I dream in darkness...
I dream in darkness...
It’s always the same and yet always different. We clash. Light and Dark warring for control in each other’s minds. We know, intimately, the fears that drive each of us. How can we be so alike? He’s a murderer. A monster. An emotionally stunted man-child throwing tantrums that shake the galaxy.
His stormy thoughts swirl around me. So much anger and fear. So much pain.
i am sorry-sorry-so sorry-what have i done-so bright-bright star-help me grandfather
I can hardly make sense of his tumbling thoughts. I want to understand, but my heart is raw. I tell myself over and over that I see nothing of myself in him. And over and over, in my dreams, he tries to convince me otherwise. He pursues me. Relentless. Obsessive.
“You need a teacher!” He can’t believe I will ever accept this, no matter how many times he shouts it. It’s absurd. “I can show you the ways of the Force.”
The ways of evil? Of murder? Oh yes, he can teach me all about those.
“I know you feel it. The darkness. It calls to you, as it does to me.” In the dreams, we say so much more than we did that night. “Give in and join me.”
don’t leave-don’t leave-all wrong-drowning-can’t come back
“What you do is wrong,” I say.
“And where did you learn right from wrong, little scavenger?” His striking features pull into a sneer, his typical reaction to being denied. “Did someone in your desert hovel actually teach you?”
“Oy!” I shout. Condescending ass. The only thing I see he’s learned from the Dark Side is how to pretend he’s better than everyone else. Including his own family. “Don’t think you know me!”
“There’s so much you don’t know,” he counters.
His focused thoughts belie the chaos beneath the surface.
i know-i know-i feel it still-the light wants me
He’s broken, and I can’t fix him. I can’t even forgive him. I swing the Skywalker lightsaber, drowning out the pathetic ramblings.
Kill him. That voice isn’t ours, but I remember it well. Deep and murky, like the heart of this dark planet. Echoing through me, tempting me. Shadows edge my vision. I’ve wandered into the Dark, and I hear its whispers in my mind. So easy, I think. So quick. But his voice creeps into my head again.
remember me-can’t forget-it is you
Looking at him there, wounded, shocked, babbling—If I strike him down… And oh, for too many moments I want to end Kylo Ren as much as I want my next breath. And for too many moments, he wants it, too. Our minds merge, even as the icy world beneath us tears us apart.
yes yes yes-make it stop-pain is power-remember
I can make the jump to him.
A peculiar shame presses on my shoulders, keeping my feet on solid ground. I know killing him is wrong, but how dare he? He stole into my mind, he knows how I felt toward Han and Finn both. He deserves no better fate than theirs.
The chasm separating us widens, and I squeeze my eyes against the memory of Han’s body falling into the planet.
No. I won’t do it.
come back to me
Is that my voice or his?
“We’ll meet again, Kylo Ren.” I whisper the words, knowing he can hear me in the dream space. I draw a steadying breath, letting the demanding rage settle.
Revenge is not always justice.
“And we will finish what we’ve started.”
I wake in a cold sweat, my body trembling. Kylo Ren’s parting words are ringing in my mind as I open my eyes. It’s still dark and I stare into the black. There’s nothing inherently evil about the night. And what is dark without the light? They follow each other in an endless cycle, bleeding into each other as they meet. So why must the Light Side and Dark Side be at war? Aren’t they like day and night, two pieces of a greater whole?
“Foolish questions,” I mutter.
I drag myself from my cot with a yawn, gathering my hygiene supplies. Before leaving my stone hut, I grab up my bit of chalk and mark the day on the wall. It’s a terrible habit, but one I can’t seem to let go of. I wonder what parallels my subconscious is drawing between life on Jakku and Ahch-To.
“Stars, it’s too early for philosophy.”
Outside, the sun is a fiery, blinding ball as it crests the horizon. Its warmth eases the chill of the cistern water. It hasn’t rained much in the last week, and my water supply is low, but there’s enough to wash away the dregs of sleep. Somewhat refreshed, I stretch my body, warming up my muscles.
My arms ache as though the battle with Ren just happened. It’s been five months, and it still strangles me with fear and pain. And excitement. No one tells you about the exhilaration of combat. The rush of adrenaline pushing you to superhuman levels.
The unexpected rage that subdues every other emotion.
Hush now, fear, it says, there’s no room for you. Guilt? There’ll be time for you later.
I’m grateful for Master Luke, as much as I can be. His training gives me focus. Clarity. But the peace he wants me to master is out of my reach. I’m a hypocrite for even coming here, begging a legend to teach me his ways, when I fear I am already too far off the path.
I settle into my morning meditation, and then transition into the only part of my day that gives me true joy. Master Luke is waiting for me at our improvised training ground. The wind whips his shaggy hair. His piercing blue eyes narrow, his weathered face almost eclipsing them as he frowns.
“Good morning, Rey,” he says.
“Good morning, Master.”
“You look tired.”
“I am tired.”
His frown deepens.
“Let’s start small today. The three rocks, please.” He points to three ‘small’ boulders of the grayish white stone that makes up all of the buildings on the island. Each one likely weighs as much as me, if not more. “Lift them and spin them into an orbit around you.”
The Force pulses through me, a second heartbeat echoing the one in my chest. I lift the trio of rocks with little effort, spinning them in a circle.
“Draw the orbit in tighter to yourself,” Master Luke instructs.
I do as he bids, but I pull too hard. It’s more of a yank than a coax, and I yelp as one rock smashes my elbow, knocking me into another. I’m batted about before the boulders move out from me, and I hit my knees with nothing to keep me up.
“Ow.” I glare at the offending stones. I’m lucky I didn’t break anything.
“You’re distracted again,” he says.
“Forgive me, Master,” I say. I rub the throbbing ache that runs from bicep to wrist. The skin on the back and outside of my elbow is puffed and red, already purpling. I’m going to have another spectacular bruise.
“This is beyond tired, Rey.” With a casual wave of his hand, the rocks move to a safe distance and settle to the ground. “Didn’t you sleep well last night?”
“As well as usual.”
“More dreams about Starkiller Base?”
It’s a polite way of asking if I still dream of his nephew.
“Every night,” I say, my own conversational dodge.
I’ve admitted as much. It’s hard to keep secrets of such magnitude from a Jedi anyway. Besides what I don’t tell him, the Force seems prone to helping him puzzle out with visions. The Force clearly has no concept of privacy.
Master Luke rarely takes my words at face value. Unless it’s something along the lines of ‘I need to use the ‘fresher.’ Not that we have one on this crumbling wreck of a world, but the gist remains the same. At any rate, I know he will stew over what I’ve said.
“I see. It isn’t uncommon,” he says, “for traumas to stay with us long after we like to think we should be done with them.”
“I didn’t go through anything compared to Han and Finn. The people on Takodana. Kriff, the entire Hosnian system!”
“Don’t dismiss your experiences out of hand, Rey,” he says. “My nephew hunted, kidnapped, and tortured you. He searched your mind against your will, triggering your latent Force abilities. You witnessed Han’s death, Finn’s wounding. You battled Ben, barely escaping Starkiller with your life. And then you came straight here to begin training. I don’t disagree that it was the right thing to do, but now I think we should take a break.”
“A break?” I gulp down a breath. “For the day?”
“Maybe longer,” he says. “I need to meditate in the temple this morning.”
I nod and mumble a reply. I offer to go fix something, but he insists I need rest. I know I do, I just—I don’t want to dream. I settle for walking.
I am lost without my training. It’s the only thing keeping me from falling apart. If I train, I have a fighting chance against Kylo Ren when he comes for me. And he’s coming. Every morning I wake, he feels closer. Stronger.
Standing at the island’s pinnacle, I think I must be able to see half the world stretched out below me. So much blue… Sometimes the sky and sea seem to merge into one. I’ve explored every accessible inch of this island and its stone mounds. Which isn’t much. What Master Luke calls a ‘temple’ is as easily called ‘the cluster of stone mounds.’ To be fair, there are some walls, too.
But aside from the Jedi and the chatter of the sea, this world is otherwise silent. Whatever mystical guidance Master Luke finds here doesn’t speak to me.
Is it because he stole away the lights who should guide me now?
Han is dead, Leia is—dimmed, from what I heard in whispers on D’Qar. Though kind to me, she’s more of a ghost than the force of nature everyone seems to expect. While her family lived, she held onto the hope of redemption. I add that loss to his crimes. With one ignition of his lightsaber, Kylo Ren pierced so many hearts.
Chewie understands her pain better than anyone. He couldn’t leave Ahch-To fast enough to return to her. They’re family in their way. Something I seem destined to never have.
Finn came through the best of us, I think. He’s alive. Scarred, traumatized, but safe as he can be on D’Qar. Finn was never meant for a life of war, but he’s determined. I know the Force whispers to him. It’s quieter than what I experience, more subtle. And he has Poe supporting him. Loving him, though neither publicly acknowledges that part yet. My smile is bittersweet. Do they know how lucky they are to find a connection like that in the midst of a war?
I miss my connections, Finn and BB-8 especially. Now I am on a nowhere planet with a Master Jedi recluse. There’s a raging storm in my head pulling me in every direction. I want to strike off across the dunes, find a wreck to scavenge. But there are no dunes. No wrecks. This entire island is smaller than the wreck of the Ravager. There is no place to go. No place to lose myself and just forget.
Not forever. Just for a little while. A little time to forget the most troubling aspect of life after Jakku. After Starkiller Base.
The strongest connection I’ve made is with my only enemy. How can he, child of the only two people in the galaxy to ever treat me as a daughter, be so alone like me? How can he, master of the feared Knights of Ren, doubt his worth just like me?
A questing tendril of darkness curls around me. It rumbles ever so slightly. Kylo Ren doesn’t only surface in my dreams. But unlike those nightly encounters, the day reveals a different side to our connection. His Force reaches out to me from some unknown corner in the galaxy, surrounds me, blurring the line between Light and Dark. Something very like a hand touches my arm gently.
I close my eyes, drawing in the comfort he freely offers. This is the peace I seek, but it fades.
come back to me
Does he know he soothes the pain? Not just in my body, but the ache in my soul? Does he know how much it hurts when he goes?
Shame churns in my belly as I sit, knees tugged up against my chest. The sea winds whip my hair, pluck at my tunic. The emptiness inside me seems big enough to consume me. Unwanted tears spill down my cheeks. My eyes burn.
“I hate you for this,” I whisper to Kylo Ren, wherever he is.
I bury my face in my arms, shutting down as emotions wash over me. Mine. Theirs. His. Even Master Luke’s slip out occasionally. He worries about me, about Kylo, about failing. I seek the serenity of the Jedi way, the harmony of the Light Side. But I am touched by the darkness. I find my peace in the shadows.
And I dwell in a place that accepts only Light.