The air was still and quiet within the small cockpit, its silence oppressing and its stagnant state almost suffocating. Luke Skywalker wasn't truly aware of his actions as he steered the small starship, his mind still blank and reeling while his hands seemed to be in an automatic mode. His body ached with every slight movement, sore from battle and age, and his heart hung heavy in his chest. Shoulders slumped from carrying a heavy, cumbersome weight that he could no longer bear, the renowned legend appeared almost frail and decrepit.
Around him, the Force shook from instability. A severe blow had sent it reeling backwards, making it fragile and vulnerable. Luke dared not connect with it too intimately, fearing a hostile reaction. The Force at the moment was like a wounded animal, unpredictable and volatile. Like a leaf lost in the wind, the Force seemed to quiver around him with uncertainty, its path unknown and unforeseeable. It grieved alongside him, mourning the fallen.
Luke felt cold. Cold and numb to the world around him, as though everything around him had faded away as his senses became dulled and muted, his vision now hazy and blurred. The cool grays of the durasteel walls that surrounded him seemed cold and sharp, like the edge of a knife.
"Artoo," the Jedi called out to his faithful astromech droid, "set up a course to…" he trailed off. Where could he go? To Leia and Han? No, he couldn't do that, it was too predictable; Snoke and Kylo Ren would know that Luke could hide safely in the company of his sister and brother-in-law. Kylo Ren… Ben… would know their location, and Snoke would spring a trap to kill him.
"Just… Just get us out of here, Artoo."
The blue and white astromech whistled out an affirmative, his normally cheerful tone (if one could even call a droid's tone cheerful or capable of conveying emotion) no longer present, as though someone had wiped out his personality. Luke knew the real reason for the droid's melancholy mood, as it fit Luke's own mood. Suddenly the engines began to whirl and hum, and the stars suddenly seemed to elongate and stretch as the ship shot off into hyperspace.
With a troubled sigh, Luke Skywalker looked at the co-pilot chair to his right, his face softening as he beheld the sight of the slumbering figure.
The little girl was still asleep, curled into a tight ball on the seat besides him. Wisps of copper brown hair settled across her face, framing her youthful features. A light dusting of freckles spread across her little nose and round cheeks, small traces of baby fat still lingering. Her ponytails had become undone some time ago, and tufts of hair stuck out everywhere. She almost looked peaceful.
But, despite the calamity of deep slumber, Luke could sense the girl's turmoil brewing within her small, fragile form. He could feel her confusion, her grief, her anger, but most of all he could feel the terrible sense of betrayal. So many emotions plagued the sleeping young girl, burning within her with a terrible passion. Luke had been forced to use the Force to make the girl fall asleep, to give her mercy from her recent memories that haunted her. But, despite being in a mental state of numbness, where neither dream nor nightmare could aggravate her, the girl still wept. Silent tears streaked down her freckled cheeks, tiny rivulets washing away the dirty layer of dust and soot. Perhaps his Force trick had not worked as he had hoped…
She looked so fragile, so delicate. She was so young too, a girl who had not even reached the age of ten. Her Jedi padawans robes were scorched at the edges, with soot and blood stained against the soft fabric, the very fringes of the cloth was still wet from the unrelenting rainfall. The robes seemed so big on her.
Luke stroked her hair softly; mechanical fingers brushing aside loose locks that hung over her eyes. She relaxed ever so slightly at his tender touch, the deep creasing between her eyebrows slowly slackening. Tears still trailed down her cheeks in silent streams.
She was his student. His last student. She was all that remained of the next generation of Jedi that Luke had so carefully and so lovingly nurtured, she was all that remained of a dream of rebuilding his fallen Order.
Her name was Rey Solo, and she was the last of Luke Skywalker's padawans.
Born to Luke's twin sister, Leia, and her husband, Han, Rey was the second child of the Solo-Skywalker family, after her brother Ben. She was Force-sensitive, like her mother, brother, uncle and grandfather before her. Both exceptionally gifted in the Force, Ben and Rey had been inducted into their uncle's growing Jedi Order when they were young; although Han and Leia did often visit their children from time to time.
And now Rey was all that remained of the small group of Jedi younglings that Luke had cherished, each and every one of them, as though they were his own children. But now it was ruined. His newfound Order was gone, cut down by the blade of a Sith, Kylo Ren. Its members all wiped out, all save two. The only survivors had been his niece and nephew: Rey and Ben.
But Ben Solo… his nephew was… Is… Gone…
Luke clenched his eyes shut tight, refusing to let the burning in his eyes get the better of him. But the name of his nephew and former apprentice was like a chain around his neck, steadily growing tighter and tighter until it became difficult to breathe. His emotions toyed with him, tearing him apart as guilt built within him: guilt for failing Ben, for not saving him from the Dark Side and Snoke, for not saving his students. It weighed him down.
Was he always doomed to be the last Jedi?
Gazing out into hyperspace, Luke tried to calm himself as he stared at the vast expansion of rapidly moving stars. Artoo was whistling something to him, but he couldn't bring himself to care enough to pay attention.
Has everything I've done been for nothing? All these years of toiling and self-learning, I have nothing. My Order is gone. My padawans are dead, slain by my own blood. My nephew has gone to the Dark Side, lured in by Snoke's tempting promises. I am alone once again. All that remains of the Jedi Order is a pitiful old man and a young child. Luke thought to himself mournfully, still gazing at the stars.
R2 gave another series of whistles and beeps, this time his tone a bit more forceful. Luke released a heavy sigh at the astromech's words. "We aren't going to Han and Leia, Artoo."
R2-D2 gave off another series of indignant beeps.
"Because that is what Snoke and Kylo Ren are expecting us to do: run to the only safe haven I can think of to lick my wounds. It's predictable. And I can't…" he tore his eyes away from the stars and focused on the little girl curled up in his co-pilot's seat. "… I can't let them have Rey. I won't let them touch her. I will not let Snoke corrupt her as he did her brother."
Artoo gave a sad, low whistle at the mentioning of Ben.
"We're going to hide Rey." Luke declared, jaw set, even as the little blue and white astromech unit seemed to explode in a sudden flurry of beeping and whistling. Wincing at the mechanical shrieking of alarm and disproval that managed to ring in his ears, Luke hurried to continue. "We have to do it, R2. She isn't safe with her parents or myself. Snoke will know where she is, and Kylo Ren was rather vocal in his plans of making his sister join him. "
Out of the two, Kylo Ren was the biggest danger at the moment. He had practically demanded that the girl come with him during the massacre, the Dark Side fueling his familial protective bond with the girl and twisting it into a terrible sense of possession.
"Ben always was protective of Rey." He murmured, mostly to himself. "Maybe it was because she understood him in a way that only siblings could." After all, Ben had always hated living under the shadows of his legendary mother and father, and Rey lived under it as well, though her young age prevented her from resenting it as much as her brother. "He wouldn't hurt her. But there are worse things than physical and emotional pain. Snoke is one of those things."
Hiding Rey from her traitorous brother was vital. Although Luke doubted that the newly turned Sith would kill her, judging from what he had glimpsed during the attack, but he was still a dangerous threat.
Kylo Ren had killed his fellow padawans without hesitation. There had been no remorse in the former Jedi, nothing but a growing darkness. And yet, he did not attack Rey as he had the others, and had never even seemed to hold any ill will towards the little girl. Kylo Ren's thoughts during the battle had been scattered and chaotic, just brief snippets of conscious thought and mainly an instinctive drive to kill, but Luke had caught the flashes of thought in regards to Rey – not to harm, but to protect.
A part of Luke dared to hope that his nephew could still be reached, that he could still be reasoned with. Ben, despite his new moniker, had spared a Jedi youngling, his younger sister, when he should have killed her to complete his descent towards the Dark Side. Kylo Ren still possessed enough remnants of his former self to recognize his sibling and to defend her as Ben had always done before.
Though he had killed his Jedi brothers and sisters without hesitation, Ben had stayed his blade when it came to his blood sibling. He had stabbed a Knight of Ren through the chest without hesitation when the warrior attempted to attack her. Kylo Ren hadn't tried to kill Rey, but instead had tried to convince her to come with her and to take her away from the battlefield littered with the cooling bodies of Jedi younglings and padawans.
Luke had only just entered the battle at that moment, having been off planet on a diplomatic mission; it had been the reason why the Knights of Ren had struck then, for Luke was not there to protect his students. With his arrival, however, the Knights of Ren found themselves pitted against the Jedi legend. With cold fury, Luke struck down the men and women who had destroyed his Order, he had killed them as they had killed the Jedi youth, until only one Knight remained. Ben.
He failed the boy. His nephew was gone, seduced by the Dark Side to never return as the boy he had once been.
Luke could have ended it there. He could have killed the newly turned Sith, whose inexperience in dueling was his downfall when he faced against a true Jedi warrior. Luke could have killed him as he had killed the other Knights.
And yet, no matter how hard he tried to deny it, Luke would never have emerged victorious in that fight. Luke had had the opportunity to kill the Dark apprentice, but he had hesitated, had held back, had stayed his blade. Despite the mask and red lightsaber, Kylo was still Ben; he had still been his nephew.
Pieces of Ben, nothing more than discarded remnants, revealed themselves to Luke as he confronted his traitorous nephew. He wasn't entirely lost to the Dark Side; a small shard of Ben Solo still lived.
Perhaps Ben Solo was still alive, trapped beneath the all-consuming darkness that now surrounded him. His familiar dedication to protect his sister, to spare her from the massacre that he himself had caused, proved something. But what? Was it truly the last remnants of Ben that had spared Rey, or had it been his dark master, Snoke, who had ordered the Apprentice to bring his sister to him. Had Snoke planned to turn the girl as he had her brother? The rules had changed for both Jedi and Sith; the Rule of Two was no longer enforced, not when the Sith Order was threatened to die out with only one Dark user alive. Snoke was no fool; with already one grandchild of Anakin Skywalker under his control, he would not hesitate to ignore the Legacy of Darth Bane in order to have the granddaughter as well.
If both Ben and Rey were under that monster's control… the galaxy could very well be plunged in darkness.
By the Force, did Luke feel his age. His body ached from exertion and stress, his remaining flesh fingers still twitched and trembled, and his heart felt cold and empty. The terrible feeling of betrayal still dwelled in both heart and mind, and Luke could only set his shoulders, draw shaky breaths to calm himself, and try not to weep. His eyes burned, despite his best efforts, and Luke found himself unable to care about the rare show of emotion, allowing himself to –just this once- allow himself to be human and allow his emotions to overcome him. It was the lesser of his self-imposed punishment; his plans to protect Rey would be far worse than leaving everything behind.
"What am I going to do, Artoo?" He whispered hoarsely, a sob stuck in his clenched throat. "How can I even begin to explain this to Leia and Han? How can I even face them after I failed?" Their son was dead, seduced by the Dark Side and now nothing more than a ghastly shadow. Their daughter, though alive and safe at the moment, was in danger, possibly pursued by a Dark apprentice and his Master in hopes of filling up Sith ranks. "How can I hope that they will not hate me for failing them and their children?"
R2-D2 crooned out a whirl of mechanical jitter, his various beeps and sharp whistles sounded mournful, but encouraging. The faithful droid seemed to want his master to return to the Resistance, to his twin sister and best friend.
Luke punched at various buttons angrily, his entire form tense and jerky. "I can't do that. I failed them all. Han and Leia. Ben and Rey. I promised that I would keep them safe."
He had failed miserably.
Turning his attention back to the girl, Luke just stared at his niece with sorrow and regret. "I'm so sorry, young one." He whispered, voice hoarse from grief, as his mechanical fingers gently stroked the Rey's brown hair. Rey had her mother's hair, and seemed to have the same sharp jaw, but it was obvious to all that she had inherited certain characteristics from her father. Seeing Leia and Han set in those youthful facial features made everything so much more painful.
"The Force is strong in our family. Your grandfather had it. I have it. Your mother has it. Your brother has it. You have that power too…" his fingers curled into a tight, shaky fist and his eyes began to burn, silent tears streaming down his wrinkled, grizzled face. "I wonder now… if there is a curse in our family, passed down from generation to generation. My father fell to the Dark Side, I've felt its temptations time and time again, almost succumbing to it like my father before me… and now Ben is lost to it as well. It seems as though the Skywalker bloodline is plagued by the Dark Side, and easily swayed by its alluring power."
Rey shivered under his touch, her lips twisting into an uneasy frown as she curled into a tighter ball, as though to protect herself. "Ben…" was all she whispers, her tone dazed and confused. "Ben…" she cried, calling out for a brother that no longer existed.
Luke continued to stroke his niece's hair, mouth set in a bitter grimace as the girl continued to call out for her brother. It appeared that the Force-induced slumber wasn't as potent as he had believed, as Rey was apparently capable of coherency when she should have been numb to the world around her. Was she aware of what happened? Did she know that her older brother was dead, destroyed by Kylo Ren? Did she know of what was to come?
He cared not for the repercussions of his plan. He knew that Han and Leia would be furious with him –might never even forgive him. They had already lost their son to the Dark Side, and now Luke was about to take away their daughter as well. It was for her safety, but Han and Leia would not see it that way. They would want their daughter by them, close enough that she would never leave their sight again, but then Snoke would know where the youngest Solo, a Force-sensitive Solo, was. And Kylo Ren did not seem to have forgotten his familial connection to the girl; if anything, it had grown stronger, more possessive.
Ben had always cared for his sister. Ever since she had been born, Ben had been by her side. Rey looked up to him, idolized him even, in a way that only a younger sibling could. Luke didn't want to think of how easily it would be for Rey –sweet little Rey- to fall to the Dark Side like her brother. Rey was young and impressionable, and the Dark Side more than capable of corrupting her. If the Dark Side did not sway her, than her brother would. Rey had always listened to her brother.
Snoke had already destroyed the New Jedi Order with one Skywalker sibling; Luke would make sure that the Dark user would never corrupt the other.
In order to protect Rey and the galaxy, Luke Skywalker would have to hide his last padawan.
And Luke knew of a planet, neither in the control of the Republic or the First Order, which would serve as an ideal hiding place for Rey. A place so out of the way and unimportant that no one would even think to look for her there.
"Artoo, set a course for Jakku. Make sure we're not followed by anything, whether it is the First Order or the Resistance. Also, send an untraceable message to Lor San Tekka, I need to inform him of the situation."
The starship changed direction and a small holographic form appeared by his side.
The small, humanoid form flickered for several moments as the connection steadied. The hologram revealed a miniature scale of an aging human male. The small figure gazed up at him, already giving the Jedi a formal salute.
"Commander Skywalker!" The man greeted him formally with only slight surprise in his tone at the sudden and unexpected commlink with the Jedi legend.
Forcing a smile, Luke nodded his head in greeting. "Captain Lor San Tekka, it has been a while." The man had left the military years ago, but had stayed with the Resistance to serve as an advisor for Leia until a few years ago to retire back to his native homeworld of Jakku. He was a valuable asset, and someone Luke could trust.
"May I inquire as to why you are messaging me? I am no longer enlisted, as you know. I've retired for a simpler life."
Luke nodded his head. "I understand that, Captain Tekka, but I am in dire need of your help."
The little glowing figure raised an eyebrow, obviously taken aback that the legend known as Luke Skywalker, Jedi Grandmaster, seemed to need his help. Suddenly, the older human noticed the heaviness of grief that lined Luke's face and the tension in his shoulders.
"What has happened? You look…" the man trailed off, obviously at a loss for words at the sight of a living legend reduced to nothing more than a tired old man. Words like 'defeated' or 'lost or even 'broken' came to mind, but Lor San Tekka did not speak aloud.
"Something terrible has happened…"
Luke told the man of how Ben Solo had fallen into the darkness by Snoke. He informed him that the Sith have returned once more.
"And what of the Jedi Order?" Lor San Tekka demanded, dread already setting in his tone.
"Gone?" The elderly man looked horrified.
Luke then informed the rebel of his plan.
The man bristled, his posture indignant. "You are telling me that you are leaving –abandoning- the last Jedi of the New Order on a desolate desert planet? You mean to hide her from her parents and to throw away her heritage?" Lor San Tekka sounded absolutely furious. "I am loyal to the Resistance, Commander Skywalker, but you cannot ask this of me! Princess Leia-"
"She is not to know any of this." Leia would try and take Rey home, as any devoting mother would, but doing so could end tragically. The Sith were stronger than ever, and the Jedi were all but extinct. Lor San Tekka had to understand that the safest course of action was this one, even if it hurt all involved. It was a difficult decision, and Luke doubted he would ever forgive himself, but he would still do it if it meant keeping his niece safe.
"I am still a Commander, Captain Lor San Tekka." He deliberately used the man's inferior military position. "And as a Commander, and as a Master Jedi, I am commanding you to remain silent about all of this. I forbid you from telling anyone that I have contacted you and that you are aware of Rey Solo's location. Even… " He winced at the hesitation, but continued on. "Even General Leia and Commander Solo."
Lor San Tekka looked desperate, "You sound as though you're leaving."
"I've lost too much… failed too many… My faith is gone, Lor San Tekka. The Sith took that from me when they killed my students. It would be better if I were to disappear." Luke said sadly. "When they realize Rey is not with her parents, Snoke and Kylo Ren will believe that she is with me. Her Force signature has been masked, lying dormant within her; they will not be able to pinpoint her location, they will only know that she is alive. They will think that I took her with me in my self-imposed exile, possibly to train her to take my place as a Jedi Master. They will focus all their attention and resources on finding me. Rey will be safe this way."
"You're abandoning the girl," the human accused.
"I am." There was no denying that. "But I am also protecting her."
Lor San Tekka did not look pleased.
"The location of where I shall live is to be unknown. I will give you a piece of a map that can be traced to me. But only if the worst happens; if Rey is discovered by the Sith, or if the Resistance in dire need of a Jedi, then and only then are you allowed to contact me."
The look the holographic man gave him was one of surprise and relief, as though he had been expecting Luke to just drop everything and vanish without a single trace. Even if was only just a piece to a bigger puzzle, it still showed that deep down, despite all of his failings and defeats, the Jedi still cared for the galaxy and its people.
Despite his opinion of leaving General Organa and Commander Solo out of the loop, the aging Resistance member nodded his head, signifying his acceptance. "Very well, Commander Skywalker. I accept this task."
"Protect her." It was nothing more than a desperate plea for help from a man with no other options. "Keep an eye over Rey as Obi Wan Kenobi did for me. Protect her, keep her safe, but do not reveal yourself to her in any way that could complicate matters. Be there to subtly guide her, to ensure her safety, but do not reveal yourself to her. Say nothing of the Resistance, of the Jedi and Sith, or of her family. Rey cannot know. Her ignorance will be her salvation."
"I know of a pair of humans near my settlement. They are young, but they could be suitable guardians. I do not know if they will agree to any of this."
"There is no need to tell them anything. Convincing them to take Rey in will not be a problem if they are weak-willed and weak-minded." Using the Force to bend their minds and memories will at least ensure that Rey will be cared for.
The planet of Jakku was just as Luke had envisioned it, though he had never journeyed there himself. It reminded him strongly of Tatooine, his homeplanet, but without twin suns. It was entirely desert, with little flora. There wasn't much life to sense, only a few pinpricks of bright, warm energy that signified small, concentrated settlements. In the distant horizon loomed the massive metal skeletons of crashed Star Destroyers, brought down long ago and left to rust away, nothing more than forgotten remains of an old Empire.
He left Rey in the ship, R2-D2 keeping an eye on her as she slept, to enter the household of the human couple Lor San Tekka had told him of. They would serve as adequate caretakers for Rey, all that was needed was a little convincing.
Luckily, Luke was more than capable of bending minds and altering memories. Creating vague snippets of life together with their child, Rey, the unknowing pair would serve as protectors to the young girl. Like his own guardians, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, they would provide the girl with a sense of family and keep her tethered on Jakku.
Now came the worst part of Luke's plan; it was a terrible thing to do, something that Luke hated himself for even thinking of it and acting on it, but it was necessary.
Acting quickly, before he could lose his courage, the aging Jedi walked back up to his ship and towards the still slumbering girl. He removed the Force-induced slumber, and watched with bated breath as Rey began to stir. Would she immediately remember what had happened?
Rey slowly sat up with a groan, mouth open in a wide yawn. Stretching her back, the girl craned her sleepy half-lidded eyes up at him. "U-Uncle?" She questioned in mid-yawn.
He smiled down at her. "Rey, did you sleep well?"
"I had a dream." Rey admitted, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes with tiny fists. She looked so small, and was still covered in soot and blood though she did not seem to realize it.
"A dream?" He questioned in a warm tone, not wanting her to become suspicious of any odd behavior. It appeared that his Force trick had not worked as well as he had hoped.
"It was a bad dream." The young girl said softly, suddenly looking afraid as she recollected what she had seen during her slumber. She raised her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, pulling them in. "A really bad dream. You were in it. Ben was too. But… Ben…"she trailed off uncertainly, obviously shaken up by what she believed to have been a nightmare, rather than reality. "Ben was bad. Ben, he k-killed everyone."
Quickly wrapping the girl in his arms, Luke cradled his niece protectively, sending out soothing waves through the Force to calm her. Rey linked her arms around his neck, burrowing her face into the crook of his neck. "It was only a dream, Rey," he whispered in her ear, his voice soft and soothing. "It was just a dream." The girl relaxed against him, trusting her uncle's words.
He gently pulled her out of the co-pilot's seat, ignoring how the soot that lingered on her stained his fingers. "Come now, I would like to show you something." He gently guided her towards the ramp door. He could feel her curiosity through the Force, her fear and paranoia over her supposed dream momentarily forgotten by her uncle's calming presence.
The ramp opened and the two were momentarily blinded by sunlight. Rey lifted a hand to shade her eyes from the unrelenting light. Once she grew accustomed to the light, she gasped as Jakku's surroundings became clear.
Dozens upon dozens of sand dunes rose before the two Jedi, practically glowing from the powerful sunlight. They stretched on for miles and miles, never ceasing. But what truly drew her eye were the distant figures of the crashed Star Destroyers, half-submerged in the desert sand. It was a beautiful, untamed world.
"Where are we?" Rey asked with wonder, staring wide-eyed at the vast expanse of never-ending sand dunes. Suddenly she looked up at him, "Is this Tatooine, where you and grandpa lived?"
Holding back a small wince, Luke simply shook his head, though he couldn't help but smile at Rey's endless curiosity. "No, this is not Tatooine. This planet is known as Jakku. A great battle was once fought here during the final days of the Empire; even now traces of the battle can still be found in the dunes."
"A battle was fought here? Wow…" Rey looked up towards the sky, as though she could glimpse the phantom images of Tie-Fighters and X-Wings locked in a never-ending dogfight.
The war against the Empire had always been something Rey had loved to hear about. Luke could recall countless times where he regaled his nephew and niece of the rebellion, though he had toned down the violence by a large margin. Han had never seen the point in watering down the violence, and had always been more than eager to tell his own heroic tales to his wide-eyed children; Luke always thought that the man seemed to preen from their awe; until Leia smacked him upside the head for telling their young children war stories without any type of censorship.
"Come, Rey." He motioned for the girl to follow him away from the starship. She followed him diligently, slipping slightly from a lack of balance due to the sand. Luke remained well balanced, long used to the treacherous footing. Still, he took her hand in his own, steadying her, and the two continued walking down the dune.
The settlement of the human family was ahead. It wasn't like Luke's childhood home, which had been comprised of carefully laid sandstone, but was more of a large cloth pavilion with rusting metal walls encasing it.
Ever aware of the little fingers wrapped around his own, Luke kept his eyes straight ahead, already mentally preparing himself for what was to come. Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks, Rey stopping as well to stare up at him quizzically, her eyebrows scrunched together in a wordless question.
"Rey…" he began slowly, "There is something that must be done."
Rey Solo could no longer exist. The surname was too legendary, too infamous, to be thrown around so casually. His niece was both Skywalker and Solo, a dangerous combination considering the history of her family. Old Empire sympathizers would kill her in a pitiful attempt of revenge against her parents and uncle, bounty hunters would try and capture her for ransom, the First Order would capture her and bring her to Snoke. There was even a possibility that the people Han had swindled (which was possibly the majority of the galaxy) would want some form of revenge. It was too dangerous a galaxy with too many enemies for Rey Solo. There could only be Rey. There were a lot of Reys in the galaxy, but only one Rey Solo.
The girl would have to forget.
Luke refused to refer to her as his niece at that moment, not when he had to do something so atrocious. Better to think of her as a faceless, nameless entity than the little girl whose eyes would gleam whenever he had entered her family's threshold with stories of the Force and the rebellion, who would tinker with her father and uncle while her mother watched on with a smile, who had stuck to her older brother's side like a second shadow and adored everything about him.
He had to make her forget.
Kneeling down before her, mechanical fingers grasping onto her small shoulder, Luke stared at her, silently pleading with her to forgive him despite knowing that he did not deserve such mercy. Leia's eyes stared up at him, and he felt the tickling sensation of the girl's mind brushing against his own through the Force; her thoughts conveying emotions of safety and protection. She trusted him.
It hurt to feel such unrelenting, naïve trust when he is about to do something worse than Kylo Ren could ever do.
"Uncle?" Rey whispered, her voice so soft and fragile. Seeing the trust in her eyes, after all that had happened, hurt him to know that after everything with her traitorous brother, she still had faith in him. He is unworthy of such faith.
Forcing a smile that felt too tight and tense, Luke placed his real hand against her cheek. He tried to say something, tried to convey some form of guidance or anything at all, but the words caught in his throat. He forced back the tears, keeping his face calm and smiling for the girl's sake.
"Be strong, Rey."
Without waiting for her response, Luke waved his hand in front of her eyes, calling upon the omnipotent powers of the Force to bend to his will. The Force came to him, rushing to embrace him like an old friend, strengthening his resolve as it began to wrap around the young mind of Rey Solo, slowly cocooning itself around her. His touch was soft and gentle, the tendrils of ethereal power caressing the young girl's mind, naturally flowing through her like blood flowing through veins.
"I want you to close your eyes, Rey. Close them, and picture an island..."
He focused on her memories.
Memories of training under her uncle, of the Jedi, of the Force, of her brother Ben, of Kylo Ren and his betrayal, and, lastly, of her parents. He held the girl's memories in his metaphorical hands; his will over the Force allowing him to contain them, and ultimately alter them.
He could not truly wipe her memory clean; doing so could very well turn her comatose. Instead, he hid the memories underneath interwoven layers of mental cloudiness, obscuring the familiar faces of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Ben Solo. He removed the feeling of familiarity from their faces, leaving Rey's memories of them blurred and incoherent, nothing more than quick flashes of foggy memory that served no purpose. He locked away everything, hidden beneath the wraps. If she were to try and remember, without access to her memories hidden away, all that she would find were the blurred faces of strangers. She would feel nothing towards them; they were nothing more than unknown ghosts of the past.
It hurt to do so, but he steeled his heart. This was for Rey. It was necessary to keep her safe, to keep her from following her brother's path into the hands of Snoke or the First Order.
To save her from their family's curse, he would have to severe that bond. Would removing all memories of her family, hiding them away in the deepest recesses of her mind to never be touched again, be enough to stop Rey as she grew older? Would the Force-induced memory repression hold as the years passed and Rey grew stronger in the Force? Would Rey even still be strong in the Force, even without any memory of it or any training? There seemed to be a curse in the Skywalker line in regards to the Dark Side and temptation. Would the Dark Side tempt her as it had her grandfather, uncle and brother?
For Rey's safety, Luke hopes that she'll never know the name Skywalker.
Luke knew just how strong a familial bond was, knew personally how much a child would yearn for belonging and companionship with their own blood. Hadn't he been the same all those years ago on Tatooine? Waiting for the miracle for a long-lost family member come to take him away from the dreary dunes and scorching twin suns and into the stars?
A compulsion would have to do. A compulsion to make the girl wait for her family, rather than search for them herself.
Luke had no doubt that sooner or later, the carefully made layers of delusion and false memories could possible unravel. Whether it was Rey or the human couple, only time would tell. His mind trick would last forever, unless removed by an experienced Force user, but its potency could wear off. The need to protect Rey would always exist in the human couple, which was something Luke ensured would remain, but the fact that they were not her true parents could possibly be revealed. If such a thing were to happen, Luke's compulsion to stay on Jakku and wait would still keep Rey on the planet. She would still wait for a family that was never coming to get her.
The risk of Rey escaping the confines of Jakku in search of her family was something that had to be avoided at all costs; if Snoke or Kylo Ren were to find the girl… Luke shuddered at the thought. No. He would not let his niece fall into their hands. He would forge new bonds; fake a family. If it meant keeping Rey on Jakku for the rest of her life, isolated but safe, Luke would gladly use his powers to make it so.
The compulsions to stay and wait would be her anchor, tethering her to the desert planet.
By then, Rey seemed to awaken from her Force-induced stupor. Half-lidded eyes widened, small lips spreading back into a gasp, chest heaving from exertion, the girl stumbled back awkwardly. Luke slowly stood, and Rey watched him with wide eyes that did not recognize him.
"Who are you?" She demanded, voice shaky and her breathing still ragged.
He did not respond to her request, but instead remained silent. He stared at her for several long seconds, staring deep into her eyes and reaching into her mind for any sense of recognition. There was nothing; only confusion remained. It had worked.
"You should run back to your guardians." Luke advised, nodding his head towards the settlement where the memory-altered humans stood waiting at the doorway.
"I…" Rey looked up at him, brows narrowed in confusion. She did not turn around to walk away, though she did turn her head to look at her 'parents'. She turned back, still confused, before looking down at her ruined robes. She gasped at the sight of soot and blood that clung to her like a second skin.
Keeping his voice calm and devoid of emotion, Luke spoke again as he waved his fingers in front of her eyes slowly. "You should run back to your guardians." Around him, the Force thrummed.
"I should run back to my guardians," Rey said suddenly, voice detached and her face bare of any emotion. She slowly began to back away, her feet slipping in the sand. She did not look away, however, but kept her gaze directed at Luke.
It appeared that she was still capable of deflecting mind tricks. She had always been good at that; Rey was a stubborn girl, something she inherited from her father to her mother's dismay. Though she was strong in the Force, Luke was stronger and more experienced. Already the compulsion seemed to be growing stronger with every second as the girl continued to move away from him without complaint. She still stared at him, lost. A small smile managed to worm its way onto his lips, forced and tight, as he began to back away as well.
"May the Force be with you, Rey." The words were nothing more than a mere whisper, barely audible to even Luke himself, but the wind seemed to carry it. He did not know if Rey had heard him, or if she would even understand his goodbye. He headed back to his starship, quickly walking up the ramp. That seemed to break Rey out of the compulsion, if only momentarily.
"Wait!" Rey cried out, staring after the Jedi, her small hand outstretched. "Don't go!"
The ramp closed with a hiss-shh. Lights began to flicker as the starship was activated and the engines thrummed while the exhausts blasted gusts of searing air.
Panicking, the girl began to run toward the ship, slipping and stumbling after the departing Jedi. "No, don't go!" Rey cried out as the ship began to rise from the ground, its pilot nothing more than a blurry silhouette.
"No! Come back!"
Rey watched the starship fly away, speeding away through the atmosphere, its shape grew smaller and smaller as it got further and further away until it was not more than a pinprick of gray in the sky. Then it disappeared. Gone.
Collapsing to her knees, Rey simply stared up at the sky with teary eyes. "Come back…" she whispered, pleading. But little did she know that the man would not be coming back, not now and not ever.
He was gone.
Rey was alone.
True to Luke's predictions, Kylo Ren and Snoke did not find Rey on Jakku, nor were they even aware of her presence in that specific system. Despite Snoke's power over the Force and unnatural insight on the comings and goings of the galaxy, Rey's location was impossible to pinpoint due to her dormant Force signature. The two Sith believed her to be training in exile with her uncle, and focused their attention on finding the wayward Skywalker and his lone apprentice. Kylo Ren seemed to grow more obsessed and desperate with each passing day to discover the location of his cowardly uncle to gain back the sister he had lost on that fateful night.
The First Order continued to grow in strength, slowly casting its dark shadow across the entire galaxy. The Resistance prevailed against the growing might of the First Order with the aid of the New Republic, and was led by a grieving but determined General Leia Organa. Commander Han Solo had disappeared not long after R2-D2 had mysteriously appeared on the base bearing terrible news about the fate of their children.
While this happened, Rey remained on Jakku with her memories still locked away, ignorant of the turmoil that threatened to plunge the galaxy in all-out war. Her adoptive guardians died a few years after Luke had left the girl on the desert planet, gunned down by roaming bandits. Once again, Rey was the sole survivor.
Left alone to fend for herself, the girl was forced to grow up far too quickly. Rey became a scavenger and used her wits and mechanical skills to find valuable parts; she managed to stave off starvation by selling scrap to vendors. It was a harsh and lonely life, with far too many dangers and little chance for rewards, but Rey endured it with her head held high.
She could endure for however long it took for her family to come back for her. She knew they were out there. They would come back for her; she just had to be patient.
The thought of her family returning was what drove Rey forward. It was what gave her strength when vendors like Unkar Plutt sneered at her goods and bought it at a ridiculously low cost because he knew that Rey didn't have anywhere else to sell it. It was what kept her alive.
Rey would be patient.
Her family would come for her. Soon.
Every night, as she huddled in her makeshift den that lay within a downed AT-AT, Rey would stare up at the stars with wonder in her eyes and a familiar aching in her heart.
And so the girl waited.