They were in the Twilight, about an hour into their hyperspace trip to Naboo when Anakin felt for the stone in his pocket. Ahsoka sat next to him in the copilot’s seat, looking absentmindedly out the window while Obi-Wan sat behind them, flipping through a datapad.
She looked up at him, blue eyes wide but curious. “Yes, Sk—Master?” she answered. He slowly pulled the river stone out of his pocket, and—just barely—felt it pulse. This was right. He looked down at the stone, remembering that moment when he found it, nearly eleven years ago, in the disposal unit of Obi-Wan’s apartment, just three days after Master Qui-Gon’s death.
“This stone,” he began, and finally looked up at Obi-Wan. His face was unreadable, almost too blank, but Anakin knew that he must have been feeling something—
“Master?” Ahsoka asked quietly, interrupting his thoughts.
Anakin looked back at her and smirked. “It’s been passed down our line from Master to Padawan for a few generations now,” he explained quickly, “and I would like to continue that tradition.” He placed the stone in her palm. She studied it for a brief moment before looking up at him again.
“Thank you, Master,” she murmured, then wrapped her hand tightly around the stone.
“It’s a river stone,” Obi-Wan said finally. “It may look like some pretty rock, but I can assure you that it’s much more than that.” He stood up, glancing at Ahsoka’s closed fist briefly before looking up at Anakin with a sort of unreadable emotion in his eyes. “You two can take the first shift,” he said, changing the topic, “I’ll be meditating if you need me.” He turned and left the cockpit.
Ahsoka studied the stone carefully. It was a sleek black with thin red veins when she moved it under the light. She felt the Force swell as she examined it carefully, almost warming her somehow. She frowned. “It feels…alive, Master,” she observed, turning the stone in her palm. “But it can’t be…it’s just a stone, isn’t it?”
Anakin raised an eyebrow and smirked. “That would be telling, wouldn’t it, Snips?” he teased, looking back down at his datapad. “It is up to you to do what you wish with the stone. Let it guide you, Ahsoka.”
Let it guide you.
His eyes opened at the sight of Ahsoka standing in the doorway of his bunk. He was meditating, or at least attempting to, albeit unsuccessfully. A lot has happened in the past few days, including his own rescue from the Grand Inquisitor and the discovery of Fulcrum’s identity. Ahsoka Tano. Anakin Skywalker’s padawan.
Former padawan, he reminded himself, thinking about how she left the order after being expelled and then welcomed back to the order. After the Jedi turned their back on her and left her defenseless. How could she have survived? She wasn’t a Jedi anymore, but she was…more.
“It’s been very long, Ahsoka,” he said, waving her in. “I’m glad you survived. I didn’t think there would be…”
“More of us?” Ahsoka said when he trailed off. She stroked her chin for a moment before reaching into one of her pouches. “I’m not a Jedi, Kanan. Not anymore.” Her voice was hard, though he could feel her emotions pressing onto his shields. “And Master Skywalker, he gave me something, years ago. It’s, you know, a lineage thing.”
Kanan frowned. Master Billaba was kind and absolutely wonderful, but they didn’t have time for things like that. During the Clone Wars, Ahsoka spent a lot of time with her master and grandmaster; Kanan didn’t spend as much time with Master Windu, considering just how busy the man was at the time, but despite that, they did spend some time together.
Looking back on it, those were the memories he treasured the most.
“What are you saying, Ahsoka?” he asked finally.
She pulled a stone out of her pouch and stared down at it, eyes watering slightly. “I can’t let this die. My masters are dead. I won’t have a Padawan because I’m not a Jedi,” she murmured. She reached forward and put the stone in Kanan’s hands.
“Don’t let this die, Kanan. Give it to Ezra.”
Kanan was blind. Ahsoka was…gone. And Ezra was…confused.
He sighed and plopped down on his bunk. Malachor had stripped away so much from him and his friends. Where were they supposed to go from here? Would he still become a Jedi, now that Kanan was blind? Could he?
Maul betrayed them. There was a look on Kanan and Ahsoka’s faces, before everything went wrong, that told him that they weren’t surprised. But it wasn’t truly his fault! How was he supposed to know that Maul would…destroy everything?
How was he supposed to know that Vader would show up on Malachor?
There was a knock on his door. Ezra sighed and sat up. “Come in,” he called.
The door slid open, and Kanan walked in, one hand gripping the doorframe for support. He wasn’t adjusted at all to his blindness and has been told by Hera not to move around on his own multiple times. But this was Kanan. It was obvious that he wouldn’t listen.
“Ezra.” Kanan’s voice was a little hoarse. His eyes were wrapped with bandages. The hand that wasn’t holding onto the doorframe was in a loose fist, as though he was holding something.
“I know you’re upset about Malachor,” Kanan said, breaking the silence. He took a few steps forward, and Ezra sat up and moved forward, grabbing one of Kanan’s arms and pulling him to the bunk. They sat down, side by side.
“Ezra. Ahsoka wanted me to give you something,” he said. “Now that she’s…I have to honor her word.”
Ezra shook his head. “How can you trust me? I don’t even trust me, Kanan. This is all my fault,” he responded.
Kanan shook his head and uncurled his fingers to reveal a smooth black stone.
Ezra stared at it in disbelief before looking up at Kanan. Had Kanan lost his mind? “A stone?” he asked. The way Kanan was talking about it, Ezra was thinking it was something a lot more important.
“Ezra,” Kanan sighed, probably sensing Ezra’s disappointment. “This stone was a part of Ahsoka’s Jedi lineage. Though she was no longer a Jedi, she wanted this tradition to stay alive. I trust you’ll do the right thing, Ezra.”
Kanan still trusted him, even now. Ezra would do anything to make sure that trust remained.
Maul was coming. Ben could sense him, miles away, angry and confused.
Tired and lost.
Ben could relate to that. But the time—his time—has not come yet. For now, the galaxy was still in turmoil, the Force was wrong, and Anakin was…
No. It was best not to think about Anakin right now. He needed to focus on duty, on the present, on the now.
Ezra Bridger lay unconscious, having completely exhausted himself looking for Ben. Ben would have found it endearing had it not ultimately revealed his position to Maul. He had to make sure the boy would keep him hidden, that the boy would understand why he was here. He wouldn’t tell him the full truth, but…if word got out, more would come to Tatooine, and Luke would be in danger. That can’t happen.
Ben exhaled slowly and sat down on the log next to the fire. It looked like it was about to go out. Since Maul was here, he might as well…
Something echoed in the Force. Something old, something familiar.
Ben frowned, poking at the fire with a stick before he stood up and kneeled next to Ezra. The boy was still out cold, but the Force was humming more now, insisting on something.
The droid that arrived with Ezra gave a questioning beep.
Ben shook his head. The past was gone. There was no need for him to think of such things now. He sat again and continued to maintain the fire, watching Ezra until he stirred. The boy looked up at him, eyes wide and confused, even as he rubbed at them and stared again.
“You’re in the wrong place, Ezra Bridger.” Speaking was a rare thing now; to hear his own voice was certainly a strange thing these days, considering the amount of time he spent alone now. Qui-Gon came by now and then, but there wasn’t much need for talking during those times.
Ezra frowned. “Master?” He began to stand up, his confusion spreading out into the Force. “Master Kenobi?”
Kenobi. It’s been a while since anyone had called him that, let alone his true name. But it was no matter. He was Crazy Old Ben, after all. Names were simply names, nothing more and nothing less.
“I am,” Ben acknowledged. “And when you have your strength, I will help you on your way.” He stood too and began to walk towards the boy.
It was a simple task to tell Ezra that Maul manipulated the holocrons so that he would be able to discover his own location. But before Ezra agreed with his statements, he paused and frowned.
“Wait, I…I think the Force wants me to give this to you,” Ezra said, and pulled the stone out of his pocket.
Ben stared at the black stone resting in his palm. The river stone. It looked almost exactly the same as it did all those years ago. Obi-Wan was thirteen when Qui-Gon gave it to him; now Ben was…old. It has been over forty years since that stone entered his own life, and to see it returned to him now was odd, to say the least.
“I see,” Ben responded. “Has anyone told you what that stone is?” he asked.
“Not exactly. I know it’s important to the Jedi, and I was told to keep it until the right time. I think now is the right time, Master Kenobi,” Ezra insisted. “If you won’t join the Rebellion, at least take this stone.”
And before he could say anything else, the stone was placed unceremoniously into his hands. It was almost like being reunited with a very old and dear friend, and after all this time, maybe this was exactly what he needed.
“You have my thanks, Ezra Bridger,” he murmured.
The time was now coming. Maul was close, which meant that it was time for the old wound to be mended.
The box sitting in Old Ben’s hut was in a discreet corner, not easily found, but once Luke reached out with the Force, its presence was almost blinding. He dusted off the top of the box before opening it.
The box was filled to the brim with handwritten notes on the Jedi, on lightsabers and their forms, on the Force itself. Ben kept notes on his daily life on Tatooine, and Luke wanted to read through everything right then and there, but his time was limited. Han and Leia were waiting for him back at the base. He only made this trip because of the will of the Force (or “on a whim” as Han would say).
Stepping into Ben’s hut without Ben being there felt like an extreme invasion of privacy, but the Force urged him on, and once he saw the box, Luke realized that this was Ben’s intentions all along.
With a little more vigor, he sifted through all the papers until he reached the bottom of the box. A sleek black stone with thin red veins sat, with a single sheet of paper resting underneath it with some writing on it.
Luke picked up the stone first. It felt…strange. He could feel it, somehow. It felt vibrant and alive and…wonderful. It almost seemed to glow in his palm, and its warmth was more comforting than the oppressive heat of Tatooine’s twin suns.
He pulled the note out of the box and looked at it.
“Luke,” it read, “this is a river stone. My master gave it to me many years ago and I gave it to your father when he was my apprentice. It found its way back to me pretty recently and I trust that you would know what to do with it. May the Force be with you.”
Luke blinked and put the note back in the box. He put the stone in his pocket, allowing it to warm him even more. Then he took the box and walked towards the door of the hut. He stopped at the doorway and smiled.
“Thank you, Ben. For everything.”
Rey raced into the Force Tree, panting slightly. She needed to leave Ahch-To now. She needed to get to Snoke’s ship and help Ben Solo turn back to the light side. When she arrived here, she thought Luke Skywalker would be able to help the Resistance fight the First Order. She thought Luke Skywalker would return to help.
But it was now clear that he wouldn’t. She needed to leave and find Ben before it was too late. She needed to find Finn and Leia and see if they were alright. But before that…
The Jedi books. Now that she was up close to them, she could feel them in the Force. They whispered to her, almost comfortingly. She was right. Rey stepped forward and touched the first one briefly before pulling it out of its shelf. Immediately, dust flew into her face and she sneezed.
Once she recovered, Rey began packing all the texts into her bag. When she pulled out the last book, the one on the far-right side, she saw something sitting behind it.
“What?” she murmured, reaching for it and pulling it out of the Force Tree. She stared down at it.
The object was a stone of some sort. It was a shiny black with red veins that shone under the sunlight. It felt…right. She didn’t know whose stone it was and where it came from, but the fact that it was here with the sacred texts meant only one thing: It was important.
The stone seemed to brighten in the Force and whisper. “It’s alive,” she realized, staring down at it with more intensity. “How?”
Maybe Luke would know, but she didn’t have time to ask him questions. She picked up the bag with the sacred texts in it and put the stone in a pouch on her belt. Rey would find her answers when the time came, but for now, it was time for her to face the future.
It was time for her to answer calling as a Jedi, using the guidance of everyone who came before her. She was the future of the Jedi, and she would do her duty, even if Luke wouldn’t. She would do what she had to do. There was no other choice.