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Ceremony

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I.

It had all started with a whisper.

Somewhere in the galaxy, the first whisper entered into an ear. And then another ear. And then another. Ears of all different shapes and sizes, belonging to different species in different cities and settlements on different words. Eventually, this whisper reached the ear of a female human: a force-sensitive mechanic aged approximately 20 years, one who goes by the name of Rey. It was whispered to her by another mechanic while they were soldering metal on an X-wing, on the Resistance base located on Yavin IV in the year 35 ABY.

It wasn’t the first whisper; the first rumor or puzzle piece of knowledge that had reached the base. And it wouldn’t be the last. But what made this one different was the promise it brought, a promise above any other. A promise so great, it couldn’t be ignored. It refused to be ignored.

It was with a whisper that kingdoms could be brought down. Or empires.

Rey followed it. She followed it from Core World to Inner Rim to Mid Rim to Outer Rim, into smoky cantinas and outposts, down the back alleyways and out into the bustling streets. It weaved its way through the hordes, zig-zagging in all different directions until it shot back out into space. Coordinates were entered into the Falcon at least three times a day, all different numbers until they blurred together on the screen in one giant green glow.

It was in a dusty cantina on Tatooine that Rey finally found another piece of the puzzle.

The bartender was a Togruta who refused to speak to her unless it was to give her the price of a warm beer. Rey chugged it down, welcoming any liquid in this unrelenting heat. As she ordered another, she debated the morality of using the Force for gentle persuasion. In this place, black and white no longer seemed to matter. Everything was gray.

Seconds later, the bartender was jotting down numbers onto a cocktail napkin. Numbers that could be anything. Prices, time schedules, debts owed. Maybe even just random digits. Nothing… just like what was out there with the rest of the blowing sand.

But this time, the Force whispered back to Rey.

This was it. Finally. In her sweaty hand, on a wrinkled napkin with the cantina name printed on it, was the location of the lost Jedi Temple.

The galaxy had several ancient Temples, both Jedi and Sith. Rey had even been to two. But what made this one different was that nobody knew where it was. It was abandoned centuries ago, eventually lost in the sands or soil or waters of time. It became a legend. Supposedly, this Temple housed a hidden holocron that opened with secrets of long-lost lessons—one of which was an entirely unseen power. A power so great, so terrible… not even the Sith have been able to possess it. A power that could control the tides of any war. A power that could shape the galaxy, molding it into whatever the wielder wanted. A power that could consume. Digest. Leave nothing but a singularity, like the center of a black hole.

As Rey left the dim atmosphere of the cantina, the suns of Tatooine blinded her. It wasn’t even noon and yet she was already sweaty and lethargic, the heat sapping all energy like a parasite. She lifted the scarf around her neck, loosely wrapping it around her head to shield herself from not only the light, but anyone who might recognize her. Bounty hunters, First Order sympathizers, or even just those looking to cash in. She didn’t want to think about how many junkies would sell her for one hit of Spice.

The Falcon was hidden out in the desert. Well, as hidden as it could be in wide, shifting dunes. Waves of heat shimmered along the metal as Rey trekked the two kilometers back to it. She was ready to collapse by the time she reached the ramp, and as she ascended, she stomped the sand off her boots, clouds of dust billowing all around her. She needed to feel like she was shaking off this planet. It reminded her too much of Jakku, and she was so kriffing sick of sand.

Once the Falcon was back into the black void of space, and Tatooine was nothing more than a memory, Rey entered the coordinates into the Falcon’s mainframe, hoping that this would be the last time. The last random sequence of numbers she’d see until she entered the well-known coordinates for Yavin IV. She’d already been gone three and half weeks now. Too long.

One hard press of ENTER, and the Falcon jumped to hyperspace. Rey got up and stretched, wondering if she should try and nap in the approximately two hours it would take to reach her destination. But she was too excited, too on edge. This could be it… the final jump.

As the kettle hissed, Rey ripped open a packet of Instant Caf! with her teeth, pouring the brown powder into a mug stolen from the base’s cafeteria. She then curled up in the pilot’s seat, nursing the murky brown liquid as she watched the stars streak past.

She thought of the base. Of what they were serving in the cafeteria. What conversations and jokes she was missing out on. Of Finn, Poe, Rose and Kaydel. Leia. But not him. Every time she felt her thoughts drift towards his unmistakable dark signature, as alluring and sinful as dark chocolate, she thought of veg-meat.

Time often gets distorted in space. Two hours felt like four by the time everything on the ship stopped clattering, and the stars returned to distant pinpricks of light through black velvet.

A blue-green planet suddenly dominated the view-screen. A sheen surrounded it, swirling pink, purple and blue like an oil spill. The colors appeared oversaturated, bleeding. It hung there ominously, both beckoning and repelling.

An unmistakable feeling of dread dropped into the pit of Rey’s stomach like lead. She could feel it reverberating in her bones, like a deep baritone. Every hair stood up.

The planet was uncharted. Far, far into the Unknown Regions. There was no map in the galaxy with it on it. It might as well not even exist.

Rey wondered how many before her had found themselves staring at this planet, at the shimmer surrounding it. Where the first whisper had come from. Not for the first time, it crossed her mind that this could all be a trick; something put out by the First Order, who could very well be lying in wait on the surface below. A trap.

It was a risk she was willing to take. She had to, for the Resistance.

Taking a deep breath, Rey guided the Falcon to the planet, descending slowly, like it was a wild animal she was fearful of disturbing. As she broke atmosphere, there was an audible pop, like penetrating a bubble. The dials on all of the meters began spinning wildly. Static began hissing out of the comms. Everything was malfunctioning.

The Falcon wavered, like a bird with an injured wing.

Then, just as quickly as it began, everything stopped. A deafening silence permeated the air. It was the kind of silence that Rey had never heard before, the kind she could feel echo throughout space. Silence is usually the absence of sound, but this felt different. It had a weight to it, a presence, like a living thing. It felt almost like meditation. Or like the second after a mistake.

As Rey descended lower and lower, the air grew heavier. There was a slight resistance to it, like being underwater. She felt like she was making ripples, though she couldn’t see anything. Not with her naked eye, not even with the Force.

Something was wrong.

Lush green verdure sprouted into view. It was so bright, it was practically neon. Rey peered closer. Was it… was it moving?

Did it just move?

*

Rey was lying on the jungle ground.

As she opened her eyes, she looked up into the sun. It glimmered brightly through the foliage. She slowly pulled herself up to a sitting position, then dug her hands into the soil to try and stand up.

What happened? How did she get here?

Rey looked blearily around, the jungle spinning and wavering. She felt sick. She was going to be sick.

Vomit suddenly left her, like a punch to the stomach. As she spit the last of it up, a trail hanging from her lips, her hand grasped the trunk of a tree. Even the bark underneath her palm felt like it was moving.

The Falcon. Where was the Falcon?

A glint of metal through vegetation. Rey followed it like a mirage. When she got closer, she could see it was wedged against a bunch of trees, vines wrapped around it like snakes. It was as if they wanted to consume the ship, like the entire planet was digestive.

She shouldn’t have come here. She needed to leave. Now.

A horrible, crinkling sound. Hollow. It shot down her spine like nails on a chalkboard. The sound of metal being crushed.

Steam was rising from the ship as the vines constricted around it. They slithered across the door, blocking Rey from being able to enter. Her arm reached out to touch one, her hand slowly inching its way closer.

Thorns shot out.

Kriff.

Fortunately, her rucksack had a knife. Unfortunately, her quarterstaff was inside the ship.

As Rey made a cut into the thick green skin, a red goop oozed out like blood. Seconds later, the skin began knitting itself together, closing up and jutting out even bigger thorns.

Double kriff.

*

How long had it been since she landed?

Rey wiped sweat from her brow with her stained arm wraps.

Minutes? Hours? Days?

Rey’s sense of time was off, her inner clock just as screwy as the meters in the ship. All she knew was that she was thirsty and tired and full of regret. All she felt was the burning in her legs as she moved them one in front of the other as she ventured further into the mouth of the jungle.

There were no paths. No signs of settlements. No signs of life forms.

Well, no animals anyway.

*

It grew darker.

This was even creepier, as there were no sounds typical of night. No crickets. No howls. Nothing. Just nothing.

Rey stopped to catch her breath. She glanced up at the sporadic patches of sky though the foliage.

A bat!

There was a bat flying in a patch of dusty purple twilight. Finally, an animal. It wasn’t much to get excited over, but it was something. Something normal. Something to grasp onto in this fever dream that was more of a nightmare.

As the bat swooped lower, a new feeling of dread dropped into her stomach.

That was no bat. That was an Upsilon-class command shuttle.

Triple kriff.

Kylo Ren (she refused to call him Ben anymore) had either been tracking her, or he was here seeking the holocron too. Rey didn’t know which was worse. Either way, there was nothing to be done about it now. Nothing except cloak her signature, hoping he wouldn’t find the Falcon. Or what was left of it.

Rey closed her eyes in order to attune to the Force. She reached out like a scanner, searching. Searching. Searching.

There was something. Something far off in the distance. But it was slippery, like an eel. Every time she thought she had it, it wriggled out of her grasp, swimming further out. Deeper into the depths of blackness.

And something else.

Kylo was closer than she had thought. He was, he was—

“Hello Rey.”

Rey’s eyes snapped open.

No. This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening. His ship was still in the sky.

Wasn’t it?

Rey looked back up at the patch of sky through the trees. The dusty violet was now the color of a plum. How did it get so dark so quickly? Time must pass quicker here than she was used to. But then again, it seemed to stretch on as she was marching through the vines, over the roots jutting out, which she could have sworn were trying to trip her. Not once did the sunlight shift. Clearly time was being distorted. Could it flow backwards, too?

“It’s possible.”

Rey turned around slowly, her eyes instantly locking onto the sparkling dark ones in the pale face of Kylo Ren. A face she hadn’t seen in a year. His hair was longer, more unruly than ever.

“Don’t do that.”

“Do what?” He tilted his head in mock-innocence as he circled around her. A black vulture playing with its prey.

“You know exactly what.” Rey glared at him as she crossed her arms and lifted her chin, trying to regain some measure of control by being as haughty as possible. “Don’t read my thoughts.”

“Then don’t shout them.”

“I wasn’t!”

Kylo didn’t say anything else, only continued to circle and circle and circle. It made her dizzy. It made her want to grab him by his tabard to stop him. But she didn’t. That would require touching him. Or his fabric, anyway. Either way, it was too close.

“Was touching me really so bad?”

Rey willed her mind to go blank. She wasn’t going to go there. She had practiced willing those feelings away in meditation, burying them deep in the recesses of her mind. The feeling of his skin against hers. The feeling of butterflies fluttering in her stomach, swooping low when he looked at her with hooded eyes and parted lips, illuminated by the red glow of his saber in Snoke’s Throne Room. The feeling of hope. And late at night, on a thin mattress under a threadbare blanket, the feeling of what could have been. Her fingers that could have been his.

Kylo stopped dead.

His eyes widened into black saucers as his lips fell open.

Oh.

Oh no.

No, no, no. She did not just think that.

Can time move backwards now?

“You think of me?”

“No,” she said, perhaps a bit too quickly. Then, with more conviction: “No.”

Kylo zeroed in on her, his neck bending slightly down as he bored holes deep into her. “You’re lying.”

“I’m not.”

Kylo took a step forward. It took everything in Rey not to step back. She mustn’t show weakness. He would devour her the second she does.

The slightest hint of a smirk shadowed his mouth. “I think that’s what you want.”

Rey blushed furiously. His smirk grew wider.

Rey couldn’t help but be transfixed, her embarrassment forgotten. She had never seen him smile before. It was roguish, even charming. It reminded her of Han.

And just like that, the smirk was gone.

“So what are you doing here, scavenger?” he sneered down at her.

Oh, so they were back to that now. Good.

“I could ask you the same thing.”

Kylo went back to circling around her. Rey rolled her eyes. Was it always destined to be this way? Always circling one other?

“It could have been different. You could have stood beside me.” He loomed behind her now. A shiver crept down her spine, despite the heat. “Those dreams of yours could have come true.”

Rey fought down the urge to blush again. “I’d hardly call those dreams.”

“Fantasies, then.”

“And do you not have any fantasies, Kylo Ren?” She needed to turn the tables back around. She needed control.

“Of course I do.”

The slightest ruffle of her tunic’s hem. It could have been the wind. But what if…?

An image crashed into her mind, unbidden. Someone who looked just like her, draped in black silk as form-fitting as a snakeskin. Charcoal-rimmed bedroom eyes. Lips smeared so red, it could have been blood.

Rey looked down at her gray and cream tunic, tabard and trousers, stained with sweat and dirt. “I’m afraid you don’t know me at all.”

“No,” he purred. “You’re afraid that I do.”

Rey swung around to face him. She stared deep into his black orbs, willing her voice to go soft and even. “You will get back on your ship. You will leave this place and forget you’ve ever seen me.” The Force was underlining every word.

Kylo stared back at her, unblinking. For a second, she thought it had worked. But then he was shaking his head slowly, like a master disappointed with a padawan. “Nice try, sand rat. I’ll ask you one more time. Why are you here?”

“Sand rat, scavenger. These little endearments are so quaint.” Rey looked at her dirt-streaked nails, feigning nonchalance. “And what shall I call you? Ben Solo?”

Rey found herself up against a tree so quickly, she thought she had lost time again. Kylo was pressing up against her, obscuring her vision like an eclipse until all she could see was him. She wondered why he didn’t just use the Force to hold her. Why his body?

“It’s more personal, this way.” He was close. Way too close.

“So it’s personal, then.” Her voice wasn’t trembling. It wasn’t.

“You know it’s always been.”

There was nothing but the sound of their breathing, made even louder in the silence of the jungle.

A thought occurred to her. “Why are you here?”

“You were careless in Corellia. You didn’t mind your surroundings as much as you thought. You left that hunk of junk in a well-known port instead of hiding it.” He licked his bottom lip, and she tried not to stare. “It was almost too easy.”

“You’ve been tracking me since Corellia? That was weeks ago!”

“And I could have captured you weeks ago. But I needed to find out what was so important that you left your precious Resistance.”

“I didn't leave. I’m going back.”

He pressed up against her even more. “Does it feel like you’re going back?”

Rey considered her options. The only weapon she had was a bowie knife. But it might as well be a piece of string, as useless as it was against Kylo Ren and his lightsaber.

Boom.

Kylo and Rey both swiveled towards the sudden sound and froze, listening.

Boom.

Far off in the distance. In the black mouth of the jungle.

Boom.
Boom.
Boom.

Rhythmic now. A beating. A drum.

Kylo grabbed Rey’s bicep, his grip so tight it hurt. He dragged her into the blackness, her heels digging into the dirt.

“Are you insane?” she hissed. “I don’t know what Sith School taught you, but you usually run away from scary sounds.”

“We’re two Force users. I have a lightsaber.” He looked down at her as he continued to drag her deeper in, using the Force to swing vines out of the way. “You had my grandfather’s lightsaber.”

“Are we really going to talk about that now?”

“When would you prefer? Over caf, like old friends?”

“Well, you are my dearest enemy.” Every word was dripping with sarcasm.

“As you are mine.”

And Rey could tell he meant it.

*

Everywhere was the blackest black Rey had ever seen. Was there a total lunar eclipse? Was there even a moon? She had to use the Force like sonar to prevent herself from tripping.

Time began to warp again. How long had they been walking? And to what? Where does this end?

Does it even end?

The beats grew louder. Rey felt like she was marching to her death.

At some point, yellow flickers started shimmying through the blackness, like candles that were constantly being snuffed out.

“I think we should turn back.”

“You’ve come all this way. Weeks of traveling has led you here. And now you want to turn back?”

In the darkness, Rey’s other senses were sharper. It was the only explanation for why his deep voice had any effect on her. Why she felt comfort in it.

“I’m serious Ben, please. I have a bad feeling about this.”

“So it’s ‘Ben’ now?”

Voices.

Rey felt herself suddenly being pulled down. She crouched alongside Kylo behind a tall patch of ferns.

There were life forms here. Aliens with green skin and glowing yellow eyes. Humanoids. Every single one was naked, their skin illuminated by torches stuck in the ground of a large clearing. In the middle of the clearing was a tall pyramid structure built with shiny black stone. It glinted in the firelight, reflecting it back like it had eyes.

Rey felt it again. The baritone reverberating deep in her bones. She felt like the pyramid could see her. Like it was watching her.

A couple of aliens walked past the ferns. They joined the rest that were standing around a fire. Some were beating drums. Others were standing in groups of two, each one silently facing the other.

A hunched figure in long, flowing black robes and a black veil was gliding from couple to couple, wrapping their left hands together with what looked like red rope. Rey couldn’t exactly be sure from this distance, but it looked like it was slithering around their hands, crawling up their wrists.

Chanting. An incantation. Every alien repeated after the one in robes.

Doru mes isauga viekis. Re midwan sekleti vada. Avitsu mes isauga skystas. Tik mirtis valia aukoti nwűl.

A kiss.

Then, a few couples began slowly drifting into the blackness of the jungle, their hands still clasped and bound.

A few began copulating right there on the ground. It shocked Rey, and she thought she was above being shocked. She grew up around Niima Outpost, after all. She was used to all sorts of debauchery. She had whacked the kriff out of flesh traders more than once.

It even seemed to shock the formidable Kylo Ren. His eyes were wide, his mouth ajar. Rey stared pointedly at him, hoping he could read her thoughts now.

Kylo turned to her. It seemed like he was about to say something, but before he could, the ferns parted, revealing the looming figure of the Robed One.

Rey felt herself rising up slowly. It was like her body had moved of its own accord. In her periphery, she could see Kylo doing the same. She stared into the black lace of the veil, into the void where she thought there might be eyes.

The Robed One—an elderly female, Rey somehow knew—turned around, gliding back to the fire. It was like she wasn’t even moving, but floating.

Rey was shocked to find herself following her. Kylo matched every step in time with her own. They were sync. In some sort of trance. A warm haze filled the spaces of her mind, spreading throughout her limbs. She felt like she was floating too.

Kylo and Rey stopped at the same time. Faced one another. His eyes were blacker than ever. She was drowning in them.

Their left hands slowly lifted. Grasped the other.

Rey could feel his skin for the first time in a year. What had happened to his leather glove?

A red rope was being wrapped around their hands, cooly slithering across their skin. It constricted around their flesh, their bones.

Kylo’s lips moved. His voice was deep, silky. She not only heard it, she felt it. It sunk into her.

Together we grow strong. Our powers shall increase. Apart we grow weak. Only death would give peace.

Rey felt her own lips moving. Heard her own voice chant the words back. Felt it sink into him.

Rey gazed down. The red rope was now a dark ribbon of blood. It poured all along their hands and wrists, dripping into the soil.

Fingers on her chin. Lifting her head up. And then Kylo’s lips were pressing upon hers. Softly. Gently.

Her first kiss.

Then his tongue was pushing through, tangling with her own. Dominating. Like he wanted to devour her.

It grew even rougher. Passionate. Jolts of pleasure were shooting down Rey’s spine, pooling warm into her abdomen. It was like falling, over and over.

She rubbed her thighs together. It was then that she felt how wet she was. It spread between her thighs.

She felt her tunic being ripped down the seams the same time she felt her hands twisting the fabric of his tabard. She couldn’t get close enough.

He clearly felt the same way, because she could feel his hands everywhere as his mouth consumed her. His muscular arms wrapped around her in a vice, pressing her against him. Against the hard bulge.

Closer.

Rey grasped onto his thick black locks as she bit down on his bottom lip. She tasted blood on her tongue. Sweet, metallic.

Then his plush lips were running a warm, wet trail down her neck, biting and sucking into the dip between her neck and shoulder. She could have sworn he drew blood. Licked it away. Pings were shooting straight down as her legs gave out.

The jungle titled. Rey was slowly lowered down onto the jungle floor, onto the soil and moss. The earthiness smelled intense. She could even smell the blood.

Closer.

She didn’t know when it had happened, but she was no longer wearing trousers. And neither was he. His cock jutted out, large and veiny.

A tearing sound. Her panties were being torn off her. Shredded.

Closer.

As Rey gazed into his dark eyes, she stopped lying to herself. Besides, there could be no lies here. Only truth. Only mirrors.

She wanted him. She wanted this. She had never wanted anything more.

Closer.

Skin-to-skin. His weight crushing on top of her. Settling between her thighs, which were wide open. Welcoming.

A bluntness bobbing into her slick slit. Pressure. Pop. A sudden fullness. So full. Pain. But pleasure. Pleasure in the pain.

Kylo had penetrated her. In one swift thrust, he had buried himself deep inside her, up to the hilt.

Rey felt split in half. Impaled.

A flex of muscles and skin above her. A hot, delicious slick. Long. His length sliding out. Then pushing in. A hot, heavy slide out. Slamming in.

A blur now. Pounding inside her to the beat of the drums. Lost to a wildness inside, to the beast within. Fucking.

In, out.
In, out.
In, out.
In, out.

Sweat. Skin. Slapping. Harder. Faster. Higher. More. More. More.

In, out.
In, out.
In, out.
In, out.
In, out.

Nwûl tash. Dzwol shâsotkun. There is no peace. Only passion. Nwûl tash. Dzwol shâsotkun.

Dzwol shâsotkun.
Dzwol shâsotkun.
Dzwol shâsotkun.

DZWOL SHÂSOTKUN!

A white hot agony/ecstasy. Blinding. Like the flash of a nuclear bomb.

When Rey came back down, drenched in sweat and panting, her walls were still spasming around Kylo’s thick cock. His thrusts grew erratic. His cock twitched. Low, guttural grunts she could feel. Joining the cacophony of grunts and growls and moans all around.

Suddenly he stopped, hot liquid ropes shooting deep inside her. As the warmness was spreading, seeping, her cunt continued to spasm, wanting him to pour deeper. She wanted him as far inside her as he could go.

Rey felt both consuming and consumed.

The pyramid glinted fire in its eyes.

This was no Jedi Temple. This was something dark, something sinister.

This was Sith.