the lamb and the beast
Faithful Old Mashra once said to Rey, that as a person of faith, one had to believe in destiny. She told her that she was destined for great things, for which she had to pray hard and work even harder because no man could ever change his destiny without prayers and actions and God’s decree.
Senile Old Mashra, who often mistook Rey for her long-deceased son, spoke of God’s all-knowing knowledge and wisdom. She said that the hardships Rey had suffered since her young age must have been God’s will to make her humble.
Sweet Old Mashra, who passed away of heat stroke, had given a wise saying that no living man in Jakku would ever believe in it. All things changed from time to time and one must accept it like an old friend. Good changes, bad changes, they all hid God’s hidden wisdom, she once counselled her. But that was a long time ago when Rey still believed in the tales of thriving goodness defeating forces of evil, of prince and princess, of talking bird of paradise giving counsel to despaired wife.
In this God-forsaken Jakku, she was nineteen, and Old Mashra’s words were nothing but fancy and fleeting.
But they might ring true.
Because God worked in a mysterious way after all.
It began in the morning when Rey came out of her junk-made shelter. The sun was beaming and the sky above her was blue and cloudless. She was about to start her custom-made speeder when she saw a lone raven with its dark wings, flying across the desert. It was heading for the Graveyard of Giants, a war site that became a popular scavenging spot.
As soon as she arrived there, she was greeted with a landscape of corroded airships, ruins made out of technologies that were impossible to replicate in Jakku. Other scavengers had begun searching and crawling on every surface of the ship wreck. Nothing unusual, she thought. But soon she began thinking that today was her lucky day. She managed to climb and crawled onto a tight nook and got herself a number of Naamite batteries and a slightly damaged generator. Furthermore, she obtained a little stash of a refined Coaxium with no leak on sight, in a hidden compartment of a dead aircraft personnel’s suite. These will fetch me a great number of portions, she smiled as she put the little stash inside her multi-purpose pocket.
She found more till midday came, and soon it was clear that she had more valuables than the other scavengers, making her an ire to them. But that was not her problem. They wouldn’t dare to cross her, she would fight. And she would fight dirty.
She took her thick-coiled climbing rope and glided down to the bottom of the ship. Once she landed with a thump, she decided to walk out of the skeletal structure surrounding her. But the sun was at its peak, so she decided to stay under the great shadow of the ruined craft. It was her time to rest.
As she thought of going to Plutt’s place while drinking off her waterskin, she began to see ‘it’ – a tall dark figure with broad shoulders which appeared even broader with pauldron he was wearing. He donned a dark warrior-like armour with shredded cape flowing behind him. A stranger in a strange land, she almost took him for a death-wraith or a Djinn. Her further inspection indicated him as an ordinary man. A Beta at most, whom Rey could not even smell him any better. Yet he was so tall and he was walking distance away, heading toward her.
What is he? Rey asked herself.
She let her findings fall on the sands behind her and picked her quarterstaff to prepare herself for a fight. No sooner or later, the dark figure stood before her, and Rey brandished off her quarterstaff at him. His hand never strayed to the scimitar hanging on his left hip.
“Stop! What do you want? Don’t come any closer!” Rey warned him; the edge of her quarterstaff was dangerously close to his covering face-helmet. With a slit-like dark visor, she could not tell what kind of person was hidden behind that helmet. It was his advantage that she could not read him, and that made her nervous.
“If you’re going to rob me, I won’t back away without a fight!” She swung her quarterstaff before his face. He did not even flinch.
This man did not cower, she thought. Instead, they stood still for what appeared to be minutes long until the only movement he gave was when he suddenly looked away to see a running scavenger with a diminutive height heading toward Rey with his spear ready to attack her. The man in black immediately ran to cover Rey and unsheathed his scimitar. Red flame engulfed the blade of the scimitar as he defended her by parrying Teedo’s heavy blow.
“What the–“ Rey heard Old Mashra told her a few times about a group of warrior-sorcerers that carried fiery magic-imbued weapons. She always thought that it was an old woman’s tale to keep her from thinking of her empty stomach. Never once did Rey think of seeing one in her life.
“Teedo, you bastard! What has gotten into you!” she scrambled behind the man in black as he took a big step backward to cover her. She brandished her quarterstaff to her attacker, gone was her initial antagonism toward the dark man.
“Gimme all you have and I’ll leave you alone! They say you got jackpots today!” the scavenger Teedo demanded. The other scavengers came forward to see what’s going on and a number of them even joined Teedo.
“I’ll give you nothing!”
“Then that’s your loss,” Teedo and the others ran to attack them. Scavengers after scavengers. The man in black pushed his hand flat to the air and send many reelings back to the sands. Rey, on the other hand, decided to engage them one by one, hitting them with stabs right on their heads, chests, and backs.
A scavenger managed to get behind Rey and strangled her. Even though she had a hard time breathing, let alone to get away from the choke, she managed to kick a scavenger who ran to her right on his face before jabbing her fingers straight to her choker’s eyes. She instantly picked her lying quarterstaff to kick and beat her attacker while he was lying and wailing for his eyes. Meanwhile, the man in black knocked his scimitar’s hilt on a scavenger’s neck before sending other two men to fly across the sand. He used his quillions to protect his hand from a very powerful strike that his blade missed. His attacker tried to overpower him by brute force, unafraid of his burning blade. Yet, like any other untrained brawl he experienced, this was resolved quickly. Many scavengers did not understand his power, and as usual, he threw them away easily to the sand by using a powerful invisible force they could not grasp.
“The fuck they can’t be beaten!?” Teedo gritted his teeth before deciding to pick on Rey who was occupied on defending herself. Well, at least, the more the others got beaten, the fewer competitors, he smiled.
He corrected his face wrappings and mask before taking careful steps toward Rey. As he grew closer to her, he charged his ionization spear which he used to stun or kill. He set it to a very strong stun, enough to get her laying in her shelter for a few days. She was so busy on beating other scavengers that she did not notice Teedo’s powerful spear thrust.
Her scream drew the man in black’s attention away from his surrounding of sprawling scavengers to Rey. He saw her falling to the ground, lying helplessly with Teedo striding above her, ready to give her another charged blow. He raised his upturned palm towards Teedo, and the scavenger was lifted off his feet. His hands flew to his throat to scrabble helplessly, his ionization spear fell and rolled on the sands.
He cast his hand away, throwing Teedo in the process, far away from Rey. That scavenger must have suffered from fractured bones as he landed terribly on the ground, with his back falling onto a boulder. He sheathed his scimitar and ran toward Rey who laid unconscious on the ground. He took his claw-like gauntlets away before shedding his under-gloves. He shook her a few times, but she did not give any signs that she would be waking-up soon.
He held the base of her head before snapping his finger at her. Her chartreuse eyes flew open and she instantly appeared to be alarmed by his proximity. “I– “she wanted to scoot away from him but her body screamed pain from Teedo’s stun.
“Stay still,” he said with his voice distorted by the vocoder inside his helmet. That was the first time he talked to her.
He laid Rey gently back to the ground. Both of his hands hovered above her chest and he muttered something she could not understand. It must have been a spell because his hands glowed iridescently and she experienced warmness flowing inside her body. With the warmth spreading gently, she was reminded her of Old Mashra and how she used to wrap her in a woollen blanket in the dark and cold desert night. The strange feeling came across her, she did not know why she felt sentimental but she knew her eyes was brimming with tears.
Living in Jakku had taught Rey that crying was a waste of time and water, it did not earn you food portions nor did it fill your stomach. She knew it all too well and she had cried a number of times, out of loneliness, out of frustration, and hopelessness. Why it was liberating to cry now, she did not know. But she saw the glow in his hands gradually dissipating, and she wanted to hide from him, she did not want him to know how vulnerable she felt right now.
If the man noticed something amiss, he was kind enough to not say a word. He helped her to be seated and brought her findings along to her. His hand found its way to rub Rey’s back, soothingly, until it was time for him to stop. After he wore his under-gloves and gauntlets, he took his heavy and promising waterskin from his sling before taking off its cap and implied her to drink.
“May I?” Rey asked as she wiped her face, suddenly feeling timid.
He nodded and watched her intensely as she drank thirstily. She had no idea how his water tasted so different. But she gulped down what she felt like the freshest, crispiest, and coldest water she had ever tasted. He was so affixed on watching her that he could only wave his hand declaring that it was not a problem when Rey was surprised to find his waterskin run out.
“I– “Rey gave his waterskin back. “Thank you. And sorry for the water,” she said sheepishly as she gestured his waterskin. He shook his head and took his now empty waterskin to sling it back to his back.
“Thanks for defending me. I did not think if I could fend myself alone against them,” she continued sincerely.
“Do they always attack you like that?” he asked. His voice carried a distorted soft and masculine note that Rey tried very hard not to show her shiver.
“Sometimes. They were getting desperate,” she replied. “It’s getting harder to find valuable items. With nothing to trade, that means no portions to eat.”
“Can’t you go to other places? At least find another profession for a living?”
She looked at her empty surroundings. The rest of the scavengers must have retreated into the shadow of the crafts, others were still lying on the sands, unconscious. They would not want to cross her after today. Not while he was around, a little voice in her head added.
“No. This is the safest place to scavenge, other places are ridden by nightwatcher worms and steelpeckers,” her gaze shifted to the horizon of the great ruined airships, “This is God-forsaken Jakku. We’re literally in the middle of nowhere. If we were to move away, Plutt’s men would track us down and drag us back here.”
“He owns us, our slave master,” she said wistfully. Her eyes moved to behold the golden desert in the distance. There was a dream of freedom, but it seemed so far away with all of her circumstances. Holding hope high in this wasteland was necessary yet exhausting. Slipping away to rage and hostility was so easy that they were a step away from wickedness. But Rey did not wish to harness those characters. If this world were cruel to her, she could be kind as her form of defiance. And she yearned to stay that way.
Few locks of her caramel hair hidden underneath her weather-worn head cover fell on her face, framing it alluringly. “Anyway, where do you come from? Let me treat you to a dinner,” she smiled as she tucked her locks back to her head cover.
He nodded politely and help her stand before carrying her heavy findings. He carried them as if they’re weightless.
“No! Let me carry them!” she protested. She could sense him giving an incredulous stare at her. “You have helped me enough, let me carry them,” she huffed indignantly.
“No,” he said shortly and proceeded to walk ahead. “Where do you live? Do you have any carrier?”
“Yes,” she said as she jogged to catch up with his long steps, still pouting from his blatant refusal of help. “It’s not far from here, just behind that airship,” she pointed at a shipwreck that was once a great Red Empire’s mark.
Both of them jogged to the airship’s great shadow to avoid the glaring sunlight. But there was a wafting cloud of thick black smoke coming behind a rust-invested wall of Alusteel, right where Rey parked her speeder. The scent of gasoline and fire was so strong that Rey had to stop to compose herself before running at full speed to what once was her speeder bike.
“No…” she cried. Her speeder bike that she crafted herself from the parts she gathered, which took her a year to salvage, was left decimated before her, destroyed by the scavengers she had beaten. The oxidized red Alum steel she was so familiar with was dented to the point of no repair. Burning engines were peeking from the dented fold with its wires cut.
“They did this,” It was not a question, but a statement.
Rey let out a low moan of despair as she shook her head and wiped her face, as if that action alone could wake her out of this nightmare. Without her speeder, her activity would be severely impacted and lagged behind.
“Let’s go,” she murmured with thick voice full of sorrow. Dejected, she lifted her heavy legs away from the fiery smoking ruins of her speeder. Shock and sorrow flooded her mind.
But the man in black stopped her. He grabbed her hand and led her the other way around.
“Follow me,” he simply said.
“Wait. Where are you taking me?” she snarled angrily. She pulled her hand away but he grabbed her again and led her into the belly of an airship.
“Unhand me!” she barked. She had enough of today. First, it was her strange luck; Second, him; Third, Teedo and the other scavengers; Fourth, her speeder; and now, him leading her somewhere deeper inside the belly of an airship. If he had not given her all of his water, she would have hit him first with her quarterstaff.
“Let go!” she pulled away finally, earning her a low growl from him.
She could tell from his growl and rigid posture that he was furious. Pissed of her incompliance to his simple direction. When she was about to scold him, something came up from the corner of her vision.
It was a black stallion. A black stallion inside an airship, in Jakku.
“Oh, God,” she beamed, her anger toward her dark companion dissipated as soon as she tried to control her joy in seeing the beast. “A horse!” Rey pointed at the stallion that came closer, seeking for a pet from the man in black. His eyes were clear and black, his coat was glossy, and his legs were free of swelling and bumps.
The beast grunted as the man stroked its head and neck, as if he were angry for being left alone in the dark. He took Rey’s hand and place it on the top of the equine’s nose bridge. “His name is Raqisa. Don’t stand behind him unless you wish to be kicked,” he informed.
She gave him a dirty look before staring at the said horse with adoration. She kept on stroking his nose bridge and cheeks until he huffed, as though saying that it was enough. Just then Raqisa nudged his head to his dark master for he seemed to be more comfortable with him. From the trail-riding saddle bags hanging on the equine’s back, he took two red apples and gave them to Rey and the other to the horse.
“For me?” she asked, her eyes gleamed hungrily at the red juicy apple.
He nodded before he placed Rey’s scavenged parts to Raqisa’s loin. Even with the apple, Raqisa still protested the new weight on him with a neigh, but the man in black hushed the stallion with a soft stroke on his flank.
“Haddi' yaa Raqisa, haddi'. Kuwais yaa walad,” he crooned softly.
He turned to watch Rey devouring the apple with so little manner that it would shock any cultured person. Flesh quickly eaten, that he wondered whether this scavenger he just met chew or swallowed it immediately. Once she finished her apple, she kept the core along with the seeds into her multi-purpose pocket.
“Why?” he inquired politely.
“Maybe I can plant it, and if I could grow it, it would provide me with more apples,” she said genuinely. “There is nothing wrong to grow and treat kind beings.”
She went back to pet the now hesitant Raqisa. The horse neighed peevishly. But before anything escalated further, the man in black pulled Rey to stand beside the black stallion and helped her mount the dark horse. Raqisa protested the other burden on his back by huffing and trotting angrily before his owner scold him back, telling that it would be a short distance ride.
“Thank you,” It was her first time to ride a horse, and he had been more cordial to her than the rest of the Jakkuvians.
“My name’s Kylo Ren,” he said, his hand lingered as it held onto Rey’s.
“Mine’s Rey,” she introduced herself. “You’re a stranger, yet you’ve been kind to me. I’d like to offer you a stay for the night, it’s the least I can do.”
Kylo pulled his hand away from hers, as if it hurt him to be separated. He took the reign and gently led Raqisa out of the darkness.
“Come. Into the light,” he murmured to his Stallion.
The journey to Rey’s shelter was laden in silence from both sides. Other than Raqisa’s indignant huff and constant tail swishes, both of them did not strike a conversation except to point the direction heading to what looked like a junkyard.
Across the sands, the landscape now was filled with mountainous dump of rust-invested trash and metal waste with iron-like stench accompanied them. There were a number of old speeders and swoops stacked haphazardly, waiting for their turn to be stripped of their useful components and spares. Few hydraulic pressed crushers passed them by with more stacks of compressed cubes of scrapped metals, and rows of smelter machines. All of them were heavily guarded – another familiar sight of Jakku.
“We’re lucky there are no steelpeckers around,” she addressed. “But this is the normal depressing scene.”
“They’re heavily armed,” he noted, his hand held his scimitar’s hilt.
“They would keep steelpeckers away, their strong beaks and talon and acid influx allow them to eat metals and human,” she added on. “They’re also here to keep Plutt’s investment safe. He doesn’t fare well with thieves, even desperate ones with mouths to feed.”
Kylo shook his head. “Is your home any closer now?” he asked, changing the subjects.
“Yes. Out of this junkyard, on Goazon Badlands.”
Rey led them out to a desolate desert littered with dead AT-AT from the previous war. The dead machines laid on the ground with either one of its metal four limbs gone, their feet were tied to a harpoon and tow cable, or their cockpits had been destroyed by a blast. Many of their heavily armoured walls had collapsed, both due to strong desert winds and scavengers, leaving empty pockets for sands to enter.
It was bleak as it was dispiriting.
“There,” Rey jumped off from Raqisa to run around the sands to her shelter. “Follow my footsteps, there are traps around,” she said and waited for them in front of shelter.
Kylo’s gaze was fixated upon a long rag that covered the entrance to the AT-AT belly. It acted as her door. He saw a suspicious looking bump of sands that seemed to cover a camouflaged slat with some pikes beneath. Her own brand of booby trap. He pulled Raqisa’s reign to follow him so that the stallion would not come closer to the traps laid around them. He did not know how much and how big they were, but he was not inclined to test them today.
Upon his arrival, Rey took her findings off Raqisa, earning the horse’s approving grunt. She put them on the lips of the entrance before pulling Raqisa inside her shelter. “I got enough space inside. He can stay on my speeder spot,” she asserted cheerfully, although the mention of her speeder depressed her.
“Careful,” she pointed at an electroshock trap on each side of the entrance.
Her shelter was a controlled mess of hoarded items she found across Jakku – stacks of books with no definite genres, electronic parts of various sizes, barrel after barrel of reserved water, neat array of solar panels, an oil-based generator, and a stove. This was her home. She had tried to sweep the sands out of her shelter, but Kylo could notice some residues left here and there. The space smelled of rust, soot, and diesel, along with the sweetest and most addictive scent that Kylo had ever smelled of – an exclusive scent of Rey.
In this cramped space, Kylo could not help but having himself wander around the shelter. He knew that he was following his baser instinct to satisfy a curiosity upon this scavenger. He came to a rack filled with colourful dolls made of rags and bandages and a vase of dying flower. A metal wall stood beside it, filled with marks scratched by a sharp metal point. Its number stretched to what he believed as thousands, it crowded the wall’s surface till its ends.
She had marked her days. Living here was nothing but being like a prisoner.
He pressed a button under his helmet, its hinged mechanism opened as he took it off. Without his helmet, her intoxicating scent smelled headier. It tasted like honey, acacia, iris, and rose. Gentleness, femininity and childhood blended, forming a strange combination of sweetness and fragility despite of her circumstances. His eyes were still glued to the wall until he felt a gaze staring back at him.
His eyes met hers, chartreuse to amber. She seemed transfixed at him, pulled by an unknown threat connecting them both. It was loud like a whisper, and silent like bang. They could not pull themselves out of the trance. A blush spread through Rey’s face, and through his enhanced auditory sense, he could tell that her heart was beating faster for him.
He was beautiful. She had seen men’s faces in Jakku and on some outdated magazines she found, but they were nothing like his. He was dark and he was soft and hard at once. His dark shoulder-length hair was contrasted by his alabaster skin, his eyes were seated deeply with aquiline nose and kissable lips. She knew that she was tall and lanky for a girl in Jakku, but she could barely reach his chest only. He was a tall man, and something inside her purred. Something foreign she never knew she had had it before.
Get a grip of yourself! she scolded herself.
“We only eat portions here, unless there are food merchants who come and go,” she said. “I hope that it suits you.” She really hoped that he would not notice her odd behaviour. Only after he took his mask off, did she notice her own odd behaviour. Unreasonable, as it was something that she could not explain.
His response was a polite and gentle smile. “I’ll eat whatever you give me,” he said curtly.
The meal, as it turned out, went depressing.
It was a soldier rations, he thought as he clenched his hand. A fucking soldier’s rations, and an expired one. And the water, he thought further. Is it really water? Why doesn’t it taste like one?
They had fed Raqisa with mixture of grains and hay and given him bountiful amount of water from Rey’s water reservoir. She insisted on it as she was eager to get on the stallion’s good side. Raqisa is temperamental for a horse, Kylo had reminded her that. Both of them knew that they could not turn a horse’s affection overnight. Still, it did not stop Rey from trying, not even with Kylo’s attempt to deny her.
And that was before.
Now, Rey noticed that he was too polite to show his distaste of her food. As they were sitting on the floor with her stove between them, she saw him fuming as he was chewing, and she noticed his impeccable manners that were so different from hers. While she ate in a hurry, he was slow and proper. She could not help feeling insecure in front of him.
They were of different world.
Still he finished his meal earlier than Rey. He muttered gratitude for she had fed him and let him stay for the night, yet his smile never reached his face. It left her hollow. Gone were her appetite and her gusto to finish her food.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized.
“What for?” Did she hear him wrong? “What are you apologizing for?”
“My bad manner must have made you feel insecure. I apologize for that,” he explained. “The food was as it was expected, that I will not complain and I will not tell you lies for its taste. But if I may ask you, where are your parents? Do you have any family? Relatives?”
“I–“ she did not expect his blunt honesty. But she was surprised by his last question. “My parent– I–“
She tucked a lock of her hair away from her face. She shifted uncomfortably; her hands were tucked between her thigh in an attempt to make her appear smaller. This conversation had turned stifling.
“I– My parent– I don’t have any parent,” she said timidly. “Plutt told me they sold me to him. But I had Mashra and Attar, her son, they were like a family to me. But she passed away a few years ago, his son, two years before her.”
He took her words gravely before huffing an angry breath. “I’ll see it to be changed,” he promised, to himself rather than her. The way he worded that sentence had shown Rey that
he was a kind of person who used to be obeyed and got his presence acknowledged. A lord and a beast, she described him silently.
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll free you of your master.”
“What?” She must have suffered from concussion since she kept hearing him wrong. “How? Plutt never freed his slave,” she asked incredulously.
“For someone who has seen me fighting you don’t believe me?” he chuckled.
“It’s not that simple. This can’t be solved with a simple brawl! Kylo, he outnumbered you. Roodown once tried to reason him for not taking a child as a pleasure slave, his thugs cut his arms off. He lived with his prosthetic arms ever since,” she testified, frantic with his lunatic idea.
“The more reason to bring him down,” he decided.
“No, Kylo! Don’t do that!” she put her hand on top of his. “Don’t waste your life for me,” she closed her eyes to breathe heavily. When they opened, they were full of sorrow. “I don’t want to see you beaten or enslaved because of me. You have your freedom, I don’t. Cherish it,” she begged.
He pressed his lips to a thin line, his face remained resolute. “It would kill me to leave you alone. You deserve a better life.”
“Then forget me,” a lone tear fell from her eyes. “Live. I don’t want to bear the burden of knowing you sacrifice your life for my sake. I’m no one, you don’t have to do this for me.”
Raqisa’s neigh could be heard across the room. Kylo steeled himself with a determination that Rey could not understand. “No. You can try to change my mind. But I will not leave Jakku without you, and that’s final,” he declared.
“Why? I’m no one, you’ll forget me as soon as you deal with this problem.”
He shifted closer to her. His hand was on her waist and pulled her closer. He held her chin so that she could see his face. He smelled so nice though she could not pin the unrecognizable notes. She saw many different emotions – anger, determination, resolution, sympathy, desire, and lust – passing through his face, and she committed them into the deepest of her memories.
Ah. He is the one, something inside her whispered. Finally he came. The waiting’s over. Mate, it purred darkly.
“I am Kylo Ren. By God’s will, I will free you of Plutt’s servitude. By my name, I’ll promise you your freedom, a better life, education, and support. And as a Prime Alpha, you’re my Prime Omega. I’ve found you and I’ll claim you as my mate,” he declared.
He shifted closer so that she could hear his breath, she could sense his lips caressing the pulse on her neck. He kissed her there after a heartbeat passed. Her whole body suddenly throbbed as if it had been woken up from its long slumber.
"Lovers are patient and know that the moon needs time to become full."