Chapter 1: A Favor to Ask
Out of all the tables and petty criminals in the cantina, the brown pig chose him. Ben couldn’t help the grimace on his lips as the secretion from the creature’s skin oozed into the seat across from him.
“Kylo Ren,” it garbled in some broken Outer Rim dialect. Ben kept his focus on the now empty cup before him.
“I’m told you gotta ‘particular’ set of skills.” He twirled the cup between fingers. “I may or may not have a pretty price to match those skills.”
“You either do or you don’t; what do you want?”
The creature leaned forward, casting a shadow over the cup. His growl dropped to the pits of hell as he whispered. His breath stank. Ben was not intimidated. He knew of worse. Once the creature finished, Ben sat back in his chair, finally snapping his eyes up to meet the customer.
The pig’s chin fat jiggled in surprise. “What?!” he barked, “Why not?”
Ben lifted the blaster from it’s resting place on his lap, pulling at his sleeve before beginning to wipe at non-existent smudges along the metal. The creatures roared insults and threats, something about Bantha fodder ect, ect.
Once the pig removed his fat from the table, Ben dabbed a gloved hand upon his cheek to wipe away the spit. Kylo Ren may have a specific skill set, but Ben Solo was no killer.
Gambling had never been one of Ben’s strengths. Nor was he interested in the clubbing scene. The ridiculous clothes and over-priced drinks were ludicrous, not to mention the crowds set off an uneasiness within his stomach. But the sky on Noctis, that he appreciated. The bleeding pinks and purples of it’s eternal night made him lean back against his ship and just, stare.
“Ben, Ben, where ya been?” A dark man doused in leather and blue with the widest smile walked across the landing pad, arms outstretched expectantly.
“Lando,” Ben greeted with a nod, hoping to avoid the inevitable. Lando’s arms wrapped tight around his ribs, squeezing him into the smaller man.
“Have you grown?” the man asked after finally letting him go, “You must be taller than your old man!”
Ben looked back at the skyline, gnawing on his lip.
Lando seemed to correct himself before continuing, “How’s living on the edge treating you?”
He shrugged. “The usual.”
The old businessman laughed. “I’m gonna assume that's good, cause you never tell me, you son of a gun!”
Ben turned back to him, studying his excessively wide smile. “What do you want, Uncle?” he asked wearily.
Lando laughed again. “I’ll bet your wondering why I dragged you across the Outer Rim.” Ben raised his eyebrows. “Well, I got a favor to ask, but don’t worry, she’s a cutie!”
“Is that all you have?”
“Everything I need.” She gave a little smile. She was...different.
Lando had introduced the two. He said it was because this girl needed a ride across the galaxy, but he didn’t trust the others when a lone female was involved. Ben told him that if she couldn’t defend herself, then she shouldn't be travelling under the radar. His uncle had only laughed and replied with, “Oh, she can handle herself alright.”
He hadn’t expected Rey. Where Ben was long, she was short, and where he was broad, she was slim. Where his nose was disproportioned, her’s fit appropriately. Where he frowned, she smiled. A disarming, kind smile. Rey travelled with dirt under her fingernails and dark hair pulled into three messy buns. She made eye contact and smiled often. It made Ben uncomfortable. Like she somehow knew, everything.
He originally planned to deny his uncle’s offer. Remaining in contact with him was risky enough. And doing business was certain to entangle him again. It took years to free himself the first time. Ben was loathe to do it again. But there was something about this, girl. Something tugging in the back of his brain, something familiar. Something he needed to figure out.
Ben watched as she boarded the ramp to his ship. Just Rey with her satchel and staff. Who are you?
Chapter 2: Jedi Aren't Supposed to Smile
She asked many questions. Rey wanted to know about the dashboard, the hyperdrive, any modifications, the name, the origin. Ben could only answer so many. Truthfully, he knew little of the ship from a technical standpoint, or even its make and model. He knew how to fly it and tell when something was wrong.
“You really don’t know its name?” Rey reclined casually in the co-pilot’s seat, having made it her own before he could protest.
Ben considered her briefly. Such a curious girl. It was dangerous.
“Sometimes I call her The Amissa.”
“The Amissa…” She whispered as though tasting the words. “What does it mean?”
Outside, the passing stars and systems decorated the windows, casting flickering shadows across the cockpit. They remained in silence as the galaxy rushed by.
He found her back in the cabin, eating at the booth, body completely twisted around to stare out the window into oblivion.
“It’s not safe to gaze for long periods. The universe can mess with one’s head.”
She grinned. “What about you, Captain? How long have you been sailing through the universe?”
Rey corrected herself to face him, fingers digging at her food. A handful of pellets shoved in her mouth. Pellets?
Ben studied the rock balls of protein. Light and nutritious, brittle and flavorless.
“Long enough for what?” Only those who travelled light ate them. Those and… His tongue curled upon memory.
“Long enough to know there is better food than that.”
Rey smirked at her pellets. She wouldn’t- couldn’t be one of them… could she? A poncho hung from her shoulders for travel, or to conceal…
“Like I said, I brought what I need.”
But the poncho was too short. Her belt was empty. The only weapon she carried was the staff glued across her spine. Unless…
Ben turned suddenly, his back to the girl as he opened a cabinet on the wall. It was possible, Lando Calrissian himself handed her specifically to him. Made him hurtle halfway across the galaxy for this girl. She was specially somehow. Ben turned back around.
“What is that?” Rey asked, curiosity blooming on her features. She eyed the two plates within his palms. He placed one before her.
The drawer beneath the table slid out as Ben withdrew two utensils. Rey cautiously tugged one fork from his hand, then scooped a pile of stir-fried avem meat upon her tongue. Wide eyes.
“This, this is incredible!”
With renewed energy she plunged forkful after forkful. A rogue chuckle escaped Ben. He slid into the bench across her. Rey gave a childish, gleeful smile.
Jedi weren’t supposed to smile.
Her satchel was basically empty. Goggles, a blaster, packets of pellets, a holo device. Ben slung the flap closed and flipped the bag to scan the back. The front again. Nothing. He could hear her tinkering down the hall, knee deep in the inner workings of his ship.
An electric crack.
Jedi weren’t supposed to swear.
Ben eyed the weapon beside him. Rey would have never let it out of sight, had he not yanked a few wires loose from The Amissa’s engine. She wore the rusted staff like armor on her back. What was so special about that grimy thing? She already possessed a blaster. How could this be of any use?
“What is your problem!”
Ben pounced upon the staff, running his fingertips along the metal.
The engine groaned to life.
Come on, it had to be- A notch in the metal. Ben dug a fingernail beneath it. Rey’s footsteps echoed down the hall. He whispered his own “ah-ha!”
“Did it work?”
Rey bounded into the cockpit, hair blown out of her buns and soot smudged across her face. Ben reached over the dashboard and slowly pulled a lever down. The stars erupted into fluorescent ribbons.
“Whoo!” Rey punched him in the shoulder. “Told you I could do it!”
Ben used his glove to brush the soot off. He spun the pilot’s seat around as she collapsed upon it’s pair.
“You have quite the gift.” He eyed the girl as she slouched happily into the leather. He would have to wipe it after her deptature.
She shrugged. “I’ve just always loved tinkering.”
“Where are you from, Rey-who-loves-tinkering?”
Her joy deflated, leaking off her face. She paused. Ben took note.
He smirked. If only he had a credit for everytime this answer was used. Ben leaned back into his seat and turned away.
“If there is one thing I’ve learned, Rey, its that no one is from nowhere.” He feigned interest in the controls.
His eyebrows pinched together. “Perhaps that is nowhere.”
Then a thought. Ben returned to face her.
“How could you have survived?”
Rey shrugged, staring forward as lights brushed across her cheeks. “I did what I had to. I needed to survive.”
Her eyes remained unmoving.
“What could possibly have made a little girl on Jakku fight tirelessly for her life?”
The stars flashed upon her irises.
“Who are you, Rey from Jakku?”
A signature radiated off Kylo Ren. Faint, but so very clearly there. “Coming across another Force-sensitive individual, is like unexpectedly bumping into someone wearing the same shoes as you, except in a different color.” A line Master Skywalker would often repeat. But this man was… on the contrary. Rey could feel his presence, but it was like the light which stretched out from beneath a closed door. Kylo did not wear the same shoes, hell, he did not even wear the same outfit. Yet Rey felt compelled to scan the man, as though enough inspection would reveal the unknown.
The jedi shook her head. Meditation was not to be spent on curious individuals. She had only a slim window of time, before they arrived or Kylo left the cockpit only to find her sitting like a child upon his tabletop. He must not decipher who she is, General Organa made this very clear.
Rey repositioned her legs underneath and straightened her spine. She felt it. The very essence of the ships’ life streaming through every corner. The metal table beneath, the porthole behind, her staff, her…
It was gone.
Rey’s eyes shot open.
Pouncing off the table, she snatched the rusted staff and pried open the hatch at its center. Empty. The jedi sucked in a sharp breath, struggling to regain composure. But the panic blocked her senses. Rey gripped the rod rigidly between her fingers. She worked too hard for that chunk of metal, no kriffin way was she about to let it go now.
The Amissa hurtled through the vortex of space. At lightspeed, billions of systems, planets, and lives all passed as an irrelevant blur. Ben sat rigid in his pilot’s seat, strained knuckles gripping the armrests.
How had he been so foolish?
A jolt erupted against the back of his chair. As he flew forward, a tube of corroded metal hooked his chin back.
“WHERE IS IT?” the jedi thundered. She bared her teeth, hovering only inches from his nose as loose hairs fell against his skin.
Ben remained silent. Contemplating.
“You thief! Where is it?”
He cocked his head as best he could within the current predicament.
Ben’s neck whipped downward, then was yanked up again as Rey violently shook the staff, her foot against the back of the seat as leverage.
“I- I didn’t steal anything,” he wheezed.
“Liar! It’s gone and there’s only one other on this goddamn ship!”
His foot crept off the floor and up the panel of the dashboard.
“You’re mistaken.” The toe of his boot caught in a notch. “I couldn’t have stolen your lightsaber, Rey-” The compartment door hung open. “-since it technically belongs to me.”
Ben curved a finger down to point at the hilt of the lightsaber, resting within a hidden slot underneath the dashboard.
It suddenly shot across the cockpit into the jedi’s hand as she abandoned her staff. Ben dropped forward.
“Who. Are. You.”
Rubbing a glove along his throat, the pilot shifted his chair towards her. The vivid blade now sung with life, blazing a blue across her flushed cheeks.
“That’s not your’s , sweetheart.” She bared her teeth in a snarl. “That lightsaber-” he pointed “-is technically my inheritance.”
A slight flit across her expressions. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
The pilot rose to his full height. “My name is Ben Solo. And that, belongs to me.”
As Ben Solo moved one step forward, Rey took two back. The blade still sung with power beside her ear.
“How do I know you’re telling the truth?”
The pilot let out a irritated huff, a gloved hand coming to rest against his hip.
“Can’t you feel it? I know you do. It’s muted and dull but its there. I can feel it-” He stabbed a finger at his chest. “-seeping through the cracks. I know you can sense the Force residue sticking to my very being.”
The light under the door.
Rey deactivated the saber, staring acutely at the boy before her.
Ben sighed. “Did my mother put you up to this?”
She remained silent. His head hung low. He rubbed bitterly at the back of his neck.
“I’m dropping you off at the nearest planet.”
“No!” Her cry halted him mid-turn. “We need you!”
“The Resistance?” he sneered, “Or my mother?”
Ben stepped back towards the controls.
“Han Solo is dead.”
His body froze.
A mirror shot across the room.
Upon impact, it shattered and the countless pieces of glass rained down. A steel nightstand followed. Ben picked up a leg that had broken off and began to beat it barbarously against the destroyed furniture.
How could he?
How dare she?
Why would he?
Why couldn’t that idiotic son of a bitch stay alive?
How come he wasn’t there to save him?
When there were multiple tears in his skin, and the steel bat finally bent completely out of shape, Ben stopped. Dropping the leg, he fell back against the wall, and slid to the floor, a trail of sweat lagging behind.
A cavernous boom shook The Amissa.
Ben opened his eyes. It thundered again.
He leaned upon blood-crusted fingers, forcing himself to rise from the floor where he collapsed hours before.
The boom repeated.
Treading over the shattered debris at his feet, Ben surged for the door. A searing light invaded the black room as it opened. He blinked to adjust. Rey stood on the other side, almost as bewildered as he.
“What’s that sound?”
Ben stumbled through the doorway muttering, “Nothing good.”
The jedi followed as he staggered through the hall, never once mentioning the dried blood stains. Upon reaching the cockpit, the captain rushed to the controls, eyes up to search through the viewpoint. Rey didn’t have to join him to know.
He squeezed the edge of the dashboard with his grip, head dropping low.
“Did you tell them?” Ben spoke softly into the collar of his shirt.
“Did you contact them? Let them track you?”
“Then why the hell-” He shook the dashboard. “-are we being pulled into a Resistance freighter!”
“I don’t know!”
“You don’t know!” Kylo Ren whipped around, eyes bloodshot from tears and hair disheveled from a dead sleep. “You- a Jedi resistance member, sent to drag me back- doesn’t know how your own army is at my front door!”
“This wasn’t part of the plan!” Rey snapped, “I was supposed to bring you to a distant planet where General Organa would be waiting. That was all!”
A crashing series of clicks echoed outside.
Ben turned back to the viewpoint, panic now bubbling across his features.
Breathing in, Rey began, “They probably didn’t believe that I would complete my mission. But now General Organa will be out soon, whether you want to see her or not.”
He glanced back at the jedi, who now stood solem and calm only a few steps away.
“You might as well do as she likes.”
Ben rocked his jaw from one side to the other, considering. He finally looked down at the stained shirt he wore and whispered, “I’ll go change my clothes.”
The hangar seemed frozen. Empty.
A lone figure approached the docked Amissa, a light tap-tap-tap of a cane echoing off the x-wing shells. She paused upon reaching the ship. A sudden hiss of air, and a wall of The Amissa opened before her.
Rey stood at the top of the ramp, satchel and staff in hand.
“Hello, Rey,” General Organa smiled warmly, a stark contrast to the cold of the steel hangar.
“This wasn’t part of the mission.” Her smile never waivered, the older woman only nodded. “But my mission wasn’t completely real, was it?”
She finally allowed the weight to settle over her features. “I couldn’t take the risk.”
General Organa moved to climb the ramp, but Rey reached out a hand.
“Don’t go in there.”
The general eyed the jedi, daggers behind a professional mask. “Is he not inside?”
“Just let him come on his own.”
The older woman gave a heartless laugh. “Then you clearly do not know my son.”
Rey leaned forward.
“Ben Solo will come.”
A ginormous thanks to those who have already left comments and kudos within these first few chapters! You're all so awesome! Apologies, I know there are some punctuation errors within my work so far, posting on here is new to me so I'm just working out the kinks. Thank you again for your support, you guys rock!
Ben Solo emerged like a dog with a tail between its legs. Head low, hair falling over face, hands in pockets. When his boots finally touched the metal hangar floor, General Leia opened her mouth, then shut it. She remained frozen, staring at the man who used to be her son. It was the same boy, just taller and broader and … more afraid. The general straightened her spine.
“You’re father-” her voice broke “-is gone.”
She remained standing tall, but her lips trembled and eyes began to ooze old tears. Ben finally looked up.
He took one step, two steps, three.
Tentatively, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. She choked, and dove forward and held him close. Ben raised his other arm and laid his palm against the back of her hair, turning away so Rey wouldn’t see the tears leaking down his cheeks.
A fucking heart attack.
Han Solo, the gruff smuggler with a rust-bucket ship and a knack for trouble, died of a heart attack.
Ben hunched rigid over the table. The second he opened the ramp, the smell hit him like a cannon. The whole ship still smelled of musty leather and engine grease and fried circuits and … home.
With senate meetings and smuggling deals and revolution planning, Ben never had a planet-bound house. No shackled roof or paned windows. Instead he spent most nights curled in the fold-down bunk in the smallest room of the Millennium Falcon. Through the endless work and violent fights and force-originated terrors, Ben was safe here. But what good did a sense of security do for Han Solo?
He still died like an old man.
Leia walked as an old woman. She crouched over a cane with stiff gray hair pulled into a bun and a permanent crease between her brows. Rey could have sworn the general was not this old only months before. No matter the cause, war is not kind.
“General, why didn’t you tell me who he was?” Rey stepped slowly beside the woman to match her pace.
“He would have never come with any suspicions.”
“But he searched my things- he found my hidden lightsaber. And I could sense fragments of the Force on him, so why keep this from me?”
Leia never spoke, but continued walking even after Rey stopped.
“The risk was too great,” the general finally said, turning back to glance at the jedi, “We need him- the galaxy needs him. Not just me.”
Rey sighed and stepped to catch up. “Forgive me, but what can Ben Solo do that Luke Skywalker couldn't?”
Leia was the one to stop. She looked to the jedi, eyes suddenly ancient and pleading.
“He knows the dark side.”
She continued walking.
War is not kind.
Apologies! I know this chapter is hella short but the classic bastard writer's block has been chilling in my life recently though I appreciate all your wonderful support for my work. Have an dandy day and thank you for taking time to read this.