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beyond the fields of wrongdoing and rightdoing (i'll meet you there)

Chapter Text


I.

 

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."

 

 

 

Chapter Text


II.

 

the delicate sound of thunder

 

 

 

That night, Rey did not get a single wink of sleep.

 

She lay awake on her hammock, staring at the metal wall next to her vacantly. She could not see her marks properly in the darkness of her shelter, but her mind was too occupied in recalling the events today, and reflecting on a certain man who was sleeping below her.

 

She made her guest, Kylo Ren, a make-shift bed out of many layers of clothes and rags she owned, plush dolls she made, and books to make it bearable. It was not the comfiest place to sleep, but tolerable for the night.

 

He watched her make his bed with wide eyes, too curious and polite to say a thing. He stood motionless until she was finished.

 

She reclined on her side as she recalled the moment when he was taking off his attire – his pauldrons, armour, and his under-clothes. She was granted with the most appetizing sight of male physique. There were scars here and there, etched permanently onto his skins. Mottled moles made an inky constellation across his alabaster skin. She had to look away before her eyes drifted lower to his very toned packs.

 

As she lay awake in the dark, she was accompanied by occasional huffs coming from Raqisa. Maybe he was too bored or he couldn’t sleep, she thought.

 

And how could she not? She was surrounded by a certain unfamiliar scent. It was not bad, it was very pleasant actually, but she wondered why she kept on smelling it. She had never experienced this constant awareness of a scent. If she sniffed something bad in Niima Outpost, she could tune it out of her mind. Forget it as she worked her ways for her rations. And this scent, it was of spices and something earthy she could not name.

 

After all, didn’t he say he was a Prime Alpha? An Alpha? Are there any differences? Rey wondered to herself. Is this how they were supposed to smell?

 

She shifted to her side to watch Kylo’s sleeping figure, she heard him breathing steadily, even if she could barely see him. Being around him made her more conscious of the strangeness of her own body.

 

What is it that you have done to me? She thought restlessly. A spell?

 

Her body was made hyperaware of something crawling inside her. While the changes worried her, it was not a bad sensation that she didn’t mind being swallowed into it. It was feral, but it owned a consciousness. It wished to exist within her, along with her. It did not want to overcome her but to be one with her.

 

And why is that? She questioned herself, too afraid to sleep for the fear of closing her eyes would result in her losing her own selves and senses.

 

Too long we lay dormant. Our beloved awoken us, it purred to her.

 

It is time.

 

Before she was able to ask more, she heard a whimper coming from Kylo. His body turned taut, his head shifted left and right. In his deliriousness he mumbled something in an unknown language, along with pleas like ‘Stop’, ‘Go Away’, and ‘Please’. With his closed eyes, his face showed an expression of panic and fear. He was having a nightmare.

 

He kept on thrashing tautly until Rey went down from her hammock and shook him awake.

 

“Kylo,” she urged him. “Kylo, wake up.”

 

She kept on shaking his shoulder. There was cold sweat she felt under her palm, while she was shaking him harder, he was nowhere to be awaken. He reeked of fear.

 

“Kylo.”

 

“Kylo!”

 

“Kylo!!!” she screamed, waking Kylo in the process.

 

Raqisa neighed angrily from the distance, he was made surprised by her.

 

She breathed the air deeper to calm herself down. In the dark, she felt him holding onto her hand.

 

A’uzu billahi minash Shaytan-nir-rajeem,” he murmured weakly, it was almost unheard by her. “Thank you, Rey,” he said as his thumb swept over the back of her hand reassuringly.

 

“Go back to sleep,” she whispered in the darkness.

 

She sensed him staring at her, perhaps staring at where her voice came from. She waited for him to fall asleep, and no moment later, she could tell from his breath that it was deep and steady. He had gone back to his slumber.

 

What was that?

 

Unsettled, she took her pillow and blanket from the hammock above. She took it herself to set everything beside him. She would not mind experiencing stiff muscle tomorrow, she needed to follow a subconscious pull to be beside him. As she lay her head upon her pillow and pull her blanket to fend the cold desert night, a question came into her mind.

 

Why would you comfort him? Why would you make yourself vulnerable to him? It asked, this was a different voice from hers. This one was vicious and bitter.

 

Nothings good ever came to you every time you opened your heart, It reminded her. Why would he be different? A pair of pretty eyes? A tight stomach packs? More foods to eat?

 

Rey banished those dark thoughts away her mind. He has been kind to me and that’s good enough, she countered.

 

He wants something from you.

 

Don’t we all? She admitted. I’ll help him, even if he’ll leave me eventually.

 

He wants your freedom for himself. You’re just exchanging masters.

 

No!

 

Take his blade. Drive it to his heart, take his horse and his belongings. Get away from here, It encouraged her.

 

No!!

 

You won’t be able to pay the price, after all I just gave you a solution, the voice smiled. Close your heart and you’ll never be hurt. You’re nothing like him.

 

This time, her whimper had woken him up from his slumber. “Rey?” he called her. He knew that she was lying beside him, but he scooted her closer to him and wrapped her in his arms till she felt the warmth of his body heat.

 

Does Alpha get to be this warm?

 

“You’re in distress,” he noted. “Are you alright?”

 

She nodded wordlessly against his chest and shifted closer. It felt so right to be held by him. But her mind reeled on the voice inside her head; she wondered what it was. Every time it spoke, coldness and dread spread all over her body. It was sinister, she concluded.

 

“Get some sleep. You need rest.”

 

He soon fell asleep again, faster this time. She sensed his deep breath sweeping the crown of her head. When she was about to lull into a dream, he subconsciously moved her again so that she could sleep on his chest. This caused her to be hyperaware of his pecs and his scent – stronger and mouth-watering than it was before. More concentrated. His skin was soft that she couldn’t help feeling like those perverts who fantasized the smoothness of women’s skin.

 

How am I going to sleep with these!?

 

Thus, that night, Rey did not get a single wink of sleep at all.

 

***

 

The next day, after giving Raqisa his hearty meal of the day, Kylo found himself seated on his make shift bed, watching Rey as she was braiding her caramel hair into a strange fashion of three buns. Both of them never mentioned what happened last night. His nightmare and her call for help. It was fine for Kylo, he did not want to recall it anyway.

 

Her hair was long with slight curl at its end and it was mesmerizing to look at. While he was watchind her stylizing her locks to her usual fashion – a childhood habit, he concluded – he picked his tracking device from his pocket and keyed in a message and coordinate numbers.

 

The item was silver, made of Alum steel. Its screen gave off blue-ish hue and it was almost as big as his palm. After he finished typing on its sleek touchscreen, he decided to put the device back into his pocket and found Rey who eyed him curiously.

 

“What’s that?”

 

“It’s a tracking device.”

 

He pointed her to a brooch he was wearing on his chest. It was made of brass and iron and consisted of upright hand between the horns of a crescent. There was midnight blue sapphire and ruby stones inlaid on the beautiful crescent filigree. On the back of the hand were a hexagram seal and a word ‘mabruk’ below it.

 

“The hexagram on the hand is Khātam Sulaymān. It symbolized harmony of two opposing sides – heaven and earth, for an example,” he drew the simple geometric star figure on the sandy floor of her shelter, “It also links science, beauty, and metaphysics with elements of medicine and magic, astronomy and astrology.”

 

“I see,” she nodded, seemed interested with his Mysticism explanation. But then her eyes widened as something dawned her. “But that device is here, and you’re wearing its tracker,” she pointed at his brooch.

 

“I can use this,” he patted on the device in his pocket, “To communicate with others who owned the same instrument and send them my coordinates. My second-in-command is the one who holds the other device.”

 

“Second-in-command. Then what are you?”

 

“I’m their leader.”

 

Her brows furrowed; her lips pouted for he could tell that she was puzzled. It was written on her face and her scent. “You’re a leader, then why are you in Jakku? You could have asked anyone to do your bidding here. What made you come to Jakku?” She slung her quarterstaff to her back and covered her head with a head cover. She raised to take Raqisa’s reign so that he would stand on the centre of her shelter.

 

“If I said I was called here, by a force that was unknown to me, would you believe me?” He took her findings and hung them on Raqisa’s back.

 

“What kind of force?”

 

“A pull, that’s a way to describe it. A pull you can’t ignore,” He fasten Raqisa’s saddle and patted on the equine’s flank.

 

Rey stroked the stallion’s nose bridge before moving to his neck. His mane was very long and shiny, which made Raqisa’s appear even more handsome. Just like his master, Rey’s inner voice supplied, making her blush as she ducked lower, closer to Raqisa to avoid Kylo’s gaze. The horse huffed as he was shaking his head, annoyed.

 

“I think the pull is you,” Kylo said solemnly, pulling Rey’s attention away from Raqisa.

 

“Me?”

 

“I was about to head back to the Seat after securing a conflict at the border nearby. I felt the pull first when I was above Kitel Phard. The pull was so loud that I got a very bad headache. I knew something was not right. I had to investigate it,” He began. “I asked for a detour to Jakku. When we were about to head here, it was getting louder and louder. I asked them to wait above the Sinking Fields skies while my carrier ship landed on the Carbon Ridge. Raqisa and I journeyed for the night until I met you.”

 

“And the pull?” her eyes seemed to bore deeply to his.

 

“The pull was there, but the loudness was gone as soon as I met you.”

 

Silence fell upon them. Him, waiting for her response, and her, thinking of his implications all over again. It was he who moved first to put his fingers under her chin.

 

“You have that look in your eyes. From that graveyard,” his tone was soft, but she could not stand looking at him right now, not when she was torn with confusion and want. “You don’t believe me when I said that you’re my mate,” he accused her, but not unkindly.

 

Her incredulity must have been written all over her face that he had to gently shifted her chin back to face him. “I’m a Beta. I’ve never presented before. How can I be an Alpha’s mate? And let’s just say that if I were, would I have a say in this? I don’t know you,” she asked thoughtfully.

 

“We can start to know each other; you can take your time for your answer. You have all the say in this. You have the power to decide,” he responded. “After all, I only acknowledge you as my mate, you were the one with power to decide to allow me to court you and mate you properly. As it should be, just like the old times,” he explained, he let go of her chin to pull Raqisa out of the shelter.

 

“What do you mean I have the power to decide? What do you mean by ‘just like the old times?’” she jogged to stand before him.

 

“Proper courtship of Alpha and Omega began when an Alpha decided who his potential mate was. If an Alpha get a proper permission from an Omega, then he can start courting his intended and hopefully, be allowed to mate her. This is the old way, the proper way.”

 

His explanation was so different from what she had known about Alpha and Omega courtships.

 

It was always full of violence, they said. Dirty and vulgar.

 

From what she had heard and seen in Niima Outpost, it was a common knowledge that Alpha and Omega were lower than Beta – the normal human. They carried too many animal-like qualities and very much connected to the otherworld neighbours, the Djinn-kind.

 

No Djinn were a Beta, Old Mashra told her a long time ago. It was a quality that made them exceptional, best when it came to Sihr. Though it was also one of many reasons that made them segregated from Humankind and enslaved in the first place.

 

Magic and animal-like senses, a quality that made Alpha and Omega different. Though normal human could practice the Crafts and reach heightened senses, they would never be as good as Alpha and Omega. Even their segregation in the first place was fuelled by Beta’s malevolence and jealousy, made even easier by their small numbers compared with the abundant Beta.

 

She had seen Alpha’s aggression and Omega submissiveness. But courtships, that was an uncharted area for her. She only knew that Alpha could mate more than one Omega, that they would bite a ‘mating gland’ once they decided to be monogamous, and that they had their period of heat and rut, the same way as Beta woman got their blood moon, though heat and rut were more of a mating period and lust-addled sex marathon. From what she had heard, heat and rut happened two to four times a year, and it could be very painful if it were to be done alone.

 

“You’re thinking,” he said, he led Raqisa to avoid her traps.

 

“There are a lot to think,” she said as she tightened her grip on her quarterstaff. “It’s not that simple.”

 

“Yes. Nothing has been simple.”

 

The desert wind blew strong that they had to slow down to carefully pass Rey’s traps. Steps after steps, they finally made it to the steel junkyard. She looked up to the skies and saw rows of dark clouds.

 

“A storm is coming,” Kylo noted, he too, was watching the weather. His amber eyes found her before he put on his helmet. “I hope whatever happens later will go well,” he prayed with his voice distorted by the vocoder.

 

And that you don’t fear me.

 

***

 

Slum.

 

That was the only appropriate word to describe Jakku’s Niima Outpost. From the distance, gloomy air pervaded from the merchants’ worn-out tents. Most of those merchants sold lamps and questionably edible cuisine, along with stolen items, exotic animals in poor conditions, and outmoded clothings. They would come and go as they signed contract with Unkar Plutt who would allow them to stay during their limited period of time, with protections provided by his thugs and with little share of profits from the trade.

 

Other than sands and crumbling landmarks of Niima Gate, there were a number of permanent constructions notably used as a pleasure house with its recognizable oxidized red brick, an auction house, public baths, and a laundry centre, with rows and rows of string-hanged dull-coloured clothes. Each of them was colour coded in weather-word peeled off paint. Plutt’s Palace, on the other hand, was the biggest and the only towering building in Niima Outpost. It was made out of the combination of a light freighter airship’s frame, terracotta walls, fire-repellent tent, and metal crates, with pipes and tubes made of copper and Alum steel spread the building’s structure here and there. It was the closest thing that resembled a castle in Jakku, and it looked like an architectural disaster.

 

No person, including Rey, would call it a Palace. Most called it as concession stand and people would only call it a Palace to please Plutt.

 

“What do you think?” Rey asked him mockingly, “Grand don’t you think?”. Her mood had gone for the better after they spent the whole journey here in silence.

 

They were standing in front of Plutt’s building, located at the centre of the Niima Outpost, next to the merchant’s bazaar and the auction house. People were staring at them head-to-toe – Kylo’s unusual armours and towering height and Raqisa the horse. The cantankerous stallion did not diminish the Jakkuvian’s curiosity, even after he almost kicked one of the exotic animal traders with his strong hind legs. The poor old man must have gotten the scare of his life.

 

“The garbage is not worthy of judgement,” he said coldly.

 

There had been something that put Kylo on the edge ever since they arrived at the Niima Outpost, and it was more evident after they entered Plutt’s Palace. The scent that permeated the place stank of corruption, decadence, and misery – everything he had been familiar with in the past. He noticed a queue forming as soon as they went inside, lines of scavengers after scavengers. They came with various findings; one brought a very big generator and the other brought small batteries and useless yet a recyclable metal plate.

 

Other than the lines, when he looked to his left and right, there were mountainous heap of dead machines. They were sorted in categories by their kinds, functions, and sizes. None of them was new, they were all scavenged items from the dead airships. But what surprised him were the humans, caged inside a miserable box with bars that were commonly used to coop up large animals. They were cramped as well as inhumanely.

 

Those men and women were of various ages; the oldest was a thirty-year old man and the youngest was a toddler girl of three-years old. They did not come from one races or tribes; there were dark skinned men along with tanned women with curly hairs. They looked so thin that they seemed too weak to fight. He saw some of them scratching wounds on their skin and from their mated hair, it seemed that they were not given proper hygiene. No sooner than later, Kylo notice the eyes of some of those slaves – glossy – because of the drugs given to them. He took a deep breath and his temper flared. Many of these men and women were Alpha and Omega, along with a number of Beta.

 

“Kylo,” Rey pulled his gauntlet-covered hand while indicating him to come closer since the queue was getting shorter. “What’s wrong? You’ve been acting strange since we came here,” she asked him.

 

She had been trying to calm Raqisa who had been neighing and whining angrily. He had been restless, the scavengers behind them were meters away for the fear of getting kicked. Being desperate, Rey decided to take her findings off the horse in an effort to calm the agitated Raqisa before getting an unwanted attention from Plutt and his thugs.

 

“Who the fuck brought a horse here?” she heard someone swearing at them. She saw some of Plutt’s thugs eyeing them curiously.

 

“Old Bobbajo would get a field day if he saw that horse,” the others commented.

 

“Kylo,” she implored him. Her eyes were wide and beseeching as she tried to get his attention to help her. But something was wrong, he stood really still and there was a thick stench of anger coming from him.

 

“Oh, Rey, I’m going to bring this place down,” he swore at her, his altered voice made him even more intimidating.

 

“Next,” they heard Plutt called them.

 

The man behind the caged window of the concession stand was a fat middle aged man with bulbous broad nose and skin condition that was likely to be caused by psoriasis. His appearance was of melted blob fish, with sags of fats and gout, and acute rheumatic arthritis. His face brought no joy to be looked at, for in the midst of thick sorrow and hunger grew in this queue right now, he exuded thick stench of greed.

 

Rey dragged her findings to the concession stand, and one by one, she showed Plutt her Naamite batteries and generator.

 

“Heard you beat Teedo and the others huh?” he chuckled as he reviewed her items.

 

“He started it first, I’d done nothing wrong,” she said tartly.

 

“Watch your tone, girl,” Plutt warned her before he went back eyeing the generator, “You’re making my business slow. If I don’t reach my target this month, you’re to blame. Everyone will get a cut of their usual portions.”

 

She heard collective groans behind her. Some scavengers screamed at her, shouting they did not deserve the cut and one of them even threatened her with a beating if that were to happen.

 

“You said it to me that I would be left alone, I thought I was your best scavenger,” Rey gritted her teeth. In her little heart, she knew Plutt would find a way to cut her portions, even if that was not caused by her fault. It was his way of controlling her.

 

“Yes, yes, I did. I did say that,” he agreed.

 

“Then why did Teedo attack me? The others followed him too! If you want someone to blame, it should be them! They’re the one who does not follow your words!”

 

“So, you want them to be punished?” Plutt smiled at her, heartlessly.

 

Her face turned pale. If Teedo and the others were punished, they would not get their portions for a week and they would be beaten by his thugs. Even if they were the one who made the mistake, it would not be a fair price to pay. She was angry with Teedo, but she was nowhere cruel enough to get him punished that way.

 

They’re desperate, that’s why they attack me.

 

“No,” Rey said weakly. Plutt would cut my rations, and those were good findings, she cursed herself. Damn him.

 

“Then fifteen and a half portions should be fine,” Plutt put the portions on the stands and implored Rey to take it, she wished she could punch the smile out of his face.

 

“Stop.” Rey turned her head to look at Kylo who had been silent throughout her banter with Plutt. He came closer and took Rey’s findings from Plutt and handed them back to her.

 

“What do you think you are doing?” Plutt bristled angrily. “They are mine!”

 

“You practice deception and slavery. Those are outlawed by the rules of the Alliance and the Black Empire,” he accused antagonistically. Kylo eyed his sides and saw Plutt’s thugs coming closer to the concession stand. If there would be a fight then be it.

 

“Pfft. Did you not hear what you’re saying? Alliance and the Black Empire?” Plutt laughed at him and wiped a tear running down from the corner of his eye. “Jakku is never a part of the Black Empire, nor is it a part of any other empires and kingdoms around! Certainly not Alliance!”

 

“You’re not educated, are you? This dump site,” Plutt gestured to the surroundings around him, “holds little values, just a big empty pocket of sands, not even a worthy trade route! I made this garbage heap thrived with my trade! And what’re you gonna do? You wanna set up a government, huh? Wanna make a riot?”

 

There were roars of laughter coming from Plutt’s thugs, along with Raqisa’s angry bristling neigh. Rey gritted her teeth; she swung her quarterstaff in front of the thugs who kept on prowling closer to back them off and grab Kylo’s hand to walk away. “Kylo, enough! We’re going back!” she barked at him.

 

“No,” he resisted her. He raised his arm high and snapped his fingers. The snap was loud, it was followed by a sound of locks opening and chains falling down to the ground.

 

A scavenger queueing behind Rey watched them make a commotion against Plutt and heard that particular sound. He turned his head to look at the slave’s cages.

 

It was opened.

 

And they were coming out.

 

“They’re out!” he screamed. “The slaves are out!”

 

It was an uproar. Many scavengers backed away to avoid slaves attacking them out of rage. But even if they were fearful, many of them still crowded the entrance, curious with the current turn of event. Those slaves who had only come out stood motionlessly and occupied the concession hall, watching Kylo Ren carefully and with reverence. They’re waiting for his order, especially the Alpha and the Omega.

 

They easily outnumbered Plutt’s force by six to one.

 

“W, What? What are you doing? Cease your sihr!” Plutt demanded. “You, get them back into the cages!” he ordered his thugs.

 

The thugs aimed their guns and weapons at the slaves, but Kylo snapped his fingers again. Their guns fell down to the ground in the forms of parts of screws and springs, magazines and bullets, stocks, cylinders, and many unassembled parts. The thugs began to panic for they were looking for non-automatic weapons such as spears and swords. They needed those if they were to suppress the slaves.

 

He, he could do that, Rey thought in surprise.

 

She ran to Kylo to cover him, thinking that he might need a protection in case he wanted to cast a spell. She saw Plutt about to take his shotgun, the one he kept under his stands. And when he was about to aim at them, Rey ran toward him and thrusted her quarterstaff to Plutt’s shoulder so hard that it pushed Plutt back into his workspace.

 

A thug ran towards Rey and Kylo but was thwarted by the Alpha men who slam their bodies and proceed to beat the said thug. Soon the Alphas made a circle around them with the women and children in the centre. Kylo, Rey, and Raqisa stood near them, facing the concession stands. All of those Alphas displayed their gritted teeth to show their resistance, the Betas were wrestling spears and swords out of thugs and handed them to the Alphas and to themselves. No scavengers dared to side with Plutt’s and his thugs, most of them only stood, watching a rebellion happening.

 

Some thugs successfully ran away from the concession hall, others tried to seal Plutt’s workshop door helplessly. They were quickly outnumbered and their effort was in futile. But when a slave managed to open the door, a shot directly hit his chest, killing him instantly.

 

“Move,” Plutt came out of his workspace bearing a heavily modified blaster-rifle. “Move! Get the fuck out of my way, chelb!”

 

There were shouts coming from the children and women. Most fell back, giving Plutt a way to walk around, the others who tried to wrestle Plutt off his blaster-rifle were too weak to fight him and one of them even got shot. The slaves were benefited by their number, but certainly not strong enough to fight in an extended time.

 

“You,” he pointed his blaster-rifle at Rey and Kylo. Rey was standing in front of Kylo, her quarterstaff armed as she still holds on to her stances. Plutt’s eyes were manic and he was breathing heavily, there was a heavy patch of sweat on his apron and his armpits, and one of his hands strayed to scratch his skin.

 

“You trouble maker, you’re plotting against me! I’ve taken care of you since you’re young! This is how you paid me! You’re an ungrateful bitch” he spat on the ground angrily.

 

“You’re enslaving me!”

 

“You think you could live in the desert free, out of charge!? I could’ve left you dead, but I took you in! I took you in and gave you a job!”

 

“You bought me from my parents! You’ve fed me with fantasies that they would come back until I was too vexing!”

 

“So what!? You should’ve thanked me that you’re not living a lie,” Plutt smiled antagonistically. “Who wants a forgotten child anyway? Any parents who got a girl like you were right to throw you awa– “

 

His speech was cut short, he suddenly kneeled down to the ground and dropped his blaster-rifle. A slave girl was fast enough to take the arms away from Plutt while he was busy clawing his throat and torso, making pitiful noises as he was slowly being choked to death by an invisible force.

 

Rey watched Plutt in surprise, no slaves and scavengers dared move their muscles. Plutt’s body suddenly flew in front of Kylo and Rey, dragged to the hard ground, still wheezing painfully.

 

“Apologize,” Kylo punctuated the word, his vocoder made his voice sound even graver. His hand flew to choke Plutt’s neck.

 

“N, never.”

 

“I thought so,” Kylo said nonchalantly. He took his scimitar out of its scabbard and was ready to slash Plutt with its angry red fiery blade when Rey suddenly stopped him by standing between the two men. “Rey?”

 

“He’s not worth it,” she pleaded, there were lines of tears coming down from her eyes. “Let him go.”

 

“It would be justice to those scavengers and slaves to have him executed,” he reasoned.

 

“If you want justice, punish him accordingly, any rule I don’t care. Let him rot for all I care, but don’t kill him,” she begged.

 

It took a while for Kylo before he finally relented. And when he did, he put his scimitar back into its scabbard and threw Plutt away, to the ground out of his Palace’s entrance. He lay on his back as he grunted heavily, his body ached and felt raw. He gulped the air plentifully, being grateful that he was far away from that dark stranger. When his eyes opened, he was granted the sight of rolling dark clouds and lightning and multiple various kind of Star Destroyer airships along with a Mandator IV-class Siege Dreadnought fleet killer.

 

Fuck, he thought before he passes out.

Chapter Text


III.

 

new wilderness

 

 

 

Kylo Ren was not an ordinary man nor was he an ordinary Alpha.

 

If he had told her, back in her shelter in Goazon Badlands, that he was an Emperor, Rey would have laughed at him. She certainly would have. He was more of a knight or a sorcerer than a king.

 

Looking back, after their confrontation with Plutt, Kylo had ordered his men – who came with such grant entrance in their Star Destroyers – to bring the slaves back with them. He said that he would provide them with education and better livelihood and send them to his other cities to live. He swore to help rehabilitations for slaves who were under Plutt’s drug’s influence, especially those who got withdrawal syndrome.

 

He assured them changes. He promised them a more humane treatment, along with a pledge to improve Jakku. He was committed to send his men to scan the area around Niima Outpost to look for any resources – anything to promote progress.

 

“For this land to prosper,” she recalled, he had ordered his stormtroopers to bring Plutt back to the Seat to serve his punishment there. “After all, Jakku would be one of my empire’s province,” he announced.

 

She had asked him whether he was using her to claim Jakku ownership. He had firmly denied her claim and revealed that he had done these – claiming and prospering a foreign region – to his other provinces and improve their living conditions, which she found it hard to believe. He further convinced her that the reason he came to Jakku was because of the pull – Her. Not the others.

 

Why would he help us? She questioned herself, she was standing on the bridge of his Mandator IV-class Siege Dreadnought airship, Fulminatrix, watching the minuscule landscape of Jakku from above. It would cost him a lot, he wouldn’t gain profit, especially in Jakku.  

 

The earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed, her little voice whispered softly. If he wished for a better world, he would have to change himself and fight everything he knew with his very own effort.

 

So, you’re telling me he is a good guy? Rey scoffed at her inner voice.

 

Open your eyes and see. Open your heart and understand, it advised her kindly before it disappeared into the back of her head.

 

“Rey?” Kylo called her, he was walking toward her with his helmet off. “You’re ready to go?”

 

“Sure,” Rey responded. “I don’t have anything to do with Jakku anymore. Gotta move on, and see the world,” she continued, her smile did not reach her eyes. “And Raqisa?”

 

“He is somewhere in the ship; Reza is seeing him right now. He was too excited after kicking Plutt’s thugs around,” he explained.

 

After Plutt passed out in front of his Palace, Raqisa went berserk as if he were possessed by the devil himself. He went on a kicking rampage, attacking Plutt’s thugs. He had to be stopped by a number of Kylo’s stormtroopers after they arrived back then.

 

“Remind me to never stand behind him again,” Rey took off her head cover, “And Reza?”

 

“Our Beast-master,” a man answered her, his voice was full of assurance. The man who swaggered toward them was almost as tall as Kylo but was slightly more muscular. His shoulder-length hair with blonde highlights at the end reminded Rey of a lion, and his tanned skin even made him more so. He exuded confidence, playfulness, and experiences, especially with the scar on one of his eyebrows. His thick eyebrow framed his deep settled eyes, while his face was framed with a thick bushy beard. “He is the best when it came to talking to animals and monsters. You might find those non-sentients comments on us – human – interesting and scathing,” he continued.

 

“Ardashir, you finished Coruscant?” Kylo acknowledged him after the man gave him an immediate proper salute by putting his right hand on his heart and bow his head lightly after standing between Rey and him. “How was it?”

 

“It was not so bad,” the other man smiled stiffly before taking a glance at Rey, “I’ll tell you later.” He assessed Rey from head to toe, politely, though she could not help feeling scrutinized. Ardashir wore a dark assassin’s attire – light-weighted – with small daggers on his chest, a normal-sized dagger on his right thigh, and a kilij hanging on his left hip. His shoulder and chest were covered by a dark cotton-like cowl, and his muscular legs and arms were covered with thick leather skin for protection.

 

“Is it me or you guys stinks?” he poked light-heartedly. Kylo responded him with a scornful look while Rey took a few steps behind the two men out of shame. Her face blushed in mortification, and she wished for herself to be swallowed by the earth.

 

“Really? That’s the first thing to say?” Kylo asked him.

 

“I mean I can smell you from the hall, I’m not wrong,” Ardashir reasoned. He was smiling as if he was joking, “The troopers and the personnel here might’ve something to say…”

 

Kylo gave Ardarshir a withering glare. “Ignore him. His mouth runs faster than his brain,” he assured Rey. “And his prick did more of his thinking.”

 

“Wow, when was the last time I heard you being this crass?” Ardashir chuckled sarcastically. “Certainly, it was back then when we still wandering around.”

 

Kylo clicked his tongue as a warning. He then fished his tracking device out of his pocket and gave it to Ardashir. “Tell Meir that this needs to be smaller,” Kylo reminded him.

 

“You’re his second-in-command?” He looked to be too mouthy to hold an important position, Rey thought curiously.

 

“What? You might be surprised with all that is hidden in these sleeves,” Ardashir showed her the back of his hands as he wiggled his fingers, “I’m full magic you know. Magical.”

 

“So, you’re like Kylo too? You can use the invisible force and your sword goes fiery?”

 

“Well, yeah, but that is what Master is good at, right? I’m better at other stuff, things that he’s not proficient at,” he reasoned.

 

“Rey, you want to get some rest and meal? I could provide it for you?” Kylo asked her politely, trying to divert her attention back to him.

 

“I, I can eat? You sure? I don’t have anything to pay you,” she replied humbly, but her stomach voiced her real opinion rather loudly. Her face was a fifty-shades of red.

 

“You don’t have to worry that. Master has been feeding and housing us for so long and he never asked us to pay back. Eat it before he changes his mind,” Ardarshir walked ahead to lead Rey out of the bridge.

 

Kylo stayed behind to watch Rey go ahead with his second-in-command. She looked back and with her doe-like eyes, her gaze asked him why he did not follow them. “I’ll join you soon,” he assured her before looking back at the bridge’s observatory glass panel.

 

Indeed, Jakku looked small from up above – puny and worthless. He saw the white armours of his men down below, trying to secure the Niima Outpost while handling and organizing the slaves to be sent to one of the airships. They had dismantled the pleasure house and Plutt’s Palace first; it was a trafficking ring – too small to be noticed yet effective with its isolated location.

 

I should’ve come here sooner, he swore silently.

 

He stared at the deserted Plutt’s Palace; its sight was irrelevant as it was insulting to him. He raised his hand with his pointer and middle finger up to the sky before striking it down to the ground below swiftly. A bolt of lightning struck the Palace, followed by a thunderous boom. From up above, he could see the only towering structure in Jakku fall down into rubbles, which were slowly eaten by the fire from by the lightning.

 

He felt relieved, and he hoped Rey would too.

 

“Set course to the Seat,” he ordered his men.

 

***

 

Never in her entire life had Rey experienced the pleasure of warm water running through her hair and down to the skin; it was indescribable. This was the first time she truly ever felt clean – scrubbed anew. The shampoo and the soap bar did wonder in washing away the dirt, sands, and oils that had accumulated throughout her life in Jakku. She remembered not too fondly that the public bathing house in Niima Outpost overpriced its charge and rationed the water each bather used, and it was also a communal place. It was a luxury back then – to be clean.   

 

Ardashir had previously led her to a guest-chamber inside the Lord’s Wing and begged her for a shower. She was promised that the food needed time to be prepared and the shower was a way to spend her time. She had disagreed with him on that out of modesty until he mentioned the warm water.

 

She never dreamed of the day she took a proper shower, and this was a dream came true. Then here came the towel. Oh, it was so soft, Rey crooned.

 

The bathroom mirror supplied a number of bottles for a vanity use. When she opened them one by one, she found body lotion, olive oil, and oil perfume. She did not know what the other bottles contained, best not to use them without knowing what they were used for.

 

As she got out of the bathroom, her eyes zeroed in a set of new underwear and a folded garment, sitting orderly above the queen-sized bed. She picked it up and examined it, words could not describe its beauty. It was a very loose white organza embroidered shirt-dress with a white camisole and a harem pants in a matched colour. It was the most elegant dress she had ever seen, even when it looked modest.

 

She hesitated.

 

Should she wear the dress? But when she looked at her old desert garment, she was torn on wearing her old dress and went to the dining room to meet Ardashir and Kylo. It seemed impolite to do so. She could imagine that Kylo would not say a word on anything she wore, but Ardashir would definitely say a word or two.

 

The new dress then, she decided before she slipped on to the pants and wore the camisole, followed by the dress. She dried her hair with the towel, then styled it into her usual three buns. After she slung her quarterstaff to her back, she set out to meet Kylo and Ardarshir.

 

The Lord’s Wing’s living room was not the most opulent room she had imagined, though it was luxurious for a military standard. While it was decorated in a dark-muted colour of modern style, it never lost the military practical touch. The camel-back sofa set was covered in a simple earth-coloured fabric, followed by an elegant rectangular wooden coffee table at the centre. A red antique-looking carpet with a number of Ottomans in dark colour covered the living room’s tiles. She saw weapons hanging on the wall – swords and guns – along with paintings and a rack of weaponry in a various state of mess. There were two book cabinets filled to the brim and a set of study table with a number of clear scrying globes on its surface. Behind the study set was a large landscape window panel which showed the scenery of desert passing through from up above – hot yellow sands and nothing.

 

The dining room was connected to the living room via a sliding panel of a carved-wooden divider. Behind the panel, Rey saw Kylo sitting on the master’s chair with Ardashir on his right side. The long table was filled with many mouth-watering dishes, colourful fruits on a bronze platter, and a small vase of bearded irises, but when she looked away to notice at Kylo, she saw him in a matching expression with Ardashir – they looked grave. They must have been discussing something of an important matter.

 

Rey tried to lean closer to the wooden panel, trying to peek through the chrysanthemum carvings, hoping that she would hear what they’re discussing in secret.

 

“…had ordered the execution publicly…”

 

“…law made any children presenting as non-Beta to be sent to…”

 

“…never would I think he passed that motion to…”

 

She could not catch their full conversation since it was too soft to be heard. She caught fragments only. She saw Ardashir dominating the conversation while Kylo was listening to him intensely. He behaved differently, almost calculative and cold – distant. The one she saw there was an emperor, not Kylo Ren, who had been kind and generous to her, the one righteous enough to free the slaves and helped the Jakkuvians.

 

The panel creaked as she was trying to lean further, prompting her to stand beside the room divider sheepishly. To her surprise, Kylo and Ardashir stood to greet her when they saw her standing. Kylo even wore a dumbfounded expression, starstruck – taken.

 

“Lo and behold. The awaiting’s over,” Ardarshir commented with a knowing smile. He smirked knowingly when Kylo stood to drag the chair on his left, allowing Rey to seat beside him. “I bet you had a good shower,” Ardashir commented on her clean face.

 

“It was more than I had ever dreamed off,” she replied modestly.

 

“You look…fresh,” Kylo praised her eagerly. Soon he realized that it was such a poor praise that he hid his face immediately behind his palm with Ardashir’s rambunctious roar of laughter.

 

“What kind of compliment is that!?” Ardashir wheezed before he went back to his laughter again. Kylo’s face reddened to the point that his ears, hidden beneath his silky dark hair, peeked out with the same shade of blush as his face did. Ardashir kept on laughing so giddily that it filled the long-shared silence between Kylo and Rey. Feeling annoyed, Kylo raised his hand at his second-in-command and pinch his thumb with the rest of his fingers, effectively shutting his mouth from laughing.

 

While Ardashir was mumbling and mumming in panic as he was trying to open his forcefully shut mouth, Kylo moved to pick up a glass for Rey and poured warm çay into it and gave her a warm bowl of tomato corba. He scooped various kinds of foods onto her plates; there was a single portion of golden coloured pilav rice, a long skewer of beef adana kebap and a few sticks of chicken şiş kebap, and finally, a kuzu pirzola. It was more than a hearty meal, he even shifted the three person-serving tomato and feta-cheese pide closer to her, and poured her a glass of water.

 

“Master slow down! The food will become mubaddzir,” Ardashir said after he managed to open his mouth, he tried to stop his master but received his glower instead, “Why are you serving her meats and carbohydrates? Where are her vegetables?” he complained.

 

Rey’s eyes widened at the sight of her platter; her mouth opened and closed and she swallowed her spit hungrily. It was the first time she saw her plate full of fresh meal and delectable cuisines, her eyes watered a little.

 

He provided you. He was a good Alpha, her inner voice crooned. Eat.

 

“Let’s start with the appetizer,” Kylo shifted the bowl of tomato corba closer to her. The soup was red and orange in colour, and it was not too thick. She saw yellow couscous in the broth along with chunks of tomato flesh and a sprinkle of cut parsley garnish.

 

She squeezed the lime into the soup and mixed it well with her spoon before dipping a piece of pide ekmek. She took the wet flatbread and blew it softly before eating it.

 

It was the most delicious food she had ever tasted.

 

Seeing her expression was enough to make Kylo Ren feel proud of himself. He felt, for the first time, like a good Alpha, being able to provide his Omega good food and proper nourishment. As usual, Rey devoured her meal so inhumanely fast that Ardashir could not help putting on a concerned face. She was inhaling her food; she chewed so little and swallowed so quickly.

 

“Rey, Rey, slow down, slow down. There are plenty of foods, there is no need to eat it too fast,” Ardashir begged her, his brow furrowed in worry. “You’ll get a stomach-ache and may ruin your dress,” he continued.

 

The mention of her new dress made her stop and surveyed the white organza on her sleeves, her chest, and stomach. Thankfully, there was no stain of corba and kebap’s herbs falling onto her dress, although her mouth and fingers were in various shades of yellow and red sticking here and there.

 

“Did you always eat like this?” Ardarshir inquired.

 

“This is the first time I ate all of these. I loved everything, all of the meals tasted heavenly,” Rey said enthusiastically. Her smile was so infectious that Ardashir could not help putting a little smile at her. He poured wine into two glasses, for himself and Kylo.

 

“This reminds me of Reza and me when I first met you, back to the days when you like to collect us strays,” he chuckled to Kylo, who tensed immediately. “Wanna hear a tale?” he offered Rey, who answered with an enthusiastic nod, continuing her meal in a more leisure pace. Kylo gave him a disagreeing look, but Ardashir ignored him.

 

“It was five years ago; I met Reza far earlier,” Ardashir began. “We were street urchins; pickpockets on the street of Savareen. It was a bad place; Savareen made Tatooine looked like a resort if you were to compare them, even if they were the neighbouring regions. That is how bad Savareen is,” he continued, “Alpha and Omega there lived in a terrible condition. Even children received the same amount of hate as the adult Alpha and Omega did. We, Reza and I, were no exception. I was a damn good conman; he was a damn good pickpocket; he even trained the crows to steal pockets and anything shiny. We have been living that way since we were young.”

 

“Crows?” the prospect of teaching crows seemed more interesting than the concerning information that the man seating in front of Rey was once a criminal.

 

Ardashir put on an amusing smile. “Anyway, Master and his first two knights came to Savareen. Of course, like any other new comer, they gained immediate attentions with all they wear – all black and mysterious, ugh, so depressing. Everyone tried to steal from them but no one could make it, except Reza and me,” he continued, “So as we’re running away through the streets and small alleys, one of the Master’s knights managed to poison us without our knowledge. You see how disastrous it was; we’re slowing down but we didn’t know what caused of our strange affliction was. When we were resting in our hideout, the other knight found us through the liquor in the bottle. She was a water elementalist and a damn good scryer.”

 

“You have such interesting people with you, Kylo” Rey commented him.

 

He gave her a strained smile. “The perks of traveling around,” he said humbly.

 

“Then what’s the rest?” Rey asked Ardashir. She added more skewers of adana kebap onto her plate while Kylo passed a bowl of coban salatasi closer to her. Still, she needed her vegetables.

 

“Master and his knights barged into our hideout. We were paralyzed at that time; we couldn’t even blink, let alone breathing felt strenuous. The first thing he said to us was that he was impressed by our ability to steal–“

 

“I remember I didn’t say that,” Kylo cut him.

 

“Nah, you’re just forgetful with all of the state matters, the Arts and studies, and your books. Keep on putting all of the information into your head and you’ll forget things easier like Old Mosi,” Ardashir countered, “He is a nerd, Haseki.”

 

“Don’t call her that,” Kylo warned him, his tone dictated obedience.

 

His second-in-command paled. “I’m sorry, Hatun then,” Ardashir corrected himself. “Yeah, he said he was impressed, then he offered us to be his knights, well mostly because he also found out that Reza and I have the sixth sense like Master and the rest of his knights. That’s all!” He concluded quickly. He further demonstrated his sixth sense, picking up an apple and grapes by floating them into his hand.

 

“Sixth sense can do that?” Rey remembered clearly that Kylo used that power to throw and push the scavengers around back in Jakku, he even used it to choke Plutt.

 

“Yes, but I’ll leave that to Master to explain it cause I’m too lazy. Bye!” Abruptly, Ardashir took many skewers of adana kebap and şiş kebap onto his plate, few chops of kuzu pirzola, and a bottle of wine before he ran away to the Lord’s Wing’s exit door.

 

“You scared him,” Rey stated incredulously.

 

“Not really. How do you know I scared him? He could’ve been heading to where Reza is and have a meal with him by now,” he sipped his wine.

 

“You smelled pissed off when he was telling his story, then you smelled angry when he called me Haseki,” she blurted.

 

A dawning look came upon him; his eyes widen with realization. She could smell him? Resting his cheek onto his knuckle, Kylo was thinking deeply. He would keep that information for later.

 

“Haseki means head consort or most favoured by the king. Were you to know what it means, you would disagree with him immediately,” he explained.

 

“Oh.”

 

“I– “he hesitated; his eyes met hers squarely. “You know my intentions, but I want you to have a say on it. I want it to progress naturally. I know where your heart lies right now, and it’s not with me. I don’t want people to call you by that title as if I could have you that easily. I, I want you to know that you own yourself,” he expressed after a long thought. “Haseki made it sound as if I owned you,” he added.

 

“I, that’s very thoughtful.”

 

He gave her a polite smile which she thought as one of his trademarks. And honesty and sarcasm, she added silently. “Tell me the meaning of Hatun. Then tell me of the sixth sense,” Rey asked him, which he responded with an eager smile.

 

“With pleasure.”

 

***

 

True to Ardashir words, Kylo Ren was a nerd and a big one, pun intended.

 

To her pleasure, she was surprised by the amount of knowledge stored in his mind. A warrior, a sorcerer, an emperor, and a scholar – that was him. Layer after layer of him was shed to her acknowledgment, not that he was an onion in the first place.

 

He had patiently explained the meaning of Hatun, along with a short history of women who had used it as an honorific and a given name.

 

He had illuminated her on the sixth sense, along with a small demonstration of what it could do. Sixth sense, unlike the other human senses, delved into a knowledge, especially on the supernatural. On the basic level, the most common forms were sight and sense, such as the ability to see the Neighbour from the other side and Djinn, to look into the past and the future, to scry, and precognition. On a more advance level, it might exist in the forms of the capability of using telekinesis, telepathy, mind reading, mind control, elemental control, concealment, animal bond, and many more. The more Rey heard of what kind of ability and power manifested from the sixth sense, the more confused she was.

 

But she was certain of two things – one could possess more than one sixth sense and this was more likely found in Alpha and Omega than in Beta.

 

Their conversation went for long. An hour became two, then two became three, then it went on and on and on. After Rey finished her meals –which was a surprise to Kylo that she did not experience any stomach-ache or nausea – they moved to the Wing’s living room. Kylo showed her the current world map where her Jakku was and where his capital was.

 

“We’re close now,” he said after receiving a call from the communication line.

 

“I’m surprised that we’re slow,” she said after looking at the world map intently. His empire was growing and was still expanding, she assessed to herself. A conqueror too huh, she thought indifferently. “I thought every military aircraft carrier nowadays carries a hyperdrive technology?” she asked quietly.

 

“We’re not suited to use hyperdrive right now. We’re flying low, right above the sands of Crait,” he answered as he pointed at the Crait region which was known for its mineral and salt.

 

“I thought flying low on a foreign land constituted a violation.”

 

“It is. But I have my own reason to provoke them,” he smiled knowingly.

 

“What is that?”

 

“They’re remnants of once a great empire, I bet you know which. The remnants on Crait are not strong, prideful, and are prone to injustice. I’m just provoking them to show its citizen which way leads to my empire, in case they want to look around. Maybe it would inspire them for a change in their life,” he said conspiratorially.

 

“Immigrants?” Rey stared at him incredulously.

 

“Yes. My empire was built on one. None of my citizens are locals. My throne was built by an outcast, together with no ones, in the interest for every stranger,” his gaze seemed distant as if he was pondering over a past.

 

Curious. From what she heard in Jakku, north of Crait was nothing but a no man’s land.

 

“Come,” he took her hand and led her to the window panel.

 

Far away, between the glittering sea and the sunset-painted skies, lay a green land with rolling hills and snow-tipped mountains. As Fulminatrix grew closer, she saw fisherman’s ports, tanker stops, and airship’s starports. There were towers of mosque’s minaret along with the crown domes of churches and synagogues. She heard the adhan call for Maghrib prayer as she saw the tall buildings which she thought as a housing complex, libraries, a market place, and schools. Bridges connected some parts of the land that were separated by the sea straits and she spotted a number of small boats passing through the arches.

 

There were conveyex’s railways along with the smaller tracks of railspeeders and hovertrains, never deviated from their magnetic guides. The speeders were moving accordingly to their traffic, on the land and up above the sky.

 

What impressed Rey the most were the trees that were on every corner of the city. She found parks here and there, and they were in the colour of burning red, emerald green, and golden, framing the city beautifully and tidily. Far behind the business of the capital, near the evergreen hill and was separated by a trench, lay his castle; a complex of tall all-glass dome framed with sturdy black metal steel. She saw a building inside the domes – palaces – and she could tell that this was the largest building of the grand metropolis.

 

This is his wilderness, his turf, his domain, the little voice inside her reminded her.

 

“Rey,” Kylo called her. His face was proud, and his scent told her that he was pleased. The smile plastered on his face was gentle and his dark eyes were glittering in spirits.

 

“I welcome you to the Seat.”

Chapter Text


IV.

 

birds of the same feather

 

 

First, it was dark – cold, empty, and brutal.

 

It was a different kind of darkness.

 

The darkness of the womb was warm, full of anticipation, and hope. The darkness of the night was deep, but it was not endless as it promised a beginning – the morning. The darkness of the universe was a necessary balance for the bright stars, full of mysteries waiting to be found and deciphered.

 

But this darkness was the darkness of the grave. It was final, so it was hopeless; it was deep, so it was lonely; it was ancient, so it was permanent.

 

It went excruciatingly long before it ended with a single light of a candle. This small flame did not bring comfort, even when the other small glimmer came to exist, burning one by one.

 

Fiery the angel fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fire of Orc.

 

You look the wrong way, an old shrivelled voice whispered to her.

 

When she turned around, Rey was at a corridor of an airship. The light was cold and sterile and the lane was empty; she did not see any trooper around nor did she hear any footsteps. There was no mouse droid running along the hallway. She was truly alone in this deserted alley.

 

“Hello?” her voice echoed through the corridor. “Anyone?”

 

Silence! It admonished her.

 

Her reply was a rumble from the distance, from the other end of the alley. Soon the corridor shook – an earthquake. She made haste to run through the hallway, but she could not outrun the falling rubbles slowing her down. As she was rushing to the safety, she saw a door, but the ground collapsed before she could even reach it and she fell into the darkness.

 

She did not feel the impending painful force of her fall. Instead, when she opened her eyes, she found herself lying face down in a dark room of an old house. There were bookshelves and cabinets filled with scrolls and bottles covering every surface of the walls. Everything was messy and in chaos and the air felt oppressing with the scent of everlasting mould.

 

There was a tall figure in a dark cloak looming upon the old study table at the centre. Its surface was covered with old books and scrolls and soot. The figure did not acknowledge Rey, nor was he interested in looking at her. His attention focused on something in front of him.

 

She raised up from the dust-covered floor and walked closer to stand beside him; his face was covered by his long hood. His attention solely focused on a goblet in front of him, and he held a knife.

 

“Grief is a waste of time,” he said. His voice sounded familiar to her.” If it’s between emptiness and grief, give me emptiness.”

 

He raised his hand and cut his palm with the knife. Rey, in her reflex, tried to take his hand away, but she passed through him like a ghost. Every time his blood slowed down, he cut his hand again to begin a new red current. His blood flowed like a small stream into the goblet, filling it slowly to the brim.

 

“Stop!” she asked him, but it was impossible since he could not listen to her nor did he know that she was beside him.

 

He took a sharp breath with a sob, “Take this, take everything, I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I don’t want to care anymore, just release me of my pain. Give me power. Give me might so that I could shape my miracle and make it true.”

 

***

 

Rey woke up with a jolt from the hand that had been shaking her for a quite some time.

 

A dream, she convinced herself. A dream.

 

She looked at her surroundings and her eyes were glued to the new room which Kylo had assigned to her. Its wall was painted in a golden sandstone colour, furnished with teak-coloured furniture. Her four-poster bed was draped with white linen canopy curtain and the cover was sage-coloured cotton, illustrated with red and gold paisley pattern. There was a set of basil-coloured camel-back sofa with blush-coloured divan sofa positioned on its side, framing a U shape.

 

She was seated on her study table with a history book open in front of her, and there was a wet mark left from her saliva. She wiped her face with her sleeve and looked at the face of her tutor with guilt and sheepishness written clearly on her expression.

 

“I’m sorry, Elaheh. I fell asleep again,” she apologized.

 

“I can see that,” her tutor replied with a deadpanned tone. Elaheh was a woman in her mid-forty whose face did not seem to exceed thirty-five. She had a rosy cheek and a high-cheekbone though she rarely showed it in her smile, which was non-existent. As a Muslim, she wore a dark, loose headscarf over her head and a non-formfitting beautiful dark dress. Her hair, which had the same colour as her dark eyes, peeped from her headscarf.

 

“As a tutor, I understand that history is a boring subject. But you must try to study it for your own goodness,” Elaheh advised Rey with her typical straight-faced expression. “All eyes will soon be on you and you can’t shy away from the spotlight,” she continued.

 

“Keep on studying while you still have time and until the end of your days. There is no such thing as ‘too old to study or too stupid to learn’. Education is one way to emancipate yourself; to shield you from demons called shame, stupidity, and bondage; learning is one of the ways to improve your future,” she lectured Rey as she was using her pencil to correct Rey’s sitting posture. She regarded Rey carefully before she was satisfied with her overall posture, oblivious to her pupil’s aching body. “Let’s continue to page seventy-three, on the rise and fall of the Alderaan region and their subsequent restoration under the New Alderaan Kingdom.”

 

A knock came from the main door, there was a throat-clearing voice of a man. It was Mitaka. “M, Milady. The Emperor wishes to see you in the guest living room,” he announced with her usual jitteriness.

 

Rey slumped back to her chair for she could tell that her class had ended. She raised from her chair and went out of her bedroom, Elaheh followed right behind her.

 

Kylo was standing beside a small round table which held a simple banquet of pearl tuberoses, filling the room with the fragrant floral scent. Even through the potent perfume wafting in the air, Rey could still smell Kylo’s distinctive scent from the distance. Ever since her stay in the Seat, she had been more proficient in smelling his scent and deciphering his emotion through it. His scent was somehow getting stronger and spicier each upcoming day.

 

“Rey,” Kylo greeted her. “Elaheh.”

 

Her tutor bowed before him, still standing behind Rey. “My Emperor,” Elaheh greeted him politely.

 

“I took it that she had finished her class today?” Kylo asked Elaheh, his hand was playing on the pearl bud of the tuberoses.

 

“For today. Excuse me,” She moved to bow toward Rey and Kylo again before leaving the two of them alone with Mitaka.

 

“I fell asleep in her class,” Rey said bashfully. “It’s a history class.”

 

“That’s not good. You should’ve put more effort into your study.”

 

“Now you sound like her.”

 

“Education is an important aspect in life. Those who do not receive an education are equal to those who live in a cave, stupid like a sheep,” he commented.

 

“And you sound like a privileged ass,” Rey mocked him. “If education is that important, it should be free,” Rey folded her hand, her brow furrowed in disagreement. “Many could not afford them,” including me, though Jakku did not have any schools to begin with.

 

He nodded with understanding – an expression that could be described as ‘almost remorseful’. “Ready to go?”

 

Rey gave him a brilliant smile. “Ready as always!”

 

***

 

The truth was, Rey was restless. Today was the day her blood result came out and she was itching to know the outcome.

 

On the first night of their arrival, Kylo asked her to undergo a health examination. He expressed his anxiety upon her overall condition for the fear that she would experience stunted growth, malnourishment, and other health problems. Since she agreed with him, she never thought that the next day she would be prodded and weighed, scanned and got her blood, saliva, and hair-sample taken. Furthermore, one of the physicians, to her surprise, even had asked what birth-control method she favoured.

 

Well, there is no such thing as being too careful unless you prefer to abstain, the physician politely commented on her. Even if we’re living in a religious society, I would suggest you get one just in case. You’ll never know what might happen to you when the moment comes.

 

That was a week ago.

 

Ever since the second day of their arrival, Kylo had not visited her due to administrative works and other matters. It seemed his short-extended stay on Jakku had made his work piled up and he needed to attend many meetings with many viziers and pasha, including the Minister of Defence, General of the Joint-Armed Forces, and Emperor’s Hand.

 

He’s at war, she thought soberly.

 

“What made you sleep at Elaheh’s class? I recalled she told me that you had slept through her class for multiple times already,” Kylo inquired her while watching at the descending number of the story level. They were in a lift, heading toward the palace’s medical wing. He had dismissed Mitaka until further notice, it seemed that he would want to enjoy his time alone with her even if it were a doctor’s visit.

 

He was so skilled in making a wide space feel cramped. “I think it has something to do with your automaton. It’s so stimulating to craft that it makes me preoccupied every night. That’s why I end up sleeping late,” she moaned a yawn.

 

“Admirable commitment, although you should remember to balance your time.”

 

“Yes, ‘Ab,” Rey muttered with a pout. Kylo had sent Mitaka to give her a box full of automaton parts and a guide book on the second night of her stay in his Palace. It was a guide on crafting a songbird automaton, and a very advanced one – almost lifelike. The instruction was so detailed that Rey could not skip a single part of the direction and, to her joy, this was a new horizon for her.

 

“How long did it take you to craft it?” They exited the lift and head right to the eastern wing of the Palace. The complex itself was so big that there were multiple elevators and lifts servicing from the top level to the undergrounds. There were connecting bridges to link each dome and Rey truly believed that this palace must have had a secret passage or room of some sort.

 

“I’ve just finished one of its wings yesterday and its legs days before. I think I’ll finish it around two weeks,” she replied.

 

As they went deeper into the eastern wing, she found the hallways were crowded with the palace’s staffs and troopers. She had never seen so many people in white coats and professional laboratory gears. Some of them were busy discussing the data on their research papers, some were just busy chatting, and others were carrying documents and jars of unidentified innards. When they finally noticed Kylo was passing them by, they immediately bowed politely at him, out of surprise and reflects.

 

“Emperor, Prime Alpha, what can we do for you?” an older white-coated personnel inquired him, he was chatting to a younger female staff before he saw Kylo.

 

“I’m looking for Dr. Ali’s room,” he replied.

 

“Right this way,” he obeyed. The man led them to an array of hallways, each of which was getting more and more secluded. Kylo explained to her that the eastern wings were for the palace’s medical department purpose; they worked under him, not under the Ministry of Health. The hallway they were in was less crowded than the previous hallways, but this one was packed with the doors leading to the researchers’ and physicians’ offices.

 

“Right here, my Emperor,” the old man stopped before the door with a frosted glass. There was a name bared on the window – Dr. Noora Ali, Royal Physician.

 

“My Emperor, you shouldn’t have come here. I could’ve made myself visit Lady Rey to tell her the results,” Dr. Ali greeted them with a bow as they were entering her office. She was a middle-aged woman with dark skin and long curly hair, flowing like a waterfall past her mid-back. Her lips were painted in berry tint and her eyes were lined with kohl, giving her a signature cat-eye look. Her office looked tidy despite the mountainous stacks of papers and documents covering every surface of her table and the patient’s bed.

 

She let Rey sit on the patient’s seat, closest to the open window and next to her, while Kylo sat on the guest chair, eyeing the papers with curiosity and even took one of the hard-covered journals to read. Dr. Ali moved to the document racks to pick up her folders.

 

“How was your journey? Did you feel anything off after the tests?” she asked Rey, a small conversation to ease the patient. “We took quite a lot of blood from you,” she added, which earned her Kylo’s disapproving glare.

 

“Just some bruises on the site from which they took my blood and performed vaccination,” Rey replied. “Other than the initial discomfort, I think I felt normal the next day.”

 

“Good, good. Let’s start without further ado,” the doctor said after she was seated on her chair. “You’re patient Rey of Jakku. Nineteen. Female. Omega, and –“

 

“Wait, I’m an Omega?” Rey cut her. She really was?

 

“Yes, you could test your designation after the age of seventeen, although most are presented earlier, at the age of thirteen,” Dr. Ali explained patiently. “There are documented cases of late presentation, as late as thirty. If you can pass that age without any signs of presentation, then you’re truly Beta,” she continued.

 

Rey took a glance at Kylo. How could he? His sixth sense? She was puzzled.

 

“The test report here tells that you suffer from severe malnutrition, lack of bone mass density, and you’re slightly underweight. However, these are not unsolvable with proper diet and adequate nourishment. I’ll send you some supplements and notes to the servants,” Dr. Ali flipped the report pages to take three x-ray images to put it on her small view board, “Here are your ribs. See this white part, it looks more contrasted than the other part, I believe you must’ve suffered from broken ribs. These three parts,” the doctor circled the three white spots of her x-ray image.

 

“I got into a bad fall four years ago.”

 

“Right, those are fine although they did not heal as well as I had expected, due to lack of nutrition of course. But I’m more worried with these,” Dr. Ali shifted to show them the x-ray images of her right arm and left pelvic.   

 

“Here are the broken bones in your arm,” she circled the x-ray image, “and your pelvic bone here doesn’t seem to heal properly. I believe these happened just recently, right?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Were these not to be treated properly, they would affect you in the long time run.”

 

“I think I already experience those,” Rey lifted her arm. “Climbing has been challenging to me lately, and I can’t carry heavy items like I used to before I have the broken bone.”

 

“Yes. Other than your arm, the one on your pelvic bone might affect you in the long run although you do not experience any discomfort right now,” Dr. Ali explained.

 

“What might happen to her in the future if the affected bone were left untreated?” Kylo asked the doctor, his attention solely focused on Dr. Ali, not on the open journal.

 

“There are cases in which the patients experience walking difficulties, but this can be treated with an operation,” Dr. Ali offered Rey a glace full of sympathy.

 

Her eyes meet his. While hers were wide and full of shock, his eyes were dark with promises full of vengeance. He turned to Dr. Ali and, with no room for a debate, he said, “There is no need for that, I can heal her completely.”

 

“Then you can heal her any time. I suggest an additional scan to see whether Lady Rey’s injured bones have been fully healed,” Dr. Ali flipped through the report pages and smiled. “You have a good blood glucose level, no signs of appendices or gastric ulcer, good oral hygiene, and surprisingly neat teeth structure. Alhamdulillah, you are very lucky. These conclude the reports I have,” Dr. Ali closed the report file and gave Rey an encouraging smile. “Do you have any questions, or may I offer you an allergy test? That would be very beneficial for you,” she offered.

 

“That would be nice, although…” Rey’s eyes peered at Kylo’s before finding Dr. Ali’s. “Can I have a one on one discussion with you right now?”

 

“Yes. How could I help you?” Dr. Ali responded with surprise.

 

Rey looked pointedly at Kylo, imploring him silently to get out of the office. With a straight forward face, he pointed at himself as if to confirm Rey’s intention. A moment later, he raised from his seat to get out of Dr. Ali’s office, carrying the doctor’s journal along with him.

 

Rey waited for a few minutes before turning to Dr. Ali. “I got questions on Alpha and Omega,” Rey started. “Elaheh taught me all I needed to know. But I’m still not sure about the Prime Alpha and Prime Omega,” she continued. “Are they different from the usual Alpha and Omega?”

 

Dr. Ali regarded her for a while. “I can offer you a scientific explanation on the differences between the two designations. But, I have to say that I have insufficient knowledge on Prime designation due to the limited studies, research, and literature,” the doctor admitted. “I can even claim that almost half of what I know about the Prime is based on my observation of the Prime Alpha and mouth-to-mouth hearsay. Would that be okay for you?” she continued.

 

Rey nodded. “That’s better than nothing.”

 

The doctor leaned back to recline on her chair’s back; she was tapping her fountain pen on the surface of the file cover. “As far as I know, Prime is the pinnacle of the designations. They are anything with the Most – strongest, unnatural, keen, fertile, and others. Any Alpha will immediately recognize a Prime Alpha as soon as the latter is born. All newborns will smell like a baby, like a Beta, but it is said that Prime Alpha have had this recognizable distinctive scent since they’re babies. Most Alphas don’t like this because it means their authority will be challenged by a very young competitor, the Prime Alpha. And you know how any Alpha will react when someone challenges them or invades their territory,” Dr. Ali explained.

 

That will be a parent’s nightmare – especially for any Alpha parents, Rey thought silently.

 

“To a common knowledge, when someone presents a rut, whether he is an early presenter or not, he is an Alpha, right? Prime Alpha, on the other hand, have shown their characteristics as early as they’re toddlers. However, they will experience the rut when they’re teenagers, like any normal presented Alpha. From the medical point of view, those are the explanations on the difference between Alpha and Prime Alpha that I can offer.”

 

“That’s all? I thought there was more,” Rey said to her surprise.

 

“Like I said, limited knowledge. It’s best to ask the Emperor,” Rey made a face to Dr. Ali’s suggestion. “What? He knows more about this matter.”

 

Rey closed her eyes to massages on the temple of her head. “And the Prime Omega?”

 

“I know less. Like Alpha to Prime Alpha, any Omega will immediately recognize a Prime Omega. I don’t know whether they have known it since the Prime’s birth, but they should notice the scent,” Dr. Ali explained, she was still tapping her fountain pen.

 

That explanation reminds Rey of a forgotten memory back when she was in Jakku. She was seven and she was striding through the auction house to Plutt’s Palace when she passed a group of caged Omegas. Miserable beings, they were likened to a group of chicken inside a coop, ready to be sold for a butcher. Rey had learned early on not to look at them lest to feel sorry. “Prime,” one of them called her after a sudden gust of wind. “Prime!” she remembered them screaming for her. They kept on calling, shouting, begging for her help. But she was helpless then, no matter how much she wanted them to be free, she could not compromise her position in front of Plutt.

 

Rey blinked away to forget those memories. It was all in the past. Nothing could she do about the past, neither could she change it. “Last question. Why can I scent Kylo only? Remember the test you made? I could only scent his sample,” she asked Dr. Ali.

 

The doctor stopped tapping on the file cover, the nib of her fountain pen hovered over the cover’s surface. “Oh, I think it has something to do with the Emperor’s awakening your previously dormant Omega gen,” she started. Dr. Ali was sweeping her fountain pen’s feather onto her chin. “You see, this is something quite uncommon in the designation world. A Beta turns into an Alpha because he met an Omega and vice versa. This is triggered mostly by scent or touch, but it will take time,” Dr. Ali explained.

 

“What do you mean it will take time?”

 

“Touch your gland, the one on your neck,” Dr. Ali asked her. Rey hesitantly grazed the skin above the gland lightly, it was swollen as it was uncomfortable to touch. Tingling. “Swollen, right? Usually, it will take a month for someone to present a heat or a rut. But yours, I predict it will be another week or a half,” Dr. Ali observed.

 

Heat? Rey’s eyes widened comically to that specific word.

 

“T, that soon?” she asked in panic.

 

“Yes. It has something to do with your being a Prime. You will experience whole-body discomfort and soreness on where your glands are located, especially your mating glands,” Dr. Ali pointed at the left side of her neck with her fountain pen. “You know what will happen when an Omega goes into a heat?” Rey nodded apprehensively.

 

This is a problem of how and who, Rey thought as she fidgeted on her seat.

 

“You should ask someone or find another method to spend your heat, otherwise it will be a very unpleasant week for you,” Dr. Ali reminded her, she went back tapping her fountain pen as she was going deep into her thoughts, leaving Rey alone in her bewilderment.

 

“Good luck,” Rey heard it before she closed the door of the doctor’s office and left.

 

***

 

“Rey?”

 

Her mind did not seem to be present, being occupied in thoughts of her upcoming heat. The who and the how, both or per se.

 

“Rey?”

 

Who should I ask to spend my heat with? I don’t know anyone! Everybody! Elaheh is out of the question! What if, after I’m fully presented… will the heat change me? Will it change my physique? What abou–

 

“Rey,” Kylo called her, his tone sounded different from the usual one. From his command, Rey followed his bidding mindlessly, looking at him with full attention. It took her moments to realize something was off.

 

“Did you? Did you use…”

 

“Alpha speech? Yes. Your mind has not been present ever since we went to Dr. Ali’s office,” he reasoned. They were sitting on her guest living room, with him on the olive-coloured bergère chair, reviewing stacks of documents sent by Mitaka. He was reading some of them while signing the others. There were some he left aside with notes written on their surfaces – errors and corrections. “I won’t ask what’s on your mind, but do you want me to do the healing for you now?” he said as he stood from the chair.

 

She could tell that he was itching to know what had upset her but was kindly enough to refrain himself. She nodded weakly before walking to stand before him.

 

He put his hand onto her right arm. His hand was hot, burning like a furnace which, she knew, was his common characteristics – Alpha’s body ran warm.

 

“I remember you didn’t touch me back when we’re in Jakku,” Rey commented as she was trying to lighten the mood.

 

“Yes, but if you want to heal specific injuries or an old wound, that’s a different story,” his hand glowed iridescently as he was starting to mutter a spell. Warmth came to her just like what she had experienced in Jakku, but it came fleetingly as it went away so fast, passing like a drizzle in the desert.

 

“Done,” he declared, his amber dark eyes swam from her right arm to her covered stomach.

 

Something went different. His eyes fluttered; his plush lips opened slightly as if he were tasting the flavour hidden in her scent. His essence intensified as his hand that held her right arm was growing tighter. Rey was watching his transformation – from awareness to drunkenness – while he was shaking his head to break free of a spell.

 

His other hand held on to her hip. His eyes closed as he was muttering the same spell he did to her other injuries. The intoxicating warmth came again and she had to close her eyes to relish the same sensation he felt when he inhaled her. Her world seemed to focus on him – his touch and his scent – and she wanted this to last forever. Gone were her worry of her heat and her designation.

 

“Rey,” Kylo softly called her, his hand which held on to her arm moved to caress her blushing cheek. “Rey, you’re all good,” he said.

 

She made a sound of protest. “I like the way you made me feel warm,” his hand on her cheek stopped while his other hand pulled her closer to him. Closer, she begged him silently. She ran her tongue over her lips before nibbling it, “Everything seems to move faster and faster with you.” She opened her eyes and they glittered with desire.

 

“Do you hate it?” he asked her. “Do you want me to stop?”

 

“I should ask you to, but somehow I don’t want it,” she reasoned. “Am I wrong?”

 

Kylo did not answer her, instead, he bowed down closer to her and pressed his lips upon hers. The touch was light, but the taste he got was sweet.

 

Honey.

 

He moved to nuzzle her cheek, peppering her jaw with kisses, and she closed her eyes to let a breathy gasp out. Her hands moved to grab him closer; her mind was buzzed with his overwhelming scents – spices like clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon; herbs of thyme and rosemary; leather; rose – they infiltrated her senses. It made her mindless and senseless.

 

Her hands swam his back and dug onto his shoulders, grounding her. “Tell me to stop,” he whispered while kissing her ear and nibbling it before going south to nuzzle her neck. “Tell me to stop. Please, Rey,” he kissed the gland on her neck. “Tell me to stop,” he said before he licked a stripe of her skin.

 

“I, I can’t. I want it so bad. So bad,” she mewled. “Please…”

 

He shut his eyes to anchor the rational side of his mind as he was holding his breath from smelling her irresistible scent. He had to control the situation before it escalated further. “Stop,” he commanded her, voice laced with Alpha speech.

 

The hand on his back went limp as she was taking a step back slowly. Her eyes were doe-wide and her breath was heavy. Blush spread through her cheek sweetly, making him proud that he had made her undone.

 

He moved closer only to hold her cheek and swipe a stroke on it tenderly. “We might kill each other if we have no control,” he said not unkindly.

 

“I never knew that it would make me react that way. Your scent, the warmth,” she confessed.

 

“Do you hate it?” he knew her answer. This time his hand petted the crown of her head.

 

“No. For some reason, I want it again.”

 

“Then can you be patient?” he asked her. “At least till your heat?”

 

“You eavesdropped my conversation with Dr. Ali?” she did not sound angry.

 

“No, but…” his finger pressed onto the swollen gland on her neck. She whimpered. “This is the sign. Waiting for your heat should give you time to think for you to consider it properly. That’s what you want back in Jakku.”

 

She agreed, but she was unsure. Hesitation crept her mind again. It felt so good to be held in his arm, the lonely scavenger inside her was hungry for his attention. Hungry to consume him fully. And something deep inside her wished for her to be the centre of his universe. It rejoiced in the attention he showered.

 

I want him only for myself, something inside her declared. Only for myself alone.

 

Let me lose myself in you till no one can find my trace.

Chapter Text


V.

 

words by words

 

 

 

The light passing through the iron cell door was blindingly harsh; too sharp for Plutt’s eyes. His eyes were unaccustomed to brightness anymore due to the limited usage of light the warden allowed him, making the sensation he experienced similar to burning.

 

He spent the rest of his day in the darkness of the dirty solitary cell, except for the daily five hours they allocated for him.

 

He was miserable, indeed.

 

Gone was his glory as a junk lord back in Jakku. The future laid upon him was dim – as dim as his sentence in this confinement, without assurance prospective freedom. Damn her, he cursed at a certain scavenger who had turned his world upside down. Damn her to hell!

 

His cell was dust-invested and musty; his bed was as flat and stinky as his two pillows. The blanket he had was made of itch-inducing material that kept him awake from his sleep at night. He suspected it was ridden by fleas. The toilet bowl they provided in his cell needed serious cleaning and unclogging; the stink had made him nauseated for countless of times since his first stay. The worst were his shower and entertainment, they would hose him with freezing cold water once every few days and the only constant companion he got was the sound of dripping water from a leaky pipe, which slowly drove him mad. He could not stand living like this.

 

He laid pathetically on the grimy floor of his solitary cell, groaning as he was covering his eyes when Kylo Ren and his knight visited him. For a disgusting man, he looked even worse with inflamed wet psoriasis and prominent saggy skin due to his weight loss.

 

“Warm him up,” he ordered his knight.

 

This knight was smaller than Kylo, standing tall reaching past his Master’s shoulder. Yet he packed punches when he kicked Plutt across the room then pulled the ex-junk lord hair and punch him in the face. After he was sure that the sole prisoner’s attention was onto them, he walked behind his Master to turn on the light switch, bathing the dirty prison cell with light.

 

“P, please, what do you want from me? Can’t you see that I’m in pain?” Plutt winced painfully with one hand covering the side of his stomach while the other covering his bleeding nose. “Please stop! I’m defenceless? W, why are you hurting me? I’ve done no wrong…”

 

The knight – light in his amour, dark in colour – with face covered in silver war mask, paced back to Plutt and kicked him again before stomping on his forearm.

 

“What’d you just say, lashy? Fekr mikoni ki hasti? Harf-e dahaneto befahm!” The knight warned him before he spat on Plutt.

 

“Itzhak,” the knight stopped before he managed to deliver a kick onto Plutt’s head. He turned his head toward Kylo, there was a scent of piss permeated from the Plutt. Pitiful sight for a man who once acted as if he had been a sultan of the desert.

 

He pressed a button under his helmet and its hinged mechanism opened. “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it’s like to be a slave,” his distorted voice gradually turned normal as he was taking off his helmet, the same one he donned back in Jakku. “How can you complain about living like this when you only tasted it for more than a week, compared to your slaves whose lifetime pain and death were caused by your hubris and greed?”

 

He saw Plutt looking at him with recollection and fear, his hand flew to scratch his skin, but thought the better before causing an irritation. He looked far worse than the last time he saw him. “Nothing is worse than having an itch you can never scratch,” Kylo noted with a gleam in his eyes.

 

“I, I’m sorry… I was wrong! P, please forgive me!” He begged as he held on Kylo’s boots to repent himself. “Please let me repent!”

 

Khafeh, sag!” Itzhak pulled Plutt’s collar and threw him across the room. “Touch him again, and that would be the last time you own a hand!”.

 

Kylo walked closer and kneeled before Plutt, his eyes widened as he was tilting his head to appraise the ex-junk lord. “What’s it like to finally beg and crawl? You’ve never done that before, have you?” Kylo asked him. “You deprived people as your livelihood. Why shouldn’t I deprive you in return? It would be fair. An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth,” he continued.

 

“Please, have mercy! Have mercy, I’ll do anything you want! I’ll repent my wrongdoing! Anything!”, Plutt begged him.

 

“Do you want to repent?” Kylo asked him.

 

“Yes! Yes! I do! Anything!”

 

Kylo’s eyes twitched along with the corner of his mouth, it was the closest that Plutt got to see the emperor smiling. “My empire’s law states that the minimum sentence for enslavement and human trafficking is fifteen years in solitary jail,” Kylo explained. “But you could cut it short. Ask the warden for an oleander salad and finish the food, then you’re free,” his Knight turned his head sharply toward his master. Behind his war-mask, his brows furrowed while his hazel eyes narrowed in confusion. Plutt’s face radiated with hope, his mouth opened for he could not believe what Kylo had just said.

 

“R, Really? I get to be free?”

 

“Or…” Kylo took the dagger strapped on Ithzak’s right hip.

 

“You could end this quickly,” he threw the dagger in front of Plutt, it was sharp for it was well forged.

 

As the hope radiating on his face was gone, the prisoner scooted back to the wall; wet marks trailed behind him on the floor as he was trying to stay as far away as possible from the two men in front of him. “Tozz Feek,” he spat on the floor, his gaze was hateful and condescending. He turned his body away from Kylo and Itzhak.

 

“I leave the choice back to you,” Kylo said as he was wearing his helmet back. He exited the cell confinement with his knight following right behind him. Itzhak dutifully turned the light off and said back to Plutt, “Bedrood, kos naneh.” He closed the door and nodded at the middle-aged warden to lock the cell door.

 

He jogged a little to run to his master who had walked ahead in front of him. The hall of the solitary confinement cells was quite for the only prisoner it held was Plutt. The others were either dead or good enough to be transferred to more humane cells. Rows of sterile white lights guided them away to the office section of the prison base, with officers and wardens saluting them as they were passing them by.

 

“Never thought of you as a trickster, what happened back there?” Itzhak asked him after they got into their limo speeder. He took his war-mask off and threw it to the seat next to him, he was facing Kylo who was reclining back on the seat. “Years I served you. I know you keep secrets, even hoard them. But lies, never. So, tell me about this change of character,” his knight demanded him.

 

Itzhak eyed his master impatiently. Amongst Kylo’s knights, he was the most hot-headed – crass, prideful, and surprisingly diligent. He was wearing a dark light-armour; one side of his shoulders and forearms was covered in silver plates and his arms were covered in silver gauntlets. His shamshir was sheathed on his belt and was positioned in front of his stomach. There was a five-o’clock shadow on his oblong face, his hooded eyes were staring at his master intently, his lips were pressed into a thin line.

 

Kylo deigned not to answer him, which irked Itzhak more. “Fine. Don’t answer it!” his knight decided to cross his legs and fold his hands as he was watching the passing trees. The Empire’s Correction Agency they left was located far from the capital, where the golden pine trees grew and the rocky mountain was.

 

“I gave him a push,” Kylo stated.

 

“Yeah, that’s one way to describe it…” Itzhak snorted.

 

“She asked me not to kill him. She told me to let him rot. But I can’t. After I knew what that glob had done to her, I can’t,” he explained, “So I gave him a push. I didn’t lie to him, I already told him what he needed to know. In the end, he would be the one to do it to himself. Not me.”

 

His knight gave him a puzzled look. “That’s a strange way to put ‘I’m not wrong and I did it for my girlfriend’,” Itzhak commented silently.

 

“True.”

 

“Are you going to tell her?”

 

“No, she doesn’t need to know that. I want her to be happy and focus on her new life,” he said with finality. “I want her to have her long-awaited joy.”

 

Itzhak contemplated his Master’s words for quite some time until the limo speeder reached the edge of the Seat. Below them lay rows and rows of apartments complex and bungalow houses streets, they were in the housing district. “Next time, warn me if you want to do that again. I don’t like it; I never do,” Itzhak pointed at Kylo, his eyes burned with warning.

 

***

 

Mountainous powders of spices and herbs were lined tidily in medium-sized brown sacks in front of the many stores in the bazaar. Their colour varied from earthen tones to red while the textures ranged from fine to coarse. In addition to the powders, there were bags of various seeds lined along with a variety of nuts, grains, flowers, stems, and leaves. A tiny wooden board stood in each bag labelling its content, and Rey read black and white pepper, cumin, fennel, star anise, kafir lime leaves, vanilla, saffron, turmeric powder, and many more herbs and spices with names she never knew.

 

“This place is amazing,” Rey said in wonder.

 

“Wait till you see the carpet area, you’ll sneeze till your nose hurts,” Finn joked light-heartedly.

 

Finn was a man from the southern continent, which was commonly associated with people who had beautiful dark skin, full lips, and curly hair. His hair was cut short, styled buzzcut, and he stood few inches taller than Rey. He was wearing a white dashiki shirt and dark pants and boots, armouredless to blend better with the civilian. He was a stormtrooper assigned to guard her for the market trip. She had only met him for a few hours but she enjoyed his presence a lot. He reminded her of Attar.

 

As they were walking deeper into the bazaar, Rey passed a tea merchant with sacks of leaves sold in front of his store. She saw ordinary tea leaves along with interesting ones like jasmine lotus, lotus flower, chrysanthemum, and dried rosebud that would bloom once it was submerged in hot water. The shop even sold warm spicy drinks that came from the far south-east archipelago – bandrek, wedang uwuh, and wedang jahe.

 

“Care to try?” the merchant offered her, and Rey nodded.

 

The man poured two cups of warm ochre-coloured drinks and handed them to Rey and Finn, both immediately spewed the liquid out of their mouth.

 

“Oh God! W, what is this? It’s spicy!” Finn wiped his mouth while Rey half-heartedly tried to drink the concoction again. She was nowhere cruel to be wasteful on her foods, and that included drinks.

 

“A first-timer huh…” the merchant breathed tirelessly. “It’s bandrek, it’s a nice concoction to drink in this cold season. It’ll warm you up and keep you healthy from sore throat, cough, and the flu. Although, I might forget to put the rock sugar inside. Here,” the merchant offered him a stick of rock sugar and also gave one to Rey. It tasted better after they sucked on it; the spiciness and the heat in their mouths came balanced with the sweetness.

 

“I’ll take these,” Elaheh called the merchant while pointing at the balls of jasmine lotus and dried rosebud.

 

“You want this?” Finn offered Elaheh his drink, but she politely refused it. She paid the merchant as he was giving her the merchandise. She watched Rey and Finn return their glasses to the merchant before she explained to Rey, “This is the Old Bazaar; it was known for its spice market, carpet traders, and apothecary.”

 

“Is this the biggest? I may get lost here!” Rey said vibrantly, her eyes swam as she was taking the smallest details of colours, scents, merchants, and the geometric carvings of the dome right above their heads. It was her first time to go on a market trip for leisure. In Jakku, she would only go to the market strictly to trade her findings and look for her needs. The market in the Outpost was nothing compared with the festivity and glory of this bazaar, where different merchants sold a wide variety of goods and visitors whose faces were never the same, each of whom carried different cultures, ethnics, and religions. This was her first time to see such a diversity.

 

“There are cases of people claiming they’re lost, so stick with me and Finn. The market will enter its peak hour soon,” Elaheh advised her.

 

The bazaar was a maze of small streets and alleyways. All of the spice merchants were centred inside the Old Building located near the mosque, where Rey and the others just went to. The other traders spread throughout the long Bazaar area, into the nook and corner of every narrow street. Next to the Old Building and mosque, the Old Bazaar consisted of shop houses, with some of the traders selling their items outdoor, under the shadow of Yew trees. There were street performers too – poets, dancer, and musicians – along with a small number of orators that belonged to a religious order or a political wing.

 

“Let’s go to a book store,” Elaheh led them. “You need more literatures to read, Rey,” she continued. They passed lamp traders as they were heading downhill, into a smaller alley.

 

“So, she is your tutor? She doesn’t look very friendly?” Finn asked her quietly as they were walking behind Elaheh. The alleyway was so cramped that it only allowed two people from two directions to walk side-by-side, and they kept on bumping on people, especially those who were in a hurry.

 

“I think she is fine, if a little distant,” Rey answered him.

 

“Really? She’s odd,” Finn commented her silently.

 

“What makes you think so? She’s okay, she’s dedicated.”

 

“She is certainly not; she is functioning. Just look into her eyes, you’ll get me…” Finn suggested nonchalantly.

 

Rey stared at Elaheh’s back as they were walking along. Her tutor was wearing an olive coloured abaya with her usual black headscarf secured with a silver brooch of coin and agate. She dressed Rey in a wine-coloured cloak while she was wearing a white abaya. Her head was covered with a hood in a colour identical to her cloak in order to protect her identity.

 

“Here,” Elaheh stopped before a small store, her eyes never met to reach Rey’s and Finn’s.

 

“That is a second-hand bookstore. The emperor can afford a new one if you’re looking a few for Lady Rey,” Finn opined behind Rey.

 

“Just Rey to you,” Rey whisper-shouted him.

 

“I believe every book deserves many chances to be used, especially the old ones. Unless the said book were unavailable here, or too damaged, or had a revised edition then I would buy a new one,” Elaheh schooled him. “We must learn to never throw things away easily,” then she proceeded to enter the bookstore.

 

“I agree with her,” Rey smiled at Finn as she was pushing the door open, her scavenger soul was moved deeply by her tutor’s words. The bell hung above chimed as she was greeted with the acute scent of dust, old book scent, and frankincense. A fez-wearing old man was sitting before an old cashier machine. Rey believed he was dozing before and was awakened by the repeating bells. As lucidity came to him, his eyes widened when he saw Elaheh, then his face broke into a smile, showing his missing teeth in the process.

 

“Elaheh!” The old man greeted her; he left his seat to hug Elaheh.

 

Assalamualaykum, Hossein. You look healthy.”

 

Walaykumsalam. Beautiful lady, how is your husband? Fared well? How are Almira and Nouman?”

 

The little smile that was previously plastered on Elaheh’s face disappeared and the light in her eyes was gone. Rey and Finn decided to go deeper into the book-filled racks to let Elaheh and the old man have their private moment.

 

The bookstore was slightly dark despite the scattered lamps. The other source of light was the sunlight that passed through a clear mosaic window. A distant song was playing on the old radio, singing chants for it was soothing to be heard.

 

“So what’s your story?” Finn asked her.

 

“What do you mean?” Rey was flipping through the pages of a book. It seemed that she was in the literature section. She put the book back to where it belonged and picked another book with an interesting title.

 

“Everybody has a story – always. The latest gossip in the palace has been about you, you, you. The mysterious woman from Jakku who had robbed the emperor’s heart; a freed slave, once a scavenger; a nobody. Am I wrong? Those are the tamer ones.”

 

Rey snorted. “You’re correct there. And the less tamer one?” she asked him, she was trying to control her tones to keep a humble appearance. Not that she was feeling haughty.

 

“So it’s true that the emperor likes you!” Rey response was only a blush that spread throughout her cheeks, neck, and ears. “It comes from the emperor’s court, from those who feel as if you had robbed their chances to marry off their daughters or sons. They said that you’re a woman of the night who became the lord’s current infatuation, someone to fill his curiosity. A lowborn who hinders their plans.”

 

“Well, they can hurl their complaints to Kylo, not to me. He is the emperor,” Rey pushed the book back into the rack with more power. A moment later she realized she missed something. “Sons?”

 

“Huh? This empire legalized any kind of marriages as long as it’s at the consented age and is consensual, between sentient kinds, and––“

 

“I know it already! What do you mean by sons?”

 

“I thought it was a common secret inside the palace that the emperor is interested in both men and women,” Finn answered her. There were lines etched on his forehead and he look worried as if he had told something she was not supposed to know. “You didn’t know it?”

 

How would I know that when I just knew him less than two weeks!? Her mind supplied hysterically. Should I ask him? Or should he come to me and tell it by himself?

 

It wasn’t your prerogative. He will tell you, the smallest voice reminded her.

 

Be in peace, another voice reprimanded her.

 

He chooses you, that’s what matters, they quipped before her thoughts were gone south. The start of her initial panic was gone with its assurance. Prime Alpha chooses you, whatever had happened in the past wouldn’t mean anything to him. What matters is you – you alone.

 

Hear and listen, use your mind and the thread would be easy to be undone, it advised her. He’ll choose you again and again, over thousands of pearls and millions of diamonds. Believe it.

 

“Alright,” she eventually said after long minutes of silence.

 

“What? You okay?” Finn asked her, “You okay with the gossip and the emperor’s ‘things’?”

 

“No, but I need time to think. Especially about the gossips,” she said as she was shrugging nonchalantly.

 

She decided to ignore him by picking up an old hardcover book from the bookshelf. There was no summary nor was a title written on its cover. She flipped through the pages, but it seemed like it was a poetry book, although half of the book was empty. She closed the book again to examine its cover; the book was slightly larger, and she believed the colour of the cover was once beige before it turned into a slightly muddy brown. She opened the book and skipped the early pages, leaves by leaves, then her eyes were glued to a poem.

 

I can fly
But I want his wings
I can shine even in the darkness
But I crave the light that he brings
Revel in the songs that he sings
My angel Gabriel

 

I can love
But I need his heart
I am strong even on my own
But from him I never want to part
He's been there since the very start
My angel Gabriel
My angel Gabriel

 

Bless the day he came to be
Angel's wings carried him to me
Heavenly

 

Amazement and reverence came to her like a barrage of flood as she finished reading the poem. Whoever wrote this must be really good, she thought. She flipped through the pages and saw that not only was this writer proficient with words; but his writing was also beautiful. Every stroke was calculated, short and long lines felt burdenless. Never once did she think she would be impressed by a calligraphy. She skipped through the book to read the final poem written, but she found a short reflection, intimate almost like a diary.

 

A lie is a truth until you recognize it as a lie. To see the truth behind those lies is probably the right thing to do. However, it may not necessarily bring happiness. Lies are Happiness.

 

By the end of the reflection each word turned sharper, more frantic, and uglier. There were inkblots here and there, and the words of the last sentence were dark for the writer pressed his pen into the surface of the paper so hard that it almost pierces right through it.

 

What happened to him?

 

“I guess I’ll take this,” she gestured the book to Finn.

 

“Really? You don’t want a new book?”

 

“This is good enough for me,” she said as she was heading for the cashier.

 

Her tutor was about to pay Hossein when she saw them coming, there was a small tower of books standing before her. “Did you get something?” Elaheh asked Rey.

 

“I want this book,” she looked down and hesitated, “But I don’t have any money right now. But I’ll pay you back! I promise,” she swore.

 

“There is no need, young lady,” Hossein interrupted her kindly. “Your book is on me; your tutor has bought a lot and we’re friends aren’t we, Elaheh?” Hossein gave Elaheh toothy smile with missing teeth.

 

Amongst the books of world history and arithmetic, Rey saw titles of ‘Alf layla wa-layla, Maqāmāt-uṭ-Ṭuyūr, Masnavi-ye-Ma’navi, Misk al-ghazal, and Burhān al-‘asal. “Oh. Wow. That’s uh, that’s a lot,” Finn paled when he saw the number of books, two of which even got thick multiple volumes. He wondered if Elaheh would ask him to carry them throughout their trip.

 

“What’s wrong, Finn? Are they too heavy to carry?” Rey teased him.

 

“These guns are made to fight, not to carry things around!” Finn reasoned as he was flexing his bicep.

 

“Then what is the point of your exercises and drill if you can’t carry them?” Rey gestured at the book.

 

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous! Look at them, they’re heavy!”

 

Hossein watched their interaction with mirth gleaming in his ancient eyes before he poked in to say, “There is no need to worry about, son. I’ll ask my boy to send these books to the palace; you don’t need to carry them around. Just keep your guns shining for later use,” he joked. Hossein then turned to Elaheh. “I need your sign, your declaration, and other legal stuff to send them,” he said to her.

 

“Very well, Hossein. Let’s get started.”

 

***

 

When the sun slowly passed its peak of the day, when the muezzin’s adhan for Zuhr was heard from the mosque’s loudspeaker, and when Elaheh left them to commit her mid-day prayer, Rey and Finn found themselves sitting under the shadow of a yew tree. They had finished their lunch and were eating their cold fırın sütlaç. Although warm foods were more agreeable in this cold autumn weather, Rey insisted on trying the cold sweetness of the pudding. Now they were watching a street performer from the distance, dancing to the music made by her accompanist. It was a very contrasting display; next to the performer, there were two orators who had been preaching different things and hurling insults heatedly at each other.

 

“Has it always been like this?” Rey asked Finn, she was eyeing the arguing orators.

 

“Them? They’re from the Alpha-Omega Supremacy and the Abrahamic Alliance. They’ve been like this since the founding of the Empire,” Finn answered.

 

“What are they preaching actually?”

 

“The laws they don’t like, taxes, moral degenerateness, either supporting the non-Beta domination or Beta superiority, demanding the emperor to give more power to the religious leaders and forcing him to choose a faith, and the worst was abolishment of women’s rights and dissolving “non-traditional” marriages,” Finn addressed them one-by-one. “Christ, they asked a lot,” he complained, his face got darker with discomfort.

 

“Indeed.”

 

“But that’s normal actually, a nation’s problems would never end. But God, this is a different country from the one they used to live. They’re asking for the same rules and livelihood of the nations they once came from,” he sighed. “You can’t expect everyone to abide every Beta rule and privilege. Even no matter how much the non-Beta designation wants to fit in this world, they just can’t… some people are just different and people need to acknowledge them and give them room, give them the appropriate laws and understand them, embrace them. Why is it so hard for those groups to understand us?” he confided to her.

 

“You have a strong opinion about them,” she was watching the orators being stopped by the market troopers, someone must’ve called on them for disorder conduct in public.

 

“How can’t I? Before I came here, I’d seen how my brother and sister of the designations were treated. Many came here for a change – to avoid war, to avoid prejudice and slavery, to run away from poverty. Those who treated us slightly better would demand our silence and compliance. They would treat us like a pet then pat themselves on the back and said ‘we make a difference, we’re better than those backward people of X kingdom’…”

 

“You’re an Alpha,” Rey said it as a statement.

 

“With my sentiments, I think my designation is as clear as day,” he smiled at her, “I’m a simple stormtrooper, but I have my worries of course. The Black Empire is young, three years old, can you believe it? We already achieve much more than any other nations ever dreamed off. In just three years…” he said wistfully.

 

“I don’t know if what the emperor had said about you was true, but I hope you’re a Prime Omega. It would do him better that you’re not a royalty; you’re not from a privileged background. But even if you’re Beta, that would be fine cause I can tell that you’re not a kind of person who would turn away from the sick and weak.”

 

“You have a lot of expectations on me.”

 

“I know you and what kind of person you are. Believe me, the stakes are high. Sooner or later people would crowd you; it’s up to you to swim or to sink and be eaten by the sharks,” Elaheh said the same thing to her a few days ago. “Or you could play with them, make them your slaves, I know you could do it,” he said.

 

Rey turned to stare at the orators who were now handcuffed by the troopers. They were led away from the market square while they were hurling insults at the poor troopers and the government. “You want to pick Elaheh up? We have been here for too long,” Finn asked her, he changed the conversation’s subject.

 

“True, we’re supposed to pick her up in front of the mosque,” she said.

 

“Let’s go,” he said as he was throwing away the pudding containers to the bin.

 

Since the market’s mosque was located uphill, next to the Old Building, they had to stroll up a crowded alley. They were walking the opposite direction against the human waves who were freshly energized after the lunch and mid-day prayer and rest. But when they arrived in front of the mosque’s entrance, they did not see Elaheh, only crowds of merchants, market-goers, and donation-hunters.

 

“Is she heading back to the square since we made her wait?” Rey wondered. She was observing the passers-by one-by-one – searching for a specific woman with a black headscarf – but scouting for Elaheh amongst the ever-moving crowd had proven to be impossible since the beginning.

 

“I don’t think so, she’s the type who would wait,” Finn said.

 

“Or maybe she is going for the toilet. Let’s wait here,” Rey said as she was leaning back against the white wall of the mosque’s gate, she avoided the influx of people who passed by.

 

Finn stood beside her patiently, but it was evident as minutes went by, his mind took the worst turn. His instinct told him that something was off, and as much he trusted his ability in reading people, Elaheh wouldn’t leave Rey and him alone in the market. He knew that she was too responsible to do that, highly dedicated as Rey had described her before.

 

“Where is she?” he murmured to himself.

 

They failed to notice a little girl who was standing next to them. She was looking at them curiously, all blush and toothless front teeth. “You’re here,” she said with some difficulties, her teeth made her emphasize some of her words.

 

“Yes?” Finn turned to look at her, the lines on his forehead were visible as his brows were frowning all together.

 

“She told me to give you this, your friend passed out so she had to take her away,” said the girl. Finn turned back to look at Rey, confusion and alarm were written on both of their faces.

 

What’s happening? She asked herself.

 

The little girl handed her a small shopping bag, and Rey paled when she saw its contents. There were a brooch, a black headscarf, and a piece of paper.

 

***

 

If you want her back. Visit the Forbidden Garden north of the palace. Look for a secluded building deep inside. You may bring your guard to help you, but one word to the others and we’ll end her.

 

Only two shall know this instruction, and only two shall enter. No more, no less.

 

Exercise with caution. We’re watching you, closely.

 

 

 


 

Itzhak here
Itzhak’s Mask here
Itzhak’s Attire here
Itzhak’s Shamsir here
Finn’s Attire (Dashiki shirt) here
Elaheh’s Attire here
Elaheh’s Brooch here
Rey’s Hood-cloak here
Rey’s Attire here

Old Bazaar – Old Building (Spice Merchants Centre) here
Old Bazaar – Hossein's Bookstore here
Old Bazaar – Market Square here
Old Bazaar – Mosque here

Oleander or Nerium oleander: A decorative, poisonous shrub plant. Can be found around Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, the Mediterranean region, the Saharan, Arabian Peninsula, southern Asia, even as far as the Yunnan region in China. All parts of this plant (stem, leaves, flower, etc.) are poisonous, which could cause skin rash, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, excess salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, irregular heart rate, drowsiness, tremors, seizures, collapse, and even coma that can lead to (slow and painful) death. It was known for its bitter taste. Although human deaths are rare, there are cases of it, especially when it was consumed in large number. There are cases which report livestock death after it drank from a water source in which the leaf fell into it.

Jasmine lotus tea here
Lotus flower tea here
Chrysanthemum tea here
Dried rosebud tea here
Bandrek here
Wedang uwuh here
Wedang jahe here

Mysterious Book Poem 01 here
Mysterious Book Poem 02 here

Glossary:
The Red Empire: This Universe equivalent of the Galactic Empire.
The Black Empire or The Order: This Universe equivalent of First Order.
The Seat (Capital of the Black Empire or the Order)
The Alliance: This Universe equivalent of New Republic.

Lashy (Persian): Piece of sh*t.
Fekr mikoni ki hasti (Persian): Who do you think you are?
Harf-e dahaneto befahm (Persian): Watch your mouth.
Sultan (Arabian): King.
Khafeh (Persian): Shut up.
Sag (Persian): Dog.
Bedrood (Persian): Goodbye.
Tozz Feek (Arabian): Screw you.
Kos naneh (Persian): Motherf*cker.
Itzhak (Hebrew): He who laughed.
Assalamualaykum (Arabic): Peace be unto you.
Walaykumsalam (Arabic): And unto you peace.
Hossein (Arabic): Handsome.
Almira (Persian): Of higher birth order.
Nouman (Persian): Flower beds.
‘Alf layla wa-layla (Arabic): One thousand and one nights.
Misk al-ghazal (Arabic): Women of sand and myrrh.
Burhān al-‘asal (Arabic): The proof of the honey.
Maqāmāt-uṭ-Ṭuyūr (Persian): The conference of the birds.
Masnavi-ye-Ma’navi (Persian): The spiritual couplets.
Muezzin (Türkçe): People who do the call for prayer.
Adhan (Arabic): Call for prayer.
Zuhr (Arabic): Mid-day or noon prayer, the second praying time to the Islamic daily prayer. The number of Rakat (prescribed movement and words during the salah or prayers) was four.
Fırın sütlaç (Türkçe): Rice pudding.

Eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth: An infamous law from Codex Hammurabi. As lex talionis, this law predates the Bible as this law was also evident in Abrahamic religion’s sacred texts.

Abaya (Arabic): loose over-garment, essentially a robe-like dress.
Fez (Türkçe): a felt headdress in a shape of a short cylindrical peakless hat, usually red or black, sometimes with a tassel attached on the top.

MUSIC:
Shadow of Doubt by Yoko Kanno here
Short Notice by Yoko Kanno here
Shrilly by Yoko Kanno here
Sora’s Folktale by Yoko Kanno here
Dance of Curse II by Yoko Kanno here