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Conceal Me What I Am

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Conceal me what I am, and be my aid
For such disguise as haply shall become
The form of my intent.

Twelfth Night, or What You Will, I.II.50-52


Rey thought, for the briefest second, that she was drowning.

She didn’t realize she had been slipping in and out of consciousness until she came to while partially undressed under a stream of running water. After all, she had only just started to get used to the sensation of warm, regular showers.

She would have jerked herself to her feet to assume some sort of defensive stance, but she was too disoriented to properly locate and use them. After a few more seconds, in which she was able to identify that she was, in fact, flat on her back on the shower floor, a strange face peered down at her through the doorway.

“Oh good, you're up.”

The willowy humanoid woman who looked down at her was heavily made up in dark shades that matched her black and white patterned clothing. Rey noticed vaguely that her captor spoke Basic in a strange accent.

“Hurry, we are running behind. Make yourself presentable.”

Rey wanted to protest. She wanted to demand answers. She wanted to fight this stranger, and command her to set her free.

“Wha—” was all she managed to choke out. Her tongue felt heavy and lazy in her dry mouth. She couldn't quite sit all the way up yet, though she had managed to slide her back up against the shower wall. From this semi-upright position, she contorted herself into a sort of ball, resembling a cracked egg more than a fighter.

“Oh, there is no way I'm bathing you,” her captor snorted. “There is no bounty high enough for that.” She gestured indifferently to several bottles on the floor. “The soap is next to you. Make it fast. There's a robe out here when you're done.”

She turned away, and Rey distantly heard, "He may dock my reward if we're late, so be quick about it.”

 

Rey desperately tried to remember how she got into this scenario as she worked a lather into her hair. The last thing she remembered, she had been on another reconnaissance mission for the Resistance, looking for pockets of dissent against the First Order in distant systems while also hunting for the remaining kyber crystal mines. These held the key to repairing her splintered lightsaber. She remembered having left a planet in the Abregado system, but before she could get her small star skimmer to make the leap into hyperspace to rendezvous with her friends and Resistance colleagues, she found herself being caught by the tractor beam of a much larger ship. She had become a better pilot since leaving Jakku and training under Resistance pilots, real pilots, but her frantic steering and button activation had proved fruitless in this instance. She remembered her utter frustration at being, yet again, at the mercy of an unknown malevolent force. Though she had stashed away the pieces of her lightsaber and prepared her staff for her own defense, she had been rendered unconscious soon after by what she could only assume was some sort of gas pumped into her ship, given her current bleary, lethargic state.

She had thus far managed to stand and tried to seek out an exit, to begin her escape. However, given that she had been stripped of most of her clothing besides her underwear and chest wrappings and was now soaked through to her bones, she felt that escape would be difficult, and that was all before considering the surly jailer waiting for her impatiently just outside the refresher. Propping herself up with one arm against the wall, she had sought to make herself thoroughly clean, figuring that taking her time and indulging in a luxury like a warm shower might be her best chance for insubordination while she slowly regained her senses and found her bearings.

However, her captor’s patience ran out long before the hot water did, and Rey soon found herself getting dragged out of the refresher, smothered in a towel, and stuffed into a sleek black dressing robe. She tried to protest, to struggle, but it was if her limbs were wading through tubs of Bacta while everyone else was darting around her, completely unencumbered. Another member of the crew slapped some binders onto Rey’s wrist and helped her shove her heavy feet back into her boots before the tall woman paraded her down the corridors to lead her off the ship.

Her imagination, usually viciously creative in the face of danger, seemed likewise mollified by the gas, and she could only vaguely envision the terrors awaiting her when she left the dingy hallways of the freighter. If life on Jakku had taught her anything, it was that a bad situation could always be worse, and more often than not, if it could get worse, it would. Her clunky old speeder often broke down right before sandstorms, leaving her trapped, huddled overnight in the eerie wreckage of gutted Imperial Star Destroyers. Unkar Plutt, never a friendly face at Niima outpost, was often only the third most unpleasant person she would encounter on any given day.

Being kidnapped was another thing, however; she could only imagine the horrible hovels she was about to be trafficked into in her undressed state. Poe would often regale her with stories of his misadventures into skeevy cantinas and spice trader dens in his short but fabled history as a Resistance operative. These stories served as both sordid entertainment and harsh warnings before she took off on her reconnaissance missions; though she would never let Poe see her fear, she always was extra cautious when heading to unfamiliar systems, his warnings sticking in her mind and her staff never straying far from the pilot’s seat.

If anything was good about the gas they had poisoned her with, it was that she was so lethargic she was unable to feel fear at her current predicament. Well, almost unable.

“I don’t know who you are, girl,” the slender woman said finally as she ushered Rey down the gangway. “But you are worth quite the credits to some powerful people in this galaxy.”

“I’m nobody,” Rey mumbled, trying to remember her Resistance training related to torture and capture, but failing rather spectacularly.

“I’m certain you are. But not tonight.” The woman dug her claw-like nails into Rey’s upper arm to propel her faster.

As Rey’s feet stepped onto the planet’s surface for the first time, she felt something flood into her chest. It was a strange sort of wariness, but it was the most salient, definitive sensation she had uncovered since discovering the scalding water on her skin. She looked up in surprise at the feeling, expecting to find herself on a grungy spaceport, with the Force sending her a harsh warning from any aggressors nearby.

Instead, she gazed across a lavish city lit by a late afternoon sun. The buildings stretched out on the cliffside below her glowed a pristine white. They cascaded downhill to a small sliver of beach around a large, sapphire-blue body of water. Rey felt a warm breeze brush against her messy, still-damp hair and exposed legs as it blew out to sea. Bustling streets wound their way through the city, and Rey thought she could distantly hear chatter in a number of alien languages.

The kidnapper nudged her along, clearly pleased with her prisoner’s shock, and muttered a few unintelligible words into a comm device. The landing pad Rey trudged across was not packed with slavers, mercenaries, and spice traders, but instead was clearly privately owned and attached to the large manor nearby. Rey could barely make out the shape of it in the distance; her eyes, accustomed to the dark interior of the ship, were struggling to focus in the oppressive daylight, while her mind fought against its haze to make sense of the situation. The unease in her chest only grew, and like the sea below, seemed to beat against her like waves on the shore.

Her captor entered a code into the side door of the manor house, and as she forced Rey through the doorway, she became acutely aware of how out of place she was. The chamber she was in seemed to have been specifically designed to be unapologetically elegant, accented as it was by striking white and gold features, including a tall, golden door at the opposite end. The plush carpet beneath her clunky boots was striking indigo, a color she was beginning to become familiar with through her travels. The high ceiling, crisscrossed by supports and complicated but artistic lighting features, reminded her of a temple. The windows, dozens of them, stretched almost all the way to the high ceilings like elongated ovals. Through some of them, she could view other parts of the building, including other, likely identical hallways with equally marvelous windows. A number of puffy evening clouds had rolled in, obscuring the sunlight, and casting the hall in a somber shadow.

Though the dressing robe she wore was perhaps considered nice, she knew she was far too underdressed for her current location. And she didn’t dare catch a glimpse of her hair and face in one of the pristine windows. Though she had rarely felt self-conscious on Jakku, her life ever since had taught her the worst form of humility, and indeed the worst part of socialization: shame. She tried not to dwell on her appearance, but instead focus on the Force roiling within her, pushing her pride far from her mind as she glanced around the splendor of the hall.

Her heart was now beating rapidly, perhaps shaking off the last of the gas’s lethargy. The worry that had curled in her chest now blossomed in a way that threatened to consume her. The Force was yelling to her, screaming to her a message she could barely hear, but that sounded familiar to her.

Halfway down the hall, her captor paused, gripping her arm in a wordless command to stop.

“My lord, the girl, as we agreed.”

From out of a small nook in the hall stepped a darkly cloaked figure. Rey’s stomach lurched as she processed why she had been so strangely anxious upon exiting the ship, why her chest had felt so constricted, why the Force had sent her the warning she had been unable to decipher. Standing before her, dressed almost exactly as she had seen him in the forest on Takodana, was Kylo Ren, the Supreme Leader of the First Order.