “Where is our final destination?”

“Away.” Bosha answered. “Sometimes, Kylo Ren, the best way to find yourself is to disappear. And that's where we're going. To disappear.”

The shuttle launched into hyperspace, and he unbuckled his helmet, took it in his hands, and stared at it. “That's where you went nine years ago – and after the liberation of Naboo.”

“If you'd been locked up for twenty years and were finally free, wouldn't the first place you'd want to go is home?” She smoothed out her skirt. “And I promised someone I would come home – and I hate to break a promise.”

He looked away. “I do not have a home.”

“Everyone has a home, Kylo Ren.” She shook her head and picked up her bag, opened it and drew out a pressed flower. “You just haven't found yours yet.”

Chapter Text

Kel-Des-Corel prefecture outside the Corellian spaceport of Ord Andar was a half-step up from a slum. Small two-story houses were stacked next each other, with only a stripe of brown dirt and gravel between the houses and the road. On the stoops of some home there was a solitary potted plant, all in various degrees of pathetic growth. A splash of color in an otherwise drab place. The air had an undercurrent of sourness – unnoticed by the locals, they were used to it. To the two strangers, however, it was strong. A toxin that would no doubt, bring many of those who grew up breathing it to an early and painful death.

This was Qui-Gon Jinn's first visit to this particular part of Corellia, and he certainly hoped it would be the last. He often wondered how many Force sensitive children start in places like this; poor, dirty, where no one would live unless they had no choice. Or perhaps it's just that these are the environments from which parents relinquish their children to the Jedi Order with ease; enduring the pain of losing said child over the hope that they will have a better future than they could ever hope to provide.

“According to what information we have, Jaenen Thandu makes his living in small transport in the inner core. His ship is called the Star Fisher.” Dooku spoke with the same indifference that always seemed to accompany these sorts of excursions. He cleared his throat. “It's already late in the day, I thought we would arrive in the morning, rather than near dusk.”

“At least we didn't miscalculate completely and arrive in the middle of the night.” He stopped at the end of one pathway, and nodded. “Here we are.” The two of them walked up to the door side-by-side, and he pressed his finger against the small square to let the family within know they had visitors. The sound of laughter reached them through the durasteel, and a moment later, the door swept aside to reveal a man of about thirty-standard years, his black hair already shot with gray. “Good afternoon.”

Jaenen Thandu looked from him to Dooku, blocking the threshold with the same air Qui-Gon has seen on countless parents when these events occurred; and then the resignation to what is to happen settled over the man and then he stepped aside. “Good afternoon. Please, come in.” As they entered, they found that the interior of the home was just as shabby as the outside, the only thing in the short corridor was a long table with a packed satchel resting on it. “That's for you to take... a few diapers, change of clothes...” He took a deep breath before speaking again. “Chtel, we have company.” He led the two of them into the main room, and there, sitting in the middle of a rug are what he and Dooku have come for.

At first glance, the two babies were perfectly identical. Black hair, dark brown eyes, their skin the same fawn color of their father. And they were positively radiating Force energy. A second look revealed that they were actually mirrors of one another; the freckle by their ears gave them that clue. They stare back at the two robed men in their house, the older of the two gripping the teething ring in her hand – her eyes uncertain, the other drops her ball, rolling it towards the new faces – her expression was bright and open. Qui-Gon crouches down and rolls it back, smiling.

“There you go, youngling.” He stood back up and turned to the girls' mother, who was struggling with all her might not to scream at him and Dooku to get out of her house and to get away from her children. “How old are they?”

“Seven months.” she swallowed, finding some strength when her husband went and stood behind her, holding her shoulders. “That's Bosha, with the teething ring, and Bria, with the ball.”

Bria rolled the ball towards Dooku, who was still looking from girl to girl, measuring, gauging which one was to come with them. He kicked it towards the other twin, who let it bounce off her leg, her gaze never breaking. She doesn't trust either of them; almost as if she knows what they have come here to do.

“They're good girls.” Their father's voice cracked and the white haired Jedi turns to them. “I know that it's...” he falls silent.

“This will provide one of them with a secure future. The galaxy is constantly changing.” Dooku stepped forward and picked up Bosha. “I know that this is hard...” He was cut off as the babe started screaming. “Come now...” He made an attempt to soothe her, reaching out with the Force and the girl's own power slapped it away, a blaze of anger and fear. The child did not cease her tirade; her anguished howls, however, did not spread to her sister, whom Qui-Gon has picked up with ease. She was clearly more fascinated with his hair than her twin's distress.

“Here.” the mother opened her arms for the wailing Bosha, whom Dooku gratefully relinquished. The babe whimpered into her mother's neck, tears still rolling down her cheeks, fist stuffed into her mouth.

Jaenen's voice cracked when he speaks next. “You... you best go. Before Bria starts crying as well.”

“Thank you.” Qui-Gon answered, and thanked the Force that they didn't reveal their names to the couple. He watched as the father embraced the remaining twin and his wife. Bria was still giggling happily in his arms. He shifted his hold, finally extracting his beard from the babe's tight grip as he and Dooku walked out of the small house, the elder Jedi picking up the small satchel as they departed.

“This is one of the poorest districts on Corellia. It will not be long before the shipyard expansion wipes this area off the map. Or worse.” He remarked. “I believe that child is smitten with you.” He shook his head. “Although I have never agreed with the Council's mandate that twins always be separated.”

“It would be unkind to ask parents to relinquish both of their children. I am certain her sister will be fine.” His words did not match his tone. “We should have been here sooner.”

“Questioning the Council, my apprentice?” He laughed, ever so slightly. “Have I taught you so little?”

“No, Master.” He shot the man a look, returning the smile. “I'm just concerned for both of the girls' well-being.”

Dooku sighed. “We have taken the twin who cannot survive on her own.” A shadow passed over his eyes as they turned down the street, heading for the spaceport. “The Jedi Order would crush the spirit of her sister; and that would be a cruelty worse than what we have done.” He shook his head. “This is the last journey you and I shall make together, Qui-Gon. You have an apprentice of your own, and I only went on this journey due to Master Windu being occupied with more pressing matters.” He looked back towards the way they came, the echos of the other babe's wails still ringing in his ears.

*

Obi-Wan Kenobi stood at the foot of the entrance ramp, watching as the two Jedi Masters came towards him, Qui-Gon was carrying the baby. He'd wanted to come along with them to fetch the child; mostly because he wanted, for the child's sake, to know something about her home – her birth family. No one would ever tell him about his own; he wanted at least to be able to give the girl that much. Once he was old enough to be trusted on these sorts of missions, he'd always remember at least one thing to tell the youngling -

Attachment is forbidden.

It's one of the few rules that he's having trouble fully embracing. To be told not to form relationships and then be told to treat all Jedi as your family. It was contradictory and honestly, being fourteen years old, it seemed that many of the other padawans around his age were having the same issue.

“Welcome back, Masters.” He bowed slightly when they reached him. “I didn't know if I should...” He was cut off as Qui-Gon handed him the babe, who was looking pensive.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, meet Bria Thandu.” Was all that was said in way of an introduction before the two elder Jedi started up the ramp, and he hurried after them, the babe clearly not any happier to be in his arms than he was for her to be there. It wasn't that she was heavy – but rather that the first thing she'd done was grab hold of his braid and was tugging it with a strength that couldn't be right for someone so small.

“I thought there were supposed to be two of them.” He remarked, wincing in pain as he set the girl down in the small transport seat, fastening her in quickly, and extracting his hair from her grip in the process.

“Twins are always separated, Obi-Wan. Remember that.” Master Qui-Gon answered, and then Obi-Wan was left alone with the girl, as the Masters went to alert the pilots it was time to leave. He sighed and looked at the babe, who blinked at him as he sat down obediently, clearly to be kept on baby-watching duties. This wasn't going to be so bad, as long as he kept his hair out of her grip.

He looked down at the girl, who had jammed her fist in her mouth, her eyes slowly filling with tears. “Oh please, please don't...”

Bria started howling as the engines roared to life, and he couldn't say which of the two was louder. He fumbled for the satchel that Master Dooku had left on a seat and searched it quickly: there were only a few articles of clothing. “Think, Obi-Wan, think...” As the ship lifted off, he reached over and undid the harness he just managed to buckle, pulling the girl into his arms. Almost immediately, her grasp was back on his hair.

He was relieved that it's a short trip back to Coruscant.

**

It was the first time Jaenen and his wife put their child in bed with them. Bosha had worn herself out crying for the better part of the afternoon, and shortly after sundown, Chtel had put the girl to sleep in the middle of their bed, and then she had lain down beside her. He had joined them shortly afterward, lying with his arm over the pair. He couldn't say how long he laid there in the semi-darkness, unable to find sleep. He merely listened to the two of them breathing, his daughter's soft snuffles and his wife's nearly inaudible snores. Part of him wanted to think that today had been a nightmare; any moment he was going to wake up and find both of his little girls giggling happily in the other room.

The wretched emptiness clawed at his stomach and the part of him that was urging him to be grateful that the two Jedi hadn't taken both girls was getting drowned out by the fact that he hadn't protected his daughter from the men. He should have taken Bria from the men and demanded they leave, they wouldn't be taking either of his baby girls. How could he have failed to protect his family? That was his role in this family; provider and protector. He swallowed as he heard Bosha whimper, then settle again.

“Jaenen.” A voice whispered, close to his ear; unfamiliar. He sat up, searching the room, and found no one there.

He rubbed his eyes, cursing softly. “Sleep, I just need to sleep.” He settled back down, glad that he had not woken the pair next to him. He adjusted the bed covers and closed his eyes, willing himself to relax. He took several breaths, focusing on keeping them even in an effort to calm himself.

“Jaenen!” This time, the voice was more insistent and at the same time, he felt something press down on his chest – a hand. “Jaenen!”

“What?” He hissed, keeping his voice down. “I'm awake, what is it?” He opened his eyes and instantly wished he hadn't.

He felt himself sink into the bed as the vision played out above him, annoyance and pain giving way to sheer terror. Marching armies; one of droids, one of men, superimposed over flames. Screams; too many pinpoint a single voice or source. Another marching army in armor of white, speeders, strange looking tanks on legs firing into crowds of people – some armed, some not. Two figures, shrouded in cloaks – one tall, one stooped. A lone figure running from left to right, only to be passed by another being – the shadow wrong for it to be human, going in the opposite direction. Then it was all swept away to be replaced by a beam of green light, then five of red – and then blackness. Slowly, it cleared and Jaenen could see a small settlement, nestled into a valley, flanked by mountains to the rear, woods to the left, and a great river to the right.

“Take your family and leave, Jaenen. Leave before tomorrow's dusk. Leave and do not return.” The voice had an air of one in authority; but was tinged with worry. “There is work to be done.”

Jaenen sat straight up in bed, breathing hard.

“Honey?” Chtel murmured against her pillow. “Is something wrong?”

“Nightmare.” He replied, turning to look at her. “Go back to sleep.” He slipped out of bed. “I'm going to get a little fresh air. That should help clear my mind.” He ran his fingers through his hair and got out of bed, shaken. Going into the fresher, he splashed his face with cold water, trying to blot out the memory of the past five minutes. He was still trying to place the voice; all he could tell was that he spoke Basic with a Coruscanti accent; but he'd sounded – young. He grabbed a towel and rubbed at his face, his exhaustion of the day gone.

After another moment,he left the small room and went into the corridor, and quickly hit a few buttons on the wall panel, and the pending shipments at the port came up on the screen. Most of the cargo was too large for his vessel, and he frowned, moving past goods and going to someone in need of personal transport. “Student seeking passage to Alderaan for university.” He tapped the screen again, bringing up the details. “He must have just gotten word he was in. Rather late in the year for this.” He took a breath and activated the communication system.

“Good evening, this is Ord Andar central department.” The person on the other end of the line had a raspy voice; it made their age impossible to tell. “Please identify yourself.”

“This is Jaenen Thandu, owner and captain of Star-Fisher, registration number T-Q-G four nine two two.” He let out a breath. “Calling to request if job four-six-six is still open.”

“Identification confirmed, Captain Thandu.” There was a faint clicking noise. “Yes, the request for a passage to Alderaan is open. Departure is asking for as soon as possible.”

“Inform the customer that we can leave Corellia before three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.” He took a breath. “I'm going to have my family with me, is this going to be a problem?”

“Confirm family members, please.” the man on the other end of the line answered.

“Wife, Chtel Thandu, age twenty three standard years, daughter – Bosha Thandu, age seven months.” He inwardly cursed himself; he was stunned at how easily he left Bria out. “Will the passenger have any droids with him?”

“No. One crate of personal belongings and himself.” Another long pause. “The passenger, Petra Danns, has confirmed he will be ready and waiting to leave port at two in the afternoon.”

Jaenen nodded. “Good, please initiate the required transfers.”

“Yes, Captain. Good night.” The man answered.

“Good night.” He replied, then ended the communication.

“What's going on?” Chtel stood in the hallway, disheveled. “Jae?”

“We've leaving.” He took a breath, and quickly made up a plausible reason, other than his nightmare. “I don't want to run the risk of those Jedi coming back for Bosha.” He walked into the main room and started sorting through contents of the shelves. “If we keep moving, they can't find us.”

“Jaenen, you're not making any sense.” She came over and set a hand on his arm. “Let's think about this first, please.”

He placed both of his hands on the top of the shelf, bracing himself. “I would have to leave before the end of the week as it is. This way, we leave together. And we're staying together.” He turned his head to look at her. “Please, Chtel. Trust me on this.”

She rubbed her face, shaking her head. “I'm trying to, but I...”

“Haven't you always told me I couldn't find a better first mate for the Fisher than you?” He straightened up, smiling. “We won't fly back and forth across the galaxy forever. Just a couple of years. Save some money, find a place to live outside of the core. You and Bosha deserve to live in a place better than Kel-Des.”

“It was good enough for the two of us growing up.” She replied, indignantly but then her expression changed. “Bosha should get to see green in her life. Do you really think the Jedi will come back for her?”

“I didn't like the look the one who picked her up had on his face.” He shook his head. “I think he wanted to take both of them.” He let out a breath. “And I don't think it was just about separating the girls.”

“Well then. If we're leaving tomorrow, I suppose we better work on packing.” She bent down and picked up the worn teething ring Bosha had held onto for most of the day. “So where are we headed tomorrow?”

“Alderaan.” He paused. “And keep moving on from there.”

Chtel nodded and went over to the storage closet, getting out another container. “I'll be in the bedroom, and I can't promise I won't go back to bed.”

“I won't fault you if you do. It's been...” His face twisted into a scowl. “I hope Bria pulled a chunk of that Jedi's hair out.”

“That makes two of us.” she replied, and went into the bedroom.

**

Petra Danns arrived at the spaceport a full two hours before the scheduled departure. He would have run all the way to Alderaan if he could. The day was finally here. He had wanted to attend the university on the other side of the rim ever since he'd first learned that there were other planets out in the galaxy. He had known that getting a scholarship was the only way he'd ever attend; and he'd endured plenty of hell to get where he was going. He was leaving Kel-Des and once he'd finished his education and found a place to live, he was going to bring his mother and two younger siblings there and get all of them out of this cesspit that the Corellian government called a prefecture. In his mind, that was just a fancy word for ghetto.

He adjusted his hold on his crate and dodged past cargo in the process of being unloaded, scanning the docking bay numbers, turning in when he reached seventy-three. The corridor was free of shipping containers and when he came into the open-air hangar, he found four YT-1300 vessels, but only one of them had the entrance ramp lowered. Squaring his shoulders, he walked over to it, just as someone was coming out. “Captain Thandu?”

“Yes?” His dark hazel eyes studied him for a moment. “Petra Danns?”

“Yes, sir.” He held out his hand. “I uh...”

The man took the offered hand and shook it. “You can call me Jaenen. Good to meet you.” He looked behind him. “No one coming to see you off?”

“Mother had to work, my sisters are at school.” He bit at his bottom lip. “My father passed away from the Illness when I was eleven.”

“I am sorry to hear that.” He answered, giving him an encouraging smile. “Welcome aboard. It's actually good that you're early, we're already loaded.” The two of them started up the ramp and into the vessel. “If you're headed to Alderaan University, you're looking to become a metallurgist, or something of that nature.”

“That's right.” He looked around the corridor. “Uh, where should I store this?” He indicated the crate. “I know it's not...”

“It's fine, kid.” He gave Petra a grin. “And don't be so damn nervous.”

“I'm sorry, it's just...” He shook his head. “Sorry. I've been waiting for this day forever, and now that it's here, I have no idea how to react.” He squared his shoulders. “It's also my first trip off-world.” He turned as he heard someone approaching, and then was slightly surprised at the sight of a woman carrying a small infant. “Good afternoon.”

“Afternoon.” The woman smiled. “You must be Petra.”

He nodded. “Yes, ma'am.”

“Ma'am? That's a first for me.” She chuckled. “I'll show you where to put that.” She indicated the crate and then handed the infant to the captain. “Come along.” She led him into the main area of the craft and lifted a panel in the floor. “You're not going to need that during the trip, are you?”

“I shouldn't.” Petra answered and set the crate down on the floor, crouching down next to her. “How old is your little girl?”

“Seven months.” She set the crate into the hold, placing it between two others. “I'll apologize in advance if she starts wailing during the trip, she's teething.”

“I have two little sisters, I know all about that.” He chuckled and then helped her put the cover back in place. “My mom kept telling me not to feel bad about leaving her and them and going away to school. Instead of, I don't know... finding some kind of work.” They stood up. “Does that make sense?”

“It does.” There was a pained look on her face. “I know all to well.” She shook her head. “Anyway, you're off to university and onto making a better life.”

“That's what I'm hoping to do.” He replied, running a hand through his hair. “Every journey starts with a first step, right?”

“Right.” She turned as Jaenen came back, his face pensive. “What's wrong?”

“The harness won't fit on either of the seats, Chtel.” He adjusted the baby in his arms. “I don't know how...”

“I could hold her.” Petra cut in. “I don't mind.” He felt his face flush. “Just until she's ready to go down for a nap, or something.”

The couple looked at each other before turning to him. “I suppose that would work.” Chtel answered, her face rather resigned. “Although I will warn you, Bo has quite the grip.”

He grinned. “My sisters are part rathtar. I can handle it.” He held up his hands. “As long as she doesn't bite.”

“She doesn't have enough teeth for that.” Her father laughed. “Let's be on our way. No sense waiting around here while there's plenty of flying time left in the day.” He led the way down towards the cockpit. “Come on, I'll have you get settled first.”

Bo, it transpired, was not interested in clinging to him as much as she was in running her tiny fingers over the stitching of his jacket. At least until she discovered the sharp contrast in her skin color and his. Petra would later be rather grateful for her distracting him from the sensation of rising into the air and then into the sky, heading for space. He didn't even know they were off-world until the engines started to hum and he and the Thandu family were launched into hyperspace, heading away from Corellia.

He later wondered how it would have been if he had known then that was the last time any of them would be at Kel-Des.

Chapter Text

It was an entirely curious thing; while Bosha knew of the concept behind what she had done to the red-haired general – Hux, wasn't it? - actually having it happen was another thing entirely. She pulled off her gloves and studied her hands. While they were hers, it'd been so long since she'd seen them in this condition, they seemed to belong to a stranger. She flexed them slowly, knowing that adjusting to her hands was near the bottom of her list of problems. The whole lack of aged pain was going to take some getting used to; most likely as soon as she did, something would start hurting again.

For his part, Kylo watched the woman sitting across for him for several long minutes. He could remember clearly the first time he met her, when he was five years old. He could recall that she always tugged at the bottom of her gloves, and he realized in this moment, that he hadn't seen her without them until today. That was a question for another time. Right now, there's only one person he wants to know about. The one that links her life to his. “How old were you when you met him?” He's surprised by his own voice; he sounds winsome, instead of demanding.

“I beg your pardon?” She frowned, wondering exactly how long she'd had her focus elsewhere. “What did you ask me?”

He took a breath before continuing. “I asked how old you were when you met him.” Who else would he want to know about? He inwardly flinched, trying to keep his patience with her. Patience would get answers now, not demands. “My grandfather.”

In response, she rubbed the bridge of her nose. He would want to start in the middle, rather than the beginning. Well, she couldn't quite blame him for that. “You're going to have to be a little more specific. Are you referring to Anakin Skywalker or Darth Vader?”

“They're one in the same.” He snapped, then remembered that it wasn't Bosha's fault that his parents had kept so many details of their family's past from him. “Please, none of your riddles, Thandu.”

“And since when do I speak in riddles, young man?” She smiled and sat back in her seat. “The whole of how I first met your grandfather, is a long story. I was twenty-two when I met Darth Vader. However, when I met Anakin Skywalker, I was seven, closer to eight.”

Kylo's face twisted in slight confusion. The idea of this woman ever being a child herself was as hard to imagine as... well, his grandfather being one. “I don't know the difference in your ages, so...”

She cleared her throat. “Translating into standard galactic time, five and a half years. Roughly. So he was thirteen, give or take a few months.” She closed her eyes, chuckling. Bosha could remember the day almost perfectly; it was one of the memories she went over in her head countless times while she had been imprisoned.

“What's so funny?” He snapped, sharper than he intended. While he still had the urge to just go into her mind and take what he wanted, the fact that the woman sitting next to him was ready to just tell him – that was enough to deter him. She was going to tell him everything he wanted to know. And he wouldn't have to compel her to do so.

“Anakin had the dumbest haircut I had ever seen.” She continued to laugh, “I even told him that.”

Kylo stared at her like she had lost her mind. He knew what the old padawan hairstyle was; he'd suffered through it himself. It had seemed rather pointless. He'd also hated it because of his ears. “I take it he wasn't amused.”

“More like surprised.” She set her gloves aside.“It's a story for another time. Other things happened before then.” She studied him for a moment, noticing for the first time the scar that ran down his face, and she grew solemn, turning back towards the rushing space in front of them. “That was also the day I met Obi-Wan Kenobi.” She shook her head, sighing. “I always got the impression he never liked me very much.”

“I can't imagine why.” He sat back in his seat, folding his arms. He wasn't particularly fond of his namesake. Not anymore. “Unless he couldn't figure out why you continually played dumb tinged with insanity.”

She lifted her chin, impressed. “and you have?”

He smirked. “If you let people think you're stupid and just slightly off – no one will suspect you are capable of what you truly are. It's a mask you've worn for so long, you're actually surprised I figured it out.”

“No, you figured it out because you're clever. You always have been.” She shook her head, then looked back down at her hands, slowly curling and uncurling her fingers.“You're also not as evil as you think you are.”

“You have no idea what I've done.” He muttered. “I've done unspeakable...”

“See!” Bosha interjected, leaning over the arm of her seat. She wasn't going to dismiss his actions, but merciful Force, couldn't Ben see what was clearly in front of him? “The fact that you admit to it states that you're not the wicked person that the galaxy paints you as. You're talking to one of the last people who has heard the Jedi Order die twice in their minds. The second was nowhere near as bad as the first.”

He swallowed. “How can you be like that? Talk about massacres as if they were nothing?”

“I didn't say they were nothing; I merely stated the truth. What happened seven years ago was, psychologically speaking, a bout of food poisoning compared to the Purge.” She covered her eyes, wincing. “The night after my parents and I left Corellia, a fire broke out in the spaceport. The fuel tanks exploded, and turned the prefecture where we had been living into an inferno. When we arrived on Alderaan, my parents learned that along with myself and the student we were taking to the university were the only residents of Kel-Des-Corel left alive.” She rubbed her temples, rather glad she didn't remember this in any detail, other than what her parents and Petra had told her. “Four – out of twenty seven hundred. Well, five, if you include my sister, who was in the Jedi Temple nursery at the time.”

“The Kel-Des Fire was determined to be an accident.” Kylo cleared his throat. He had looked up the event when he was younger, when he had learned where she was from and his father had looked at her as if she were a ghost. “That was the official story. There's at least a dozen conspiracy theories about the event. From Separatists to the Hutt Crime Syndicate.”

“I always felt the true crime was that the Old Republic couldn't shill out a paltry hundred credits for a memorial plaque. They just leveled the ground and built a new port.” She snorted. “I spent most of the reign of the Empire locked up on Naboo.”

“You destroyed an Imperial shipyard and murdered a man.” He made a disgusted noise. Kylo knew he was among the last people to judge someone else for homicide. “I'm still surprised you weren't executed.”

“That was not murder.” She folded her arms. “That was self-defense. It was also a test.”

“What's that supposed to mean?” He gave her an incredulous look. “You shot the man in question at point blank range.”

“It means that if the Emperor had really wanted me dead, he would have sent a better Inquisitor.” She let out a breath. “Or more than one.” She started to twist her hair into a braid. “Tano cut a swath through them, I can tell you that.”

“My grandfather's apprentice.” Kylo folded settled back in his seat, still frowning. He'd read her criminal record in the archives of the Empire, and he knew that the New Republic had exonerated the charges. “Did you know her?”

“I did. I wouldn't say were friends, but I would have liked to have been.” Bosha took a breath. “As a whole, the Jedi Order weren't exactly fond of me. But it evens out, as there were only about a dozen of them I actually cared for myself.”

He gave her a sideways look. “They disapproved of you, I assume.”

“Their disapproval mostly stemmed from the fact that they told Bria, my sister, that I was dead and then I turned out to be alive.” She fished a tie out of her pocket and wrapped the end of her braid. “And there was the fact that most of the Jedi couldn't tell the two of us apart.”

Kylo tapped a few things on the panel in front of him, “You and your sister were identical twins then?”

“Mirror twins, yes.” She leaned forward, stretching her back slowly, noting the lack of pain there too. “She had a freckle by her right ear, mine's on the left. That was how you could tell us apart, if the observer could be bothered to actually look. Of course, the fact that I was thinner and had more scars was another dead giveaway. ” She sat back up. “And yes, few people actually bothered to check.”

“I wasn't going to ask.” He ran a hand through his hair. This wouldn't be so damn difficult if there weren't so many subjects and people they had to dance around. That's how it had been in the past; of his family, the only person who had ever tried to carry on any sort of correspondence with her was Luke Skywalker. Of course that mostly stemmed from his repeated failure to try and bring her to the Jedi Temple. “Your sister died in the Purge.”

She nodded. “I was on the far side of the galaxy when it happened.” She closed her eyes, rubbing her temple. It was over fifty years in the past and she could still hear the screams. “It was an awful day.” Bosha saw him grimace. This wasn't what she wanted to talk about. “Why don't we change the subject?”

“Yes.” He cleared his throat, absently brushing his thumb against his cheek, wincing as the scar bisecting his face was pulled. “I don't suppose you could tell me where we're going.”

“I told you.” She shifted in her seat, . “Away.”

He glared at her. “That's a direction, not a destination.”

“Are you certain about that?” She quipped, tilting her head to the side, “it may not always be so, but sometimes it is.”

“What did I say about riddles?” He growled, and she felt a jolt against her shoulder. She rubbed at the point, returning his gaze, her eyes narrowed. Kylo hadn't meant to do that; he was just so sick of people not telling him what he wanted, no, needed to know. He took a breath, not letting his tone become contrite. He'd apologize later. “I just want straight answers. You may not be a Jedi, but you certainly can twist words like one.”

“Politicians are worse.” She remarked, taking her discarded gloves and tucking them into her belt. “Mainly because when a Jedi or a Sith won't give you a straight answer, they call it the Will of the Force, their teachings or beliefs guide their words and actions. A politician, on the other hand, will promise one thing to their people, just to gain the office – but when the time comes, few will actually live up to their promises and instead maintain the status quo or brush off their failure as having their hands tied. You can always buy a politician. A Sith or a Jedi? Never. Not completely.”

“What about someone who uses the Force like you? Are you able to be bought?” He repressed a smirk; if she wanted to play mind games, he was more than willing to participate.

“It depends on their convictions and what the buyer offers and wants. Everything has a price.” She closed her eyes and leaned back in her seat. “The bigger the offer, the more dangerous it is to agree.”

“And what's your usual price for being bought?” He lifted his chin and smirked, half expecting her to tell him that his own mother had paid her to keep her mouth shut all those years ago, considered that she had also known the truth about Leia Organa's parentage.

“Depends on what I need at the time. The last favor I performed, I negotiated for a large quantity of dry goods. The person in question, however, was killed in the destruction of the Hosnian system. However, we both received what we wanted.”

“I thought you didn't like politicians.” He paused, thinking for a moment on what she had asked for in payment – dry goods - “You performed a favor for cloth?”

“Along with flour, sugar and some other grains.” She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “All he wanted was to know which of the young men trying to court his daughter had the most honorable intentions and which were only in it for her considerable wealth.”

Kylo gave her a confused look. “Isn't that what a private investigator is for?”

“Investigators.” She snorted. “you can buy one of those easier than you can buy a bounty hunter.” She folded her arms and gave him a condescending look. “And you know damn well how many of your fellow Knights are willing to do the dirty work for someone else.”

He stiffened, not entirely surprised by her words. It was true, but he'd never taken up such offers. He had more important matters to attend to. He instead turned to another time someone had bestowed something upon Bosha. “I know you accepted an offer to be the royal family's head gardener on Bespin. Or is that something entirely different?” Both of his parents had warned him away from her when he was a child, saying she was 'mentally unstable' but he never believed it. The children on Bespin told him she wasn't crazy, just sad. “A well paid and safe position, the kind most people would do anything to have. And then you just left it behind, I'll never understand that.”

“Bespin wasn't home.” Bosha sighed, remembering the beautiful royal gardens on Cloud City, the fresh air she'd craved for years; leaving however, had been easy. “It was nice, it was clean and I'll admit, I did enjoy the stability, but it wasn't where I belonged.”

“And on Away, you do? Wherever this place is?” He rubbed at his temple, trying to remain patient. Just where was this place she went to, and who else was there? Well, he'd soon find that out – just as he would the rest of what he wanted to know. “If you know even half of what I suspect you do, it's no wonder my parents wanted me to stay away from you.”

“Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Which is why I'm not bloody surprised at anything you've done. Well, other than the fact it took you so long to snap.” She folded her arms, closing her eyes again. Part of her knew she should be downright horrified of the actions of the man sitting next to her, from slaughtering Jedi to killing his father; but she couldn't. Not completely, when he had known precious little about his family's past. “I also refuse to judge you for what's happened.”

“It was never good enough.” Kylo intoned. “No matter what I did, who I did it for, it was never good enough.” He leaned forward, taking his head in his hands. The weight of the seven years since he turned to the Dark Side was suddenly threatening to come crashing down upon him. And the one person to witness it was someone who had no qualms about his past. “I just wanted... I just wanted...”

“Your parents are good people. They just happened to be really shitty parents.” She stated, shaking her head and rising to her feet. She wasn't entirely prepared to close the distance between them. The fact that he was armed with both her lightsaber and his, and they were only an hour into their journey didn't escape her. Getting this far and dying wasn't in her plans. “What do you want?”

He raised his head. “I want honesty. I just want...” A thought flickered through his mind and she caught it. “Stay out of my head.” He seethed.

“Only if you agree to stay out of mine.” She replied,coming over and standing next to his chair, looking down at him. Bosha knew that giving Kylo pity was something he would despise; the best she could do was give him understanding and remain calm. When she considered the absolute wreck of a man that his grandfather had been, this young man was doing a splendid job in comparison. “Although I don't think we should count random thoughts we accidentally catch.”

He straightened, but he did not look at her. Now she knew what he truly wanted, and he couldn't deny it. He also knew that she wouldn't tell anyone. “I believe I can agree to that.” He unhooked her lightsaber from his belt and held it towards her, the front pointed away from them both. “How exactly did you get away with building this while you were in prison on Naboo?”

Bosha snickered. “I was kept locked away with droids for guards. The Emperor believed that with lack of regular human interaction and a weekly routine of torture, I'd turn to the Dark Side. He never knew I had this, because he never checked on me.”

Kylo didn't move, but she could see him turning her statement over in his mind, putting the pieces together in what she hadn't told him. “My grandfather did.” If she hadn't been standing next to him, she would not have heard him speak. His grip on the pommel tightened. “He gave you the parts and the crystal. Why?”

“Long story – you have to know what happened before then to get to the crystal.” She set her hand on the weapon and Kylo's hand slowly drew away. “Thank you.” She returned the saber to its proper place on her belt.

“You're welcome.” He slid his fingers through his hair, letting himself relax for the first time since they came aboard the shuttle. “So I take it you knew my grandmother as well, then? Padme Amidala?”

“I did. Not particularly well. She was ten years my senior. There was also an extremely large void between her social class and mine.” She bit at her bottom lip. “Which she had the grace to always ignore. I never let myself forget it.”

“How old were you when you met her?” His shoulders relaxed, ever so slightly. He felt this subject was safe and he could tell that Bosha was in complete agreement.

“I was three. That was also the first time I remember being on Naboo.” She went back to her seat, still watching him. “You look like her. More than anyone else in your family that I've met, that's who you resemble. It's mostly in the eyes.” She opened her bag and drew out a single glass bead from within. Despite its age, it was still bright. The deep pink color seemed darker against her hand than she remembered; the delicate white flower painted on the surface had almost indecipherable scuff marks, but it was still one of her oldest treasures. “I can tell you this story, or you can watch it for yourself.” She didn't look at Kylo as she addressed him. “It's your choice.”

In reply, Kylo pulled the glove off of his left hand and waited. The act of imprinting objects with memories wasn't a common Force power, but still... If his current companion could infuse objects with recollections, it stood to reason that she could also gather them from artifacts both purposely and inadvertently marked. Which suddenly explained the gloves – she never knew what may or may not be triggered. He didn't look at her as he heard Bosha stand and cross the short distance between them again. “Has anyone else ever seen this?”

“Not willingly.” She answered and then set the bead into his palm, her hands coming around to clasp into a fist. A jolt of energy discharged from her fingers and into his; cold, without being bitter. A gust of wind on an airless day.

He felt his eyes roll back as they closed, and then, he was falling – falling down with a view of a blue sky far above, a wall of sheer rock passing and then, with another rush of cold, Kylo sank completely into the past.

Bosha took her hands from the young man's and turned her attention to the computer systems of the shuttle. It would be nearly twenty hours before he resurfaced, and she had work to do.

**

Rain was a wonder to Rey. On Jakku, it never rained. On Ahch-To, it rained almost twice a week. The first time it had, it'd been at night. She'd jerked awake, alarmed by the sound of a storm pounding on the stone roof of the hut, the roar of the wind, the way the sky was split asunder by lightning. Even now, weeks after the first time she encountered it, it brought a sense of comfort and awe. She leaned back against the wall, focusing on the sound of the storm, but turned her thoughts inward. A relaxation technique that was far easier said than done.

“Clear you mind of questions.” Luke Skywalker's voice was both in her ears and in her mind.

“Another thing that's easier said than done.” She replied, taking a breath. “I never bothered with them before, there was no time. Now it seems there's nothing but questions.” She swallowed and took another deep breath. “The gulls sound rather indignant about the weather.”

The Jedi chuckled in response. He'd heard the birds complaints for years now, but they still did not change where they built their nests. “You'll learn to filter out their chatter soon.”

Rey nodded, flexing her hands against her knees. “That, or they might end up in a stew pot.”

“I can tell you from experience that they do not taste very good.” He answered, opening his eyes to watch his young student as she tried to follow his instructions. “Although Chewie would probably disagree.”

“I'm inclined to believe that Wookiees will eat anything in regards to meat.” Rey answered, smothering a laugh. “Raw or cooked.”

“Agreed.” Luke continued to watch her for a moment, then caught a flash of a memory from her; a man with skin the color of tea. “Who was that?”

She opened her eyes, her concentration wrecked. “I don't know. Some trader who showed up on Niima Outpost once. I think I was ten or eleven.” She rubbed her nose. “He asked me if I wanted to leave.” More of that day came back to her. Rey could see the man clearly; his green eyes and dark hair, and his companion; an older woman with the same green eyes – his mother, most likely. “Sunspot.” She whispered. “I remember he called me Sunspot.”

Luke let out a breath. “You weren't afraid of him. Of either of them.” He caught a glimpse of the pair; the man looked to be somewhere around his age, the woman twenty or more older.

“No.” She shook her head. “But I wasn't going to go with them. I was still waiting for my family. That's what I told him. I was told to stay where I was, so I stayed. They left and I never saw them again.” She rubbed her eyes, not certain if she was trying to remember more of that day, or push it out of her mind. “They came and went in an old Imperial shuttle. Lambda class, I think.” Rey frowned, remembering something else about that day. “Someone was with them that stayed in the shuttle. Another scavenger made the mistake of entering it and staggered into Niima – he looked as if he'd been...” She grimaced at the memory. “He'd been thrashed.”

The Jedi frowned, quickly doing the math in his head. If Rey was correct about when this had happened, it would have been nine years ago. Shortly before Ben went to the Dark Side, shortly after the First Order started gathering power. “Did you ever see the pair again?”

“No. They came and they went. I don't know what they purchased.” She let out a breath, then saw that tea-colored man smirking at the beaten scavenger. “The one in the shuttle – they were called the Lark. I distinctly remember him saying, 'I see you met the Lark.'”

“Hmm.” He shook his head, but he could draw nothing from the memory he saw in Rey's head. Luke resolved to put it out of his own mind. “I take it he wasn't the first or the last person to ask you to leave Jakku.”

“No.” She replied, rubbing her arms as a chilled breeze blew through the hut. “Although...”

“Yes?” He lifted his chin, watching her intently. “You hoped he would have come back.”

Rey looked away from him. “Occasionally. I suppose the reason he didn't come back was because he wasn't the one who was meant to take me away from Jakku. That or the rise of the First Order kept him away.”

Luke frowned, but didn't dwell on the subject. “It's late, you should get some rest.”

She nodded and rose to her feet, rubbing her face. “Do you want...”

“I am not ready to leave, and you are not prepared.” He gave her the same answer he'd given to Rey every night. “It is not that I do not want to leave this place, it is that the time is not yet right.” He held up his hand before she could ask when it would be right. “I will not tell you to clear your mind before going to sleep, because I know you won't.”

“That's only because every time I attempt it, I start to remember things I thought I had forgotten.” She nodded. “Good night.”

“Good night, Rey.” Luke replied, closing his eyes. No, he wasn't ready to leave, not just yet.

*

Rey went into the small anteroom and sat down on her pallet, calmly removing her shoes, then laid her staff and the lightsaber where she could grab them easily if she needed too. As she stretched out, tucking the pillow under her chin, she closed her eyes and focused on the sound of the rain again. The downpour weakened, the cacophony of the storm filtering out into an even staccato, and just as she was on the edge of sleep or just slipping under it, another sound came to her. A whistling followed by a snap, something moving through the air and then hitting the ground.

The dream whirled into life around her and she found the source of the sound; two girls were playing some sort of skipping game with a long cord. One girl held an end in both of her hands and spun the rope over both of their heads. She was the taller of the pair, her coloring light and fair. Her companion was darker, with skin the color of caf. She was also wearing a blindfold.

She moved towards them, catching sight of another pair of children on swings, and teenage boy stood on top of a climbing structure with a pair of binoculars, watching something in the distance that Rey couldn't determine.

The skipping girls began to sing.

“Alderaan, Coruscant, Tatooine, Naboo, I've never been there, how about you?”

Rey turned back to the girls, noting that they were all in some sort of area that seemed specifically for play; a building stood behind them. Was this a school?

“Corellia, Chandrila, Jakku. Inner core, mid rim and outer, we're hidden away just like Ahch-to!” The girls kept singing and skipping, the taller girl changing the direction of the rope so that now they skipped with the cord going backwards.

“We've got company!” The boy on the climbing structure cried out and all play instantly stopped and Rey watched as the rest of the children joined him, with the taller girl helping the smallest of the formerly swinging children – she couldn't tell if they were a girl or a boy – up to the top. Quickly, she turned her gaze to the sky only to see nothing but a night sky full of unfamiliar stars.

A loud crash roused her and she was just on the verge of sitting up when the curtain that separated her room from the rest of the hut was flung aside. “Master Luke?” She frowned, rubbing her eyes.

The aged Jedi stood in the doorway, his face ashen. “We're leaving. I've already contacted Chewie and told him to get the Falcon ready.”

Knowing better than to question him (Luke couldn't give a straight answer on anything, Rey had quickly learned) she merely nodded and reached for her boots. She hoped the next storm wouldn't hit before they left.

Chapter Text

When Kylo lifts his head, he's struck by how wrong everything seems. He knew how Force Imprints worked – in theory. He knows this is a memory, but he doesn't seem to be an observer. He's sitting on a crate, just one among dozens and in alarm, he realizes that he can't read the Aurebesh words on the sides, just a few of the letters. The ceiling is miles away, when he knows it should just be a dozen meters, at best. Even the distance to the floor from his seat is distorted. He frowned as he realized that not only was his sense of distance off, everything was much larger than it should; from the crates to the room itself.

This is how the room looks to a three year old.

It's on that conclusion that the blurred edges seem to clear and sound rushes in. The drone of engines and chatter make it hard to pick out any one speaker, all he can make out for certain is the quiet sing-song voice of the little girl who's watching this organized chaos with general curiosity. The two of them are perched on a wide shipping container, most likely holding supplies for a long haul voyage. Even though this is Bosha's memory, he recognizes the spaceport of Theed, Naboo. It looks cleaner than he remembers. Of course it's different – this is before the planet was demilitarized and before the Clone Wars.

“Did you finish your bun, sweet pea?” A woman's voice caused him to turn. She's twenty-something, Kylo's not certain. Chtel Thandu. She's holding a container against her hip, her expression light.

“All gone.” Bosha pipes up next to him, and it takes him a moment to realize that since he's not actually there, she can see her mother despite the fact that he should be blocking her view. “And not sticky.” He turned and looked down at the little girl, her hands up, showing no trace of whatever she had been eating. Her dark hair is in two braids that fall down her back. Garbed in a tunic and pants, it's a strange sight; he can't quite reconcile the little girl with the old woman he knows. Then he noticed the freckle by her left ear.

“Don't worry Bo, we'll be leaving soon.” Chtel sighed, shaking her head. “I know it's not the best of fresh air, but just stay put, all right?”

“Yes, mama.” Bosha answered, and she watched her mother go, just a short distance away. From their spot Kylo sees the woman go into the freighter he knew to be the Star Fisher. The exact same make and model as the Millennium Falcon, but with none of the modifications Han Solo had put into his own craft.

“One little bantha cub went out to play, upon a spider's web one day...” Bosha was singing again and he turned to look down at her and caught what she was focused on, down on the floor below them. Just tucked under a crate on the other side of the isle, a distance of a few meters, is a bright, gleaming pink bead. The exact same bead that had dropped into Kylo's hand not more than a few minutes ago. “He had such enormous fun...” The singing dissolves into a hum as she looks back towards the freighter. A man waves in their direction and she returns the it. Jaenen Thandu. There's another man with him, he's vaguely familiar to Kylo, but he can't quite place him, and he's gesturing to the large quantity of cargo in front of the ship.

He turned to look the other way at the same time Bosha does. There was a richly dressed young woman talking to an similarly elegantly dressed middle aged man, not to far from them. Kylo's certain he knows who both of them are, but with the distorted distance he's experiencing, he can't make out details. They are strangers to Bosha. In that instant, he catches her thoughts. She must be a princess, she's dressed like the princesses in the stories mama and daddy read to me. They aren't paying attention to her. That's just what Bosha wants. No one is watching. Daddy said not to do it if someone can see me. No one is looking over here. I want that bead. Whoever lost it won't come back for one bead. It's pretty and I want it. I need it.

Kylo watches, rather amused as Bosha's left hand come up, fingers outstretched, focusing on the shiny object resting on the floor, so far below her. Even in this memory, he knows the feel of the Force when it's called upon. The bead rolled slightly, almost tauntingly as the little girl's nose wrinkles in concentration and then the bead shoots up from where it sits and she closes her fist around it, a triumphant smile on her face and a sense of accomplishment suffuses him; her emotions bleeding off into him.

“Well, aren't you the clever one?” A strange voice said to their left and when they turn, Kylo almost screams. Bosha didn't mention who else she had met on the same day he met his grandmother. Staring at them, or rather at Bosha, like she's a priceless gem herself, is Sheev Palpatine. The Emperor, not three feet away. Next to him, looking about as confused at Kylo feels is a girl he's only seen in pictures on the holonet. Padme Amidala. “What did you find?” He smiled at Bosha, something meant to disarm and calm. Kylo can see and understand that, but he knew Bosha's too young to understand what the man in front of her is up to.

“Senator, I think she's scared.” Padme gives Bosha a kind smile. “What's your name?”

“Bo.” She answers, shifting her gaze from Palpatine to Padme, her hand still clutched tight around her prize. “Are you a princess?”

Kylo's grandmother laughs when she speaks; it reminds him of his own mother. “What?”

“A princess.” Bosha blinks at her, lifting her chin. “you're dressed like one. Like the princess on Ald-a-run dresses.”

“Ald-a-run?” Grandmother frowns, ever so slightly, then understands her. “You mean Alderaan?”

Bosha nods, then turns to the side as her father appears, looking concerned. “Is something wrong?” Jaenen looks from his daughter to the pair, clearly worried.

“No, nothing is wrong.” Palpatine's face is hidden delight. “I was just wondering what your little girl has discovered.”

“Pardon?” And he looks so strongly at his little girl and by the expression on his face tells Kylo that he knows exactly what just happened. “Did you take something that wasn't yours?”

With a great deal of reluctance, Bosha holds out her hand, her fingers slowly uncurling to reveal the bead. She looks away from all three of them, away from her precious prize, and Kylo could swear she looks ready to start crying. He doesn't blame her. He watches as his grandmother comes up and takes the bead, examines it for a moment, then, with a smile places it back into Bosha's hand, squeezing it so she turns to look at her. “Whoever lost that would probably be glad it was found by someone who wanted it, rather than for it to be swept up by a droid and thrown into the trash.”

“What do we say, Bo?”

“Thank you.” Bosha mumbles out, but her fear is shifting from the man in front of her to the man next to her. Kylo knows this fear too; the sense of dread that any child has when they've misbehaved.

“I'm terribly sorry if she was doing something she shouldn't have.” Jaenen wraps an arm around his daughter, and a feeling jolts through Kylo; one of safety and protection. The innocent security of a child who, with absolute conviction, knows that the person holding her will defend her to their last breath.

There was a time when Ben Solo believed that about his own parents.

“Remarkable child you have there,” Palpatine paused, leaving the question in the air.

“Thandu, sir. Jaenen Thandu.” His head shifts to the side, his expression slightly wary.

“And this is Bo?” In spite of all his time idolizing the man, Kylo feels sick looking at Sheev Palpatine's face.

His view of the room is cut off as Bosha buries her face in her father's jacket, trying to hide away from the man who clearly scares her. “Yes.” All Kylo is aware of is the thick smell of safety and voices. “I'm sorry, she's normally not this shy.” The hangar comes back into view as Bosha is drawn out of the jacket. “It's all right sweetheart.”

Bosha shakes her head, pressing her face against her father, but her gaze remains on the pair in front of them; trying to be brave and hide at the same time.

“Oh, she's most likely tired.” Palpatine sounds so calm, so disarming, the perfect manipulator at work. “It's all right, Bo. I won't hurt you.”

She doesn't untangle herself from her father, but she does sit up a little straighter, watching the older man and Kylo folds his arms. “Don't believe him.” His words are meaningless; this isn't his memory, they can't hear him. But then – it's almost as if Jaenen does. The grip around Bosha tightens, if only a fraction.

“Bo hasn't ah.. she's not been around many older adults. Most of them she's encountered are around my age or younger.” Jaenen tugs absently at the end of one of her braids. “Her grandparents died when she was still an infant.”

“I'm terribly sorry to hear that.” Padme touches Bosha's cheek. “You're a cute little space bug, you know that?”

“Thank you.” Bosha relaxes, wrinkling her nose.

Palpatine smiles at Jaenen, and there's another flicker in the Force. “How old is your little girl?”

“Three.” His grip doesn't lessen; if anything, it becomes stronger. “She's a little small for her age.”

“Oh, I'm certain she'll catch up in no time, won't you?” Sheev is about speak again when someone in a uniform approaches them and whispers in his ear. “I'm afraid we must leave.” He gives another of those disarming smiles to Bosha and her father.

“Can you say good-bye?” Jaenen prompts his daughter.

“Bye.” Bosha's voice is barely audible and then, just like that, Kylo's grandmother and the Emperor walk away, their conversation to soft for him to hear. A moment later, her father is in front of her, the stern look back on his face. Her bottom lip trembles, uncertain. “I'm sorry.” She manages to eek out.

Jaenen sets his hands on her shoulders. “I know you are, sweetheart. But remember what I told you. Never where you can be seen. Not until you're eight. When you're eight, you'll be too old for the Jedi.”

She nods and looks down at the bead, still on the verge of tears. “It isn't fair.”

This exchange is something Kylo understands. He had had to hide his Force powers constantly in his childhood. Han Solo didn't understand, Leia Organa was always busy – and Luke Skywalker... Skywalker seemed more occupied in finding other Force Sensitive beings than focusing on his nephew. It wasn't that he wanted all of the attention, he would have just liked more. If they had just – if there had been time, if they had made time – maybe then Snoke wouldn't have – No, he would not go down that road of thought. The past was done with, he couldn't change it.

Kylo expects to fall out of the memory; back into himself. His grandmother has left this scene and time is moving on without her. He finds that this was rather disappointing, he had thought there would be more. No sooner does that word grace his mind then the room started to turn around him. The hangar folds to the side and he is dragged forward into a swirling in a haze of places and objects he can't make out. Screams that run the gauntlet of emotion from horror to joy. There are things he does catch; various pairs of hands giving another folded pieces of paper, and those hands delivering them to another. A flash of credits, sometimes a piece of fruit, small tokens that mean nothing to him. Quick rushes of green, blue, and scarlet, only the colors, not the attached objects race past. Then, just as before, he saw the sheer rock wall, and the world slammed back into focus with the rush of cold.

It takes him a few moments to take stock of where he now is. Standing just to his right is a young woman wearing a patched dark green coat that bears no insignia and he looks down to see a well worn pair of black boots on her feet. She carries no weapon, and in truth, she's doing her best to hide in the narrow corner she's waiting in. When she raises her arm to tug at a pair of brown gloves, recognition comes to him instantly. Bosha – somewhere between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, looking more hungry than anything else. Kylo looks out the window next to them, and behind them, he can see the bustling world of Coruscant. He can't tell from the spires outside which building he's in, and when a door opens up, somewhere out of their sight, Bosha stiffens.

Senators walk past their hiding place; Kylo only recognizes two; Bail Organa and Mon Mothma. None of them see her standing there as they go into the lift, chatting about something mundane; it sounds like a social event. He smirks when he sees Bosha roll her eyes towards the ceiling. Once the lift door closes and she's alone, she slips out from her concealed corner and over to the door the apartment they are outside of. She straightened her shoulders before ringing the bell, and a moment later, the door is swept aside, opened by a droid.

“Ah, Miss Bosha, it is good to see you alive and well.” The prissy voice alone makes Kylo want to scream again.

“Threepio.” She responded, managing a polite smile as she came into the apartment, but she didn't move more than two feet from the door.

“One moment, one moment.” The droid went deeper into the chambers, and all Kylo can see are the plush and expensive furnishings. When he looks back at Bosha, she's tugging on her gloves again, doing her best to hide her anxiety as Threepio returns. “Do come in, Mistress Padme will be glad that you are here.”

“Thank you.” She walked slowly into the apartment, slipping her hand into coat and a moment later, Kylo can see the square of parchment concealed there. He walked over to the corner opposite of where she is, so he can take in the whole scene; and then his grandmother sweeps into the room, looking perfectly delighted.

“I wasn't expecting you back so soon.” Padme goes over and gives Bosha a slight hug, and takes the parchment, tucking it into the belt of her dress. There's an odd feeling hanging in the air that after a moment, Kylo recognizes as a slight tremor in the Force. There shouldn't be that, unless – fuck.

Bosha's face doesn't betray the knowledge that she's just learned; she knows that his grandmother is pregnant.

“We found a few students who wanted to come to the Academy here on Coruscant. War or no war.” Her shoulders lower slightly, clearly not wanting to share the information she's about to. “However, I don't expect I'll be returning here any time in the near future. It's getting to be more and more dangerous to make the trip and while the Fisher is registered as neutral, there are always those on both sides who, if you'll pardon my language, don't give a damn.”

Padme gave her a confused look. “You do know that the Republic is winning the war, yes?”

“It's not the war, your excellency, it's...” She shifted on her feet, and held herself, lowering her shoulders, but lifted her chin. “The cost of this war is starting to take its toll, and I don't mean in just a financial sense.”

“What do you mean?” She frowned, and Kylo feels a slight twinge; Grandmother reminds him of General Organa in this moment. So damn similar and if his mother hadn't been so... whatever, the young woman standing next to the couch could have told her that. This is insane.

“I don't know what sort of reports you get about the... for lack of a better term, collateral damage.” She tugged at her glove again. “There are parents trading their children for food. I've lost track of how many times I've been offered a baby for portions.” She steeled herself as Padme sits on the couch, her face aghast. “The Republic may be winning the war, but the war is killing the galaxy.”

Padme covered her mouth, all the color was draining from her cheeks. “Dear gods...”

“I don't say this to upset you, your excellency. I just...” Bosha's eyes flick towards the window, then back to her. “I'm sorry.”

“No, no... don't be sorry.” She stands, and comes over to Bosha, setting her hands on her arms. “This is the sort of thing that needs to be heard. It needs to be known.” She reaches into her pocket and pulls out another letter. “Can you deliver this to my parents on Naboo? You know where they live.”

She nodded, taking the parchment and sticking into the interior of the coat. “You'll understand if I can't bring you a reply.”

“No reply is needed.” Padme pulls away slightly, clearly trying to lighten the tension in the room. “And I want you to come see me on Naboo. I'll be back there in five months. Do you think you can do that?”

“Since my father and I will be sticking to the University Run, it shouldn't be a problem at all.” She was about to speak again when everything washed away. The change was so abrupt, Kylo nearly screamed as he felt a hand lift his chin, and another settle over his clasped fist. He was back on the shuttle, and Bosha was standing over him, her expression sorrowful. “You're not ready to see the rest.” The corner of her mouth twitched up in a smile. “You also skipped the middle.”

He opened his hand and rolled the bead back into hers. “That was the first and the last then?” He straightened up, trying to regain his bearings.

Bosha pulled her hands away from him and tucked the bead back into her bag. “That we were both alive, yes.” She went over and took her seat. “I'll admit it's quite the puzzle.”

“You failed to mention that the day you met my grandmother was the same day you met the Emperor.” Kylo rubbed his eyes, feeling as if he had both slept a hundred years and hadn't rested in all that time either.

She snickered. “Well, in my defense, you didn't ask.” She sat back, folding her arms and kept her gaze on the screen in front of them, keeping her expression blank, instead of laughing.

His jaw dropped; but strangely, he felt no sense of rage at her cheek. She had a point, he hadn't asked her whom else she had met that day. “You never made that trip to Naboo, did you?”

“I did, actually.” Bosha closed her eyes and swallowed. “That was my last trip there until I was brought back as a prisoner. I arrived the afternoon before Padme's funeral.” She shook her head, rubbing at her eyes, willing herself not to cry over the memory. “I thought everyone was dead then. Her, your grandfather, just... everyone.”

“No, you didn't.” Kylo catches the ghost of a feeling; something that Bosha left out of her statement. “Tell me.”

She opened her eyes, a self satisfied smile on her face. She had known that he was clever; but he was rapidly proving to be far smarter than all of the other men of his family combined. “I knew Padme hadn't died pregnant. The Force signature I felt the day I found out she was expecting was gone. If she had died carrying, it would have remained.”

“And you never told anyone?” He's not angry, or in shock – or anything, really. It only seemed to him that the more he found out what Bosha knew, the more questions it uncovered. He had promised not to invade her thoughts, but oh, the urge – the urge is back to just riffle through her memories so he can see the entirety of it, to have it all laid bare...

“Not for nineteen years.” She lets out a breath. “And even when I did, the answer was...” She waved her hand. “Later. That's for later.” She leaned forward over the controls as the stars came back into focus as the shuttle fell out of light-speed, and she swung the craft in a low bank around the planet in front of them. “We need to eat. You've been out for nearly twenty hours.”

“Where are we?” He scanned the navigational readouts. “The last time I saw this, we were two hours from Ord Mandel.” His brain registered what she'd just said at the same time his stomach growled. “Twenty hours? It felt like twenty minutes!”

Bosha nodded. “I know it did. The further back the memory, the longer it takes to get there. At least, the first time you view it. You're lucky that you skipped the middle part, you'd be out for forty-eight on that.” She stood up. “In answer to your question, we're approaching Bakura”

“This does not seem particularly wise.” Kylo stood up, frowning as they swept around the planet, heading for the far side. “Stopping before we reach Away.”

“I laid most of the false trail while you were out.” She lifted her chin. “This is the one true marker on the path.”

He frowned, folding his arms as Bosha tapped the controls, her focus on her work and not on him. “You say that like you're expecting someone to follow us.”

“There are three ways arrive on Away.” She leaned against the console. “You're either brought, led, or born there. It's been years since anyone was called.” She grimaced, lowering her head, shaking it. “There's also the fact that your uncle is aware I've surfaced in the galaxy again. And before you ask, no, I don't know where he is.” She rubbed the back of her neck, trying to stave off her exhaustion. She would sleep when they left Bakura. The last thirty-six hours seemed twice that. “So perhaps he'll oblige the galaxy by coming out of his den.”

He snorted. “He'll go to the Resistance, to his sister.” Kylo stood up, his joints popping as he did. He grimaced and continued to stretch, rolling his shoulders. He didn't want to think about Skywalker, the Resistance – or about The Girl. His arms fell to his sides as another realization comes to him. He has vanished from the Finalizer and Hux was dead. The First Order flag ship was going to suffer a temporary power vacuum. Unless, of course, Phasma just took over while other officers are squabbling. “Do you want to be found?”

“I already told you; there are only three ways to arrive on Away.” Bosha steered the shuttle through the atmosphere, heading for a settlement near one of the coastlines. “The last people to be called to Away and arrive there under their own power were a small band of refugees from Dathomir near the end of the Clone Wars.”

Kylo felt his eyes widen. “Dathomir? Nightsisters and Nightbrothers?”

“The Dathomirians who came to Away were all Force Blind. With the exception of one toddler and at the time, her unborn sister.” She pinched the bridge of her nose. “There were a grand total of ten from that planet. When I left Away after the rise of the Empire, there were twelve Dathomirians – now there's around twenty.”

“Are they all Force Blind?” He paused. “Just twenty?” It'd been fifty years – certainly there would be more than just eight more than what they started with.

“People are born and people die, young man. The only ones of the original ten are the two sisters.” She sighed. “The younger is the Lark. In answer to being able to use the Force, six of them can. A grand total of eighteen residents, or a little less than half, on Away are able to access the Force. Ranging in age from four years to seventy-six.”

He quickly did the math in his head. “I'm guessing that a total of forty people in total live there.” He looked out the screen to see the city spread out beneath them. “Are we going to be telling the docking bay operators that we stole this shuttle?”

“No. We won't need to.” She chuckled. “Welcome to one of the last places in the galaxy where the official business is mind your own.”

Kylo picked up his helmet, frowning, remembering something he had heard in the vision. “What the Force is the University Run?”

“That's what the flight roads between the former six major universities in the galaxy were called. That's what my parents and I did until the rise of the Empire.” Bosha closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath. The time before the Empire was so long ago; over fifty years, and yet, sometimes, it felt like it was just last week. “We transported students from home to school. There's only three of those schools left. My dad would always ask if I wanted to go to any of them. I said I'd keep ferrying students and eventually, I'd be granted honorary degrees from all six for a lifetime commitment to their establishments.” She resumed her seat, flipping several switches. “One more dream buried in the vast graveyard of the galaxy.”

There was a crackle of static over the com and a moment later, a voice broke through. “Good evening and welcome to Bakura. Please state your name and registration number.”

**

Rey fell asleep on the Falcon, waking after a handful of hours. While her rest had been dreamless, her mind kept going back to the five children she had seen earlier. She rubbed her eyes, half yawning as she came into the cockpit, ready to relieve Chewie from his stint at pilot. To her surprise, the wookie was already gone and Master Luke was in his seat. He looked as if he hadn't slept even a minute. She slid into the pilot's seat, giving him a sideways look. “I don't suppose you can tell me why you changed your mind about leaving less than two hours of me asking you to.”

Luke pinched the bridge of his nose, taking a deep breath. “A tremor in the Force. I should have known better than assume she was dead.” He rubbed the back of his neck, taking a deep breath. “I suppose I also should have known that I would have felt her die if she did.” He looked over at Rey, realizing that she had absolutely no idea who he was talking about. “It's a complicated matter. I also don't put it past the woman showing up just to say hello, only to vanish again.”

She sat back in her seat, trying to figure out what the Jedi was contemplating. “This is some other Force sensitive person?”

He nodded. “More powerful than she lets on. She's no Jedi...” He sighed. “Although I believe she would have been a good one.”

“I thought all your students...” She saw him wince at the last word.

“Bosha was never my student. As far as I knew, all her Force knowledge comes secondhand, through trial and error.” He shook his head. “She's also eighteen years my senior.”

“Is she your aunt?” Rey knew little of Skywalker's family; but it's the only role that seems open to this woman he's muttering about.

“I suppose that's the closest term I could use.” He shook his head. “My sister isn't exactly fond of her, but I suspect that has less to do with Bosha and more of the fact that she knew our father.” Luke took a breath. “She was held prisoner in Darth Vader's citadel during most of the reign of the Empire. But Bosha knew him before all of that.”

Rey frowned. “I take it General Organa doesn't care about the before.” It was easy enough to understand in her mind; the idea that there had been a before for Darth Vader. Well, there had to be – he wasn't born Vader. She knew that there had been a before for Kylo Ren, but somehow, that was harder to picture in her mind. The three notions of Vader, Bosha and Kylo Ren came together and the image of some old woman being caught by that monster made her heart twist.

“I don't think that it will come to that, Rey.” Luke let out a breath. “When he was younger...” He paused before saying his nephew's name. “Ben was always fascinated by her. Bosha lived on Bespin for a time and he would have rather spent his time around her, than anyone else. Leia didn't approve of it – but you can't exactly order the head gardener out of the garden.”

“I'm having a hard time picturing your nephew being young.” She turned her gaze to the panels in front of her, checking and double checking the readouts. “Or wanting to spend time in a garden.”

“Bosha also used to vanish for indeterminate lengths of time. The last nine years was the longest in my time of knowing her that she went missing.” He sighed. “Five days after I met her, she vanished from Naboo, along with a four year old girl. I didn't see her again until she was on Bespin, six years later.” He frowned. “I don't believe Ben remembers Jora. The next time he went to Bespin after the first time he met her, Jora wasn't with her mother.”

Rey swallowed, barely able to keep the horror out of her voice. “Did Bosha have a baby while she was imprisoned?”

Luke shook his head, “No, no – Jora was an orphan. She was with a group of upper class children whom the Empire were holding hostage in an effort to control their parents during the liberation. Bosha's the one who freed them. Jora snuck onto the craft that the Naboo gave to Bosha to leave the planet. I sometimes used to think that she hid the girl away from me.” He let out a sigh and sat back, the memory of a fire-headed girl who had shone so bright in the Force, but kept her abilities as hidden as her mother did. “I believe she felt that I might try to reinstate the Jedi practice of taking Force-sensitive children away from their parents.”

“What?” Rey sat up straighter. “The Jedi used to take people's children?”

“Times were different then.” Luke sighed. “I didn't want to believe the practice either, but it was common in the times before the Empire. The Jedi forbade all attachment – including familial ones.”

“If she wasn't a Jedi, then how did she know your father?” She leaned forward and picked up the tin of rations that had been left behind by Chewie, opening the container and lifting out a piece if jerky. After several months of eating real food on Ahch-To, the difference in taste was alarming.

“You know, I don't think I ever asked Bosha that. I just knew she wasn't lying when she said she was an old friend of my parents.” He let out a weak chuckle. “How pathetic is that? All those years and I never actually learned the how and where of it. I don't think Leia knows either.” He took up his own tin of rations. “I suppose it didn't matter at the time.”

Rey studied her piece of meat. “Then ask her the next time you see her. Maybe that's why she's come back.”

“I don't think that's the reason she surfaced.” Luke to a breath. “I think she's come for Ben.”

“That won't end well for her.” She shuddered, remembering the last time she saw someone go to that monster. “He'll kill her the same as he did his father.”

“No, he won't.” Luke is adamant in this. He knows his sister believes that deep down, there's still some of Ben Solo inside of Kylo Ren. Bosha, on the other hand, does not care which side of the Force a person walks on. Not until you attacked her or someone she cared about. And she knew far too much for his nephew to kill her. “He's not going to kill one of the last people in the galaxy who knew his grandfather personally and no doubt is willing to share what she knows.” He let out a breath. “It's also a big galaxy. Bosha's not fool enough to get herself captured by the First Order. She's too old to be going on any sort of adventure – and she also doesn't know that Ben fell to the Dark Side.”

“So where are we going?” Rey took up her jerky again, “you said it's a big galaxy, where do you think you'll find this Bosha woman?”

Luke smiled. “Bakura. I may not be able to keep track of her, but I do know she has an old friend there. If anyone knows where she is, he will.”

Chapter Text

Kylo wasn't exactly sure what he was expecting in terms of Bosha's friend. The small food stand in the middle of the capitol of Bakura wasn't exactly the place he thought they would be waiting. It wasn't entirely out in the open, but it was close enough that he felt rather conspicuous. Despite its location, the six seats around the counter were all empty; but the smell drifting towards him made his stomach clench in hunger. How long had it been since he'd had real food? Rations and nutrient drinks had been his source of sustenance for months. When his head brushed under the valance around the top of the stand, he was surprised to see that Bosha's friend wasn't human – and then admonished himself for being so surprised.

The togruta's age was impossible to tell. His face was almost completely orange, save for a slash of white across both of his cheekbones, and three smaller white streaks down each side, which could be interpreted as blood or tears to the outside observer. He wore an akul-tooth headdress, and a chain that went down the back of his head split into five strands just past his shoulder-blades, and, with the exception of the middle one, which was empty, ended with a different marker halfway down his back. Starting on the left, there was a claw, a sand-credit, a stone of some kind, and a small knife. He didn't look up when Kylo and Bosha sat down either, his focus entirely on the wok in front of him.

“Good evening, Ansel.” Bosha grinned, watching him stiffen. “Remember, I take my bowl half-strength.”

Ansel raised his head and turned around. “Bosha Thandu.” He smirked, and Kylo could see he wasn't surprised by her change in appearance. “I see you found your nightmare.”

“I see you haven't started looking for yours.” She answered, resting her arms on the counter as he set down two steaming cloths in front of them. She looked over at Kylo, giving him a half smile. “I'm afraid this young man doesn't know what his name is yet, so I can't formally introduce him.” She removed her gloves, setting them in her lap and took up the cloth to wipe her hands.

“Hm.” The togruta looked Kylo over, then smiled. “And I thought the last boy you turned up with looked hungry.” He indicated the steaming cloth. “Wash your hands, young man. No one sits at my counter with grubby fingers.”

Kylo pulled off his own gloves, then did as he was bid. He wasn't going to speak up about the name issue; he was not currently dressed as Kylo Ren, and he damn sure wasn't Ben Solo. “What do you mean, you take your bowl half-strength?” He asked Bosha, not looking at her.

“It means she takes it at half spice.” Ansel remarked, chopping up several vegetables as he did so. “I recommend you do the same. You'd probably best have half of half – something tells me you haven't had real food in months.” He looked him over, his violet eyes gentle. “You're also sadder than the last one.” He turned to Bosha. “How is Zekk?”

“Same as he always is.” She let out a sigh as she finished cleaning her hands. “A compressor ready to blow.” She smiled faintly. “Or a perfect sunny day. Usually can't tell how he'll be until after breakfast.”

“Who's Zekk?” Kylo frowned, he'd never heard that name before.

“Long story.” Ansel took the cloths away. “But then, I think Bosha's picture is next to the phrase long story in any given dictionary.” He gave her a smile. “Red, yes?”

“Of course.” She turned to Kylo. “What do you want? Red, white, yellow or vegetarian?”

“Vegetarian.” The reply for him was automatic. How many times had his parents told him to never order meat from a street vendor unless you were absolutely certain what you were getting in your bowl. Vegetables you could identify; something in the togruta's expression told Kylo he knew exactly what he was thinking. “As long as it's vegetables and not something pretending to be meat.”

“It's all vegetables kid.” Ansel turned back to his wok and glanced over his shoulder. “Wait a bloody minute...” He turned around, his ladle pointed at Kylo. “Is that who I think he is?”

“Uh huh.” She shook her head. “Check your sabers and load your blasters.”

“Shit.” He turned his attention to cooking. “This will just be a couple of minutes.”

“I don't suppose you'd care to let me in on what he's talking about.” Kylo muttered under his breath to Bosha. “I feel about twelve parsecs behind the pair of you.” He clenched his fist to keep his temper in check, his blunt nails digging into the ball of his thumb. The pain helped.

“You remember you asking me where I learned how to do what I did to Hux?” Bosha folded her arms, resting them on the counter, catching his nod. “Ansel's the one who taught me, or rather, told me how it was done.” She wrinkled her nose. “You failed to mention the sting.”

“You were five.” He retorted. “It wasn't as bad as your first bowl of my fare, was it?”

She chuckled, shaking her head. “Nowhere near that bad. And I ate half of that damn full spiced soup, thank you.”

“Yes, yes you did. All because you said it was wrong to waste food.” He looked back at them, grinning. “How old do you think I am, young man?”

Kylo thought for a moment, taking clues from what information he'd been given, and then thought of the oldest being in the galaxy that he knew personally. “Two hundred and thirty five.” He was fairly certain that was Chewbacca's age. He didn't want to think about the wookie if he could help it.

“You're off by about four hundred and seventy years.” Ansel laughed, tossing a medley of vegetables into his wok. “I'm rather surprised you went through with it.” He directed this at Bosha. “You seemed rather comfortable in your age.” He took up a bowl and finished preparing Kylo's portion of soup.

“My job is far from done. Besides, the Force put me into the galaxy to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now, I'm so far behind, I will never die.” She rested her chin on her hand. “Although I could do with a nap.”

“You can sleep on the way to wherever we're going next.” Kylo interjected, and he caught both of their grins. “I've already had one.”

“Now, you need to eat.” Ansel replied, setting the bowl down in front of him. “Careful, it's hot.” He looked over at Bosha. “Yours will be done in a few.”

“Thank you.” He answered, picking up his spoon. He inhaled the deep rich scent of spices, he couldn't remember the last time he'd had something actually wanted to eat; eating was a necessity on board the Finalizer and less something to enjoy.

“We won't be staying too long, I'm afraid.” Bosha reached into her coat and drew out a cloth. “I was wondering if you could deliver a message for me.”

“Of course I can.” Ansel smiled as he took the offered item and he tucked it under the counter, then turned his attention back to the wok.

Kylo took a small sip of the broth in his spoon, not looking at his companion. “I thought I gave orders to have your coat searched.”

Bosha smirked. “I told the guard he'd already checked that pocket.”

**

It was both a blessing and a curse to Rey that there was always something that needed to be fixed on the Falcon. Right now, it was a blessing because working on the ship was something to distract her from her own harried thoughts. She adjusted her hold on her wrench, wondering if she should just try and replace the chair in the gunwale or keep fixing this one. Resting her forehead on the seat, she patiently undid the tight bolt, deciding to blame the poor condition of everything on Unkar Plutt; he made a convenient scapegoat for things that went wrong with her ship.

She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths, trying, once again, to empty her thoughts. The only thing that happened was she became aware of just how awful the leather her face was resting on smelled. Several different species of sweat, stench and she didn't know what else were ingrained in the the leather and really, it was a miracle no sand rat had made a nest in the damn thing on Jakku. She sat back on her heels, leaning against the side of the turret, rubbing at her nose, and then grimacing as she felt the grease from the underbelly of the seat spread across her face.

She gave her dirty hand a frown and then ran it across her forehead, before she fell back and chuckled to herself. Not much had changed for her in the six months since Starkiller. Well, perhaps not as much as she would have expected. She no longer had to climb into wrecks for crumbs, she hadn't gone to bed hungry once, and she had learned a great deal about the Force; but somehow, she still felt like she was waiting for something. Someone. Her physical hunger had been replaced by a mental one. Instead of food, she starved for answers. Questions she didn't know how to ask, or even whom to ask.

Rey sighed and turned her gaze to the passing streaks of light, her mind going back to her dream of the playing children. Wherever the group was, if they were real – it seemed to her that there should be more than just five students at the school. She was a solitary student, but that was different. She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall, letting out the breath she was holding.

Sunspot...

The voice was faint and she sat up straight, blinking. “What?”

Sunspot...

It was clearer now; the voice oddly familiar, yet – the accent. The voice had the same accent as her. “Who's there?” She whispered, her body coiling around the words, half ready to reach out with the Force and see if she could sense the source.

“I'm the Watcher. I've been away.” The voice isn't next to her, it's inside her.

“Get out of my head.” She seethed, hissing. “I will not play this game. Not with anyone.” Rey doesn't expect him to acquiesce, but to her surprise, the very air around her seems to sigh at the same time the voice does. It's sad, somehow, a dim resignation that almost brings an apology to her lips.

“As you wish, Sunspot. But before I depart, I shall tell you this – the Spark knows from where you came – and one day, you shall learn what they know. It will change – everything.

Humility washes away from Rey with those words. Someone out there knew about her past; someone would be able to answer the questions that had burned in her mind all those nights on Jakku. Her family, her past – where they were, why hadn't they come back – and the words tumble out of her half begging, half demanding. “Where is this Spark?”

“With the Apprentice. Or rather, my Apprentice.” There was no malice in his tone; but rather, amusement. Then the voice – whomever he was – was gone.

“Rey?” Skywalker was calling her. “Are you all right down there?”

“I'm fine.” She stood up too quickly and slammed her head into the side of the gunwale. “Or was.” She grimaced and climbed out, rubbing the injured spot. “How far are we from Bakura?”

“Another hour.” His expression was slightly amused. “More than enough time for you to wash your face.” Luke paused, looking the girl over. “Did something happen?”

“I'm still trying to sort out that dream I had.” She replied, grimacing. “I feel like I only saw half of what was really there.”

“Such is the way of dreams.” He intoned, shaking his head. “But often a dream is merely a dream.” A part of Luke couldn't believe he'd just said something that stupid. Dreams were never just dreams – not in his experience.

Rey frowned, watching the old Jedi's subtle change in expression. The look she was rapidly learning to accept as the 'change the subject' was settling over his face. “I'm going to go wash up.” She turned and headed for the fresher, hoping that the hot water tank was still holding up. There was something else she was going to have to fix or replace before the year was out.

One more thing to blame on Unkar Plutt.

**

The drone of the engines was nothing but white noise to Kylo as the shuttle raced onward to their destination. After leaving Bakura, they had gone to Endor, and now – now they were headed for Away. Bosha had put in the final coordinates and then gone to sleep, stating that he should do the same. However, rest was the furthest thing on his mind; he wouldn't even bother with lying down at this point, besides, they were one hour into sixteen hour trip, plenty of time left to sleep. He didn't even want to think about the fact that they were heading into uncharted wild space. Besides, he'd had a twenty hour rest and really, how could he be expected to sleep so soon after that?

He adjusted his hold on his helmet, staring down at the black and silver mask that he had been wearing for years, hiding away his true face from the galaxy. Tonight had been the first in countless that he had gone without it, and it'd been equal parts wonderful, strange, and awkward. He could see his reflection, distorted and fractured in the silver, the unevenness and piecemeal image making his scar look worse than it was. The face of a total stranger.

When he'd stepped down into the spaceport, he'd felt horribly naked. Scar, scruffy hair and stupid nose for everyone to see. No one would recognize him as either the dreaded Master of the Knights of Ren, or as the assumed lost and imprisoned Ben Solo. He'd been just another human among the thousands of Bakura, not getting a second glance, and while he'd not been wearing anything to hide his visage, he'd never felt more invisible. He'd seen the night as it really was, the riot of colors and scents, unfiltered and somehow – how had he forgotten what it was like?

Rising, he took the mask back to where the rest of his uniform hung, the surcoat and the armor were tucked into a storage locker, leaving him clad in the remnants; still all in black, but it'd been a sort of freedom. Being anonymous for a handful of hours and able to pretend that he wasn't the monster he couldn't escape. The creature he'd become; he'd lost hours of sleep to internal conflict, struggling to justify his actions and then gasp and wonder how he could ever atone for his crimes. Bosha had been right; he didn't know what his name was anymore than he knew who he was. He didn't know how to be Ben Solo anymore than he could revert back to being Kylo Ren. Here he was, two days away from the First Order, and his persona of the past seven years was slipping away into the shadows.

You're the Spark.

The voice was clear and kind. He turned sharply, expecting to see the speaker; as if he were once more a child, easily fooled by a trick in the Force. Kylo frowned, hearing only the engines, his own breathing, and then he heard Bosha cough in her sleep. He took several steps to where the woman was resting, but she was deep in slumber, and alone. “Who...” His hand went to his lightsaber, and he clutched the hilt in his hand tightly. “Who are you?”

You already know the answer.

He stiffened, lifting his chin. “If you're the Watcher, how do you have my voice?” Maybe the accent was different, but Kylo knew his own voice when he heard it.

You are the Spark. I am the Watcher.

“You answer questions like a Jedi.” He spat, still trying to find where the person was speaking from. “Just show yourself already!”

I can't. I can only show myself on Away. The Force can be a fickle bitch at times.

Kylo had to suppress a snort. That had to be one of the single most accurate descriptions of the Force he'd ever heard. “You're not going to tell me to go to sleep, are you?”

No. You can rest later. There's plenty of trip left for sleep.

He started to walk the length of the shuttle, from cockpit to exit, because honestly, standing and talking to a disembodied voice reminded him too much of being a little boy; back when Snoke... No, he wouldn't think about the Supreme Leader, about the Knights, he would try and shift his focus. “Could you have stopped all of this?”

All of what? The First Order? The Knights of Ren? Snoke?

“Yes.” He whispered, running his hand through his hair. “Could you have stopped any of this?”

I've already stopped things from happening. If I had not warned Jaenen Thandu to leave Corellia, he and his family would have died in the firestorm seventy-five years ago, save for Bria, who would die in the Jedi Purge seventeen years after her sister.

“Why Bosha?” Kylo didn't mean in disrespect or contempt, but in his mind, it didn't make sense. “Wait... that's why you chose her. No one would suspect someone so...ordinary.”

She does appear ordinary, doesn't she? There was a smothered chuckle. But you know better, don't you?

“Outsiders think her ordinary.” He sighed and went back to pacing. “Have you ever talked to me before?”

Only once, and you were a baby. I told you to not be afraid. Another pause, and Kylo felt something brush past his hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. I couldn't save you from Snoke, and for that, I'm sorry.

“Could anyone?” It comes out in a harsh snarl; anger was such an easy substitute for any emotion lately; and the last thing he wanted to do was appear weak.

The Force is a fickle bitch and you are not weak. Another squeeze at his hand. We'll talk more when you get to Away.

He nodded, and resumed his walk, sensing that he was once more alone. He was on his seventeenth circuit when the memory hit him. He'd been called Spark before. Not by a disembodied voice, not by Bosha, but by a girl with serious red hair and an infectious smile. He had been five years old, she was older – by five and a half years. “So that's where Jora went.” He chuckled and then shook his head, and went to take off his boots before sitting down on the floor, folding his legs and leaning back against the wall.

He closed his eyes, tilted his head back, and drifted into his memory; searching for scraps of joy and innocence stringing them together in his mind. A chain to hold onto; whatever his future held for him.

**

Rey's first impression of the capitol of Bakura was something akin to awe. It was a forest built of steel, glass and stone, and, in her mind, rather grand. Perhaps it was the ocean that bordered the city, the water shades of yellow, red and orange – nothing like Ahch-To's blue. “Are you certain you don't want to come with us, Chewie?”

The wookie shook his head and gestured to the Falcon, letting out a series of growls that basically meant he was going to fix a few things instead.

“We won't be long.” Luke added, turning away from the ship and leading Rey out into the city proper. “Hopefully, Ansel hasn't moved his stand. I haven't been to see him in at least eight years.” He sighed, not wanting to remember that particular trip. He'd stopped here while looking for his nephew, and the togruta hadn't been able to help him.

“Perhaps we'll be lucky and run into the Thandu woman there.” Rey wasn't exactly looking forward to running into her or Kylo Ren anytime soon.

Luke chuckled. “The only way that would happen is if Bosha decided to wait for us.” He paused. “Which, given her nature, could happen.” If she was there, he was already expecting her to cuff him across the back of the head and scold him for running off and not at least tell his sister where he went. Quite honestly, he wouldn't put it past her to drag him all the way to D'Qar by his ear. He also had the suspicion that his sister would pay good money to see Bosha do just that.

“What did Bosha do that caused the Empire to imprison her?” Rey decided that it was better to talk about the unknown woman than the bantha in the corner that was the Knight of Ren.

“Officially it was for the destruction of an Imperial Shipyard.” He shook his head as he caught sight of the familiar food stand. “Bosha threw several thermal detonators at a fuel tank – and then claimed she thought it was full of water.”

“She honestly expected the Empire to believe that?” She was incredulous. No one could be that stupid, could they? “Why didn't they execute her?”

Luke frowned, shaking his head. “I've never fully believed her answer. We'll discuss it on the next part of the journey.” He pushed the valance aside, pulling a smile. “Good afternoon, Ansel.”

The togruta looked up from chopping vegetables, and cursed in Huttese. “Well, look what the Force dragged in.” Ansel set his knife down, his gaze going from Luke Skywalker, to the girl next to him. “Welcome to Bakura.” He indicated the two stools on the right. “Little late for lunch, little early for dinner.”

“It's nice to see you too, Ansel.” Luke answered, taking the seat nearer the street.

Rey slid into her own stool, frowning at the person in front of her. She'd never seen a togruta up close before. There was something unsettling about him; and she wasn't certain if she wanted to know why or not. “Hello.” She frowned when he set a steaming rolled cloth in front of her. “What's this...”

“No one eats at this stand with dirty hands.” He replied, his smile widening, then he rounded on Luke. “That goes double for you, young man.”

“Yes, sir.” Luke returned the grin, taking off his gloves and picking up his cloth. “And no, I do not need to shave.”

“I wasn't going to say anything.” He held up his hands. “Yellow, half-spice.” It was the same thing he always ordered – he'd made the mistake of ordering full spice once.

“And for you, young lady?” Ansel said to the girl; she hadn't given him her name yet. “Red, yellow, white, or vegetarian?”

Rey shook her head. “I don't understand what that's supposed to mean.”

“It's simple. Red is an animal that grazes, yellow is an animal that flies, white swims and vegetarian is vegetables.” He gave her gentle look as he took the cloths away. “It's all fresh, if that's what you're concerned about.”

She shook her head. “It's not that, it's...” How was she supposed to tell Ansel she'd never been offered a choice of a meal before? Eating was important to her; but she'd never complained or worried about having a variety.

“How about a combination bowl?” Ansel's expression softened. “A little bit of everything.”

Rey nodded. “Please. Not to spicy, if that's all right.”

“That's fine.” He went over to his wok and started adding the meat and vegetables too it. “What brings you to Bakura?” He asked merely to keep the conversation going. He wasn't going to play the 'I know what you're doing here' game with Skywalker. It wasn't any fun when Jedi were involved.

Luke wasn't fooled by Ansel's tactic in the slightest. “Have you seen Thandu lately?”

“Yes, I've seen Bo.” He tossed a small amount of spice in with the mix, starting to toss it rapidly. “The day before yesterday. Came by in the evening, was gone before it was fully dark.”

“Was she coming or going?” He was hoping it was the former. If it was the later, they'd already missed their chance at catching her.

Rey shifted in her seat, the tension between the other two was thick; Ansel wasn't Master Luke's friend, it was more of a matter that they tolerated each other, or they had been friends and something caused a rift. “You mean to tell me that there's someone better at hiding than you are?” she muttered, not expecting to be heard, or answered.

“Bo was going.” Ansel replied, sighing. “And the thing about her, Miss, is that she keeps herself invisible until she wants to be found.” He tossed the mixture from the wok into a bowl, then added broth and noodles before setting it in front of the girl, along with a spoon. “What's your name, young lady?”

“Rey.” She answered, then looked down at the bowl in front of her. “Thank you.”

“You're welcome.” He turned and started to prepare Luke's serving. “And no, Jedi Skywalker, I still don't want to join the Order.”

“I wasn't going to ask.” Luke straightened up. “I haven't asked you that in years.” He chuckled, then paused; “Although I'm starting to wish you would.”

“I'm too old and set in my ways to change them.” He fixed the bowl the same he had Rey's then set it in front of Luke. “If the original Jedi Order rejected me, why should I join a new one?”

“You can't be that old.” Rey said more to her bowl than to Ansel. Was there some lesson on being vague that all Force users took that she hadn't been privy to just yet? She took a large mouthful of soup and the combination of flavor and spice nearly made her toes curl.

“I was too flawed for the Jedi. And I don't like killing enough for the Sith. ” He sighed, and he began to clean his wok. “So I walk the road in between, and keep my head down.”

“You're a walking contradiction.” Luke muttered. “Still would like to know how you've lived, what is it, seven hundred years now?”

Rey nearly gagged on her food. “How old?”

“Seven hundred and five, to be exact.” Ansel sighed. “The trick of it is you must put back into the galaxy what you take out. The only other person I know who knows how to do it, is Bosha.”

Luke winced, shutting his eyes. “And she doesn't look like an old grandmother anymore, does she?”

“Well, she won't be offended if you think she still sounds like one.” Ansel grinned, shooting a look at Rey, whose eyes had gone wide. “I think you best worry about yourselves, little less about what Bo's up to.” He reached under the counter and took up the cloth the woman had given him two days ago. “She did, however, leave a message.”

Rey pulled the cloth towards her and unfolded it, frowning at the contents with. It was a feather the length of her forearm. It went from black at the root to a pale grey, ending with a brilliant purple at the tip. “What kind of bird does this come from?”

“An eagle” The togruta answered, closing the cloth and setting his hand over it. “The Amethyst-tipped Alderaanian Eagle, to be exact.”

The spoon fell from Luke's hand, clattered against the bowl and vanished over the counter, landing somewhere near Ansel's feet. “If it's from Alderaan, it should be extinct.”

“Yet here a feather sits.” He lifted his chin and handed him a clean spoon. “Why don't you finish your dinner, then go and see your sister?”

Rey looked from Skywalker to Ansel, her confusion only growing with each minute. Would a clear answer be too much to ask for at this moment? A seven hundred year old togruta had just handed her and Master Luke a feather from a bird that died out three decades ago, the old woman they were looking for was now somehow young again according to the being in front of her – and they had no idea where the hell this woman was. “Who are you?” She didn't mean to edge her words with the Force, but it slipped out; ice on the end of her words, the sharp feeling in the small of her back.

Ansel tilted his head, looking rather amused at her words. “I'm the Companion,” He let his smile widen by a mere fraction, “and for now, that's all you need to know.”

Chapter Text

The docking bay held a grand total of six ships, the newest of which had to be at least fifteen years old. This was the high security hangar, that's what his dad had told him and Ben wasn't certain what that meant. Mama had said that meant it was safer than the others, but why did they need extra safety? Mama had left the bay already, but he couldn't go with her, something to do with her work and he wouldn't like where she was going. He'd have to sit and be quiet.

For a long time.

So, he found himself sitting on a packing crate while Dad and Uncle Chewie worked on the Falcon, and he played 'Spot the Differences' with his ship and the one across the isle from it, same make and model, but decidedly better condition. He tucked his knees up under his chin, trying to decide if the series of colored marks on the undercarriage of the other ship counted as one difference or nine, when he felt a flicker of something; the same sort of flicker that told him if Uncle Luke was visiting.

Hide what you can do. Don't let others know.

Ben straightened as two people approached the other craft; a lady with black hair in a single braid and a young girl; she looked a little older than him, with bright red hair that was twisted into two buns at the back of her head. The flicker had come from both of them. His focus shifted to the pair; he wanted to see what color they were. When he'd told Uncle Luke that he and mama had colors around them, he'd asked him what he meant; and when he'd explained that some people, not everyone – but some, had colors around them, Uncle Luke explained it was the Force. He was seeing the Force within other people who could use it. Mama was lavender; a pale, pretty, purple color that made him think of soft blankets and bedtime stories. Uncle Luke was different; he was yellow – and so bright. He didn't feel bad about not being able to see his own color; he knew it was there.

Watching the pair across from, he could see how the auras around them danced with each other, shimmering in the drab and ordinary docking bay. The girl was green; vibrant and strong, the color reminded him of grass and leaves. The lady – her mom? - was more subdued; she was blue. Not day sky blue or night sky blue – it was a dusky sort of blue. Like rain.

The girl turned towards him, and waved, grinning. He felt a jolt of panic – did she detect a flicker in him? Or was she just being friendly? He turned back towards the Falcon, not certain if he should return the wave.

“Hello.” A soft voice said from right next to him and Ben turned. The girl was a dozen feet away, watching him. Now that she was closer, he could tell was older than he thought. From a distance, she looked around seven. Now, she looked to be at least ten – twice his own age of five. She wrinkled her nose. “You do speak Basic, right?”

“Uh huh.” He straightened his shoulders. “I'm not supposed to talk to strangers.” He watched as the woman with the girl came over and stood behind her. She was older than his mama, she looked around his dad's age, but was hard to tell. There was a black leather bag hanging from her belt; and next to it was a metal cylinder, bronze with black markings. The lady had a lightsaber, like Uncle Luke. The bag held his interest more. What was inside it? He didn't know anyone who carried a bag around like that.

“Well then, I better introduce myself so we're not strangers.” The girl stepped closer, holding out her hand. “My name is Jora Thandu, and this is my mom, but I call her Aunt Bo.”

“Where's your dad?” He looked at the girl's hand and then to her face, and he saw her smile drop, just a fraction.

“My daddy died at the Battle of Yavin. My natural mama died when I was three. Now I have Aunt Bo.” She lifted her chin. “Aunt Bo saved me and the others from the Imperials.”

“What's this?” Dad came up beside Ben, looking pensive. “Can I help you?”

The woman set her hands on Jora's shoulders – she was wearing gloves. “My daughter just wanted to say hello. I hope that's not a problem.”

Dad gave him a sideways look, which Ben returned with a shrug. “Go on.” He gave him a nudge.

He jumped down from his seat and shook the girl's hand, feeling confused. “I'm Ben Solo.” He tried to remember what he'd seen adults do in this situation. “It's nice to meet you.”

“It's nice to meet you too.” She pulled her hand away, clasping them behind her back. “I think the adults need to introduce themselves now.” Jora was clearly trying not to laugh. He felt rather the same way.

“Beg your pardon,” The woman recovered before his dad did. “I'm Bosha Thandu, and you are?” She didn't pull the glove off her hand before extending it.

“Han Solo.” Dad shook her hand, frowning. “Where on Corellia are you from?” Ben saw him glance at the lightsaber for a moment before meeting her gaze.

“Kel-Des.” She answered, matter-of-factly and pulled at the end of her glove, nonplussed at Dad, who was now gaping at her. “Close your mouth young man, you're teaching your son bad manners.”

Jora covered a giggle and shoot a look at him, and Ben bit at his bottom lip to keep from grinning. What was so surprising about a place called Kel-Des?

“No one survived that fire.” Dad shook his head. “You couldn't possibly...”

“It's easy to survive a fire if you're not there the night it happened.” She sighed and smoothed down a stray curl of Jora's. “We'll let you get back to your work.” She gave Ben a slight nod. “It was nice to meet you.”

“It was nice meeting you too.” Ben stated, watching the two of them walked back over towards their ship. “What are those colored marks?” He called, taking a few steps forward and pointing.

“These?” Bosha held up her hand towards the items in question. “They're parking clearances. No longer valid, but I can't bring myself to get rid of them.”

“Come on.” Dad picked him up and set Ben on his shoulders. “Let's go take a closer look.” They reached the ship, and Ben stretched his hands up, his fingers brushing a long black mark, the carbon scoring so set in, it may as well be a part of the metal. “That's fairly old.”

Bosha looked up at it. “Yes, it is. That's what a warning shot from a Confederate Droid Control Ship looks like.” She rolled her eyes. “When we left Alderaan, no one told us that there was a blockade on Naboo.”

Ben's eyes widened, his grip on his dad's chin tightening. That was a warning shot?

“Anyway,” she came over and pointed to the nearest mark to him and Dad, it was green. “That's from Naboo. Actually, I think that one's still valid.”

“Can't say we've ever been to Naboo.” Dad said, frowning. “Well, not lately.”

“I haven't been there myself in oh, five and a half years.” Bosha sighed. “Unfortunately, all the people I used to know there have passed away.”

“I'm sorry to hear that.” Dad answered, then he also looked up at the marks. “This purple one, that's from Alderaan, isn't it?”

“That it is.” She folded her arms and shook her head. “The galaxy's a much poorer place without it.”

Dad nodded solemnly. Ben knew it was better to say nothing. Alderaan was where Mama was from and it made her sad just to think about what happened to it. He looked back up, and Ben did as well, and caught sight of what looked like a cross between an Old Republic emblem overlayed with a Confederate one. “Neutral, huh?”

“No slaves, no stolen goods, no soldiers.” Bosha folded her arms. “Exception on the last if they're injured, but even then – leave your war outside.”

“Wait a minute...” Dad's tone changed, and Ben frowned, feeling the emotion of shock bleed into him. What was going on? “I know you – you're that half-crazy Jedi my wife met during the liberation of Naboo.”

Rather than act insulted, the woman smiled and then looked down at Jora. “See, I told you I was famous. Now you can tell Kyp I wasn't lying.”

“I don't want to tell Kyp anything. He's annoying and I hate that he pulls my hair.” Jora folded her arms and made a face Ben was certain he'd lose dessert for a week if he did the same.

“The next time he pulls it, you pull his right back, honey.” She answered and then nodded to Ben and his dad. “Good day.” She put her hand on Jora's shoulder and the two of them went up into their ship.

“Bye!” Ben called after them as Dad walked back towards the Falcon. He was confused; the woman didn't seem all that crazy. And she was a Jedi? Why wasn't she with Uncle Luke then? He frowned as he was set back on the crate, figuring this was, no doubt, something that he was 'too young to know about' – he really hated that phrase. “What's wrong?”

Dad let out a sigh and ruffled his hair. “Nothing, Ben. Just stay away from her, all right?”

“Do you mean Jora or Aunt Bo?” The name fell out of his mouth; he knew he should call her by her last name, but – he couldn't.

“She's not your aunt.” Dad spoke sharply and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Just... just don't talk to that woman. You can talk to Jora.” He looked back over at the ship and muttered something in a language Ben didn't know. He went back to Uncle Chewie.

He worried his lip as he watched his father for a moment, then looked back towards the other ship, as Jora and Aunt Bo – he'd call her that in his mind, that was okay, wasn't it? - came back out, carrying a bag and the hurried across the docking bay, heading for the elevators. He tucked his knees under his chin; watching the pair, feeling rather sad that they were leaving. As they reached the end, he saw Jora look back over her shoulder at him.

See you later, Spark.

Her voice was as clear in his head as if she had been standing right next to him and said it aloud.

Ben sat up straight, fighting the urge to run after the two of them.

*

Between Bespin and Away, Jora liked Bespin better. Well, maybe that was unfair, because Away was wonderful. She could run around barefoot half the time and she didn't have to hide her Force abilities. Bespin was better because here, she didn't have to share Aunt Bo with any of the other residents. She knew that thinking things like that were selfish and somehow wrong, but Aunt Bo was hers. The way the Star Fisher was Aunt Bo's. Well, maybe not like that, but something similar.

Bespin also had the Garden.

The Garden was huge, nearly as big as the entire settlement on Away, and Aunt Bo took care of all of it. Right now, she was busy planting the bulbs they'd brought with them while Jora and several other children ran around, playing hide-and-seek. She settled into her seat up in the tree, watching the other kids run under her spot several times, never looking up.

“How does Jora keep finding these great hiding spots?” Tec, a boy close to her age called. “This is the seventh time none of us have found her!”

“She's such a tiny scrap of a thing, she's probably inside a bush again.” Ress, his sister, answered. “Let's go see if Aunt Bo will at least tell us which direction she went in.”

“Could I play too?” A new voice pipes up and Jora has to hold onto the trunk to stay in place. “Please?”

“You can't play unless we know your name.” That was Elena, and Jora pushed a branch down to see the five children staring down at the small boy from the docking bay.

“My name is Ben Solo.” He rubbed his nose, and she could see he was looking them over.

Tec straightened, folding his arms. “Tec.”

“Ress.” His sister put in.

“I'm Elena, this is my brother, Nic. He doesn't talk.” The girl folded her arms. “Or rather, he can, but chooses not to.”

Even from this distance, Jora could see Nic give his sister a look.

“I'm Cas.” the last member of the group said her name with little fanfare. Jora knew the girl never put her title in front of her name unless she was around adults. The second oldest child of the royal family of Bespin hated formality. “Maybe you can help us find Jora. None of us can find her. Do you know her?”

Ben nodded. “What do you mean you can't find her?” He pointed straight at Jora. “She's in that tree.”

Jora Niesatale Thandu, you get down from there right this second! Aunt Bo's voice was firm but kind in her mind and she sighed, climbing down from her perch. She supposed she should have known better. The trees here weren't like the ones on Away. She hung from the lowest branch, stretching herself out before letting go, dropping the six feet to the ground.

“How'd you get up there in the first place?” Tec demanded. “You're too short to have reached the branches.” They came over her, all of them surprised, except for Ben, who kept blinking at her, a gaze that told her he knew very well how she'd gotten up into the tree.

“Used the trunk.” She shrugged, and they all, save Ben, seemed to accept this explanation. “Fine, I'll go ahead and be it.” She turned and leaned against the tree, resting her head on her arm. “One, two, three...” She heard them scatter behind her, racing away from her counting spot. She was on twenty-seven on her way to one hundred when her mom spoke to her again.

Don't you even think of using the Force to find them. That's cheating. Aunt Bo's voice was calm, but firm. It wouldn't be cheating if they could all use the Force. Her guardian also didn't want her showing off her powers to people. It was dangerous, Mama said. Like talking about Away was dangerous.

Yes, Aunt Bo. She intoned politely. She continued on with her counting.

*

Ben's day had been grand and wonderful. When he was returned back to his parents' apartments before dinner, he thought nothing of the mess his hair was, the dirt on his clothes and face, and the fact that he'd been playing almost non-stop all afternoon. After Cas left for tea with her grandmother, he and the other children had kept up with their game, and he'd proven to be almost a good as a hider as Jora was. He was sweaty, no doubt smelly, but he hadn't had an afternoon like this in well, ever.

Mama took one look at him and shook her head, smiling. “I see someone's had a good afternoon.” She came over and plucked several leaves out of his hair. “I'm glad someone did.”

“We were playing in the garden, mama.” He answered as she bustled him into the fresher. Normally Mama would have sent him to clean himself up, but they must be going somewhere for dinner. She didn't trust him to get rid of all the dirt before they went to eat. “Where's dad?”

“Off with Uncle Lando, doing who knows what.” She started to run the hot water, her face somewhat flustered. He knew he wasn't in trouble, something else was bothering her, probably having to do with her work. “You are a perfect mess.” She paused. “That Thandu woman wasn't in the garden, was she?”

He nodded, knowing he couldn't lie to his mother. “But I didn't talk to her. She was working.” He held his arms up as she took off his stained and dirty shirt. “The other kids said she wasn't dangerous, just sad.” He frowned, not certain what he wanted to know more; what Mama didn't like about her or why she was sad. “Is she not a nice lady?”

Mama ran a cloth under the water and soaped it up, washing the dirt from his face. “She's a stranger, Ben.” She sighed, smoothing down his hair. “She's not bad, she's just...” She shook her head. “Your uncle Luke is here, I believe he's gone to find your father.”

He closed his eyes as she washed around them. “She's got colors, Mama. Her and Jora have colors like you and Uncle Luke do.” He kept his face scrunched up as he heard her run the water again, then wiped the soap off of his face. “Jora's green and...” He didn't know what to call the woman. “And her Aunt Bo is blue.” He dried his face with the offered towel. “Is her Aunt Bo a Jedi? She's got a lightsaber like Uncle Luke does.”

“Ben, that's enough.” She took the towel, giving him a stern look. “Go change your clothes for dinner. Your dad and uncle will be back soon and we'll be leaving for dinner shortly thereafter.”

He felt his shoulders slump, trying not to frown. “Yes, mama.” He replied, obediently. He'd tell Uncle Luke about the colors. He was almost always interested when he saw colors in people. Uncle Luke understood what was so special about seeing the colors. He paused in the doorway, looking back. “Best clothes and best manners, right Mama?”

She gave him a smile. “That's right, honey. Make sure you give the nanny droid your dirty clothes so they can be washed.”

Ben nodded and went into his room, resolved that tomorrow, he'd bring Uncle Luke with him to the Garden.

*

Jora kept her expression as neutral as possible, but her hands were clenched into fists as she headed back for her and Aunt Bo's apartment. She didn't know what hurt more; being told by some visiting kid – whose parents were important in the galaxy – that she couldn't play with him or the others because he was the oldest and she was just the daughter of the Gardner - or that none of her friends stood up for her. If Cas had been there, she'd have let her stay. But Cas had to spend time with her grandmother again. That was another wonderful thing about Away. Everyone was equal. She turned down a corridor just in time to see Ben Solo duck into a stairway.

What was he doing?

She hurried after him, opening the door. “Where are you going?”

The boy turned around, his expression about as angry as she felt. “I was told to get out of the garden because I'm a baby. I'm not a baby, I'm five!”

She sat down on the steps, sighing. “Was this someone wearing a green tunic and a very mean face?”

Ben huffed and sat down as well. “I am not a baby.”

“I know you're not. He told me I couldn't play with them because of who I am. I'm not...” She looked down at her hands. “I'm not important.” She straightened, trying to smile. “But as Aunt Bo says, at least I'm not mean. It's not being mean that keeps her looking young.”

He frowned. “How old is Aunt Bo?”

“Forty-seven standard years.” She huffed. “Sometimes she says she feels twice that.”

“Wow. She's older than my dad.” Ben wrinkled his nose. “Is your Aunt Bo a Jedi?”

Jora shook her head. Aunt Bo almost never talked about the Jedi – unless it was on Away. “Her sister was, but she wasn't.”

“How come she's got a lightsaber then? Only Jedi carry those.” He stated with authority.

“Ha!” She bounded down several stairs. “That's not true! It's just that Jedi are the ones trained to use them.”

“I'm gonna be a Jedi someday. Just like my uncle.” He grinned. “Maybe you can be one too.”

She shook her head and climbed onto the railing, sliding down the next flight of stairs. “Not ever. I don't want to be a Jedi.”

He did the same as her, although it took him longer to get up on the railing. “Why not?”

“I don't want to. I'm going to do...” She sighed. “I don't know what I want to do, but I know I don't want to be a Jedi.” She jumped down the next flight of stairs. “What's down here, anyway?”

“I don't know.” He came to her landing, peering down what seemed to be an endless flights of stairs. “All I know is, we're going to take a lift back up to the top.”

“Good plan.” She got back onto the railing and they slid down a few more sets of stairs. Jora wasn't sure why they went in here in the first place; oh yes, that rotten kid up in the Garden. “What kind of Jedi are you going to be?”

“A great one.” He grinned as they came to a landing with a door, and he pushed it open, revealing a long corridor.“Uncle Luke says the time for the Jedi is coming back.”

“I won't be a Jedi, but I'll be your friend.” Jora stated, emphatically. “You'll still be my friend if I'm not a Jedi, right?”

“Yup!” Ben nodded, turning back to look at her. “Why'd you call me Spark? What's that supposed to mean?”

She stopped. “That's... complicated.”

“What's complicated mean?” He titled his head to the side and then turned, frowning. “You feel that?” There was a tremor in his voice; he was trying not to sound scared, and failing, badly.

Jora came up next to him, and caught it in an instant. It was cold. A wretched, icy – a bad kind of cold. She licked her lips, looking around slowly. “There's someone here.”

“Look!” Ben exclaimed, and he crouched down, reaching under a a storage unit. “There's something here!”

She swallowed. “We should get out of here, now!”

Pick him up, Wayfarer. Grab the Spark and run!

Jora had only heard the Watcher in her head once before, and that had been the day she left Naboo, but she'd never forgotten it. She ran forward, scooped Ben up by the waist and raced back up the corridor. He howled in protest, the cold was chasing them – whatever was down here, whatever was waiting for them, it was worse than bad. Wrong. Dangerous – and they had to get away.

“Put me down!” Ben struck the small of her back with his fist, a sharp, hard punch that nearly made her stumble. “I'm not a baby!”

“We need to leave!” She gasped and reached the door, holding the squirming five year old the best she could as she opened it and fell into the stairwell. She tripped over the closing door, sending both of them flying headlong down a flight of stairs. Jora quickly sat up, trying to tell if she was hurt worse than bumps and bruises. When she looked over at her friend, who had just managed to push himself up, his face scrunched up with pain, and he was about ready to start screaming. “Ben!” She gasped, setting one hand on his arm and the other smoothed his hair. “Are you okay?”

He sniffled, shaking his head and squeezing his eyes shut, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Did I lose it?”

“Lose what?” She took a breath, looking him over, checking for any scrapes or blood. “Did you hit your head?”

“No.” He squeaked out. “Ow.” He let out a wail. “It's my hands!”

“What?” She looked down at them and gasped. All of the fingers were bent at odd angles. “Oh, Ben...” She did what her Aunt Bo always did when she hurt herself. She gave him a very quick kiss on the cheek. “It's all right, it's going to be fine.”

The kiss apparently startled him, because he stopped crying and blinked at her. “It hurts.” He sniffled. “That's mine. I found it.” He nodded towards the foot of the stairs and Jora saw what he'd been grabbing for back in the corridor. It was a lightsaber.

Jora picked up the saber and set it in his lap. “Well, I won't take it from you then.” She leaned close, deciding that this was clearly an 'emergency' and Aunt Bo said she was only supposed to show what she could do in case of one. “I can fix your hands.”

“No you can't.” He sounded indignant and miserable at the same time.

“Watch.” She took his right hand and let it rest in the palm of her left, holding her right above it. She closed her eyes, picturing what she knew a hand looked like – she'd seen dozens of hands, knew how a human's hand was supposed to appear. She remembered to breathe evenly, focusing on pulling the Force out of the air around her and Ben and using her hands to heal his.

“How....” Ben's voice was carried towards her, distant and breathless.

She opened her eyes long enough to take his left hand the same as she had to the right, not wanting to let her concentration wane. It was harder the second time, she'd learned that healing made you sleepy in the beginning. Soon, she'd be able to do it and not be so tired afterward. When she finally let his hand drop, she felt horribly dizzy. The cold from the corridor seemed to be gone, but she didn't want to risk it. “Better?”

Ben pushed her up against the wall for support. “I didn't know you could use the Force to do that.”

“Not everyone can.” She gave him a worn smile. “Aunt Bo says everyone who can use the Force has a different gift.”

“I can see colors on people.” He blurted. “Not people who can't use the Force, but people who can.”

“Colors?” she frowned. “I don't understand.” She wrinkled her nose. “Or are you not supposed to talk about it either?”

“Not really.” He sighed. “Mama doesn't like it.” He was flexing his fingers, his expression dumbfounded. “The colors I see, they sort of glow around the person. But I can't see what color I am. You're green – greener than that tree you were in the other day.”

“Green huh?” She gave him a sideways grin. “I guess I can live with that. I like green.”

He nodded. “I don't know what all the colors mean though. Some people are brighter than others. My Uncle Luke is really, really bright. He's yellow.” Ben sniffled and rubbed at his eyes. “Your Aunt Bo is blue. Not blue like the sky – but blue like...kind of like the way you think rain should look.”

“There you are!” A voice called down to them and they looked up. A tall man was at the top of the stairs, and with him was Aunt Bo. He had blond hair and bright blue eyes. “What are you two doing down here?” He came and crouched down with them. “Ben, did you fall down the stairs?”

“Hi, Uncle Luke.” He nodded. “Jora fixed my hands.” he held them out for inspection, and Jora felt uneasy. “And look what I found!” He held out the lightsaber, grinning. The tumble and the race out of the corridor completely forgotten.

He took the saber, and muttered something in a language Jora didn't know. He then hooked it next to his own saber and then turned his attention to Ben. After studying his nephew's hands, he took a deep breath before speaking. “That's not a common gift, young lady.” He smiled, that sort of gentle smile that adults gave children when they praised them but at the same time, wanted to know how you managed to pull of what you just did. “You're quite clever.” He gave Aunt Bo a look that she didn't like.

“There's something in that corridor.” She pointed towards the door. “Something bad.” Jora swallowed. “Can't you feel it?”

Aunt Bo looked over at Mister Luke, then crouched down in front of her. “Did you see anything, honey?”

She shook her head. “Only felt it. It was...” She shuddered. “I'm scared.” She felt the kiss on her forehead.

“Let's go back upstairs. I believe these two have had enough adventures for one day, wouldn't you agree, Skywalker?” She remained down so Jora could climb onto her back and then Luke picked Ben up in the same manner.

“Quite.” He tilted his head, and he sounded amused.

Her aunt adjusted her hold so Jora's chin was on her head. “Do you think the Jedi and the youngling would like to come over for tea and cookies?”

“Cookies?” Ben's face brightened. “Can we, Uncle Luke? Please?”

The man smiled, a genuine, happy expression. “We gratefully accept your invitation.”

They headed back up the stairs, together.

Chapter Text

The shuttle dropping out of hyperspace woke him up. Kylo didn't remember falling asleep, and he groaned as he rose to his feet, bracing himself against the wall to stand. A blanket fell from his shoulders, and he stared at it for a moment, then shook his head. He'd fallen asleep meditating, having gotten lost in the memory of a day spent playing running games in the Garden on Bespin, and at some point, Bosha had woken up and covered him as she passed. He was stiff from sleeping in a strange position and he grabbed a container of water from the food storage unit. He leaned against one of the seats as he took a long swig from the bottle, the water within was flat and warm. But it helped. “How long have you been awake?”

Bosha stretched her arms out in front of her, and several of her joints popped. “Around two hours. I haven't been keeping track.” She turned back and looked at him. “Judging from the way you were snoring, you had a decent rest.”

“It was good.” He came up to the front of the cockpit, scanning the space in front of them. In the distance, on his left, he could make out a bright orange sun, and on his right, a gas giant planet; at least as big as Yavin, if not larger. “Where are we? Geographically speaking.”

“We're on the far side of the Unknown Regions, just inside the Second Trailing Rim.” She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear and then pointed to the planet. “That's Vartija Kivi.” She shook her head. “No, I didn't name it.”

“Who did?” He took another drink and nearly dropped the container as another planet swept into view. It was much smaller than the one in front of it, a green and blue gem, and ringed. “That's Away?”

“That's Away.” She grinned and flipped on the communication system. “Those aren't asteroids around the planet, if that's what you're thinking.” She looked up at him. “We best let them know we're not dangerous.”

“What...” Kylo felt his eyes widen as he started to make out what the two circles around the tiny planet were; hundreds of satellites, and he had a feeling most of them were armed. “How...”

“We have you on our screens, please identify yourself.” A voice crackled into the cabin, the age of the speaker impossible to tell.

She toggled a switch and then Bosha smiled before answering. “Good afternoon, Zekk. I told you'd I'd be back shortly.”

“You still haven't told me who that is.” Kylo frowned. “But I guess I have several dozen people to meet.”

“I see you found the Spark. That is who that is, right?” Zekk sounded slightly amused. “May I just say, that shuttle is a vast improvement over the clunker you left in.”

“The Resistance has X-Wings that are technological marvels over that scrap pile. But it was one of the first crafts Benson ever stole, so he was proud of it.” She looked up at Kylo. “Benson was a slave from Tatooine.”

Kylo frowned, then looked over at Bosha. “You didn't leave anything incriminating in that shuttle, did you?”

“Don't worry about that.” She stood, leaning over the control board as they flew past the line of satellites, getting the landing cycle ready. “I purged every single system in it while I was waiting for the First Order to arrive. That shuttle is a several ton paperweight sitting in that hangar bay. The fresher doesn't even work and you'd have to scavenge the entire scrapyard of Corellia to get all the parts to make it work again.”

There was another crackle of static, and Zekk spoke again. “You're cleared to land in the bay, there should be enough room for the craft next to the Atlan.” There was another crackle. “Did you find your nightmare, Aunt Bo?”

Bosha took a breath. “I did, and I may have landed myself on the Most Wanted list of the First Order as well.”

“Let's be honest here.” Kylo interjected, feeling his ears grow red. “For all the First Order knows, you're still in my custody and I'm taking you to prison. Or that we somehow killed each other in a struggle over this ship and our bodies are rotting somewhere in hyperspace.”

“Point.” She stated, giving him an understanding look.“You better sit down, this landing can be a little rough with the wind.”

“Storms are expected this evening, the clouds have been backing up over the mountains all afternoon.” Zekk's voice crackled towards them. “I'll send Kyp out to meet you. No droids, right?”

“Zekk, the day I voluntarily return with a droid, you can revoke my pilot's license and confine me to the Settlement.” She shuddered and turned off the radio, her hand trembling. “I hate droids.”

Kylo swallowed as he sat down, not wanting to press the issue. He'd seen how she reacted to droids in the past; most people might think of her fear as silly, but given what he'd seen from her prison record in the archives of the Empire, he didn't blame her. If they hadn't been trying to be low-profile when they left the Finalizer, odds were, she would have hacked a few droids in half as they were leaving just for the hell of it. “If you want, we can go blow up a factory that makes them for your birthday.” It's flippant and he knew it, but it was about the only thing he could think of to break the mood.

“I'll think about that. I haven't done any full-scale destruction in thirty one years.” She shook her head. “Here we go.” She steered the shuttle downward, and there was a shuddering as they went through the outer atmosphere, and then they broke through the the clouds and she smiled. “Here I am, home again.”

He stretched enough to see clearly out of the view-ports, feeling almost like a child as he saw a great sea of green. Trees, much like that of Endor, spread out in an endless canopy, and beyond, towering mountains that were capped with snow. They flew over a high ridge and then the treeline ended and a road was visible in the grass. Kylo wasn't certain what he had been expecting, but as they flew lower, he could make out several buildings, with what looked to be gardens next to many of them, and something he suspected was a barn. “I believe I understand why you took that payment in dry goods.”

“Hope you like potatoes.” She answered, grinning. “Because they're about to become sixty percent of your diet.”

“Anything is better than rations.” Now he could see a river that shot past one side of the small valley. “What is this place? Or rather, what was it?”

“About a hundred and fifty years ago, it was a wildlife research facility founded by scientists from Alderaan and Naboo. They were attempting to revive several endangered species from their planets. The amethyst-tipped Alderaanian eagle – and the kuzval from Naboo.”

“Aren't kuzvals rather...” He frowned. “There's a reason they were wiped out on Naboo, they're among the most dangerous felines in the galaxy. They're like small nexus, aren't they?”

“And that's what happened to the researchers.” Bosha shook her head. “The eagles have thrived, but the kuzvals – well, when winter came, they were no match for the wolves.” She made a few adjustments on the controls. “Just so you know, it's against Settlement rules to disturb an eagle's nest. So if you feel like climbing a tree, check to make sure it's unoccupied.”

“So there's no record of this place...” He shook his head. “I don't...” This didn't make sense. How could this place just be forgotten? Destruction of Alderaan aside, shouldn't the Naboo have a record? “There was a group before, wasn't there? The satellite array wasn't built by...” He fell silent as they flew into a small docking bay, and he could see roughly a dozen ships, some of them light freighters, an Imperial era TIE fighter, an X-Wing, and the ship he knew to be the Star Fisher.

“The array sort of... appeared.” Bosha powered down the engines as they parked next to a chromium plated craft from Naboo. “I wasn't here when it happened.”

Kylo stood and helped her power down the rest of the systems, somewhat skeptical. “What, did the Watcher pull them out of wherever he's from and put them there?”

“Yes, actually.” She answered, straightening up. “Or at least, that's what we think. He never gave us a clear answer on that.” Bosha took a breath, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear, then tugged off her gloves, tucking them into a pocket. “Expect to be called Spark for awhile. At least until you decide what your name is.”

“You've been calling me Kylo.” He turned to her, rather confused. “Why?”

“Because from the moment I was taken aboard the Finalizer until this one you've been Kylo Ren. I've never called you that in public.” She gave him a smile, wishing she could make this less confusing, but then, he'd been rather understanding since they started their journey. “When you step out of this shuttle, you are the Spark, who is both Kylo Ren and Ben Solo. It is for you to decide which goes with your the name the Watcher has given you.”

He lifted his chin, glancing out the view-ports, then back at her. “No one's going to call me Sparky, are they?”

“Of course not.” She turned and headed for the back of the craft, “that's derogatory and cruel.”

“I take it they call you Aunt Bo.” He came up behind her and put in the security code to open the ramp, and a gust of fresh air blew up to greet them. At the same time, he felt a rush in the Force; a wave of strength, peace and a dozen other emotions raced around him like an embrace. It was grand.

“Most everyone does.” Bosha smiled as they walked down into the hangar. “You don't have to if you don't want to.”

“I'll think about it.” He stopped as a man walked over to them. He was older than himself; perhaps forty, and they were almost the same height. His brown hair looked lightened by the sun, and he was dressed in clothes that might have been fashionable twenty years ago; gray slacks and a dark green tunic. He had two weapons on his belt; a blaster and a lightsaber.

“Welcome home!” The man hugged Bosha, picking her up as he did so. “Still look like you could be snapped in half, Aunt Bo.”

“I pity the one who tries.” Kylo quipped, taking a quick looking around at the landing platform outside of the bay; it was large enough to hold at least fifteen upsilon class shuttles, but it was completely empty, save for two crafts; a B-Wing and a half-repaired lambda class shuttle. Grass grew in the cracks between the durasteel and concrete, and there was a low stone wall built up against the far side, effectively separating it from grassy area around it. The road leading from the platform to the settlement was made of paved stones.

“So do I.” The man turned to him, studying his face for a moment, then held out his hand. “Welcome to Away, Spark, I'm the Bandit, more commonly known as Kyp Durron.”

“You look like a bandit.” He shook the offered hand, and he noticed Kyp's eyes lingering on his scar. “My pride hurt more than my face when it happened.”

“I was only going to say it's a damn good thing it missed your eye.” He shrugged and the three of them headed away from the landing bay. “Speaking of things that cut, Aunt Callie would like to borrow your knife, Aunt Bo.”

“I've told her a dozen times, she can take it for her own. I expected her to keep it when I gave it to her.” Bosha shook her head. “A girl can leave the Jedi, but you can't take the Jedi out of the girl. Possession is forbidden. Although how a knife counts, I'll never understand.”

“I believe it's the sentiment attached to it, Aunt Bo.” Kyp stated.

Kylo frowned, rather confused. “Why does she want this knife for?”

“It's what Aunt Callie used to hack off her padawan braid and most of her hair the day she left the Jedi Order.” Kyp stated. “That was what, two years before the galaxy went to shit?”

“The galaxy had already gone to shit, it just became official at that point.” Bosha nodded, shooting a glance at Kylo. “A story for another time.”

“That is the single most constant phrase that comes out of your mouth.” He retorted as they came to the end of the road and into the Settlement.

Kyp chuckled, shaking his head at him. “Caught on pretty quick, haven't you kid?”

There were next to a long building with some sort of playground next to it. Five children were on a climbing structure, watching them. As soon as Kylo made eye contact with one of them, a young girl with her blonde hair in braids, they all looked away, whispering among themselves. A moment later, three more children ran out from the building and joined the quintet, none of them older than fourteen, none younger than six.

“I believe you both could do with a wash and a change of clothes.” Kyp remarked. “Plenty of time to settle in before dinner.”

**

Rey stretched her arms over her head and yawned, the joints in her shoulders popping and she grinned at the relieved tension. They were only a few minutes from dropping out of hyperspace over D'Qar. Master Luke had been silent almost the entire trip from Bakura. She'd spent her time in the pilot's seat musing over the handful of names that had cropped up in the past few days. Or rather, there were several titles – and one name. Only hers – Sunspot – hadn't had a 'the' stuck in the front of it. It made the nightly act of clearing her mind of questions twice as hard as it had been a week ago.

“Good morning.” Master Luke came into the cockpit and sat down in the unoccupied copilot's seat. “I see you finally managed to convince Chewie he needs to sleep.”

“I'm starting to think that he just goes until exhaustion forces him to lie down.” She answered, rubbing her eyes. “Did you rest?”

“Some.” He gave her a sideways glance, then sighed. “I've been away to long. I have a feeling my sister is going to give me what for when we land.”

“I think she might be justified.” She remarked, giving him a sideways grin and went to cut the sub-light engines. “How long has it been since you've seen her?”

“Fifteen years.” He adjusted a few controls as they dropped out of light-speed. “I was trying to help Ben. Snoke's claws were already deeply into my nephew by then. Leia's mistake was sending Ben away. Mine was keeping him isolated from his parents.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, “I thought Thandu would surface after... after the Academy fell.” Luke didn't want to talk about that horrible night; the pain was still raw and he clenched his right hand to release the tension in his body, letting the anger pass through, then slip away as he stretched the hand back out. “You want to tell me what happened down in the gunwale?”

Rey returned to her seat, several dozen curses in a half a dozen languages going through her mind. She didn't want to talk about it; she'd been trying to put it out of her mind. “There wasn't anyone in there with me, if that's what you were thinking.”

“No, I know there wasn't.” He sat back, a small smile playing on his lips as the planet of D'Qar came into view. “What did you hear?”

“Why do I have a feeling you already know?” She didn't mean to be flippant, “I don't know who this Watcher person is. Or anyone else he was... I told him to leave me alone. So he left.” Rey shook her head. “I have a feeling that he won't remain quiet for long.”

Luke frowned, his hand pressed against his lips. He'd never focused on the Watcher, often dismissing him as someone abstract, or an idea, rather than an actual person. “What did the Watcher tell you? Contrary to what you think, I've never heard him speak. Nor am I aware of what he told you.” They broke atmosphere and went into the cloud bank.

“Well, he did say he's been away. But he didn't say where he was.” She saw the flicker in Luke's eyes. “What is it?”

“What was his voice like?” He straightened, a series of memories coming to him. “Describe it.”

“He had an accent like mine, but it was familiar – like I've heard it before, but in another accent.” Rey turned her attention to the controls as they came out of the clouds and into the early afternoon, transmitting their landing clearance and turning on the local communication system. “He also sounded young, not like a child, but...rather like a teenager.”

Luke smiled faintly, a slight tremor in the Force that told him he was close to his sister. “Around your age then?”

“I believe so.” She glanced at the communication system, wondering if anyone was going to speak. “Do you think we're both in trouble and that's why no one is speaking to us?” She gave him a wry smile, hoping it was something minor, and they weren't about to fly into the Resistance in the throes of preparing for battle.

He straightened in his seat, flipping several switches in front of him, then, just as they came close to the treeline, there was a crackle and familiar careworn voice filled the cockpit.

“You're late.” General Organa might have meant to sound reproachful, but neither of the two people in the Falcon were fooled.

Luke took a breath. “I kept refusing to leave, so this isn't Rey's fault.”

Rey smirked. “If I had known we were on a schedule, I'd have enlisted Chewie's help to get you to leave sooner.” Her grin on deepened at the look the Jedi gave her. “Or are you going to sit there and tell me you can physically overpower that wookie?”

“She has a point, Luke.” Leia's voice came back to them. “I'll see you when you land.”

It was on the tip of her tongue for Rey to ask about Finn, but the system cut off and she decided she could wait a few more minutes to inquire about her friend. She was thankful when she saw the minimal activity on the landing platform, just a handful of pilots and mechanics doing repairs. She did not want a crowd right now. She wanted to check on her friends, then get up to speed on what was happening the galaxy at large. She'd been out of the loop for six months, who knew what had been going since Starkiller?

Luke felt a small smile playing at the corner of his lips. He had spent so long running away, trying to find peace and now, now he was calmly walking back into the fray. Four days ago, when he felt Bosha's Force signature echo across the galaxy towards him, he had known that she too, had emerged for a specific reason. He knew that Ben, wherever he was, had sensed it too. He may not be able to find his nephew, but his nephew would have pursued the trace of her until located. Now she had skulked back to her hiding place, and he had a feeling that Ben was with her. Her statement of where she went was always the same. Away. In the past few days, he was starting to think that her answer wasn't abstract, but real. The way the Watcher must be real. He'd spent hours trying to clear his own mind of questions much as he'd told Rey to do so. But he hadn't been successful – the same thoughts kept coming back to him. He had absolutely no idea of the how; anymore than the where.

The Falcon touched down and Rey let out a sigh as it did, then started to power down the ship. “If nothing else, I'm going to get rid of as many of the problems on this ship before we have to leave again. If possible.”

Luke turned off the systems that were controlled by his side of the cockpit. “That's an endless task on this vessel, I'm afraid. No sooner does one thing start to work, then something else breaks.” He shook his head. “First time I saw it, I called it a piece of junk.”

“I called it garbage.” She chuckled, standing. “Come on, enough stalling. Your sister's waited long enough.” Rey shook her head as she heard Chewie growled at them, telling them to hurry up. “Guess he's glad to be back too.” She picked up her staff from where it was leaning and walked out of the cockpit, and Luke followed her.

When the boarding ramp of the Falcon came down, Leia remained perfectly calm, even though inside, she was a mess. Her brother was finally back, another step in the direction of making things right in the galaxy. She knew that neither he or the girl had learned of the news that the Resistance spy network had brought yesterday evening. General Hux was dead and Kylo Ren was missing – and was suspected of killing the man. There were rumors of a struggle, some time of confrontation, to the general's dinner being poisoned. The only certain thing was Hux was dead, Kylo – Ben – was missing. She came to the entrance, and slowly, her brother emerged.

She never knew which of them was the elder, or by how many minutes, but he clearly showed more of their fifty-four years than she did. “Luke.”

“Leia.” He closed the distance between them, pulling her into a hug. “I'm sorry.” It was such a paltry, almost worthless phrase in the face of what had happened. Luke knew that it wouldn't do anything to change the past, the words seemed hollow, but that was all he could offer in this moment.

“I am too.” She mumbled against him, returning the embrace. “But you're here now.” She pulled away, taking a breath, then turned to Rey, grasping her hand. “Rey.”

Rey squeezed the General's hand, doing her best to smile. “Sorry it took so long.” She stepped aside so Chewbacca could hug the woman.

“I should have suggested you ask Chewie for help.” They started across the tarmac. “Although, I confess, I didn't think about it at the time. I wasn't even certain if Luke would still be there.” She shot a look at her brother.

Luke kept his face blank. He didn't want to bring up what had really called him out of hiding; and honestly, if it hadn't been for Ansel, he would have suggested he and Rey go right back to Ahch To. No, he wouldn't. The time for hiding was over. “Ansel says hello.”

“So you've been to Bakura then?” Leia shook her head as they went into the base. “I haven't seen him in at least a decade.” She paused, smiling faintly. “Han always said he was the best street-chef in the galaxy.”

“Is Finn awake?” Rey interjected, noticing that several people were watching them and whispering to themselves, no doubt about her and Master Luke.

Leia smiled. This was something she could talk about with some ease. “He woke up about three months ago, and since then has proved himself invaluable to our cause. He's currently out on patrol, and should be back before nightfall.” She cast a look at her brother. “What's wrong?”

Luke didn't speak; he simply reached into his cloak and handed the cloth containing the feather Bosha had left with Ansel. “Please remember, I'm just the messenger here.”

She took the feather, her eyes widening. She had not seen a plume like this in almost four decades. How many times had she watched from the palace on Alderaan, seeing those massive birds in flight? The first time she could remember one landing, Leia had been stunned by the sheer size. She'd been young – five? - and it was nearly as big as she. Then the creature had spread out their wings – a feather falling at her feet as the bird took to the sky, the span over two meters wide. “Where did he get it?” Her words came out in a hiss. These birds were gone; the last one died in captivity in a zoological garden on Hosnian Prime thirty-two years ago.

“Thandu.” He lifted his chin, letting the name hang in the air. “And it came from Away.”

The cloth fell from Leia's hand, but her grip on the feather tightened. “Away is a fairy tale told you to by an eleven year old girl twenty-five years ago.”

“At this point Leia, I think it's time to start believing in fairy tales.” Luke answered, his face calm.

Rey picked up the fallen cloth, twisting it in her hands, she hadn't noticed how soft it was when she first touched it. It was blue, rather worn and old. It didn't seem to be so much as practical as it was ceremonial. In her mind, she caught the echo of applause; then laughter – but it wasn't where she was standing, it was – somewhere. “What is this?” Leia's voice was right next to her, but she may as well have been across the galaxy. There had to be at least a half a century of memories buried in the – scarf.

“That's an honor cloth from Alderaan University... how did...” Brother and sister watched as whatever was in the fabric took hold of Rey and sent her spiraling to the floor.

*

The face stared out of the holosnap at Kylo/Ben, grinning at whomever was taking the picture. It seemed impossible to see that face in a picture that was seventy-two years old. Still as bright as the day it was taken. Every single person was someone he knew; or at least, knew of. The Thandu family, standing with someone who clearly wasn't a blood relation, but were his family.

What the hell was FN-2187 – the Traitor – doing on Alderaan in graduation robes?

Chapter Text

Answers on Away, Kylo quickly learned, were not easily given. When he was at the Jedi Temple during his teens, the answer to nearly all questions was 'go mediate' and empty your mind. A practice he never cared for and often found more frustrating than helpful. On Away, while the methods were different, somehow, he felt they were slightly more helpful. If you were feeling anything that might be construed as 'negative' the solution was to do something to expel your energy; go for a run, pull weeds, chop wood. When you'd successfully worn yourself out physically, it was far easier to discuss the emotion tied to your outburst. Perhaps it was just a glorified or more grown up version of 'time out' but after spending an afternoon tearing down a stone wall and collapsing, exhausted in the grass, he found that he actually did feel better.

Which was why he was still lying in said grass, staring up at the sky – and this was his fourth day here.

“Well now, young man, how are you?” A soft voice said from above Kylo and he flicked his eyes to the right as a woman sat down next to him. He quickly looked away, not out of horror, but in his effort not to stare at the middle-aged Dathomirian witch known as Aunt Nell.

“I think I'll just sleep here and forget about dinner, thank you.” He mumbled, wishing he could brush off his weariness. How could he, the Master of the Knights of Ren, fall to the ground in such a fashion after an afternoon of demolishing the wall? He'd spent longer time in battle, in hunt – in training. Now he'd been humbled by stones and the earth.

“You're going to have to sit up if you want to drink the water I've brought you.” She answered, her smile kind as he pushed himself up, feeling his muscles tense slightly as he did, and he let out a heavy breath as he slumped over, surveying his work. “You've done a fine job.” She handed him a canteen.

He took it from her and drank several swallows, as he gave her a sideways look, knowing she couldn't see his expression or any of his labor. Aunt Nell had no eyes. “Thank you.”

“I know I can't see it, young man.” She smiled, then leaned against her staff. “You tire of no one giving you the answers you have come to Away desperately seeking.”

“I suppose.” He sighed, shaking his head. “Or maybe I haven't been asking the right questions.”

Aunt Nell chuckled. “Bo told us you were clever. You managed to figure that out far swifter than Kyp did. Although in Bandit's defense, Spark, he was only eight when he came to live with us.” Her smile softened somewhat as he took another drink, keeping his focus on her nose. “He was also terrified of me. I suppose I do have a bit of a frightening visage.”

“I've seen scarier.” The words left Kylo's lips before he'd even thought to lie.

“I know you have.” She let out a deep breath. “The Creature, as we call him. I've also seen the one called Snoke.” Her hand reached out and pushed his damp hair from his face, a motherly gesture that he didn't resist. “Force, how I wish we could have brought you and your family here sooner. So much tragedy could be avoided.”

Kylo shifted in the grass, breaking his watch on her, looking back towards the Settlement, where he could see the children running down the main road, no doubt heading for the swimming pond. “Why weren't we?”

“You have to ask the Watcher.” She set a hand on his arm. “He will call you soon, Spark. There are so many paths this galaxy could have taken. So many horrors.” She pulled away, and he heard her shift in the grass. “I had eyes once.”

Kylo looked over at Aunt Nell, studying her face seriously for the first time. The skin over her eye sockets was stretched tight, with two jagged scars across the middle, and at the edges, towards her ears, were two thinner scars, too fine and precise to be caused by anything other than a sharp knife. When he'd first seen her face, he thought she was a burn victim. Things on Away were so primitive, it was a possibility. But now he could clearly see that apart from the scars and the few age lines that crossed spread out from the corners of where her eyes should be – the woman was rather pretty. “What happened?”

“The Force gives gifts and sacrifices must be given if we wish to become stronger.” She chuckled. “Or so many of my people believed. I gave my eyes so that I may only see the Truth.” Her expression changed, and it was almost comical the way her eyebrows fell, pointing down towards her nose. “When did the colors vanish, Spark? When did you stop seeing them?”

“How did you know about the colors?” He hadn't thought about the absence of seeing Force Auras in years. “Jora told you.” He took a drink of water, then let out a weak chuckle. “It was strange, seeing her again when I came here. The last time I did, we were both children.” He swallowed, biting at his bottom lip. “We've both changed a great deal in the past twenty-five years.”

“So you have.” Aunt Nell answered, “and in some ways, you have remained exactly the same.” He was about to stand when her hand came down onto his shoulder, clamping it tight and keeping him in place. “You wear the dark visage of Kylo Ren with hollowness, Spark. You believe that you are evil, when in reality, you are as horrified by your actions as your victims.”

“Let me go!” He made an effort to pull away, only to find himself flat on his back, the butt of her staff pressed against his neck. The memory of Starkiller and being sent into a similar position by the Scavenger burst into his mind, washing his indignation and anger away.

“You would not be so angry, Spark, if I had just spoken a lie.” Her smile became triumphant. “So that's what's become of Sunspot. She was the one who left you scarred.” She lifted his chin with the end of her staff, “and you have not answered my question. When did you stop seeing the colors?”

Kylo swallowed, trying to block out that horrible morning when he woke up – and his mother had lost her glow. He'd thought she was sick or perhaps he was. “Two days after I found lightsaber.” He choked out, the dread threatening to consume him. He had gone back down to the level where he'd found his great prize – and he'd gone alone. The rest was blocked out, not recalling how he'd gotten back home or if he'd even been missed.

Teneniel Djo withdrew her staff, holding it in one hand, and if she could, would have wept for the young man lying on the ground. She could remember the first time she'd sensed him in the Force, bursting into her view like his name – the Spark – and then saw the shadow that pursued him, always after the innocent boy and oh, how the Creature longed to snuff out the light that shone within. It was still in him, buried under pain, anger and the horror. She stamped the ground and leaned against her weapon, holding her hand out to him. “Find your feet, Spark.”

Kylo took her hand and was half pulled to a stand. He towered over her in sheer size, but size never mattered – one of the first lessons he could remember. “How do you know about the Scavenger – or what did you call her, Sunspot?”

“We tried to bring her here, nine years ago.” She shook her head, remembering the little girl in rags on Jakku. “She said she was waiting for her family and couldn't leave.” She lifted her chin. “but you know the answer to what happened to her family.”

He swallowed, nodding. “I didn't agree with my uncle on what...” He shook his head. “I should have tried to convince him to give her to Aunt Bo. She could have brought her here.”

Teneniel let out a delicate snort. “I don't think either of you were thinking to clearly at the time. We cannot change the past. All we can do is learn from it and thank the Maker that the Force makes time travel impossible.” She rubbed her temple against the side of her staff, frowning. “You haven't had much opportunity to meet everyone, have you?”

He shook his head, “no. It seems everyone has tasks to do here except me – and all I've done in the past four days is find my way around and tear down this fence.” He sighed. “I still haven't managed to ask Aunt Bo about the man in the holosnap.”

“What man?” She lifted her chin, and caught his thoughts, knowing whom he was referring to in an instant. “That is Petra Danns. Sadly, he his no longer with us. Do you know someone who looks like him?” The pair started back towards the road, and while she had a feeling he'd like to take her by the elbow to guide her, he kept his distance.

“There is... was – a storm-trooper of the First Order – he defected to the Resistance. They look nearly identical.” He frowned. “I only knew him as FN-2187.”

“A story for another day, I believe.” They came to the road. “My husband had a sister. She and her husband left Away decades ago with their young son. Her father tried to persuade her to stay, or at least, leave the child while they went out into the galaxy. She wouldn't hear of it.” She shook her head. “They were going to Naboo to visit my mother-in-law's family. Or at least, go find them.”

“They never returned.” Kylo finished.

“No.” She sighed. “Shortly thereafter, the Watcher fell silent and we did not know what had become of them. The dark side was unfurling its banners, smothering much from sight. Even from me.” They headed into the Settlement. “But all roads eventually intersect and paths that were once separate become one.”

“You know for someone who isn't a Jedi, you certainly talk like one.” He quipped, fully expecting her to thump him with her staff in reply.

“You've been beaten enough.” She answered his thought, and came to a standstill. While she could not see him, she knew what he looked like in this moment. Shocked, confused, and wanting to deny her words. “It's nineteenth of the month.”

“And?” He retorted, trying to find his footing. This woman was so damn unnerving – he couldn't imagine being in a room with her, Aunt Bo and his mother at the same time. He'd probably confess everything he'd ever done wrong. He cleared his throat, marshaling his desire to lash out. “Is that significant?”

“It's the middle of the month – all months on Away are thirty-eight days long. It means that tonight, we shall all gather together for our evening meal. I believe it's time for you to meet everyone.” She smiled. “You'll want to shower beforehand.”

He snorted. “Yes, Aunt Nell.” It came out far more flippant than he meant, but he heard her chuckle.

“Are you telling me that you would have rather sat and mediated for the entire afternoon?” They started back down the road. “You have been productive in your desire to rid yourself of aggression. Which you have done and are therefore, doubly efficient.”

“It's far easier to tear down a fence than to build one.” Kylo replied, looking down at his hands, almost surprised to find them stained with dirt, several of the nails torn and the scratches that graced several of them. It had never occurred to him to use the Force once this afternoon. He'd demolished that stone fence completely barehanded.

Aunt Nell took one of his hands in hers, running her fingers over them. “Next time, you should wear gloves.” She gave him a smile and then they resumed their walk back to the Settlement.

*

Rey fell through a tumble of memories. Everything was fragmented, one image jumping into the next. Nothing familiar, it was all a rush of colors, sounds, locations – and she no sooner focused on one sight than it was ripped away from her and replaced with something or someone new. Stars and planets she couldn't name, a tumble of snow and the occasional flash of tools. She could not tell if she was seeing with her own eyes, or the eyes of the owner of the cloth. She just needed to focus, if she could focus, it would make sense. She fumbled for something to latch onto, trying to pick one thing to grab, and the word student simply came to her.

Everything cleared.

She's standing in a small room, sparsely furnished with a bed, a desk and a dresser. Sunlight streamed into the space from a window, and when she crossed to look out, she saw a mountain range; the towering peaks caped with snow. She heard the door open behind her and into the room stumbled a familiar face.

“Finn!” Rey cried, racing towards her friend, only to have her body walk right through him. She caught herself before she hit the door, turning to watch the man hang a garment bag on a small hook, unzipping it with a look that is nothing short of giddy. “Finn?” She frowned, stepping closer. Now that she can properly see this man, she can see the subtle differences between him and her friend. He's younger, a little thinner, and far less weary – in fact, he's almost joyful in countenance.

There's a knock on the door behind her, and she turned just as it opened – and an older man, a stranger, came into the room.

“Jaenen!” Finn cries, embracing the man like an uncle. “You made it!”

“Oh, we wouldn't miss this, Petra. Not for all the buildings on Coruscant.” He stepped back, looking him over. “Where's that pretty lady friend of yours?”

Finn – or Petra rather, gives the older man a look. “Kein's in her own room, no doubt being fussed over by her mother.” He lets out a rather melancholic chuckle. “Where are Chtel and Bo?”

“Outside, in the park. Bo and dozen other children have found something to climb on. Far be it from me to deny a five year old an hour of sunshine and play when she gets so little of it.” The man regarded the garment, his face beaming with pride. “Top of the class then?”

Petra nods, and Rey can see the tear slip down his cheek. “I wish my mother and sisters could be here.”

“I know you do.” Jaenen hugs him again. “I know they would be extremely proud of you.”

Rey doesn't understand this. Where are Petra's parents? Who are the others mentioned? Just as her confusion sets in, her focus falters and again, she finds herself falling, racing past images, more sounds. Where in time was she? Was Petra Finn's father? Where had they been? This wasn't like when she'd grabbed that lightsaber, no real progression, and while she still hadn't sorted that vision out, things at least stood still, letting her see what was happening. Now she just felt like she was running, getting nowhere.

Run.

Her brain locks onto that word and again, things become clear. She's facing a door, a rather ornate one, and she must be looking through Petra's eyes, because it opened and standing there in the dark is a young woman, around her own age of twenty, her face ashen and hollow, and Rey can tell she's been crying.

“Bosha, what are you doing here?” Rey is able to step out of the man so she can observe both, and there's something akin to fear in the man's face. “How did you know that we were on Naboo?”

“We have to leave.” Her voice is low, intense. “The port will be closed in two hours. Either you and your family come now, or I'm going to have to leave you here and we won't see each other again.”

“Bo, what's going on?” They fall silent and all three of them watch as a group passes on the street, dressed in funerary garb. One woman is weeping openly. Whomever has died, it's affected everyone, including the girl and Petra. He leans down close to the girl. “There's been no announcement.”

“You think Palpatine is going to start playing nice? As soon as the clones finish off the Jedi, no doubt they'll be rounding up the Force users and anyone connected to them. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm not mistaken for Bria half a dozen times before this is over.” She took a breath. “Our wonderful and benevolent emperor is going to need a showpiece of his new vision. What better place than his homeworld?”

Rey's jaw drops.

This is the distant past – and then it hits her – the girl in front of her must be the same Bosha that Master Luke is looking for.

Petra turned to look into the house, and Rey catches sight of a woman holding a dozing toddler, her expression unreadable at this distance. “Head back to the Fisher. We'll be there in half an hour.” He leaned forward and kissed the girl's forehead in brotherly affection. “May the Force be with you.”

“Rise and dream, Petra. For the Watcher has arisen and is calling us away.” She manages a smile and then ducks into the shadows, racing up the road, to where both he and Rey cannot see.

“Petra, what's going on?” The woman from the house has come up to the door. “Was that Bo?”

He shut the door, Rey barely managing to duck inside, though she doesn't think it would matter. She could most likely walk right through it. “It's time to leave, Kein. Pack only the essentials.”

“My parents aren't back from the funeral yet.” The woman looked pensive. There's something familiar about the woman; Rey's certain she's seen her before. “Bo doesn't know what she's talking about. What has her so worried?”

“The port's going to be closed in two hours. No one will be able to leave the planet.” He brushed past his wife and Rey steps back and hits something solid. Turning, she found that she had backed into a sloping stone wall – a house of some kind. She is no longer indoors, but out – on a bright, sunny day. Scrub grass grows around her, in shades of purple and green. Shaking her head, thoroughly confused, she followed the side of the house until she came to the side-yard, where a laundry hangs between two steel posts. Dancing prominently on one of them is the cloth. The man, Petra, is sitting on a rock on the far end.

“Daddy?” A little girl slunk out from the front of the house and over to him. She looked to be about seven, her skin the same caf color of her father. “Daddy, where did Aunt Bo go? When's she coming back?”

Petra turned, and even from here, Rey can tell he's been weeping. “Aunt Bo won't be home for a long time, Loor.” He took the little girl's hands in his. “Remember when you told me and mama about the scary man in your dream?”

The girl, Loor, nodded, her face solemn. “He's bad.”

“Yes, yes he is. Aunt Bo went to make sure he can never find us. Any of us.” He took a breath, clearly trying to find something to bring comfort to the girl, and having no idea how to do it. “But she is coming home. You remember she promised you and the other children she'd be home?”

“I know she did Daddy, but...” she stopped speaking as the man set a finger on her lips.

“I've known your aunt since she was a baby. I've yet to see her break a promise.” He stood, his smile becoming a little more certain, more brave. “It's a warm day. Why don't you see if any of the other children would like to go swimming.”

The prospect seems to be a special treat to the child, for her whole face brightens.“Okay!” Rey smiled as the girl raced away and the memory faded to black and she heard someone calling her name.

*

Luke withdrew his forehead from his student's watching her face twitch as she woke up from her unconscious state. Once he and Leia had extracted the cloth from her hands, he had given it a more through investigation. It hadn't been deliberately laced with memories, it had simply absorbed them piecemeal, leaving only fragments of a longer story. Said cloth was now folded by the bedside and he looked over at the young man sitting across from him. “She's going to be fine, Finn. She's not injured.”

“It's been two days.” He frowned, and impatience seems to bleed off of him, and then his face becomes contrite. “Although I shouldn't say anything, I was out for three months.”

He chuckled. “You had a severe injury. Rey's fallen victim to a Force memory.” He sat back in his chair, regarding the young woman for a moment before shifting his focus to Finn. “Although as to why it affected her and not myself, I have no answer.”

“What kind of Force memory could be in that old thing?” He nodded towards the cloth. “Who put it there?”

“Sometimes objects just absorb memories. No one does it purposefully.” He sighed, rubbing his forehead. “If it'd been willfully done, it would be stronger than what it is.” He looked down at his hands, rubbing the palm of the left with the mechanical thumb of the right. “It's possible that the person who last had the cloth didn't even know about the memories within.”

“Ow.” Rey groaned and her hand came up to rub at her temple. “That was bad.”

“Rey?” Finn was on his feet.

Luke stood as the girl opened her eyes, blinking up at them. “Are you all right?”

“Thirsty.” She mumbled and she managed to pull herself to a sit as Finn poured her a glass of water. “Although the nap was sort of nice.” She took the glass from her friend. “Thank you.” She took several swallows.

“You've been out for nearly thirty-seven hours.” Luke answered. “That's a bit more than a nap.”

She scowled, then glanced up at Finn, then she squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head in what appeared to be an attempt to clear it. “Insane.”

“What is it?” Finn asked before he could. “Rey?”

Rey took another sip of water, then opened her eyes, looking from one man to the other. “Finn, I think I just saw your grandparents.”

*

The Gathering Room was capable of holding two hundred people; but it had never held that number. Right now, it held seven tables, a long one in the front where the food had been laid out, and the remaining six were arranged in a square, so that everyone was facing each other. Along the western wall there were nine banner flags; one from each of the home-worlds of the residents of Away, (or so Kylo assumed) and in the middle, a solid blue flag with a silver eagle in silhouette, with two stars, one at the end of each wingtip – the one representing Away.

Kylo scanned the banquet table, utterly shocked at the sheer amount of food in front of him. He couldn't understand where it all came from; did the gardens in the Settlement really produce all of this? It wasn't that his meals at Bosha's home had been sparse, but this kind of variety? It was enough to leave him dumbfounded. He spooned a small portion of something purple onto his plate, along with a helping of salad, and a serving of fish – at least, he thought it was fish. There didn't seem to be a great deal of meat in front of him.

“It's all good, don't worry.” The woman behind him in line spoke quietly. “What red meat we acquire in the summer is usually stored for winter. Have some of the crisps.” She indicated a deep basket that held thin slices of something. “Rac's been using her deep fryer.” She remarked as he put a small handful on his plate and then she took some as well. “My cooking skills aren't so refined.”

He glanced to his side. “I haven't seen this much food in one place in a while.” He took a slice of a bright red melon, and decided his plate was full enough.

“Not exactly five star dining even for the upper echelons of the First Order, then?” She chuckled, helping herself to some of the purple mass. “Or just limited?”

“Limited. Most of it was rehydrated. Eating is a necessity, not something to linger over.” He answered, and the two of them walked back towards the tables, sitting down on the left hand side of the square, and, as soon as he set down his plate, he held the chair next to him out for the woman.

“Thank you.” She slid into the chair and then he sat, watching her for a moment. She was at least seventy, but her hair was more blonde than silver, and her eyes were a deep gray. “I don't believe we've been introduced, I'm Callista, or Aunt Callie. I actually prefer that. My little used name from the Watcher is the Songbird.”

He gave her a skeptical look. “Do you sing?”

“Only when I'm alone, or during a lengthy healing.” She undid her napkin, letting her silverware fall into her palm. “And yes, before you ask, I am the one who taught Jora.” She smoothed the napkin over her lap. “You finish that fence off?”

“I did.” He managed a small smile as he took out his own cutlery. “You used to be a Jedi.”

“I was only made it to padawan.” She picked up her fork, regarding her plate. “I was about to begin my trials when I left the Order.” Her gray eyes softened a bit. “A story for another time, though I suspect you tire of hearing that.” She speared a bite of fish on her fork and ate it.

Kylo snickered, picking up one of the crisps with his fingers and biting into it; the taste of salt bursting over his tongue. “Is it true you hacked your padawan braid off with a knife?” He took a drink from the glass in front of him; it was full of some sort of yellow fruit drink – lemonade was what Aunt Bo called it.

She nodded, a touch of pride coming to her face. “Hacked off almost all of my hair and left it lying there in the shuttle bay of the Jedi Temple. Half of the high council watching and everything.” She took another bite of fish. “By the way, has anyone told you that your grandfather was a punk?”

He had to grab his napkin and press it against his mouth and nose to keep from spraying his drink everywhere and he still found himself hacking as some went down the wrong way.

“Callie, what are you telling the kid?” Aunt Bo came and sat down on his other side and unrolling her napkin.

“No one's told Spark here that Anakin Skywalker was a punk.” She snickered, then focused on her salad.

“You have trouble believing that?” She addressed him, her tone somewhat light, as he set down his napkin, still coughing. “He leveled out a little after the Order assigned him Ahsoka Tano and he suddenly had to be the responsible one.”

He recovered enough to speak. “Forgive me if I have trouble picturing it.” He took a smaller sip of lemonade, then ate another crisp. “Although that may stem from the fact I have trouble remembering that my grandfather was once young.” He worked on separating his portion of fish from the skin along the underside, glancing towards Bosha when a black haired man sat down next to her, his face nothing but angles.

“Good evening, Zekk.” Aunt Bo gave him a look that couldn't be mistaken for anything other than motherly and Kylo felt a twinge of jealousy.

“Evening.” He rubbed his eyes. “Skies are clear, and Kyp's standing watch.” He looked over at Kylo, giving him a slight nod. They looked to be close to the same age. “Was I supposed to keep track of Zeth? She ran off about five minutes before I did.”

“Her Aunt Nell caught her, don't worry.” Aunt Callie remarked. “She does know how to swim, doesn't she?”

“She knows enough to keep herself afloat.” Zekk answered, “but she also knows to stay away from the river. Even if the snow-melt is almost completely gone, the currents are unpredictable.” He shot a look at Kylo. “You know how to swim, right?”

“Yes.” He couldn't keep the indigence from his tone. He hadn't even been to the river yet.

“Well, good.” The man answered, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “you can come with me tomorrow and learn how to fish.”

Kylo glanced to both sides of him, and neither of the two women looked up. “I thought I had a wall to rebuild.”

“That's for the day after tomorrow.” The man nodded towards the far table, where seven of the ten children on Away were sitting. “They've got to sort the rocks for you.”

Chapter Text

Kylo was silent as he and Zekk walked in the predawn light up the path on the far side of the river. The morning was deceptive in its coolness. He knew that come this afternoon, the temperature would soar, and by nightfall, judging from the clouds in the distance, it would be storming. Another strange thing about Away was that many things were just called what they were, rather than having an actual name; the Settlement, the River, the Woods. Simple yet – somehow odd. He adjusted his hold on the buckets he was carrying, not certain if the man in front of him was up for conversation or not. The two of them had left Bosha's home in silence, after eating a quick breakfast of fruit, porridge and tea. He still didn't know where half of the things he ate were coming from.

“So have you ever been fishing?” Zekk's looked back him as they came down a short hill, the river calming slightly as they came to a wide bend.

“No.” He shook his head. “I never had the opportunity.”

“It's a lost art.” He answered, setting the two wooden spears aside as he sat down and started to roll up his pant legs. “I was a bit skeptical of it myself the first time I did it. I'd always thought fishing was something done with nets. I was taught by Benson, who was taught by Qarj, one of the original Dathomirians here on Away.” He waved him over. “Sorry for the history lesson, but..”

“I think I can understand the reasoning.” He set down his buckets, then knelt down to remove his boots and socks. “Tradition?” He managed to not roll his eyes, but barely.

“Just so.” He stood, and checked the two spears. The tips were sharpened metal lashed onto a shaft of wood. “Primitive it may be, but sometimes that's just the best way.” He tied a hook onto the other cord. “It's also basic survival skills, which are always important.” Zekk let out a breath. “Everyone on Away has a job to do. What one person does or does not do will eventually affect everyone.” He gave him a sardonic smile. “Again, sorry about the lecture, but if I don't give it to you, Aunt Nell is going to know and believe me, Teneniel Djo is one of the last people you want to upset.”

Kylo smirked as he finished rolling up his pant legs to his knees. “I take it you speak from experience.”

“And how.” He let out a low whistle. “I've made it a point to stay on her good side since that winter when I was fifteen and had to spend a whole two weeks in her company. The only time I got to be alone was to use the fresher.” Zekk handed him one of the two spears, then took up one of the buckets, and wedged it between two rocks on their side of the river.

“How long have you been here?” He handed him the other bucket, and Zekk set it between another pair of rocks a short distance upstream from the first.

“Since I was eleven. Aunt Bo found me on her way back from Bespin.” He went slightly pink. “I made the foolish mistake of trying to pick her pocket.”

In response, Kylo tried hard not to laugh, and was on the verge of failing miserably. “Exactly how long did it take you to realize that was an extremely bad idea?”

“I'd say as soon as she had my wrist in her hand. That woman is part rathtar.” Zekk chuckled. “She half dragged me through the streets of Bakura, muttering in some language I didn't know. I thought for certain I was going to end up in prison. Instead, I got a hot meal and a new home.” He came out of the water and took up one of the spears, then went back to the water. “I hated it when she left Away. I never understood why she didn't remain here, where her home was.”

“That makes two of us.” Kylo took up the second spear, noting he went towards the upstream bucket. “I also used to wonder why my parents wanted me to stay away from her. I just thought Aunt Bo was a sad old woman.” He stepped into the river, the icy water stung only for a moment, then it almost felt pleasant. He'd taken showers in colder. “That's what the kids on Bespin always said about her.”

“She's tough, and she's also a master at not showing how much people hurt her – in their words and their actions.” He bit at the corner of his lip, then shook his head. “Do you know everyone now?”

“I think I have most people straight, at least everyone from Kyp down to Zeth.” He chuckled. “I think that was the biggest shock for me – finding Jora married and has a child of her own, when the last time I saw her, I was around Zeth's age.”

Zekk adjusted his hold on the spear. “Given how primitive this method is, I'm guessing you can figure out how this works.”

Kylo nodded, mimicking his grip on the weapon. “Keep still, aim for the head, stick 'em with the pointy end, and for the love of the Force, don't mistake your foot for a fish.”

He chuckled. “I have a feeling you and I are going to get along just fine, Spark.”

“Well, it'd be a first for me.” He shook his head. “I'm not exactly the sort of person with friends – even before...” He took a breath, tightening his grip on the spear as he let his anger tighten, and then he slowly released it, letting his hand flex. He certainly didn't want to discuss his problems with an almost stranger.

Zekk's spear flashed in the water and a moment later, he pulled it from where it was stuck, and a bright silver and green fish came with it, nearly as long as the man's arm. “We all have dark chapters, Spark. Some, more than others.” He pulled his catch from the spear tip and tossed it into the bucket. “You don't have to explain.”

He nodded in reply and turned his focus back to the water, making sure to keep his feet apart, both bracing himself in the current and keeping them out of range of his weapon. He'd grown accustomed to the temperature, and he waded slightly deeper, to a level just below his knees. “Does everyone have a Watcher given name?” This subject seems safe enough; and he's also curious about how it works.

“Not everyone. The only one born on Away with a name is Aunt Nell.” His voice is curt. “She's also the only Dathomirian with one – collectively, the refugees who came here from there are called the Beacons.”

Kylo let his spear fly and then retrieved it, pulling up a struggling black fish that he'd caught by the tail. “I think I can understand that. But most names seem to be more descriptive – Aunt Nell and Aunt Callie have names that are specific – Lark and Songbird.” He tossed his quarry into the bucket, then set the spear into the water to clean the blood from it, and a memory came to him; a portscreen with nursery rhymes and the smell of his mother's perfume. He shook his head, trying to clear it. “I'd have reversed the names.” He looked up to see that Zekk's back was turned to him.

“I won't aggravate you by saying the Watcher works in mysterious ways, because that's the sort of talk that makes you want to punch someone in the face.” He stabbed the water and drew up a fish that was the same as his first. “And no one has a more straightforward name than Aunt Bo.”

Kylo set the butt end of the spear into the water and leaned against it, watching the man as he turned, his weapon held lengthways near his hip. “Since she never told me it, I had the impression Aunt Bo didn't have one.”

“Of course she does.” He inclined his head. “But I suppose with a name like Spark, it can be frustrating when some are straightforward and others have dual definitions. Bandit, Wayfarer, Sunspot.”

He nodded, then arched an eyebrow at him, feeling the tug on his scar. “Is there some sort of quest or something I need to undergo to find meaning in that name?”

“You're already on that quest, Spark.” He grinned. “And I'm known as the Bishop.” He adjusted his spear again. “You've played chess, haven't you?”

“Not recently.” He struck at another fish, and he cursed as the tip of the spear missed. “So who's Aunt Bo then?”

“The Apprentice.” He paused. “But the only one allowed to call her by that name is the Watcher.” Zekk let his spear fly into the deep water, and as Kylo watched, he drew out another long fish.

He turned and faced downstream, keeping his focus on the water. He couldn't quite describe how he felt about what he'd just learned. He already knew that he and the Watcher had the same voice; but he knew he wasn't the Watcher. But the only way he could think of that they two of them could have the same voice was if they were connected genetically. Which was impossible; he was an only child – and his father had been an only child. Kylo grasped his weapon and shifted his attention on the task at hand.

*

Luke decided that the best way to try and figure out what was going with Bosha was to go back to where it started. Or rather, how it started for him. He remembered dozing on Endor, two days after the battle, after the death of his father. He was just on the edge of sleep, almost in perfect meditation, reaching out with the Force, trying to get a sense of the planet, of the scope, of everything that had taken place and to let the emotions come and then release them. Some were easier to let go of than others; sorrow and grief seemed to be the most prevalent.

Then, on the edge of his senses; far from Endor, he felt something rise in the Force. It was not dark or light; but it was still a storm. Had he been standing, it would have thrown him to his knees. Something or someone – he hadn't known at the time, had remained hidden for years and was finally free. It was deeper than the feelings Luke had garnered from the galaxy two nights previous. Whomever or whatever it was, this felt more personal. The throwing open of a window to let in the wind; the first breath of rain after a drought – it was a singular being breaking free of wherever they had been buried.

The tempest that was Bosha Thandu who hid herself and her powers under the guise of a simple rain-shower.

Shaking his head, he punched several buttons on the panel before drawing up a list of files on the datascreen he was holding. The New Republic may be in shreds, but the Resistance still had all the data they had collected from the Empire. He had had Artoo gather all the information on Bosha weeks after meeting her and had them locked away, not wanting the information to fall into the wrong hands. He propped the screen up and after a few more selections, the image of his twenty-three year old self walking into a room where a forty-one year old Bosha sat, holding a mug of tea, the index finger of her right hand anxiously tapping against it.

“Good afternoon.” How had he ever sounded that young? In the video, he pulled back the chair across from her, and sat down. “I'd like to intro...”

“You don't have to tell me. I'd know that stupid chin anywhere. You're Anakin's son.” Bosha took a drink of tea, “Luke, isn't it?”

“You know who I am?” Luke had to laugh at his old self. He shouldn't have been so surprised – and the way that Bosha just said his father's name so casually; he didn't register what she'd said about his chin until later.

“I'm sorry, my manners have become somewhat lax in the past twenty years.” She set her mug down, and held out her hand. “Bosha Thandu.”

His younger self shook it, his expression guarded. “Luke Skywalker.” He withdrew, then took a breath. “Are you a Jedi?”

“I am not. My sister was.” Her hands clasped back around the mug. “I want to go home.” She didn't sound like a middle aged woman, she sounded like a frightened little girl. Even now, thirty years later, she still sounded that way to Luke.

“What are you watching?” Rey's voice came from behind him and he turned after hitting pause. “Something important or are you secretly a holo-drama junkie and you're getting caught up on what you've missed?” The girl sat down at the table.

“Old security footage I've never bothered with before.” He shook his head. “You must be feeling better.”

“I'm not stuck in bed, that alone does wonders.” She folded her arms, worrying at her lip. “I've been trying to put things together in my mind, but I'm just turning in circles. Even when I try to simplify things, it's no good.”

Luke folded his arms, setting them on the table. “The trouble when sorting things out is knowing where to start. I went back to the day I met Thandu, but something tells me I need to go back further than that.”

Rey took the screen and looked it over. “I have a hard time believing that's you. You look so young.”

“I was young.” He let out a breath. “That was roughly seven weeks after the Battle of Endor.” He chuckled, then restarted the video feed, turning up the volume so Rey could hear as well.

“You don't have to tell me. I'd know that stupid chin anywhere. You're Anakin's son.”

“What?” The young woman looked him, perplexed. “What is it?”

Luke ran his hand through his hair. “She knew.” How had he never realized this before? She had known him by his appearance alone; not relying on his surname or the Force to make the connection. He had known that Bosha knew his father before he was Darth Vader, but he hadn't ever thought to grasp what the relationship might be. When he'd told Leia, she quickly stated she wanted nothing to do with her. He couldn't quite blame her. Their respective last meetings with their father were complete opposites. “Bosha knew about me – and about Leia.”

Rey frowned and he could see her thoughts scatter, trying to grasp what he was telling her. “Did she ever tell you that she knew both of your parents?”

“Yes, but I have no idea how they met or when.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, “something I'm starting to regret not asking, more and more.”

“”Let me guess, Bosha's not one for volunteering information.” She picked up the portscreen and and began to flick through files.

“No.” He let out a breath. “What are you looking for?”

“Searching to come up with a reason why Darth Vader didn't kill Bosha outright. It doesn't make sense. Someone who had no qualms of setting the galaxy on fire showing compassion to a single woman? Where's the logic in that?” She looked up. “He could have just imprisoned her in carbonite and left her in a storage unit somewhere if he didn't want her dead. It doesn't even make sense that she was locked up in the basement of his citadel. The Empire had more than enough prisons.”

“Thandu told me that he and the Emperor wanted her to turn to the Dark Side.” He shook his head. “Which sounds perfectly ridiculous. The Emperor wasn't going to be patient with that sort of thing. As for why she wasn't in a regular prison, I know Bosha well enough that she would escape one with ease.”

“Unless Vader told the Emperor that she was dead.” Rey sat back, setting the screen down. “And he kept her locked up for... I don't know, someone to yell at and then call him on his shit?”

Luke stood up and began to pace, something he hadn't done in years. “Nothing about it makes sense. There's no logical reason I can think of as to why she wasn't dead decades ago.” He stopped. “Although what you just said almost does.”

“What, Thandu being Darth Vader's confidante?” She let out a breath. “Why don't you ask him?” She gave him a look. “If your father became one with the Force and you told me that Kenobi talked to you after he died, wouldn't it stand to reason that you could do the same?”

“You make it sound simple, Rey.” He shook his head and resumed his pacing. He didn't want to mention that in all the times he'd ever tried to contact his father, he'd only been met with silence. “Nothing ever is.”

“Master Luke...” She stood up, her hands slapping on the table, and he caught the wave of annoyance from her. “It can be that simple! Or did you not tell your sister the other day that it's time to start believing in fairy tales? I may not have read many of them, but I've heard enough to know that sometimes, miracles happen.”

He gave her a look. “You don't believe that.”

“Well, we have to believe in something, otherwise there's no point in continuing.” She hit something on the datascreen and laid it flat.

The video feed was from an angle, showing a cavernous room with an open isolation chamber in the center. The date in the corner was from thirteen before the battle at Yavin. There didn't seem to be anything else in the room, and in stark contrast to the white interior of the chamber, a dark shadow sat in the middle of it. Luke swallowed hard; his father sat straight and motionless as a door opened and a young woman, Bosha, was half dragged into the room by a uniformed guard. Quick math told him that at the time, she would have been twenty-four. Two years into her twenty year imprisonment.

“Leave us.” His voice was like ice and Luke felt a shudder of revulsion from Rey.

The officer walked out without a glance back, and the two of them were alone. They looked almost like perfect opposites – one small, pale and cowed, the other large, dark and proud; but Luke can see her straighten her shoulders and step closer to the open chamber. In the light cast by the interior, it's revealed that she's dressed in olive green trousers and beige colored tunic, and the fabric seems to cling to her strangely, and her hair has been hacked short and uneven.

“You look unwell.” Vader broke the silence, and there's an oddness to the tone; it's full of mock concern that is bordering on actually being genuine. “Imprisonment does not suit you.”

“Imprisonment doesn't suit anyone.” Bosha lifted her chin, “least of all those who are more accustomed to freedom.”

Rey covered a tiny snicker and Luke shot a disapproving look at her. “What? It's true. We know he's not going to kill her.”

Luke closed his eyes and took a breath before turning his gaze back to the video feed.

Vader was pointing to a spot on his right, inside the chamber. “Sit.”

Bosha doesn't protest his demand, climbing calmly into the chamber (revealing that her feet are bare as she does) and as she sat, hands clasped her in lap, the chamber closed with a hiss. The only sound left is a faint beeping from an unseen computer bank.

Rey fast-forwards through three hours of nothing but the closed chamber, and when it opens again, Vader walks out, leaving Bosha behind, and the woman does not react when the guards haul her to her feet and drag her from the room.

“Strange.” Luke scans the archive list, and it's extensive. When he'd had the data pulled, he hadn't bothered to check the size or length of any of it. The one that catches his eye, however – is one of the last, dated roughly a month after the Battle of Yavin. He hits the file and the camera angle is from the side, and in the dim room, he and Rey can see Bosha, sitting, legs folded, her hands resting on her knees. A perfect meditation pose. A fraction of a moment later, there's the sound of a lightsaber igniting and her face is bathed in a red glow.

“Did you know?” Vader's voice is full of rage and at the same time, agony.

“Did I know what?” Bosha's only reaction to his demand is to open her eyes and look up, the tip of the lightsaber mere centimeters from her cheek.

“About the baby.” Now his voice is nothing but pain; and Luke swallowed, he knew exactly whom his father is asking about. Vader is asking about him.

Bosha slowly rose to her feet, her expression unchanging. “Are you asking me if I knew Padme was pregnant?”

Vader's blade is at her neck, and his breathing is harsh. “Never say her name again. I never want to hear her name from your lips again.”

The woman stepped away from the blade and from him and when he swung it again, scarlet was met by topaz as her own lightsaber is ignited. “Yes.” Her voice was edged with ice. “I knew she was pregnant and I knew she hadn't died pregnant.”

“How?” The locked blades spit and hiss, but neither gives an inch. It seems impossible, given the sheer difference in size and skill. “How did you know?”

“Because I was at her funeral.” It almost doesn't sound like Bosha, but it is. The soft-spoken woman from the Garden that Luke knew was gone; there was nothing but will and something more; a fire that was raging just under the surface. The sheer power she kept hidden and controlled. “If she'd died while she was still with child, the infant's Force signature would have remained.”

“Kenobi told you nothing?” Vader released his grip and swung his blade again, only to be blocked by the yellow-bladed weapon a second time. “Nothing at all?”

Bosha's lightsaber was extinguished as she started to laugh. It was an awful, hysterical, broken laugh, and she bent over, holding her stomach in her mirth. “Obi-Wan Kenobi, poster boy of the Jedi Order, tell me anything? Trust me with anything?” She straightened up, backing from his weapon, her face still full of amusement, bordering on insanity. “Kenobi wouldn't trust me to polish his boots for two credits, let alone a baby.” Her laughter gave way to hiccups. “That's a good one, Sky-Guy. Best joke I've heard all decade.”

Luke slammed his right hand into the datascreen, ending the video feed and he can hear the clear durasteel shatter under his palm. He's not certain what or who's fueling his anger. He hadn't been this livid in years and he has to clench both hands into fists to maintain his temper, to keep the whole room from exploding around him and Rey. Something, however, was triggered within the device and a voice came out from the speaker, a calm, passive baritone that sounds equal parts weary and confident.

“Lord Vader, as requested, I am sending you an update on the prisoner. She has fully recovered from her suicide attempt. I have also seen to programing the droids to watch for another. I estimate that if you had not found her, she most assuredly would have been successful.”

He lifted his head to look towards Rey, his rage consumed by the second shocking revelation of the past five minutes. Judging from the girl's expression, she couldn't believe what she just heard either. “He kept her alive for a purpose.” His voice cracked as he spoke and he grasped the table, and he knew that whenever the attempt had happened, it had not been Vader who had saved Bosha, but whatever shreds of Anakin Skywalker that had been present at the time. “And something tells me it wasn't out of sentiment.”

Rey took a deep breath and swallowed before speaking. “Then why don't you try and contact him – and I'll see if the Watcher is willing to speak to me.” She looked down at the half-shattered datascreen. “And I'll fix this.”

*

The Settlement had one wide road that started out in stone at the landing platform and on the far end, shifted to dirt and continued on down the hill, across a bridge, and into the forest. The homes were back from the road, made of adobe and steel, most having half-a-dozen rooms. Most had been rebuilt and reconstructed in the long years of the Galactic Civil War. The forty-two residents of Away lived in a total of nine houses, most of them half-set into the hills they occupied.

Bosha let herself into the small house that was apart from the rest of the Settlement, a one room apartment that must have been used for quarantine, or some other form of isolation. Like all of the buildings, the north facing wall curved upwards, rather than lying flush with the other three. She'd seen homes built in the same manner on Alderaan, done so to contend with the heavy amounts of snow that had fallen on parts of that planet. Given the winters on Away were twice as harsh, it made sense. Sunlight streamed through the solitary skylight, and she inhaled the familiar, musty scent that always seemed to linger in the air of a disused room. She set down her bucket of cleaning supplies, ready to get to work.

The first time could remember walking into this house, she had been twelve years old. The second time she and Papa had come to Away. It was after her mother's death, and they had come here to spread her ashes. The walls were bare and her feet had kicked up clouds of dust as she walked. This wasn't the first place where she had heard the Watcher, but it was the first place she had seen him. She'd cleaned the house the first time to help with her grief. She could also remember tripping over the rug that had been so filled with dust and dirt from the passage of time, it had been indistinguishable from the floor.

She crouched down, running her fingers along the edge of the rug now, still mostly clean from the last time she had visited the Watcher's home, but it still could use an airing. Quickly, she rolled the rug up and hefted it onto her shoulder, the weight of it was slight now as she carried it outside, draping it over the line she had hung between two trees. Almost as soon as she did, one of the children appeared in the grass, and she chuckled. “Did you think I wouldn't be able to lift it,Varis?”

The girl shrugged, and kicked idly at the ground. She was the only child of a Dathomirian named Rand and her mother was Pire – the child of a former slave on Tatooine. Bosha could tell that she would much rather be swimming with the other children than stuck cleaning. “I believe it's my turn to help.” She held up the long paddle she was carrying. “And I could use the exercise.” She huffed, blowing a strand of hair out of her face. “Zekk is showing Spark how to de-bone the fish they caught, then Kyp's going to give him what he calls a proper tour.” She regarded the rug, the colors muted with age and dust. “I'll make sure I'm finished and have it back inside before it starts to rain.”

“We have a few hours.” She calmly rolled up her sleeves, then pulled her gloves from her pockets, pulling them on without hesitation. “And thank you.”

“You're welcome, Aunt Bo.” She answered and started to beat the dust out of the rug.

Bosha went back inside, slowly taking in the work to be done. She was glad of Varis was already at work, it'd be storming before dark and she needed to have the majority of the room finished before then. She went to the first peg to the left of the door, and took down the worn pilot jacket that had once belonged to her mother down, and then the one that had belonged to her father. She carried them outside and added them to the hanging lines, taking a moment to smell the sleeves of each; Papa's still carried the scent she never could entirely place, only that it spoke of protection and safety, Mama's was gentle soap and flowers – and that was love and family.

Chapter Text

Constantly living on planets or spaceships where the weather was controlled left Kylo ill-prepared for places that didn't. Listening to the rain hammer against the roof for two hours and finding no rest, he had to wonder how anyone else could be sleeping. Weather aside, today had been one of the better ones of his life recently. He sat in bed and rubbed the spot behind his shoulder, he'd strained the muscle fishing earlier and the scar tissue wasn't exactly helping either. He'd caught six fish to Zekk's seventeen – but he'd managed not to stab his foot or overbalance and end up soaked. He felt a rather suffused, silly sense of pride when they'd had one of the fish he'd caught for dinner tonight. He refused, however, to go to the barn to learn how to milk the goats. That was something he was certain he could live without knowing.

He had been on Away for nearly a week, and he wasn't certain if he'd changed as much as he felt he had. If he counted the time he and Aunt Bo spent traveling here, he'd been gone from the First Order for twelve days. He knew he was never going back the moment Bosha had killed Hux and told him they needed to leave. What shamed him was that he was more than willing to leave with her, but hadn't for his father. He couldn't even fathom why'd he agreed to leave; it seemed wrong in so many ways.

Giving up on sleep, at least for now, he rose to his feet and shuffled quietly out of his room, and saw that the door to the one across from his, Zeth's – was wide open and the one that led to Aunt Bo's was slightly ajar. All the houses on Away had the same layout – a large common room with an open kitchen on one side, with a fresher on one side. Down a short hallway were six smaller rooms – and while all of Bosha's were designated as bedrooms, the original builders must have had studies or storage in mind. In truth, his and Zeth's rooms were little more than overlarge storage closets.

It was hard for him to believe that seven people lived in this small dwelling that's smaller than the apartment he remembered living with his parents on Hosnian Prime when he was Zeth's age. But then, most time on Hosnian Prime had been spent indoors and here on Away, outside was the preferred place. It would be different in the winter, if it was as cold as everyone seemed to tell him. Cold he could handle. Quite honestly, after deep space and Starkiller, he welcomed the idea of a gradual winter and the concept of snow.

The other factor as to how seven people were able to share this abode and not fall over each other is because they had next to nothing by the way of possessions.

After seeing the holosnap of Petra Danns on the day he graduated from the University on Alderaan, he'd not bothered with any of the others that graced the wall that led towards the front door. Flicking on the lamp, he scanned the remainders, noting that the largest also seemed to be the most recent – what must be every citizen of Away, standing in front of the B-Wing on the landing platform. His eyes drifted to the one next to the one that had angered him so, and took it off the wall to examine it more closely. There were four people in the image, one was a man of about fifty that he didn't know – except that he had the same ears he did. Next to him was a young woman – his grandmother, her age was twenty something – and next to her, was his grandfather, in his late teens, who was trying to look serious and failing utterly. On his other side – was Aunt Bo, at perhaps fourteen, arms folded and her expression was a mock of Anakin Skywalker's.

“I'll bet the two of you scrapped like dogs.” He shook his head and hung it back up.

Spark.

Kylo turned, scanning the room.

It's time Spark. I'm waiting for you.

He flicked out the light and walked through the kitchen, and stepped outside. The rain had lessened to the point where it was a mist, and he swallowed, finding his voice. “Where are you?”

In the small house. Where my Apprentice was this afternoon.

“Drama queen.” He muttered under his breath and started through the soaked grass, heading for the building that was set back from Aunt Bo's – a distance of several dozen yards.

Look who's talking.

The door opened without hesitation – Kylo seriously doubted anyone on Away locked their doors – and pressed the small panel on the inside wall, turning on the single light in the house. Unlike the other homes, which had several rooms, this was a single room, and the walls were hung with garments. Directly to his left, he could see two worn flight jackets, one large, one small, next to that hung a long green coat he remembered from that memory of Aunt Bo's. He turned away from the walls and towards the center of the room, where someone was sitting on one side of a large gold and white rug.

He looked far more corporeal than a Force spirit, but the Watcher's body still glowed faintly as Kylo stepped to the edge of the rug and sat down, mirroring the other's pose. Even though his head was down and his gaze on his hands, Kylo could see the clear resemblance between the two of them. Same build, same hands, feet, same damn ears. Only his ears were visible, sticking out in that awful, embarrassing way that made him cringe. The Watcher's hair was the same shade of black, only his was merely slightly shaggy, as if he was just overdue for a haircut, rather than have it being intentional.

“Good evening, Spark.” The Watcher lifted his head, and that was when Kylo saw that unlike him, the Watcher didn't have brown eyes. His were an icy blue. Eyes like Luke Skywalker. Like Anakin Skywalker.

“Good evening.” He returned, politely. With the exception of the haircut and the eyes, he felt like he was looking at his teen-aged self again. There was a flash of lightning and then the rain started anew.

The Watcher scanned him for a moment, then smiled faintly. “Well, I suppose that answers the question of what I would have looked like if I'd lived past seventeen.”

“I'm sorry?” It's the only thing that Kylo can think to say. “We're not the same person from different realities, are we?”

“No.” He chuckled. “Although if you want to get technical about these things, we could be considered brothers.” The Watcher smiled. “Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Anakin Solo. I believe you were named Ben?”

“I was. I am... I.. I don't know.” He frowned, looking away from the boy in front of him. “I'm having trouble picturing Leia Organa naming a child after a man she hated.”

“My mother wanted to redeem our grandfather's name and overcome her fear of what he was. It also sort of helped that the Empire just...” He shook his head. “Instead of standing together after the destruction of the second Death Star, they fractured into dozens of little factions that spent more time fighting each other than fighting the Alliance, so that by the time I was born, they had next to nothing by way of a planet to stand on.”

He straightened up. “How far is the difference in our ages?”

“Five and a half years.” He chuckled. “I never would have gotten away with that hairstyle you have. Mother would have shaved my head in my sleep and my sister Jaina would have helped.” He shook his head. “I didn't even know where we got these damn ears until Bosha told me.”

Kylo gaped at him. “You didn't know about our maternal grandmother?”

Anakin shook his head. “Different roads. While my parents were taking part in putting the galaxy back together on Bakura, the plans that Palpatine put into place to turn Naboo into a wasteland were enacted. The entire planet, all the history, art and knowledge that could have aided the galaxy gone in a firestorm that lasted less than a week. In retrospect, what happened to Alderaan was a mercy kill in comparison.”

He swallowed hard. “So you never knew...” He tried to comprehend that horrific idea; for Padme Amidala Skywalker to be unknown. To be swept away in the great flood of history, vanishing the way that Anakin Skywalker did. Planet, name and all that she had done purged and lost for eternity. “Ever?”

“Never.” His face darkened. “There was a woman who once convinced my uncle that she knew and that she would lead him to his mother's people. But she was a liar. Uncle Luke did not see the lie because of the emotion tied to learning Grandmother's identity.”

Kylo couldn't repress the snicker. “I can't believe Luke Skywalker falling for a woman – romantic or platonic.”

Anakin leaned forward, grinning, “then remind me to tell you about my aunt Mara some time.” He chuckled. “Ah, but that's enough for now, for that is history and cannot be changed.”

He decided to not press the issue about the woman named Mara who was married to the Luke Skywalker of Anakin's world. He'd find out in due time, he was sure. “You called, I believe?”

“I did.” He ran a hand through his hair. “The Companion, Ansel, is an anomaly in all this. He is what he is, a Force-sensitive who walks the road between and always had.” His ears went slightly pink – strange to think of a spirit becoming embarrassed. “I just wanted to save some of the Light and hide it away from the coming darkness. But everyone here is rather... gray in their abilities.”

Kylo shook his head. “This place is nothing but Light. The air itself pulsates with all that is good and right.” He frowned. “Some might call this place primitive, and indeed, by the rest of the galaxy's standards, it is. But it's simple, everything is clear.”

“Oh there is darkness, brother. The people do not shun it, nor do they embrace it. They speak of it openly, so that what can be banished can be banished and what cannot, can be overcome.” Anakin squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. “I swear, I did not mean to sound like an ancient Jedi Master just now.”

He snorted in reply. “An ancient Jedi Master would insist that everything could be overcome. That nothing is impossible with the Force. Then you'd have to meditate on it for a week and a half, using sheer willpower to expunge the darkness and when it was over, you'd be free of whatever it was, and you'd feel so relieved in accomplishing the goal you wouldn't notice the dead place inside of yourself.”

“True.” He straightened, giving Kylo a hard look. “But I believe that when it comes to feeling dead inside, you might be the master.”

He swallowed – he wasn't going to deny Anakin his words. The rage that might have risen within didn't even stir, it merely flickered and fell silent. “It wouldn't matter what I did, I cannot redeem myself for my actions. I could save the galaxy and all who live within it and I'd still be remembered as the man who killed his father.”

“You regret it every day, every moment.” He dug his hands into his knees, and Kylo felt that he was doing it to keep from moving to embrace him. “You would give anything to take it back, correct?”

He nodded, hating the tear that slipped down his cheek. Only weak people cried. And he certainly was weak. “I'll never be forgiven.”

“That's what the Creature wants you to believe.” Anakin closed the distance between them, setting a hand on his head, just above his ear and Kylo closed his eyes at the touch; it reminded him too much of that horrible day on Starkiller. “He convinced you so long ago, when you were but a child. Made you believe that all you were was some wicked, evil little beast that no one could love and that no one wanted to help. You screamed at the galaxy in anguish because no one could see the frightened little boy that was being twisted right in front of their eyes.”

Tears were falling freely now; to have the truth of it all just stated out loud were enough to unleash the pain that had tormented him for as long as he could remember. He felt something pushing into his mind, trying to shove the darkness and pain aside, and he hissed, trying to lash out at the presence, but it persisted, unmoving and relentless.

A face appeared; a tiny girl, with her hair pulled back in three buns, her face pale and trembling. I'm scared. His own arms pulling her into a hug. I'll keep you safe. The same girl, screaming at the sky as he left, his heart rent in two; compassion for the child and the horror at what he'd done – at what his uncle, moral pillar of the galaxy had done. The little girl grew up – and bested him in battle. He could remember Snoke telling her to kill him, to slay him where he lay on the ground. And she stayed her hand, and then the ground rent in two; leaving them on opposite sides.

Spark.

Something created when flint met steel; the basics of starting a fire. Also a tiny speck that could leap from the fire and, should it land in such a manner, could start an inferno. Fire. It destroyed and yet it gave warmth and protection from the elements. Small in size, but a single spark was enough to start a maelstrom. Infinity contained in a something that existed but an instant.

He could see himself, holding that blue bladed lightsaber for the first time, ignited, only to have the image snuffed out as the blade turned red.

“The being known as Kylo Ren is responsible for the death of Han Solo. He is hollow, a construct and monster created by the being known as Snoke. The power the master of the Knights of Ren welded is wrought with hairline fractures.” The Watcher's voice sounded distant, an echo somewhere far from where they were. “A single spark could burn the galaxy down, or banish the darkness to whence it came.”

“I can't do it.” He winced as the pressure in his mind became more intense, while it didn't hurt, it was threatening to consume him; he didn't know how to live in the light anymore, he wasn't worthy of the light. “I'm not that strong.”

“No one said you had to do it alone, Spark.”

That was the last thing he heard clearly before exhaustion overtook him and sent him spiraling into unconsciousness.

**

Seventeen hours into deep meditation and Luke Skywalker felt he might be calling to a brick wall for all that had happened. His feelings of hunger, thirst and exhaustion were starting to prick at the corners of his focus, and while part of him wanted to just give into the physical demand and start again after rest, the other half couldn't let this go. He had been vaguely aware when Rey had left him a canteen and a small wrapped bundle of food, but he'd not acknowledged her or her leavings. That was ten hours ago. The rest of the base on D'Qar had gone through nearly a whole day and he'd been a stone sitting in his room while the galaxy turned around him.

“What are you doing?” A voice, unfamiliar and young whispered from somewhere in front of him.

“Meditating.” He answered, not opening his eyes to see the speaker. He reached out with the Force, expecting to find some new recruit, or a child of one of the fighters, but instead, found a faint fluctuation in the air, much like the heat aura of a lamp.

“I can see that you're meditating.” It was a girl's voice, and she was only a few feet from him. “Are you trying to find inner peace or talk to the dead?”

“What?” Luke opened his eyes and found himself almost face to face with the glowing form of a dark haired girl, younger than Rey, her dark hair bound behind her in a single tight bun at the base of her skull, save for a padawan braid that nearly reached her waist. She looked – surprisingly familiar. “Both.”

“Peace is for the dead.” The girl answered, grinning and sitting down in a pose that mirrored his. “And even that's not guaranteed.” She closed her eyes and took a breath. “Hence the reason I'm here, talking to you because the person you're trying to reach is unavailable.” She cracked one eye, a slight grin hiding on her face. “So Master Skywalker asked me if I'd go.”

Luke grasped the canteen in his right hand, observing his guest. “You know him?”

“Of course I know him!” She brightened. “I was one of his students. Dueling lessons.” She tilted her head to the side, watching him drink, then straightened up. “I'm sorry, where I are my manners? I know who you are, but you don't know me. I'm Bria. Bria Thandu.”

He nearly dropped the canteen. “Bosha's twin?”

“The one and only.” She twisted the end of her braid. “My sister and I have not been in the same room together since we were sixteen. That was the day Callie left the Order.” She shook her head. “I should have gone with her. I had a chance and I just stood there, like a good little Jedi, thinking I didn't need a family, because the Order was my family.”

“I'm sorry.” It's the only thing he can think of to say. “Why wasn't Bosha taken to the Temple when you were?”

She waggled her finger at him. “No family means no family, not even your twin.” She huffed, then her posture slipped, her shoulders falling. “You better drink some more water, you clearly need it.”

He took a hasty gulp, trying to figure out how old Bria was. Now that he looked at her properly, he could see the clear resemblance between this girl and the woman he knew. “Who's Callie?”

“Callista Anyaro. She and I were in the nursery at the same time – but she decided she wanted to be a healer, and I wanted a different path, that of a guardian, so our roads diverged.” She leaned forward, her voice becoming soft. “The Watcher called her. He only called one other Jedi, and that was Master Illhum. He was a Form Master. One of a handful of a Jedi who could adequately teach any form of lightsaber dueling.” She frowned, then took a breath. “Well, it's kind of confusing, see, his family all got killed in some conflict of the Clone Wars, except his nephew, who was Force Sensitive. Cheron, was his name. He was four years old when he was brought to the Temple.” She paused. “Are you keeping up or do I need to slow down?”

“I'm fine.” He took another drink of water, then pulled the bundle towards him. “This doesn't bother you?” He indicated the food.

She wrinkled her nose, and it reminded Luke of what Master Yoda had thought of his food that first day on Dagobah. “I'm not going to begrudge you your sustenance, since it's not meat pies and sugared fruits.” Bria tugged absently at her braid. “I watched Master Illhum walk out of the Order, carrying Cheron. I asked why he was leaving.”

“What did he tell you?” He took a bite of bread, knowing that it was likely that when this Illhum left, the Order was close to being annihilated.

“That the Jedi had become blinded in more ways than one. He was taking his nephew away from the Order and to find the true way again.” She looked down at her hands. “And he was right. We were supposed to be the guardians of peace and justice throughout the galaxy. Shining beacons of light and personifications of what was good – all that wisdom and we never saw the weapons waiting to stab and shoot us in the back.”

Luke swallowed hard, setting down the bread. He knew about the betrayal, about all of this; he looked away, words utterly failing him. How do you say you're sorry for the death of thousands when you were related to the person directly responsible?

“Anakin was merely the tipping point. If it hadn't been him, it would have been someone else.” Bria lifted her chin, the pain clear in her voice. “He also didn't kill me. I was shot by nine clones near the library. I was trying to find a way out. I never even saw Anakin in the temple that night.” Her hand came forward and brushed against his cheek. “I'm not trying to hurt you, Luke.”

He shook his head, taking another drink of water. “Some wounds never heal. It's also... I suppose it all comes down to knowing I forgave my father, but I seem to be the only one.”

“Bosha forgave him.” She let out a breath. “Which brings us back to what you're wanting to know. Why did Anakin not kill my sister and how their – I guess you'd call it a relationship – functioned even after he became Darth Vader.” She started playing with the end of her braid again – it was a nervous gesture, the same sort of thing that Bosha did when she tugged on her gloves. “And it's actually not as complicated as one might think.”

“I believe I've had enough complicated in my life since the day my uncle bought two droids from jawas when I was nineteen.” He picked up the bread again.

“It's a simple case of of 'you can't do that, yes I can, no you can't, watch me!'” She grinned, “they fought like siblings. It's a concept that the Jedi couldn't understand, because they didn't understand familial love.” Bria shook her head.

“And the Order forbade attachment of any kind.” Luke frowned, but he could understand what the girl meant. “How old were you when you came to live with the Order?”

“Seven months.” She replied, tilting her head to the side. “Your father, on the other hand, was nine and a half. An age deemed to old to start training. The cutoff age to be brought to the Temple is eight. And even that rarely happened.”

He coughed. “The rules have changed since then.”

“And how.” She shifted, tucking her knees under her chin. “I didn't even know my family was still alive until I was twelve. The Masters told me they'd been killed in the Kel-Des disaster.” The tension left her form, and she straightened up, but kept her focus on her hands. “but only Papa and Bosha were still alive then. Mama had gotten sick – and she was gone. Gone before I ever had the chance to see her, and with her death came the question.” Her voice dropped to a hiss. “The question that burned into my brain, haunted me in meditation, in sleep, and no matter how I tried to release it, it would not let me go.”

“What was it?” Luke had a feeling what it might be – why had the Order taken her and not Bosha?

“The question a twin like you never has to ask and a twin like me never should.” Her eyes fixed on his, refusing to look away.

Luke thought over what she had just told him. He kept his gaze on Bria, and in her face he could see the woman he knew. The same eyes, ears, and that expression of waiting for you to catch up with what she was saying. She lifted her chin, going back to a meditation pose, her left hand tapping against her knee, then her right did the same. He had sometimes tried to find similarities between himself and Leia, and hadn't come up with much in the way of physical resemblance – except for their noses and the shape of their hands. “Which twin is the copy? Which one came first?”

“You can see what a terrible question it is.” She lifted her hands, looking at her palms as if it was the first time she saw them. “I still don't have the answer.”

“It shouldn't matter.” He shook his head. “You're both important.”

“Are we?” She didn't look at him. “All I do is die. On this road and the Watcher's. But now, on this path, my death is not in vain.” She leaned forward, her voice dropping to a whisper. “I've gone from a statistic to a catalyst.” Bria started twisting the end of her braid again. “All you need to do to find Away is to find the Crossroads. From there it's the seventh star to the left, just over the dawn.”

Luke glanced down at the bread in his hand, then back at her. “That doesn't tell me distance.”

“I have told you the distance. The seventh star to the left. Many stars in your night sky is another planet's sun. Or two, if you're looking for Tatooine.” She leaned forward, setting a finger on his lips. “There's a Crossroad within the Crossroads. Away has always existed in safety. If you violate this safety, you will cease to be counted as a friend of that place and become an enemy.” Bria started to fade out of the room. “May the Force be with you.”

She was gone before he could reply.

 

**

In all of his years of bidding on the locker auctions, Ansel had never won anything particularly valuable. Not since before the Clone Wars, when the cargo bay he'd spent five thousand credits on turned out to contain an antique freighter that a collector on Coruscant had bought from him for five hundred thousand. He walked down the corridor of the facility, trying to contain his excitement. Even though he wasn't expecting anything grand, it was still a source of amusement to him. He was expecting a storage locker full of clothes, something he could drop off at a shelter and feel good about doing something for the less fortunate. Or he could bring them to Away.

He'd taken plenty of goods to Away, like some fond uncle who showed up with gifts that most would spurn but they embraced with gratitude.

He quickly entered the security code into panel in front of his prize, then hit the reset button and replaced the old code with a new one. The door opened and Ansel peered inside. It wasn't much bigger than the kitchen of his food stand, just large enough that he could step in and shut the door. Three rectangular shaped objects, all covered in sheets. A faint beeping caused him to look deeper and in the corner closest to him, was a small perpetual generator.

That alone was worth two thousand credits, despite its age.

He stepped into the space, turned on his lamp and shut the door. An unsettling feeling had started in the the pit of his stomach and he crouched down to throw back the covering on the two smaller crates, glancing at the larger one against the wall. He wasn't ready to uncover it just yet. The smallest box held two tarnished silver and crystal drinking goblets and a bottle of Corellian brandy that was sixty-seven years old.

Ten thousand credits for the brandy alone.

Ansel closed the box, the feeling of unease only increasing as he opened the other; it held three lightsabers. Two of them practically identical, the other seemed vaguely familiar. Swallowing, he rose to his feet and grasped the cloth covering the last and largest item in the storage unit. As he drew the cloth away and it unfurled in the semi darkness, he felt his heart simultaneously leap into his throat in awe and clench in fear.

Standing there, perfectly encased in carbonite, where she had been for at least the past forty years, was Ahsoka Tano.

Chapter Text

Finn dreamed of purple and green grass. It rose all around him, the stalks were over his head. He had the feeling that it wasn't the grass that was tall, but he was a child and his short legs stumbled over the uneven earth. Looking up, past the towering blades of glass, was a brilliantly blue sky, pockmarked with clouds and somewhere else in the grass, someone ran with a purposed and flushed up a flock of birds, their anger at being disturbed echoed around him, and then the flock scattered again as a small volley of blaster fire echoed from nearby. One of the birds fell at his feet. His hand trembled as he picked up the downed creature, it was nearly as big as he was. The feathers were the same green and purple of the grass, but the head was black, with a great red eye, its beak small and sharp. With a grace that was far beyond a toddler, he scurried forward, heading for the break in the field. There, he knew it would be open, there it would be safe. As he raced out of the grass and into a mowed prairie, other children stumbled out as well, all of them carrying the same type of bird as himself, a few had one in each hand.

Adults came forward and swept many of them up in their arms, along with their quarry. Their faces were hard to make out; they blurred together, offering little detail. A flash of red hair, a bright yellow shirt, a woman with scars where her eyes should be. The same woman running away from the group, and suddenly, Finn was no longer with the community, but above it – looking down from a view-port as the ground swept away, and the blind woman screaming up at them in futility, her voice lost in the roar of the engines. But her body language spoke with her – and her meaning was clear: Come back! Don't leave!

His eyes fluttered for a moment as he fell out of slumber, the purple and green grass fading from his memory, only to be replaced by the gray durasteel of his room's wall. He grunted slightly, rubbing his eyes, his discontent over the dream calming as he felt the pressure of someone's head pressing between his shoulder blades. “What time is it?”

Poe mumbled something then tightened his arm that was draped over Finn's middle. “Too early.”

He chuckled. “No, seriously. We both have patrol this morning and I don't want to miss breakfast.”

Heaving a sigh, the older man turned slightly and Finn heard him muttering again. “Quarter after five.” He groaned and then sat up. “You having nightmares again?”

Finn pulled himself to a sit, rubbing his face. Ever since he'd left the First Order, his sleep had been plagued by the horrors he'd endured. Sometimes it wasn't even true; false deaths of people he'd once served with. The Order may not allowed for friendships, but there had been a sense of camaraderie among many of the stormtroopers. “Not so much nightmares but a long forgotten past trying to surface.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “Purple and green grass. That's mostly what I remember.” He gave Poe a worn smile. “Sounds crazy, right?”

“Not too crazy. I've seen red grass – and red seaweed as well.” Poe offered, pulling on his pants. “Anything else?”

“Lady with no eyes.” He shook his head. “She didn't want me to leave – she's also the only person I could see clearly. And I don't mean that there's dark holes where her eyes should be, but scars. Like they were cut out.”

Poe shuddered. “That's a little creepy.” He stood and went to retrieve his shirt.

“It's more than a little.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed and pulled his clothes on as well. “but I wasn't afraid of her. That's the thing I don't get. Just from her appearance, I should be terrified, but I'm not.”

“Considering some of the psychos you were exposed to in the First Order, a lady with no eyes is pretty low on the radar.” He frowned, looking around the room. “Where did my socks end up?”

Finn lifted the sheets and dug down near the foot of the bed and pulled out two socks – one black and one navy blue. “You are aware that these don't match, right?”

Poe snatched them, his cheeks going slightly pink. “I was in a hurry when I folded my laundry, all right?”

“You should have your droid help you.” He retorted. “Or is Beebee Eight just as reluctant to do washing as you are?” He stood up and went over to his small dresser and got out a clean pair of shorts and socks.

“I'm usually half asleep when I do my laundry.” He finished getting dressed. “Besides, if my feet are in my boots, who's going to know my socks don't match?”

Finn chuckled as he also quickly dressed. “Sorry, you spend an entire lifetime making sure everything is regulation, a little disorder can be... off-settling.”

“I should put more disorder into your life so you're not so confused by it.” Poe grinned, planting a quick kiss on his lips. “I'll see you in the mess hall.” He went to the door, pausing in the threshold to look back at him. “And good morning.”

“Morning.” He returned the smile and when the door closed behind Poe, he let out a heavy sigh and then picked up the datapad from the top of the dresser. He went and sat on the bed, powering the device up and stared at the file that had been placed there yesterday afternoon that he still hadn't looked at. Finn wasn't certain he wanted to. It held answers to his past – not all of them, but a start. When Rey mentioned that she'd seen his grandparents in a Force vision, he didn't know what to think. He'd often thought of the family he'd never known and would never know since he left the First Order. The idea that he suddenly could - “Damn it.”

He opened the file and entered a forgotten past.

*

The rain had ended in the night and as Ben pushed himself up on the rug he'd fallen asleep on, he tried to piece together everything that had happened since he entered the Watcher's house. He looked slowly around the room, expecting the young man to still be here with him; or asleep elsewhere, but the house was empty save for him. He may not have gotten all the answers he was searching for, but he'd learned some of the major ones. The Watcher was his brother from another reality – the different road. He had died at the age of seventeen. He didn't know what events had led to his death at the age of seventeen, but something told Ben it was ugly. He rubbed his eyes and slowly took in the garments hanging on the walls.

Each one of them was distinctive, although there was no pattern to how they were arranged. There was a long purple and gold cloak that seemed more ceremonial than practical, two Jedi robes – one denoting the rank of master and the other of padawan, three sets of what seemed to be rags, and strangely, the uniform of an Imperial Era tie-fighter and an Alliance flight suit. He thought back to the hangar bay and the tie-fighter and x-wing that had been parked there. His grasp on the community's inhabitants wasn't as well as he would have liked, so he had no idea who the pilots might have been.

“You want some breakfast?” A voice called from the doorway and he turned. Standing there was the girl with caf colored skin and striking green eyes. The ones he had heard the other children jokingly call Auntie from time to time.

“Good morning... Mira, right?” He rose to his feet, wincing at the slight twinge in his back from sleeping in an odd position and place.

“Uh huh.” She covered a yawn, tucking a stray curl behind her ear. “Has anyone ever told you that you're really tall?”

He chuckled. “Not lately.” It took him a moment to recognize her Force signature. Not everyone here was attuned to the Force, but since the whole planet seemed to radiate with it, it made detecting those with capabilities harder to identify. He rubbed his temple, trying to soothe the dull ache in his head. Whatever the Watcher had done to him last night, it was still there. If he were to describe it, everything in his mind had been pushed clear to the sides, leaving him sitting in the middle of himself, with piles of memories, ideals, people and possibilities to be sorted through. The puzzle that was himself waiting to be put back together. “You're a Danns, right?”

She nodded. “Youngest child of Jaenen and Teneniel. And the only one of the four who's Force sensitive like our mother.” She held her arms outward, palms spread. “Hence the name. Or has no one told you that Mira is short for Miracle?”

“I can see why you go by Mira. Your full name is a little... daunting.” He glanced around the room again, noting the few empty pegs. “Why do the other children call you Auntie?”

“They're teasing. Mainly because there's ten years between me and my closest sibling.” She grinned. “Papa always says I'm here to prove that he and Mama aren't as old as they think they are.”

“Looking at her, I don't think I could guess what your mother's age is.” The two of them started out of the small house and into the slightly damp morning. It was going to be another humid day. One week in and he was already looking forward to autumn. Halfway between Bosha's home and the Watcher's was a large fruit tree that he hadn't noticed until this morning. Down the hill from them, he could see two figures leading the goats out of the barn and into one of the grassy areas between several houses.

“This autumn, she'll be fifty-nine.” Mira stretched her arms over her head, yawning. “Papa will turn sixty this winter.” She looked in the same direction he was. “I think that's Uncle Cheron and Uncle Phan.”

“You'd know better than I would.” He shook his head. “And your mother does not look anywhere close to her age.” In truth, Ben had originally thought that Aunt Nell wasn't any older than fifty.

“It's the red hair, isn't it? Aunt Callie says that people with her hair color look younger than they really are.” She laughed, spinning on the grass and walking backwards. “You'd never think that Jora was closer to forty than thirty.”

“Oh, I know how old Jora is. I've known her since we were both children.” He shielded his thoughts quickly; he didn't want to remember Bespin, far too many of his memories were tied to that place; good and bad. He absently brushed at the tall grass on either side of the path, it was strangely soft against his fingers. “Mira, how old are you?”

“I turned thirteen last winter.” she answered, then lifted her chin, a slight twinkle in her eyes. “And how about you, Spark? How old are you?”

“Thirty as of last month.” He chuckled. “And my name is Ben.”

“It's very nice to meet you, Ben.” She grinned, then opened the door of Aunt Bo's house and they went inside.

*

Ansel stared at the rings of aging in the bowl of his wok as the shipboard computer finished the calculations for the jump to light speed. It was almost pure black at the bottom, and from there, the colors lightened to shades of gray, out to the rim which was so pale, it nearly white compared to the base. Eighty years of history had been cooked in the vessel, with only scorch marks and tiny nicks to stand the testament of time. That and his memory. From it, he had fed senators and separatists, Jedi and clones, self proclaimed Sith-lords and the common citizen. All of that was over for him.

He hadn't hesitated after found Ahsoka. He had quickly packed her, the remaining contents of the storage locker, his few prized possessions, and every perishable good he had into his ship. It was an Old Republic Cruiser, the red craft repainted dark blue several decades ago. For the past one hundred and twenty three years, Bakura had been home. Now he was leaving and he knew he could never return. He'd weathered the Clone Wars, the Empire, the Galactic Civil War – and now, now he was running from the First Order. He'd been alone all those years – just himself. Until one night, almost seventy-seven years ago when he had met the Watcher. He glanced back towards the main cabin, where the long-lost padawan of Anakin Skywalker was still encased in stone.

He knew damn well he couldn't bring her out of carbon-freeze and then think they would be safe. Not on Bakura. They certainly couldn't go to the Resistance or what was left of the New Republic. Neither would listen to him or understand the significance of what she represented. The First Order was on the hunt for the Spark and Bosha – and there was also that Thing out there in the dark. Supreme Leader Snoke. It wouldn't take him long to start piecing things together and figure out that the fastest way to find the missing pair would be through himself.

The small BB unit droid of his rolled into the cockpit, looked up at him and let out a low whistle.

“I know, Hjalta, Bosha doesn't like droids. But she knows you, so there's nothing to worry about.” Ansel set the pan down in the copilot seat as he heard the computer finish the calculations. “Time we were off.” He rose to his feet and stood in front of the controls just as the radio crackled.

“NVW dash four nine seven, you are ordered to return to Bakura. Airspace has officially been closed.” The controller sounded harried. “All crafts registered to the planet and outbound from the planet are requested to return to their port of origin by decree of their district governors. Failure to comply will result in seizure of your vessel and yourself and any passengers being detained indefinitely.”

“Tell that to the ten vessels that just jumped to hyperspace before me.” He snickered and then looked down at the droid, grinning. “Go check on our guest, make sure she's secure, Hja.” The white and green droid rolled out of the cockpit, leaving him alone. Clearing his mind, Ansel summoned the Force before hitting the communication button. “I have permission to leave Bakura.” He laced the words with heavy suggestion and a nearly flawless Coruscanti accent.

There was a long pause, and then the reply came back, flat and unemotional. “You have permission to leave. Have a safe journey, NVW dash four nine seven.”

“Thank you.” Ansel answered and flicked it off, and a moment later, pushed the lever to engage the hyper-drive, leaving the controller's reply and Bakura behind him. He activated the autopilot, watching the stars sweep past in a blur. He was going one day from Bakura towards the Core Systems, then he'd make the two day trip from there to Away. He reached over and picked up his wok again, going back to the cabin and setting it in the container with his clothes.

He turned and scanned the form lying in front of him, then knelt and set his hand on the icy stone. He closed his eyes, bending his head towards Ahsoka's and reached out with the Force again. He wasn't certain what would happen to someone who had been encased in carbon freeze as long as she had. It was going to be a wicked case of hibernation sickness, he knew that. Ansel let his breathing even out as he felt his way through the stone with his mind, and then found her. It was faint, but she was there. Deeply asleep, barely aware of her situation.

He withdrew and stood, then looked down at Hjalta, who let out series of beeps, followed by a whine. “We're going to be fine, Hja. All of us are going to be just fine.” He looked down at Ahsoka and gave her a sad smile. “I'm afraid there's still much work to be done. You are going to enter a galaxy that is in worse shape than the one you left.”

*

Rey adjusted her grip on the wrench and gritted her teeth as focused on loosening a bolt on the Falcon. Working on the ship did a better job of clearing her mind than meditating ever did. This was something she knew; and given the sheer amount of work to be done on this wonderful hunk of junk she had enough to keep her occupied until she was thirty. Another hard jerk on her tool and finally, the nut gave a fraction, and then relinquished its grip entirely, making the rest of the job short work. “Finally.” She muttered and worked the bolt out of the socket and set it in the small compartment of her toolbox she was using to hold the rest of the screws she'd already removed. As she eased the patch out of place, she swore softly at the sight of what it'd been covering. Blaster damage – judging from the carbon scoring and width, it most likely had happened sometime after the Battle of Endor and before Plutt acquired the Falcon.

She studied the panel for a moment, and then recognized the origin of the patch; part of a star destroyer. “If I'd have known that overgrown sack of muck wanted plating, I'd have brought him some.” She prodded the mark, noting that despite the hack job done on it, the plate held up reasonably well.

“Requesting permission to come aboard!” A voice called up to her and she smiled. It was General Organa.

“You're the commanding officer, I don't think you need permission.” Rey waved the woman upward and watched as she climbed up the ladder and crossed over the top of the Falcon towards her. “I think I'll just clean this mess and then reattach the plate. It's worked well enough for at least half a dozen years.”

Leia chuckled faintly and sat down. “I sometimes have trouble believing this thing is still flying. I thought it was turned into recycle decades ago.”

“In a better galaxy, it'd be the star attraction of a history museum.” She sighed and wiped her arm on her sleeve. “Am I needed for something?”

“Only for some companionship.” She smiled, tiredly. “Everyone looks to me for answers of what we're going to do, and in truth, I'm running out of ideas. Even without Starkiller Base, the First Order is still rampaging through the galaxy and the New Republic is in shreds.”

“Finn told me that General Hux is dead.” She turned the wrench over in her hands, not looking at the woman. “Do we know who killed him?”

“According to our reports, it was Thandu. How, we still don't know.” She shook her head. “The only confirmed information we have other than Hux's death, was that Kylo Ren and Thandu were seen together on Bakura two days before you were there.” Her voice cracked when she spoke her son's false name and Leia frowned at the long scorch mark Rey had uncovered. “It's not as bad as it looks. More superficial than real damage.” It was a weak attempt at changing the subject.

“Some good.” She toed the mark with her boot, then stopped, remembering who had also seen Kylo and Thandu on Bakura. “Ansel.”

“What?” Leia looked at her, frowning. “What about Ansel?”

“He knows where they are. Ansel knows where Away is.” She stood up and went over to her.

She shook her head, her tone resigned. “Away isn't real, Rey. It's a fairy tale.”

“And this time last year, I thought Luke Skywalker was a myth.” She crouched down next to the woman, keeping her voice low, but it was tinged with excitement. “If we...”

“He may know where Away is, if it's even real.” She set a hand on Rey's arm, the sorrow clear on her face. “But he's also on Bakura. That's three days travel and the First Order has no doubt flooded the system with scout ships by now. It's too dangerous.”

“I understand.” She sat down, her other hand tightening around her wrench. “Do you think Away is real, General? If you were completely honest, do you believe that such a place exists?”

Leia shook her head, but didn't speak. Rey could see the conflicting emotions that were running through the woman's mind clearly. It was something that she felt she couldn't afford to dwell on. “I find it hard to believe that it's not been discovered by someone else by now. But then, given that the galaxy's been at war longer than I've been alive, it's possible.” She swallowed and then smiled. “And honestly, if Ansel does know where Away is, I hope he's left Bakura and headed there.”

“Do you still have the feather?” She set her wrench down, not trusting herself to refrain from throwing or hitting something with it. “The feather that Master Luke and I brought back?”

She nodded, taking a deep breath. “I do. I keep expecting it to vanish.” She looked at her hands for a moment. “I thought those eagles were gone forever.” Leia lifted her head, smiling. “Wherever they are, I am glad to know that they have survived.”

Rey nodded, then looked out towards the base, and abruptly, the forest in front of her vanishes and all she can see is a black granite wall, with words carved into it in Aurebesh. A trembling hand, not her own, reaches up to touch one of the words. The skin of the hand is the color of the Jakku sun at dusk, and all she can feel is a crushing sense of grief. With a sharp gasp, she comes back to herself and turned to look at Leia, who is still looking out at the forest, completely unaware of what she has just seen, her own eyes a thousand light years away. “General Organa?”

In response, the woman stood, walked calmly over to the ladder and climbed down. She's not halfway across the tarmac when Master Luke meets her and the two of them talk, before heading into the base together.

Rey swallowed and took up her wrench, going back to the carbon scoring and dropped the implement into her toolbox before picking up a small brush and started cleaning away the decades-old debris. As her fingers made contact with the hull of the Falcon, she could see the hand again, fingers spread – and this time, she saw the word that is causing so much agony in the stranger. It's a single name among the dozens on the wall.

Anakin Skywalker

**

Bosha set down her tools and stared at the memorial that stood at the far end of the Settlement. The black granite had been hewn from several boulders that once sat near the mountains, hauled to this place by herself, Callie and Raz Illhum shortly before the end of the Clone Wars. They remained the single largest object she had ever moved with the Force. The stones had been set into the hill and the first names were engraved the next day – the most recent words had been placed four days ago. Nine slabs, each eight feet tall and five feet wide – and more than half filled with the names of the dead from the past sixty years.

Shaking her head, she set the small stool next to the first slab, picked up one of the rags and polish and started to work.

“Cleaning again?” Ben's voice came from her left. “Every time I've seen you the past few days, you're either washing or fixing something.” He stopped next to the last of the black stones, his fingers tracing over the most recent addition to the wall. For All the Lives lost in the Battle of Starkiller Base. “Then again, I believe we've all been somewhat busy.”

“When advanced technology isn't doing half the work, it tends to take longer.” She shrugged and gave him an absent smile. “How's your head?”

“Still – off. I'm not used to having it feel...” He ran his hand across the names with gentle reverence, all of them strangers. Ben couldn't think of another memorial similar to this; others were ostentatious and bold; this was subtle and understated. “It's not full of dark or light... it's nothing.” His fingers came to rest under the name Obi-Wan 'Ben' Kenobi. “I still don't know exactly how the Watcher did it.”

“I believe the best explanation would that he placed a shunt in your mind.” She finished cleaning the dirt from the first stone and moved to the second. “Do you still have all of your memories?”

Ben nodded. “I do, and I know they're mine, only now I see them from the outside, I'm an observer. It's like being in a Force Imprint.” He gnawed at his bottom lip for a moment, then cleared his throat. “In all honesty, I feel like I'm a stranger to myself.”

Bosha ran her cloth through the jar of polish. “So you have a puzzle to put together and no blueprint to guide you.”

“Exactly. I know I can't go being back to Kylo Ren, but at the same time, I have no idea who Ben Solo is. I only know that is what my name is.” He scanned the names on the wall, then frowned; someone was missing. “Ahsoka Tano isn't on here.”

“That's because Ahsoka's not dead.” She turned to him. “I don't know where she is, or what happened to her, I just know she's not dead.” She ran a hand through her hair. “When she dies, if she doesn't stab Death in the face and take over the job, the whole galaxy will know.”

Ben straightened, turning his full attention to her. “The Imperial record lists her death occurring two years before the Battle of Yavin.” He ran his fingers along the name Zeth Durron which was immediately followed by For All the Lives lost in the Battle of Jakku “you were still locked away on Naboo during that time.”

“So I was.” She lowered her arms and shook her head. “All I know regarding Ahsoka was that your grandfather told me he was fated to meet her again. Thick as he was when it came to people not behaving how he thought they would, he informed me that the next time I saw him, he'd bring me some company.” She snorted and she saw Ben smirk. “See, even you know that putting the two of us together is folly and you've only met me.”

“I'm still trying to figure out why you didn't break out of your prison sooner. Unless you had a reason for staying.” He took up another cloth and started to clean the stone in front of him. This was a subject he'd wanted to get back to since they landed on Bakura. His grandfather. “Which I suspect you did.”

“The reason is one that is hard to grasp.” Bosha didn't want to go into her prolonged imprisonment. It had been the ultimate lesson in patience and control. “So, I did what I always did when Vader told me about the Emperor's grand visions and how things would come to pass. Nodded and stated that the Force would reveal the true way and all would be as the Force wills it.”

He gaped at her. “How are you still breathing?”

“Believe me, I asked myself the same question daily.” She shook her head. “Three months to the day after he told me that, your grandfather showed up in a new suit and an even worse attitude.”

Ben lowered the cloth, not certain what to make of her statement. He doesn't want to know about Vader as much as he did when this journey began. There's still plenty, but the desire to know the darkness, that was gone. “Tell me something about before.” He caught sight of his grandfather's name on the wall and, immediately to the left is his grandmother's. “I just... I'd like to know something that isn't horrible.” He lifted his head, the idea coming to him in an instant. “How did you meet him? Where?”

“Do you want the short version or the long version of that story?” She glanced down at the bag hanging from her belt. Ben had not asked for another object from her collection, and she hadn't offered. It'd crossed her mind several times, but she had resolved to let the young man settle on Away first.

“Short version for now. I think I'll take the long version for when I'm ready to sleep.” He paused, “If that's all right.”

“We met on Alderaan. He was there with Kenobi doing Jedi things.” She shrugged. “I never could quite understand what the Jedi did before the Clone Wars. And what they were doing on the most peaceful planet in the galaxy, I don't know.”

He snickered, some of his distaste for the Jedi way slipped into his voice. “Maybe they were looking for ideas.”

“That's a possibility – or they'd gone to rock climb in some sort of training exercise.” She twisted the rag in her hands, her eyes locked on her sister's name, one of fifteen Jedi who had been singled out on the stones. “Not everything in this galaxy is complicated, even if it seems otherwise.” Bosha set her hand against the wall, smiling. “However, if you ask for complicated, that is what the Force will give you. The trick, young man, is knowing how to simplify.”

**

The X-Wing appeared out of nowhere. When it showed up on the scanners of the Resistance Base on D'Qar, several of the technicians were dumbfounded. No aerial patrols had been scheduled, nor were they missing any fighters or pilots. Their hails went unanswered; at least, not by whomever was behind the controls. The on-board computer, however, kept requesting permission to land.

Poe Dameron frowned as for the ninth time, the mystery autopilot pinged their base. “Is there no droid in the craft?”

“Negative.” The tech next to him replied, frowning. “There are life-forms aboard, scanners indicate that they're human.”

“Maybe they're injured and incapacitated.” Finn put in. “That's why he's not talking to us.” He paused. “Although what he's doing flying around without a droid? That's one of the reasons you do fly with one. Wait, there's more than one person in the cockpit? The design doesn't allow for that.”

“Maybe it's modified.” Poe added, straightening up as Leia Organa came into the room. “General.”

“What do we have?” She frowned, coming over to the technician and him just as the tenth request for landing permission came in.

“No idea, General.” Finn stated. “That craft wasn't there seven minutes ago.”

Another tech looked up. “Long range scan indicates that its weapons systems are severely damaged and life support is failing.” She paused. “Finally, it's identified itself.” Her face changed to one of shock.

Leia frowned, “What is it, lieutenant?”

“The on-board computer states that its registered to Firefall Squadron, based on New Republic SSD Isolder's Gift.” Her expression was dumbfounded. “Who's Isolder?”

Finn gave the woman an incredulous look. “To hell with who Isolder is, what kind of name is that for a Super Star Destroyer and since when does the New Republic have any?”

“They don't.” Leia declared. “For that matter, neither does the First Order.” She folded her arms as the X-Wing's computer once again requested permission to land. She took a breath. “And we won't get answers if we let the pilots die.” She turned to the first technician. “Grant their request.” She paused, taking a breath. “Have a team of medics standing by. Who knows what condition those two are in.” She nodded towards Poe and Finn. “Send a patrol to meet the craft as well, but don't fire unless fired on first.”

“Yes, General.” Poe nodded respectfully and then walked out of the command center, Finn almost on his heels. “I don't like this.”

“What exactly, don't you like about it?” He gave him a sideways look. “All of it or just one part in particular?”

“All of it. An X-Wing from a squadron that doesn't exist from a star destroyer that doesn't exist. It has to be some kind of trap.” Poe gave him a sideways look, then stopped short. “Shit, I still haven't asked you about that file you were sent.”

Finn shook his head. “Later. We'll talk about it later. Right now, we have a job to do.” He rubbed his temple, not wanting to go into what he'd learned about his family from it. “I still don't know what happened to my parents. All I know is that my grandfather is from Corellia and my grandmother was from Naboo. I don't even know if they're my paternal or maternal ones. And please, don't bring it up in front of Rey, whatever you do. She still has no clue as to whom her parents are.”

“Poor kid.” Poe remarked as they came outside, joining the small platoon that was waiting as the X-Wing came swooping down towards them, the landing almost textbook. The craft was black, like his own X-Wing, but accented in blue. On the wings, there was a symbol that looked similar to the seal of the New Republic, but stars surrounded the phoenix, rather than a sunburst.

One of the ground crew climbed onto the craft as its engines fell silent and looked into the interior through the canopy.

“How'd they fit two pilots in there? Unless they're both really short.” Finn frowned as something made the crewman stumble back in alarm.

“What's wrong?” Poe ran forward and joined the man on top of the X-Wing, and, after seeing what he had, found the emergency open valve and with a low hiss, the compartment opened. There were not two pilots in the bird; there was one pilot and one passenger. A man with black hair, striped with silver, his arms wrapped around a small girl with white blond hair, who was tucked into a survival blanket. “Damn.” He waved to the medics, who were waiting. “We need some help here!”

“Nn...” A tiny sound caused him to look down and the child moved slightly, and the blanket fell back as she turned and looked up to see him standing there.

“Hi, Sweetheart.” He crouched down and held his arms out to her. “Come on out. We'll get you and your daddy some help, all right?”

The girl blinked at him – her eyes were dark blue; and her gaze was uncertain. “Did we make it?”

“Yeah, honey, you're down safe.” He watched as she carefully lifted herself up out of the cockpit and into his arms. “How old are you?”

“Seven.” She clung to his jacket as he climbed down and then the medics started up to extract the girl's father. “My head hurts.”

Poe wasn't going to tell the girl he thought she was younger than that due to her size. “Let's get you and your dad to medical, so you can both get looked over, all right?”

“Okay.” She sniffed, and the two of them watched as the team extracted the man from the X-Wing carefully. “Where are we?”

“D'Qar.” Finn answered, coming up to the two of them. “You make a new friend, Poe?”

“Found our second mystery pilot, actually.” He grinned down at the girl. “Though she's not told me her name yet.”

“She's surrounded by strangers, it's a wonder she's not screaming her head off.” The former storm-trooper chuckled as they brought the man down onto a gurney and started across the tarmac. He gave her a smile. “What's your name? Mine's Finn.”

She lifted her chin, looking him over uncertainly. “Rillao, but I'm called Oli. I was named after my grandmother.” She wrapped her arms around Poe's neck as they followed the medical team inside, her head resting against his shoulder. “Is my daddy going to be all right?”

Poe adjusted his grip on her. “He's going to be just fine. You both are.” He tried not to notice the stares of the rest of the crew following him and the medical crew. There weren't any other children on the Resistance base, so the appearance of one was somewhat startling. “Where did you two come from?”

Oli's grip tightened and she whispered into his ear. “Through a looking-glass.” Her hold on him only slackened by a fraction as she once more slipped into unconsciousness.

*

Cheron Illhum scanned the monitors in front of him, watching the stars above Away for any traffic, as well as the satellite array, which kept tabs on the planet itself. It was three in the morning and the only thing that concerned him was a hurricane on the other side of their planet, churning through the ocean that few had seen, but all knew about. It hadn't made landfall yet, and he wasn't certain if it would or not. “I wish that storm would make up its mind.”

Orso Whitesun covered a yawn, “It's the first of the season, those rarely make landfall.” He frowned. “Are you worried about the distant orchards?”

“More worried about the tea crop, it's a shame we can't grow it closer to home, but we'd have a hell of a time keeping the goats out of it.” He chuckled and looked the teenager with him over. He was sixteen, oldest of the children on Away. He had the same gangly limbs and sandy blond hair that all descendents from Tatooine had. “Tired?”

“Well, it is the middle of the night.” His face fell as a light flashed above his station and he straightened up, instantly alert. “Incoming.”

“Shit.” He came over and flipped the communication channel on. “We have you on our screens now, please identify.”

“Morning Cheron. It's Ansel – authorization code seven-four-delta-bravo-eight.” He sounded exhausted.

“You're early,” He laughed. “We weren't expecting you until the eighth month. What's your cargo?” As their most trusted galactic contact, the togruta visited twice a year, usually bringing a ship full of random supplies, from dry goods to luxuries like spices and sweets for the children.

“The First Order is getting ready to put the hurt down on Bakura. I'll be on their most wanted list before the week is done.” There was a pause. “I've got one droid and one passenger – but she's in carbonite.”

Cheron looked down at Orso before responding, and the boy shrugged in response. That had to be strangest thing the togruta had ever brought with him to Away. “Who is it? Anyone we know?”

“Ahsoka Tano.” He replied curtly. “Requesting permission to land immediately.”

He felt the color drain from his face at Ansel's words.“Granted.” He returned and then addressed the young man. “Run. Go wake up Aunt Callie and Aunt Bo, inform them of what's going on, and tell Uncle Kyp and Ben to meet the ship.”

“Understood.” the boy jumped up from his seat and rushed to obey.

Chapter Text

Ben did not look at the clock when Kyp woke him up. He merely shrugged into his boots and socks and followed the older man out of the house and up the road towards the landing platform. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, the pre-dawn air was already warm and humid, the dew just starting to rise. He had grown used to seeing the gas giant, Vartija Kivi, hovering in the sky all hours of the day, not too unlike the sky of Yavin 4, but the mother planet there was orange, and this one was a swirl of yellow, green and blue. He ran a hand through his hair, turning to the older man.“Do you have any idea what's going on?”

“No.” Kyp covered a yawn, then rubbed his eyes to rouse himself further. He was of the opinion that being called out of bed in the middle of the night was never a good thing. They were halfway up the narrow path towards the platform, and he came to a stop as an old cruiser came into land, heading towards them, rather than over the Settlement. His stomach turned over as he recognized the craft, even in the darkness. He would know that ancient blue cruiser anywhere.“That's Ansel's ship. Shit, I hope nothing has happened to one of our Helpers.” He spoke more to himself than to Ben.

“Helpers?” He frowned as they reached the durasteel and concrete platform, then realized that Kyp most likely meant. Other beings out in the galaxy who knew about this place. Although this place couldn't be that well known, or it couldn't be kept a secret. If Ansel was here, something had to have happened to Bakura. “I'd say it's more likely that the First Order is on the move.” The ramp to the ship lowered and a BB unit droid rolled out and then cast a spotlight back towards the ship.

“If they're going after a neutral world, it will most likely cause more of the galaxy to wake up and start to solidify against them.” Kyp gave the younger man a hard look. “Or it will do the exact opposite. I'm sorry, but between the Republic, the Jedi Order, the Empire, the New Republic, and the First Order, Populists and Centrists, the so-called custodians have turned this galaxy into a kriffing disaster. The most stable authority in the past century has been the Hutts, and just to say that out loud makes me want to vomit.” He looked down at the droid. “What's going on Hja?”

“The droid has a name?” Ben shook his head, but, considering ships were named all the time, why not a droid? “And what are you sorry for? I know the galaxy's in shreds, I know many of the people directly responsible and related to several. Hell, I've done my own share of making a mess.”

“It's either too late at night or too early in the morning for that conversation.” Ansel's tired voice called down to them. He'd barely more than dozed over the past three days, concerned that at any time his old cruiser's engines would die and he'd be stranded with his vulnerable passenger. “Considering the mayhem I just found, we'll discuss yours over dinner. I've claimed breakfast, lunch and tea.”

Ben cursed under his breath. “I am so damn sick of vague answers, or even non-answers.” He shot a look at Kyp. “Don't tell me they frustrate the hell out of you too.” He wasn't certain what they had been woken up and drug out here for, and right now, he wasn't entirely certain he wasn't back in bed, having a bizarre dream.

Kyp smirked in response. “I'm used to it. Your issue is that you were lied to for so long, you're in desperate need of straight up honesty.” The two of them went up the ramp, and when they reached the top, he noted that the togruta looked ready to collapse. “When was the last time you slept more than two consecutive hours?”

“Four nights ago.” Ansel rubbed his shoulder, feeling all of his seven hundred plus years. “I should have known the Force was up to something when Bo turned up with the kid.” He gestured with his head and he looked back to make sure both of them were following him deeper into the ship, “Five days ago, I won a storage locker auction. I wasn't expecting much out of it, I only paid four hundred and fifty credits for the bloody thing.” He came to a stop in the main cabin. “And this what I found inside.” He gestured to the block of carbonite.

Ben looked at the togruta and then down at the stone, and felt what little color he had in his face drain all the way to his feet. “Is that who I think it is?”

“Wait a minute...” Kyp had a feeling he'd missed something as he looked from the encased togruta to Ansel. “Someone want to fill me in on what's going on?”

“It's too early to be yelling.” Bosha called towards them as she came level with them. She'd managed to get Orso tell her what Ansel had told Cheron before he'd landed. She looked down at the carbonite, feeling equal parts relieved and shocked. “Ahsoka Tano, missing for roughly five years before the Battle of Yavin.”

Ben shot her a look, folding his arms. “I really hope this isn't the start of a pattern where we discuss something and less than a day later, the something turns up. Because after meeting the Watcher and now Ahsoka, I'm beginning to think it is.”

“It's too early in the morning for that too.” She shook her head. “What else was in the locker?”

Ansel crouched down on the side of the stone block, starting up the thaw cycle. “A ten thousand credit bottle of brandy, two glasses, and three lightsabers.” He looked up at Bosha. “it had a perpetual generator, that's what's kept the life support going on the casement. I'm guessing two of the sabers are hers. Not certain about the third.”

“Damn.” Kyp slowly circled the block, going over to the far side. He'd only heard a handful of stories of the rebel operative who had been known solely as Fulcrum, and even fewer of the bounty hunter Tano. “Is it possible to survive that long in carbon freeze?”

“She's alive.” Ansel stated, letting out a breath as the lights on the casement went from yellow to green. “Deep in hibernation and barely aware. I thought she'd vanished into wild space decades ago. That was after you told me she wasn't on Naboo with you, Bosha.”

“I searched the citadel before I left.” the woman rubbed her face with her hand, then let out a frustrated sound. “Cellar to attic, there wasn't a trace of her. All I found were a dozen children being held hostage.” She straightened, trying not to think about her time as prisoner. “I'm rather surprised she was hidden so well, and at the same time, not really. Then again, hiding in plain sight is often the best method.”

“There also weren't many people left to look, by the time the dust settled.” Ansel stood up, stretching his arms over his head. “Of course, now that Ahsoka's here, the only one unaccounted for is Ezra Bridger. He vanished shortly before Yavin. He'd be around Nell's age.”

“It's a big galaxy.” Kyp knelt down, setting a hand on the stone as it melted away. He gave Ben a wry smile. “You look lost.”

“It's been a confusing couple of days.” He shook his head and looked down at Ahsoka, who was now at least half free, but still showed little sign of awareness. “Although if anyone is in for a nasty shock, it's her.”

“I told Callie what's happened, she's getting a bed ready.” Bosha drew even with Ben and looked down at her long lost friend. “There are only three people on Away who she even knows, including you, Ansel.”

“I'm not going anywhere.” He went over and drew a blanket out of his trunk, handing one end to Kyp and the other to Ben. “I'll take over night watch starting tonight.”

“I'll do what I can to keep Zeth out of the house.” Kyp remarked and he and Ben pulled the blanket taut as the casement whirled one last time and fell silent.

Bosha watched as Ansel lifted Ahsoka out of the stone shell and into the makeshift stretcher, and the togruta's head fell to the side, letting out a weak groan as she was settled into the fabric. She was torn being wanting to cry with relief and then scream in frustration. She also had the suspicion that in the great beyond, Anakin Skywalker was laughing his head off at both of them.

*

Rey fell into the dream almost without realizing it. It had been an exceptionally long day, from working on the Falcon, a morning with Master Luke and then came the late afternoon arrival that had the whole base on edge. She was certain that she wasn't going to be able to sleep, not after the arrival of the strange x-wing, flown by a forty-something year old man with his daughter on his lap. Strangely, her immediate thought wasn't what the pair were fleeing, but where the child's mother was.

One moment, she had been drifting on the edge of sleep in her quarters, the next she was pushing herself up from a couch as the sound of an air conditioning unit kicked on somewhere.

Rey found herself standing in an apartment she had never seen. Everything around her was plush and comfortable, and while it all wore an air of formality, it also had the feeling of being lived in. Going to the windows, she could see a vast city; endless and bright in the dark of the night. Behind her, she heard someone humming gently; and she turned to see a boy; a teenager, standing in a kitchenette that she hadn't noticed earlier. The closer she got to him, the more familiar he looked. “That's not possible...” The boy was unquestionably Kylo Ren – she would know that black hair, the moles – those wretched ears anywhere. “Get out of my...” Her voice died in her throat as he looked up, tossing his head slightly to rid his face of an errant lock of hair.

The boy's eyes were not deep brown, but ice blue.

“Do you want some eggs too, dad?” The boy said more to the pan than to the unseen parent.

“What's the matter kiddo? Can't sleep?” Rey's eyes widened as Han Solo walked into view, and she nearly laughed to see the great smuggler wearing loose pants and a sleep shirt.

“I'm leaving for Yavin next week, dad. I just...” He sighed. “Strange dreams again.”

Han went over to the fridge and drew out a container of some sort of liquid and poured himself a glass of it. Juice, Rey figured, it was bright red and she came up to the counter, trying to figure out who this young man was. She knew that Ben was an only child, but this... “You know, Anakin, you worry more than anyone in this family, and that includes your uncle.”

“I have to make up for your lack of it.” The boy quipped, grinning.

“Have some mercy on your old man.” Han let out a laugh as Rey came up to the counter, still uncertain what she was seeing; where the hell was this? What the hell was this? The man turned his focus to a datapad lying next to the stove. “Attending a lecture at the university, kiddo? I thought you were done with academia.”

“I'm going to the lecture more out of who's giving it, rather than what it's about.” The boy dumped a mixture of ground meat, cheese and vegetables into the pan with the eggs.

“Professor Tig Firrerre.” The older man frowned at the name. “Is this that Tigris kid?”

Anakin gave his father a look that made Rey take a step back, and she wasn't even physically present. “He saved my life, Dad.”

“Yeah, and his father was the one who nearly killed you.” It's a weak argument, Rey thinks. Clearly, the boy was in agreement with her, because he rolled his eyes.

“I don't think anyone in this family is allowed to cast judgment on the psychopaths in other people's family trees, dad.” He turned his attention back to the eggs.

Han let out a breath, “I'm sorry, kid. I just...” He frowned at something on the datapad. “Finding the Truths in Galactic Legends.” He chuckled. “Just the title sounds daunting.”

Anakin got out two plates and sets them next to the stove before dividing up the mixture within. “You'll be a story too, someday, dad. Scholars will debate over how swiftly you made the Kessel Run, who really fired that shot at the tie fighter in the Death Star trench, you or Uncle Chewie. In the end, that's all any of us will be. Stories the galaxy will tell long after we've all been one with the Force for centuries.” He handed his father one of the plates. “It can't be as daunting as the lecture on parallel dimensions I went to earlier this summer with Jaina.”

He got out the forks and chuckled. “I know about that one, your sister tried to explain it to me. Given how many twists and turns I've seen in my lifetime, the idea of a galaxy existing that's either the complete opposite or somehow stranger...” He shook his head and stabbed at the eggs, taking a large bite. “When did you become such a good cook?”

“Mom is always encouraging us to take care of ourselves. I watched a few things from the library and asked Threepio.” He shrugged and Rey folded her arms, resting the on the counter. “Besides, this was something simple. Granted, it's more complicated than hydrating portions, but not much more.” He ate a forkful of eggs.

“Girls love a man who can cook.” Han spoke around a mouthful, grinning. “Your wife will love it, I promise you that.”

“I'll never get married, Dad.” Anakin set down his plate, his face solemn. “Ever.”

His father scoffed in reply, “that's what your Uncle Luke said, and now...”

Anakin cut him off. “I just won't Dad.”

Han set down his plate, and came over to his son, his jesting manner completely gone. “Is this one of those things you just know, or...”

“Just know.” He poked at his food, about to speak again when he lifted his head and his eyes looked straight into Rey's. “Hide.”

“What?” She stepped back as the room spun around her and she crouched down, orientating herself with the floor against the rapid motion. When everything became still once more, the kitchenette was gone and she now stood in the room of a little girl; dolls and several stuffed animals sat around a small table, with one chair overturned. The chair she was certain she had been sitting in a moment ago. Not hesitating, she dove into the wardrobe, shutting the door almost completely. It was completely unlike her to do this; and what was she hiding from? Rey went to push the door open and search out whatever it was she had been told to take shelter from when she caught sight of her hand.

It was small; the hand of a child.

“What is going on?” She mumbled to herself and then the door swung open, a lanky form filling the opening. A boy with black hair, big ears and dark brown eyes. His face was flushed; and his shocked expression softened as he crouched down to her eye level, smiling.

“Come on out of there, youngling. I'm not going to hurt you.” It wasn't the raspy voice of Kylo Ren talking to her; it was his younger self. Ben Solo.

She cowered back from him; something had happened elsewhere in this apartment. Something she was hiding from; she was hiding from Ben. Footsteps were coming towards them, and there was a crunch of glass under a boot.

“Damn it.” Ben shook his head and held up his hand towards her. “I'm sorry about this, sweetie.”

Rey felt her eyes widen for a moment, and all went black, right before she sat up in bed, pressing her mouth against the ball of her thumb to smother her scream.

In the next instant, the memory of what the Watcher had told her nearly two weeks ago came back to her. The Spark knows from where you came. “Kylo's the Spark.” She tried to slow her breathing, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes. “Calm down, calm down... breathe.” She fell back against the mattress, the tension giving way and allowing her to relax. “What kind of a name is Spark?”

A light in the darkness.

She bit at her lip, and then her Watcher given name ran through her thoughts.

Sunspot – a dark place on a star. Darkness in the light.

“Clearly, we've been misnamed.” No sooner had Rey spoken aloud then she felt the falseness in her words. Frowning, she rose from her bed and proceeded to get dressed.

She wouldn't be sleeping any more tonight.

*

Coming out of carbon-freeze induced hibernation was a wretched combination of a long meditation session, being knocked out, and swimming to the surface from a dozen fathoms deep. The first thing Ahsoka noticed was that she was no longer cold; and cold was the last thing she remembered. The cold, a chamber, and her former master. She let the thought go; she could not dwell on Anakin Skywalker right now. She inhaled slowly, catching the gentle scent of a flower; several flowers, there was a vase of them nearby. It was too delicate to be an artificial scent. She was lying on a soft bed; not a medical bay or a spaceship, the comfort disqualifying the former and the lack of engine noise the later. A blanket was drawn up just under her collarbone, and there was another layer on top of the soft material, heavier; a pelt of some kind.

She grunted slowly and turned to the side, sensing that someone was there, just a few feet away. Strangely, the blindness didn't bother her. It would go away soon. What was the ratio for blindness to suspension again? She could feel warmth on her face; filtered and gentle. Sunlight was streaming into the room she was in – she wasn't with the rebels. Was she locked away in some part of the Imperial Palace? No - there was no feeling of malice or danger; and that was all the more unsettling. Places that felt like this didn't exist anymore. Safety, warmth and if she didn't know it was impossible, she'd think she was back in a meditation chamber at the Jedi Temple. “Who's there?” She swallowed weakly. She wanted water, answers, then more water. A hand came to rest on her forehead. It was soft but sturdy; human. Female.

“Good afternoon, Ahsoka.” A voice spoke quietly; the speaker was behind her. They sounded old; then again, the war had made everyone sound older than their age. Her Coruscanti accent was faded, but still evident. “It's good to see you again.”

“Where am I?” She coughed and the hand withdrew, and then a cloth was set against her lips. She sucked at it wearily, and a slow trickle of water came from it. It took all of her resolve not to waste strength on drinking faster. She needed to get her strength back so she could rejoin Ezra and the others.

“Safe.” The woman sighed. “You probably don't recognize my voice, do you?”

She frowned, shaking her head and she sensed that the person holding the cloth had moved to sit next to her, and her companion was doing the same on the other side. “You know me? How?”

“You know both of us.” The second woman, the one with the cloth spoke up; a Corellian accent, with a slight Naboo lilt to her vowels. “Although this is just the second time we've all been in the same place together at the same time.”

Ahsoka swallowed, her mind drawing a blank at who was in the room with her. Not only was she blind, her connection to the Force was muffled; another symptom of hibernation sickness, no doubt.“When was the first?” Her voice was raspy; she needed more water. The cloth came back, and she grasped the wrist that held it, wanting some sort of control over her situation. This could be some sort of wretched trap; and as the hand slipped out from under hers, leaving her with the cloth, she cleared her throat, just wanting a few answers. Names and location would be a good start.

“The day I left the Order.” The old sounding woman had a hint of a chuckle in her voice. “Don't tell me you've forgotten how I hacked off my hair with a knife.”

There was only one person Ahsoka knew who fit that description, “Callista?” She gasped, turning her head towards her former classmate, managing a smile. “You're... I thought you were dead!”

“Well, for now I'm still alive.” Callista chuckled. “And it's Callie now. If you call me by my full name, almost no one around here would know who that is.”

“Where are we?” She wasn't going to deny the overwhelming sense of relief that had just washed over her. If Callista was still alive, then maybe there was hope for the Jedi – the Inquisitors hadn't gotten all of them - but who then, was the other person in the room?

“Away.” The unidentified woman answered, matter-of-factually.

“That's not a...” Calm and peace left Ahsoka in an instant and she sprang up, sheer terror giving her energy as she grabbed the woman by the shoulders. She knew exactly who constantly gave that answer as well. “Bosha! Anakin – oh, Maker, it's not possible, Anakin, you're not going to believe this...” Hands came to the sides of her face and she knew that the woman was looking directly into her unseeing eyes.

“I know Ahsoka, I know. I know about Anakin. I've known for years.” Bosha took a breath and a moment later, the tortuga collapsed against her, sobbing. She wrapped her arms around her long-lost friend, hugging her tightly and rubbing her back. “It's all right. Just let it out, it'll be fine.”

“No, it won't!” Her voice was muffled against her shoulder. “He's... oh, Force, he's become a monster.”

“Shit.” Bosha straightened the former Jedi padawan up, holding onto her shoulders. “I'm going to tell you this all at once, and I don't want you to say a thing until I'm finished, all right? And if you want to Force push me across the room when I'm done, that's fine.”

“What happened?” Something else came to Ahsoka. The last time she heard, Bosha was locked up somewhere; supposedly on Naboo.

“You've been in carbon freeze for at the bare minimum, forty years.” She kept her voice as calm as she could. “Anakin returned to the light. He ceased to be Darth Vader and became Anakin Skywalker again. His son Luke convinced him to turn back to the light.”

“F..forty years?” That was an unthinkable amount of time to Ahsoka. But the second thing she had just told her seemed even more impossible. “What... Anakin doesn't have any children!”

“Actually, he has two. Twins.” Bosha let out a weary chuckle. “Of course, he didn't know that his unborn children had survived until around thirty five years ago, and even then, it was only his son.”

“When the hell did he have time to...” Ahsoka started making the connections and suddenly, many things about her former master started adding up. “He was married to Padme Amidala, wasn't he? She was the mother.” She let out a soft curse. “I don't believe this.” Going back to carbon freeze was starting to sound like a good idea. “I haven't been up long enough to make sense out of all this.” She felt around and grabbed the damp cloth, pressing it against her lips for a moment. “Are they here? Anakin's children?”

“No.” Callie put in quickly. “Just his grandson whom Bosha brought here for an intervention from turning into his grandfather.”

“I think I've heard enough for...” Ahsoka lowered herself back down to the mattress, rather wishing that carbon freeze's hibernation state was more restful than it was.“I need time to process all of this.”

“I don't blame you.” Bosha added, just as a door opened somewhere else and then heavy footsteps came towards them. “What is it Jae?”

“The hurricane is heading back out to sea, so the crops on the far side are safe for now.” The man took a deep breath and then it sounded like he tapped his hand against the wall. “Nell's also been talking in her sleep again. I was going to dismiss it until Mira started saying the same things.”

“How long has it been going on?” Ahsoka interjected before Bosha or Callie could. She'd heard enough people talk in their sleep to know that if they start to repeat themselves, it was time to pay attention. Particularly if this Nell woman and her daughter Mira were Force sensitive. “And what are they saying?”

“Damn. Aunt Bo told us you were quick.” Jaenen cleared his throat. “Nell's been doing it for at least six weeks, Mira only started about two weeks ago. And it's just numbers. Seven thousand, fifteen, nine seventy-five, six, two.” He came closer and the mattress shifted near her feet as he sat down on the bed. “Ansel says that the First Order is preparing to lay siege to Bakura unless terms can be arranged. Seems rather extreme if all they're after is you and the kid, Aunt Bo.”

“We're an excuse.” Bosha let out a deep breath. “I'm sorry, Ahsoka. You exited one war only to wake up in another.”

*

Luke had felt a ripple in the Force when the strange x-wing arrived. Neither malignant or benign, it just was – and then it was gone; breath on a mirror, when he felt it should have been a stone skipping across a pond. Ripples that spread out and lasted until all energy was spent. The two occupants, however, were becoming just as mysterious as their arrival. While the original bio-scan had revealed them to be human, a secondary scan revealed that the child was only half human and her father – was something unknown. It wasn't completely unheard of for some of the sentient species in the galaxy being able to interbreed, however, the chances were so infinitesimal that it may as well be impossible.

The girl, Oli, had a minor concussion; while her father had sustained heavier brain trauma, leaving him in a coma. Despite his unconscious state, his body was slowly healing itself; the monitor showing his brain activity revealed what was happening within. If this was typical of their guest's genetic make up, it explained why they were both free of scrapes, bruises – anything external that indicated what they had been escaping or what they had encountered. He looked over at the sleeping man, who, despite his state, was making an odd noise that reminded Luke of a cat. He narrowed his eyes and turned to the girl, gently lifting her upper lip and saw she had prominent and rather sharp looking canine teeth. “What are you?” He murmured just as his sister came into the medbay. “It's late.”

“I couldn't sleep.” Leia sat down in another chair, staring at the black haired man. “We've downloaded the x-wing's computer system, seeing if that turns up any answers before they're awake.” She glanced at the table between the two, and scanned the contents of the strangers' pockets. She caught sight of a holosnap, and took it up. There were three people pictured; the man, in a formal looking robe of dark blue and silver, the ceremonial garb of a professor on Chandrila, along with the girl, who was wearing a pale pink dress and looked a few years younger than she was now. Most startling in the image was the woman with them; she wore a sharply pressed and immaculate uniform. She had short, slightly curly white blonde hair, like her daughter, dark blue eyes and prominent cheekbones. She was sitting on a long bench, while the girl knelt next to her, hands crossed and resting on her shoulder, while the man stood behind them. “I believe I'd rather have this admiral at the moment, than her husband.”

Luke took the holosnap, frowning as he scanned the image. “So we have the professor in her place.” He hadn't paid much attention to the personal effects of their guests. “But, much like the old days, Leia, we can't exactly be choosy at this point.” He looked at the table, set the snap down and picked up the toy Star Destroyer, and rather than study it, tucked the craft under Oli's hand. “She'll be looking for that when she wakes up.”

“What about this bothers you the most?” Leia needed to say the question out loud; she still hadn't decided the answer to it for herself.

He gave her a half smile. “I'm going with the mystery that is our professor's species. It's the only thing that can't be fully explained away.” He saw her eyebrows lift slightly. “You know how easy it is to change a craft's registry. As for the emblem on it, that too, is a simple paint job. Based on what we have, and until more evidence is uncovered, that is the only true mystery here.”

She nodded slightly, then glanced at the girl. “It's certain that the Force makes time travel impossible, yes?”

“It does. I'm as confounded as you are, if not more so.” He looked back at the snap. “But even if it did, that doesn't allow for the professor.” He scanned the faces again, a sad smile on his face. “Unless he's from an unknown region.” Luke let out a breath and at the same time, the little girl let out a soft groan, then curled up as her stomach gave off an audible rumble. “Now there's something anyone can understand.”

Leia turned as the little girl slowly started stretching out, her hand tightening and then springing open as she found the ship under it. A medic hurried over to them as Oli pushed herself up, blinking uncertainly up at the man as he helped her sit. “Good morning.” She gave the girl a smile, which she was slow to return. She tilted her head to the side, blinking, before looking up at the medic for a moment.

“How are you feeling, Oli?” The medic smoothed down her hair. “Head still hurt?”

“I'm hungry.” She answered, her gaze going across to her father and then to Luke. Her eyes widened slightly in surprise, then she leaned forward, as if she was trying to get a better look. She titled her head to the side, and then wrinkled her nose. “Doesn't that itch?”

Luke gave the girl a more certain smile. “Does what itch?” There had been a spark of recognition in the girl's eyes, or at least, familiarity. Perhaps she knew someone who looked similar to himself and his sister. “the beard?”

“Uh huh. It looks itchy.” She straightened up as the medic set a scanner against her back. There was something methodical about her movement; the girl was clearly used to this sort of treatment.

“It only itched when I first started growing it.” Luke answered, and he glanced at his sister, deciding to try and be as delicate about asking for information as he could. “Oli, where's your father's family from?”

“Grandmama lived on Coruscant.” She completely ignored the medic as her pulse, temperature and breathing were measured. “I never met my dad's father because he was a very bad man and he died when my dad was young. He was a monster and he got eaten by a monster.” Oli's focus shifted down to the star destroyer in her hands.

Leia shot Luke a sideways look and then touched the girl's arm gently, causing her to look up. “The other people like your father, where do they live?”

“There aren't any more people like Papa. It's just him, since Grandmama died.” she swallowed, “the Empire destroyed the homeworld. They said people like Papa were subhuman.” She wrinkled her nose. “Firrerre. That's what the planet's called. It's in the Outer Rim. Since we're all that's left, that's what our last name is.”

The medic cleared his throat. “Oli, is a temperature of one-hundred and one normal for you, or is that a fever?”

“That's normal.” She glanced back at the man, frowning. “Don't you know anything about Firrerroes?”

Luke leaned forward, squeezing her knee. “That's just it, Oli. We don't. I've never heard of your father's species or their planet, and I grew up on the Outer Rim.”

The girl hunched her shoulders. “I told someone where we came from, he should have told you. He's got curly hair and an impish smile.” She rubbed her nose. “Papa said things would be different here, and the galaxy might not be the same, so I shouldn't be surprised at people's reactions.” She grimaced as her stomach rumbled again.

“Someone's hungry.” The medic spoke up before Leia or Luke could. “Is there anything you're not supposed to eat? Any type of food that makes you sick?”

She bit absently at her bottom lip for a moment before speaking. “Well, unlike my daddy, I can't eat raw meat. Well, I could, but I'd have to be really, really, hungry to do it.”

Leia nodded solemnly. “The only meat that tastes good raw comes from the water.” She gave Luke a sideways look before turning back to Oli. “But as empty as you are, you should probably stick with broth.”

“I'll be back shortly.” The medic gave the girl another smile and then walked away, shaking his head.

Luke looked over at Oli's father, then back at the girl. “Your father's going to be just fine. We're just keeping him comfortable for now.”

“We've come a long way. Papa's probably more tired than hurt.” Clearly, she wasn't worried about her father's condition. Either she knew that her father was going to recover, or else she had no idea if he was in serious trouble or not. She looked back down at her toy, then straightened up, holding it out towards the pair of them. “This is my mom's star destroyer. She's in charge of it.”

Leia took the offered craft, and turned it over a few times in her hands. It looked similar to the old-school Imperial destroyers, but it was closer in design to the First Order's ships than those used during the Empire. It had the same seals as the x-wing. “It's quite impressive. Does the ship have a name?”

“Uh huh.” Oli grinned. “New Republic Star Destroyer Darklighter, named for Biggs Darklighter, one of seven star destroyers commissioned by the New Republic in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Yavin.” She squeezed her eyes shut, and the rest came out in a tone that showed she had worked hard to memorize the information. “Crew of seven thousand, including officers, nine hangar bays, capable of being entirely self-sufficient for five years at a time, currently one and a half years into a three year mission to map unknown space in the left-hand spiral of the galaxy.” Her eyes opened and she was beaming with pride. “All under the command of my mom, Admiral Daphne Phasma Firrerre.”

Chapter Text

Ben settled into the chair next to the bed, doing his best not to stare at the sleeping occupant. He'd volunteered to take over for the night, so the Aunts could get some sleep. Unlike Aunt Bo's house, which seemed to be full of people, Aunt Callie's was mostly empty. The former Jedi was a widow, and neither of her two children or their families lived with her, save for her eldest granddaughter, Varis. Spending the night by Ahsoka's bedside wasn't exactly a burden to him. He had spent countless days without rest in his life, and he still wasn't permitted to take over monitoring duties of the skies over Away.

He'd been here less than a fortnight and really, he understood. So here he was, sitting in a small bedroom with a pot of tea, a plate of cookies and little to distract him from his own thoughts.

The puzzle he'd borrowed from Zekk, however, was at least mildly interesting. A six sided cube, each side supposed to be a solid wall of nine squares of the same color. Maybe there wasn't a point. It'd been years since he played any sort of game purely for enjoyment. One thing Away was sadly without was a decent library. He gave the cube one last turn and chuckled ; he'd managed to get all of the reds together. “Well, it's a start.” He sighed and started to undo his work, knowing that he couldn't leave the side intact if he wanted to solve the bloody thing.

“Nnnn.” Ahsoka let out a low groan and curled up in the bed for a moment before stretching out. Her rest had been blessedly dreamless, but she had a feeling that wouldn't be the case for long. She wasn't alone in the room; she could sense that a lamp was on near the bed and there was a presence on the same side; a stranger.

Ben looked up and set the cube aside, leaning forward, resting his arms on his legs, watching her carefully. He threw up his mental guards automatically; although he had a feeling they were unnecessary.

“Who's there?” Ahsoka let out a cough and her eyes opened to stare blankly towards the figure. She had felt his connection to the Force almost instantly.

“I'm Ben.” He flinched; kriff, he felt like such an idiot. “You want something to drink?”

She let out a weak chuckle. “You always this nervous?” There was something familiar about this young man.

He straightened up, even though he knew she couldn't see him. “I suffer from an appalling lack of social skills. At least, polite ones.” He stood up and started to prepare a mug of tea for her. “You take anything in your tea?” Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her sitting up.

“A little honey, if that's available” She replied, feeling for the pillow behind her and propping it up against the headboard before she leaned back. She wasn't completely helpless “What time is it, do you know?”

“Shortly after two in the morning. You've been asleep for seven hours.” Ben replied, and scanned the table, finding the crock of honey and added some to the cup before pouring the tea in. “You want a cookie?”

“I don't think my stomach's ready for solid food just yet, but thank you.” She rubbed her face, trying to rid herself of the groggy feeling. She would actually love to eat, but she wasn't going to shock her system just yet. “I didn't know Callie baked.”

“As far as I know, she doesn't. Aunt Bo made the cookies.” He let out an amused sigh, stirring the tea slowly. “I always thought they were the best in the galaxy – but that could be because they're big.”

“Bosha hates to see anyone go hungry.” She groaned slightly, leaning back towards the wall. “Seven hours. I can't remember the last time I had the luxury of a seven hour sleep in a comfortable bed.”

“I'll hazard a guess and say it was at least fifty years ago.” He remarked. “If that.” He came over to the bed with the mug. “Please don't feel insulted that I'm going to warn you to be careful with a hot beverage.”

“I'm not insulted.” She held up her hands and felt him set the mug against her right, and then he slowly relinquished his hold on it as she took the mug with both of hers. When his fingers had brushed against his, she noted he had callouses, fresh ones. “Thank you.” She took a sip of tea; it tasted wonderful and she had to keep herself from gulping down the rest down. She set the cup back against her lips. The smell was amazing too, she noted as she drank again.

“You're welcome.” Ben returned to his chair, picking up his own neglected cup and taking a sip. “You look considerably better than you did this time yesterday.”

“You were there then?” She lowered the mug, frowning. “I'm afraid I don't remember it.”

“I was. Kyp and I carried you down from the platform to Aunt Callie's house.” He paused, debating on revealing more information, and elected to take another sip of tea instead.

She tightened her grip on the cup, her mind slowly starting to put things together. “You know who I am. I knew who I was last night. How?”

“It's complicated.” The words fell out of his mouth before he had time to process them. Then again, how many times had he heard that phrase in the last fortnight?

“What's your surname, Ben?” It was too early and she was confused enough without playing games. She'd been in carbon freeze and who knew what all had happened since she'd been out?

“Organa-Solo.” He set his cup down and picked up the cube; he needed something more solid than ceramic in his hands. He didn't look at it; instead, he focused on her hands, the way her grip tightened slightly on her mug.

Ahsoka took a drink of tea, turning Ben's name over in her mind. The name Solo meant nothing to her; and the only Organa she knew of was Bail Organa, from Alderaan. That man had only one child; Leia. She'd never met the girl, and only knew of her vague connection to the Rebels. She and her father were secret suppliers to the cause. Or had been, years ago. “I still haven't accepted the fact that it's been forty years.” She turned her head towards him; he seemed rather tense.

“I can't imagine.” He twisted the puzzle cube again. “I don't know if it helps, but I haven't seen my mother in almost eighteen years.”

“And how old are you now?” She took a fairly large sip of tea. It tasted wonderful.

“Thirty.” He took a breath and decided that if he wanted to start getting straight answers, he should also start giving them. “I don't know what Aunt Bo has told you about me but...”

“You're Anakin's grandson, aren't you?” She lowered the mug, and let herself smile. “All I was told is that you're here so you don't turn out like he did.” Ahsoka held the mug out and she felt him take it from her, and a soft thump as he set it down. “Come here.” She waved her hand, then patted the bed next to her. She might not be able to see him at the moment, but she wanted to at least get the feel of his face.

Ben swallowed hard before moving to sit on the bed. Inwardly, he was glad that he'd taken care to shave earlier; but at the same time – this was definitely up in the most awkward moments of his life. Sitting in a room with his grandfather's padawan, someone he thought to be dead since before he was born and, as far as he knew, neither his parents or his uncle had any idea who she had been. “Don't tell me I need a haircut, I wear it this way on purpose.” Rather than have her fumble for him, he took her wrist in his hand and raised it so her palm was flat on top of his head.

Ahsoka smirked as he released her wrist and moved her hand down towards the right side of his face. “Since I don't have hair, I don't really have an opinion on the matter. Although you might want to brush it.” Her fingers skimmed downwards, a picture forming in her mind of the young man next to her. The nose was unfamiliar, but she knew those cheekbones. Thank the Force he hadn't gotten that damnable chin of his grandfather's. “what color are your eyes?”

“Brown.” He answered, closing them as he felt her hand move across his face and flinched when she made contact with the scar that bisected it. Nearly seven months old and it still stung every now and then.

She stopped as she felt a flicker in the Force come from Ben. The scar under her fingers brought nothing but a torrent of conflicted emotions from him. Shame, pride, grief, disbelief – hope. “How far down does this go?”

“Past my shoulder.” He swallowed hard, “I'm just glad I still have my arm.”

“Hmm.” Ahsoka let her hand stop on Ben's chin and lifted it, and caught a ghost of a thought from him; an untrained girl had given him the wound. She no sooner realized than then his mind shut down and blocked her out. “Oh, now there's something else I recognize.” She withdrew and leaned back against the pillow, and then felt the bed shift as he stood and resumed his seat in the chair.

“Would you like your mug back?” He spoke with forced civility; he just wanted to get out of here. Now. His control was rapidly slipping away.

“No, thank you.” She shook her head. “I'm not going to tell you to calm down, if that's what you're expecting.” She folded her arms, an idea slowly forming in her mind. “You should know that I'm one of the worst patients in the galaxy. Callie knows it as well.”

“What's that got to do with anything?” He didn't bother to keep the indigence out of his voice. She should be well acquainted with the stubborn streak of the Skywalker family.

“It's the reason they've set someone in here to watch me.” She chuckled. “Callie doesn't it put it past me to try and get up before I should or not to go stumbling out of this house in an effort to get somewhere.” She rubbed at her chin, her plan becoming more clear. She just hoped that it was going to be possible to do it. “I need to get my strength back. You need to...” Ahsoka wasn't certain of Ben's situation to vocalize what he needed to do.

Ben leaned back in his chair and tilted his head towards the ceiling. “I'm a disaster on several different levels.”

“We'll figure it out.” Ahsoka took a breath, smiling at a memory before speaking. “A rather snarky Jedi once told me that it was the Will of the Force that I was made his padawan.” She heard the legs of the chair make contact with the floor and her smile grew more confident. “I was removed from the fight that was raging forty years ago and I may have returned to enter another fray, but I do know that I was found by the right person to bring me to the place where I needed to be.”

He snorted in reply. She was starting sound a little too much like his uncle. “I hope you don't expect me to call you master.” He reached over and picked up her mug, holding it out to her.

Ahsoka reached out and took the unasked for tea and she took a drink. “Of course not, Sky-kid.” She grinned over the rim of her mug, the nightmare of the last time she'd seen Anakin washed away and was replaced by the first time they'd gone into battle together. “You can call me Aunt Snips.”

**

Rey was torn between just getting in the Falcon and taking off for anywhere but here, and staying put and to try and find some answers. After failing to get back to sleep last night, she'd done her best to meditate, but the dream kept coming back to her; refusing to be ignored. The first part of the dream was not nearly as disturbing as the second. Since she couldn't sleep, had no official duties, she resolved she'd spend her entire day working on her ship and ignoring everyone. Despite the fact that she now had people who cared about her, and even friends – her years of solitude had left her ill-prepared for the constant chatter of others and it was grating at times. She decided the best thing to combat both her need for some peace and quiet was to spend her day repairing her craft so she could at least get out of the system before something else broke.

That all changed when she was called by the General to visit her office.

She knocked once on the door before it was opened by Master Luke. He frowned when he saw her. “Did you sleep at all?”

“I slept enough.” She replied, keeping her tone polite. She kept her face blank as she came into the room, the little girl, didn't Poe tell her that her name was Oli?, was sitting in one of the chairs, looking half terrified.

General Organa cleared her throat. “Good morning, Rey.”

“Good morning.” She answered, watching Luke as he crossed to stand next to his sister. “What's going on?”

“Miss Firrerre,” Leia spoke more at the little girl than to her and it was plain to Rey that the child was on the edge of bursting into tears. “I know you would like to stay in the medbay with your father, but we are limited to room there and since you no longer require medical attention, I cannot allow you to remain there. Do you understand what I'm telling you?”

Why are you so mean? The other you isn't mean. She's just sad. Rey caught Oli's thoughts before she spoke. “Yes, ma'am.” I'm seven, not stupid. “I'll get to see my papa when he wakes up, won't I?”

“Of course, Oli.” Master Luke had one of those smiles on his face that Rey hoped she never wore; the kind adults wore when they were humoring a child when they meant something else entirely. What the hell had happened during the night? “But that medbay isn't much fun and you most likely would rather be outside.”

“I'm not a baby-sitter.” Rey interjected, catching on to what her master and his sister had planned. Whatever was happening, she wanted nothing to do with it.“I don't know anything about children.” She caught the hurt look on Oli's face. “Not that you're a baby.”

“There really isn't anyone else, Rey.” Leia spoke softly. “You're not an official member of the Resistance, and...”

“I do know it's a strange request, and I'm certain Oli will be no trouble.” Master Luke quickly added. “It's just for a little while.”

She gave the little girl another look, quickly noting that she wasn't watching anyone else in the room, instead, her focus was down at the toy in her hands, running her fingers over the model ship, biting her bottom lip as she fought back tears. “Understood.” Now what was she supposed to do? She certainly wasn't going to take the girl by the hand and lead her out of here.

“Miss Firrerre, you are to stay with Rey and do as she says, understood?” There was something wrong here. She hadn't known Leia Organa could sound so cold.

The girl stood up, shoulders straight and chin up. “Yes, ma'am.” Her voice was devoid of indigence, and she did not return the smile that Luke gave her. Rey had the feeling the girl was just as confused as she was. “Thank you.”

Rey shook her head and waved Oli over to her, “It's a pretty day. It'd be a shame to waste it inside.”

Oli walked calmly to join her, but seemed to know better than to take her hand. “Have a nice day, General Organa, have a nice day, Jedi Master Skywalker.”

It was a relief to be in the hallway. The tension that had been present in the general's office was worse than Jakku at high noon. The girl trailed after her, keeping up with her long strides. “You're seven, right?” She'd keep the conversation light for now.

“Yes.” Her tone still remained one of struggling politeness and Rey reeled around to face her so quickly, Oli nearly collided with her.

“You can drop the polite little girl routine. I have absolutely no idea what happened between your arrival and five minutes ago, and I'm guessing you don't either.” She looked the girl over, pursing her lips. “And it doesn't help that almost no one around here knows how to give a straight answer.” She caught the girl attempting to smile and chuckled. “It'll be all right. Come on.” She inclined her head and the two of them started walking out into the hangar bay. “Do you know anything about repairing ships?”

Oli stuffed her ship into the pocket over the oversized tunic she was wearing. It took Rey a moment to realize it was a shirt better suited to someone her size, belted around her middle. “A little.” She rubbed her nose. “I know what tools are what and how to change plugs.” she kept pace with her as she went and gathered her box of tools and then headed out across the tarmac to the Falcon. “My mom doesn't want me to join the military when I get older. Papa says he doesn't care what I do when I grow up, as long as I'm safe and happy.”

“Is your mother in the military?” She frowned as they reached the freighter and she set down the box. She finally realized that the girl spoke Basic similar to the way she did; but Oli's Coruscanti accent wasn't as clipped as her own.

“Yes, she's an admiral.” Her voice was full of pride and she drew out the toy. “This is her ship.”

Rey took the craft and studied it for a moment; she'd only seen destroyers similar to this, and the seals on the hull were unfamiliar. She handed it back. “What's it called?”

“Darklighter.” Oli grinned. “Do you know who Biggs Darklighter was?”

“I know that name.” Poe's voice came from behind them and Rey was instantly relieved. Last night, he wouldn't shut up about the strange x-wing at dinner. “Rebel pilot lost in the Battle of Yavin.” He crouched down to Oli's level. “I didn't know he had a Star Destroyer named after him.”

“I know you! You're the nice pilot I told where Papa and I came from. We came through a looking glass.” The girl blinked and then looked up at Rey. “Your galaxy doesn't have one, but the one I came from does.”

Rey thought for a moment, then shot a glance at her friend. “I don't know what she means by going through a looking glass.” She shook her head, “I'm guessing it's a reference to a story of some kind. The only tale I know that involves traveling from one reality to another was about a man who fell into a pond of pure water and found a world that appeared to be a paradise, but since he wasn't from there, it killed him.”

“You grew up in the Western Reach.” Oli interjected before Poe could answer.

“How did you know that?” She gaped at the girl.

“Because of the story you mentioned. The Mirror Lake is a tale that originated in the Western Reach, and it's among the most common stories from there. It's a cautionary tale that basically means stay in your part of the galaxy because you don't know what kind of weirdos are out there. And you also might get lost and never find your way home.” She huffed, blowing a stray curl out of her face.

Poe chuckled. “Has anyone ever told you that you sound like an old woman, Oli?”

“No.” She grinned. “I just have parents who believe you shouldn't talk down to children like they're stupid.”

Rey took a breath. “So your mother is an admiral, and what does your father do?”

“He's a literature professor.” She rocked back and forth on her heels as Poe stood up. “Or he was. He was going to take a...” she frowned. “I can't remember what it's called, he was going to take a working break...”

“A sabbatical?” Rey offered, glancing at Poe.

“That's it!” She nodded. “He was going to take a sabbatical and we were going to join my mom on the Darklighter.” She shook her head. “Something happened to the ship we were on. I don't know what it was, but the escape pods weren't working.” She rubbed her nose. “Papa said we had to leave. We had to go a long way away and I had to be brave. I don't remember how we got here.”

Poe shifted on his feet, adjusting his flight helmet. “Well, you're going to be fine.” He took a breath. “Finn left before I did, but he wanted me to ask if you'd like to join us for dinner later? I think he's got an issue with you eating alone, Rey.”

She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “I'm not used to company.” She gave him a smile. “I'll be there.”

“Great.” He smiled and took off for where the x-wings were.

Rey shook her head and turned back to the girl. “How many looking-glass stories are there?”

“I only know six of them. My papa can tell you the others when he wakes up.” She rubbed her nose and looked up at the Falcon. “Is this one of those things where it'd be easier to list what works than what doesn't?”

She bit back her laugh. “Actually, I think it may be an even split.” She waved her hand towards the ladder that she'd left next to it last night. “Come on. Might as well finish what I started yesterday.” She ascended the ladder first and a minute later, Oli pulled herself up to join her. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. “You can tell me the looking glass stories while we work.”

*

Ansel set down his empty mug as he scanned the monitors in the station, the skies around Away still clear of any activity, save for a passing comet, and a solar flare. The hurricane on the other side of the planet was losing strength, but another depression of air was already forming in the south. It was quiet and uneventful; and he tried to let the calm of the planet surround him, but it never could. Not the way it automatically came to others. He supposed it may have to do with his age, the way he could let this place go whenever he left it in the past. Now, now he supposed it was to be his home for the foreseeable future. The last time he'd been here for a length of time longer than a fortnight had been shortly before the Battle of Endor.

He had remained on Away until Bosha returned and would have stayed; if he'd had a braver soul, he would have never gone back to Bakura and traveled to Bespin with her – or they could have done the opposite. For all that had happened in the galaxy while he'd been a part of it, he still couldn't fathom what the issue was with inter-species relationships. Oh, it was fine if they were close enough on a genetic level – such as togrutas and twi'leks, but it seemed as if the majority of the galaxy wanted humans to stay with humans.

One would think that some point in at least the past century, with all the shit that had gone down, such a thing would be a moot point throughout the galaxy and just went on with living, and didn't pay attention to the couples that weren't of the same species. They certainly didn't give a damn if they were the same gender.

“Maybe I should just stay here when all of this is over.” He smiled faintly, pressing his hands into his shoulders and rolling his head slowly, stretching his neck. “No one here will care.” He snickered. “They'll just say it's about damn time.” He covered a yawn as he heard the door behind him open. “Good morning.” He turned to look at Zekk as he came into the watchtower, and frowned at the young man's expression. “I know that look. Who's pissed you off this time?”

“No one.” He answered, setting down a small crate and his own mug of tea. “Although now that you mention it, exactly how long are you and my mother going to skirt around each other this time? It's not as if nearly everyone in the Settlement doesn't know where you sleep here, regardless if the two of you are in the bed at the same time or not.”

Ansel closed his eyes and tightened his grip on his shoulders. “It's not like that, Zekk.” He heard him snort.

“You'd both be a hell of a lot happier if you'd just admit the fact that you're...” There was a thump as the young man sat down. “I don't get the pair of you.”

He opened his eyes, watching as the young man drew a peach and knife out of the box, and started to slice the fruit. “What does your sister have to say on the matter?”

“She doesn't care, I don't care. You know damn well that if you hurt our mom, you're in serious trouble.” He shrugged. “We can move our families out of the house, then the two of you can go round up four random orphans from the galaxy and then Mira won't be the only kid with the title of Auntie.”

“You make it sound simple, and don't go telling me it is.” He rose to his feet, taking a breath, already feeling the falseness in his words. “I believe the trouble is that while we both do care for each other, the fact remains that we are quite used to our own solitude.”

“No, you're just saying that because the longest time you've ever spent together is two months.” Zekk set down his knife, looking up at him. “I don't know what's coming. None of us do, not even Aunt Nell and she always seems to – but it's going to be ugly. Best to make the most of the time we have before it all goes to hell, then risk not having a chance when it's over.”

Ansel retrieved his empty mug. “If I tell you that I will discuss it with your mother, will that satisfy you?”

“Considering you're one of the few people left in the galaxy who can actually get her to listen, yes.” He shot a grin at him. “Now get out of here. I've got this covered.” He inclined his head towards the screens. “Phan should be joining me shortly.”

He snickered. “What are you talking about? There's not a soul left in this galaxy who can make your mother listen.” He adjusted his hold on the mug and stepped out of the station and into the early morning, heading across the Settlement for Bosha's home.

*

The first thing that Tigris noticed was the smell. Just on the edge of consciousness, the scent of stale water reached him; the smell that only came when someone washed a floor with just water; rising it rather than using a cleaner. He hadn't encountered the smell in decades, not since his father's Worldcraft. It used to be the last thing he smelled before he went to sleep and the first thing when he woke, on those nights when his father had him sleep on the floor in front of his room.

Like a bloody animal.

“Oli?” He spoke before he opened his eyes, hearing the thin mattress beneath him creak as he rolled onto his back. When his daughter didn't respond at once, he sprang up, eyes wide as he took in the small room he was in. A simple cell; bed, a chair bolted to the floor and a toilet and sink in the corner. A cell he could handle; the fact that his child was not in the same room was another matter entirely. He sprang to his feet, heart pounding, rising to the door and peering out the small window.

A face stared back at him; a human male.

He slammed his fist against the door several times. “Where. Is. My. Daughter?” He seethed, hitting the metal again, ignoring the pain in his hand. “Where is my child?” He saw the man step back and a moment later, a second joined him, and then one of their voices, he was guessing it was the first, came through the small speaker next to the door.

“You will back away from the door and sit on the bed.” the voice intoned and all Tigris wanted to was punch the man. “We're bringing your daughter to you.”

Rather than comply, he started walking back and forth in front of the door, his eyes focused on the window and the “If you're lying to me, and you've done something to her, I'll rip your throat out.”

“Oh you will, will you?” The man scoffed and then let out a cry of alarm as Tigris snarled at him, revealing his teeth.

He smirked, glanced up at the ceiling, spotting the camera for the first time. “I suppose I should set a good example.” He went back and sat on the bed as asked, but didn't take his focus off the door. This was completely unknown territory to him; and while he'd left his own reality willingly, he wasn't letting his guard down. Given the decade he'd just had, it was a miracle he could sleep. He rolled his shoulders, feeling only a slight tinge of pain. A face appeared in the window, a flash of blond-gray hair and a moment later, the door opened. It wasn't his daughter and some other guard, but someone he recognized instantly. Out of habit and politeness, he rose to his feet and inclined his head by a mere fraction. “Good day to you, Grand Master Jedi Skywalker.” He frowned, and then noticed the first difference. The beard.

Luke blinked in surprise at the man. “You know who I am?”

“Doesn't everyone?” He resumed his seat on the bed, thanking the Force that his daughter was as blind to it as he himself was. “Where is my daughter?”

“She's coming.” The man answered. “I believe she's eating lunch.”

Tigris worried at his bottom lip, uncertain of how to proceed. “I don't suppose you would care to inform me why I have been locked up... wherever this is?”

“The Resistance has reason to believe you are tied to the First Order.” Luke answered, leaning forward on his leg. “But I'm of the impression that you don't know what either of those things are.”

He turned the sentence over in his mind before slowly nodding. “And I suspect you are in the minority on that.” He saw the change in the Jedi's expression. “Well, that's better than no one.” The door slid open again and a second later, Oli flung herself into her his arms. He wrapped her in a tight embrace, pressing his face into her hair.

“You're awake, Papa, you're awake!” her voice was muffled against his neck.

“I'm fine, sweetheart.” He pulled her back so he could look into her eyes. “Have they been feeding you?”

“Yes, Papa.” She answered and he felt a surge of relief. “I've been helping Miss Rey fix her ship.”

“Have you?” He looked at her hands and noted that while they had been scrubbed clean, her nails looked slightly ragged. “You be careful, all right?”

“I will, Papa. I like being outdoors.” She looked over at Luke. “Miss Rey told me to tell you that she doesn't want to talk about whatever it is you want to talk to her about.” She settled herself down on the bed next to him and Tigris automatically took her hair out of its sloppy bun and started to fix his daughter's hair properly.

“How long was I asleep, Oli? Do you know?” He didn't look over at Skywalker, but he could still feel the Jedi's gaze on him.

“Almost a whole day, I think. I know I slept for most of the night and woke up sometime this morning. After breakfast, I went outside with Miss Rey.” She coughed. “Papa, what happened to Isolder's Gift?”

He shook his head. “I don't know, honey. All I heard was the order to evacuate, so we did.” He shot a glance over at Skywalker. “And that's the truth, Jedi. It wasn't any sort of attack as far as I'm aware of. Though I can't rule out sabotage.” He fastened the tie around his daughter's hair. “There we are, much better.”

“Thank you, papa.” Oli smiled and he gave her another hug, pressing his face into her hair. Tigris had a feeling that things were about to take a dramatic turn for the worst for the pair of them. He didn't care what these Resistance fighters did to him; as long as they didn't hurt his daughter.

Luke shifted in his seat just as the door opened and Rey walked into the room, her expression clearly betraying the fact she had come in here under duress. He stood up. “Rey, what is it?”

“General Organa sent me.” She swallowed. “I'm to take Oli back.”

Tigris looked the young woman over; she was barely twenty, but there was a hardness in her eyes that belied her lithe appearance. He swallowed and squeezed his daughter's hand, drawing her attention. “Rillao.” He used her full name, causing her to stiffen.

“Yes, Papa?” She looked from the two at the door back to him. “What's happening?”

“You need to go with Miss Rey now. I'll see you soon, all right?” He gave her hand another squeeze. “you behave yourself and don't give her any trouble.”

“Papa...” Her voice cracked and he saw the tear slip down her cheek. “I want to stay here with you.”

“I know you do sweetheart.” He rose and kissed her forehead, shooting a glance at the young woman next to the door, before turning his attention back to his child. “What do we say, when we are called away?”

Oli's shoulders straightened an she lifted her chin, smiling bravely, despite the tears still running down her face. “Rise and dream, Papa.”

He embraced her one more before nudging her towards Rey. “Be good.” He watched as Rey took his daughter's hand, then she shot a look at Skywalker that was full of disapproval; and the Jedi ignored her reproach as the door slid open and the two vanished. “I will cooperate fully on the sole condition that I am allowed to see my daughter at the very least, every other day.”

Luke rose to his feet, his face solemn. “I believe that is reasonable.” He stepped closer, frowning. “You're not the Watcher, are you?”

Tigris scoffed. “Of course not.” He heard the door open again, but he didn't look to see who came in, even after they took both of his arms and fastened his wrists behind his back. “If you had asked the Apprentice the right questions, you'd have known who he is long before now.” A sack was thrown over his head and he was half walked, half dragged out of his cell. He prayed that his daughter was not in a position where she could see him.

Chapter Text

They called it the Hospice House, and compared to other dwellings in the Settlement, it was small. The main room, three smaller rooms and the standard 'fresher. A faint, pleasant scent hung in the air that Ben couldn't place, tinged with the smell of soap and fresh laundry. After living for a week squeezed into Bosha's home with seven other people, it seemed huge to him. It also had twice the number of windows of the other houses, making the whole place awash in natural light. It had actually been surprisingly easy to make the arrangements, and while Ahsoka still hadn't recovered her sight and was barely into the soft food stage of regaining her appetite, it was clear to both him and Aunt Callie that the last place she wanted to stay was in bed.

Ben did, however, insist that she take the bedroom directly across from the fresher. He took the room right next to it, on the off chance that something happened to her while she was inside. He rubbed his face as he heard the front door open and Ahsoka's voice reached him, sounding half-amused, half-annoyed at her companion.

“I'm not an invalid, Miracle Danns. I could have found my way here on my own.” Her tone was light, and he came around the corner to watch the two enter.

“I know you could have, Aunt Ahsoka, but my mother would have my hide if you wandered off and fell in the river.” The girl answered, throwing a grin at him.“And it's Mira.

Ben leaned against the wall, his arms folded. “I don't think she would fall into the river. It's far more likely she'd head into the woods.”

“Stop it, both of you.” Ahsoka shook her head and pulled away from the girl, taking several steps into the house, her hands out to her sides and she paused next to a table as her hand came in contact with it. “And thank you, Mira, for walking me here. Maker only knows what Callie would have done.”

“You're welcome.” The girl tucked a braid behind her ear. “I'll bring you some fish later in the day.” She ducked outside and a moment later, Ben heard her run around the house, heading back towards the schoolyard.

“Nice girl.” Ahsoka took several more steps, keeping her hand on the table. “Though she seems a bit... I can't explain what it is about her.” She frowned. “How far away is the river from the house?”

“We're in the house nearest the school, directly across from Aunt Callie's.” He rubbed his temple, trying to remember the distances himself. “The river is about a two dozen yards and a sharp drop behind us.”

“Deep water?” She pulled away from the table and walked, hands still outstretched and slightly unsteady, over to a chair, clasping the back. “I hate not being able to see. Callie says I have another two weeks of this due to the length of the carbon freeze.”

Ben snickered. “It's a good thing Mira wasn't here to hear you say that, her mom, Aunt Nell, is blind.”

Ahsoka frowned at him, and he had to think if she'd met her yet. “Illness?”

“No, she ah... well, she cut her own eyes out.” He saw her eyes widen in shock. “I know. I had the same reaction.” He bit at his bottom lip for a moment. “She told me that she did it so she would only see the truth revealed to her in the Force.”

“Nell... the woman who's been talking in her sleep.” She rubbed the bridge of her nose. “I hate not having all the facts. Anything else I should know about the occupants of Away? Are there... are there any other former Jedi here, besides Callie?”

He thought for a moment, debating on whither he actually counted as one or not. He decided that he did. “Well, I'm a fallen Jedi, and then there's Cheron, who was a youngling taken by his uncle from the Temple shortly before the Purge.”

“I don't know Cheron. Who was his uncle?” She took a few more steps, and he came over to stand next to her, so she could grab his arm. “I won't be like this for long, promise.”

“I'm not objecting. I don't know his first name, only that his surname was Illhum.” He felt her grip tighten. “What is it?”

“I knew Master Illhum. He was a saber instructor at the temple. If he taught his nephew how to duel as well as he did...” She shook her head. “Well, I suppose this place has been brought together in capable hands.”

“I thought this place was a fairy tale two weeks ago.” He replied, letting out a breath. “If you want, I can go find you a walking stick to use until you get your eyes back.”

“No, I'll be fine. Just help me measure steps. Once I know my way around the house, everything should be fine.” She let out a breath. “Then we'll have a long talk.”

Ben swallowed, knowing that he wasn't going to be able to keep anything from the former Jedi. It might actually do him some good to come clean. Loathed as he was to exhume his past and just reveal everything; there would be no moving forward without it. “There's not a lot of furniture in here, so you don't have to worry about running into things constantly.”

“How many chairs are there?” She frowned and took a step forward, her free hand encountering the back of another seat.

“Two here, and there's a couch along the side of the first one.” He scanned the room. “Table and chairs closer to the kitchen.”

“This whole place smells of dried flowers, or did you not notice that?” Ahsoka interjected, before he could continue. “It's not bad, it's just strong.”

He frowned. “I knew I smelled something when I came in here, but I couldn't place it. Most likely because I'm used to – ah, synthetic scents and not natural ones, when it comes to décor and cleaning. I shouldn't be surprised, the whole Settlement lives in an style that the Empire did a damn good job of wiping out.”

“It's nice to know there's still a few places without physical scars from those times.” She nudged his side and they started walking again. She took at least two steps for every one of his. “Where in the galaxy are we?”

“The far side of the Unknown Regions, sixteen hours in hyperspace from Endor, although the time is definitely longer the older the craft. I couldn't give you exact coordinates.” They came to the wall of the hallway. “There's four rooms down here. Three bedrooms and the fresher, it's on our right.”

Ahsoka nodded. “My astro-geography is off, how far is Endor from Bakura?”

“Five standard hours.” He replied and turned her towards the bedroom door. “This is your room, the bed's in the middle, the dresser is on the far wall.” Ben looked around the small chamber, with its one, long, high window and the same off-white walls that every house on Away had, nothing remarkable about it, the scent of sunshine and flowers hung in the air, and really, it's almost too cheerful in his mind.

She pulled away from him and took a few steps into the room, stopping when her leg brushed against the mattress. “You're not looking forward to talking to me later.” She turned, her sightless eyes fixed on his. “It's not the talking you object to, it's telling me your past that you fear.” Ahsoka let out a breath and came back over to him, setting her hand on his upper arm. “You're worried I'm going to judge you because of your actions and reject you for what you deem an unforgivable infraction.”

Ben swallowed and looked down at the floor for a moment, the feeling of dread settling in his stomach. “When you're told something enough times, no matter how false it is, you begin to believe it.” He glanced up and caught the ghost of a smile on her face. “What?”

She didn't even flinch at the sharpness of his tone. “No, you're not concerned I'll judge you for your past; you seem to forget who my Master was. What I know is that there's always a reason for a fall from grace and what frightens you is that I won't believe yours.” her other hand came up and touched the side of his face, her thumb running along his cheekbone. “And for however long your dark time has been, you regret nearly every single thing you've done.”

“I killed my father.” He blurted the words out; and it sounded horrific and crass. “He tried to convince me to leave the First Order and instead, I stabbed him in the heart and watched the light fade from his eyes.”

Ahsoka stiffened, only for a moment, then let out a breath. Ben caught a flash of memory from her; a wheezing breath, a shadow looming over her – and then it spoke her name – once, half-obscured through a modulator, and the second – in his own voice, and then she threw up a mental barrier, keeping him from the rest. “I told Anakin I wouldn't leave him – and I didn't.” Her smile was bittersweet. “And in return, he froze me in stone.”

“It spared him from having to kill you, or worry that someone else might do so.” He frowned, wondering if it was at all similar to what he had done; but found that he couldn't find the answer to that. All he could think of was the day he came out of one of the bedrooms in that apartment on Coruscant, carrying the unconscious Girl, everything in his stature daring his uncle to strike the both of them down.

“You're not a bad person, Ben Organa-Solo.” She withdrew her hand from him and stepped into the hall, one arm outstretched against the wall. “We can get settled later. Come on, Sky-kid, we'll have our talk now.”

He turned from the room and followed after, watching her as she moved towards the chairs, his dread slowly slipping from him. Perhaps just releasing all of what he had done would go a long way to helping him. “Yes, Aunt Snips.”

*
Rey gently tightened the last screw into the repaired datapad. She'd managed to find parts for it with relative ease, especially when it turned out that Oli, while her knowledge of ships was minimal, knew a great deal about small electronics. The damage was not as bad as she had originally thought, which also helped. Sleep had proven to be illusive since her strange dream several nights ago. Rather than lie in bed or attempt to meditate, she had kept herself occupied on fixing small things. There was also the fact that a seven year old was currently sprawled on her bed, sleeping deeply, clearly unconcerned about the going-ons around the base. As she worked, she kept replaying the conversations she had heard and seen nearly a week ago, and she still couldn't think why Master Luke had slammed his fist into the device in the first place.

The conversation between Thandu and Vader was decades in the past; it didn't matter. From what little she'd seen of the woman; half crazy was the perfect description for her. Which made the Jedi's response make less sense. What was the tipping point? Kenobi? Things would be far easier in this whole situation of everyone just spoke the truth and didn't avoid subjects. She set down her tool and, taking a breath, pushed the power button on the datapad. It hummed softly and the screen flickered twice before it became steady, and she found herself looking down not at the main screen, but at the exact same list of files she had seen the last time it was powered up.

The right thing to do, she told herself, was to simply power down the device and return it to Master Luke, despite the late hour. She'd stated she would fix it and felt that that came with the understanding that she would just hand it over when she was done. Curiosity, however, was proving to be a wretched temptation as of late. After years of monotony on Jakku, with nothing more than scavenge, eat, sleep and hope you survive filling every day – now there were possibilities. Small questions that would crop up in her mind when she tried to meditate, many of them she didn't know how to ask. Since it seemed that neither Master Luke or the General knew that much about Bosha Thandu, someone needed to be informed about the woman.

Resolved in her decision, Rey scanned the list of files, thankful that the dates were written numerically, instead of spelled out, stopping near the bottom, third from last, dated almost two months before the one of Thandu and Master Luke meeting. She tapped it once, and the screen flickered, then the video feed began.

Thandu was sitting on the floor, head resting on her knees, arms around her legs. She didn't look like a grown woman; the angle and position made her look like a small child. The feed flickered, and Rey frowned, not certain if the disturbance was with the repaired datapad, or the camera. Then there was another flicker, and the woman's head slowly raised, her whole body language changing from cowed and defeated, to the complete opposite. When she rose to her feet, there was something akin to mischief on her face, and then she slowly turned in a circle, then focused on the wall that was next to the camera; rocking on her heels for a moment before coming to a standstill, her left arm raising.

“What are you doing?” Rey murmured, confused. “The door isn't on that side.” She watched as the woman closed her eyes, and the camera flickered again; Bosha stretched out her hand, then clenched it into a fist, and then threw her arm behind her, and at the exact same moment, the wall in front of her exploded. A combination of bricks, durasteel, and plastasteel rained back across the room towards her, an unseen by the camera piece of debris slammed into it from the side, destroying the angle and the feed went from her to below the door, and a moment later, an Imperial torture droid slammed into that wall, cleaved perfectly in two. Another joined it. A blaster bolt was deflected against the door, followed by an unidentified dismembered droid, to join the other two. “Why'd you have to hit the camera?”

At that moment, the feed flickered, and then a different camera, this angle from the wall opposite of the destroyed one, began. She could see Thandu standing perfectly straight, the topaz bladed lightsaber held in her right hand, and the room next door was full of nothing but droids. Rather than wait for them to attack, she was pulling them into the room with a gesture from her left hand, and slicing them with the saber.

Rey didn't know if she should laugh or be horrified.

A chunk of droid flew up, striking the camera and the feed went dead.

“That's that.” She turned the device off, and then glanced over at the small girl who had gone from sprawled to curled up the bed. No one had told her to take Oli to another room to sleep after that first day, and the prison block was out of the question, so the girl remained with her almost all hours. The baby-sitting job wasn't bad, even after a few days of it. Watching the girl wasn't difficult; but Rey suspected that the girl was acting on her best behavior. She wasn't ready to admit it, but it was nice to talk to someone who didn't have some sort of strange expectations of her. Oli had asked questions while they were working, and she had a genuine curiosity that Rey could understand. She covered a yawn and pulled the ties from her hair, releasing them from her customary buns.

Maybe she would try and get more than three or four hours of sleep tonight. She quickly changed into sleep clothes and sat down on the bed to braid her hair.

“May I see my daddy tomorrow?” If she hadn't been sitting next to her, Rey never would have heard Oli speak. “Please?”

Rey let out a breath. She had heard the same question every night and they always went down to the prison block after lunch; and had been turned away each time. What the hell did the Resistance think that man knew? In her conversations with Oli, there was nothing to make her personally think that Firrerre knew anything. She was becoming more and more certain that the girl was telling the truth; that they were from another reality. “We'll go back down there, but I can't promise the guards will let us in.”

The little girl sat up, rubbing her nose. “You could make them. I've seen Jedi do it.”

She blinked in response. “You've seen Jedi?”

“Uh huh. I've met a few of them, and they're mostly nice, but some are grumpy. Daddy said the war made them that way.” She tucked her knees up under her chin. “Things were supposed to get better after the war was over, but things...” She shook her head. “Mom said something was wrong in the galaxy. Said it was too quiet.”

“What war?” Rey let her hands fall her her hair, and set one on Oli's arm. “The New Republic and the First Order?”

She shook her head. “No, the New Republic and the Yuuzhan Vong. I wasn't born when they invaded the galaxy. That's how my grandparents were killed.” She swallowed hard. “When they attacked Coruscant. I was born near the end of the war.” She ducked her head. “If mama hadn't been pregnant with me, she would have died at the Battle of Fondor.”

The name of the planet was unfamiliar to her, so instead, she squeezed the girl's hand, taking a deep breath before speaking. She'd never even heard of the Yuuzhan Vong, and it seemed she would have heard something in Niima, where she'd gleaned a host of other-world enemies, fact and fictional. “When did this war end, Oli? How long ago?”

“I was two, I think.” She frowned. “Mama and Daddy still have nightmares.” She lifted her chin, and the girl suddenly looked twice her age. “They think I don't know about it, but I do.”

Rey gave her a small smile, and then something came to her. From the dream the night Oli and her father had arrived. Professor Tig Firrerre. “Your father's a literature professor, correct?”

The girl nodded and rubbed her nose.

Taking a breath, she smoothed down a stray curl of her hair. “So I suspect he tells you lots of stories, doesn't he?”

Oli nodded again and she uncurled from her position, biting at her bottom lip. “I don't remember all of the details sometimes.”

“That's fine, that's fine...” She swallowed. “Do you know a story about a character called the Watcher?”

In response, the girl scratched the side of her nose, blinking, and Rey caught her thoughts as she weighed her words. Does she want to know about the 'Watcher in the Well' or the actual Watcher?

She bolted up straight, exhaustion gone. “You know who the Watcher is?”

Oli shifted on the bed and nodded, leaning back against the wall. “Who are you?”

“I'm Rey...” She paused, then cleared her throat. “Sunspot.” She wrinkled her nose as she moved to sit next to her, stretching out her legs. “Although I have no idea what that's supposed to mean.”

“I think you have to figure that out for yourself.” She rubbed her nose again. “The Watcher is a young Jedi named Anakin Solo.” She leaned against Rey, letting out a yawn. “We went to his funeral, but I don't remember it.”

“The war?” Rey helped her lay down and then turned out the light before lying down in front of her, so they were face to face. It feels strange, almost as if instead of adult and charge, they were two sisters, talking in the still of the night, their parents none the wiser to their whispered secrets.

“He died and after that, the Vong couldn't hide from the Jedi anymore. They used to be invisible to the Force, but something Anakin did took that power away.” Oli snuggled closer to her, resting her head on her collarbone. Normally, Rey would have shunned the contact, they had been sleeping back to back since they started sharing the bed. Instead, she wrapped an arm around the girl, pulling her close. “I hope Ben's okay.”

“Ben Solo?” The name came out automatically, and right now, Rey has a feeling that the Resistance should be asking Oli, not her father, for answers.

“Who's that?” The girl shifted in her arms. “I mean my friend, Ben Skywalker. We used to play hide-and-go-seek together when we were little.”

Rey snorted into the girl's hair. “You're still little.” She tickled Oli under her ribs, causing the girl to let out a squeal of laughter. “Even if you sound like an old woman!” She kept tickling her as the girl squirmed under the assault, giggling. “Little old lady Oli!”

“Stop it!” She made a feeble attempt to fend her off. “I'm not an old lady!”

“You sure?” She grinned, but pulled her hands away, then scrunched up her eyes, looking her over critically. “I guess you are.” She fell back against the bed, chuckling. “All right, time to sleep.” She tucked Oli back under her chin. “Tomorrow, we're going to start putting the puzzle of whatever it is we're all caught up in together.”

“Okay.” The girl answered with a yawn.

*

Bosha left five of the bushel baskets lying near her in the grass as she hung the sixth on a low branch of the peach tree and then lifted herself up into the branches, and after plucking one of the ripe ones from a stem, rubbed it on her shirt then bit into the sweet fruit, grinning as the juice ran down her chin. It was a good season this year; there had been past summers when there had been almost no peaches to speak of; or they ripened too quickly – or storms had scattered the crop before it could be gathered. She wiped her chin with her sleeve, smiling at the radiantly white meat and taking another bite, slurping at the juice as she did, and she could see a hint of the purple colored pit.

“May I say, once again, I am stunned that you were able to grow a tree from that peach pit.” The Watcher called down from his perch higher in the tree. “All the arguments against it were valid, and yet, here the tree is nearly sixty years later, still growing strong.”

She leaned back against the trunk, helping herself to another bite. “That deck officer thought it was cute.” She sighed looked up at the young man above her. “I used to worry about it when I was in prison. Hard frosts, wind storms.”

“I remember.” He replied and moved lower in the tree, slipping past branches even though he could have just floated straight through them. “I've been meaning to ask, exactly when did you realize that I was in completely over my head in this reality?”

Bosha smirked over her peach. “I'd say shortly before the start of the Clone War.” She took another bite from her fruit.

“I couldn't save everyone, so I saved what I could.” He looked down at his hands, biting at his bottom lip. “One day, I'll see my family again and oh, the story I'll have to tell them.”

She lowered her treat, frowning. “What's wrong, Anakin?”

He gave her an unsteady look. “Something's wrong with my family in this reality. Something's not right, and I don't know what it is.”

“Is this a recent discovery or have you known for a while?” She frowned at him. “Because if you've known the way you knew who Darth Vader was before I even met Anakin Skywalker...”

“It's recent.” He held up his hands in defense, even though she couldn't physically harm him. “I thought it was just...” He frowned. “It's... I should have seen it earlier.”

She took another bite of fruit. “You couldn't foresee me running into several of the major players of a galactic war, so now we're off prevention and onto damage control.”

He chuckled. “You make it sound so simple. Then again, it's always the same lament that comes with a shattering discovery. The worry that you could have done something to prevent it.” He shook his head. “And I had nothing to do with Ahsoka Tano, in case you were wondering.”

“I know that.” She replied, finishing off the peach and dropping the pit into a pocket of her apron. “If you could have spoken with Ahsoka, she'd have been here waiting when I got back from the war.”

“Point.” He chuckled softly as Bosha started to pick more fruit from the tree, gently setting them in the basket.

“What's wrong?” She looked up at him. “I recognize your melancholy mood, is this about Ben's family, or is it something else?” She stood and moved slowly down one of the branches.

“I knew we needed help. I just... I've subjected a good friend to something he doesn't deserve.” Anakin lowered himself to stand on the other side of the tree. “Then again, it wouldn't be the first time I've done that.”

“And I accepted remaining in Vader's clutches to secure the safety of Away. Someone had to stay with his miserable ass.” She rubbed the back of her neck, her focus on him. “I'll tell you plain, when I see him again at the end of the road, I'll be torn between wanting to slap him or give him a hug.”

He chuckled. “Punch him dead in the face and then hug him.” The Watcher let himself drop to the ground, looking up at her. “I'm going for a walk... and to work on my apology to the Scribe.”

“Don't scare the goats again.” Bosha replied, half laughing. “It's too hot for a game of round up.” she shook her head as the youth faded away and she went back to the task at hand.

*

Luke stared up at the two images, trying to comprehend what he was seeing. Two galaxies, that at first glance, were perfectly identical. Then, as he focused more on them, the differences became more and more apparent. Planets he knew well changed locations; others he'd never heard of appeared and still others vanished completely. Strangely, all the stars had remained fixed; only their planets changed. This was either an extremely elaborate ruse by the First Order and Snoke, or the little girl was telling the truth. He detected no lie from the child, but there was something – something not right. Nor was there any hint of deception any of the professor's remarks.

What the interrogators were doing to Firrerre were starting to borderline torture. All of this over two women with the same surname. He had said as much to his sister, but she hadn't been swayed. She had changed in the past seven years, and while Luke felt he held a great deal of the responsibility for what had happened, Leia, well – she didn't seem much like the Leia he remembered. He set down his borrowed datapad and went to the door, opening it before Rey could knock, catching her with her fist frozen midair. “Good morning.”

She lowered her hand, doing her best to look annoyed. “Good morning. How did you do that?”

“Practice.” He looked from her to Oli. “You're up early.”

“Too much on our minds.” She answered, giving the girl a small hug, then held out the datapad he remembered breaking a week ago. “Fixed.”

He took it, shaking his head. “I'm sorry about that.” He stepped back to let the two of them inside. “Have you two eaten breakfast already?”

“We have.” Rey gave the girl a nudge as he shut the door. “It's your story to tell, Oli.”

Luke frowned, noting that his padawan had a rather secretive smile on her face. “If this about your reality, Oli, I already believe that you've been telling the truth.”

The girl nodded, then clasped her hands behind her back. “I'm glad someone besides Miss Rey has good sense.” She grinned and he caught Rey's reaction to her cheek. “I've also never talked to the Watcher, but I know who he is.”

“The Watcher?” He pinched the bridge of his nose, forcing himself to remain calm. “And the Apprentice?”

Rey let out a disgusted sound. “I figured out who she is before I knew who the Watcher was.” She folded her arms. “Bosha Thandu's the Apprentice.”

“And the Watcher is Anakin Solo.” Oli added.

Luke sat down on his bed, swallowing hard, and then gestured to the two chairs on either side of the table. “Why don't you begin at the beginning, Oli? Starting with how your father and the Watcher met each other.”

*

Dinner was grilled fish and mashed potatoes. Eating, it transpired, wasn't nearly as hard to hold back as Ahsoka feared. While the food was excellent, the actual act of eating was exhausting. She didn't even object to Ben slicing her peach up for her; it wasn't like he had to spoon feed her. She remained in her seat at the table, eating the fruit slowly while he washed the dishes. The young man's story, dark as it was, had made her more sad than angry. She certainly wasn't angry at him; there was more than enough blame to go around on his behalf. Not that Ben was completely blameless, but he had been backed into a corner and could only find his way out fighting.

“What do we have planned for tomorrow?” She bit into a peach slice; the fruit was sweeter than candy. “Anything?”

“It's my turn to fish, along with Zekk.” There was a rattle of cutlery, which she suspected was him drying them. “The other angry young man of Away. Although what he's angry about, I don't know.”

“Bosha told me about him, don't worry.” She finished her slice. “The fresh air will help.”

“I believe it.” She heard him come over to the table, followed by the scrape of a chair on the floor. “however, you know why I believe that whatever my accomplishments on overcoming my past will be futile.”

She shook her head. “Stop worrying about what others think of you. Think about how you think of you. If you don't forgive yourself, then you'll never accept or believe in the forgiveness from others.”

“Some things are unforgivable.” He intoned and she heard him shift in his chair. “And don't tell me otherwise.”

“Regret is a step in the right direction, and you said there is much that you wish you hadn't done. You can either let your past consume you, or you can rise above it.” She shook her head. “And if people whose forgiveness you seek are unwilling to give it, then the fault lies with them.”

He let out a sigh and the table shook slightly as he slumped against it. “Well, I have managed to keep my temper in check for nearly two weeks. That's somewhat of a record for me. The last time I was close to snapping, I was told to tear down a fence.”

“Did it help?” She picked up another slice of peach, resting her other hand on the table as she ate it.

“Yes.” He let out a tired groan. “It's still early, yet all I want to do is sleep.”

Ahsoka cleared her throat. “Well, you've done enough talking for one day, I'd say it's my turn for a story or two.” She picked up her napkin, wiping her fingers. “and then we'll get some rest. I take it we have to get up early for fishing, yes?”

“We do.” Ben cleared his throat. “I don't suppose you could tell me why you asked me to call you Aunt Snips.”

She grinned in response. “That is actually the perfect place to start.” She stood up and, counting the fifteen steps to the living room part of the house, she turned back towards him, knowing he was following when she heard the scrape of chairs again. She lowered herself into the overstuffed chair, waiting for Ben to take a seat, and she heard a low groan of springs as he fell onto the couch. “It was about half a year into the Clone Wars...”

**

All hands and passengers lost.

Five simple words that conveyed so much. Daphne Phasma Firrerre wasn't certain how she maintained her poise or her emotions as the report was read by a reedy lieutenant, who somehow managed not to have any waver in his voice either.

The cause of the destruction of Isolder's Gift was still under investigation, but to the admiral, any findings wouldn't bring peace to the storm raging in her mind. They had been scheduled to rendezvous with the craft sixteen hours from now, the star destroyer had been ferrying miscellaneous equipment, including a much needed navigation patch. The Darklighter's system had fallen prey to a malfunction that had decimated their charts, leaving them practically blind.

“File the report, lieutenant.” She refused to let the grief that was threatening to overtake her do so; not here, not now.

“Yes, Admiral.” He saluted, his expression torn.

Phasma paused. “I'm sorry, what is your name again, lieutenant?”

“Austen, ma'am. Inja Austen.” He straightened up, his expression unreadable, and she had to wonder how many people he knew whom had been on Gift.

“Thank you, Austen. Dismissed.” She returned his salute and turned to the uniformed man to her left. “Dameron, you have the bridge.”

“Yes, Admiral.” He replied, nodding solemnly, his face as impassive as her own. He gave her a salute and then walked forwards, scanning over the crew in the pits on either side of the walkway. “Put us into an orbital course around the nearest planet and prepare to run diagnostics on all systems. We may be able to scavenge something from our navicomputer.

She walked calmly off the deck and into her ready room, locking the door behind her. After making sure the room was secure, she sat down at her desk, held her head in her hands and wept.

Chapter Text

Luke had let Oli talk for nearly a full hour, not interrupting once, not even with all that she had revealed about the reality she and her father had come from. He had seen Rey's eyes widen every now and then; but for her part, the young girl remained perfectly calm when talking about things that were, by their very nature, wrong to be coming out of a seven year old's mouth. He sat back in his chair, watching the girl drink from the mug of tea that Rey had fixed for her, and he noticed that she kept wrinkling her nose; a feeling of slight confusion emanating from her. “I'm not quite certain what all is going on around here, but I have a strong feeling that whatever went on between this Anakin Solo and Bosha Danns, at some point, that young man was suddenly in over his head.”

Rey nodded slightly. “It started out he just wanted to save a few lives, and then Bosha ran into your parents, back when they were all...” She frowned, rather surprised that she'd accepted the other world for truth so easily, considering she used to think there was barely any green in the entire galaxy.“for all we know, she met your dad when she was Oli's age.”

“Possibly.” He looked back at the girl, who had set her mug down. For a child in such a situation, she was being remarkably calm. “Something wrong with your tea?”

“It tastes nice.” She rubbed her nose, feeling even more tired than when she went to bed last night.“Can I see my daddy today?” It'd been at least two days since she saw him; she'd been certain she could be fine with everything if she got to see her dad. It wasn't like they were on different planets, they were in the same building.

Luke took a breath, knowing that this nonsense with Mr. Tig had gone on long enough. “We'll go after lunch. If the guards have a problem with that, then the guards are going to be taking a nap.”

Rey covered a snigger with her hand, half shocked, half amused at his statement.“Surely that counts as inappropriate use of the Force.”

“Who said anything about using the Force? I know someone with a pretty mean swing with a staff and I've got a hard right hook.” He chuckled and saw Oli smile. “You wouldn't happen to know where Away is, do you?”

She shook her head. “I just know that it does exist in both this galaxy and the one I come from. Daddy says it was forgotten and then it was lost. But that could mean a number of things. It has to be somewhere that's out of the way, but not so out of the way it's obvious.” She pulled at her bottom lip. “So wherever Away is, it can't be very big.” She made a face, trying to think of an example. “Like the size of Yavin Four.”

“Lost records.” Rey muttered and then she leaned forward, the thought that if the records were gone, then Away had to be connected to something that was only a memory itself. “Oli, if you don't know the answer to this, it's okay.” The girl nodded, looking directly into her eyes. “But during the Galactic Civil War, the Alliance against the Empire, other than Alderaan, were there any other planets that were left completely destroyed or ruined?”

Oli thought for a moment, trying to remember her galactic geography, which wasn't exactly her strong suit. There was only one place she could recall, mostly because her mom lamented the loss of their space craft and her dad, the loss of their libraries.“Naboo.” She answered. “That's the only one I know for certain. Is your Naboo all right?”

“Yes.” Luke nodded, another thought coming to him. “It's fine.” He covered his eyes and could see the streak of carbon scoring again. “There's a mark on Bosha's ship, the Star Fisher. It's from a Trade Federation battle cruiser.” He lowered his hand, looking from Rey to Oli. “It was a warning shot. It was put there before the First Battle of Naboo.”

“Finn's grandmother is from there. Your mother is from there.” Rey started seeing pieces fall into place. She didn't know if there was a connection between Alderaan and Naboo, but she wasn't going to discount there being one. “We know that Bosha was at your mother's funeral, and odds are, she met your mother on that planet, years before.” She folded her arms, hating having this information and no way to act on it.“but there's a crossroads within the crossroads. Not to mention any of us going to Naboo is just asking for the First Order to either kill or capture us. The whole system is crawling with their navy.”

He nodded in agreement. “It's also not going to take them too much longer to figure out where we are.” He rubbed his eyes, wondering why the Resistance was still on D'Qar in the first place. They should have left months ago. “I've been out of the fight for too long, and I wouldn't know how to go about convincing my sister we need to evacuate before the First Order finds us. They already know what system we're in.”

Rey gave him a look. “I'm not good at such plans either. I spent nearly fifteen years just watching out for myself. Best I can do is get the Falcon ready to leave and pretend I'm just fixing things that need fixed.”

“I can help you.” Oli offered, her eyes wide. If she stayed busy, she could keep her mind off things she didn't want to think about.“I won't get in the way.”

Rey reached over and smoothed the girl's hair down. “You've already been a big help.” She smiled, then she shot a look over at him, and Luke caught a ghost of a thought. “I think I just realized something else.”

Luke took a sip of tea, frowning. The girl had gotten rather good at hiding her thoughts in the few months he'd been training her. “What's that?”

“Well, if the Watcher, Anakin Solo, was a student of that other galaxy's Luke Skywalker, and Bosha is Anakin's apprentice, wouldn't that technically make her a member of that Jedi Order?” She grinned, watching him catch up with what she was saying. “Hence the reason she kept refusing to join yours? She already belonged to one.”

He closed his eyes and shook his head, chuckling. It did make some sense. “Well, that and the fact that she told me that she was waiting for a pear from Jakku.”

“Then have Rey give her one when we go to Away.” Oli didn't care if it was rude to interrupt, and was surprised when the aged Jedi opened eyes and looked at her like she'd grown another head. “What?”

He looked over at the other girl, a smile spreading across his face. “This girl's quick, Rey. We're going to have to watch out for her.” Luke chuckled, rather surprised that the child had worked out what Bosha had told him dozens of times, but he'd never quite grasped. “We're going to have to find you some pears.” Both Oli and Rey's stomachs growled at the same time, causing them to look away, embarrassed. “But first, we'll have some lunch.”

*

The morning was cool, and Ahsoka took a deep breath as she, Ben, and Zekk walked across the bridge to the other side of the river. It was early, she knew that. The air had a strange, wonderful scent to it that was somehow both fresh and old at the same time. She rubbed at her still-blind eyes, working the sleep from them. When she and Ben had woken up this morning, they'd had a simple breakfast of fruit and porridge, and all she knew was that it was early. She had come to the conclusion that sleeping in safety would take more time to get used to than anything else.

Zekk let out a yawn in front of Ahsoka, looking back over his shoulder at the two of them. He'd actually had one of his rare nightmare-free nights, and he'd loathed getting out of bed this morning, but at least he'd actually found rest. “How'd you two sleep?”

“Fine.” Was Ben's short reply, which was such a bald faced lie, even someone with the Force-sensitivity of a rock could see it. It was also an automatic answer, one he'd been giving to that question for years; he couldn't give a different answer without some effort.

“Sure you did Spark. And I'm the mayor of Theed.” He snorted, then adjusted his grip on the spears as they crossed the bridge, the sound of their footsteps barely audible about the roar of water. “Nightmares?”

“Something like that.” Ben ran a hand through his hair, trying not to think about the things that kept him from finding rest. “Compared to some nights, last night was great. If I get three hours of sleep, it's a good night, and I managed four.”

Ahsoka frowned at his words. “I suppose that explains why you were able to be up in the middle of the night when I first woke up.” She felt a hand on her upper arm, and the ground under her feet shifted from wood to dirt. The sound of the river was now to her right. “Have you tried meditating?”

“I have trouble focusing.” He answered, then coughed, feeling his cheeks turn pink.“And things I would focus on in an effort to find focus, usually weren't something a Jedi should.”

“There aren't any Jedi here. Not in the traditional sense.” Zekk interjected, shaking his head. Really, his companion had a worse guilt complex than he did. “Aunt Callie's the closest thing to one, since I don't think we can really count the Watcher.”

“Welcome to Away, home of the Watcher's wayward band of misfit Jedi, where the most dangerous ones are the ones who look perfectly harmless.” Ben retorted, chuckling. “Or to put it another way, whatever you do, don't piss off the blind Dathomirian witch.”

“You're just asking for trouble there, Spark. If she finds out you said that.” He laughed as they came to the fishing bend. “Then again, I'm the idiot who decided that having Aunt Bo for a mom wasn't enough, I had to have Aunt Nell for a mother-in-law.”

Ahsoka shook her head at the pair of them. She still was having issues on this whole Away thing actually being real. “So who is the Watcher anyway?”

“How simple of an answer do you want on that?” Ben offered. “Because I'm just now starting to come to grips with the fact that he's not some half-mad woman's childhood imaginary friend.” He chuckled, then realized what he'd just learned – Sori looked almost nothing like the rest of the Danns family. “Wait a minute, Zekk. Aunt Nell is your mother in law?”

“Yes, my wife Sori is Jaenen and Teneniel's oldest daughter. Mira's her little sister.” He chuckled as he set down the spears to take off his boots and socks and roll up his pant legs.

“Married Jedi.” Ahsoka shook her head, rather amused. She could almost see the looks on the faces of several Jedi Masters if they were to witness such a thing. “What is the galaxy coming to?”

“I'm not a Jedi and my wife's Force blind.” Zekk answered shortly, trying to keep his temper in check. “And I know, technically I didn't choose Aunt Bo for a mom.”

“No, you're just the damn fool who thought picking her pocket was a good idea.” Ben retorted with a laugh as he took his own boots and socks off.

She covered her mouth to hide her laugh, hoping she was looking in Zekk's direction. “I'd have liked to have seen that.”

“So would I.” Ben quipped, and she heard the other young man let out a snort. “The Bishop here got dragged through the streets of Bakura by his ear.”

“Come on, dawn's breaking and there are bellies that need filling.” Zekk answered, taking up a spear and a basket and headed for the water.

Ben's hand came to rest on Ahsoka's arm. “You want to stand or sit?”

“I'll sit.” She rubbed at her eyes, hating the blindness again. “How many steps would you say we are from the river?” She could hear the water rushing in front of them.

“Adjusting for our height differences, I'd say for you, it's about fifteen paces.” She eased herself down, finding a wide, flat rock under her palms to sit on. “If we're lucky, this won't take all that long.” She sensed him walk away from her, and then there was a sloshing sound as he went into the river.

“Spear fishing.” She chuckled as she folded her legs and resting her hands palm up on her knees. Her connection to the Force, much like her eyesight, was still muffled. It wasn't total detachment, but it was trying to hear clearly while buried under a dozen blankets. She could feel it clearly all around her, for the first time decades, not since she was at the Jedi Temple. That alone was a comfort; and she would just reconnect the same way she was learning about this new galaxy she now found herself in. One step at a time.

Forty years.

Ahsoka was still wrapping her mind around that amount of time. Nearly half a century.

She was fairly certain that Anakin – or Darth Vader – never intended to keep her in that storage locker on Bakura that long. A temporary solution that ended up lasting a generation. Everyone she knew, all the friends she had gathered – they were gone too; gone like the Jedi. Ansel knew the fate of most of them; but couldn't tell her what happened to Ezra, only that he was missing. And he'd been missing for at least thirty years. That was more troubling to her than dead. Missing all to often created the illusion of hope.

Focus.

She closed her eyes, her attention solely on her inhale and exhale. The area around her smelled sweet, no, it was clean. The rest of the galaxy had gone on into war and turmoil, but this place was almost untouched by the horrors the rest of the worlds had known. In her mind, while she could not see their physical forms, small flashes of color sprang into her mind. Closest were the two men in front of her – one a bright shade of blue; the color of the summer sky of Naboo; the other, a somber shade of orange; not too unlike her own skin. She focused for a moment, and then discerned who was whom – Zekk was blue, Ben, orange. She reached out further, and caught another flick of color, a warm hue of yellow, it was Callie.

The colors shattered as an overwhelming sense of danger swept over her and without even thinking about it, threw herself towards the ground just as something whistled right over where she had been sitting and an outraged, pained roar sounded behind her. It must have drowned out the ignition of the lightsaber, but the whiff of ozone was present, and she could feel the heat source, somewhere near. A heavy thump, the sound of something dead falling to the ground behind her and then there was a whirl of the saber being extinguished.

“Are you all right?” Ben put his hands on her shoulders, trying to calm his breathing. It had happened far too fast; seeing the large animal that was creeping up on the tortuga and not having any time to think, just act. “Aunt Snips?”

“What...” she was trying to put together what had just happened. Something had decided to have her for breakfast, and whatever the creature was, it had paid the price.

“Holy shit, Spark. That was a fucking bear!” Zekk grunted as he yanked the spear from the massive animal that was larger than him and Ben combined.

“Language!” Ahsoka admonished, then brushed Ben's hand from her. “I'm fine.” She could smell the cauterization from where he'd cut the animal's head off and she reached over, feeling for the creature. “I should have been paying attention.”

“You're blind, unarmed and a fourth of its size.” Zekk rubbed his face, trying to recall the last time anyone on Away had killed a bear. It had to be several years, at the very least. “Little early to start storing meat for the winter, but no sense wasting what's in front of us.” He slid a hand through his hair and looked at their baskets; he and Ben had only caught two fish. No matter, there was another food source in front of them. “That saber needs a new crystal.”

Her hands slid through the animal's fur, the texture more soft than coarse, frowning slightly. “What color was it?”

“Brown.” Ben replied, his breathing was just starting to return to normal. He knew he needed to replace the crystal in his lightsaber; hell, he ought to just build a whole new one. “That's going to be a lot of meat.”

“We better get it out of here and back to the Settlement, before the wolves smell it.” Zekk pressed the fishing spears into Ahsoka's hands.“You killed it, Spark. You get to take it back.” He chuckled. “Looks like you're getting a pelt for the Festival of Stars.”

She rose to her feet as she heard the two men putting their shoes back on. “Since when did that become a gift-giving holiday?”

“Since Away was settled. Who are we all going to go visit anyway? Almost everyone here whose family isn't here is the last person left of their families. Can't go back to Dathomir, Naboo is crawling with the First Order, Tatooine isn't much better, there's no Alderaan, and it'd be a hot day on Hoth before Aunt Bo or I go back to Coruscant.” Zekk let out a breath and handed her something else; a bucket. “While others in the galaxy travel, we celebrate the roads that led us to this place. You know, I think it might be easier if you just levitate the bear over the river, rather than us taking it by the path.”

“Point. You two go, I'll see you over there.” Ben answered, running his hand through his hair after hooking his saber back onto his belt. He looked from the animal to the cliff on the far side of the river. He'd moved larger things than this further distances.

Ahsoka shook her head, as she felt Zekk touch her arm and she followed him back towards Settlement.

*

Tigris kept his focus on his hands. He kept trying to tell himself that this wasn't that bad. He'd suffered far worse, and was failing miserably. He didn't understand what the Resistance wanted. He knew nothing about this First Order. Hell, he barely knew anything about the Imperial Remnant in his own galaxy. When Daphne was on leave, they didn't discuss her work, they didn't discuss his work; consequently, he was about as well informed of the actions of the New Republic Navy as any non-military spouse whose partner in the military knew how to keep their mouths shut.

Something was seriously wrong here.

He didn't straighten up when the door of his cell opened and the one they called Finn came into the room, setting down a plate with a slice of bread and a small mass of something green, and a cup of water. He flicked his eyes upward at the man as he sat down, then back at the plate.

“You need to eat that.” Finn stated, in a tone that was much calmer than most of the people he'd encountered as of late.

Tigris set his hands on the table, picking up the bread and tearing it in half, using the hard crust as a spoon. “Thank you.”

“You're welcome.” He let out a breath. “I'll be honest. There's only around six or seven people around here who know you have nothing to do with the First Order. Myself included. Not to mention that while it's a big galaxy, it's not that big.”

He ate a mouthful of the green stuff; it tasted of imitation vegetables and the texture reminded him of the gruel his father used to feed him. When his father fed him. “It's big until you have to hide. And even when you find a place to take shelter, the struggle to hold what is yours begins all over again.” He ate another bite of the food.

“Your daughter mentioned someone called the Yuuzhan Vong. She didn't offer a lot of details on them.” He cleared his throat. “Quite frankly, from what little I heard, I don't think I want to.”

He took a sip of water, letting himself relax, if only a little. “A war that left three hundred sixty five trillion sentient beings in the galaxy dead? Not exactly the stuff of bedtime stories for a seven year old, or anyone, for that matter. And that's just the estimate.” He slid the bread through a portion of the green stuff. “Leave the aftermath of one war to fall into another.” Tigris chuckled. “And here I became a professor just so I could be left bloody alone.”

Across the table, Finn swallowed hard. “That's a lot of people.” He glanced away, only for a moment, then back at him, clearly trying to compose himself. “Forgive me if this sounds... off, but I thought inter-species uh... reproduction was impossible.”

Tigris smirked over the rim of his cup. “Even when you're blind to it, if the Force wants something, the Force gets it. For all is as the Force wills it.”

“Well, the Force has a sick sense of humor then.” the man retorted. “Or why else does it allow such wretched things to happen?”

“Suffering must exist in order for joy to have any value.” He set the cup down and picked up the second crust of bread, scooping what was left of the green sludge onto the other. “The Force demands balance. Or have you never stopped to ask yourself why there are so many planets with just one sort of climate and so few with one that is varied?”

“I haven't exactly had the time or the opportunity to do such things.” Finn watched him eat for a few moments, and he was reminded of students he'd had in his classes; students who had clearly known the answer to a question, but refused to raise their hands. He set the remaining crust of bread down, folding his hands and looking over at the youth. “What?”

“You want to go home.” Tigris replied. “And you can tell yourself that this is your home now, but you know where it really is.”

Finn inhaled sharply. “I don't know what you're talking about.”

“I think you do.” He took another drink of water, then looked back at the plate. “The Vong came and swept through the Outer Rim, crushing planet after planet, moving system by system.” He lifted his eyes, looking straight into Finn's. “The suns of Tatooine rise and set in the same way, but the star that rises over Corellia has changed.”

The door behind Finn opened and another man came into the room; leaning against the door and folding his arms. Tigris realized he knew the face; the way he had known Skywalker's and Organa's. He shot a look at the uniform and insignia and bit at the corner of his lip before speaking. “Good afternoon, Major Dameron.”

“Wait, you know who I am?” the man shot a look at Finn, who looked equally stunned. “Did you tell him?”

“No. Why would I?” He looked back at Tigris. “How do you know the major?”

He let himself grin. “I do not know anyone named Major Poe Dameron. I know someone named Vice Admiral Poe Dameron. He's on the Darklighter, wherever it is.” he picked up his cup of water and drained it, hiding his smirk at the look of shock on the other man's face.

*

Bosha unlocked one of the few empty homes on away and stepped inside, coughing in the stale air. When she had woken up this morning, all she knew that she had to do today was start cleaning one of the empty homes. She never questioned why; it was something that had happened all to often in her life. She stepped into the main room, setting down her cleaning supplies and went over to the small kitchenette, turning on the faucet to check the water connection. It spluttered for a moment before gushing with the same pressure all of the sinks had. She shut the water off and then looked into the fresher, checking the water there as well. “Don't lurk.”

“I'm a Force Ghost, aren't I supposed to do that?” Anakin Solo sounded petulant. “I'm not really the hurling things through the air type. I didn't even like levitating things when I was alive.”

She gave him a smile as she stepped out into the hallway, studying the connections on the main panel. “Lurking is not in your nature. The last time I caught you doing it, you sent me off to the Empire.”

“Yeah.” He leaned against the wall, watching her. “I should have found Ahsoka sooner. Or tried to find her. Something.”

“You had nothing to do with her vanishing or Ansel finding her. You also don't have a connection to her. In your galaxy, she was the apprentice of Jedi Master Jaris Crane, she never even exchanged more than two words with Anakin Skywalker and died in the Jedi Purge.” she frowned as she turned the fans on to start circulating air out and fresh air in. “I don't suppose you know why I feel the need to clean this place out, do you?”

Anakin made a face. “I'm dead, not omnipotent.” He chuckled. “That's why I'm the Watcher, I watch.”

She picked up the broom, grasping the handle tightly. “You do at that. And something tells me you've learned something that has you worried. So why don't you just fess up?” She went over to the corner and started sweeping dirt down from the ceiling. “Or should I get Aunt Nell in here?”

“No!” He laughed, looking away for a moment. “Um... there's a rip in the fabric of the galaxy. It's about...about six hours in hyperspace from here. It's far enough from the First Order that they won't find it.”

Bosha ran a hand through her hair. “Let me guess, your galaxy is on the other side.”

The Watcher nodded. “I'm about to get in over my head again.”

“Did you ever surface?” She lowered the broom, giving him a look. “What's got you worried about the rip? The Vong?”

“Not the Vong.” He shook his head. “But there's a chance that a star destroyer the New Republic I know is going to go right through it.”

The broom fell from Bosha's hands. “They won't just turn around and go back, will they?”

Anakin shook his head. “I know they won't.” He came over and stood next to her, suddenly looking ten years younger than he was.

The fear in the young man's eyes was alarming and she raised her hand, touching the side of his cheek, his form was as tangible as gossamer. “Just tell me Anakin. Why won't they just turn around and go home?”

The Watcher swallowed hard. “Because my brother Jacen is on it.”

Chapter Text

The sky was a riot of color, shades of blue, orange, purple and red went from horizon to horizon, the clouds wisps of purple; thin as contrails. There would be no rain tonight, but Ben knew that the clear weather would not hold, the remnants of the hurricane that was churning on the far ocean would be here before week's end. He leaned against the school building, arms folded as Ahsoka climbed up the gym in the playground, working on bringing strength back to her muscles without any real danger to herself or others.

She reached the top of the structure, a height of about twelve feet before she put her hands down on the beams and lifted her legs. “Don't go saying I need to be careful, Sky-kid.” she straightened, holding herself up, her toes pointed towards the sky. “I've done far more dangerous things than this.”

“I wasn't going to say anything. I'm just here to carry you back to the house if you fall and hurt yourself.” He answered, sliding down to sit on the step. “However, if all the kids are copying you tomorrow and they hurt themselves, that's another story.”

“I think the children might have a better sense of balance than I currently do.” She lowered her legs, moving slowly until she slotted them almost perfectly through the gap she'd climbed through. “I'm still trying to believe that this place survived the Empire and the aftermath.” She started to climb down, and even from this distance he could hear her small grunts of strain. “Then again, I guess it's just as hard to believe I spent forty years in a storage locker.”

He chuckled. “Well, in all fairness, the people who would have thought to look didn't know they needed to.”

“Point.” She jumped the distance to the ground, grimacing. “I don't even know why I was put into carbon freeze and left there, instead of killed.”

Ben thought for a moment. “My grandfather thought he could turn my uncle to the dark. Perhaps he had some grand delusion of not just turning him dark, but you as well, and since Aunt Bo walks in the middle, there you have a happy quartet of dark Jedi off to kill the Emperor and take over the galaxy.” He frowned. “Which is, all in all, quite a terrifying thought.”

“It never would have worked.” Ahsoka came and sat down next to him. “Although Anakin occasionally had bouts of infuriating optimism.”

He snorted. “I was informed on my second day here that my grandfather was a punk.”

“That too.” She laughed. “As he told me on my first day of training with him; following orders is one thing, and how you go about following them are two entirely different things.” She rubbed at her eyes. “I think Callie might have been wrong about how long it will take my eyesight to return. While everything is still dark, it doesn't seem as dark.”

“I couldn't tell you. The only person I know who was ever in carbon freeze was in for a year, and his eyesight got better in about five hours.” He ran a hand through his hair, not wanting to think about his father, or any of that right now.

“Well, if a year equals five...” Ahsoka stopped. “How long are the days here?”

“Twenty-six hours, or around that.” Now that he was free from the rigorous life and routine of the First Order, time had shifted in how it flowed; now if he could only start sleeping more than a couple of hours every night...

“I should have my sight back in about four days.” She smiled. “That's better than eight.”

He nodded, rubbing the back of his neck. “I don't think we'll have to leave the hospice house anytime soon. Everyone around here seems fairly healthy.” Ben grimaced as his stomach grumbled. “We should head back there, have some dinner.”

“There you two are.” A voice said and he looked up; Jaenen Danns stood there, smelling strongly of earth and his clothes were stained. “Or did you two forget that Mira invited you two to our home for dinner?”

Ben thought for a moment, trying to remember if he'd seen the girl today, and remembered. “I believe there was a passing shout as she and the other children ran past, heading for the swimming pond.”

The man looked exasperated. “I can believe that.”

He stood up and set a hand on Ahsoka's shoulder. “It's been a hot day, and she's a kid.”

“That she is.” He chuckled and waved his arm. “Come on.”

The three of them left the schoolyard, heading down the road, and he frowned when he saw Aunt Bo, who was underneath that massive peach tree, pacing back and forth, seeming to talk to no-one. Jaenen didn't even shrug; it must be a common occurrence. The Danns home was near the fork in the road, one road leading down to the river, one back up the hill towards the landing platform, and the third, off towards a field where the road turned into a path, and then vanished into the tall grass. They wiped their feet on the rag rug on the inside of the door, and the home within smelled faintly of potatoes.

“Miracle.” Jaenen's voice had a tinge of reproach in it, and the girl looked up from where she was setting the table, and she straightened up. “The next time your mother and I ask you to invite someone to our home, I expect you to do it properly.”

“Yes, dad.” the girl intoned, looking truly remorseful. She looked younger in her contriteness, even though Ben knew she was around sixteen. “I will.”

“Yes means yes, young lady.” Aunt Nell said, setting a bowl on the table.

“I know, mama.” Mira intoned and then went back towards the kitchenette.

“Wash up, the three of you.” Aunt Nell directed at Ben, before following her daughter, her steps measured and even. He put a hand on Ahsoka's back, guiding her towards the fresher. This house had more steps than theirs. Once they had cleaned their hands and faces and settled down at the table, Ben was suddenly struck with the realization that the only person currently in this house with no access to the Force was Uncle Jaenen.

The last time he could remember sitting down to a meal like this was years ago; back on the Hosnian Prime.

“You're thinking rather loudly, Spark.” Aunt Nell stated slightly, her smile gentle. “Perhaps it concerns you?”

Jaenen chuckled. “If this is about the whole Force thing, I assure you, I'm fine with it.” He smiled as he passed around a bowl of vegetables, “I hear you killed a bear this morning.”

“It wasn't entirely planned.” Ben looked at his plate. “So I'm sorry for the lack of fish.”

“I think it's pretty amazing.” Mira interjected. “No one's killed a bear in years.” She grinned. “The Twins were the last ones to do it.”

“Who?” Ahsoka put in, carefully putting a chunk of butter into her baked potato.

“The Twins. Uncles Kelsan and Kentar.” She suddenly looked embarrassed. “I'm sorry, I don't know how many people you know by now.”

“It's fine.” Ben replied, trying to remember the last gathering day, and recalled two men, around his mother's age with blond hair and green eyes. But he was certain he couldn't tell who was who. He also hadn't seen them again. “Do they hide away? I've not seen them recently.”

“Kelsan is usually watching the skies and Kentar is in the school.” Jaenen answered, offering a smile. “Care to take a few lessons?”

“I could use a class in modern galactic history.” Ahsoka stated, picking up her fork. “The Empire was still in power when I went into the carbonite.”

“We haven't left Away since Mira was around five.” Aunt Nell mused. “So our lessons in history aren't exactly extensive. The closest we have to a historian is Cheron, and he only knows what his uncle taught him.”

“We should put 'steal a library' on our to-do list.” Mira quipped, and then grinned across the table at Ben. “Know where we can get one?”

“Let me get back to you on that one.” He turned his attention to eating.

*

Rey looked over to where Oli was sleeping, lying completely unconcerned on the floor of the Falcon, a blanket lying over her. The girl hadn't rested much last night, and she wasn't going to begrudge the girl if she wanted to take a nap. She shook her head, looking back over the complex wires, double checking the inner workings, making sure that there weren't any fried ones. The last thing she needed was for the hyper-drive on this bucket of bolts to shut down. She heard footsteps heading towards her and she turned towards the galley. “Hello?”

“Afternoon.” Finn stood there, holding a container. “Thought you two might need a snack.”

“I can always eat, you know that.” She lifted herself out of the compartment, grabbing a rag to wipe her hands. “Oli, time for tea.”

The little girl curled up for a moment before rising to a sit, yawning and rubbing her eyes. “I didn't mean to fall asleep, Miss Rey.”

“It's fine, and I've told you, you can just call me Rey.” She shot a look at Finn. “Have a seat.”

Finn chuckled as he sat down on the floor with the pair of them, setting the container down. “How go the repairs?” He opened the container, revealing a few sandwiches and two pieces of fruit.

“Most everything is working, if you can call it that.” She took one of the sandwich halves and Oli took another, nibbling on it slowly, not looking at her or Finn. “I can't get everything back to factory condition, that's impossible, not without replacing two-thirds of everything in here, and I wouldn't know where to begin, short of the Corellian Scrapyards.”

“Corellia is crawling with the First Order, bad idea.” He answered, shaking his head. “Bakura's under occupation.” He rubbed the back of his neck and looked over at Oli. “You ever been here?”

She shook her head. “Vong.” She looked at her sandwich. “What's the First Order?”

“Sort of like the Empire, but instead of the emperor, there's a supreme leader.” Finn replied. “Or if there is an emperor, I don't know who it would be.”

“Maybe he's just waiting until he has all of the galaxy before he declares himself such.” Rey took a large bite of sandwich, watching the girl, who ate with a little more deliberation. “Is there anything like that where you're from?”

Oli gave her a hard look. “You shouldn't talk with your mouth full. It's impolite.”

Finn snorted and Rey shot him a look of disdain as she struggled to chew up the rest of her bite, covering her mouth so it wouldn't fall out. A blush was rising in her face and while she knew that she shouldn't talk and eat, years of solitude had left her with few social manners. “You'll have to excuse Rey, Oli. Manners were not a primary teaching on Jakku.”

“Not funny.” She seethed at her friend. “Like yours are any better.”

“I have fairly decent manners.” He winked at Oli. “I even remember to wash my hands after I use the fresher.”

“People who don't do that are gross.” the little girl pipped up, then looked from Rey to Finn. “Are you two married? You argue like you are.”

“No.” Rey recovered as Finn fell over, laughing. “Finn and I are just good friends. He's my first friend, actually.”

“Oh, okay.” She paused for a moment. “There's the Imperial Remnant, but they just stay in their part of space, sort of like how the Hapans stay in their corner of the galaxy. Basically, everyone's just trying to recover from the war.” She went back to eating.

“We don't have any Hapans.” He coughed, clearing his throat. “However, I've learned that not only does Oli's galaxy have a General Organa and Luke Skywalker, they have their own Poe Dameron as well.”

“Is that Mr. Poe's last name?” The little girl blinked. “I didn't know he was the same person as Vice Admiral Dameron. Must be because the vice admiral keeps his hair short and knows how to shave.” She took up her other sandwich half.

Finn looked ready to have a fit of hysterics and Rey was tempted to join him. “Poe so needs to hear that.”

“You tell him, not me.” She set her own food down. “I think Skywalker might be heading down to the block soon. Finn, would you take Oli to him and see if maybe, just maybe, those goons guarding the cells will let her see her dad?” There was a silent plea in her words; she liked the girl well enough, but she just needed a handful of hours to be alone.

“Sure.” He grinned and stood, offering the little girl a hand-up. “We'll see you at dinner then?”

She nodded and handed Oli one of the pieces of fruit. “See you in a little while, okay?”

“Okay.” Oli squeezed Finn's hand as the two of them walked out of the cabin area, leaving her alone, their conversation to soft for her to make it out clearly.

Rey frowned as she heard the pair exit the ship; she hadn't really noticed it before, but the floor of the passageway near the ramp sounded off. She hurried up the corridor, slowing down as she got near the ramp and, when she was on the second panel from the front, jumped once on the square of metal; the thump sounded hollow. She crouched down on the floor, and worked her nails into the groove between panels, and it moved. Gritting her teeth, she raised it up, moving it slowly up and out of place. Of course. Han Solo had been a smuggler, this was most likely where he'd hidden the goods.

The compartment wasn't very large, perhaps five feet deep and seven feet wide. She shoved the floor covering over enough so she could lower herself inside, remembering the story of how this ship had been taken aboard the first Death Star, and how Han, Luke, and the others had hidden inside. After years of it being on Jakku, she didn't expect there to be anything of value inside, but as she reached the bottom, her foot dislodged something, shoving it away from the wall and towards the center.

“Maybe Unkar hid money in here.” She crouched down and found a metal box, about the same size as one used to carry tools. When she picked it up, it wasn't heavy, and something thumped inside of it. She felt an odd tingling up her arms as she set the box on the galley floor and then lifted herself out of the compartment, sitting on the edge. It couldn't be Plutt's – he'd have never fit into the small space. If it was credits, there couldn't be too many of them. Rey took a breath and undid the small latches, lifting the lid.

Her heart fell somewhere down around her ankles.

This was almost like opening that crate on Takkonda and finding the lightsaber. Inside the box there was a doll, lying on a bed of what looked like holosnaps. She picked the toy up, even more confused. The doll was wearing a pretty blue and green gown, with gray eyes that opened and shut, and its blonde hair was in braids. She sniffed, catching a hint of faded soap; someone had cleaned the toy before putting it away. Whose doll was this? How long had it been in there? It didn't make sense that it could belong to the General. Any toys of her childhood were no doubt long gone, destroyed when Alderaan was. It also looked a little too new, She set the doll down and picked up one of the holosnaps, showing a girl of maybe five, with curly brown hair and familiar brown eyes standing in brown leaves, wearing a green dress and smiling up at whomever was taking the picture. “Guess it's your doll then... but who are you?”

She picked up another picture and her heart turned to ice.

Four faces beamed out at her from the picture; Han Solo, General Organa, Kylo Ren – Ben Solo – his age around fourteen or fifteen, and the little girl, wearing the exact same dress as she had been in the first. All of them in that mass of brown leaves, grinning at whomever was holding the camera – Luke, Threepio, a random passerby – someone capturing a perfect moment – of a clearly happy day of a happy family.

*

Ahsoka lay in bed, sleep the thing she wanted more than anything and the one thing that was impossible. She folded her arms over her chest, listening to the house settle around her. Through the vents, she could hear the even snores of Ben down the hall, and she hoped the young man's sleep was deep. It felt rather strange to call him that, when they were currently the same age physically; she certainly didn't feel seventy-five.

No. She felt that age, it just didn't seem possible to her that she was that age.

A howl somewhere outside caused her to sit up, holding the blanket to her chest. Another followed, and soon, the night was alive with the sound. She knew that wolves changed their pitch, to make it sound like there were more of them than there actually were – but the way the cries were coming, there had to be at least half a dozen, if not more. She swallowed hard as deep one came, seemingly from just on the other side of the wall.

“They can't harm you. They can't get through the doors.” A voice came from the foot of her bed. It sounded like Ben – but – younger. “Sorry, didn't mean to startle you.”

“Who's there?” She reached out, not with her hand, but with the Force, and she felt something – but it was insubstantial; something that wasn't quite there. “What...” She frowned. “The Watcher?”

“You say it like that and it sounds stupid.” the boy chuckled. “Well, I was the practical one of my siblings, which is funny considering I'm the youngest.”

She frowned. “No one has exactly explained who you are. Not even Ben.”

“That's because Ben's got enough to sort out, and in all honesty, it's not as if you've asked.” She could hear his grin, even though she couldn't see it. “Then again, you grew up being told there was no why, only do.”

She gave him a look, and heard him laugh. “So who are you?”

“I'm... well, I'm from another reality. If you want to get technical, Ben and I would be brothers.” He let out a sigh and she sensed he moved closer to her, sitting down right next to her. “May I take this opportunity to say that you are one amazing badass, Miss Tano?” He chuckled. “The you from where I came from wasn't Anakin Skywalker's apprentice, so there is no connection between myself and her.”

Ahsoka frowned, leaning back against the headboard, noting that he'd used the term apprentice, instead of padawan. Perhaps that was another difference. “That's rather hard to fathom.” She shook her head. “I take it that means she died in the Purge.”

“She did.” He let out a breath. “Bosha died as an infant in the Kel-Des fire.” There was a brush against her hand. “There's much that differs from here and there. I suppose no one has told you just how in over my head I am in all of this.”

“No.” She hugged herself, “I don't even understand what you've done in the first place.”

“I started out trying to just save someone – and well, in my plan I made the Force a constant, instead of the variable that it is.” He sighed. “I should have known I was in for it the day Bo met Palpatine, when she was three.”

She blanched. “I still don't understand why she wasn't killed. I saw what she did to that shipyard. That's a public execution level of crime.”

“My Apprentice is nothing if not an amazing actress. She had nearly every single Jedi on the high council, including Master Yoda that she really slightly off center. She convinced Sheev Palpatine of the danger of the Yuuzhan Vong, even though they don't exist here. Stated she knew how to get rid of their ability to be blind to the Force.” He let out a long breath. “That's why she lived; so that when the Vong came, she could do so – and the reason she knows how to do it is because I told her. Because that's what got me killed.”

“How old are you?” She paused. “Or rather, how old were you when you did that?”

“Seventeen.” He answered, sighing. “and my name's Anakin.”

She frowned as another symphony of howls echoed around them from outside. “How many wolves are really out there?”

“Nine. Don't worry, everyone's safe inside and the goats are well guarded.” Anakin chuckled. “How about I just start at the beginning, and then you can start asking questions when we get to the part where you came in, the first time.”

“Cheeky.” She smirked. “I don't suppose I've been given a clever nickname, have I?”

“No, well, not apart from the Last Padawan.” He coughed – strange for a Force ghost to cough. “You're another variable the Force has thrown into this. I was just trying to save some people strong in the Force, maybe save some of the better methods of the Jedi Order, and then....” He made a frustrated noise. “In over my head and now I can't even see the surface.”

Ahsoka snorted. “A Skywalker in over his head? There's something I've never heard or seen before.”

*

Oli kept her face perfectly calm as she walked down the long corridor, holding onto Master Skywalker's hand tightly, completely unfazed by the feel of his metal fingers around hers, hoping that finally, finally, they'd let her see her papa. It'd been several days, and she knew that Papa had to be worried about her. She froze when she heard a scream coming from the direction of his cell, she automatically squeezed her companion's hand and he stopped, crouching down to her level.

“This is going to stop Oli. You don't need to be afraid.” Master Skywalker smiled and ruffled her hair. “This has gone on long enough.” He took her hands in both of his, glancing up towards the guards, then back at her. “Chin up, all right?”

She nodded, managing a smile. “Eyes bright.”

He returned the smile and stood, and, still holding onto her hand, they came to the end of the detention block. “Miss Firrerre will be visiting her father now.” He said to the two uniformed men, one of whom was looking down at her like she was a bug he wanted to crush.

“No visitors, that's the order.” The other guard said. “Don't care who you are.”

Oli cleared her throat. “May I please see my dad?” She looked up at him. “It doesn't have to be for very long.”

“No, kid, you can't.” The mean-faced one retorted, “And I...” His eyes suddenly turned glassy and he slumped down the wall, and then the second guard followed suit.

She looked up at Master Skywalker, who had an amused look on his face. “They were very grumpy and needed a time out.” He winked. “Wait here for a minute, okay?”

“Okay.” She clasped her hands behind her back as he opened the door, not letting it shut behind him. She couldn't see much in the room, other than a large droid that was hovering over someone, and General Organa, who looked even more grumpy than the guards ever did.

“Leia, what the hell is this?” Master Luke's voice caused her to jump.

“I'm trying to get answers.” She spat and Oli retreated away from the door, leaning against the wall. “It's some kind of hoax, I'm telling you, why can't you....” There was a metallic crash; it must have been the droid. “Luke, why did you?”

Enough.” The Jedi said, and she could tell he was trying to keep his temper. “Can't you see what you're doing to him? He's not a human, Leia. He's something that doesn't exist in our galaxy. You don't know what the long-term affects might be!”

“I don't think it matters.” This lady didn't sound like the nice Leia Organa-Solo Oli knew – she sounded almost the exact opposite. She took a step forward, looking into the small room and saw her father, heaving for breath in a chair.

“Papa!” She didn't wait to be asked to come inside, she ran into the room, throwing her arms around him. “Papa, I've missed you!”

Her father blinked, his eyes looked funny; unfocused. “Are they feeding you?”

“Yes, papa.” she answered, looking down at his arms; he was bound to the chair. She turned and gave General Organa a mean look; she knew it was wrong, but tying her papa up was wrong too. “What's wrong with him?”

“Nothing.” The General replied and then there was a metallic click, and then her father's arms were free, pulling her into a tight embrace, and Oli let out a sigh of relief, closing her eyes. “Why did you do that?”

“This has gone on too long, Leia. You know it has.” Skywalker's voice was tired; tired in the way the Luke Skywalker she knew voice was. “Can't you see that?”

“I'm trying to protect freedom in the galaxy, Luke. If Mr. Firrerre knows anything....”

“He would have told you by now.” this made her father let go and the two of them faced the Skywalker twins, and Oli glanced over at her dad, who had the oddest look on his face. “Why can't you accept the truth of this?”

“Because, it makes no sense! If this was real, then someone would know about it!” The general covered her eyes, “Please, try to understand...”

“You're blinded.” Papa's voice was so soft, if she hadn't been standing right next to him, Oli wouldn't have heard him speak. “Whatever is out there in the dark, whatever you're fighting, it's blinded you.”

“How would you know that? You're Force Blind yourself.” She countered.

“So I am. I also know of a Leia Organa-Solo who, when someone or something threatened her children, would tear the galaxy apart to stop it – and did.” He nudged Oli, and she reluctantly let go of him and he stood, his legs trembling slightly. “You can't see it, because you're used to it. You didn't even know when it started, and now, now it's normal to you.”

Skywalker looked from them to his sister, and he had a strange look on his face as well. “What are you saying, exactly?”

Papa looked pained. “I'm saying that when your child tells you there's a monster under their bed, in their closet, hiding in the fresher, you don't tell them there's no such things as monsters, you bloody check.” He grasped the chair. “And you know damn well that there are monsters, no matter how much you wish there weren't.”

“Leia, he's right.” Skywalker took a breath. “You can't keep doing this, and we're wasting time. The First Order already knows where we are, we're lucky that we've been able to remain here this long.”

“Oh, you're one to talk!” She fired back, and it was kind of scary, Oli grasped her father's hand, wanting the argument to end.

“You know why I left.” Skywalker's voice was even. “That was my mistake. We all made the same mistake. You, me, Han – we're all to blame.” He turned and looked at two of them. “And these two aren't connected to the Captain Phasma of the First Order. You know they're not.” He looked back at his sister. “Or do you honestly believe, as a mother, that another mother would throw her child to the wolves, when they're clearly a happy family?”

Oli folded her arms, wrinkling her nose. “Finally, one of you sound like you're supposed to.”

Papa coughed. “Manners, honey.” he ran a hand through his hair and she could see cuts on his arms. “I told you things would be different here. I just didn't realize how different.”

Skywalker frowned, looking from them to his sister. “Professor, do you know where Away is?”

“Seventh star to the right and straight on through the dawn.” He answered, smiling. “But you already knew that, didn't you?”

“For Maker's sake, there is no such place as Away!” The general interjected.

“Everywhere I go, I find students who ask the wrong questions.” Papa muttered. “Why can they never ask the right ones?”

“Too much holonet.” Skywalker countered, shaking his head.

Oli exchanged a look with her father before she spoke again. “What's the holonet?”

 

*

Being the sole Force-sensitive person on a craft with thousands on board was rather isolating. Jacen Solo hadn't exactly planned on rendezvousing with the Darklighter, but with a fried hyper-drive on his X-Wing, he was lucky he even found a ship to pick him up. He really wished Jania was here. She might be able to figure out why both his and the star destroyers navigational systems were kaput. Letting out a long breath, he leaned against the wall of his room, willing himself to relax.

He hadn't told his family the real reason he'd run off to the Unknown Regions; they were all grieving in their own way, and while the old Jacen would have remained with his family, he wasn't that boy anymore. The war against the Vong had destroyed far too much, and it wasn't over. The monsters had retreated to this part of the galaxy and he just wanted them gone. While he knew that it wouldn't bring his brother back, wouldn't bring anyone back – it might, just might bring him peace.

“Peace is for the dead, and even that's not a guarantee.” A young voice intoned, not so much in his head as in his ears.

He opened his eyes, blinking in surprise. Sitting in front of him was a girl; a young girl – no more than five. She blinked at him, and he saw that her form was like that of a Force spirit, ethereal and yet, oddly opaque, and he was tempted to reach out and see if he could actually touch her. The more he looked at her, the more familiar she started to look – the cheekbones, the hair – this girl looked more like his mother than his twin sister did. “Aren't you a little young for a Jedi?”

The girl folded her arms, lifting her chin, her look nothing short of impish. “Aren't you a little clean shaven for a Solo?”

Jacen spluttered. “Who are you? How do you know who I am?”

She tucked her knees under her chin, making an odd face, one he'd strangely seen on his brother's face when he had tried to explain things. “I know who you are because the Watcher told me.” Her expression changed, and she titled her head to the side. “You're stumbling down a dangerous path, Jacen Solo. One you shouldn't be on.”

“What do you know of paths?” He retorted, “you're just a kid.”

The girl's whole demeanor changed and she stood up, folding her arms. “I'd be twenty this year if I hadn't been murdered.” She glowered. “Dead and forced to watch my big brother fall down into darkness and no one listened to him scream. But I heard.” She stood up, her eyes alight. “Me, the Watcher, the Lark, the Wayfarer, even the Apprentice knew. The people who needed to see didn't until it was too late.”

He looked up at her, resting one hand on his knee, his mind trying to put things together. This was all some insane dream, surely. “What's your name, young lady?”

“I like my Watcher given name – I'm the Ember.” She moved closer, so they were almost forehead to forehead. “But my mama named me after her mother, and a great heroine of the Rebellion. Breha Jyn Organa Solo.”

Chapter Text

Rather than confront anyone about the box, Rey put it back where she had found it. Judging from the pictures, the girl in the photograph would now be the same age as her; and given that she'd seen no sign of another Solo running around, the only logical conclusion was that she was dead. She closed the smuggling compartment, but she could still see the child's sweet smile looking up at her in the same manner she had looked up at the photographer. It took all her resolve not to haul the lid back off the compartment and take the box straight to General Organa. She stepped away from the compartment and went back into the main hold and got back to work.

Fixing things were a good distraction.

“Rey? Are you still in here?” Poe's voice called out towards her and she looked up towards the galley. “Rey?”

“I'm here!” She answered and a moment later, the pilot appeared, looking a little harried. “What's wrong?”

“An evacuation of the base has been scheduled. Thought you ought to go to the debriefing so you can get your clearance time.” He slid a hand through his hair. “Although where we're all going, I don't know. There's not many places left to go.”

She lifted herself out of the cable space and onto the floor. “We are sort of sitting banthas here on D'Qar. The fact that the First Order has given us this much time without attacking means they're still reeling from Starkiller.” They walked out of the Falcon. “Either that, or they want to lull us into a false sense of security.”

“I don't like it.” Poe replied. “I definitely don't like sitting here waiting for something to happen. I'd rather be gone and safe than sit here waiting for an attack that's not a case of if, but when.” He gave her a sideways look. “Not that I'm shirking duty, but I believe this is a case of it's better to fly than wait to fight.”

Rey chuckled. “I know what you mean, Poe. If it was just combatants here, it's be one thing, but this place has the bulk of the support staff as well. Strategists, mechanics, intelligence... “ She shook her head. “In truth, I was surprised to return from Ach-to and find that the Resistance hadn't left.” They went into the hangar, and she stopped short; Master Luke was waiting for them at the door, with Oli next to him. “I'll catch up.” She said to her friend as she went over to the pair. “What is it?”

“We have been ordered to get out of here now.” He had a bemused look on his face. “Apparently, it's frowned upon to use the Force to make two guards take a nap.” He ruffled Oli's hair. “They're dividing up the crew here, so it will take them some time to get organized. I want you to go back to your room, gather your things and then take Oli to the Falcon, and get ready to leave. Finn's going to come and help you get loaded.”

“What about you?” She noticed that the little girl looked much better than she had in a while; it wasn't surprising, given how much she wanted to see her father.

“I'm in charge of loose ends.” He gave her a slight wink. “Artoo will be joining you shortly to run diagnostics on all the systems, make sure that the hyper-drive doesn't give out on us again, as it tends to.”

“How many are going with us?” Rey moved so she was standing right next to him, watching the pilots file past them and into the debriefing room.

“There will be six of us in total, plus Artoo.” He answered and she felt Oli take her hand, the girl's fingers were cold against her palm. “I'm not certain how long it will take us to get where we're going. But make sure we're fully fueled.” He stepped away, leaving her alone with the little girl.

“I'm starting to like him more than the other Master Skywalker.” Oli murmured. “We have work to do.”

Rey smothered a chuckle and led the girl deeper into the base, heading for her quarters. “You know, when all of this is over, we should go see Coruscant. I've never been and yours is destroyed. What do you think?”

“I'd like that.” The girl replied, and she sensed that the girl picked up on her mood, and was responding in kind. “My daddy will want to see Naboo. Just to say he's seen it. Kind of like how if you had a time machine, you might go back to see Alderaan.”

“The Force makes time travel impossible. Which is why I don't understand how the Watcher got here in the first place, if he had to go back in time to do it.” She stopped outside the door of her room. “Then again, he's dead, so maybe the rules don't apply to him.”

“Maybe.” they went into the room, and she looked around. “What should I do?”

Rey glanced at her meager possessions and then went over to the closet, hauling out a canvas bag. “Go into the fresher, and pack up everything you see in there that you can that would be useful. Put towels in first, okay?”

Oli nodded. “Okay.” She ducked past her and went into the small room as Rey got out a second bag and started shoving her clothes into it. There weren't many, and when she was done, she dropped the bag next to the door and then rolled up the bedclothes, including the pillows. There was a soft clatter in the fresher and she turned towards the door.

“Oli, are you okay in there?” She called.

“I had to climb on the sink to reach the cabinet above it, I'm nowhere near as tall as you.” She replied. “There's not much in here.”

“I know, simple living.” She replied, tying up her bundle. “Be careful, okay?”

“I am.” There was a thud. “I'm fine, I just jumped down, that's all.” There was another series of odd noises and Rey was about to investigate when the girl came out of the fresher. “I think I got everything.” She offered up the bag. “You wanna double check?”

Rey set down the bundle of blankets on the floor and took it from her, noting that the girl had packed pretty much anything that hadn't been fastened down from the other room; from her hairbrush to the standard issue tube of bacta and pain tablets. “Good job.” She gave the girl a slight hug. “One last thing.” She went over to her dresser and opened the bottom drawer, dropping the portions she'd smuggled out from the mess hall into the bag, then glanced up at her. “Don't tell anyone I have these. It's not that I stole them, I just...”

“Someone starved you.” The girl answered, her face solemn. “So you keep food for just in case.”

She sighed and nodded, closing the bag, then realized something else about the girl's father. Every time she'd seen the two together, his first question had always been to ask if she was being fed. Almost as if he was certain that was a punishment that was regularly meted out. The kind of question you didn't ask, unless you yourself had been starved. “You think we can find a pear?” She remembered the girl's statement about what the Thandu woman was waiting for and handed the bag back to her. “Can you carry this back to the Falcon?”

“Uh huh. Maybe it's the other kind of pair.” Oli shouldered the bag and then looked around, and instantly took up the one containing their clothes.

Rey put on the harness that held her staff and then picked up the bedding. “You mean as in two persons, instead of the fruit?” She shook her head. “I don't know how that would work out.” she looked around the room one last time and then they started out into the empty hallway.

“Well...” Oli bit at her bottom lip. “If you grew up there, and Finn wasn't Finn until he went there, and left Jakku as Finn, with you – wouldn't the two of you technically be a pair from Jakku?”

She shook her head, chuckling. “How is it you figure these things out, Oli?" The girl did have a point.

“I told you. My parents don't talk to me like I'm stupid just because I'm a kid.” she made a face. “Although sometimes I can't sit at the dinner table with them when Important People come over, but I understand that. Because my parents opinion isn't the same as others in regards to kids. But that doesn't happen very often because my mom and dad don't usually have guests for dinner when they're together.” She wrinkled her nose.

“Because that's something they don't get a lot of, because they both work a lot, right?” They came outside and walked quickly over to the Falcon, where Finn was already waiting, supervising their refueling. “Oli, don't take this the wrong way, but you are one strange little girl.”

“Thank you.” She answered with a grin.

*

The morning was already warm when Ben and Ahsoka finished breakfast. Today, they were going as part of the group into the woods for berry gathering. Since he wasn't allowed to monitor the skies above, and since he knew next to nothing about farming, his job on the expedition was to serve as added protection for the group from any predators who might be lurking about or trailing them. Given the size of the bear he'd killed the other day and that there were wolves that were more dangerous than the bears, he could see the point clearly.

“The fresh air does more for my health than anything, I think.” Ahsoka cut into his thoughts. “I think it's doing you a galaxy of good as well.”

Ben finished lacing up his boots, nodding. “It's – it's strange to actually see results of your work daily. Well, positive things. I don't think I've spent so much time outdoors in years.” He stood up. “Although I'd rather hoped that a full day's work would do something for my sleeping issues.”

“Did the wolves wake you up too?” She asked as they went outside, and she kept a hand on his sleeve as he closed the door and they went towards the road.

“No, well – not until the end of it.” He looked down into the grass and caught sight of a paw print in the dirt. “And something tells me they're huge.” He crouched down and saw her do the same. “Here.” He took her wrist and set her hand in the mark. Their two hands together only just filled it. “They have to be taller than you.”

“I wouldn't be surprised.” She pushed herself up, using his shoulder for leverage. “So how long did you lie in bed last night?”

“A few hours. I'm used to it, Aunt Snips.” He sighed, running a hand through his hair. He'd long accepted that a sleepless night was better than night terrors. “A lifetime of nightmares, you'd think I'd have found a way to handle them at my age.”

“After what you told me about Snoke, I'm amazed you can sleep at all. And furthermore, the fact that it took him twenty-three years to get you to fall to the dark side, says something about your fortitude.” They went up to the main road, where several of the other residents were already waiting; Aunt Bo was among them, along with Jora and a man who looked to be around sixty. “Good morning.” Ahsoka paused, and Ben saw her fix her sightless gaze on the man who's name he couldn't recall. “You must be Cheron.”

The man smiled, chuckling. “If it isn't the infamous Ahsoka Tano.” they started down the road, the man walking next to them. He looked to be around Aunt Nell's age, with red hair that was streaked with gray. If he hadn't known otherwise, Ben might have thought them siblings.

“I don't know if that's really true.” Aunt Snips laughed, shaking her head.

“Oh it is.” Ben interjected, grinning. “I know of retired Imperials who check under their beds at night just to make sure you're not down there waiting for them before they go to sleep.” The statement wasn't a complete lie, but he had heard her name whispered among the First Order and the Knights of Ren like a ghost story. Since she had technically disappeared, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility.

She made a face. “I spend forty years in carbon freeze and become more notorious than I was in the previous thirty. I don't know if I should be flattered or annoyed.”

“You can be both.” Aunt Bo stated as they all started moving down the road towards the bridge. She seemed rather pensive in Ben's mind; something had happened the other day, and she was doing her best not to think about it. “That's what I usually was when I was referred to the half-crazy Jedi.”

Ahsoka snickered. “If you weren't crazy before the Empire caught you, you certainly would be somewhat off after technically being locked up in a madman's basement.”

“That's a speeder of another color, Ahsoka.” Bo replied and they crossed the bridge, “and one it's too early in the morning to discuss.”

Cheron leaned towards them. “Jedi's the insult. She doesn't mind being half-crazy.”

“I thought we were all crazy here.” Ben interjected, laughing as they took the path that went up the hill, rather than along the riverbank. “At least to some degree.”

“I'll not argue there.” Ahsoka sighed. “I can almost see how Jedi would be an insult.”

The group spread out into a long line of three across, with wide gaps between each trio. The youngest person in the group was Mira, who was walking close to the front with her father. Ben supposed that most of the children were kept in the Settlement. The ins and outs of the place he was still trying to figure out. The third member of their trio was Cheron, and when he glanced down at the man, he noted that he had two lightsabers hanging from his belt. One had a standard size hilt, and the other was longer; a saber-staff.

“That reminds me, Ahsoka. My uncle always wanted to tell you that what the Order did to you was bullshit.” Cheron sighed. “And it was one of the primary reasons he left.”

“Master Illhum never was one to raise his voice.” She shook her head. “And since he never had a chance of sitting on the council, it wasn't like they would have listened to him in the first place if he had.”

Ben ducked his head. “You'd have had to be an idiot to think the charges were true.”

“Times were different then.” Cheron shook his head. “And like my uncle also stated – the Jedi were blinded not just to the Dark Side, but by the Light. You stare into a sun long enough, and you will lose your vision. In a dark room, your eyes will eventually adjust.”

“Dark is bad. Light is good.” Ben intoned in a sing-song voice.

“Another sarcastic Skywalker” Aunt Snips muttered. “Exactly how many of them are there now? I want to be prepared.”

“If we count the Watcher, it's four.” Cheron stated. “But he's not that sarcastic.”

“No, he's just in over his head, and we're all along for the swim.” Kyp called from behind them. “That reminds me, you two do know how to swim, right?”

Ben looked back at him. “Of course we do. Although I haven't done it in a while.”

“We should go for a swim sometime soon. Part of rehab.” Ahsoka nodded. “And I can't actually remember the last time I went for a swim, maybe a dozen or so years before I went into the carbonite. Well, it's been at least that long since I went for a swim by choice.” She managed a weak laugh as they entered the woods.

*

Finn dropped his bedding and Rey's in the crew cabin of the Falcon, deciding that it was the most practical place for it. Rey had sent him back into the base to gather his own things and she'd oversee the refueling – and it was a surprising contrast between the Rey now, who couldn't wait to leave, and the one he first met; the one who wanted to stay where she was. The sense of urgency she felt was bleeding into him as he set his bag down next to hers, and a moment later, Oli appeared carrying a bag nearly as big as she was on her back. “What's in there?” He helped her get out of the straps and set it next to the rest of the cargo, deciding that they could get things adjusted once they were underway. At least Tig and the girl didn't have much to pack.

“It's the General's. Master Skywalker told me to take it, because she's coming with us.” The little girl made a face. “Although how he's going to convince her to come along I don't know.”

“An immovable object and an unstoppable force, those two.” He chuckled, then looked around the small compartment that was now rather full. “I asked Rey about the cargo hold, and she said we're traveling light, so we can go further on less fuel. Makes sense, but it just means we're going to be cramped in here. There's going to be six of us, plus Artoo.” He took the bag back up and set it on one of the beds. “Not to mention having these in here is convenient.”

The two of them walked out of the quarters and into the main bay. “Finn, they didn't tell me, but what's the holonet?” Oli rubbed her nose. “Master Skywalker used that word, but I've never heard of it.”

Finn did his best not to stare. “You don't have the holonet in your galaxy?” That was like saying Coruscant was nothing but farmland. “How do you share information from system to system?”

“Satellites, radios.” She rubbed her nose. “Well, there's a galactic database, but that's limited to the military and government.”

He let out a breath; at least the girl had a vague idea of what the holonet might be. “Well, the holonet's sort of like a database, only anyone can access most of it. It doesn't just have communication, it has history, culture... pretty much everything.”

“So it's kind of like a massive library?” The two of them went over to the galley and they started putting the food kits away.

“Yeah.” He figured that was as good of an explanation as any. “Although you can't believe everything you read on there.” He ruffled her hair. “But I'm guessing you could figure that one out on your own.”

The girl grinned at him. “I wish there was a Finn in my galaxy. You're nice.”

He ducked his head and looked back into the cabinet they were filling. He wasn't certain how many similar people there were between this galaxy and hers – and the fact that it even existed was unsettling. “Maybe there is, and you just haven't met me. Or I have a different name.” He let out a breath. “I might even have my real name, Poe's the one who named me Finn.” He gave her a half smile. “I used to be a storm trooper. I had a designation number instead of a name. F-N two one eight seven – and now I'm Finn.”

She handed him the last of the food kits. “And you fight for the Resistance, which is sort of like the Republic, but not really?”

He nodded. “Our galaxy's a mess, in political standards.”

“Politics is a messy business. Mama says that all the Senate is really good at is arguing in a circle.” She took up the bag that the rations had been in and stuffed into another compartment while he shut the door. “I think they still haven't sorted out all the problems left over from the Old Republic, and that was over half a century ago.”

“I wouldn't be surprised.” He stood up just as the unmistakable sound of the engines starting up echoed around them. “You touch anything?”

She shook her head just as Rey came into view, who nodded in acknowledgment and headed for the cockpit. “I've got a bad feeling about this.”

Finn frowned, then looked over at Artoo, who let out a series of whistles. “How's your binary, Oli?”

She waved her hand from side to side. “Only thing I understood was we're leaving.”

“And we are.” Skywalker interjected from the other side of the room. Standing next to him was Tig, who had General Organa, clearly unconscious, thrown over his shoulder. “Tig, take my sister and put her in the crew's quarters. Oli, I want you to stay with her, all right?”

The girl nodded and went with her father.

“Are we going to get an explanation for all this?” Finn gave the Jedi a wary look.

“We've got plenty of time for that.” He set a hand on his arm and they went towards the cockpit. “For now, we just need to get out of here.”

“What, did you just kidnap the General, or something?” He quipped, grinning, his smile slowly faltering as he saw the look on the other man's face.

“Or something.” He answered, as Tig came back and they all went into the cockpit. The professor slid into the copilot's seat, flipping switches, his expression perfectly calm as Skywalker sat down behind him and Finn took up the chair behind Rey.

“Do we even know where we're going?” Through the front screen, he could see pilots heading for various crafts, almost all of them carrying something – and he thought he saw BB-eight heading for Poe's X-wing, but it was hard to tell in the scuffle.

“Out of here, to start.” Rey answered, and pulled on a lever, the craft starting to rise. “It's estimated that the First Order is going to be here in four hours, if we're lucky.”

“Really need to stop cutting things so close.” Tig muttered from his chair. “This skin of your teeth thing isn't a good method. Then again, I shouldn't talk.” He looked back at Skywalker. “We should probably make sure we hide all the guns before the General wakes up. I wouldn't put it past her to stun the lot of us and fly to rendezvous with the others.”

“I know where we can hide all the weapons.” Rey offered as they raced through a cloud, and then the color of the sky outside started shifting to white as they started to clear the atmosphere. “Get the shields up.”

“Yes, ma'am.” Tig replied, and the ship gave another strong lurch as they sped up and broke free from the pull of gravity, clearing into space. “Coordinates?”

Skywalker let out a breath. “Ach-To.”

Rey looked back at him and Finn, and her expression was more perplexed than anything. “Any particular reason?”

“Sometimes the best way to be found is to stay put. And the Resistance isn't going to expect us to go back there.” Skywalker pinched the bridge of his nose. “I think we may have forgotten to pack a few things when we left.”

She turned back around and Finn saw her press in the coordinates, and a moment later, the stars in front of them became a blur as they entered into hyperspace.

*

The stone was warm under Ahsoka's fingers, and she could, after some fashion, decipher the names carved into them. She had come down to wherever she was on her own; Cheron had taken Ben off for a talk, and she felt that they could both benefit from some alone time. She frowned as she worked her fingers through the name she was currently spelling out, one letter at a time. Frowning, she put her other hand up, and she concentrated, trying to see the name in her mind, instead of her fingers. Her hands slid up to the name above, and after a moment, realized it wasn't the name of an individual, but... “For the lives lost at the city of Jedha.” She sucked in a breath; the holy city was gone? How long had it been? She slid her hands back down and this time, she could make out the name almost instantly, it came across her mind like a breeze. - Chirrut Îmwe – and below his, Baze Malbus – then – For the Crew of Rogue One – and she knelt, another group below that, “For the lives lost at the Battle of Scarif.”

She thought for a moment; Scarif was where the Empire had kept their technology database. “I missed too much.” She rose to her feet, turning slowly. “Then again, I guess you missed out on a great deal as well, didn't you, Bosha?”

“Heard about everything but the Naboo liberation second-hand, and then it was only from the Imperial point of view.” She heard the woman move closer. “I got hauled off to Mustafar about once a year.” She scoffed. “Exchange one prison for another.” Bosha sighed. “Although if given the choice between the two, I'd have taken Mustafar. I didn't mind being kept inside there.”

“I can understand that.” She reached out and her hand fell on the woman's arm. “I also worked out why you never escaped. Or at least, I think I know why. You didn't want to risk anyone's life in your recapture, right?”

“Mostly, yes.” She shifted slightly. “Getting out of the prison would have been easy. It's getting off the planet that would have been hard.” There was a rustle of movement. “How's your sight going?”

“I think it's getting better. Not nearly as dark anymore.” She chuckled, setting her hand back against the stone, frowning at the name under the ball of her thumb. “Zeth Durron? Isn't that Kyp's little girl?”

“Yes, and she's named for her uncle.” Bosha's hand was on her wrist. “This okay?”

“Yeah.” She lowered her fingers. “For the lives lost at the Battle of Jakku.” She wrinkled her nose. “Jakku? Why do I think I know that name?”

“Imperial research facility – and the great sandpit of the Western Reach.” she chuckled. “It makes Tatooine look like a resort.” She let go of her wrist.

“Can't say that I've been.” Ahsoka's hand slid down past several names, all of which were unfamiliar. “When did you find out about Anakin?”

Bosha let out a breath, “You know, you're the first person who's ever asked me that.” She let out a slight chuckle. “It took me less than two hours after I was captured.”

“That's it?” She frowned, turning towards the woman, whom she could tell had stepped up right next to her. “How?”

“It was simple, really. First he asked me when the last time I'd seen Padme was, which was an hour into the interrogation, and little while later, he asked about you. There was only one other person, besides Anakin, in the galaxy who knew that I knew the two of you.” The pain seeping off the other woman was intense and Ahsoka reached out again, setting her hand on Bosha's shoulder. “I was too horrified to be afraid. Next thing I knew, a guard was dead and I was being carted off to Naboo as a 'special prisoner' of Lord Vader.”

Ahsoka nearly laughed. “That sounds like something he would do. Guess it makes sense that he dropped me into carbon freeze too.”

“Oh, he was going to come get you. I knew that he knew where you were, but he didn't tell me.” She coughed. “He was going to, but he died before he had the chance to divulge your location.” She smothered a chuckle. “True, his plan was downright idiotic, but it was so... so Anakin, I should have known it was going to go south.”

“What's that supposed to mean?” She paused, then had a good idea what her former master might have been thinking. “Did this involve the two of us, him – and one of his two kids overthrowing the emperor?”

“Pretty much. I agreed to go along with it because he said we'd get to kill slavers.” She coughed. “And I'm usually always ready to do that.”

Ahsoka nodded, letting her hand fall from the stone again and she turned towards Bosha. “You've been rather tense the last few times I've been around you. What's going on?”

“There's a rift in space, between our reality and the Watcher's. I'd say it's roughly half a day's travel at sub-light speed from us.” She cleared her throat. “Normally, we wouldn't worry about it, because we are, geographically speaking, the backdoor of the galaxy.” Her hand came up onto Ahsoka's arm and they started to walk away from the memorial. “However, there's a super-star destroyer from that galaxy's New Republic that has a fairly high possibility of going straight through it.”

“Are there any Jedi on that ship?” She held onto Bosha's arm as they made their way up the dirt road back towards the settlement – there were a few too many rocks for her liking on the path.

“Just one.” She sighed. “Jacen Solo, the Watcher's brother.”

She weighed the idea in her mind for a few moments. It was certain that Bosha hadn't told Ben about this, and she couldn't quite blame the woman. That boy had enough on his shoulders at the moment, and it still wasn't certain if the star destroyer in question was even going to arrive in the first place. There was too much going on and she was still so far behind. “Well, I know Ben's story, why don't you tell me yours? Starting with how you met Anakin in the first place.”

“Well, if we're going that far back, then Ben has to join us – because he's wanted to know that for years himself.” She let out a soft laugh. “Guess it's time for some tea, cookies and a very long story.”

Chapter Text

Consciousness slowly came back to Leia. She had ordered the evacuation of the D'Qar base, and was supposed to be on the last transport out. She'd stated as much, but then Luke had been there, along with that Tig fellow, and then – then it went blank. She inhaled deeply and caught the faint smell of sweat and worn fabric. The scent she always associated with the bunks on the Falcon. Then sound rushed in; the familiar thrum and whine of an engine racing along at light speed, and she inwardly cursed; she knew exactly what had happened. Her brother had knocked her out with the Force, and somehow, she ended up on the Falcon. The professor probably carried her. Maker, who had seen that? She let out a low groan and lifted her head, looking across the way to find that she wasn't alone in the crew quarters of her late husband's ship – the little girl was there too; watching her intently.

“Do you need some water?” The child's voice was soft, nervous.

She groaned and pushed herself up to a sit, blinking. “How long have we been traveling?”

“Couple hours, not really sure.” Oli rubbed her nose, looking at her curiously, her head tilting from side to side, much as it had when they had first met. “You have more gray hair than the other you. But her face is sadder.”

“Other me.” Leia pinched the bridge of her nose. “You come from another reality where you have some of the same people as this one, but not all of them.” She let go, studying the girl in return. Strangely, any desire to get answers from her brother was gone; it'd been a rather rough week for everyone. She was too tired to be angry. “Who's in charge of your galaxy, Oli? What's the government like?” Surely the girl could answer a simple question like that.

“Depends on where you go. There's the Hapans, the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant, and there's also a few other small ones, but mostly everyone's just trying to recover from the Vong War.” She leaned back against the back of the bunk, stretching her legs out in front of her. “I've never been to the Hapes Quadrant, mostly because they don't like outsiders. The current Queen is a nice lady, but her husband's mother, she's not. Most everyone knows it, but no one says it.”

“I've never heard of Hapes – where is that located?” She remembered the star chart that they had recovered from the X-wing.

“It's in the northwest area of the Mid-Rim. It's a cluster of sixty-three worlds, well, some of them are moons...” She bit her lip. “Sorry, yes. It's just sort of there in the middle of the galaxy, sitting out on both the Galactic Civil and Clone Wars. Isolationists smack dab in the center of everything.”

She snickered in reply. There were plenty of systems in this galaxy that just wanted to be left alone, only to be trampled by one side or the other. “And where is Firrerre located? The planet your father is from?”

“Technically, he's not from Firrerre, since he wasn't born there.” Oli saw the look on her face and then ducked her head. “It's near Endor. I've been there. Everyone with the slightest interest in history goes to Endor.”

Leia managed a smile; yes, it was a place anyone who cared about their history would go, if they could. The girl's father hadn't know anything about the First Order, despite the idea that he should; and strangely, now that she was no longer on D'Qar, she felt far more certain that she'd known all along that he had nothing to do with them. Everything was confusion and that, more than anything, concerned her. She rubbed at her temple, trying to clear her mind some. “And let me guess, we're not going to regroup with the others, are we?” She saw the girl shake her head and then she closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose. “We stayed on D'Qar too long. We should have moved the Resistance months ago...” She stopped short when she felt a thin pair of arms wrap around her waist, embracing her tightly. She opened her eyes to see the top of Oli's head, half wedged under her arm. “What are you doing?”

“You need a hug. I can tell.” Came the girl's simple reply, stated as plainly as if she had been talking about the fact that her hair was in a braid. “And no one around here has bothered to give you one just because.”

Leia let her shoulders fall and wrapped her arm around the child, returning the embrace. At the same time, she felt that given the recent treatment of the girl's father, she didn't deserve it. “I'm not used to not being in charge. I think that's one of the things that makes this difficult for me. Do you understand what I mean by that?”

“Uh huh. One time my mom came home on leave and accidentally called my dad Dameron at the dinner table. She was tired and since they both have a similar skin tone and dark hair, I kind of thought it made sense.” she pulled back. “Someone did tell you that we have a Dameron where I'm from, right?”

She shook her head, and smiled. “He works with your mom, then?”

Oli nodded. “He's the vice admiral on the Darklighter.”

Leia didn't to cover her snicker. “I'm sure Commander Dameron just loved to hear that.”

The girl giggled. “I think Mr. Finn had to help him reconnect his jaw.”

She smoothed the girl's unruly hair, and managed a smile. “I'm guessing all this staying put and staying indoors has been difficult for you, hasn't it?”

“We do what we have to do.” She answered, looking up at her. “Even if we don't like it, we do it.”

“Yes.” Leia could think of a dozen things she could do right now; and really, sitting here seems like the best option. “Hm. Did your father do this braid?”

“He did.” She answered, scooting away from her, tilting her head to the side. “You don't like my dad, do you, General?”

She sighed. “I'm never good with things that can't be easily explained. I had to stop playing pretend before I was ready to give it up, I guess. Times were different...” She paused. “Then I suppose you know what it's like to live during a war, don't you?”

“I don't remember the Vong War all that well, General Organa. Mama says that the galaxy's problem now is that no one quite knows how to rebuild with all the catastrophe and horror.” She rubbed her nose. “It's like at our home on Chandrila. You go to work or school, play in the park, have dinner – and you just try not to see the empty desks, the empty houses. The people that should be there but aren't.”

Leia reached out and smoothed the girl's hair down again, lifting her chin. “I know, little one.” She took a breath. “Would you mind if I redid your braid for you? Just so it's tidy and out of your face?” A strange, swooping sort of feeling went through her – she hadn't braided anyone's hair but her own since Breha died, fifteen years ago.

“Okay.” She discarded her boots and tucked her feet under her knees, turning around so that her back was to her. “Thank you.”

She untied the band that was at the base of the braid, and swiftly undid the girl's hair, combing the fine strands with her fingers. “Let me know if I pull to hard.” She smiled down at the girl and got to work; feeling oddly at peace for the first time in a long time. She pulled a small twig from the strands and held it out to Oli. “Have you been climbing trees?”

The girl took the stick. “It was windy on D'Qar.” Her tone sounded perfectly reasonable, and it had been windy. “I was too busy to climb trees.”

“We all get too busy sometimes.” She looked up from her work as the door to the quarters opened and her brother stood there. “You're still in trouble with me, Luke.”

“I figured as much.” He went over to the other bunk and pulled the large rolls of bedding onto the floor. “How are you feeling?”

“Don't start with the meditation lecture. It's never worked for me.” She turned her gaze back to Oli's hair. “Where are we going?”

“Back to Ach Too.” There was a loud thump as he dropped something heavy. “I know you're angry at me, Leia. But you wouldn't have come with us otherwise.”

“I was in a perfectly lovely mood until you walked in here, could we please talk about something else?” She started to part Oli's hair into two sections. “You told me to start believing in fairy tales. Fine. I'll work on that. We should also start talking about the banthas in the corners as well.”

She saw him sit down on the now empty bunk and run a hand through his hair. “You know why I left, Leia. It was nothing but chaos and I couldn't come back and tell you what happened, not to your face. Not after everything...” He pinched the bridge of his nose with his left hand. “I should have been more aware, taken things more seriously...”

“We're all to blame on that regard.” She sectioned off Oli's hair some more. “I think it was a matter of us somehow believing that it could be resolved in a simple way, but it was bigger than we imagined, or we didn't even bother imagining it at all.”

Luke's head come up sharply, his focus on the girl. “What was that, Oli?”

Leia pulled her hands from the girl's hair, and the child turned to look up at her, and then over at Luke. “If this is a fairy tale, did you forget what happens at the beginning?” Oli blinked and rubbed her nose. “I mean, after the once upon a time stuff, what happens?”

Her brother gave the two of them a half-smile. “Depends on the story.” He shifted, leaning forward to rest his arms on his legs. “Guess we'd have to look at what we have to start with.”

“Well, she's a princess.” Oli remarked and Leia felt her eyes widen as she started to catch up to what the girl was saying; childhood stories come back to her. “And I guess that would make the Spark a prince, and I'm guessing there's a monster somewhere...”

“I don't think we could have gotten cursed without knowing it, Oli.” She started braiding the child's hair again. “The villains in fairy tales always let their victims know.”

“Well, maybe this monster is smarter than your standard fairy-tale monster and knows how to keep their mouth shut, because they've done their research.” She shrugged, as if the answer was obvious. “And you don't notice the curse because whatever it is, or whatever it does, you can't tell because if it's as plain as the nose on your face, why would you think it's a curse?”

Leia finished with the braid and tied the end of it. “Since I've already had a good night's sleep, I believe it's time for everyone else to have a rest. I can stay in the cockpit with Artoo.” She stood up, grabbing onto the side of the bunk as she did, seeing Oli yawn out of the corner of her eye. “No point in all of us going somewhere if we all arrive and are exhausted when we arrive.”

*

When they came into Aunt Bo's house, the smell alone was enough for Ben to know she'd been baking. He could still remember that day when he was five and had gone to her apartment with his uncle and she had served up the largest cookies he'd ever seen. He half guided, half led Aunt Snips over to the kitchen table, and helped her sit. “I take it you're going to be skipping the part about eating too many sweets will spoil our dinner.”

“Cheeky.” Aunt Bo replied, setting down a plate of cookies, followed by another one of sandwiches. “The kids have gone to their in-laws for dinner, but if you want to have dessert first, it's perfectly fine with me.” She went back over to the stove and came back a moment later with a teapot. “What were you and Cheron talking about?”

“Healing the crystal in my lightsaber.” He shot a look over at Asoka, she was staring hard at the plates, although he was certain she still couldn't see a thing. “And if we could stop by later this week to arrange for ah, some sparing practice.”

“I think that would be an excellent idea.” Aunt Snips stated as Aunt Bo filled the teacups. “Although I don't even know where my lightsabers are.”

“They were in a box in the storage unit, so they're either still on-board Ansel's ship, or he knows where they are.” Aunt Bo answered. “All right you two, go on and get yourselves something to eat.” She untied the leather bag from her waist and set it on the table and opened it. “I can't really show you how I met Anakin, since I'm uncertain if the visions work with two people, or, if you'll pardon me, Ahsoka, temporary blindness.”

“It's fine.” She slid two sandwich halves onto her plate. “Just tell me right off, is it true that you bit Master Kenobi?”

“Yes, yes it is. It was self defense and it's also true that my father pulled a blaster on him shortly thereafter.” She set the pink bead down on the table, her tone as calm and collected as if she was telling them it was warm outside.

“What?” Ben started, his knee jerking and hitting the table, causing the dinnerware to rattle. He wasn't sure which statement was more surprising. “Sorry.”

“I remember your dad, I can believe him doing that.” She made a face. “I also remember that look he gave Master Windu the day Callie left the Order. The face of the galaxy towards the Jedi before we even knew it was coming.”

“Well, to be fair to the Order, the Light had left them blind.” She set down the pressed flower on the table, followed by the teacup handle. “And the galaxy was a powder keg.”

Ben nudged the jar of honey towards Ahsoka, not wanting to push the current subject at hand. He saw her reach out and take the crock, pulling it towards her. He'd spent years studying galactic history, even to the point of reading books on his holopad under the covers after he was supposed to be asleep. “Powder keg might be an understatement.”

“What I will never forget is what you said to me the day we met, Bo.” Aunt Snips carefully fixed her tea. “And for the record, it only took me about a month to realize that you were right.

“I don't know if Kenobi ever believed me.” Aunt Bo gave Ben a smile. “I took one look at Anakin, Obi-Wan and then at Ahsoka, and stated, 'thank the Force, the Order has assigned you two clowns a keeper.'” She chuckled, showing no reaction to the fact his mouth was hanging open. “The trouble with myself and Kenobi was that we never met on equal territory.”

“There was also the fact that he, like most of the Order, thought you had a few bolts loose.” She folded her arms. “I didn't think so, and I know Anakin didn't either.”

“Everyone has their disguises. The Order would probably have been stunned that I knew how to read.” Aunt Bo snorted and then cleared her throat. “But that's a bantha of another color.” She set a sandwich half down on her plate before lifting her teacup. “Such a long time ago, on a place that no longer exists.” She looked down into her tea.

Ben swallowed; he already knew that she had met his grandfather on Alderaan, but he'd never really heard anyone talk about that long lost planet. He's seen holosnaps and his mother had told him countless times that the images of her lost planet never did it justice. “You told me you were almost eight when you met my grandfather.” He put a few sandwich halves on his plate, along with two cookies.

“I was, six weeks short of turning eight, the age at which was the cutoff from being taken in by the Order, if you remember what I told you.” She picked up her teacup and took a sip.

“That would make Anakin around thirteen.” Aunt Snips remarked, stirring her own cup.

“Stupid chin, bad haircut.” Aunt Bo stated automatically, lowering her mug and picked up a sandwich.

Ben looked between them, and then saw Aunt Snips smile.

“It was a stupid looking chin.” She chuckled, then turned towards him. “I take it you don't have it.”

“No, but my uncle does.” He ducked his head and stuffed a sandwich half into his mouth.

“How do you think I knew it was him?” the woman picked up the dried flower. “The look on his face was so damn funny.” She set the bloom in her hand, turned it over slowly, and let out a long sigh. “Do you like the peaches here?”

Ben blinked, trying to think what sort of a question that was. Like the peaches? What did the peaches have to do with anything? “Given how little fresh fruit I've until lately, they're wonderful. Awfully sweet.”

“It's a sweet year. They aren't always, depends on how the winter goes.” She looked over at Ahsoka. “What about you?”

“I'm still recovering, but they are good... but what do the peaches have to do with Anakin?” She took a bite of her sandwich.

“He gave me the peach that the first tree grew from. All the other trees grew from peaches from that tree.” She ducked her head. “He had two peaches that day on Alderaan -and he shared his extra one with me. I'm sure the deck officer didn't think anything would grow from a pit and a mass of dirt in an old can. Especially not if it was kept on a space freighter.”

*

Rey leaned back in the chair on the lower gunwale, just letting herself enjoy the solitude. When Leia had come and relieved them all from duty, she'd been a little surprised that the woman wasn't angry, but rather, calm and collected. She groaned softly and a moment later, spluttered as a blanket hit her in the face. “What?” She pulled the cloth down and looked up towards the deck, where Tig was staring down at her. “What are you doing?”

He blinked, perfectly stoic. “It's cold in space. If you're going to be down there for any length of time, you need something to keep you warm, since you forgot a jacket.” He vanished from view and she heard some thumps above her, and she guessed he was bedding down nearby.

“Thank you.” She called up, wrapping the blanket around her shoulders, tucking her knees under her chin.

“You're welcome.” He replied, and there were a few muffled noises she couldn't make out.

The blur of hyperspace seemed amplified through the ports of the gunwale, reminding Rey of sandstorms on Jakku, the incessant pounding against the armor of her home, an endless reminder of being alone, being abandoned – all of it. She inhaled and exhaled slowly, hoping that sleep will just come to her – the way it had on D'Qar and Ach-Too, falling down into the blessed true sleep, the thing which had evaded her for years. “You can sleep in the crew quarters, there should be room, Mr. Tig.”

“I've slept in worse places, Miss Rey.” He answered. “A pallet on the floor of a spaceship could almost be considered a luxury in comparison.” There was the sound of footsteps. “Good night, Finn.”

“Night.” Her friend called. “Night, Rey.”

“Good night.” She answered, and then shifted so she could lean her head sideways against the backrest, still watching space stream past. Despite how hard life had been on Jakku, at least things had been simple and straightforward. Work, eat, sleep, repeat. Day in, day out – nothing changed. There was order in the misery, and you either followed it, or you were destroyed. “Sunspot.” She frowned. “I don't even know how that works.” She glanced upwards. “Mr. Tig, are you still awake?”

“Yes, Miss Rey. And you can leave off the mister if you like.” He sighed and she heard Oli whimper. “Go to sleep, sweetheart. Did you need something?”

“You already knew about the Watcher and... well, you said you were the Scribe. Who else is there? Besides the Apprentice and the Spark?” She could use with a few answers, even if she didn't quite understand them.

“Oh, thank the Maker, Sunspot knows how to ask the right questions!” He laughed.

She sat bolt upright. She hadn't told him her name; and yet, he knew. Of course he would know. Taking the blanket, she started up the ladder and found him and his daughter lying on one of the rolls of bedding, just past the entrance. “The Watcher told you about me?”

“Yes.” He sat up and got off the pallet, and indicated the space where he'd been lying. “I'll take the floor.”

“Papa?” Oli sat up, bleary eyed as Rey reluctantly slid under the covers where he'd been a moment ago.

“It's all right sweetie.” He took the blanket Rey had dropped and wrapped himself up, leaning back against the wall of the galley. “Go to sleep.” The child curled up behind her, and a moment later, she was snoring softly. “Wish I knew how she did that.”

Rey snickered. “Makes two of us.” She looked up at the man, wondering if she should repeat her question. “I don't even know what Sunspot's supposed to even mean. I know what one is, but it.... it doesn't make sense. It's not straightforward, like... like the Scribe is.”

“Well, neither is Lark or Songbird, young lady. Yet, they are who they are. They are part of an old song that's all but obscure and lost.” He closed his eyes, and hummed for a moment before he began to sing in a soft, gentle tone. “Children playing in fields of flowers, the Queen's on her way to the King's Three Towers...The Queen had a hunt-bird and the Queen had a lark, the Queen had a songbird that sang in the dark. The King said I'll hang you from the big black tree, If your birds don't bring three wishes to me.” He sighed. “Although we have no King, and our Queen would destroy his towers, and him if such a thing were to happen.”

“Is there a hunt-bird?” She pulled the covers closer to her chin, closing her eyes, trying to slow her breathing again.

“No. No hunt-bird, no king.” He coughed, and there was a thunk as the door to the cockpit opened, and he was quiet for a moment. “Ah, I see the Princess would like to hear this story as well.”

“You must drive your students half mad.” The General's voice retorted. “And don't call me that.”

“It's who you are, Princess, as sure as I'm the Scribe and Miss Rey is Sunspot.” He chuckled. “You wanted some answers, I'm giving them, don't look at me like I've just asked you to read the entirety of the Classic Tragedies of the Outer Rim and write a five page essay on each of them in a single week.”

Rey snickered under the covers, and then heard a soft giggle from Oli behind her. “How many stories is that?”

“Three hundred and twenty four.” The General answered. “It just feels – I'm not comfortable being called that anymore.”

“I'm certain that your brother, the Farmer, would feel the same.” Tig let out a long groan as he stretched his legs out. “Through the Looking Glass we journey, to meet the Companion, who will walk the longest road, and watch a dozens wars pass by before he takes up his sword. The twice-rejected son is Patience, and always lies in wait until he hears the call.”

“Ansel.” Rey muttered, and silently hoped the togruta got off Bakura before the First Order showed up.

Tig started speaking again. “Beacons One and Two, shall watch the shadows rise, and see the path through the stars, gathering up the others spurned of their clan – to break the earth and sing praise to the Maker. The One who sends the sun and the rain, and a people who were lost begin to live again.”

“That could be anyone.” She said more to her pillow than to anyone else, opening her eyes to look up at the man, whose own eyes were shut in concentration.

“The Paladin will see through the sun, and turn his back without regrets. For he wishes to find the true path, and in leaving, will save his brother's son – the one who will teach the way of the blade when he is gone.” He frowned and then she saw him look towards General Organa. “You have time to hear it this way, or am I boring you?”

“I'm fine.” Her tone was mildly amused and Rey smiled under the covers. “I'm just not used to such speaking.”

“I'm still refining some of the verses.” He gave her a wink. “And when you're near the end, it's bothersome to have to wait to hear your part. Especially since yours, Sunspot, is at the very end.” He covered a yawn. “And I yours, Princess, I still need to start.”

“Who all is there?” Leia asked, her tone even. “Starting after the Paladin, can you tell us who there is, in order?”

“Certainly.” He coughed. “After the Paladin it goes: Beacons Three and Four, the Prophet, the Queen, the Knight, the Apprentice, the Song Bird, Beacons Five, Six, Seven, the Last Padawan, Beacon Eight, the Last Youngling – who is the Paladin's nephew.” He paused and cleared his throat. “Beacon Nine, the Seeker, the Lark, the Farmer, the Princess, the Bandit, the Scribe, the Wayfarer, the Spark, the Bishop,the Watcher, the Ember and Sunspot.” He shut his eyes, leaning against the wall. “Just because you're blind to the Force doesn't mean you can't receive messages, you just can't send them back. Not without a bond.”

“How you know all this?” Leia's voice seemed oddly distant as Rey drifted off to sleep.

“I read.” He snickered. “Beauty of being blind to the Force. You can study both sides and it won't hold any sway.”

**

Jacen knew he was dreaming; and as he floated through the building he was in, he kept waiting for some nightmare creature to sweep into view. It was an unfamiliar place to his eyes, but the feeling that wrapped around him as he stood there, watching as people of all kinds walked past – species he knew by sight and others he had only glimpsed a few times in his life spoke in hushed tones, a temple of some kind, he supposed, given the shrines in alcoves. “What is this place?”

His hand brushed against a pillar, and while there was no physical sensation, a word rippled across his mind.

Jedha

“Nothing makes sense.” He came around the corner and found himself looking at the backs of two figures; both of them human. In front of them all was a beautiful mosaic, lit from a sun-portal from above, and as he drew nearer, he saw what the art piece was made of. Kyber crystals – nearly seven thousand of them, all arranged in a breathtaking display of a sea and the sun. He swallowed and drew level with the bench, and felt himself shrink back when he realized that he knew one of the two people sitting before him.

“Anakin?” His voice echoed hollow, and his brother showed no sign of hearing him, or even his presence. “Anakin?”

“Ah, Miss Bosha, I see you have returned.” A new voice spoke up and Jacen frowned as he looked up to see a blind man wielding a staff standing on the other side of the bench. He looked to be somewhere in his thirties, and when Jacen looked from the girl to him, noted that their skin tones were similar. “Always you come here, do none of the other mosaics in the temple appeal to you?”

“I like this one.” The girl ducked her head, and she hugged herself. “I don't know why, but I just do. Doesn't matter how awful I feel when I walk in, I just sit here for an hour and then it's like all the weight of the galaxy has been lifted from my shoulders, Brother Chirrut.”

“Such a somber child you are, Miss Bosha.” The man chuckled and then Jacen saw his face change slightly. “The Knight has saved you from a wretched fate, and even now you know that your devotion to him will be absolute.”

Bosha snickered, and Jacen saw that she must be around fourteen or fifteen, and he felt that she was too thin. “Don't let him know that, it might go to his head.”

“Our paths will never cross.” Chirrut intoned, nodding his head. “Yet you are unafraid, child.”

“I fear only the current shadow's shadow.” Bosha answered. “Though I should fear nothing, for all is as the Force wills it.” Something in her face broke. “Though right now it feels like the Force is being really shitty.” Tears started to fall from her cheeks and Jacen saw his brother, who had been perfectly silent and still until now, lift his hand and set it in the middle of the girl's back.

The robed man crouched in front of Bosha and took her hands in his. “What has been stolen from you the Force will return. Twice – one child you will steal from the sun and one you shall save from the shadow.” He squeezed her hands, and Jacen saw her smile weakly. “And never forget, you are one with the Force, and the Force is with you.” He touched the girl's forehead with his.

“May the Force be with you, Brother Chirrut.” The girl answered, her voice cracking slightly.

The monk stood and then, Jacen realized something – the man hadn't addressed Anakin, because Anakin wasn't really there, not physically – the ethereal glow gave it away. Yet, Chirrut turned towards him, blind as he was, and he frowned. “You're in over your head, young man.” He turned and started away, and Jacen stared after him, and once again heard him speak. “First one to rise is the twice rejected son, and the last to fall is the Jakku-raised Coruscantian. Thus says the prophet that few will ever hear.”

He stared after the retreating form, confused. “Where the hell is Jakku?”

Chapter Text

Ahsoka rolled over in bed, wincing as a slight twinge of pain went through her shoulder. Getting back into physical shape was the most daunting task in front of her, she knew. She could get caught up on the past forty years of history in next to no time, returning to her full fighting strength, however – it would take time. She pulled herself up to a sit, rubbing her eyes and as she lowered her hand, she blinked in surprise. Her hand wasn't a blur in front of her any longer – her eyesight was back. A giddy, wonderful feeling swooped through her and it was more than enough to wash away the remnants of sleep and pain as she threw back the covers, springing out of bed and into the hall, not even knowing or caring what time it was.

She was about to knock on Ben's door when she noticed something out of the corner of her eye, and she came to a full stop. Turning towards the main room of the house, she could see a pale, shirtless figure sitting with his back to her on the rug in the center of the room. She stepped to the end of the hall, and details started to show that distance had prevented. Her hand flew to her mouth, barely able to repress the gasp and a feeling of horrified sympathy drowned out her joy of thirty seconds.

Ben's back was covered with scars. Dozens upon dozens of them; leaving almost no unmarred flesh anywhere on the surface.

Ahsoka knew the healed wounds of someone who had been flogged. From what she could tell, he had been whipped repeatedly. A particularly vicious looking one ran from his left shoulder all the way to his right hip, and several of the scars disappeared under the waistband of his pants, while others wrapped around his sides. Right above his left hip was a large, wretched looking scar she couldn't... no, she knew what kind of wound that was too. It came from a bow-caster. “Merciful Force...”

“The Force is a fickle bitch.” Ben answered, turning his head and reaching for his shirt at the same time. He wasn't aware she had awoken until now. He didn't want her looking at him with pity or horror in her eyes; he deserved neither.

She was quicker than he was and didn't let him finish putting the garment on as she sprang to his side and put her hand on his left shoulder, resolutely trying not to look at the massive lightsaber burn on his right. “Who did this to you?” She kept her rage controlled; someone had used this man as a whipping boy and she wanted answers. She kept her eyes fixed on his, and a second later he looked away, and she resisted the urge to grab his chin. “Ben?”

“Who did what to me?” He pulled away from her, scrambling back to pull on the shirt. “Everyone has scars.” You'll have to be more specific, Aunt Snips.”

Ahsoka inhaled deeply before speaking again. The boy could dodge questions almost as well as Anakin.“Your back, Ben. That's what I want to know about. Who shredded your back enough make it double as a map for the rivers of Dagobah?”

He rose to his feet, not looking at her. “It was punishment.” He hated the dead tone in his voice. It was a default way of speaking whenever anyone commented on his wounds. “I deserved it. I deserve worse.”

“Punishment.” She spat, rising to her feet and setting a hand on his arm, and he stiffened. “That's not punishment, Ben Organa Solo, that's torture.”

His shoulders drooped, deciding it was better to admit defeat now than let this drag on. “I already told you what a fuck up I am, Aunt Snips. I...”

“Don't you dare say you deserved it. Never again. No one deserves that kind of treatment.” She hissed as he walked into the kitchen and started to make breakfast. “And don't go trying to change the subject! It's a tactic I recognize and it will not work on me!” She followed him, not wanting to let this go, even though a small part of her felt that she should. “Has anyone else seen that?”

“You mean aside from the med-droids, the late General Hux, and Supreme Leader Snoke?” He looked back at her. “No.” He opened the fridge and took out the container of preserves and a loaf of bread, trying to keep himself focused. He set them on the counter, then took out two plates and a knife.

She folded her arms, starting to piece things together. “And the reason you haven't bacta patched the scars away is because they're meant to be a lesson, correct?”

He swallowed, and nodded faintly. “Anything else you want to know?”

There was a small mountain of questions she had that she wanted the answers to, but knew better than to just start firing them off. “You kill this General Hux?” She watched as he set a kettle of water on the stove.

“No.” The barest hint to a smile came back to his face. “That was Aunt Bo.” He paused, remembering the whole event and how much things had changed for him since then. “But I think Hux is partly to blame for his own demise. He didn't put restraints on her when the First Order captured her.” He shrugged. “Has she always acted slightly crazy nearly all of the time?”

She snickered. “I can't give you an accurate answer to that, although I do know that she likes to keep people guessing.” She shook her head, then pinched the bridge of her nose. “And I'm absolutely disgusted with myself for never figuring out that she was acting almost the entire time.”

Ben set down a small container of something on the counter with a soft thud and snorted. “The whole of the Jedi Order couldn't see the Sith Lord in the Senate, don't feel bad.”

“That's not funny.” She gave him a reproachful look, catching a hint of Anakin in his expression. “Not with how it ended.”

“I know how it ended. My grandfather chucked the Emperor down a reactor shaft on the second Death Star.” He shrugged. “Now how exactly Aunt Bo got off Naboo, I'm not entirely certain. Every time I asked anyone, I received about four different answers.”

Ahsoka rubbed her temple as Ben set a loaf of bread on the counter. “I'm still missing too much history.” she raised her eyes. “What's the Death Star? There's two of them?”

“None, now, actually.” He took a breath. “Uh...” He fumbled for a moment came up with a knife in a drawer and two plates. “I know it's not much.” He indicated the food in front of them. “I'll get the kettle on.”

She pulled the bread towards her as he turned towards the stove. “How about you start with what you can tell me.” She opened the container to find an odd red substance that looked like a cross between butter and fruit. Lifting it to her nose, she could smell honey and berry. “I have plenty of galactic history to catch up on, and it's still early.” She took the knife and started to fix her breakfast. “Guess you're going to have to show me around this place all over again, now I can actually see it.”

*

Bosha tossed the last of the folded sheets into the basket next to her, her eyes more fixed on the distant indigo clouds moving towards the Settlement, it'd be pouring well before sundown. When she looked down the hill, she could see several people working in their gardens, gathering what food was ready. It was persevering time and she knew she was procrastinating her own duty in that regard. She shook her head and pulled a pillowcase off the line, and saw Ahsoka standing down at the crossroads, and she waved. “Good morning.” She paused. “I see your sight has returned.”

The other woman laughed as she came up the hill, and a moment later, Ben came running after her, his hair askew. “For some reason, I thought you'd still look the same as the last time I saw you, shortly before things fell apart.”

“You did take a forty year nap, so that's understandable.” She nodded to Ben. “You're looking better than you did a few days ago.” The young man looked away, over her shoulder, towards the distant clouds. “Yes, it's going to rain again.”

“Still trying to adjust to a place that doesn't have a controlled climate.” He shifted and came up to the clothesline stand, holding it and still looking towards the mountains.

Ahsoka shook her head and then turned towards her. “I don't know how you and Ansel can look the way you do, and in truth, I don't want to know.” She gave her a wan look. “I may have taken a forty year nap, but I think I can feel all seventy-five of my years.”

“You didn't exactly take the nap willingly.” she turned back towards the mountains. “If you two were wanting to take a long walk, you have time. The rain won't be here for at least three hours.”

“I'm content with finally seeing what this place looks like.” Ahsoka frowned and looked over at Ben, and shook her head. “We went to the memorial again.” She swallowed. “I'm starting to put the pieces together of what happened after...”

Bosha took the last garment off the line and folded it. “Most of it is nothing but pain. One disturbance in the Force after another.” She shook her head. “All I can say in regards to the destruction of the Hosnian system is thank the Maker it was nighttime here, because that was enough to drive almost anyone to their knees.”

“No shit.” Ben muttered, then looked away from them again. Bosha knew better than to press the issue. “That wasn't me.”

“I know it wasn't.” She turned to Ahsoka. “The First Order seems to be determined to out-do the Empire in terms of cruelty.” She started to remove the clothespins from the line, deciding she might as well let the two of them know what Anakin had told her. “We may or may not have another problem.”

Ben leaned against the pole, folding his arms. “That sounds nicely ominous. Do we get a straight answer?”

“Don't start.” Ahsoka muttered in his direction. “I take it can go either way, so why don't you tell us and then we can do something about it?”

“There's a temporal anomaly a few parsecs from the planet. It's a breach between this reality and the Watcher's. Since we're out here in the Unknown Regions, that normally wouldn't be a problem. There just happens to be a Super Star Destroyer from that reality close by. There's a chance it could go through the anomaly and end up here.”

“Republic or Empire?” Ben asked before Ahsoka could. “It's not – the Vong, is it?”

“Why would the Vong have a Star Destroyer?” Bosha shook her head. “New Republic, believed to be on a mapping expedition.”

“What's the problem?” He shrugged. “Won't they turn around and go back to their reality?”

“Yes, but there is one Force-sensitive person on the destroyer and on the list of people with the gift, he happens to be the third to last person we'd want it to be.” She tossed the pins into the basket. “Jacen Solo, the Watcher's older brother.”

Ben's response was to snort and fold his arms. “Aren't I technically the Watcher's older brother too?”

“He makes a good point.” Ahsoka shook her head. “Guess we need to practice cloaking signatures.”

“It's not us here on Away we need to worry about.” She sat down on a tree stump, looking the two of them over. “If Jacen Solo comes through that anomaly, his Force signature's going to be a beacon of light the size of Coruscant.”

“Snoke.” He shook his head. “And even if Jacen gets advanced warning, the ship's going to come investigating.”

“Exactly.” She sighed. “It's better if the destroyer comes here, rather than wander into the stronghold of the First Order.” She rubbed the back of her neck as Ahsoka came and sat down next to her. “Odds are, it wouldn't even make it that far.”

“Let's worry about the destroyer if it comes here, not until then. Be prepared, but not expectant.” Ben slid a hand through his hair. “I'm... going to go for a run.” He turned to them. “You don't mind if I go alone, do you, Aunt Snips?”

“I know the look of someone who needs some alone time.” She smiled. “Just try and be back before the rain starts. Stay out of the woods.”

He started walking down the hill, towards the road that led to the mountains. “Going the other way.” He turned and jogged down the rest of the way, and the moment his feet his the road, he sprinted out of sight.

“Poor kid.” Ahsoka sighed and leaned forward on her legs. “Reminds me a lot of Anakin.”

She snickered. “Wait until you meet his mother. It's Luke who acts like Padme. You'll see when they get here. Try not to laugh to hard.”

“Are they coming too?” She frowned. “When?”

“I don't know. But they're going to show up here before that Star Destroyer does.” She looked down at her hands. “And if they don't come to us, we'll send someone to get them.”

“I don't know too much about who this Snoke creature is, but I already don't like him.” she straightened. “Good morning, Ansel.”

“Morning.” He came up to the two of them carrying a box. “I was told you had your eyes back.” He crouched down on the grass, then opened it, pulling out two identical lightsaber hilts. “I figured you would be wanting these back.” He held them out to Ahsoka.

She stood up to take them, and it was clear her whole body relaxed as they fell into her hands, and she smiled. “Thank you.” She activated the blades and for a moment, simply looked at the shimmering white sabers, before turning them back off and hooking them onto her belt. “Maybe I should see Cheron before Ben gets back.”

“I think if you're going to do any sparing with him, you're going to have to do it with an audience.” Bosha chuckled and saw Ansel pull out a third saber hilt, and her stomach turned over. “Whose saber is that?”

“I believe this is yours.” He held it out to her and she stood, pulling her gloves from her pockets and putting them on before taking it.

She turned the hilt over in her hands, the design hauntingly familiar; and she took her own saber from her belt and compared the two. The colors on each were inverted, hers was silver where the other was black, and designed to be wielded by someone who was right-handed. “Bria.” She returned her saber to its place and ignited her sister's, the blade a bright shade of amethyst. She looked at it for a moment, and then extinguished it. Bosha didn't want to know why Vader set her sister's blade into the box with Ahsoka's, she didn't need to know. “Nice to know it wasn't thrown into the Empire's experimentation pile.” She hooked it onto her belt.

Ahsoka took a breath. “I wish I didn't know about that.” She shook her head. “I think I also missed out in a few things while I was undercover for the Rebellion.”

“I'll make the tea.” Ansel offered as Bosha picked up the laundry basket and they started down the hill to her house.

*

Ben didn't know how far he had run down the path, how long he had been running, only that the harder he ran, the harder it was to remain angry. He had felt the rage starting when Ahsoka found his scars this morning, and it had been slowly building the rest of the day. He'd gone for a run before it could explode into a fit, and as he came down a small rise, it occurred to him that he did feel somewhat calmer. He slowed to a jog and then came to a complete stop, leaning over to catch his breath. This was his second bout of serious rage since leaving the Finalizer, and as he stood there, hands on knees, his pulse pounding in his ears, he felt as unwound as if he had just destroyed half a room. Perhaps Durron was onto something with the running.

“I was wondering when you'd turn up out here.”

He jerked to a stand, instantly on alert, and saw Zekk standing a few yards away. “What about it?”

“Nothing.” Zekk pushed his hair out of his face. “I'm just surprised it's taken you this long to go for a run.” He smirked. “I run every morning. Even on the ones where I'm on fishing duty.” He shortened the distance between them. “It gets me through the day.” He shrugged, rather nonchalantly. “Four miles into the valley, not bad for a first. And you kept to the path. That at least shows you're being level headed about it.”

Ben glared at him. “And how far did you go?”

“Nine.” He sighed and leaned against a convenient tree, folding his arms. “I had a bad night.”

“I didn't sleep too well myself.” He went over to a large bolder and sat slightly. “I don't want to talk about.”

“I wasn't going to suggest it.” Zekk replied, “Who suggested the run?”

“I actually took the initiative on my own.” He shook his head, rubbing his eyes. “I suppose that counts as some kind of progress.”

“I think it does.” He answered, “The valley's not as dangerous in the woods in terms of predators, but there's plenty of rocks and holes to fall in. Break your ankle, bust your head open... then you're easy pickings if no one finds you.”

“Kriff, you're morbid.” He shook his head, then sat down on the road, and a moment later, the other man joined him. “Let me guess, you go on longer runs when you're not on fishing duty.”

“Yeah.” He leaned against his knees. “Like I said, I had a bad night. Two hours of sleep, at best.”

He didn't look at the other man as he spoke. “I think I might have managed four.” He traced a few lines in the dust of the road, “Four hours is a luxury.” He nodded towards the mountains. “What's the distance from here to there?”

“Ten miles on the path, closer to seven as the crow flies.” He let out a long sigh. “Jora took me out there when I first came to live on Away. I'd never seen mountains before.” He managed a small smile. “Aunt Bo says the ones on Alderaan were twice their size and five times as majestic.”

“I've seen pictures.” He tossed a stick absently and in the grass, something rustled and a moment later, a small creature, dark brown about half the size of a loth-cat raced across the path and into the land on the other side of them. “What was that?”

“Foe-rabbit. They're everywhere in the grassland. Not enough meat on them to bother hunting.” He snickered, “the eagles keep them in check for us.”

“Eagles?” Ben frowned and then a shadow swept over them and he looked up in time to see a giant bird, black and purple, its wingspan easily equal to his own arms, swooped down, lightning fast and raced into the sky a moment later, the foe-rabbit caught between its talons. “Don't disturb the eagles.”

“Right.” Zekk stood. “We should head back before the rain gets here.” He offered a hand and he took it, and the slightly shorter man pulled him to his feet. “Aunt Soka's eyes start working again?”

“Yeah.” They headed back towards the Settlement. “May I ask you something?” He glanced over at him, “you don't have to answer it if you don't want to.”

“How about you ask me and I'll decide if I want to answer it or not?” He bent down and tossed another stick into the grassland.

“Why are you called Bishop? I know chess, and I know their primary job seems to be to guard the queen, and I suppose I'm confused.” He knew it sounded silly and awkward when he spoke it aloud. But a few straight answers, no matter how minor they seemed, were what he wanted right about now. Not to mention there was a niggling feeling this calm he'd had for nearly a month was going to come to an end all too soon. Particularly with that star destroyer Aunt Bo was worried over.

Zekk turned in the road and faced him, chin up. “I'm the Bishop, Spark...” he leaned over, grinning. “because I'm not a knight.” He winked. “and the rest of that title would go after, not before.”

Ben stared at him for a full minute, and then his eyes widened. Zekk was Force-sensitive, he had been a pickpocket, orphaned and alone in the galaxy; easy pickings for the First Order, and for Supreme Leader Snoke. “Kriff.”

“I know.” He came around and gave him a one armed hug. “The Prophet told my mom – Aunt Bo – that the Force would give her two children. One she would steal from the sun, and I'm the one she saved from the darkness.”

“There's a Prophet?” He blinked. “Where is he? Or she?”

“Died on Scarif. Chirrut Îmwe.” They continued down the road, and Zekk pulled his arm away. “Learn all the names on the Wall, you'll know the history of the Away.”

“Sounds like fun.” He smiled, his anger from earlier all but faded. “I always liked history.”

*

Luke glanced over at Tig in the co-pilot's seat, and then back at the array in front of him. He knew that the man and his sister had talked at length while the rest of them had slept, until eventually the professor himself had drifted off; but he didn't know what the conversation had covered, not in any great detail. It was a confusing thing, finding out that out in some other reality, a Luke Skywalker had reformed the Jedi Order, and it still endured, despite the passage of time. Of course, certain things were different there. Different foes, different allies, planets that had never existed, an entirely different way of things working out, while some had remained exactly the same. He remembered the other galaxy's map, and while it seemed impossible, there was no denying the truth.

The fact that the Watcher was actually the other Luke Skywalker's tragically dead seventeen year old nephew actually made some of the things he knew about Bosha Thandu make perfect sense. She'd always been older than him, even when she was younger, but the fact that she maintained her childlike ways, her flat out sense of being unruffled, all of it – because according to the man sitting next to him, Anakin Solo had been the most serious three year old in the galaxy.

“We don't have an Ach-To, what's it like?” Tig broke the silence.

“Rainy.” He answered, flipping a few switches as they prepared to leave light-speed.“Mostly ocean, with a few islands scattered throughout. Another one of those planets were everything seems to have roughly the same climate, no matter where you go.”

He looked back towards the cabin area. “That doesn't sound so bad. Oli knows how to swim.”

He chuckled in reply. “I don't think Rey does, and I'm not to sure about Finn. I'm not too good at it myself.” He shrugged. “Grew up in a desert.”

“I knew that.” He snickered. “I think that's one of those facts that everyone knows, just like they knew you blew up the first Death Star.”

“That was such a long time ago.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, shaking his head. “Things seemed simpler back then.” The wide-eyed boy who had flown that X-wing was long gone. Luke found it hard to believe he'd ever been that young, or that optimistic. “Do things seem black and white to you at times? I swear that's how it was... I didn't think about there being any middle ground.”

Tig shook his head. “I don't think I ever had that luxury. Sometimes the people you think are good, aren't good at all, and then there's the opposite side of that. It's sort of like comparing where I come from to where I am now. Sure, some of the faces and events are the same, but they don't square up to each other. Even though it seems like they should.” He sat back, folding his arms. “Which is one of the reasons I don't understand this Snoke character. My world didn't have one, but what I can't figure out is why the Emperor didn't get rid of him. If he's as powerful as I'm guessing he is, surely the Emperor knew about him.”

Luke frowned and then ran his hand through his hair. “You mean why didn't the Empire have him murdered and then sweep the incident under the rug, or something?”

“Exactly.” He paused. “Unless Snoke used Palpatine's own strategy against him. Thousands of Jedi in the galaxy and none of them can see the Sith Lord right in front of them? I may not know the Force, but I know there's no way in Hell that the Force would give this Snoke perfect vision to see what would happen in the future. It doesn't work that way.”

“True.” He tapped his fingers against the console, and then glanced back over at the man. “Unless he already had a general idea of what was going to happen.” He looked over at Tig. “Because Anakin Solo had a general idea of what would happen. He just didn't count on Bosha running into figures central to the history of this galaxy. But that's partially because he didn't have all the pieces of the puzzle either, so to speak.”

“And neither does this Snoke character, I'm guessing. Since he's a Force user, he knew enough to keep his head down until the Emperor was gone, so he wouldn't attract attention.” He shook his head. “And you weren't exactly concerned either.”

“I know, one of my many mistakes. Definitely among the worst.” He sighed as he stood up to cut power to the hyper-drive and heard the man flipping switches behind him. “It was just a mad scramble after the Empire fell and retreated off to the Unknown Regions, and just when we seemed to be back up on our feet, the First Order started to gain traction in the Outer Rim.”

“I read about it on that holonet thing. We don't have that either. From what I can gather, not having it is akin to missing five libraries the size of Coruscant.” He answered as the other man returned to his seat.

Luke sat back down as the Falcon soared out of hyper-space and he instantly frowned; they weren't in the solar system where Ach-To was.“That might be an overestimation. Besides, half of the stuff posted on the 'net isn't true. Right now, we have a larger problem.” He took a deep breath. “This isn't where we're supposed to be.”

Tig remained perfectly calm and checked a few things on the readout. “Did you input the calculations correctly?”

He double checked them and then cursed. “Inverted two numbers, so we might actually be in the right system, just the wrong side of it.” He flipped a few more switches, “no, we're not. Wrong system entirely. Only good thing news is that we're on the right side of the galaxy.” He heard the door swish open behind them. “Morning, Rey.”

“We're lost.” She stated. “Aren't we?” She came up to stand next to Tig's chair. “The trip was too short.” She worried her bottom lip. “We should have had another six hours in hyperspace, at least.”

Tig snickered. “I don't know if we're lost, but we do need to find out where we are.” He flipped a few switches, “Either of you recognize the gas giant over there?” He nodded towards the screen nearest Luke and he turned to look.

“No. I'll bring R2 up here.” he rose from the pilot's seat so Rey could take it. “See if the nava-computer can tell us anything.” The comm system crackled. “There can't be anyone out here, unless it's another ship.” It crackled again before he walked from the cockpit.

Rey adjusted something as they flew closer to the gas giant. “You feel like talking, Professor Tig?”

The man shook his head and then reached over to move a dial on the comm. “Request redirect.” He shrugged and looked back at her. “These things happen often enough.”

The comm crackled again and a voice, seemingly familiar came from it. “Please identify, do not deviate from your present course.”

“Request redirect. We made an error in a calculation.” Tig kept his voice perfectly calm. “Please.”

“Request denied. Please identify.” The voice on the other side of the comm stated as they moved closer to the gas giant.

The door opened and Finn came into the cabin, along with Oli. “What's going on? I thought we had a few more hours.”

“Identify.” A second voice stated, older than the first. “Last request.”

“I don't like this.” Rey frowned, flipping more switches.

Oli moved up to stand next to her father. “What's going on?”

“We don't know, Oli.” He took a deep breath, but before he could answer on the comm, Rey did it for him.

“Request redirect!” She felt slightly guilty for using the Force in such a manner, but given the circumstances, could she be entirely blamed? It was simply a nudged, nothing more. Something was wrong with the whole situation, where were the two people on the other end of the comm?

“Is the best you can do?” The second voice asked, almost on the edge of laughter, “watch this.”

“Watch...”

A fraction of a second later, an apparition appeared in the middle of the cabin, a man, with graying blond hair, who took one look around and was gone.

“What the hell was that? Who was that?” Finn fell down in the seat behind Tig.

“You have been identified as the Scribe and Sunspot, plus additional passengers.” the first voice was back. “Redirected to zero seven two six, do not deviate and will be given clearance to land shortly.”

“Thank you.” Tig answered before she could, and Rey shot him a look. “I think we found what we were going to go looking for.” He turned. “Oli, sit down, okay?”

She nodded and took the seat behind Rey. “Papa, who was that?”

“We don't know, Oli.” Rey punched the coordinates into the nava-computer and they swung wide around the gas giant, and then, suddenly, her worry seemed to slip away as a small green and blue moon came into view and she found herself standing, her fingers reaching out to touch the glass. “Away.”