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The Slayer and the Beast

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"When flesh meets flame;

at the breaking of the mortal.

The Key, encased in soul and fire

will turn,

to finish what was started.

The Dark Lord will be set free again,

and all will be consumed."

- The Book of Shadows

 

France, 1482

 

Leia felt herself begin to sink into the snow, numbness biting against the skin of her feet. She couldn’t stop for long, there was no time, but her lungs felt like they were on fire, the freezing air somehow burning a path down her throat. She pressed herself flat against the stone wall. She could hear angry shouting in the distance.  She closed her eyes and she could see their drawn swords and the flaming torches close at hand.  The Romani had never been in good standing with the local authorities, and she, less than any. Too rebellious, too uppity and too curious. She was always one step ahead of them, unafraid of their feeble attempts to catch her and her people in some dreadful heresy. But she was not laughing now. Now she was terrified. There had never been so much on the line before. 

She held tighter to the bundle in her arms muttering as quietly as she could.

She looked up again at the frost-covered road that cut through the small village. She wasn’t far. She could do this. She continued to slink along the side of the homes and shops, knowing that should they see her, she would never be able to outrun them.

She exhaled slowly, the white puff of air momentarily ghosting her vision. She had not thought that the word would get out so quickly, rumors had always circled around her and her family, but this was the first time they had closed in on her to the point of a sword.  Leia looked up into the night sky; behind the haze of frost, the stars almost looked like crystals.

Leia peeked around one of the shops and across the road. She could see it from here. All she had to do was make it to the distinctly marked red and black door.  It held her salvation, her one hope of being able to save him. She gave the bundle in her arms a little bob, securing it against her breast.  She closed her eyes and said a prayer to any god who cared to listen to a desperate young woman.

She breathed in once more and then took off at a sprint, her feet slapping against the cold, wet snow.  She could hear horses in the distance, she could all but feel the heat from their torches, hungry to consume her and burn away her sins. Her eyes were shut but she didn't' stop moving until threw herself against the door and flung it open. She slammed it shut behind, as though it were an impenetrable wall of stone.

Her eyes remained squeezed shut, as she pressed her back into the door, attempting to get her bearing.  She looked around the shop, completely empty and dark and then back at the infant in her arms, who was now beginning to wiggle against the blanket wrapped tightly around him.

“Shhh,” she cooed, pressing a kiss to the full head of thick black hair. “Ssh…It’s all right Benjamin.”

Ben’s eyes didn’t open, but his chubby arms stretched out from the blanket, his hands closed into tiny fists.  Leia couldn’t help but smile down at the child.  Only 4 months old but still so full of personality and power…like his father. He looked at her with eyes, both new and ancient, as though the universe was gathered there. Leia’s heart constricted at the thought of her lost love and now…Leia shook her head and slowly stood.

No time for self-pity.

Leia slowly crossed the room, toward the green rug.  She had been told what to do back when the arrangements were made. She rolled the rug back and pulled up on the basement door.

Leia knew she couldn’t turn back now. She would have waited if she could, soaking in every moment with Ben. She knew she had likely waited much longer than she should have, but the thought of parting with him was devastating.  But now she knew what she had to do. She had to protect him. With a creak she lifted the door, releasing a wave of billowing green smoke from the basement.  Leia descended the steps slowly.

“Mother Talzin,” she called.

Leia squinted through the haze of green and saw Mother Talzin’s distinct silhouette in the darkness, clothed in her signature headdress.   She was hard to miss, after all, a local legend shrouded in mystery and magic, vilified by the religious leaders, but she moved in freedom, to fierce and powerful to be touched.

“My dear,” she said. “I am so glad that you could make it.”

“Yes,” said Leia. “It was close.”

Talzin slowly turned. Leia was powerful in her own right and had even been invited to join the Nightsisters coven, but Talzin was still intimidating her none the less. Talzin glided toward her, and Leia instinctively held Ben closer to her, a shiver running down her spine. Talzin gazed down at her, her face covered in white and black, her traditional décor for a ritual. Her pale blue eyes went from Leia and down to Ben.

“Is this…”

Leia nodded hurriedly as tears stung her eyes. “You’re certain…you’re certain that this will work,” asked Leia, barely able to keep her emotions in check.

Talzin nodded and brought her long fingers up toward Ben, gently touching his cheek.

“Yes,” she said. “The Book of Shadows is deep with magicks. But…” Talzin held up a finger and looked at the young mother.  “This spell has its limits.  It will protect the child from those who seek it until there arises someone strong enough to protect him here on earth. When that person comes, the child will come back to earth, his true and complete nature fully revealed.” Leia nodded. “But we must make haste."

Leia nodded and looked down again at her son. Her impossible miracle.

“My sweet boy,” she whispered into his hair.  “I hope one day you’ll know how deeply I have loved you.”  Tears streaked her face. Slowly, Ben began to stir awake under her kisses. His eyelids fluttered, revealing the ruby-red eyes and thin black slits of pupils. Upon seeing his mother, the baby smiled, his lips pulling back to reveal the two pointed fangs. Leia did not recoil, this was the face that she loved.

Han’s face.

The face of her son, who she had carried in her womb. The pregnancy she survived only thanks to magic.  She had almost died bringing her son into the world, and whatever else he was, he was her baby. Talzin held out her hands expectantly. Leia let out a strangled sob and pressed another kiss to Ben’s forehead before surrendering her son to Mother Talzin.

Upon being passed from the familiar arms of his mother to a stranger, Benjamin began to cry. Leia shuddered as his whimpers turned into keening wales, shattering her heart into pieces. Losing Han had been almost unbearable but this, she did not know how she would survive this. It pained her that she would not be able to see what Ben would grow to be, that she would have no hand in raising him. And now he may never have the chance to do the things that she had dreamed for him; to love, to have a family, to experience humanity. But none of that mattered, not if it wasn’t safe for him. The world around him was hostile and dangerous for anything that was the slightest bit different, and he was more than slightly different. And Ben, she could not guarantee that he was any safer for the human world than it was for him. There was a power inside of him, something beyond what could be contained, something greater than even she could comprehend. 

Powerful but no less in want of his mother. She could hear Ben screaming for her.  It was all she could do not to snatch him back up, to give in to her worst and most selfish instincts. But she resisted.  Mother Talzin knelt and placed Ben on the floor, surrounded by 7 stones.  She heard Talzin cooing gently to Ben, and then she reached into her cloak and produced a jagged dagger. Leia inhaled sharply. Before Leia could do anything, Talzin pressed the jagged tip of the dagger to Ben’s forehead, just above his eye and quickly slashed it across his tender flesh, leaving a long angry slash across his face.  Leia let out a sob of protest but Talzin held up her hand to silence her.

“Calm yourself,” she warned, looking up at Leia from her still crouched position. “It’s necessary for the enchantment.”

Leia retracted her outstretched arm. Talzin took the edge of the knife, now dripping with her son’s blood, and flicked it over Ben, splattering the floor and the stones. As soon as the drops fell, the green light gushed outward, forming long tendrils, grasping for her son. Leia looked around as an unearthly voice filled the space of the basement- speaking a language she didn’t know, echoing in every corner, bouncing around her without rhyme or reason. 

Talzin was still on her knees, now outside the perimeter, muttering in the same language that Leia heard being whispered all around her. Leia looked around frantically trying to place the source but there was none to be found. When she looked back at Ben she let out a cry. His eyes were still flaming red, but his fangs had grown longer.  His thick black hair now surrounded two protruding, curling horns, and his skin began to shimmer and harden into a thick, black armor of scales. But even with his changed form, Leia could tell that it was still Ben.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

The last thing she heard was his cry and then a flash of light enveloped Ben and suddenly, the basement was dark again, leaving just her and Mother Talzin.  Leia could no longer hold back the desperate sob.  The stones sat unremarkably on the ground and Ben…Ben was gone.

She had done it. And the cost was almost more than she could bear.

He was gone, somewhere no one could reach him. Somewhere she would never be able to follow. Her arms were now empty.  Her cradle would no longer hold her precious boy, and her house would never be filled with his cries and his laughter.

Leia slowly collected herself off the floor and made her way to the stairs, not bothering to speak to Mother Talzin.  She should thank her, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it. She couldn’t bring herself to speak at all as she moved numbly.

She would tell everyone he had died, as so many babies in the village did. They would say they were sorry and offer to pray for her, but she knew they would all take a deep breathe, a sigh of relief when the news spread; the bastard, born of a witch, rumored to be inhuman, would no longer plague them. They would have to find something else to blame all their misfortunes on.

Leia stepped out into the night and shut the door behind her, hugging herself tightly.

“My sweet Ben,” she whispered, clutching the golden dice that hung around her neck. “Please be safe.”

*******

Back inside, in a store with harmless trinkets and carvings, Mother Talzin knelt before the altar, the Book of Shadows opened before her.

“My dark lord,” she whispered. “Everything is set in motion. He who is both human and demon will grow and will one day return to the mortal realm. And that…that will be the dawn of the New Order.”

*************

“The FUCK was that…”

Rey shot up in bed, tangled in her sweaty sheets. She whipped around frantically, clutching the wooden stake under her pillow.  She squinted into the darkness, her slayer senses were going crazy. She squinted wearily into the darkness.

…Nothing.

She reached over to her cellphone and looked at the time; 5:17 am. She let out an exasperated sigh and threw herself back down onto the pillow. Behind her eyelids she could see her again; the beautiful woman, eyes filled with resolve and sadness; and so much strength.  She could hear the woman’s cries, mingling and mixing with the those of a child. It was the same dream, every night, for the past few months. And every time when she awoke, she could hardly hold onto it, no matter how desperately she grasped at the vapors.  She heard cries, saw the green light, and a malicious grin.  But none of it made any sense, none of it fit together.

She sat up again and looked out the window. It was still dark out, but not for long. Soon the L.A traffic would start. She stretched upward, cracking her shoulders and back.

Who needed roosters to welcome the sun when you could get car horns, shouting and swearing?

She yawned loudly and placed her feet on the floor, expecting the now familiar creak of the floor below her. She stood and knelt, pawing through the pile of clothes on the floor.

“Okay,” she muttered. “Which pile was…” she sniffed one. “The clean one.” She shrugged and pulled on one of the T-shirts before standing up again. She walked out of her room, into her still dark apartment. It was small, just her room, a small space that could be considered a “living room” and a kitchen with no walls or doors to separate them. It wasn’t much, but it was all she needed. She crossed toward the kitchenette, her eyes darting around the small space.  Her instincts were still screaming, telling her that something was wrong, that she wasn’t alone, that she was most certainly being watched.

“Hmmm,” she muttered.  She turned toward her cabinet and reached up, grabbing the box of cereal. She felt the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.

A vampire? No.

A demon? No. It didn’t feel demonish.

A…

Rey whipped around holding out her box of cereal just in time for it to catch a flying knife in the cardboard.  Rey looked at the knife protruding from the box of cereal, and then turned her death glare into the darkness of her living room.

“Goddammit, Luke,” she scolded, jerking the knife out of the cardboard and pointing it toward the shadows. “Come out you troll!”

She heard a familiar chuckle. The man was impressive, she had to admit. In his sixties and still as sleuthy as ever. Luke emerged from the darkness, all impish smiles and mischief.

‘You know Luke,” she said, still gesturing toward him with the pointed end of the knife. “It’s shenanigans like this that got you kicked out of the Watcher’s Council,” she threw the knife back at him. Luke caught it easily and pocketed it with a shrug.

“I think that has a lot more to do with an unruly slayer than anything else.”

“Oh please,” said Rey.  “I am a fucking delight and maybe if…”

Rey’s face suddenly went ashen as she held up her box of cereal. She reached in and poked her finger through the large hole and wiggled it accusingly at Luke. “Dammit, Luke you ruined by Cookie-O’s!”

Luke raised an eyebrow. “You shouldn’t be eating that junk anyway,” he said reprovingly. “It'll kill you.”

Rey laughed and jumped up, so she sat on the countertop, digging into the box and grabbing a handful of the dry cereal.

“Nah,” she said, popping some in her mouth. “Slayer metabolism, love.”

Luke’s face scrunched in disgust as the crumbs spewed from her mouth. “Charming.”

“’Sides,” said Rey through a mouthful of cookie. “Death by sugar would be preferable to the fate of most Slayer’s, right?’

Luke didn’t respond. Rey knew, despite the way he teased, that this was a touchy subject.  Among many reasons Luke didn’t quite belong with the Watcher’s Council, was the fact that he never cared to master the “no attachments” rule that most Watcher’s lived by.  Rey knew why it was a rule. The Watcher-Slayer relationship was so transitory, boundaries needed to be kept. But, on the other hand, that never would have worked for Rey, the attachment-starved street rat that she was, when her powers manifested. But joking about death didn’t mean much to Rey. She had once been certain she wouldn’t live past thirteen, and now, here she was, nineteen with superpowers. Still alive and eating her fill of sugary cookie-based cereals in her very own apartment nestled above the Skywalker Gym.

“Why are you awake anyway,” asked Luke.  “Usually I have to come drag your ass out of bed to come open the gym.”

Rey shook her box and reached in again. “I had that dream again.”

Luke walked toward her, jumping up and sitting next to her on the counter. He reached into the box and helped himself to a handful. “The one with the baby crying?”

Rey nodded and sighed, laying her head on Luke’s shoulder. “And the mother,” she said. “She’s just so sad. I can feel it so strongly. Her heart aches and it's like... my heart aches." She touched her own sternum, reflexively.

“Rey,” said Luke. “You know so little about your past.  Do you think it could be your own subconscious…?"

Rey shook her head fervently. “I wish,” she said. “I wish it was my own mother. I like to think that it was hard for her to abandon me at a fire station. But…this…it feels different. Like she’s crying out for…me. Like she wants me to help her. I don’t know. I know it sounds stupid I just have this feeling…” she sat up again and threw a cookie in the air, catching it in her mouth. She turned and looked at Luke, a shit-eating grin on her face. “But hey what do I know? Maybe it’s just that slayer savior-complex flaring up.”

Luke looked at her intently, not distracted by her dismissiveness. “It’s not stupid Rey,” he said. “You need to listen to your instincts. The Slayer is such a mystery, even to this day. What your connected to and how it connects is a mystery, despite the Council's best efforts to unravel it.”

Rey let out a small laugh and looked at him sheepishly. “Sorry I got you kicked out.”

Luke rolled his eyes. “I was borderline a long time before you came around.  The Council thinks they can own the power of the Slavery, control it and manipulate it and understand it. It’s hubris, and until they realize that without the Slayer they are just a bunch of old men getting paid to sit on their assess and do research that any 16-year-old with a library card and internet access could do, I have no desire to be counted among their number.”

Rey threw her head back and laughed. “Yeah, you don’t sound bitter at all, Skywalker.”

“Well,” said Luke. “Of course, I’m bitter! Just because I don’t want to play doesn’t mean I wanted to be told I couldn’t.”

Rey nodded and reached back into the box only for Luke to jerk it away. “Hey!”

“Nope,” he said standing to his feet. “You’ve had enough, and I can’t have you puking five minutes into your training.”

Rey glowered at Luke as she slid off the counter.

“Two times, Luke,” she said, holding up two fingers. “Two times that happened and of one of those times I had been bitten by some vertigo-inducing swamp creature.”

“And the other,” asked Luke, looking at her with a raised eyebrow.

Rey’s glower gave way to a sheepish shrug.

“It was Finn’s birthday…”

“Uh huh…”

“How was I supposed to know that red velvet cake and vodka didn’t mix…”

“Mmmhmmm…”

Luke turned and walked toward the stairs that descended to the gym below them.

“I was an orphan,” she called out after him. “I never tasted such sweet confections as red velvet cake!”

“Be down in five minutes, Rey,” he called back from the darkness.

“You’re a monster!”

“Five minutes!”

 “I want my Cookie-O’s!”

“Have an apple!” Rey rolled her eyes and waited until she was certain he was gone.

“Have an apple,” she mimicked. “Have an apple, Rey while I take off with your delicious, sugary treats...” she let out a snicker and went on her tiptoes to reach the higher cabinets. “What do you think this is, amateur hour?” Rey felt around until she reached the fresh box of Cookie-O’s.

*************

Kylo Ren materialized in the Sith Citadel in a puff of black smoke, letting out an immediate sigh of relief.  He looked outside the window into the vast sprawling hellscape of Korriban.

It was good to be home.

From the Citadel, he could see the sprawling, blood-colored desert. Red was very much a consistent aesthetic of the Sith-Demons, red and black. Not very creative as far as demons go, but still…it was not unpleasant to look at.

He stretched out his arms and shook out his body; traveling between dimensions always made his towering frame feel as though it were being scrunched into a ball of bone and muscle. He cracked and popped, and then made this way through the quiet citadel. Most of his Sith kin were asleep.  It was a common misconception he encountered that they didn’t need sleep.

An ignorant one. Sure, there were some demons who didn’t need sleep or sustenance, but the Sith were not of that variety.  A lifetime of wreaking death, vengeance, and discord, not to mention fighting their demonic counterpoints, the Jedi, could take its toll.

How any of his fellow demons had time for a social life was simply beyond him.

“Well…well…well…” A slimy voice broke through the darkness from somewhere in the stone hallway. “Look who decided to show up.”

Kylo rolled his eyes and reached up toward the ceiling above him, into the dark shadows. His hands found purchase around a thick, scaly tail. He jerked down violent.

“Owe…owe…owe,” the voice protested. “Let go, Kylo!”

Kylo snickered as the orange demon fell from it’s hiding place, pressed against the ceiling and into the moonlight in front of him. The lurker looked over his shoulder at his tail, reaching back to rub the base.

“What did you do that for,” he asked.

“You were the one lurking in the shadows like some Shyrack.”

Hux sneered and straightened, glaring up at Kylo with annoyance and anger.

“Where have you been,” he asked.

“You know,” said Kylo with a shrug. “Out…doing…doing demonly things.”

“Uh-huh,” said Hux with a smirk, though keeping an arms-length away from his nemesis. “Did you write some more very pretty verses to share with us, Kylo?”

Kylo’s red eyes blazed dangerously.

“I told you Hux,” he said, his voice low. “If you tell anyone about that I’ll fry up your testicles and feed them to you.”

Hux flicked his wrist dismissively. “Oh don’t be so melodramatic, Ren. I won’t tell anyone that the Lord of Darkness makes a hobby of practicing calligraphy in his spare time. But…” Hux tapped a long talon against his chin thoughtfully. “You may want to think of upping your game, the demon world is starting to talk.”

Kylo’s eyes narrowed, and his lips curled back to show his gleaming fangs. “What kind of talk?”

Hux shrugged nonchalantly. “You know, just gossip around the cauldron. 'Ren has lost his edge.' 'Ren hasn’t massacred any planets in a hundred years.' 'When’s the last time Ren has bathed in the viscera of his enemies?' 'Ren’s turning into a big fluffy kitten…' just stuff like…” Kylo’s long arm shot out, his fingers wrapping around Hux’s throat and lifting him into the air. Hux’s eyes bulged as he clawed at Kylo’s hand. “Hey…Hey…calm down Ren,” he chocked out. “Don’t strangle the messenger.”

“Perhaps if the messenger wasn’t a crawling bag of Sarlac shit he wouldn’t need his head popped like a champagne cork!”

All the same, Kylo lowered Hux to the ground. Hux backed away gasping for air.

“I’m just warning you, as a friend” he choked out, glaring wickedly at Kylo. Kylo scoffed. He and Hux were not friends. They had fought some Jedi together, but they most certainly were not drinking buddies. “You just should know. There’s even a rumor that you were the one that set the appetizers free at Phasma’s birthday!”

Kylo sneered contemptuously. “So what if I was?!”

“Oh Kylo,” said Hux. “We were all so looking forward to the delicacy! Do you know how long it’s been since any of us partook of actual human baby!? That compassion is not befitting a demon of your caliber…”

“It wasn’t compassion,” spat Kylo. “I just prefer we hunt game that can put up a fight! Do you remember what happened to the trolls? They subsisted on a diet of fat babies and look what they turned into…FAT BABIES! You are what you eat, Hux, and I will not allow the mighty Sith legions to become slovenly…”

“Okay…okay…” said Hux holding up his hands in surrender, wisely wishing to remain intact. “Just it may be a good time for a massacre or an attack on a neighboring dimension.”

“Seems like a waste to start another war merely to avoid gossip.”

“See,” said Hux, shaking his head. “The old Kylo Ren wouldn’t even need a reason to…” Hux jerked back as Kylo reached toward him again. “Never mind…never mind…” he said. Hux backed up toward a window and jumped onto the ledge. “I’ll see myself out.” He waved half-heartedly back at Kylo. “See ya around.” He leaped out into the night sky, his giant wings bursting from his back, carrying him into the air.

Kylo rolled his eyes and continued toward his quarters.  Hux was a rat, and while Kylo did not believe for a moment that Hux had shared this information out of any real concern for him, he still knew that much of what Hux said was true. While powerful, and bloodthirsty in his own right, Kylo never quite felt as though he was on the same page as his kin. He wanted to conquer, and go to battle, to shed the blood of his enemies, eviscerate the occasional clan…normal demon stuff. But there was always another part of him, something that the other demons didn’t seem to share, something he noticed early to keep to himself lest he be found out as not belonging in Korriban. He didn’t want to eat babies, he didn’t want to destroy dimensions just to do it, and he had a difficult time summoning up enthusiasm for chaos for its own sake.

Very undemonly to be sure.

And a waste of immense natural talent.

Was it his fault he also had a natural talent for pretty calligraphy, and enjoyed small pranks and leaving a trail of treats that make the children laugh in the Reyloth dimension?

He sat on the edge of his bed and rolled his neck out, before laying down with a sigh, a familiar despondency settling over him. He wondered if depression was another one of his oddities?

***************

Kylo wasn’t certain how long he had been asleep, all he was certain of is that he was in pain; significant enough to send him shooting up in bed, clutching desperately at his chest.  He was a warrior, a fighter, he had been crushed by troll hammers, infected with poison darts, bit by Hssiss, and lanced by a lightsaber. But this…this pain was different, it pulsed and burned in his chest, originating from inside him, as though something within was turning on him.

He looked around the room, gasping for breath in a state of panic; a completely unfamiliar feeling.  He squeezed his eyes shut and saw sad eyes aged by sadness, he could hear a voice in ringing in his ears, and the screams of a baby.

He shook his head hard and desperate, kicking the blankets off him, the burning continued to coil in his chest, winding tighter and tighter like a spring preparing to explode.

“Don’t panic.”

Kylo let out a cry and threw himself out of the bed and onto the floor. He leaped up, trying to regain his dignity, but he immediately doubled over in pain again

“Who's there…” he gasped out, his face squeezed in pain as he attempted to bare his teeth threateningly, but he was sure it looked more pathetic than anything else, like a wounded puppy trying to scare away a predator. A figure moved out of the shadows toward him and into the light. Kylo’s eyes widened and he held out his hands, the claws lengthening and extending.  He knew who this was, and he wasn’t in a state to fight…not now.

“Obi-Wan,” he growled.

The Jedi clan were the natural enemies of the Sith clan, demons locked in an eternal struggle for dominance in the universe. Of course, the Jedi fancied themselves “good demons”, claiming that their powers were pulled from the light and not the dark, and Obi-Wan was more powerful than any of the other Jedi alive. And he was not one to be trifled with, but, all the same, it was deeply impolite to sneak into his sleeping quarters in the dead of night.

“There’s no need for that,” said Obi-Wan, waving his hand toward Kylo's claws as he made his way toward him, nonchalant. “Besides,” he said. “It wouldn’t work.”

Kylo took in Obi-Wan’s form, noticing the dull, blue haze that surrounded him. Kylo reached out a hand and found that his claws passed right through the space that Obi-Wan semi-occupied. “What are you doin…” his question died on his lips and he doubled over again under the deep, melting pain. “What…” he breathed deeply…” What…” again…” Are you…” He let out a groan of pain. “Doing here?”

Obi-Wan approached him calmly. “How are you feeling,” he asked, ignoring the question.

Kylo glared at the man, his hand still splayed across his chest, searching out the source of the pain.“If you must know…” he growled. “I am feeling a bit…stingy.”

“Stingy,” repeated Obi-Wan with a nod. “Seems accurate.  Sort of like a limb waking up that has been asleep for too long.”

“I won’t ask you again, Old Jedi,” said Kylo.

“I sensed it,” he said abruptly. “The shift in you.”

“What shif…owe…owe owe! What the devil is this?!”

“You are not as you think you are,” said Obi-Wan, staring intently at him. Kylo growled in frustration.

“If you have nothing else to offer save cryptic warnings then…”

“Oh, you are every bit the pain in the ass your father was,” said Obi-Wan with an amused shake of the head.

This grabbed Kylo’s attention. He knew nothing of his father, or his mother, not an uncommon thing in the demon world, they rarely settled down behind white picket fences and to raise a family.  But his was even more shrouded in mystery than most. No one even knew the name of his father, there existed no proud lineage for him to claim, which meant he had to work twice as hard.

“You…my what?”

“Your father,” said Obi-Wan with a nod. “I knew him for a short time.”

“No Sith-Demon would dare consort with a Jedi.”

Obi-Wan chuckled and sat on the edge of the bed, apparently making his ghostly form right at home. Kylo thought it was odd that he would be able to physically sit anywhere, yet here he was sitting on his bed as though he weren’t an incorporeal intruder.

“Well,” said Obi-Wan. “Let’s just say your father was always a bit of a scoundrel, a powerful demon, not unlike yourself, but he did not play by all the same rules.” He looked at Kylo intently. “Do you even know your father’s name, boy?” Kylo’s eyes narrowed at the dismissive pet name, but he supposed in comparison to someone as ancient as Obi-Wan, he was, indeed, a boy, and right now he felt as though his heart was being pulled out his throat, so the energy to quip back at him was gone. “His name was Han Solo.   He and I traveled the universe together for some time, exploring every possible dimension, getting into trouble with more than our fair share of demonic and angelic beings alike. And your father…” Obi-Wan looked at Kylo with a particular look of familiarity. “Your father developed a liking for a particular dimension, with a particular planet that housed these tiny, fragile creatures called humans.”

Kylo’s brow furrowed in confusion. Of course, he knew what humans were, their young were a delicacy for many hell-creatures, and in some places in history were even offered up as sacrifices to sate their power. Not to mention, due to their own lack of magical ability, they often would call upon demons to serve their purposes.  But he was confused about what any of this had to do with what was happening to him.

“Your father,” continued Obi-Wan. “Thought humans were endlessly funny and interesting, and he enjoyed that the odds were rarely in their favor, yet they persistently continued to exist. He was always a bit of a sucker for the underdogs.” Kylo scrunched up his face in disgust, his father sounded like a pathetic demon to be taken so with such unimpressive creatures as humans. “And during his time there, your father fell in love with…with a human woman.” Kylo’s mouth fell open, shocked and appalled. There was no way he could be related to a demon who would lower himself to the station of a mortal, magicless creatures. “Don’t look so surprised,” said Obi-Wan. “She was a beautiful woman, strong, clever and tenacious. As impressive of a human as there ever had been. She herself dabbled in the magic arts, but never did quite commit herself to them fully.”

Well, that was something at least, though Kylo. But still, a human witch!? How embarrassing!

“They were very much in love, and during his time on earth, Leia conceived a child.  Han, ever the wanderer, couldn’t stay long and fled earth before the child was born. But by magic, Leia was able to bring the half-human, half-demon child into the universe. The first of it's kind. Of course, demons long made habits of engaging in the carnal with mortals, but never resulting in a child."

Kylo was shaking his head. It was slowly dawning him full well what relevancy this had to what was happening. He couldn’t…he couldn’t be! He was…he was a demon! A demon through and through! There was nothing human about him!

“Leia knew that they would come for you,” said Obi-Wan. “She enlisted my help and the help of a coven of powerful witches to conceal you, knowing that earth would be too dangerous for you as a child.  And so, I brought you here, to Korriban, the home of your father.”

Kylo snarled and moved to shove the old demon away, but forgetting what form he was in, Kylo stumbled right through him. He whipped around angrily and glared at Obi-Wan. “You lie,” he spat. “This is a Jedi mind trick, you have done something to me and now…”

“You can believe that if you want,” said Obi-Wan. “But it will do you no good. The spell that was cast to conceal your human nature, to put to sleep your human soul, it is beginning to wane.”

“What,” snapped Kylo, his voice raising several more octaves than he thought it could. He cleared his throat and lowered his voice, and repeated his question, “What?!”

“The magic was powerful but temporary, meant to hold your humanity at bay until the time when there was a champion on earth, powerful enough to protect you as your mother longed to do. At that point, you will return to your true home.”

“This is my home,” bellowed Kylo. But even as he spoke, he saw the red and black scales receding down his forearms, bleeding into soft, pale flesh.

“It’s not,” said Obi-Wan. “Your protector has come into power, and you will be called to them.”

“I don’t need a protector,” protested Kylo. “I’m not a child! I want to stay here,” he said, stomping his foot angrily.

“I’m afraid you don’t have the slightest say in it…” said Obi-wan. “Your human soul won’t survive here. You can already feel it protesting against this dimension.”

“No…no…no…” said Kylo looking down at his chest. “That’s not…that’s not a soul! It's bad Bantha meat giving me indigestion!”

“They are bothersome,” said Obi-Wan. “But all the same, it seems you have one.”

Then before Kylo Ren could pose another protest, he was surrounded by a cloud of dark, green smoke and then filled with the sensation of being ripped in two as his body was sent scattering through time and space.

***********

Surprisingly, there were some downsides to being the Slayer. Sure, superpowers and purpose did beat the hell out of Rey’s previous life. All the same, there were certainly some downsides. Like the fact that it took a dangerous amount of alcohol to get her drunk.

However, the same could not be said for her sweet, summer child Rose. She was small…and hot…and had a warmth that just invited people in, so everywhere she went drinks were thrown in her face.  Rey happily relieved her of some of those free drinks, but not enough to keep her from now wobbling down an ally in her 5-inch heels, leaning heavily against Rey, making drunk professions of love, loyalty, and undying eternal friendship. Those poor boys didn’t realize that one tequila shot too many sent Rose from flirty to sentimental in a moment’s notice.

Not that Rey would let her go home with any of those bozo’s in her current state anyway, and Rose was all too content to sing Rey’s praises to the moon.

“You’re just…you’re just sooo brave,” slurred Rose, her head lulling onto Rey’s shoulder. Rey held the hand draped over her other shoulder. Rose stumbled again, but Rey’s arm was tight around her waist, all but carrying her through the dark alley behind The Cantina.

“Thanks Rose,” she laughed. “You’re brave too…”

“You’re like…like MY HERO,” exclaimed Rose, her voice echoing through the alley, gesturing upward with her free hand.  “The way you just fuck up those vamps, and beasties! You’re just like BAM dust! Bam decapitation! BAM roundhouse kick to the face!”

Rey couldn’t hold back her giggle. Rose was, as a rule, the most brilliant person that Rey knew, and often left Rey in the dust when she would get going on pretty much any conceivable topic.  It was essential to what Rey did, and she would have been dead long ago if not for Rose’s brilliant mind. But it didn’t mean the slightly slowed down, drunk Rose was not a delightful treat.

“And you just…you’re it…” said Rose, doubling over slightly and swaying. “You’re the only one…the ONLY ONE! The last melon!”

Rey snorted and nodded.

“Well that’s just not true,” said Rey. “I have you, and Finn, and Poe, and Luke…”

Rose giggled.

“Your Scooby Gang,” volunteer Rose.

Rey laughed and shook her head. “Nooo,” she said. “More like Avengers or X-Men.”

“Avengers,” murmured Rose. “I like that…I… I…”

“Oh shit,” muttered Rey, positioning Rose away from and toward the brick wall as Rose expelled the offending alcohol from her body, continuing the glorious tradition of back ally throw-ups had by those who overestimated their capacity to hold their liquor.

“There ya go,” muttered Rey soothingly, holding back Rose’s hair, and rubbing her back. “Get it all out, girl…get it all out before the Uber gets here and charges you $100 per vomit.” Rose moaned pathetically. “It’s okay,” said Rey. “We’ll get you home, and into your fuzzy octopus socks and you can…”

Rey didn’t finish her thought, in a moment she was on her feet. The hair on her arms was standing up and she could sense a shift in the air. She reached into her purse, feeling for the smooth, wooden stake that rested there.But no vampire showed itself.  She squinted into the dark that led out into the still relatively busy streets, it would be a bold move from a creature of the night to attack when the L.A streets were still relatively bustling.

She breathed in and loosened her grip on the stake, only to tighten again when a large crackling ball of light landed in her path. It was small at first, but it slowly expanded outward, shining a brilliant green light.

Rey widened her stance and blocked Rose, who was suddenly slightly perked up, her eyes wide and locked on the scene unfolding before her.

“Rose,” said Rey. “Are you…are you…what is this?”

“Uhh…uh…some kind of teleportation maybe,” said Rose. “Or some trans-dimensional travel.  That’s just usually a little “poof” like a smoke bomb but this…” Then as though being vacuumed out of existence, the light collapsed in on itself and with a whoosh it disappeared, sucked into some invisible hole. “Oh…my…god…” muttered Rose. Rey nodded slowly in affirmation. Laying on the ground just a few feet away, was a massive, and quite naked, man.

“Uh…” Rey tentatively stepped closer. “Hello! Hello! Are you…are you okay?”

“Is he dead,” asked Rose.

Rey shrugged, stepping closer so she was just over the body. She leaned closer to see and then leaped back in surprise when a groan of pain bubbled up from the collapsed body. She recovered quickly and looked down at him again. “Uh hi…are you…are you lost?

No answer. The man pressed his palm into the ground and pushed himself to his feet. He wobbled a bit, not unlike a drunk Rose. He leaned heavily against the side of the building and massaged his forehead with his hands.  The man slowly turned toward them, his head bent down, long, shaggy black hair covered his face, and his shoulders seemed to be heaving. When he stepped away from the wall, Rey immediately looked away, flustered. Rose, however, stared forward unabashedly, a tiny squeak escaping her mouth. 

“Rose,” scolded Rey, bumping her friend and bringing her back to reality. Rey understood, he was impossibly imposing, built like a brick wall. But it wasn't like it was the first dick she had seen. Though it was the first one in a long…long…long time.

“Hi,” said Rey, hurriedly looking up to his face. “Are you…are you okay?” He snarled at her, his face twisting from confusion to aggression from behind the curtain of black. Rey’s hands were in her purse in a moment, gripping her stake hard. “Hey, Gigantor,” said Rey, her voice louder and more imposing this time. “Can you understand me? Do you speak? I’m just trying to help and you’re being very…”

She didn’t get to finish as he stalked over to them like an angry bull. Rey’s eyes narrowed and she stepped forward to meet his advancement.

“Sir,” she said. “I’m going to have to ask you to calm your tits and…” He grabbed her by the arm and yanked her violently toward him. He gripped her by shoulders and raised her off the ground.

“Hey,” protested Rey. “What the hell did I just say?”

“Where am I,” he demanded angrily, giving her a shake. Rey jerked away abruptly and straightened her coat.

“You’re on earth, in L.A, in the back alley of The Catina, a poorly-kept but wonderfully-priced dancing and drinking establishment.”

He seethed angrily through notably pointed teeth. Rey was not getting a vampire vibe from this guy. She was, she had to admit, having a hard time placing the exact vibe that was coming off of him in waves, but it was certainly not a vampire.  Her eyes flicked down to his hands, where he boasted long, sharp fingernails that looked as though they could easily gut her. Finally, the man’s gaze rested on her, and for the first time; she could see the red peering out through the thick hair.

“You’re…you’re a demon,” said Rey.  Something was definitely off because demon was certainly NOT all she was getting, there was something else, something compelling and almost familiar. His shoulders squared slightly and he lowered her back to her feet, and he looked down at her with a smirk.

“So, you’ve heard of me, puny human?”

Rey’s mouth fell open. “Woa… woa… uncalled for."

“Yeah,” said Rose, still on her knees. “That was really rude, and you’re not the Incredible Hulk so…”

“Silence,” the demon bellowed, crossing his arms across his chest and rising to full height, making Rey blush even more as he unfurled his naked glory. “I am Kylo Ren, a mighty Sith-Demon and one of the Ruling Generals of Korriban!” He turned his arms so his palms were facing up. “And you will bow before me!”

Rey’s eyes went down to his hands, which were sparking with tiny, flickering orange and black flames.  Rey raised her eyebrow and looked back at his face. “Look…Kylo, was it?”

“Kylo Ren,” he abruptly corrected, arms still outstretched, wiggling his fingers as though trying to work something from their depths.

“Right,” said Rey. “Kylo Ren, I am going to stop you right there because I am having a hard time hearing anything you’re saying on account of your free-flapping junk.”

Rose nodded beside her. “Yeah, it’s super distracting.”

“Insolent humans,” he roared. “If you do not kneel in submission, you will kneel in pain.”

He closed his eyes and strained, flexing his long fingers. Rey looked around her, as the wind picked up again and the air crackled with renewed energy. Rey looked down at his hands, once again crackling with lightning.  But after a few seconds, the spark seemed to die and the lightning flickered away.

Kylo Ren looked down at his hands with such a panic and fear that Rey almost felt sorry for him. “What… what is happening,” asked Kylo, more to himself than anyone else.  He tried again and still nothing.

“Trouble,” asked Rey, with an amused smile.

“This…this... never happens," he declared, almost pleadingly. 

“That’s what they all say,” said Rey, shaking her head.

“It’s this damnable planet,” spat Kylo Ren, looking around. “It’s interfering with my powers…”

Rey stepped closer to the panicked creature.“It’s the planet, it’s the temperature, I’ve had too much to drink, trust me Kylo,” said Rey, placing a hand on his shoulder. “I’ve heard them all.”

Then, with lightning speed, Rey brought back her arm and landed it with painful force on Kylo’s jaw, sending him reeling to the ground, out cold.

“Rose,” said Rey, kneeling down next to the fallen demon. “Call Finn and Poe and ask them to come pick us up.”

Rose nodded as Rey looked over the unconscious body. Demons could look human, that wasn’t unusual. But demons had a particular way of breathing, of moving, of carrying about their insides that was usually a dead giveaway, but whoever this Kylo Ren was, he was throwing her through a loop.  Rey gently pushed the hair back from his face, her fingers brushing over his eyes, his nose, and his long scar. She cocked her head to the side, taking him in, curiously.

And then she felt a jerk of certainty, sad, brown eyes and a voice crying in the dark, calling for her. Whatever he was, somehow, she knew that he was for her.