Chapter 1: Fateful Meetings
Her hazel eyes widening in disbelief, Rey watched the Ghtroc light freighter carrying Devi and Strunk fly into atmo and away from Jakku. Her stomach growled loudly in hunger. There would be no portions today, after all that hard work in restoring the ship, with nothing to show for it in the end.
Hopefully, her parents would return soon, and this would all be behind her. Tomorrow would be a new day, and she’d have to quickly find some scraps to get some portions. She had already gone a day without food. She sighed in sadness and began heading back to her speeder.
While the madam of Niima’s brothel, a tall dark blue humanoid with multiple montrals, rattled off her offerings, a man in a crisp black uniform noticed Rey passing by him with her eyebrows furrowed in thought. He excused himself and shouted after the emaciated woman. “Hey! What’s got you down?”
Rey jumped up slightly in surprise and turned her head towards the man, a lean blonde human with bright red skin, the skin being an indicator of his unfamiliarity with desert planets. She shrugged and replied, “My sale fell through today, and I haven’t eaten since yesterday. I’ll get portions tomorrow.”
“Aw, you’re too beautiful to go without food,” the man said sympathetically.
She frowned and looked between him and the well-known local madam watching the exchange with bored eyes. Rey wasn’t going to fall for his ploy at sympathy. She rolled her eyes at the man. “I’m not a whore. Leave me alone.”
The man didn’t take the cue. Instead, he excused himself from the madam and walked towards Rey, who continued making her way to her speeder. He began explaining himself. “I’m Joran. I’m with the First Order. We’re looking for women to serve as spouses for some of the galaxy’s finest bachelors—”
Joran quickly found his chest the target of a swiftly handled staff, which knocked out the air from his lungs and prevented him from talking any further. Rey soon kicked the man down to the ground and pushed her staff under his chin with just enough pressure to keep him subdued but still alert.
She snarled at him. “I said: Leave. Me. Alone.”
He gulped and raised his hands in surrender. He stammered for a second before speaking. “Uh, we could use more strong fighters like you. Why not sign up to be a bride for one of our leaders? You’d never be hungry again. In fact, just for signing up, I can give you forty portions.”
Rey scowled and pressed the staff more firmly against the man’s chin. If he didn’t stop trying to proposition her, she’d strike him in a place that would ensure he didn’t try anything else with her or any other woman in the future. Then again, was he truly propositioning her? He wasn’t asking, or demanding, her for sexual favors. It didn’t sound as if he was trying to get her to join some glorified escort service, either. Could it really hurt to hear more about this service, especially if it meant getting a good food supply?
She lifted the staff off his chin and prodded Joran’s side to get him to stand up. “What exactly is this bride business? What are the terms?”
Joran released a giant breath as he steadied himself on his feet. Once he gained his composure, he answered her. “It’s a bridal matchmaking service sponsored by the First Order. Many of the First Order’s leaders and soldiers are bachelors. Since it’s still a growing government, the First Order is at war with the Republic, which I’d like to remind you is responsible for the conditions here on Jakku. Due to the war, most families are hesitant to see their daughters marry our single officers at this time, as they might be killed in battle or executed, should we lose. However, the Supreme Leader insists that having our bachelors married off and with established families will make our government appear more appealing to the rest of the galaxy.”
“And the terms?” Rey asked.
Joran explained. “We’re looking for unmarried females over 18 of childbearing age who are in good physical condition. The terms for signing up are simply consenting to having your listing be shown to our bachelors, and if a match is made between you and one of our officers, it’s expected you two will marry one another. I should add, signing up is no guarantee of a match, so we may not even end up calling on you.”
“I see. Can I think about this for a bit?” She answered.
The man gave a hesitant grimace. “I leave tomorrow, unfortunately. You would have to make the decision today. Is anything holding you back here?”
Rey shrugged before replying. “I’m waiting for my family to return.”
“Ah, when will they be back?”
“I— I don’t know. It’s been about fourteen years... But they’ll be back soon.”
“We have all the resources you need to find your family sooner. Do it from somewhere more comfortable than here. No use starving before they find you.”
Rey turned over Joran’s words in her head. Forty portions were more than she’d had in the entire past month. The promise of the First Order itself helping her find her family was also enticing, to be sure. But, was it worth marrying some stranger? There was no telling what sort of person, or individual, he’d be... Then again, would anyone really want to marry some random scavenger from Jakku? The forty portions alone would hold her over for a while and allow her to recover from the loss of the ship.
“How do I sign up?” Rey asked.
A week later, on Starkiller base, Kylo found himself in an office with black walls and minimal furniture absentmindedly scrolling through his datapad as a woman in a blue suit with sparkling gold embroidery, Lucilla of Vardos, rambled on about each bridal candidate she was showing him. This was the seventh time that Snoke had sent him to the chair of the First Order’s official bridal matching service.
None of the females, human or alien, particularly struck him. They had started off with the daughters of prominent generals, nobles, and businessmen; and now, after he kept rejecting every one of them, they were resorting to searching brothels and backworld planets to try to find a match for him. In the meantime, he was wondering just how many attempts at matchmaking it would take before they finally left him alone.
It definitely wouldn’t be successful this time either. He already had a woman in mind. At least, he was pretty sure it was the woman in his visions and dreams. Slender but muscular, golden brown eyes flecked with green, bronze skin dotted with freckles... But what always caught his attention was her dimpled, bright smile, which usually showed up at one point or another, no matter the contents of the vision. He always left these visions hopeful about his future, and it was one of the things that encouraged him whenever he had some setback or Snoke beat him down. He would find her some day. Why else would the Force show him the same person so many times?
“Sir, are you paying attention?” Lucilla asked as she rapped on the table between herself and Kylo, shaking the commander out of his thoughts. He simply tilted his head slightly in a nod and returned his focus to reviewing reports from his knights.
Lucilla shook her head at his response. Only a few more candidates to show and then she could go about with the rest of her day. She pulled out another large photo and continued speaking. “Well, anyway, this is Rey of Jakku. Human female, about nineteen years old. She’s a scavenger living alone. She claims her family’s returning for her, but they left her behind when she was a child. Still, she’s a feisty one. She knocked one of my employees off his feet with her staff when he tried to introduce himself.”
The last sentence caught Kylo’s attention. It wasn’t often that Lucilla changed up her usual listings with anecdotes like this, so he glanced over at the photo out of curiosity. The slight woman looked familiar to him, but were his eyes simply fooling him?
Lucilla continued rambling and produced another photo, placing it on top of Rey’s picture. “And now, this lovely twilek here is Estia, twenty four years old. She’s currently working at the Kordax Cantina on Bakura as a dancer—”
Kylo interrupted Lucilla before she could finish speaking. “What were you saying about the last one again?”
Lucilla jumped slightly in her seat, surprised at the sudden interest from the normally reticent man. “Pardon?”
Kylo replied. “The scavenger with the staff.”
The woman chuckled as she put Rey’s photo back on top of the pile. “Rey? She sounded as if she’d be a hard one to control, so I wouldn’t recommend her for a wife.”
It was her, after all. She was the exact same woman who showed up in his visions, and now he could place a name on her. It wasn’t just his mind or the Force playing cruel tricks on him, it seemed. “I’ll take her.”
Lucilla raised an eyebrow at Kylo as he reached across the table to take the photo for a closer look. She probably would catch some flack for setting up one of the First Order’s top ranking officials with a garbage picker, but she was genuinely getting exhausted of dealing with Kylo’s attitude at every meeting. If it kept him happy and away from her, she could focus her attention on matching up the more pleasant officers with spouses. “Very well. I’ll make the arrangements shortly and let the Supreme Leader know you’ve made a choice.”
Chapter 2: No Going Back
Eager to leave Canto Bight, Rose Tico signs up for what seems to be the perfect job offer off planet, even when her gut feelings are trying to warn her. She only finds out the truth when it's too late.
In the midst of all this, General Hux meets with Lucilla, the matchmaker.
Also, Rey realizes the ramifications of signing the contract with the matchmaking service.
Trigger Warning: The last section contains human/alien trafficking and forced tranquilization.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Rose Tico shook her head in frustration as she finished repairing a wire on a high-end speeder that someone decided to ride, while drunk, over the fathier track, and then proceeded to complain about getting ticketed for flying the speeder over the track in the middle of the race. It was lucky that the person crashed the speeder into one of the neatly trimmed hedges surrounding the racetrack. They could have crashed it into one of the spectator areas or, worse, on the fathiers and stable attendants themselves. The fathiers and attendants were constantly mistreated and beaten, so she would rather the rich get injured, if anyone got injured at all.
It was no secret that Rose hated living and working in Canto Bight. She arrived on the planet about a year ago, having left the shipyards on Corellia looking for better work and the possible chance that she could meet someone who knew exactly where her sister, Paige, was. Granted, her working and living conditions were frequently safer than those on Corellia, but most of her tasks were boring and unchallenging. Anything would have to be better than this.
“I’m finished repairing the speeder!” Rose called out once she closed up the compartment that she was working on.
“Oh great. Thank you so much. You know, because of the fine that the rider got, we are giving him a thirty percent discount on the repairs,” her supervisor explained.
“That doesn’t make sense? The rider can afford both the fine and the repairs. Why are you letting them off with this?”
“Their family owns half the casinos here, Rose. Don’t question it. You’re done with your shift now, and you can expect your payment tomorrow morning.”
Rose nodded and walked over to her locker to change out of her grimy uniform. Once she donned a clean shirt and trousers, she grabbed her bag and walked out of the shop, towards the fathier stables. At least there was still time for her to catch part of the race if she made it to her viewing spot, along with the other common workers who couldn’t afford the fancier seats. Those seats were overrated, anyway. She loved being up close to the racetrack and being able to see the creatures more closely.
She saw one of her friends, who worked as a bartender at one of the cafes in the area, and waved to him as she walked up to him. “Hey Evis! You get off early today, too?”
The male waved back and shook his head. “No, I’m covering a night shift after this. One of my co-workers got sick, so I’m helping them out. How did it go with that speeder?”
“I’m sick of my job. I need to get out of this hellhole, the sooner the better. If you hear of anyone hiring off planet, send them my way, please.”
“What happened now?”
“My boss let the client pay less for the damages, which also means I get paid less. Same old story.”
“Hm. Can you keep a secret?” Evis replied.
"Sure. What is it?” Rose asked.
“So, my co-worker, Melis, isn’t actually sick. She’s on a job interview. There’s some company that’s been recruiting on Canto Bight this week. They’re based on Dantooine and they’re creating a new shipbuilding factory. They really need new workers. You’d probably be a good candidate for them,” He explained.
“This is the first I’ve heard of it? I think my supervisor would have said something by now,” Rose replied.
Evis grinned at her. “I think that your boss doesn’t want to lose one of her best workers. Come on. I can call them up and arrange a meeting after the race, if you’d like?”
As if on cue, the timer for the race buzzed, grabbing everyone’s attention before Rose could give a response. The fathiers zipped past Rose, captivating her with their grace and speed. If she had the money that these rich people had, she wouldn’t spend it on races. She’d buy an entire plot of land and let these creatures roam free on it. She could also get Paige to manage the land with her, if she ever found her again. Paige would love seeing these fathiers, too.
Once the race ended, Rose returned her attention to her friend. “The race is over now. So, you said you can contact these recruiters for a meeting soon? I’ve heard Dantooine’s a pleasant planet.”
Two days passed by before Rose found herself walking towards the cafe where Evis worked, breathing deeply to calm her nerves about the interview with the recruiter from Dantooine. It almost seemed too good to be true, in a sense, since she normally had to wait weeks to hear back about meetings and interviews for jobs. Her gut told her something was off, but she pushed it away as simple interview anxiety. Upon approaching the cafe, she straightened out her uniform shirt and overcoat before entering the bustling cafe. This was certainly an unconventional place for an interview, but Canto Bight was full of eccentric individuals, as she had learned during her time there.
Rose peered around the room for the abednedo, who Evis said would be situated near the gold and blue stained glass window depicting a group of ballroom dancers. She found the interviewer sitting in the place described to her, and Rose immediately made her way to the table.
“Officer Cesvo?” Rose prompted before she introduced herself. “I’m Rose Tico, and I’m here for the interview about the position at the shipbuilding facility on Dantooine.”
Cesvo smiled as he replied and gestured for her to take a seat. “Ah yes! Ms. Tico, it is a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for agreeing to meet on such short notice.”
Rose returned the smile as she sat down. “It’s nice to meet you, as well, and thank you for the interview offer!”
“Well, would you like a drink before we begin?” Cesvo offered as he began entering notes into a datapad, positioned so that Rose couldn’t see what he was writing about her.
Although she’d had a long day at work, her small stature meant she got tipsy very easily. It wouldn’t be smart to get drunk during an important interview like this. Rose shook her head and declined politely.
Cesvo nodded and cleared his throat. He began speaking, “Very well. So, home planet? Who’s your family?”
Rose blinked quickly at the very strange question, but she assumed he just needed to know for verifying her identity, especially if it was a high security organization. She answered, “Hays Minor. I only have one living relative, Paige...”
The interview continued to flow smoothly, although Rose found it incredibly unusual that Cesvo asked personal questions in addition to the expected inquiries about her skills and work experience. He even asked her at one point whether or not she had ever had any romantic attachments! She protested when he first asked the question, but he reassured her that the company needed to know in case they had to pay for spousal benefits. That was reasonable enough, she assumed. Thankfully, the conversation quickly returned to language skills before it finally wrapped up.
“Excellent, Ms. Tico. Your credentials are impressive, and you are exactly what our company needs. You can expect a call from us within the week or two for additional details.” Cesvo explained before he caught Rose’s bewildered expression. “Ms. Tico? Do you have any further questions or concerns?”
Rose mused for a second before she answered. “No, not at all, Officer Cesvo. Thank you for the kind words, and I really do look forward to working with your organization, should you hire me.”
“Perfect. Would you mind signing this form that gives us permission to contact and pick you up once we are ready for you to start your position with us?” Cesvo commented as he pushed over the datapad to Rose and handed her a stylus. Rose quickly signed, seemingly content with the text in front of her and not asking further details, much to Cesvo’s relief. The girl was brighter than the others he had seen that day, so he was mildly surprised she acquiesced so quickly.
Once she finished signing the form, Rose stood up and shook his hand. “Thank you, Officer Cesvo. I hope the rest of the recruitment goes smoothly for you.”
“You’re very welcome, Ms. Tico. One more thing before you go? I need a photograph of you for your ID badge," Cesvo explained, waiting for Rose’s assent before he set up his datapad and took a picture of her against the wall.
After Rose left the cafe, Cesvo called over Evis from the bar, where he was currently pouring out a tray of neon blue, sparkling drinks. Evis excused himself for a short break and met the abednedo at the table. “How did it go? Did it work?”
Cesvo nodded and discreetly slipped Evis an envelope. “She signed the forms necessary for the First Order to take custody of her as needed. You’ve done well today. Four new individuals. I’ll be sending someone to pick up these women soon.”
Back on Jakku, Rey scratched another line into her wall of tallies, marking another day that had come and gone without her family returning for her. She grabbed her freshly-prepared portions and went outside, leaning against one of the AT-AT legs. While she ate, she wondered how much longer was she going to have to wait? Although she was still working her way through the pile of portions that Joran gave her a few weeks prior, it was only a matter of time before she ran out of food once again. While the hope of seeing her family once again kept her going strong most days, she was seriously beginning to believe that she’d die on this planet alone first before that ever happened. But, she couldn’t let herself believe it. Otherwise, she’d never survive.
As she finished off a loaf, she heard the distinctive hum of a shuttle... She figured out that the noise indicated a shuttle flying within atmo rather than one flying overhead. She looked to her left and saw the source itself, an Upsilon shuttle gradually drawing closer to her own shelter as it made its landing. It was landing very smoothly, as it should, which struck her as odd, since there was nothing of significance anywhere near her or her shelter. A shuttle landing erratically or crashing immediately, she could understand that, but this was very suspicious.
Rey quickly ran into her shelter and grabbed her staff, ready to confront whoever it was, if they dared to enter her territory at all. Odds were that they simply entered the wrong coordinates into their shuttle, but she would rather be safe than sorry. Once she stepped back outside, she noticed that a small group of individuals were making their way towards her. That was definitely strange, in her opinion. She counted the number of individuals as they grew closer. It was only about three people. She could easily scare them off if they tried to mess with her or her property in any way, so she continued walking towards the group at a brisk pace.
As Rey and the group drew closer to one another, she recognized the uniforms on the individuals. Two wore the same uniform as Joran did when she encountered him at Niima Outpost, and one was in white stormtrooper armor, presumably as their guard. She realized quickly that it was no mere accident that the shuttle landed exactly where it did. Still, she could confront them to make sure that they were coming for her, or even try to dissuade them from taking her with them on their shuttle. As miserable as her life could be on Jakku, she valued her independence and did not want to be tied down in marriage to a complete stranger.
“Hey! What are you looking for?” Rey shouted out to the group.
An officer with nervous brown eyes called back in response. “Are you Rey? I’m Lieutenant Mitaka. We’re with the First Order.”
She replied, as confidently as possible while tightening her grip on her staff. “I’m not the one you want. You’re mistaken. Now leave. There’s nothing here.” She watched the trio stop in their tracks and begin whispering among themselves. She noticed the other officer show something to the other on a small device that he pulled out. The group then drew closer to her, enough to warrant speaking in a normal volume... Rey’s heart began pounding at a faster pace, but she retained her composure.
Mitaka spoke up, his voice taking on a gentler tone now that he wasn’t shouting across the sand. “Ms. Rey, we just consulted our files; do you remember signing up for the Bridal Service a few weeks ago? Unkar Plutt gave us the coordinates of your shelter when we showed him this picture you consented to having taken of you.”
Rey bit the interior of her lip as she watched Mitaka’s companion display the photo of her on his device, the same exact one Joran took of her. Of course, Unkar gave them her coordinates, which meant she couldn’t deny any of this. “I did sign up for the service, Lieutenant. But there must be a mistake. I’m nobody.”
Mitaka chuckled lightly. “No mistake, Rey. One of our commanders took an interest in you, and he was extremely insistent on it. He is not a man any of us want to upset, let’s just put it that way.”
“Tell him to find someone else!” Rey insisted.
The stormtrooper began drawing out a taser while Mitaka’s companion spoke firmly, “Rey. You can either come with us willingly, honoring the contract you signed, or we will not hesitate to use other methods to get you on the ship.”
Rey scowled at the group. Apparently, they knew she’d fight back, so naturally they had the trooper with them to ensure compliance. She wasn’t ready to leave, not now �— and maybe not ever. Then again, maybe she could figure out some way to get out of this ridiculous contract with the First Order. It could be an interesting experience to get off the planet, for once in her life. She sighed, “Fine. Let me go get a couple of things from my shelter, and I’ll go with you to the shuttle.”
Meanwhile, back on Starkiller Base, Armitage Hux carefully reviewed each of the women put before him. As one of the foremost generals of the First Order, he took the task of selecting an appropriate bride to be his wife extremely seriously. If it was up to him, truthfully, he would wait until all the systems were under the First Order’s control before even entertaining the idea of a spouse. Alas, the dear Supreme Leader Snoke had insisted that all the top ranking officers be married sooner rather than later. Thus, Hux was looking for someone fit and intelligent that would serve and support him faithfully.
Lately, he was displeased with the offerings from Lucilla. It was blatantly obvious that her company was slacking off by soliciting sign-ups from the dregs of society. He warned her last time that if the company didn’t get its act together with the quality of the offerings, the First Order would patronize another company instead. It didn’t matter to him that Commander Kylo had literally picked some random scavenger on the basis of looks alone, it seemed. Hux was a man of extremely high standards and made no apologies for that.
He picked up the file with a photo of a slender woman with long black hair tied in intricate braids. “What does this one do for a living?”
Lucilla replied. “Melisu works two jobs, as a bartender and a breeder of Corellian hounds—.”
Hux cut off the matchmaker abruptly and glared at her, as she knew full well that he owned a cat. “You can take that one off the table.”
She nodded, placing Melisu’s file back on the stack of other candidates rejected by Hux. “Very well. Do you need me to refresh you on Rose and Zeti?”
The general looked over the remaining two files. One with a tall grayish humanoid wearing a bounty hunter’s uniform. The other with a petite woman with sleek black hair, styled in curls, and dressed in a rather drab taupe uniform, although the uniform fit her body snugly enough to reveal feminine curves. “Rose is the aircraft mechanic, correct? What is her home planet and background?”
She replied, “Rose is originally from Hays Minor. Her father died in the mines, and her mother died about twelve years ago from illness. She was with her sister for some time before they got split apart during the fighting between the First Order and the New Republic in the Otomok System. She’s gained quite the reputation for her skills with aircraft technology during her time on Corellia and Canto Bight.”
Hux pondered over Lucilla’s words as he went through the files in Rose’s folder once again. Hays Minor. It always struck him as a shame that the planet was virtually uninhabitable now. He found the people of Hays Minor hospitable and strong in their convictions, plus the women there were among the most beautiful in the galaxy, in his opinion. It was too bad that they had chosen to align themselves with the New Republic, bringing on their own demise. At any rate, he probably couldn’t go wrong with choosing a Haysian woman who also possessed skills that would greatly benefit the First Order.
“Let your company know I’m selecting Rose Tico, and send her here straightaway.”
“Fantastic, this is an excellent choice, General Hux. You won’t be disappointed.”
As promised, Rose heard back quickly from the company, confirming her new position and a pick-up date for her transport to Dantooine. She spent the remainder of the week happily wrapping up the rest of her projects and packing up her belongings. She was finally getting out of this vapid, shallow place, and she would not miss any of it. Well, she’d miss some of her friends and seeing the fathier races on a regular basis, but that was it. Strangely enough, Evis had been busier than normal that week, so she wasn’t able to give him a proper thanks for helping her get the new job. Still, Rose was able to say goodbye to her closest friends in the city before her departure date.
However, things took a strange turn after Rose boarded the shuttle. Not long after leaving atmo, she began realizing that her fellow passengers were all women, both human and alien, in different states of dress. The lack of any males or third genders made her suspicious. Her line of work was not gender-specific, after all. There were very few jobs that were largely dominated by the female gender, and they did not involve technology in any way.
Rose furrowed her eyebrows in thought before turning to the twi'lek next to her. “Hey, what’s your job assignment on Dantooine?”
“Dantooine?” The twi'lek looked at her with confusion. “I thought we were going to Coruscant.”
“No, we’re headed to Nar Shaddaa.” A buxom blonde human spoke up from across the room. Soon, others began chiming in and arguing about where they were going. Rose’s eyes widened in fear as the reality of the situation began sinking into her consciousness.
One of the crew members, a portly man with curly brown hair, stormed into the room and shouted. “What is this ruckus?!”
Rose gritted her teeth and stormed up to the man. Pushing him against the wall, she demanded, “Tell me where we are flying to —right now!”
The man chuckled nervously before turning his head and calling out into the other room to his fellow crew members. “You two! Bring the tranquilizers and help me out here. They caught on to us. Take extra care with the mechanic from Canto Bight, she’s reserved for the First Order.”
Rose kneed the man in the groin, causing him to double over in pain. She continued shouting at him. “First Order? Explain to us what is going on!”
Before the man could reply, Rose found her mouth covered by a large hand as another hand shoved a needle into her arm. The last thing she heard before passing out was some crude comment about some general breaking her into submission.
This chapter hasn't been beta'ed just yet (because I am impatient), but I'll be adding edits as necessary. Thanks to MyJediLife for being a great beta for this story!
Also, we will see more of Kylo in the next chapter, even though he isn't in this one...
Thanks to all of you for waiting for the update and for your patience with the story moving to a new link!