Outer Rim Territories
He felt vulnerable. Exposed. Weak.
Everything around him seemed to move in slow motion. He could feel the Force rushing through him still, even in his emasculated state. He could feel the struggle. The pull to the light. His need to remain in the darkness; to fulfill something he so desperately yearned for: his legacy.
A reason for his existence; justification to his rationale. The answers brought forth from a mysterious leader, one who promised him a role in destiny. A bringer of change for the better good of the galaxy. A universe where the wrongs could be set right. His existence, the key. His power, the catalyst.
Yet it seemed, the light would forever haunt him like a seed of poison in his mind. It was sown into his very being and it felt as if it were something he could never escape. Yet he tried. He tried to condemn it. To forget it. The mysterious man had told him this would be his undoing, that he must destroy it. But for all his mediations, he couldn't. He had reasoned that it was difficult to do so without the suspicions of his master. His master, his uncle, his own blood. He who doubted him; who never trusted him; never gave him a chance. He could sense it through the Force. His hesitation. His fear. Those same feelings he once heard in his father's voice. The same ones he had seen in his mother's eyes.
Focusing his thoughts, he became aware he wasn't alone in his mediation.
Someone was with him. But their presence confirmed them as a stranger. It wasn't his new dark master calling to him again. This was something else entirely. He felt the light grow stronger around him, suffocating him, infuriating him. A silhouette appeared in his mind, taking form, yet blurry.
Realization hit him as he felt a sudden familiarity. He had been here before. Wherever this was, whatever he was feeling, whomever the person taking shape in front of him, he had seen it. Felt it. Like a long forgotten dream.
He focused further, pushing for clarity, but he was met with an unyielding resistance. The person remained out-of-focus. He called out to them with his mind.
Who are you?
He was surprised to hear a reply but was annoyed to find it as unidentifiable as their appearance. The voice was muddled and horribly distorted. He could not identify its language, gender, or species. He reached further, his mind straining. He pushed, yet something pushed back with an equal force as if this being didn't want to be discovered. His weakness angered him. He felt his fury intensify his force. The silhouette became clearer. He could see long hair. Brown? He couldn't tell if it was real or his imagination. He could see the being was like himself: human.
Who are you? He asked again, his mind's voice demanding.
No reply came this time.
I said, who are —
"Hey, Ben," a voice called to him, abruptly ending his mediation.
"What is it, Hulei?" annoyance shadowed his voice.
"Sorry to interrupt, but Master Luke wants to start a lesson. We're waiting for you."
Ben gave a sigh of frustration. His investigation of the stranger would have to wait. He stood up, his long legs giving him an intimidating height for a fifteen-year-old. He turned around to face his interrupter: a Twi'lek boy, two years older yet a head shorter. His green skin blended in with the foliage around them.
They made their way through the dense jungle back to the temple. The triangular ziggurat-form of an ancient stone temple rose into view as they made their way into the large clearing. The old temple appeared to be made of stone from the outside, but inside it had been almost completely renovated. Most of the walls were now fitted with metal, the floor no longer dirt but poured ferrocrete.
These renovations served as a reminder of its once occupation by the Rebel Alliance. Evidence lingered throughout the temple: the scuffs on the walls and floors, the once bustling war room, now a training and storage area, the underground hangars long forgotten, the catacombs beneath them even more so.
The old lift groaned as the Ben and Hulei switched it on, cranking the lever up. The air moved around them as the open-air elevator ascended, surprisingly fast for its age. The maintenance droids had recently made repairs on the cords, restoring the lift to its original speed.
Jolting to a halt they got out and were met with the rest of the students and their master in a large, open space. The top floor of the temple: The Grand Audience Chamber. It was here that Ben's mother gave his father, uncle, and the others their medals of honor after the heroic Battle of Yavin when the first Death Star was destroyed. Now it was a teaching chamber. The thirty-seven students had more than enough room to occupy the space.
At the end of the worn stone chamber, his Master sat, waiting. Luke gave Ben a familiar look. A look of doubt; a look of suspicion. Ben had taken to meditating by himself in the jungle the last few months, away from prying eyes. His master's intuitions weren't wrong and his suspicions valid, only Luke didn't know that. That in a sense he was no longer a master to Ben. The rift between them had grown more steadily over the years and recently it had become impossible to breach. A divide that split them. Luke didn't know how far his uncertainties with Ben had damaged their relationship. How soon it would come to haunt him…
Luke broke their gaze to sweep across the room, his pupils patiently waiting.
"Now that we are all here, let us begin."
Ben was deep in meditation. He had been trying to reconnect with the mysterious stranger for over a week now. After telling his new master about his experience, he was told to focus on this and find out who it was. As powerful as Ben was, dreams and visions weren't to be taken lightly. This person could be a key ally… or an enemy. It was his responsibility to discover their identity.
A soft sound caused him to lose trance. He puffed out an exasperated sigh.
Who was it now?
He turned to look behind him to see a young girl, around the age of four sitting behind him, mimicking his meditation pose, her eyes closed. He felt his annoyance wane.
"What are you doing out here? Aren't you suppose to helping Master Luke by doing your chores?"
The girl opened one hazel eye as she shrugged, frowning, "I don't want to right now. I want to mediate with you."
Ben felt himself smirk. She was just as bad as he once was…
"Well… fine. The first step is getting your posture and breathing right. But you already know that. Do you feel at ease?"
"Yes," the girl squeaked.
"Right. Now focus."
The girl gave a huge exhale, "that's so hard though! I can't pick one thing."
So full of energy as always… Ben thought.
"Focus on the energy you feel around you."
They both corrected themselves, moving back into form.
"Do you feel the pulse of life in the jungle?" Ben asked the girl.
"Look deeper. Feel the energy of the jungle around you. Let it guide you…"
And then there was silence. Finally.
Ben again reached out. He felt the Force's energy move through him and soon after he felt disorientated. Opening his eyes he found himself in a familiar setting. It was still out of focus. It was bright. He could hear movement of many people in the distance. Talking. A cheer. They were celebrating…
A figured moved before him. Only this time, they were in focus, as if they were standing next to each other. The face of a young woman with long brown hair. Her light eyes had a look of apprehension as she studied his face, she stood as if on edge.
Ben opened his mouth to speak but was cut short. As quickly as the vision had returned, it vanished. Ben tried desperately to hold onto it. He had to find out more. Who was she? What was her purpose? His Master would want more than a face; he had to find out more.
Come on, come on. Focus!
"I can't do this! I just can't. I'll never be able to do it," the young girl's voice brought him back to the present.
Ben took a moment to regain his thoughts. He stood up and looked down at her as she stood up to join him.
"Yes, you will. You have to have practice. Now go do your chores, Rey."
Rey frowned but gave in.
"Okay," she gave his leg a hug before rushing away.
Ben jerked awake. The others around him were steadily sleeping, their breathing soft.
Trying to steady his own breath, he threw off his light-weight blanket, his body damp with sweat. He quietly got up, grabbing his boots and heading out of the room. He made his way down the worn steps to the main level, heading outside. The moon was high, the night quiet, the air heavy with moisture. The wet season was about to start. He sat down at the base of the entrance, trying to unscramble his racing mind.
His new master, Snoke, had come again to him in his dreams. The plan was set. It would be carried out a week from now. Ben felt nauseous, so sick he felt he could barely breathe. He didn't know if he could do it. He didn't let Snoke know this, though he suspected that his master was aware of his conflict.
Ben had always felt himself to possess a great destiny, but was this truly how he would fulfill it? By betraying his peers? His family?
His wise new master had reassured him that this was the way. That they weren't his friends, they weren't his family. They were holding him back from realizing his potential. Was it not his own father and mother who had never seemed to have enough time for him, as if he was nothing but a burden? His father who looked at him as if he could explode at any minute. Who went on jobs so frequently, he would be gone for months at a time. His mother, too busy in politics to actually be present, letting droids and friends raise and teach him. His own mother, who, even as she defended him, gave up, giving him to his uncle "to learn". His uncle, who never fully trusted him. Who always ignored the good and focused on the bad.
Perhaps he was destined for this, his family's reasoning for him as a time bomb correct. They never loved him. They never will. Nothing but empty words of affection. He didn't need them. He would prove them all wrong. They hid his heritage from him. His birthright. Out of fear. Out of cowardice. Out of cruel irrational judgment. A judgment Ben had felt all his life. But his new master had shown him his destiny. That he could finish the work that his grandfather had started. A man who could bring order to a galaxy in chaos. A man with ambition, with purpose, with power.
Ben clenched his hands into fists as he felt his power rising. This was his destiny and his alone. His family had betrayed him. They pushed him to the edge… and now he would jump.
Ben stared at the ceiling, waiting for sleep to come. Luke had noticed Ben's distance, saw the deep bags under his eyes, the burns on his hands from clumsy training. He had approached him earlier that evening.
"Is everything alright, Ben? Is something troubling you?"
"Not at all."
Luke had just stared at him. Assessing. Trying to figure him out. Luke would never reach into his mind. That was the way of the Jedi: to respect that boundary. Ben remembered seeing the conflict in his eyes.
He had walked away. Dismissed Ben like he always had. Never wanting to get close. He taught his students that fear was a natural reaction but that it must be controlled or else it had the potential to control you, bringing you closer to the dark side. Ben could feel his fear, as faint as it was. As it had always been.
He couldn't sleep. It was only three days away. He felt his insides clench. The ball of nerves that had steadily grown since Snoke had told him the plan. Every time he closed his eyes he heard Snoke's voice. Trying to reach him. To reassure him that this was the way. To silence his conflicting thoughts. His weakness.
In the beginning, when Snoke had first contacted him, it was in his dreams. As a young boy, Ben thought them to be nightmares. They held such darkness. It terrified him. His mother would bring him into her bed and soothe him back to sleep, silencing the voice. As the voice grew stronger and more frequent, invading his conscious hours, he felt himself helpless. Helpless to stop it. To stop what the voice was turning him into. The awful things it had said. He couldn't sleep. He's couldn't find peace. Snoke haunted his days; his very being. His mother didn't understand. She told him that nightmares are common for children. That it was simply a manifestation of some fear he held in reality. But this felt too real. He felt violated. He felt as if he couldn't trust himself, slipping into a darkness he could never escape.
Then the voice told him secrets. Things his family kept from him. That they were jealous of his potential and that they wanted to hide it from him. His own ancestry, concealed from him. Treated like a black stain that was never to be spoken of. The voice had shown him true meaning, accepted him for who he was, and sought to help him seek his heart's desires: to belong; to grow; to control. These desires his family would never understand for they thought themselves too high up to possibly understand his desperation to belong, to contribute to history, and live up to the universe's expectations of him.
So he listened to the voice. Listened to his new master who would show him the way. The darkness grew in his mind and he had let it. Let it slowly spread. But the light that was always there nagged at him. Tapping, incessantly tapping, to let him know it was still there. He tried to stop it, but even with the training from Snoke, even when he thought he had defeated it, he could feel it creeping back. In turn, Snoke would show him the power of the dark side, temporarily banishing the light.
His family saw what he could become, that the voice was real and a threat. That Snoke had taken their child when they had turned a blind eye. It was their own fault. For not believing in him. But he believed in himself, in his destiny, and that he alone could pave his path.
He felt his mind reach stillness once more finding peace in his resolve. He let his eyes drift shut, his mind emptying into a void. He felt a presence… only it wasn't his master again. It was calming. It felt warm. Like his mother's hugs once were when he was a small boy. As he felt himself finally sinking into sleep, he heard a voice. A stranger's voice. It called to him, though he couldn't make it out. He felt himself slip from consciousness moments later.
Ben felt heavy. Weighed down by his new robes, the rain that drenched them making them even more burdensome. He felt like a stranger in his own body. This stranger was to be his future. The helmet on his head made the world darker. He felt more alone than ever.
"We follow this path to the temple. They will be there. Leave the master to me," as he spoke he heard the strange mechanical crackle that distorted his voice through the helmet. It was foreign. Cold. Inhuman.
The temple was quiet as they made their way in. The sound of the downpour outside echoed on the chamber walls. Ben lead them upstairs, to the upper floors, where the oldest students slept. They would put up the most fight. As the doors swung open to the sleeping quarters, he powered on his lightsaber. Not the one from the academy.
This lightsaber, a damaged, unstable crystal that glowed red, was held together by a crudely constructed hilt. Snoke had the crystal stowed away for safe keeping. He taught Ben how to construct the saber; an ancient design of the sith. It had taken Ben many months to secretly find the right pieces, melt them down, and mold them together. The vents that he installed helped stabilize the weapon, creating a cross guard in the process. Ben had burned himself numerous times while self-training with the new lightsaber that he had to purposely make sure his hands got burned in training to stop any questions forming from suspicious burns. The ominous, unsteady hum of the weapon filled the chamber. Some woke up immediately. A few grabbed their sabers, yelling for the others to awaken.
"You stay with me," he gestured to his fellow knight. He turned to the rest, "you, take the others and go to the lower floors. If any run out of the temple, hunt them down. You know your orders."
Ben turned and swung his saber as one of his peers engaged him. He could feel his power pulsing through him as strongly as the blade he wielded. He could feel the intensity of the cross blade's heat beneath his gloves. He quickly disarmed the boy, dispatching him easily. It took only minutes for half of the students to fall.
"C'mon!" he heard a yell behind him, "We have to protect the younglings!"
A group of students were running out the door, heading to the lower floors. Ben turned, addressing the knight beside him, "Go. I'll take care of the rest."
He was left with a group of three students, all with their blades at the ready. They rushed him. They spun as their sabers hit with a crackle, the students working together to attack him from all sides. It was a method they had studied in group training; Ben anticipated their moves, countering them lazily. He drove one boy back, the boy tripping over a fallen body. No faster had the boy stumbled he was quickly cut down. The other two pushed harder. Desperation and anger fueling them. The three blades were hitting each other with a fervor that burned as hot as their sabers. One blocked too openly and that was the end. Ben turned to face the last student. They stopped and stared at one another. Ben could feel the fear that flooded the boy in front of him. He tried in vain to look determined.
"So brave…" Ben mocked.
"Aagh!" The boy ran straight at him, his frustration and anger blinding him, making him vulnerable.
All it took was a swing to disarm him, taking his arm off. The boy screamed in pain dropping to his knees. One quick blow and he lay down beside the others. The chamber was plunged into silence. In the distance, he could hear screaming. Chaos had unfolded.
With one last look, Ben stormed out of the chamber, making his way down the hall, to where Luke would be. He burned through the door, breaking it apart. The room was empty. He wasn't here. Ben yelled in frustration as he turned to make his way to the lower floors.
"Stop! Don't move!"
Ben smiled through his mask. He turned to face Luke, whose lightsaber hummed as he held it en guard.
"I demand you call off the attack. You're their leader, aren't you."
"Yes." For the third time that night Ben felt his power grow stronger as he let his hate overtake him.
"Call off the attack," Luke demanded again.
Ben swung his lightsaber across his body, rooting his stance.
His uncle steadied his saber.
They circled, sizing each other up. Luke brought his saber up first, bouncing it off of Ben's counter, sending a shower of sparks tumbling around them. Ben feigned left and jabbed right but Luke easily spun out of the way, bringing his lightsaber down. Ben ducked to the left, bringing his saber up as Luke jumped back and swung his saber wide, perpendicular to his body. Ben angled his saber down with a block.
Luke edged back against the wall as Ben aimed a blow sideways. Luke ducked, rolling out of the way before turning back.
"You fight better than I would have guessed for someone untrained." Luke jabbed.
"I am trained. More than you ever realized."
Ben watched as his uncle struggled to grasp the meaning behind his words but was cut short as Ben brought his saber up. Luke's saber met Ben's, the blades connecting. Each pushed against the other, the heat of the blades radiating, their combined light reflecting off Ben's mask.
"Do you hear their screams? You've failed them. You've failed them all." Ben spat through the mask.
"Who… are you?" Luke grunted, struggling.
"I'm what you've always feared. You pushed me away. You all did. And now I'll become even more powerful than you."
Luke narrowed his eyes, trying to figure out who was under the mask. Ben could feel him reaching out in the Force, trying to search for recognition. Ben let him through. Letting him feel what he felt. Betrayal. Confusion. Misery. Anger. Uncontrollable anger. The power of the dark side. Under all the emotion Luke felt Ben's familiar presence. Ben watched as his uncle's face dropped.
"What have you done…?" Ben felt his uncle's force behind his saber fade slightly.
"It hurts, doesn't it? To be betrayed by your own family," Ben whispered, his voice quivering, "by your own blood."
Luke grimaced and pushed Ben away roughly, his lightsaber hanging at his side. He shook his head in disbelief.
"How could you? You led these murderers into our temple, into our home, to attack—"
"This isn't my home!" his mechanical voice rung out in the empty corridor, "It never was… And I killed them. Slaughtered them."
Luke face shattered. He closed his eyes briefly, taking in a breath.
"What have you become, Ben?"
"What you, my father, and my mother, never let me be. This is my potential. My future. My destiny."
His uncle stared up at him, still at a loss, before whispering, "you're going to kill me then, yes?"
Ben chuckled, "No. Not yet. I want you to see what you've done. I want you to feel what I've felt. To be betrayed. To be utterly alone," Ben slowly walked towards him, pointing his lightsaber at Luke, "with no one to blame but yourself."
Luke started forward but Ben Force-pushed him back into the wall. There was audible crack as his head made contact with wall behind him. He collapsed as Ben crouched down. He reached into his old master's mind, searching, for the last one. He'd known that as soon as his uncle had figured out what was happening, he'd hide her.
Luke stirred again and quickly shut his mind, but it was too late. Ben had seen her location. Pocketing Luke's saber he turned to the other knights that had gathered in the corridor. The temple now eerily silent.
"Sweep the entire temple. Check everyone. Grab every lightsaber. I've told you where the extras are being stored. Gather them and put them on board. Then give one final sweep to check for survivors."
The knights nodded in unison before dispersing.
"Those men…" Luke's pitiful voice sounded behind him, weary and soft, "won't ever accept you. They'll only fear you."
"Those men will follow me!" Ben bent back down, his helmet inches from Luke's face, "I am the Master of the Knights of Ren."
"Ben, please… This isn't you. Remember your training… the light…"
"The light means nothing to me. It never has. It was never my true calling."
"That… That's not true. Your mother and I could sense—"
"You and my mother were always afraid. Afraid of what I could become. Funny, that you were right."
"Goodbye, my old master," Ben said as he slammed Luke's head back against the wall, knocking him unconscious.
He could sense it. The fear. It was overpowering. The silence around him suggested he was alone, but he could sense another. Luke had taken her to catacombs beneath the earth. The red light of his saber guided him through the narrow passageways. The walls oozed with water, the air heavy and damp. Even through his helmet, he could smell the strong stench of mildew.
Turning a corner he reached another dead end, only this time he had found his target. Pressed against the corner, she opened her mouth in a silent scream, her eyes filled with terror. Ben held his lightsaber at his side, the hum of it echoing against the stone. Rey kept darting her eyes between his helmet and his lightsaber. He swung his arm up, the saber hissing as drops of water fell upon it, the sound of it cutting through the air, Rey screamed, closing her eyes.
She opened them after a moment, the serrated edge of the blade inches from her face. She looked up at him and he at her. They stood in silence for what seemed an eternity.
He couldn't do it.
And it angered him. Snoke had been right. He was weak. He needed — no had to — kill this girl in front of him. This would be his old master's undoing. It would forever haunt him. All he had to do was swing the blade one last time… and it would be over. He could move on.
But the small child before him, crouched and terrified, was filled with light. He'd know it all along. And he'd let her in. Very cautiously, but more than anyone else. He let himself get close to her even after Snoke had told him, warned him, not to. That this girl would be his weakness. That his family would be his downfall. He was so blinded by hate for the rest of them that he had forgotten to turn his back on the youngest of them. His cousin. The only one who showed him sincere love. Who would be heartbroken if she knew who was really under the mask.
He lowered his saber, his mind racing. He knew what he had to do.
"Come. Follow me. Now."
The old hangar of the Rebel base was long abandoned. It did however still house a few ships. An old battered X-Wing and a few small cargo freighters. Ben made his way unto the better looking one out of the group of old freighters. The inside was covered thick with dust.
"Get in the chair and strap in."
Ben turned around, thankful his helmet masked his surprise.
"Where's my father? Where are the others?"
"Your father is gone. And so are the others. You're alone and helpless and will do as I say."
The girl moved, fast, darting off the ship. Ben turned and ran after her. He caught her in a corner, his lightsaber pointed at her chest, Tears were streaming down her face.
"This is for your own good."
With a wave of his hand, she fell to the floor, unconscious.
After strapping her in, Ben started up the freighter. Sure enough, it hummed to life. He accessed the auto-pilot, punching in a set of coordinates. A light blinked, signaling take-off. He looked over to the passenger seat where his cousin sat unconscious. He didn't know if this would work if he could save her. But this was the only way he could without revealing to his new master what he had done… or what he had failed to do. This was the only way she could survive undetected. He pressed the button to close the hatch as he felt the craft slowly lift. With one last glance at Rey, he leaped from the craft, a soft thud sounded as he hit the ferrocrete below him. He held up a hand, reaching, using the Force, focusing on the lever that opened the launch bay doors. They creaked open, years of debris falling as they did so. Ben watched as the freighter rose higher before it slowly ascended into the night.
"Sir, we've recovered all the artifacts. They are on board and we are ready to depart," The Knight's muffled voice spoke to Ben as he stood outside the temple, the rain still falling heavily around them. The ground around him was littered with bodies, the sickening smell of damp earth mixed with the sharp tang of blood. He tried his best to keep his eyes trained on the sky.
Just then, movement caught their attention. They all looked up as an old freighter ship made its way into the atmosphere.
"It seems they had a ship…" Ben thought out loud before turning to his men, "Go. Return to the Master. I will take care of this."
He didn't give them time to respond before rushing back towards the hangar.
The old X-Wing rumbled and vibrated around him. He accelerated and quickly shot out of the hangar and up into the sky. He saw the freighter ahead pass through the atmosphere. Ben felt the pressure building. An alarm sounded. He frantically looked over the controls. He may have learned a thing or two about ships and their workings from his early days with his father, and he flipped a switch. The hull instantly regained a stable pressure and with a jolt, he broke the atmosphere, just in time to watch the freighter go to light speed. He set his own course and the stars around him become nothing but a blur as he launched to light speed.
A short while later he dropped out of light speed. The desolate planet he had thought of appeared. Following the trajectory path, he entered the planet's atmosphere. The advantage of a desert world was that he could easily spy the freighter that landed in the drifting sands below.
Touching down he made his way over the ship. The heat of the planet clung to him, stifling him. He wanted to take off his helmet but resisted. He found Rey where he had left her, still unconscious. He took the pilot's seat, and set a new course, looking for signs of life. After a while he saw it. A small outpost, a cluster of stalls and huts set against the red sand.
This must be the Niima Outpost. His father had told him long ago stories about this place, how it was filled to brim with desperate characters and scum. Nothing good ever came out of this planet, he said. Jakku was nothing but dirt and sand, choking the life out of its meager population.
He found the main complex, the largest tent. Alien and human alike were working, scrubbing, melting, haggling, and moving about in a frenzy only those with nowhere to go can. As he entered, most stopped their work, a silence settling over the tent.
He looked around, addressing the crowd, "I'm here to see a man by the name of Plutt." He couldn't for the life of him remember the man's first name, but he remembers his father would sometime curse the name "Plutt" when things went wrong while working on the Falcon.
"You mean Unkar Plutt?"
"Yes. Take me to him."
The man looked apprehensive but swiftly led Ben out of the tent and around back to a smaller, more grandiose one. He signaled for him to wait outside. He could make out voices through the thin fabric walls.
"Sir, there is someone here to see you— I don't know him. He's strange. And—" The conversation was cut short as Ben stormed into the tent, letting the man known as Unkar Plutt size him up. The dirty Crolute man stood up.
"How dare you walk in—"
Ben cut him short, "I have something for you. It would help your operation."
Unkar paused, looking him up and down and gave a grunt, "and what would that be?"
"A new worker. Young, no attachments, free to mold for your purpose."
Unkar rumbled with laughter, "I have all the workers I need."
"The girl—" Ben was interrupted before he could finish.
"A girl? Oh, now you're really trying to sell me some junk."
Ben felt his jaw clench. A breeze rustled behind him as the tent entrance was opened. Two of what looked to be Plutt's goons moved in behind him.
"You will do what I say," Ben commanded.
"Oh, really? Look. I don't know who you are. You're clearly not from here so let's get this straight. I run this Outpost and everyone in it. I own the largest shipyard on the planet. And I have plenty of workers. So get lost."
Ben took his lightsaber from his belt, igniting the blade. He watched with satisfaction as the Crolute gasped and stumbled back, tripping over a low table. The two men behind him sprang. In seconds the guards were at his feet, the smell of burnt flesh filling the air. He strode over to where Unkar cowered.
"No! Please! I'll take her. Free of payment. Just…"
Ben crouched down beside him.
"You will protect the girl until her family comes back to get her. You will provide for her until she can properly work. You will tell no one of me or this encounter or where the girl came from. Is this understood?"
"Who… who are you?" Unkar asked hoarsely.
Ben just stood and made his way towards the entrance, stepping over the still bodies crumpled on the floor.
He paused before leaving, turning his head slightly to address Plutt.
"If you fail any of those demands, I will come, and I will destroy this entire outpost and leave you for dead. Is that clear?"
"Yes…" Unkar whispered.
"The girl is in my ship. Come get her in fifteen minutes."
Ben opened the ship's hatch to find Rey still silent. He shook her awake. She instantly began to fight.
"Stop. Rey… it's me."
Rey froze as Ben took off the helmet, the air cooling his damp face. He kneeled next to her.
She just stared. Speechless and confused.
Lifting his hand, Ben pushed into her mind with closed eyes, re-living the last few hours through her distorted memories. He took a deep breath focusing on them. In the time it took for him to rifle though her mind, he felt it give and bend to his will, her memories repressing until they were no more. When he opened his eyes her gaze was blank.
She blinked, looking around, "Who are you?"
Ben swallowed. He had done it. Her past memories gone, her future ones all that she would have.
"I'm bringing you to your new home."
Ben stood up, opening the hatch once more, replacing his helmet.
"What do you mean my new home? Where was I before? Where is… where is my family?"
"They will come back to get you," he lied.
"But I don't understand—"
Ben saw Unkar Plutt making his way through the sand, alone, approaching the ship.
"Come. It's time." He pulled Rey out of her chair, towards the hatch.
"This is the girl, Rey." Ben addressed Unkar, who looked sour as he glanced down at Rey.
"Remember our agreement." Ben threatened as he boarded the ship.
As the door closed he could hear them.
"Come on, girl." Unkar growled.
"No! Wait! Come back!" Rey yelled as Ben lifted the freighter up. He punched in the coordinates and blocked out of the voices as he speed off into the atmosphere.
Starkiller Base (non-operational)
Kneeling on the cold and glossy, dark floor Ben kept his head down as he heard the eerie voice address him.
"The other Knights reported in. Most were dispatched and the sabers taken…"
Ben sensed something sinister in his Master's voice. He swallowed hard under his helmet, sweat dripping down his neck. Surely he had composed himself enough to keep his Master from discovering what he had done? And the others couldn't have known…
"However…" Snoke's voice was threatening low, his menace bleeding through, "Skywalker escaped. I told you to kill him. So I ask now, why is he still alive?"
"M-Master, I felt it would be enough of a blow that all his students and his daughter–"
"Enough?!" Ben flinched as Snoke's voice boomed, echoing on the walls around him, "due to your mistake, we are vulnerable. Skywalker is now the last Jedi and a threat."
"I took his saber—" Ben stammered.
The laughter that came from Snoke was merciless and made Ben's skin crawl.
"He can make another, boy."
"Master, I will find him and finish the job. My mistakes will not go in vain. I will use your teachings to defeat him."
Snoke was quiet; assessing. Ben finally had the courage to look up. A hologram flickered in front of him, the image superimposed, larger than life, nearly ten times larger than himself. Despite the intimating height it still showed the age of the man that took form, his sunken face and twisted jaw set in wrinkles deep as jagged canyons.
"Despite your… miscalculation you have preformed well. Better than I expected. It must have been hard for you… but you succeeded, led the others and made quite a blow against our enemy," the pause that stretched before them became unbearable for Ben, "it is time for you to become the man you were destined to be… Now, rise, Kylo Ren."