The woman comes to her on the night the slave ship docks. Her first night on a planet she has not yet seen.
Rey is not asleep. She's curled up small, frozen against the metal deck, huddled beneath a scrap of blanket. She's not asleep, but her eyes are shut tight. And so the woman's voice brings a lurching heartbeat of frantic hope. "Mama?"
But the woman crouched beside her is not her mother. Her voice is not even like mama's voice—it's huskier, with a trace of an accent that Rey cannot place. She has dark hair, pulled back from her face, and she's older than Rey's mother, her face marked with fine lines. "Hush little daughter," the woman smiles through sad eyes. She brushes a hand across Rey's brow—a touch like a desert breeze. Rey cannot feel the woman's fingers, but, for the first time in days, she feels warm.
"Sleep while you can. Never waste water." Here, the woman wiped away Rey's tears, "The sands are ever changing. They will change you, do not fear it."
The woman pulls Rey into an embrace. It is like sliding into cool water on a scorching hot day. "You are stronger than you know. And you are not alone."