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Desert Children

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Creation and Destruction, but two parts of all that can be, existed alongside parts of themselves in peace and strife alike. The Desert knew this, knew Herself to be the child of each in imperfect measures, for Her winds and Her sands scoured and destroyed far more than they could create.

Yet, sometimes, there were survivors, annealed in heat and quenched in the cold of night. These, She saw shine with Her light, to go forth and spread what they had learned.

Some, created more light. Some destroyed it.

And some, the truly strong ones, were Her children in full measure, serving both parts of Her nature.

The legend of the Destroyer was persistent among the Jawas and the Tusken Raiders alike, Obi-Wan had learned. With little else to do as Luke was but a baby, the Empire was consolidating its hold in the Core and Mid-Rim, and the very real fear of a rogue Force user to push him, Obi-Wan chose to investigate this legend. His Jawa allies, the ones who had dubbed him a wizard because of his skill at fixing things and staying alive, insisted the Destroyer had soaked the sands in blood within living memory. They even had a name for the simooms that came from the particular direction the Destroyer had done this, for they said the simoom had been the cry of the Wronged.

Who had been wronged was part of the mystery, as some said it had been a captive and others said it was the tribe that ceased to exist, while others insisted all of them had been, even the Destroyer.

Obi-Wan traveled carefully, aware always of the threats the desert brought, following the stories of the Jawa traders. That the place was so close to the Lars homestead was somewhat worrisome, and also setting off alarm bells in the back of his mind. He wondered if he would know the place when he reached it—

—and as he crossed some invisible threshold, Obi-Wan Kenobi knew for a fact he was standing on the very spot Darth Vader had likely been conceived, at least in part. The alarms were correct, as the sheer amount of violence in the Force, some four years later, had not abated, and the raw agony brought the Jedi to his knees on the sands.

"It was here that I first tried to be heard," came the voice of his Master, some unknown time later, yet Obi-Wan could see the suns had shifted. The voice settled just in front of him as Obi-Wan managed to bring his head up out of his hands, too many tears already lost in his reaction to the pain and rage. "I did try to stop him, Obi-Wan. But he could not hear me."

"His mother?" Obi-Wan managed to ask. "Was it her? The reason?"

"Yes, my padawan; his mother spoke to him and then died. What was unleashed next was more fierce than the heart of a star in its heat. I know you have berated yourself for the battle in Theed, for losing control against Maul. Yet that was nothing in comparison to the firestorm that Anakin became that night."

Obi-Wan drew in a deep breath. "Not Anakin. Not fully. But a precursor to the monster he has become."

Qui-Gon Jinn gave no answer to that, for he only saw one man where his student saw two.

Darth Vader, scourge of the Empire's enemies, walked through the burned out shell of a home, touching nothing at first. Whispers of the life lived here touched his nerves, setting them more on fire than usual. He made note of all he could find, setting a picture of the child his son had been. When he left, he most carefully did not look to the marker on the rim, just as he had not when he arrived.

His gaze swept out, distantly, to a place of a legend.

The Desert swirled Her breath across him, pushing on him to remember.

He was Destruction, but there was more still to unfold, brought by that which he had Created.

The Force Ghost shimmered just on the edge of perception by the students. Luke Skywalker ignored the presence, continuing to work with them, walking them through how to block out external disruptions and maintain fine control of their telekinetic efforts. Anakin thought it a lot more practical than his own exercises had ever been, and nearly all of the students were managing to ignore him.

All but one, he realized, and looked directly at the child staring at him. It took Anakin a long moment, but there was an eddy in the Force that tied that one to Luke.

So this was Leia's child. No other should have that connection, so far as Anakin knew from his infrequent forays into Luke's life. He dared not go near Leia again; her raw Force ability could banish him painfully when she became aware of him and her anger rose. The last thing he wanted was to catapult her toward a Fall.

"Ben," Luke said in a soft yet commanding tone, and the boy sullenly refocused his attention, defiantly lifting the rocks he was holding up even higher to show he knew what he was doing.

The alarms sang in Anakin's mind, and he opened his mouth to say something to Luke, only to find himself losing his anchor to that place and time, cast aside… by something else? He was uncertain, but planned to try and discuss it with his son when he had the strength to manifest again.

Ben was gone. The school was destroyed. Luke turned himself so far inward that Anakin could only fall silent in the night, having no words of comfort.

It was the way of life, to rise in malevolence and destroy. They might have left the Desert behind, both of them, but She was always in their lives, reforging them as needed.

Anakin worried that this time might have broken Luke too far, even as he kept vigil over his grieving son.

"I must go away," Luke finally said, days later to the ghost who had grown more insubstantial in his attempt to remain close. "Or I will lash out, and be more like you than I care to."

"Yes," was all Anakin said, not wishing this bright light he had helped create so long ago to burn red with rage.

The moment Anakin saw her, he knew his vigil was nearly at an end. The tingling awareness touched him and he found peace in his soul. The penance for his crimes had been to watch the galaxy fall deeper into Darkness after that brief surge of Light. A new child of the Desert had emerged, one that carried the same balance as he had.

"Create. Make steel as you pass, forged in the heat of the day, cooled by the air of night," he murmured, falling to the slave argot he thought long since forgotten.

He could see her crucible, the shape of it in the form of a mal-adapted child of his blood, one lost to the Light before anyone knew they needed to intervene.

What would the galaxy look like when she raised her simoom and passed through it?

"Guide her well, my son," Anakin told Luke softly.

"He will," Rey said, in the same confidence Anakin recalled of his youth.

He smiled, and gave himself to the pull of the Force.

The Desert was Creation, forging steel that changed the galaxy. The Desert was Destruction, cutting those too weak to withstand.

Her children would always decide the fates they made for themselves.