There was a tale of a reaper amongst the people. They said that her current residence took place in the dusty dunes of Jakku, and people were terrified of her. No one went to Jakku purposefully, they ended up there. Everyone ended up there. “You know, you can see her domain from outside the planet.” Han had told his son one day. “It’s darker there than any other place on the planet.” Ben believed him for the longest time. Han had been everywhere, what did he gain from lying?
Then he started having night terrors. He couldn’t remember them at all now, he was an adult and had outgrown that. But he remembered Leia and Han having one of their famous shouting matches that ended up in Han telling Ben that he had lied and there was no such creature on Jakku.
He believed that his father had lied for the longest time — and then he went out on his own runs. It was one of the first times that he had been truly alone. He was in the Outer Rim, where things were still and silent and he kept looking behind him as he walked throughout his ship.
He just didn’t feel right. Felt like something kept stealing breaths from him. It was harder for him to eat. Harder for him to sleep. He couldn’t wait to get out of the Outer Rim. He wasn’t sure how big the Outer Rim was, if he was being completely honest. Because every time he thought that he was out of it, it was like he turned right back around and kept wasting more and more fuel.
That analysis was more correct than he thought it would be, and to his dread, he woke up one day to find that there was no fuel left. It seemed like things happened wrong in rapid fire after that. Rations started going missing, air was running out, and the ship creaked and groaned constantly.
There was no one that Ben could contact.
He was isolated, and there was nothing that he could do about it.
There was a reaper on Jakku.
Ben saw the big dark stain on the planet, that almost looked like a void was eating the planet whole. Wouldn’t it be nice to lay down there? Somewhere where you wouldn’t be interrupted from your slumber. Ben tried to rid these thoughts from his head, but they were tempting.
There was a reaper on Jakku.
There was no escaping that monster.
Ben had heard so much about it, had known that the rumors even terrified his Uncle. Who was supposed to be the most skilled in the Force. Ben wished that he had the Force to aid him now, but he was not gifted like his mother or his uncle. He just had his blaster with him. That would not be enough to aid him when he plummeted to the surface of the planet.
Rey sat on a throne of sun bleached bones. There was a mountain of remains around her, her necklace was crafted from a skull and bones from some creatures finger. She took everything that she wanted here.
If someone fell into her domain, it was hers.
That was how the cycle of life worked. Her domain did not currently expand to cover the whole planet of Jakku. She wanted to give the people who fell here a sense of security. A feeling that once they got here, they could get off.
After all, she used to be one of them.
Ben had actually got some food from one of the trading posts that was still there. Somehow, people managed to survive the oppressive heat. Ben wasn’t sure how though. Everyone was covered in white and tan fabrics, blending into the desert sands almost perfectly.
No one dared mention the reaper.
No one dared mention her name. But Ben could feel her call in the back of his head. She wanted him to come to her. Ben didn’t know how everyone else had survived this long with the lure of some being that was so terrifyingly intoxicating. “Do you think that there’s a way to get a comm to work here?” He asked one of the locals. They just stared at him and asked.
“What’s a comm?” With a blank look on their face.
Ben didn’t bother after that. He found an abandoned AT-AT unit and took up a temporary home there. He fell asleep, and the night terrors came again.
He was coming.
He would be here soon.
Ben didn’t know where he was going. Everything on Jakku looked the same. But one day he found it, he knew that things were coming to an end. It was so dark that he could barely see, but he was tired. So tired. Part of him wanted to just lay down and become one with the other bodies that were there.
He did not. There was still part of him that wanted to live, so bad. “Mortals like you are so cute.” The voice that spoke to him reverberated in his skull. “Everyone ends up here sooner or later, it’s better if you just lay down and accept it. Lest you want to accept a much more terrible fate.”
“I think both fates are equally terrible to be honest, but I would like to see the face of my killer.” Her laugh shook the sands around him, making everything shift. Ben felt like he was about to be swallowed whole.
“Fine,” The girl said, “keep walking. You’ll find me eventually.” Ben walked through the graveyards. So many explorers and smugglers ended up here. Part of him wondered if he would find his father amongst the graves. Ben felt like he had been walking for years by the time he found her throne. It towered above him, a large ebony staff spiralled and shot up like a tree. He saw a woman, who donned the bones of creatures that had been much bigger than he, her teeth were sharp and her wings had to span larger lengths than his own ship.
He doesn’t know what to say, knows that this is the end of his journey. People were right to be scared, Ben got that. But now that he saw the face of death herself, now that he saw the end of his journey he didn’t feel so bad. “I admire your commitment,” She told him. “You’re the only person that’s come to see me instead of just giving up.”
“Are you going to spare me?” That earned another laugh from the Reaper.
“No,” Rey said, “no. I never spare a soul, everyone comes to me eventually. But I’ll strike you a deal. You tell me a story and I’ll let you leave, under the condition that you have to come back to me next year.”
“And if I don’t,”
“If you don’t I’ll kill you,” the Reaper said matter of factly.
“Sounds fair enough,”
“So tell me a story.” Ben knew that the story had to be good.
“In a galaxy far far away—”
“That’s funny,” She said, “but overdone. Start it differently.”
“Right. Sorry.” He swallowed, thick. “The Force was in disarray,” He started, “as it has so many times. Darkness and Light were warring with each other, and people died. One by one by one. Within this darkness and light, there were two people. Both enemies. The dark side claimed one who called himself Kylo Ren, and the light claimed one named Rey.” It was just what he could think of at the moment. “And this would’ve been okay, this would’ve kept the war going, except the girl’s soul had stained the boy’s. The darkness in that boy turned into something else, into something not quite light but not quite darkness. And he was happy, for the first time ever. Because the darkness made him isolated and alone. She made him feel like he wasn’t alone. And the Force became balanced because of that.” And then something weird happened.
The Reaper in front of him leaned forward slightly, and then they had a conversation. She asked him about his life. Asked him about his parents and everything under the sun. And Ben told her. Ben told her everything.
Then Ben asked, “What about you? About your life?” The Reaper cocked his head to the side.
“What do you mean?”
“Well there had to be something else before… before this.” He said.
“What about that?”
“I don’t remember it.” She said. “When you live long enough like me, everything at the beginning of your life just gets...lost. That’s why I take stories. You cannot tell anyone else about this meeting. But come back next year, and I’ll see if I want to spare you or not.”
“I thought you didn’t spare people,”
“Sparing is merely delaying,” The Reaper admitted, “It’d be better to say I’ll see if I want to delay your inevitable doom.”
“Next year,” He said.