Rey sits on the cliff’s edge and watches the crashing waves. She has never seen so much water, never even dreamed of it. She’s gone down to the rocky beaches a few times, taking off her boots so she can walk in, but the water is cold and she has to step carefully to avoid cutting herself.
She isn’t frightened of the water, but she is a little in awe of it. What she would have done back on Jakku with even a fraction of the seas here. It isn’t good for drinking, Luke says, until the salt has been removed. He shows her how.
At first she thought she might learn to swim, but the waters are too rough. She could drown, Luke says, so instead sometimes she just dips her feet in, lets the shallow parts swirl at her ankles.
There isn’t much on Ahch-To, really, besides the oceans, and the ruins. Rey doesn’t actually mind. It’s new and different and… there is so much water.
“Doesn’t seem quite fair,” Luke says, sitting beside her. “You spent so much time on Jakku, seeing so little of what else the galaxy has to offer, and where do you end up?” He gestures expansively. “A rock in the middle of an ocean.”
“The ocean though,” Rey says.
Luke smiles a little. “Yeah, the ocean. I felt like that the first time I saw an ocean. A lot different from the desert, huh?”
“I used to tip my boots out at night and end up with a pile of sand in my AT-AT.”
“Gets everywhere,” Luke agrees, and he says it like it means something, like it’s a sort of joke. He isn’t quite looking at her, his laughing eyes focused somewhere a bit behind Rey’s shoulder.
Sometimes Rey feels like Luke has entire conversations with people who aren’t there. She hasn’t decided yet if he’s crazy or not. Chewbacca’s opinion on that particular matter varies depending on the day.
“I was thinking it might be time for us to move on,” Luke says. “I think you’ve learned all you can here. Time for a change of scenery.”
Rey shrugs. “Whatever you think is best, Master Luke. Will we be returning to the Resistance?”
Luke shakes his head. “Not just yet.”
“Of all the planets I’ve set foot on,” Luke says as they walk the streets of Theed, “I think this one is the most beautiful.”
Except for Kashyyk, Chewbacca interjects.
Luke inclines his head. “Sure, except for that.” He winks at Rey.
She bites her lip so she won’t laugh.
Regardless of rankings, Rey has to agree that Naboo is breathtaking. From atmosphere, as they flew in, Rey could see rolling hills, green fields, and waterfalls. The city of Theed itself is comprised of handsome stone buildings, arches and statues, with clear water that runs down into a crashing waterfall.
Rey wouldn’t have even believed such a thing as a waterfall could exist if she hadn’t seen it.
The streets are busy but not overcrowded, filled with citizens and travelers going about their day. The weather is sunny and mild, different from both the aching heat of Jakku and the harsh, chilled wind of Ahch-To.
She isn’t sure where Luke is taking them but he seems to know where he is going. They walk up stone steps to the largest building Rey has seen yet and the guards by the doors seem to recognize Luke. They nod respectfully to him and tell him that Her Majesty is currently in meetings but was pleased to hear from him and will be happy to dine with him later.
Rey startles at ‘Her Majesty’ but assumes Luke must be familiar with many royals. After all, he is Luke Skywalker, and his sister is Princess Leia Organa.
Chewie seems to notice her brief surprise and says that Luke has visited the queen of Naboo - several of them - many times since the end of the Empire. Rey says, “Any queen would be honored to host him, I suppose.”
Chewie’s deep laugh earns a wry smile from Luke and a somewhat indignant response from R2-D2, followed by a rather filthy curse word directed at the Wookiee. Rey snorts into her hand.
Inside, an official tells Luke that of course he may roam the palace as he wishes with his guests, and should he need anything, they will be happy to serve him. Luke waves this off with a smile and a few murmured words of gratitude, and takes Rey through cavernous halls with immensely high ceilings and carved columns.
“My mother was queen here,” Luke says as they walk.
Rey looks to him in surprise, though this is clearly not news to either Chewie or R2. “Queen?”
Luke nods. “She was elected at fourteen and she led her people safely through great conflict. She later became a senator, dedicating her life to protecting the Republic and the freedom of its citizens.” His voice is soft, wistful. “I never knew my mother, not truly, but I know her. I found her when I wasn’t even looking.”
Rey thinks of all the years she spent waiting, hoping, dreaming for something that never came. She knows there is nothing for her anymore on Jakku and she believes in what Maz told her, that belonging lies ahead, not behind. She has Finn now, and Luke, and Chewie. R2 and BB and maybe even Leia.
But she has a mother, too, somewhere. Maybe someday, her mother will find her.
“If your mother was a queen,” Rey says slyly, “does that make you a prince?”
Luke laughs, his face brightening, and Rey thinks that she could do a lot worse for family than him.
Rey doesn’t quite know what to make of Coruscant. The entire planet is a city and aside from their recent stop on Naboo, Rey has never seen so much as one isolated city before in her life. The tiny settlements on Jakku certainly don’t count, she thinks.
The urban landscape of Coruscant is nothing like Naboo. There are lifeforms everywhere, like a constant, moving mob, humans, droids, aliens that Rey can’t even name along with some she can. Flying lanes crisscross all over, ships zipping about. So many smells, familiar and strange, pleasant and jarring.
It’s all rather overwhelming and Rey misses the green of Takodana and the serenity of Ahch-To.
They eat in a diner and Rey thinks it might be the best food she has ever tasted, maybe even better than at Maz’s. When they finish, Chewbacca goes to wait with R2 on the Falcon. They seem to have planned it between them, Chewie and Luke, and Rey wonders what Luke has in mind for her.
They take an airbus - crowded, vaguely unpleasant - through to a large building that Luke tells her was once a great Jedi Temple, before it was appropriated by Emperor Palpatine. Rey thinks, after Naboo, it is rather unremarkable. It is all harsh, dull, utilitarian lines, and there is no green anywhere.
That is, until they go inside, and Luke shows her the gardens.
Luke tells her the Jedi Temple was never restored following the death of the Emperor. He didn’t feel it was right, he says, that he should undertake that himself.
But he shows her the tree he planted. In the heart of the Temple, Luke says, there was an ancient Force-sensitive tree. When the Emperor converted the Temple into his own personal palace, the tree was removed. After Palpatine’s death, Luke was able to recover fragments of it, with help from Poe Dameron’s mother.
“I planted one fragment here,” he tells her. “And it grew.”
Rey looks up and up, towards the highest branches. It isn’t quite the tallest tree she’s seen; she thinks there were taller on Takodana. There were certainly older trees.
But it is beautiful.
And it feels… Rey moves forward, goes to lay her hand against the trunk. She stops and hesitates, looking to Luke. “Can I…”
He nods at her. “Please.”
She presses her hand to the bark and closes her eyes. Rey has learned to sense the Force in all living things, in her friends, in the sentients she meets, even in the plants and animals. This tree, though, she’s never felt anything quite like this.
It’s alive, and Rey can’t think of a better word to describe it. She knows it’s a poor word, because of course it’s alive. All trees are. But this tree moves and breathes in the Force like she does, like Luke does.
“I can feel it,” she says in wonder.
“Why here? Of all the places you could have planted it, why here?” It is no Jedi Temple any longer. It seems a strange waste.
Luke shrugs. “It felt right. This tree, it was… new life. Rebirth. After all the destruction the Empire wrought, the galaxy needed a new beginning, and so did Coruscant. Coruscant was the height of the Emperor’s control, the site of his personal palace, in the very spot where he murdered Jedi to start his reign. I thought… with this tree, perhaps I could give something back. Even if only in a small way.”
Rey thinks of the little plants she kept in her AT-AT, bright spots of green amidst the desert, a reminder that she could survive, even if it seemed hopeless, and that there could be beauty. She thinks she understands.
“There was another fragment,” Luke says. “I gave it to Shara Bey and she planted it on Yavin Four. It grew along with her son, a boy who got to grow up in a galaxy that was free.”
Poe, Rey thinks, Finn’s friend. The rebel son of rebel parents, living on a moon with a rebel base.
And a Force tree.
It makes Rey think of hope.
She supposes that was Luke’s point.
Devaron is almost the opposite of Coruscant. It’s green and covered in jungle, the climate hot and sticky, and Luke takes her not to a city but to old temple ruins. While Chewbacca and R2-D2 stay with the Falcon, Luke takes Rey through the thick jungle on the back of a huge, leathery happabore. He claims it’s the only way to navigate the jungle and as the beast climbs over massive gnarled tree roots, Rey can see why.
“When I first came here,” Luke says as they’re jolted up and down on the happabore’s back as it moves, “I needed a guide. But that was a long time ago; now I just need this guy.” He pats the happabore’s thick skin.
“What was the guide for?”
“To keep me from dying.”
Rey looks askance at him, but Luke remains calm as ever. Well, she supposes if Luke thinks he knows the way, then he must, and he can certainly protect himself.
If he can’t, Rey’s not so bad herself.
At the edge of the jungle there is a stone path, leading to shattered towers. “That’s it?” Rey asks.
Luke nods as he swings down from the happabore, offering Rey assistance. She doesn’t actually need it, but she takes his hand anyway as she clambers down. Luke pats the happabore on one sturdy leg and talks gently to it before leaving it behind, tethered, leading Rey towards the ruins.
“The Temple of Eedit,” he says.
The temple on Ahch-To didn’t look like much, either, so Rey knows she shouldn’t judge. Still, it seems rather anti-climactic. So much work for what’s hardly more than a pile of rubble barely held together.
“We can go in the front door,” Luke says. “Wasn’t so easy my first time. Planet was under Imperial control and this place was firmly off limits.”
“Then how did you manage it?”
“Er… climbed in through the back way,” Luke explains, though it’s not actually much of an explanation at all. Rey files this away as a story she’d like to hear later.
Luke has a lot of stories.
It’s dark and damp inside and much is collapsed, columns, large sections of the roof, bits of broken statues, but Rey feels a sort of calm, a serenity, that she recognizes from the ruins on Ahch-To, and from the Force tree on Coruscant. The Force is strong here, and Rey’s connection to it feels steadier. Easier.
They walk through a hall where statues still stand, not unmarred but not destroyed either, expertly crafted and still beautiful in their way. At the end of the hall they go past doors that lead into a courtyard, where a ruined fountain stands as a centerpiece. The gardens are overgrown and water bubbles up into a pool but it’s somehow lovely still.
“Do you see anything?” Luke asks.
Rey frowns. “Of course I do, I’m not--” But she quiets, focuses.
There is a pillar, and on the pillar is a lever. It is far too high to ever be reached by a grasping hand.
Rey closes her eyes and centers herself. She thinks of Luke’s gentle voice guiding her and she reaches out with all her senses, feeling the living Force all around her, in the breeze, in the birds calling, in the tiny bugs crawling through the ridges of the pillar.
She pulls the lever.
Luke is smiling when Rey opens her eyes. “I had a much harder time with it but then, I hadn’t had much teaching.”
Rey grins at him. He’s proud of her. She likes how that feels.
Inside the pillar are remote training droids and some of them even work. “I trained here,” Luke says. “Hours and hours. Artoo and Threepio helped me get the remotes working again.”
He’s taken her to a place that was important to him, to a place where he walked on his path to being a Jedi. Rey doesn’t know how to describe the warmth that spreads through her chest but she… she thinks…
Rey takes out her lightsaber. “I could do with some training,” she says, and feels Luke’s pride and approval grow stronger.
The new Resistance base is set up in an abandoned site from the Rebellion. Rey finds it a bit on the nose and thinks it wouldn’t be very hard for the First Order to track them here.
Luke says it’s temporary. They’re already scouting out new locations. Dantooine helps them do so while enabling them to reuse resources.
Rey thinks he’s insulted that she’s insulted his sister. That’s sort of sweet. She doesn’t know how it feels to have a sibling but Luke makes her wish she did. She wishes she knew that sort of closeness.
But Finn meets her, openly overjoyed to see her, and Rey thinks maybe that’s almost the same.
In the evening, Rey sits cross-legged beneath the stars with Luke. Perhaps it isn’t the safest place to be but the climate is pleasant and the view past the base is picturesque. It’s peaceful, or at least, as peaceful as a military base can be.
“Maybe,” Luke says, “someday we can go to Dagobah.”
“What’s on Dagobah?”
Luke smiles a bit slanted at her, like he knows a joke she wouldn’t understand. “Nothing much, honestly.”
“Then why would I want to go there?”
“Oh, you wouldn’t want to. But I think I’ll take you all the same.”
“Is this some sort of Jedi Master thing? Being irritatingly cryptic and mysterious is a requirement of the position?”
Luke laughs. “You know, I think it is.”
Rey rolls her eyes but she sits there next to him in this repurposed base on a rural world and thinks she wouldn’t mind going anywhere Luke would like to take her.
There is so much of the galaxy left to see; Rey wants to see it all.
And it turns out that Luke Skywalker isn’t such a bad guide.