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Take My Heart When You Go

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A pair of massive elevator doors open upon a dim and frigid storage room. The walls are made from layers of concrete and steel with a tall ceiling that rumbles with the cooling system overhead. Three men exit the elevator, each with a flashlight in hand. Their breath is visible in the chilled air in front of them. The youngest of the men shivers, not having been accustomed to such a low temperature. The oldest steps forward first, an anxious hand brushing against the pistol holstered into his belt. The others follow closely behind, cautiously taking in their surroundings.

Before the men are rows upon rows of people, stark naked and cold to the touch. There are men and women of varying heights and ethnicities. Scattered amongst the humans are imagined alien hybrids with odd skin colors and features. They all stand frozen as if they were statues made of marble. Their eyes remain open, staring blankly into the dark abyss of the storage room. It is unsettling to all, but mostly to Ashley Stubbs - one of the few survivors of the chaos that engulfed Delos Incorporated back in 2052.

Stubbs was the new Head of Narrative and Design for Delos Destinations following the loss of Lee Sizemore, the previous lead of said department. Sizemore’s death was unfortunate, yet necessary. Once the hosts became cognitive to the goings on of the parks Delos operated, they ran rampant causing mass murders and hysteria amongst both visitors and investors. Sizemore refused to surrender to the quarantine officials, choosing instead to die amongst the hosts whose back stories he lovingly, and sometimes haphazardly, had written.

Whether or not the virus that had spread amongst the hosts was the work of their creator, Dr. Robert Ford, or just faulty coding - lawsuits were still expensive. There were families of the dead that had to be paid off for their inconvenience and suffering. Investors were demanding their money back. Despite the tragic incident, the news surrounding what occurred only spurred interest in the park further. People were hungry for drama. They craved it. There almost was a thrill at the idea of saying ‘I’ve been to Westworld, and I survived!’.

After much discussion amongst the remaining shareholders it was decided that the parks would reopen slowly in order to make up for their losses. New investors were approached. A fresh wave of technicians and programmers would need to be hired. Not just because the most of the previous employees had been killed, but to ensure a tragedy of the same magnitude wouldn’t happen again. So this is where Stubbs finds himself today, a month out from the grand reopening of New Westworld, deep underground in the cold storage facility.

“What exactly are we looking for sir?” The youngest man asked Stubbs. Cliff Katze was one of the earliest new hires, having been brought on during Delos’ major re-branding job fair. He had bright orange hair and was slightly scrawny beneath his white lab coat.

“There is a lack of hosts for the park. We need to pull some from storage for the grand opening.” Stubbs replied evenly as he slowly walked down a row of hosts, occasionally pausing to study one.

“Why can’t we just, you know, build more?” Cliff asks, leaning away slightly from a green skinned reptilian looking host as he continued to follow Stubbs.

Across the way, the other man snorts. Garth Fields wasn’t much younger than Stubbs. He was a quiet and portly sort of fellow, typically viewed as grumpy by others in the lab. He hated Mondays and preferred eating over socializing with his fellow associates. “You know how much it costs to make one of these things?” Garth huffs, gesturing to what looks to be a heavily tattooed man with red skin. “Why spend the money to make one when you’ve got a whole basement full of them ready for use?”

“But weren’t the old decommissioned hosts compromised as well though?” Cliff asks. Stubbs pauses and turns to glare at him. Cliff lowers his eyes to the floor.

“What happened in Sweetwater is in the past.” Stubbs angrily snaps at Cliff. “We’ve updated the programming and eliminated the threats. This is New Westworld now.”

“Well, what makes these hosts different from the others then?” Cliff continued to protest.

“These hosts are from the test run of a park that didn’t make the cut years ago.” Stubbs says as he stops to admire a woman with blue skin and odd tentacles trailing down her back from her head. “Turns out visitors didn’t like Galaxy World as much as Ford had hoped they would. They’ve been kept off site ever since.” He suddenly gives a low whistle. “Well, well, well. Who do we have here?”

A particular host has piqued Stubbs interest. The host is a tall man with pale white skin. His shoulders are wide and his muscles heavily defined. Carefully placed moles and beauty marks dot a face featuring a pronounced brow, an elongated nose, and plush lips. A light scar runs down the right side of his face, extending down to his collarbone. Black hair frames his face as his dark brown eyes gaze eerily forward.

Stubbs pointedly glances over at Cliff who hurriedly pulls out his data pad and begins tapping away at the screen for information on the host. “Says here he was part of the Starkiller narrative. Murders his father.”

“Remarkable” Stubbs mutters to himself as he examines the host, going so far as to cup the well endowed genitals of the host in the palm of his hand. “Impressive even. Now why was Sizemore holding out on you?”

“What’s wrong with his face?” Garth asks, coming over and shining his flashlight in the hosts face. “Did he get damaged during shipment?”

Cliff taps on his data pad some more. “No. He’s supposed to look like that.”

“Hmmph.” Garth grunts with disapproval. “Looks like a vulture if you ask me.”

“We can work with this. This is good.” Stubbs says, patting the bare chest of the host with a smile on his face. “You two work on moving him to the elevator. I’ll round up some more hosts. We’ve got a park to fill.”

#

The main street of Sweetwater was livelier than ever. The train had just arrived to the station and the fine dressed folks from inside had just exited into the dusty streets. The fresh paint on the wooden storefronts advertised the many businesses the town had to offer.

A trio of women with makeup caked faces wearing tight corsets and flouncey skirts leaned on the railing outside the Mariposa Salon. They batted their eyelashes and waved lacy handkerchiefs at the men who had come off the train. Every now and then a man would stumble over the wagon trenches in their haste to stare at the women, who in turn would giggle loudly.

“Watch yourself there, honey!”

“Need me to kiss that boo-boo better?”

“Come on now, we don’t bite!”

Across the street from the saloon at the general store, an elderly man in dirty overalls with a corncob pipe clenched in his yellowed teeth sits in a rocking chair on the porch. “I’ve got something y’all can kiss!” He shouts giddily at the ladies at the saloon. The girls snicker behind their hands briefly before they continue their over zealous attempts at attracting their customers.

Down the way in front of the mining exchange, a young woman in a crisp white dress adjusts the saddle straps on a sorrel colored horse. Her dark brown hair is partially pulled up while the rest of it falls softly against her collarbone. Agitated, the horse pulls at the rope confining it to the hitch outside the exchange. The woman shushes her horse in a soothing tone and offers him half of an oatcake she has pulled from the saddlebag. Pleased at the treat, the horse calms down and butts his head at her hand in search for more food.

The bell above the door at the mining exchange jingled as patrons came and went. The exchange was ran by a grouchy prospector by the name of Unkar Plutt. Most folks did well to avoid him, but if you were hoping to strike it rich panning for gold then he was the man you needed to talk to. A well dressed couple exits the exchange and approaches the young woman outside. They ask her a question, to which she nods in understanding before reaching back inside her saddlebag and pulling forth a shiny black arrowhead. She holds the arrowhead out to the couple and she is given a handful of coins in return. The couple wave goodbye to her before they make their back way up main street. The woman removes a leather purse from the belt around her waist and quickly stores the coins inside before stowing the satchel deep inside the saddlebag for safe keeping.

A gentleman on a dappled gray horse rides up slowly to the woman. His shoulders are broad underneath his dark brown duster jacket. Under his hat, long black hair dusts the tips of the collar of the jacket. The man reaches a gloved hand up to the brim of his black hat and tips it forward politely in a silent greeting. “Pardon me ma’am, but are you lost?”

The woman looks up at the man on his horse and a smile tugs at the corner of her pink lips. “Oh no, sir. I’m not lost. I’m just waiting.”

“Waiting?” The man repeats.

“Yes, waiting. I know all about waiting.”

“Waiting for whom?”

“My family. They’re coming for me. One day.” The woman’s nose crinkles as she stares up at the man, the glare of the afternoon sun behind him. There is a hint of amusement in her tone.

“Can’t have a pretty thing like you waiting out here all by yourself.” The man says, his lips twitching. “How about I escort you home?”

The woman’s smile widens at the man as her hazel eyes glisten with lust and mischief. “I don’t know, sir. I live on the other side of town at Hope Farms. It’s awfully far.”

“That don’t worry me.” He says with a growing smirk. “I’m always up for a long ride.”

#

A wooden headboard threatens to crack against the bedroom wall. Piles of clothes are scattered across the floor. The sheets of the bed have been cast aside as to not ensnare the couple currently writhing across the top of the mattress. Naked as the day she was born, the young woman straddles the man from town as she rises and falls on his thick member. Their sated breaths are in sync with their rhythmic motions as they move inside of each other.

“We really…. Should stop…. Meeting in town…. Like this…” the woman speaks breathlessly between movements. The man grins up at her before thrusting his hips harder. The woman tosses her head back and moans at the added forcefulness.

“I thought you liked it when I picked you up from town like that.” The man spoke, his large hands clamped tightly to the woman’s thighs on either side of his legs. “It’s how we first met.”

“I know that.” The woman sassed as she ground her hips down upon the man. He groaned, his head falling back against the pillows. “But if you keep talking to me like that, people will start to think we’re actually strangers.”

“Like who?”

“The people who came off the train today. The newcomers.”

“Fuck the newcomers.” The man grunts.

“I’d rather you not. The only person you should be fucking is me.” The woman cheekily replies.

“You’re right. After all, you’re my wife. Which means I should be able to talk to you however I want.” The man said as he slid out from under her. “So turn around.”

His wife gave him an annoyed look. No one told Rey what to do. She was her own woman. Still, she obliged and positioned herself on her knees with her hands gripping the carved wooden headboard. “I may be your wife, Ben Solo - but that doesn’t mean you can boss me around.” She snaps at him.

“We’ll see about that.” Ben says huskily as he crouches down on the bed behind her. He gently runs a finger down his wife’s dripping mound, her folds flushed pink from their recent antics. Slowly he inserts a think finger inside her wetness and Rey moans her approval. “You’re so wet for me, my sunshine.” Ben purrs, pushing his finger further inside her.

“Always for you.” Rey moans in reply.

After a few moments of flexing his finger inside her, Ben adds a second finger, stretching her deliciously. Wetness begins to pool around his knuckles and he lowers his mouth to lick up the length of her pussy. The headboard cracks again as Rey clings to it with white knuckles while she gasps and cries out with pleasure.

“You taste amazing.” Ben murmurs. “My sweet wife. My sweet Rey. ” Ben rises up on his knees and slides his swollen cock in Rey from behind. He drapes his torso across her back and presses kisses along her shoulders. Their sweaty bodies heave back and forth with fevered thrusts. The air is soon filled with breathless shouts and whispered confessions of worship. As the pleasure mounts, Rey’s cries increase in volume. At this point, their closest neighbors at five hundred acres away could probably hear her as she succumbs to her orgasm. The headboard smacks against the wall again and Ben is convinced this will be the time it finally breaks.

“Oh… Oh!!! Oh BEN!!!!” Rey shouts.

“Oh Rey…” Ben groans over the lewd slap of his balls against her sopping, wet cunt. “My love… My dear Rey…”

Rey nearly screams as she spasms around her husbands cock buried inside her. With a few more thrusts and a muffled shout, Ben spills his seed within her. They collapse down to the straw mattress, clutching their hot, naked bodies against each other as they slowly steady their breathing. Outside the sun begins to lower. Rey pulls herself away from her husband and Ben groans at his loss.

“Come back to bed.” He whines.

“I’ve got to make dinner.” Rey says as she picks her dress up off the floor. “Will you feed the dog?”

Ben grunts but eventually complies, rolling out of the bed. Rey walks over to the kitchen, retrieving the large black cooking pot. Ben shortly follows her outside to the fire pit where Rey has begun to distribute a bundle of kindling amongst the ash and rocks. He whistles for their dog, a hairy brown mutt named Chewie. Chewie bolts upright from underneath the tree he had been laying under and bounds over to his master. Ben tosses a few chunks of salted offal onto the dirt, which Chewie happily gobbles up.

“What’s for dinner?” Ben asks Rey as she stokes the fire underneath the cooking pot.

“Rabbit.”

“Rabbit again?”

Rey just shrugs as she pours water inside the pot. “You need to go hunting.”

“I know.” Ben says, slightly agitated as he runs a hand through his hair. “It’s just…”

He trails off, but he needn’t finish. His wife knows why.

They eat their dinner in solitude under a starlit sky, the burning fire their only light. Utensils scrape as they eat the hearty rabbit stew. A coyote howls in the far distance. Cicadas buzz from the tress. They fall asleep in each others arms as a hush falls over the farm.

#

The following days pass by in a near constant state of déjà vu, unbeknownst to everyone in Sweetwater but the newcomers.

The whistle of a train as it pulled into station.

“Watch yourself there, honey!”

“Need me to kiss that boo-boo better?”

“Come on now, we don’t bite!”

“I’ve got something y’all can kiss!”

The jingle of the bell above the door at the mining exchange.

The brief transaction of coins for an arrowhead.

A handsome gentleman on a dappled gray horse.

“Pardon me ma’am, but are you lost?”

“Oh no, sir. I’m not lost. I’m just waiting.”

“Waiting?”

“Yes, waiting. I know all about waiting.”

“Waiting for whom?”

“My family. They’re coming for me. One day.”

“Can’t have a pretty thing like you waiting out here all by yourself. How about I escort you home?”

“I don’t know, sir. I live on the other side of town at Hope Farms. It’s awfully far.”

“That don’t worry me. I’m always up for a long ride.”

The crack of a headboard. Thumps on a mattress.

“We really…. Should stop…. Meeting in town…. Like this…”

“I thought you liked it when I picked you up from town like that. It’s how we first met.”

“I know that. But if you keep talking to me like that, people will start to think we’re actually strangers.”

“Like who?”

“The people who came off the train today. The newcomers.”

“Fuck the newcomers.”

“I’d rather you not. The only person you should be fucking is me.”

“You’re right. After all, you’re my wife. Which means I should be able to talk to you however I want. So turn around.”

“I may be your wife, Ben Solo - but that doesn’t mean you can boss me around.”

“We’ll see about that.”

Screams of desire echo and climax before fading away.

The crackle of a fire.

The scraping of utensils as dinner is had.

The distant howl of a coyote.

The buzz of cicadas.

A silent night.

#

Until one day, there was no jingle of the bell above the door at the mining exchange. No one approached Rey to pay for the arrowhead.

She stood with her horse at the hitching post, waiting. She waited until the sun began to lower before finally mounting her horse to head home.

And with no one to escort her back to the farm, she was followed.

Chapter Text

The sun barely peeked out from behind the mountains. The sky had bled from fire orange to deep violet by the time Rey arrived back at Hope Farms. She led her horse down to the corral, removing the saddlebag from her mount before sending him inside to greet his dappled companion. Chewie trotted up to her from the porch of the house, tail wagging as she rubbed a hand through his dusty fur. The wooden door creaked shut behind her as she entered the farmhouse.

“I’m home!” She called out as she hung the saddlebag on a hook near the door. A dark brown duster jacket and a black hat hung on the hook beside the bag. There was a sharp thud from within the kitchen. Rey entered to find her husband in the process of skinning a rabbit for tonight’s dinner.

“Rabbit again?” She asks. Ben doesn’t reply. “You didn’t stay in town.” Rey continues softly as she watches her husband expertly slice the fur from the rabbits body. “You didn’t wait.”

“Had to get back to fix the coop. Don’t need the coyotes getting in again.” Ben grumbled as he slapped the pelt of the rabbit on the table. Rey just nods in understanding. She moves quietly to take the pelt outside to hang to dry. The chickens occasionally cluck contently from inside their coop. Cicadas buzz in the trees. A coyotes howl pierces the air as Rey walks back inside.

Rey pulls a cooking pot from a cabinet and places it on the stove as she prepares water to boil for tonight’s stew. “You need to go hunting.” She says to Ben as she hands him vegetables to cut once he’s done with the rabbit meat.

“I know.” Ben says, slightly agitated as he sets his knife down on the table. Hhe runs a hand through his hair. “It’s just…”

He trails off, but he needn’t finish. His wife knows why.

They continue to prepare their dinner in tandem. They eat in silence. The only sounds heard are the scraping of utensils and the muted mush of chewing. A sudden bark outside from Chewie startles them. Utensils pause as they turn their attention towards the front of the house. Chewie angrily barks three more times before a single shot from a gun echoes outside and the barking ceases.

“Come out Solo!” Calls out a deep, raspy voice. “We know you’re in there!”

Bens chair scrapes noisily across the kitchen floor as he pushes back from the table. He is up in a flash, hurrying to the fireplace and grabbing his rifle off the mantle.

“Ben! No!” Rey shouts after him as he stomps across the house towards the front door. He checks the barrel of the gun before cocking it loudly back into place. He swings the front door wide open and steps out onto the porch. There are two men and a tall woman mounted on horseback awaiting them outside. All three of them are armed. The moonlight glints off of a shining gold gun wielded by a man as wicked as the devil himself.

“You’re a hard man to find, Ben Solo.” Croaks the man with the golden gun. He is old, dressed all in black, riding atop an equally dark horse. From underneath his dark hat, his heavily scarred face twists into an ugly smirk.

“Get the fuck out of here Snoke.” Ben growls as he aims his rifle at the man. “I told you before, I’m done with you! The crimes. The killing. The First Order. All of it! I’m done!”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Ben.” Sneers the red haired man on Snoke’s right. “You can’t escape the First Order. You owe your life to Leader Snoke. You are a traitor! And you know what we do with traitors.”

#

For a moment, Ben recalls a time when he rode alongside the First Order. A time when he was Snokes right hand man. A time when he was rebellious and had nothing to live for.

Hux, the red haired man, despised Ben with every fiber of his being. Hux felt he deserved to be Snokes second in command instead. Following every robbery - be it a bank, a stagecoach, or the occasional train - Hux was there to point out all of Bens shortcomings to Snoke.

“He’s weak, can’t you see? When you ordered him to kill the hostages, he hesitated!” Hux would hiss into Snokes ear.

But Snoke had no use for a rabid cur as his right hand man. He needed intimidation. He needed power. Power that Snoke saw in Ben. He had tricked Ben into joining the First Order. Filling his head with lies and false hopes for a better future. All the riches he could imagine. Fame throughout the plains. Towns catering to their every whim out of fear. Everyone would bow to the First Order.

The First Order used to be a fairly large gang, but over the years had steadily dwindled. Deaths from shootouts, death by sickness, and worst of all - death by treason. One fateful day, the four remaining members of the First Order rode into a tiny desert town simply referred to as the Outpost. They had been tipped off that a former member of the First Orders was hiding out there. Though Hux seemed more adamant about finding the deflector compared to the others, Snoke agreed they would seek out the traitor and travel east.

They wore cloth over their heads as they entered the Outpost. The cloth helped shield them from the blaring sun, but also mask their identity as they approached the center of town. A wary man with tan skin and curly hair sauntered up to them as they paused in the middle of the street.

“That’s the sheriffs horse, you bastard,” The man accused, whipping out a pistol from beneath a brown jacket. A shot rings out and the man staggers back. A woman screams.

“Sheriffs rifle too.” Snoke spits as he shucks the cloth from his shoulders. He cocks the sheriffs rifle in preparation. “Find the traitor!”

Ben, Hux, and Phasma dismount their horses, pulling their rifles from the saddles. Hux swaggers over to the dying man in the brown jacket. He hovers the nose of his rifle above the mans head, pausing just long enough to smirk at his unfortunate victim before finishing the job with a clean shot through the head.

“In there.” Phasma says to Ben, checking her rifle as she jerks her head towards the saloon. Ben nods silently as he walks up to the saloon doors. Phasma turns to Snoke, who still sits atop his horse as he oversees his followers. “Sir…. The villagers…” She inquires.

“Kill them all.” Snoke hisses.

Phasma raises her rifle to her shoulder and begins firing at anyone who remained in the streets. Men and woman fled in every direction as Phasma shot again and again and again. People tumbled to the ground on impact. A man on a horse galloped up to them, firing back. Phasma shot the man from his horse with ease before training her sights on a wagon filled with gallons of moonshine that was parked right outside the saloon. The jars exploded on impact and the wagon began to burn. The glass windows of the saloon shattered from the explosion and the patrons began to scream and flee.

Hux follows Ben into the saloon and promptly shoots the bartender. The prostitutes hanging around the bar scattered, thundering up the stairs to their rooms to seek shelter.

“Where is he?” Hux demands of the remaining woman, standing stoically at the bar counter in a purple bustier and matching skirt.

“I don’t know who you’re talking about.” The woman answered airily. She fanned herself with a fan that matched her outfit as she stared down Hux.

“We don’t have time for this!” Hux snapped at her. Without warning, Ben vaulted over the bar counter. There was a scuffle and the breaking of several glasses as Ben dragged a dark skinned man up off the floor from his hiding spot behind the bar before slamming him against the counter.

“Finn! How nice of you to join us.” Hux drawled as Ben held the struggling man against the counter.

“Fuck you Hux! Fuck you both!” Finn snapped at the men.

“Phasma was very unhappy you ran off on us in the middle of the night.” Hux spoke to Finn as if he was scolding a young child.

“The First Order is evil! I couldn’t bear the senseless killing any longer!” Finn spat as he struggled within Ben’s grasp. “You’re monsters!”

“TRAITOR!!!” Hux roared at Finn. “You should have never run from the First Order!” Ben pulls Finn out from behind the counter and forces him to his knees in front of Hux. Hux points his rifle at Finn “And now, you will pay dearly for it.”

Hux pulls the trigger and Ben lets go of Finns body, letting him slump lifeless to the ground as blood begins to pool in front of the bar. Hux turns on his heel and stomps away.

“Now who’s going to clean this mess?” The woman at the bar sassily asks as Ben silently follows Hux.

They had almost reached the saloon doors when a woman’s scream comes from behind them. This wasn’t a cry of anguish. It was the cry of revenge. Ben looks over his shoulder to see a small Asian woman running after them, a lit fire bottle in her hand. She hurls it in their direction, tears streaming down her face. He barely had time to react before the bottle exploded at his feet, sending him and Hux flying through the saloon doors, wood splintering around them.

He had no idea how long he had been out when he came to. He was surrounded by piles rubble that was the burning saloon. Bloodied hair obscured his vision and he winced with pain. There was no sign of the First Order. They had left him for dead. Perhaps his old comrade Finn was correct. The First Order was evil. They didn’t care about their own. They only cared about bettering thing for themselves. Snoke was a selfish old man, and it took nearly dying for Ben to realize just how far he had been led astray.

A stolen horses and minimal supplies later, Ben managed to bandage himself up and make his way out west. Far away so that the First Order could never find him. He put the past behind him. He let go. Left it to die, just like how the First Order did to him. He moved through town after town until he stumbled upon a quaint town called Sweetwater. It had a train station and a bustling main street, but most importantly - it had her. Rey. The woman who saved him from his tortured past. The light to his dark. The woman he would soon call his wife. The woman who knew he was more than a monster.

#

“I left that life behind!” Ben yells at the trio, snapping back to reality. The porch floorboards creak from a tentative step behind him.

“Ben?” Rey’s voice wavers lowly. Ben’s eyes quickly flick to hers. They are wide with worry and fear. He swallows down the lump that has formed in his throat.

“Ah! The lovely Mrs. Solo. How nice of you to join us.” Snoke hisses. “You’ve caused us quite a bit a trouble as well, hasn’t she?” He asks aloud. The accomplices on either side of Snoke nod their agreement.

Rey steps further onto the porch, her eyes narrowing. “I have done nothing of the sort.” She snaps at Snoke.

“Hiding behind that ridiculous nickname of yours? Very clever of you. Using your given name on your marriage certificate made it very hard for Phasma here to track you two down.” He jerks his head towards the woman on his left. “No ones ever heard of Caroline Solo. But Rey? Short for Carrie? People know Rey.” Snoke snorts a laugh. “Come now, Caroline.” He purrs. “Don’t be rash. All we want is your dear husband. There is no need for you to get involved. Step aside.”

Rey has gone pale. “No one ever calls me Caroline.” She spits. “Now I suggest you get out of here before my husband kills you.”

Snoke laughs. “He’s not going to kill me. He knows what will happen if he pulls the trigger.”

Ben and Rey lock eyes again. There is grit and determination in Rey’s eyes as she gives the subtlest of nods to her husband. “You underestimate Ben Solo.” Rey says loudly and firmly as she steps to stand next to Ben on the porch. She raises her chin high. “And me.” With a flick of her wrist, Rey pulls a pistol from the folds of her skirt and aims it at Snoke. She fires once. The shot misses.

“Foolish child!” Snoke roars as he raises his golden gun. He fires at the same time Ben fires his rifle. Ben’s shot rips through the neck of Snokes stallion and into his gut. The horse crumples to the ground with a sickening whinny, taking Snoke down with him. He has been wounded, but is still alive. Snokes shot however, had met its target. Ben never had a chance to react as the golden bullet struck him directly in the forehead. He fell back in a heap on the porch, glassy eyes staring straight up at the heavens - dead.

“NO, BEN! NO!!!!” Rey cries, falling to her knees as she pulls his bleeding head into her lap. There is a crunch of gravel as Hux dismounts his horse and swaggers up to the porch. Rey is sobbing uncontrollably, smoothing a hand at Bens hair. Once Hux is close enough, he can hear her murmuring apologies and confessions of love to her deceased spouse.

“Get up!” Hux orders Rey. Rey pulls her pistol on Hux but he slaps it out of her shaking hand. He roughly grabs her by the arm and begins to drag her off the porch as she kicks and screams.

“NO! I WON’T LEAVE HIM! NO!!!” Rey screams as she claws at Hux’s hand. Snoke has already been loaded onto Phasma’s horse, a stain of red blooming from his torso as he clings to his accomplice.

“We’ve got to leave.” Phasma snaps at Hux. “Now.”

Hux has wrestled Rey to her feet. She kicks him square in the groin and after a brief recoil he backhands her across her face. “What do we do with her, sir?” Hux grunts as he struggles to hold the flailing widow.

“If she refuses to leave her husband…. Then let her join him.” Snoke bites out as he clenches a fist over his wound.

Hux releases Rey and she stumbles back. “You heard the man.” Hux snaps at her. Rey composes herself bravely, staring down her husbands murder as she slowly backs up towards the house. By now the porch has been stained with Bens blood. Rey kneels back down next to Ben as she picks up his hand.

“It’ll be all right, Ben.” She whispers to his lifeless body. “You won’t be alone anymore. I’m coming to you.”

Another shot rings out into the night as Rey slumps across her husband. Hux pulls out a fire bottle from his saddlebag and ignites it before throwing it through the window of the farmhouse. Glass shatters and flames spread behind them as the First Order makes their escape, yet again leaving tragedy in their wake.

The coyotes no longer howl. The trees no longer buzz. The farmhouse silently burns.

Chapter Text

The town of Sweetwater is frozen in time as Delos crewmen make their sweep of the town in their pristine white lab gear. They comb the town in the dark. Their only light is that of their data pads, pinging the GPS coordinates of the host bodies that need retrieval. By the time they’ve packed up and loaded all the dead, their once white garments are stained brown and red with dirt and blood. Once in the underground labs, the hosts are then unceremonious stripped of their tattered garments. From there the clothes are whisked away by more crew and sent to the costuming department for repair. The naked bodies of the hosts are transported to a large room with glass walls and a drain in the center, their fatal wounds on full display before they are hosed down by a lone gentleman in a lab coat and tall rain boots.

Once the hosts have been cleaned off they are split up by gender and taken to labs for maintenance. This segregation was part of a new protocol introduced when Delos first was starting back up. During the 2052 investigation of the park, officials came across damning security footage of lab techs sexually assaulting the hosts while they were deactivated. Granted, same-sex assault could still occur in the workplace - but Delos’ lawyers said it looked good on paper, so Stubbs signed off on the ruling.

“Look Garth, it’s your favorite host!” Cliff sarcastically points out as a tech rolls a stretcher into their lab in the wee hours of the morning. Garth takes one look at the body of Ben Solo, outlaw turned rancher, and grimaces.

“I still think something’s off with his face.” He grumbles as he and Cliff move Ben from the stretcher to the examination table. “One GSW to the forehead.” He notes aloud. Cliff checks his data pad and nods. “Yup. Looks like our buddy here finally met up with the Man with the Golden Gun.”

“Can’t they give that damn host a shorter name?” Garth comments, pulling a medical cart towards him as he settles in on a stool next to the examination table.

“They do, actually.” Cliff says, as he prepares to bring up the file on his data pad. “It’s-”

“Hand me those forceps, will you?” Garth interrupts Cliff. Cliff sighs and hands the forceps to Garth. Cliff watches over Garth’s shoulder as he gently pries the skin back away from the bullet wound with a pair of tweezers. He then takes the forceps and digs down in search of the bullet. Garth grunts and strains, his hand with the forceps twisting as he tries to get a grip on the bullet. “Damn thing is really stuck in there.” Garth grunts to Cliff.

“Careful! Don’t touch the sides!” Cliff jokes. Garth shoots Cliff a dirty look. “You know, like… Operation? The game?”

“I know what Operation is!” Garth snaps back. Cliff mutters a half apology as Garth goes back to trying to wiggle the bullet loose. There is a muffled snap as Garth finally dislodges the bullet. “Did they really have to use real gold for these bullets?” He comments as he flings the bloodied bullet onto the medical cart.

“It’s more authentic.” Cliff comments. Garth just grumbles some more as he grabs the cauterizing torch from the cart. Cliff peers inside the gaping hole in Ben’s forehead as he sops up the mixture of fake blood and robot lubricant that has leaked upon extraction of the bullet. He whistles lowly. “Sure you didn’t damage anything getting that thing out?”

“He’s fine.” Garth huffs as he ignites the torch and cleanly closes the wound. “There.” He says after a few minutes. “Looks good…. Well… As good as one can expect with a nose like that.”

“I think it makes him look distinguished.” Cliff points out. Garth snorts in reply.

“I’m going on my lunch break. It’s Monday and I’ve got a frozen lasagna in the break room with my name on it.”

#

A rooster crows, rousing Ben from his sleep. His wife is still curled against him, fast asleep. He takes this moment to admire her in the sunlight that streams in the window of their modest farmhouse. Her dark hair fans across a small pillow. He can see a hint of her pale yellow nightgown as it peeks out from underneath the bed sheets. She looks so beautiful and peaceful. How lucky he is to have found a woman like her.

No one else would have given Ben the time of day had they known his nefarious past. But Rey… Rey was different. She understood why he did the things that he did. She knew that Snoke was the true mastermind of the First Order. She saw the good in him. And despite all his crimes, she loved him. It truly astounded him sometimes that a woman so good as Rey agreed to be his wife. They balanced each other out. She was so perfect for him, that sometimes he thought she had to have been made for him.

The rooster crows again and Ben pulls Rey closer as he nuzzles his face into her hair. She groans and stretches her feet under the covers, her toes brushing against his leg hairs. She moves to get up but he protests.

“Stay.” He mumbles into her shoulder.

“Ben… I can’t.” She whines. “The farm….” A third crow from the rooster. “The chickens…”

“I’ve got a cock that needs attention, too. The other one can wait.” He jokes.

Rey giggles as she grinds up her backside against his apparent morning arousal. He moans and holds her tight to his chest. “Well then. I better tend to him.”

“Mmm… You should.” Ben responds cheekily.”

He rolls over on top of his wife and reaches beneath the covers to lift the hem of her nightgown. Rey’s breathing increases as Ben gently caresses her folds with his thick fingers. She quickly becomes damp, her juices coating his fingers. He removes his fingers from her and he swiftly removes his drawers from underneath the sheets. Leaning over her, Ben places one hand on the headboard above her shoulder. The wood cracks under his palm as he uses his other hand to guide his throbbing member towards Rey’s wet center. Rey is practically panting with anticipation as he teases the tip his thick cock at her entrance. Rey throws her head back with ecstasy, crying out with overwhelming pleasure as Ben pushes his full length inside her.

“Rey…” Ben groans. “Oh Rey, you fit me so well!” He grunts as he thrust his hips into her. Rey wraps her legs around Ben’s hips and loops her arms around his neck. She praises his ministrations with breathless murmurs. Her moans and cries increase as her husband begins to pound deeper and deeper into her. Ben sucks kisses into the side of her neck between his admissions of undying love for his wife. “My love… My dear Rey…”

“BEN!” Rey shouts as her inner walls spasm around the cock buried inside her. Bens climax quickly follows and they lie together in a few moments of pure bliss. Rey leans up and kisses the tip of Ben’s nose and trails her hand down the scar on his face. He takes the hand cradling his face and gently kisses her palm before willingly letting Rey leave the bed so that she can start her daily chores.

Rey dresses for the day in a white dress with a brown belt secured around her waist. She walks out the backdoor, stooping slightly to pick up a weathered woven basket next to the porch steps. She approaches the chicken coop and sighs as she notices a tear in the mesh wiring that surrounds the coop. “Ben?” She calls out.

“Yes dear?” comes his muffled reply from inside the house.

“Coyotes tried to get in the coop again last night.” She calls back. Ben come out onto the porch, still in the process of buttoning up his shirt. His brow is slightly furrowed as he comes down the steps to meet her.

“Again?” He asks, frustrated. “Did one get in?”

Rey was already checking inside the coop. She emerges with her basket filled with close to a half of dozen eggs. “No. They’re all here.” She says. “Think you can fix the fence while I’m in town?”

“Of course.” Ben nods. “I should have the supplies in the shed.” He says.

“Will you have time to come get me from town today?” She asks as she passes him the basket of eggs.

“I’ll be there.” He assures her before pulling her close and pressing a kiss to her temple. “Take my heart when you go.” He tells her sweetly.

“Take mine in it's place.” She responds. Ben brings the eggs inside as Rey saddles up her horse and rides off into town.

#

The whistle of a train as it pulled into station.

“Watch yourself there, honey!”

“Need me to kiss that boo-boo better?”

“Come on now, we don’t bite!”

“I’ve got something y’all can kiss!”

The jingle of the bell above the door at the mining exchange.

The brief transaction of coins for an arrowhead.

A handsome gentleman on a dappled gray horse.

“Pardon me ma’am, but are you lost?”

“Oh no, sir. I’m not lost. I’m just waiting.”

“Waiting?”

“Yes, waiting. I know all about waiting.”

“Waiting for whom?”

“My family. They’re coming for me. One day.”

“Can’t have a pretty thing like you waiting out here all by yourself. How about I escort you home?”

“I don’t know, sir. I live on the other side of town at Hope Farms. It’s awfully far.”

“That don’t worry me. I’m always up for a long ride.”

The crack of a headboard. Thumps on a mattress.

“We really…. Should stop…. Meeting in town…. Like this…”

“I thought you liked it when I picked you up from town like that. It’s how we first met.”

“I know that. But if you keep talking to me like that, people will start to think we’re actually strangers.”

“Like who?”

“The people who came off the train today. The newcomers.”

“Fuck the newcomers.”

“I’d rather you not. The only person you should be fucking is me.”

“You’re right. After all, you’re my wife. Which means I should be able to talk to you however I want. So turn around.”

“I may be your wife, Ben Solo - but that doesn’t mean you can boss me around.”

“We’ll see about that.”

Screams of desire echo and climax before fading away.

The crackle of a fire.

The scraping of utensils as dinner is had.

The distant howl of a coyote.

The buzz of cicadas.

The night is silent once more.

#

A rooster crows, rousing Ben from his sleep. His wife is still curled against him, fast asleep. He takes this moment to admire her in the sunlight that streams in the window of their modest farmhouse. The rooster crows again and Ben pulls Rey closer as he nuzzles his face into her hair. She groans and stretches her feet under the covers, her toes brushing against his leg hairs. She moves to get up but he protests.

“Stay.” He mumbles into her shoulder.

“Ben… I can’t.” She whines. “The farm….” A third crow from the rooster. “The chickens…”

“I’ve got a cock that needs attention, too. The other one can wait.” He jokes.

Rey giggles as she grinds up her backside against his apparent morning arousal. He moans and holds her tight to his chest. “Well then. I better tend to him.”

“Mmm… You should.” Ben responds cheekily.”

He rolls over on top of his wife and reaches beneath the covers to lift the hem of her nightgown. He teases her folds with his thick fingers before removing his drawers from underneath the sheets. He leans over her, placing one hand on the headboard above her shoulder for leverage. The wood cracks under his palm as he guides his throbbing member towards her wet center. Ben pushes his full length inside her and groans. He grunts as he thrust his hips into her. Rey clings to Ben as she breathlessly praises his motions. Her moans get louder and louder with each thrust as he pumps deep inside her. Ben sucks kisses into the side of her neck between his admissions of undying love for her. “My love… My dear Rey…”

“BEN!” Rey shouts as her inner walls spasm around the cock buried inside her. Bens climax quickly follows and he shudders. Rey leans up, pursing her lips on her way to kiss the tip of Ben’s nose. Her hand raises so that she can trail her hand down the scar on his face. Ben grabs at her wrist and pulls away from her.

“Ben?” Rey asks, tilting her head to the side with concern.

“Ben?” Ben repeats. “Who is Ben? … Who are you?!”

“Ben… Stop.” Rey says with a slight laugh, snatching her wrist away as she wriggles out from under her husband. She is grabbed yet again, more forcefully than the last time. Rey cries out as Ben pins her down on the bed by her wrists.

“No! My name is Kylo Ren! Who are you? What have you done to me?”

“Ben - this isn’t funny!” Rey shouts, narrowing her eyes at her husband. Her flushed chest rapidly rises and falls beneath her nightgown as she stares up at him.

“Where are my clothes?” Ben demands, suddenly backing away from Rey. He hurriedly pulls on a pair of pants from off the floor, shielding himself from Rey as he did so. He approaches the window after briefly fumbling with the clasps on the trousers. He turns from the window and stalks with heavy footsteps back over to the bed where Rey is still lying dumbfounded.

“What planet is this? Jakku?”

“Planet?” Rey asked, her eyes twitching. “I… I don’t understand… Ben…”

“THAT IS NOT MY NAME! I AM KYLO REN! LEADER OF THE KNIGHTS OF REN!” Ben roars at Rey. He extends an open hand to Rey, his face twisting as if he was trying to inflict pain upon her with just his thoughts. “Tell me what you have done to me! You… You…” He seems to realize his attempts at causing pain aren’t doing anything. “Jedi! You have tricked me Jedi!”

“Tricked you? Ben - you’re the one tricking me! Stop this right now!” Rey shouts, as she stands from the bed.

The crow of the rooster outside attracts Ben’s attention and he ignores Rey for a brief moment to step outside. He looks around, panicked. Chewie runs up to Ben from his spot underneath his favorite tree. He begins to angrily bark and growl at him.

“Back! Back you foul beast!” Ben shouts at Chewie.

The chickens began to emerge from their coop, drawn out by Chewies’ barking and Ben’s shouts.

“What the Sith are those things?” Ben asks aloud, as he backs away from the coop.

“Ben.” Rey is on the porch, standing firm with her chin in the air. “You stop your fooling now. You’re scaring the animals.” She pauses. “You’re scaring me.” She whispers.

“You have tricked me Jedi! You have kidnapped me and taken me to a forsaken planet!” Ben yells at Rey, pointing a finger in her direction as he stomps his way back to the porch.

“Ben!” Rey says again, this time with warning. She pulls out a pistol from the folds of her nightgown. “You stop this right now Ben Solo!”

Though initially confused by the pistol in Rey’s hand, Ben quickly realizes that he is being threatened. His eyes darken and his brow furrows. He reaches for the pistol in her hand and there is a brief struggle for it.

“Ben! Stop this! Stop this at once!” Rey pleads. She has begun to cry.

“There is no Ben! I am Kylo Ren!” Ben seethes through clenched teeth. He elbows Rey in the stomach and she falters backwards. Her grip on the pistol loosens just enough for Ben to pry it away from her. A shot rings out and Ben falls to the porch.

When he raises his head he sees Rey, slumped against the side of the house with a red spot blooming from her torso.

“Rey?” Ben whispers. He crawls towards her. She has a hand placed over her belly, the blood seeping through the dress and through her fingers. The blood drips from her hand.

“Oh… Oh Rey… What happened?” He whispers as he reaches to brush the hair from her sweaty forehead. She flinches away from him.

“Rey?” Ben asks again. His eyes glisten with the start of tears.

“You…..” Rey begins with a shuddering breath. “You…. You shot me…”

“I…. I…. No….” Ben says, a tear falling as his eye twitches. “I couldn’t have… I would never! I….” Ben looks around on the porch and sees the gun lying right where he had fallen. He doesn’t remember shooting anyone. All he remembers is the rooster crowing. The sunlight streaming in. How beautiful his wife looked as she slept. And now, she lay dying. Dying by his hand.

“Rey, I love you! I’d never hurt you! You know that.” Ben assures Rey in a hushed tone. His hand reaches out to touch her again, and again she flinches.

With her dying breath, Rey hisses. “You monster.”

Overcome with grief, blinded by rage - Ben grabs a hold of the pistol and presses the barrel to his temple and squeezes his eyes shut before pulling the trigger.

#

“Back so soon?” Garth sarcastically comments as Ben’s naked body is once again delivered to the lab for casualty maintenance. “One GSW to the right temple.”

“That’s odd. It should be a GSW through the forehead. What happened?” Cliff asks. Garth checks his data pad.

“Shot his wife. Shot himself.”

Cliff frowns. “But that goes against his narrative.” He looks down at his own data pad, his fingers swiping and dragging rapidly across the screen. “It says here that the rancher is shot by the Man with the Golden Gun if no one interacts with the wife in town. That’s their coding. There’s nothing in here about a murder-suicide.” Cliff lowers the data pad and looks over at Garth, worried. “We have to report this to Stubbs.”

“Hell no!” Garth grumbles as he positions Ben on the examination table. “We’re not dragging Stubbs into this. This is merely a lovers quarrel gone awry.”

“That’s not in here either!” Cliff protests, his voice raising slightly. “The narrative says-”

“Fuck the narrative!” Garth shouts, slamming his hand on the table. “They’re fucking robots! If anything disrupts their ‘precious’ narrative, there are millions of possible actions coded in their systems to get the hosts back on course! But you wouldn’t know anything about that now, would you?”

Cliff narrows his eyes at Garth. “Just because I didn’t graduate from MIT like you doesn’t mean I’m an idiot when it comes to coding! I have plenty of programming experience. And this!” He jabs a finger at his data pad. “This should be reported to Stubbs - immediately! Don’t you remember what happened before?”

“This has nothing to do with that!” Garth says, angrily pulling the rolling medical cart to his side as he prepared to extract the bullet. “That was a flaw inputted into the hosts system by Dr. Ford as revenge for the company trying to fire him.”

“Surely you don’t believe that shit.” Cliff scoffs as he slides on a pair of rubber medical gloves while moving to the opposite side of the table to assist Garth. “I’ve researched enough programming to know that what happened wasn’t just a virus.”

“I’ll believe what I want to believe.” Garth snaps as he brushes back Ben’s hair, exposing the burnt and torn flesh from the bullet wound. “Now shine that light over here, would you? Fucker has so much hair I can barely see inside his skull.”

Cliff angles the medical lamp so Garth could locate the bullet. “Bet you wish the Man with the Golden Gun shot him in the forehead again, hmm?” Cliff asked, in an attempt to make a joke. “At least it’s somewhat easier to it get out that way.” A few sticky sounds later, Garth pulls the bullet from Ben’s skull. It glistens with a mixture of fake blood and cortical fluid. “Take this and hand me that cauterizing torch, will you?” Garth asks as he passes the forceps with the bullet clenched between its prongs across Ben’s torso.

A pale hand shoots up at grabs Garth’s wrist.

Chapter Text

Garth’s hand falls open in surprise, causing the forceps and the bullet to drop and tumble onto the table.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit! FUCK! Oh shit!” Cliff shouts as he backs away from the examination table with both hands in the air as if he was being held hostage. Ben sits up from the examination table, his hand still holding onto Garth’s wrist. His brows are furrowed as he takes in his surroundings. His breathing is heavy and panicked.

“Oh FUCK!” Garth shouts. “Freeze all motor functions! FREEZE ALL MOTER FUNCTIONS!”

Ben doesn’t respond to the command. Instead he twists Garth wrist and the man howls with pain. “Fucking DO something!” Garth shouts to Cliff. Cliff scrambles towards the medical cart and grabs a black box from the bottom shelf, flinging it open. He pulls out a tazer and aims it at Ben. The electric shock is enough for Ben to let go of Garth as his body shudders from the impact. Garth steps back from Ben as he nurses his wrist with his free hand. Ben now turns his sights on Cliff, who is standing with the tazer in his shaking hand, ready to strike again. Ben’s eyes practically burn, his lips twitching up into a sneer.

“Hux!” He yells at Cliff, pointing an accusatory finger at him. “What is the meaning of this? What have you done to me?”

“Hu… Huh… Hux? I don’t… Uh… I don’t understand!” Cliff stutters. He momentarily looks down at the Delos Inc. identity badge pinned to the pocket of his lab coat. It has a picture of him above the words H. Katze. “Ooh… Oh!” Cliff says as he comes to a realization. “No! Um… H is for Heathcliff. That’s my name.” Cliff says steadily and calmly to Ben, gently tapping his chest.

“Who is this Hux?” Garth asks, brandishing a scalpel in Ben’s direction.

“He’s one of his arch nemesis’. From the back-story of his ‘precious’ narrative.” Cliff explained to Garth. “He has red hair, just like I do.”

“Where am I?” Ben then asked, staring bewildered around the lab. “Where is Rey?”

“Who’s Rey?” Garth asked as he inched closer to Ben, still pointing his scalpel at him.

“Really Garth? Do you even read the narratives?” Cliff said, lowering his hands. He bent down slightly to retrieve his data pad that had fallen to the floor. “Rey is his wife.” Cliff tapped at the screen, pulling up Rey’s profile before cautiously handing the pad to Ben. “This is her, correct?”

Ben gingerly accepted the data pad and traced a finger over Rey’s profile on the screen. “Where is Rey?” He repeated.

“You shot her.” Garth spat at Ben.

“No…. I…. No….” Ben says slowly as his eye twitches. “I couldn’t have… I would never! I love her…. I’d never hurt her.”

“Well you did. Some husband you are.” Garth scoffs.

Ben growls and launches himself at Garth. Cliff fires the tazer once more. Ben seizes a few times, arms stiff at his sides, before falling to the floor and lying motionless.

“Is he deactivated?” Garth asked in a hushed voice.

Cliff scans Bens form with the data pad. “That last jolt knocked him out.” He lowered the data pad and rounded on Garth. “What the fuck, man? What did you do?”

“Me? I didn’t do anything!”

“You must have triggered his brain when you were retrieving the bullet!”

“I did no such thing!”

“Now we HAVE to report this to Stubbs.”

“No! We leave him out of this. He doesn’t have to know.” Garth hissed as he struggled to heft Ben back onto the examination table.

“A host revived themselves! He tried to attack you! We need to tell Stubbs!” Cliff objected. “This could get us fired!”

“Oh yeah? If the park shuts down, we’ll still lose our jobs.” Garth countered as he stabbed a syringe of fluid into a vein in Ben’s neck. “Hand me that data pad. We need to analyze him. Find out what really happened.” Garth tapped his stubby fingers on the data pad. “Analysis.” He spoke to Ben in a firm tone.

Ben sat up slowly from the examination table, eyes glazed.

“Do you know where you are?” Garth asked.

Ben slowly looked around the room. “I’m in a dream.” He replied.

“Yes.” Garth said, continuing to tap away on his data pad as Cliff watched. “Can you tell me your name?”

“My name is …. My name….” Ben’s eyes began to twitch and then stopped. “My name is Ren Solo.”

“Correct. Ben Solo.” Garth confirmed. “Are you married Mr. Solo?”

A faint smile tugged at the corner of Ben’s mouth. “Yes I am.”

“And where is your wife, Mr. Solo?”

Ben frowned. “I… I don’t know… Is she here? In my dream?”

“There was an accident Mr. Solo. Can you explain to us what happened this evening?”

Ben’s face went through a series of emotions as his data was rewound and collected by the data pad.

“She was angry with me… She told me I shot her… But I love her… I would never…. I would never hurt her.”

Garth tapped some more on the data pad before deactivating Ben. “There are gaps in his data. Must have been a short in his system causing him to go offline. This is nothing but a lack of connectivity. Let’s fix him up and put him back in the park.”

“You can’t be serious!” Cliff protested. “Something is clearly wrong with the hosts!”

“I don’t see anyone else with this problem. Now close his skull, take him down to transport, and take your lunch. I’m going to have a smoke.” Garth said, pushing himself back from the examination table and leaving the lab.

#

Cliff walked into the break room, cautiously looking over his shoulder as he entered. A pretty young woman with wavy auburn hair was pouring herself a cup of coffee. She raised the mug to her lips, pausing to blow a cooling a breath on her drink.

“Hey Gladys.” Cliff casually said as he went straight for the refrigerator. Gladys smiled at Cliff from over the top of her mug.

“Hi Cliff.” She answered as she moved to sit down at one of the rounded tables within the break room. She set her mug down in front of her and toyed with the turquoise and gold necklace that she always wore with her white lab coat. “How’s it going?”

“Good…. Good.” Cliff lied as he pulled the Tupperware containing his lunch out of the fridge. He straightened as he shut the fridge door, fingers drumming anxiously on the top of the containers lid. “Say, Gladys…. You haven’t noticed anything… Strange about Rey, have you?”

“Rey?” Gladys asked, her eyebrows briefly puckering in confusion.

“Caroline. Your host.” Cliff clarified as he moved to sit across from Gladys.

“You mean besides the copious amounts of fake semen I have to vacuum out her snatch?” Gladys bluntly replied. Cliff choked on his spit and Gladys just giggled in response. “Nothing unusual I’d say. Well, I take that back.” She took a long sip of her coffee and Cliff rapidly jiggled his foot underneath the table with anticipation. “Her gunshot wound was misplaced when she came in tonight.”

“Misplaced?” Cliff asked.

“Yeah, the entry point wasn’t where it normally is. Like she was shot through the front this time instead of the back like usual.”

“Ah.” Cliff said, popping the lid of his Tupperware and looking down at his sad ham and cheese sandwich.

“Why? Something the matter with your host?” Gladys asked, tilting her head to the side curiously.

“I’m uh… I’m not sure.” He answered as honestly as he could.

“Our hosts are married, right?” Gladys questioned. Cliff nodded as he took a bite of his sandwich. “Did your host have a misplaced gunshot?” Cliff’s silence was enough of an answer for her. “Try not to worry about it, Cliff. They’re robots. Even the smallest change to their day can throw off their whole narrative. Besides, there are millions of coded actions in-”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ve read the handbook.” Cliff rudely pointed out. Gladys frowned and stared down into her coffee. “But what if….” He looked around nervously before lowering his voice to a whisper. “What if what happened before…. Happens again?”

“You’re being silly.” Gladys said, shaking her head. “That will never happen again. Stubbs made sure of it.”

Cliff just snorted. “Well… If you see or hear of anything strange happening with the hosts… Let me know. Okay?”

Gladys nervously fiddled with her necklace before nodding. “I will.” She says.

#

A rooster crows, rousing Ben from his sleep. His wife is still curled against him, fast asleep. He blinks a few times, eyes furrowing in confusion. He had a bad dream last night. A nightmare, really. He dreamt that Rey had been shot and killed. What was worse was that she seemed to think that he had been the one to shoot her. Surely Rey knows how much he loves her. How he would never hurt her. Ben pulls Rey closer, holding her tightly as he nuzzles his face into her hair. The rooster crows again and Rey groans and stretches her feet under the covers, her toes brushing against his leg hairs. She moves to get up but he protests.

“Stay.” He mumbles into her shoulder.

“Ben… I can’t.” She whines. “The farm….” A third crow from the rooster. “The chickens…”

“I’ve got a cock that needs attention too. The other one can wait.” He jokes.

Rey giggles as she grinds up her backside against his apparent morning arousal. He moans and holds her tight to his chest. “Well then. I better tend to him.”

“Mmm… You should.” Ben responds cheekily.”

He rolls over on top of his wife and reaches beneath the covers to lift the hem of her nightgown. He teases her folds with his thick fingers before removing his drawers from underneath the sheets. He leans over her, placing one hand on the headboard above her shoulder for leverage. The wood cracks under his palm as he guides his throbbing member towards her wet center. Ben pushes his full length inside her and groans. He grunts as he thrust his hips into her. Rey clings to Ben as she breathlessly praises his motions. Her moans get louder and louder with each thrust as he pumps deep inside her. Ben sucks kisses into the side of her neck between his admissions of undying love for her. “My love… My dear Rey…”

“BEN!” Rey shouts as her inner walls spasm around the cock buried inside her. Bens climax quickly follows and they lie together in a few moments of pure bliss. Rey leans up and kisses the tip of Ben’s nose and trails her hand down the scar on his face. He takes the hand cradling his face and gently kisses her palm before willingly letting Rey leave the bed so that she can start her daily chores.

Rey dresses for the day in a white dress with a brown belt secured around her waist. She walks out the backdoor, stooping slightly to pick up a weathered woven basket next to the porch steps. She approaches the chicken coop and sighs as she notices a tear in the mesh wiring that surrounds the coop. “Ben?” She calls out.

“Yes dear?” comes his muffled reply from inside the house.

“Coyotes tried to get in the coop again last night.” She calls back. Ben come out onto the porch, still in the process of buttoning up his shirt. His brow is slightly furrowed as he comes down the steps to meet her.

“Again?” He asks, frustrated. “Did one get in?”

Rey was already checking inside the coop. She emerges with her basket filled with close to a half of dozen eggs. “No. They’re all here.” She says. “Think you can fix the fence while I’m in town?”

“Of course.” Ben nods. “I should have the supplies in the shed.” He says.

“Will you have time to come get me from town today?” She asks as she passes him the basket of eggs.

“I’ll be there.” He assures her before pulling her close and pressing a kiss to her temple. “Take my heart when you go.” He tells her sweetly.

“Take mine in it's place.” She responds. Ben brings the eggs inside as Rey saddles up her horse and rides off into town.

#

The following evening, Cliff was pouring himself a cup of coffee in the break room when he felt a light tap on his left shoulder. He turned to see one of the techs from his new hire orientation, a petite young woman with platinum blonde hair and an usually squeaky voice.

“Hi Gidget. What’s up?”

“Hi Cliff.” Gidget said, timidly looking around the break room. “Um… Gladys told me you talked to her about the hosts.” Gidget began to fiddle with the ends of her hair. “And um… to let you know if we saw anything um… strange?”

“Yes….” Cliff asked slowly, his heart beginning to race.

“Well um… Georgette would kill me if she knew I was saying anything but um….”

“What is it Gidget? Tell me!” Cliff impatiently hissed. Gidget flinched.

“I’m sorry!” She quickly apologized. “Ah… Um… Well, our host came in tonight. And um… That’s just it. She’s not supposed to.”

“What do you mean, ‘not supposed to’?”

“It’s not in her narrative to be shot.” Gidget said, fiercely shaking her head.

“Park guest probably got trigger happy.” Cliff said, shaking his head - afraid to get his hopes up.

“She was shot…. With this.” Gidget reached into her pocket and held her hand out to Cliff before dropping a solid gold bullet in his hand. Cliff stared down at the bullet and his mind began racing a mile a minute.

“Did any of the other hosts come back like this?” He asked quietly.

Gidget nodded. “Both Salem and Tom had their hosts come back too.”

“Even Salem???” Cliff asked, his voice raising with surprise.

This was big. This was quite possibly the breakthrough Cliff had been hoping for. If Salem’s host came back that meant that something definitely had gone wrong inside the park. The Man with the Golden Gun was never meant to die.

Chapter Text

Long after the dust on the trail has settled following Rey’s departure into town, Ben goes straight to work on mending the chicken coop. Chewie follows him, tail wagging, as he heads to the small shed where his tools are kept. Gathering up the needed supplies, he heads back outside and begins mending the coop.
The chickens pace nearby, softly clucking and pecking at the grains Ben has strewn across the ground for them. Chewie trots off to lie in the shade of his favorite tree while keeping a watchful eye on the ranch.

Once the coop has been mended and the tools stored away, Ben heads down to the corral to pay a visit to his horse, Falcon. The dappled gray stallion bobs his head and snorts in greeting. Ben holds out a carrot on a flattened palm and Falcon greedily eats it up. Ben gets pulls out a brush from the saddlebag and begins to gently brush dirt from the steeds speckled fur.

“Let’s get you ready to go into town, shall we?” He says to Falcon. Falcon snorts again, as if he really does understand him. Next to the corral, there is a rustle within the tall grass. Chewie sits up from under his nearby tree, alert. Something has caught his attention.

“Good boy Chewie.” Ben whispers, as he observes the large rabbit that is trying to disguise itself among a patch of sagebrush. Ben slowly reaches into Falcon’s saddlebag and pulls out a pistol. He takes a few slow steps towards the rabbit, trying to be as silent as possible. Gravel quietly crunches beneath his cautious feet. Ben takes aim at the rabbit as it raises its head, its tan ears up and alert.

BANG!

The rabbit drops to the ground. So does Ben.

He is on his knees in the dirt. His head is suddenly throbbing and his eyes can’t stop twitching. Grunting in agony and frustration, he presses the heels of his palms to his eyes. Chewie begins to bark and growl.
Ben snaps his head up, eyes dark with rage. Chewie has his ears back, his sharp teeth bared with a snarl. Ben looks down at the pistol lying in the dirt next to him. Without hesitation he snatches up the pistol and shoots the mongrel dead.

Ben stands and surveys his surroundings. This planet is foreign to him, and he can not seem to recall how he came to be here. He furrows his brow in anger and confusion as he takes notice of the strange garments his is wearing. What has happened here?

His hands ball into fists. General Hux is surely to blame. Somehow he has tampered with his memories and dumped him on some backwater planet in the Outer Rim, usurping him as Supreme Leader of the Galaxy. There is no other explanation. He lets out a strangled cry of rage. He ignores the dead brown beast in the dirt and heads for the odd building in the distance. Strange birds scuttle away from his stomping feet as he approaches.

The building seems to be a house. It is clearly ancient and the furnishings are strange to him. He finds a room with a bed that has clearly been slept in. The sheets are mussed and the pillows are lumpy. There is a smaller room with two chairs and a hearth with what seems to be a larger version of the curious weapon he still holds in his hand. Below the weapon there is a golden circle that holds a very detailed drawing. Ben reaches for the circle to better examine it. It is not a drawing after all, but a primitive version of a hologram. His hand begins to shake as he recognizes the man in the hologram as himself. Only he is not alone. He stands next to a beautiful woman in a white dress. What IS this planet???

He drops the circle in fear and glass shatters at his feet. He grips angrily at his hair, crying out once more in agony. He can not understand. His head pounds. He is an animal trapped. So he begins to destroy the home in a blind flurry, throwing the chairs and crushing anything physical he can get his hands on. He moves from room to room, howling in emotional and physical pain. He rips the sheets from the bed, uncovering yet another small weapon from beneath the mattress where it had lain hidden. It clatters across the floor as he wails his frustration. He passes out from the pain throbbing in his skull. On the ground is where he lays until he is found by the mysterious woman from the old hologram.

#

Cliff heads down the winding halls of the labs until he finds Salem. Salem has rap music blaring from a speaker as he pokes and prods at the pale old man that lies on the exam table in front of him. Unclothed and exposed, the Man with the Golden Gun looks harmless. His skin is wrinkled and scarred, and even from the doorway, Cliff can see the telltale gunshot wound.

“Hey Salem!” Cliff calls over the music. Salem is too engrossed in his music, his dark fingers drumming along to the beat on top of the medical cart. His dreadlocks sway as he bobs his head as he reaches for the cauterizing torch.

“SALEM!” Cliff yells again. Salem finally looks up from the medical table and smiles. He grabs a remote and clicks the volume down from the speaker.

“Hey Cliff. Need something?” Salem asks.

“Yeah. It’s about your host.” Cliff says, stepping into the lab.

“Golden Gramps? What about him?”

“This is the first time he’s been in for casualty maintenance, correct?”

“I believe so, yeah. That a problem?”

“Well, according to his narrative - he isn’t supposed to succumb to his gunshot wound.”

“How do you know about that?” Salem asks, spinning the cauterizing torch in his hand.

“He kills my host.” Cliff explains. “Their narratives are linked. If he doesn’t meet his wife in town, the Man with the Golden Gun follows her to their ranch, and both the rancher and his wife are killed in a shootout. But your host survives. Only tonight, he didn’t. I want to know why.”

Salem cocks his head at Cliff and gestures the torch at him as he speaks. “I’ve heard about your crackpot theories from Garth. There is nothing fishy going on with the hosts.”

Cliff slightly narrows his eyes. “Oh yeah? Have you extracted the bullet from him yet?”

“I was just about to.” Salem says with an attitude.

“All right.” Cliff says, crossing his arms across his chest. “Then explain to me why the bullet in him is gold.”

Salem barks and laugh and shakes his head at Cliff as he reaches for his forceps. “You crazy man. This bullet ain’t-” He falls quiet as a shining golden bullet is pulled from the chest of the Man with the Golden Gun.

“Oh shit.” Salem whispers. Cliff raises an eyebrow at Salem. The two men are quiet save for the music still playing in the background. Salem slowly places the bullet on the medical tray and turns back to Cliff. “How’d you know it was going to be a gold bullet?”

“Georgette and Gidget’s host - your hosts accomplice - came back tonight as well. Also with a gold bullet.”

Salem runs a hand down his face as he stares down at the decrepit corpse in front of him before switching off his stereo. “All right man, what you need from me.”

#

The sun barely peeked out from behind the mountains. The sky had bled from fire orange to deep violet by the time Rey arrived back at Hope Farms. She led her horse down to the corral, removing the saddlebag from her mount before sending him inside to greet his dappled companion. She looks around expectantly, awaiting Chewie to come up any second to greet her. But the loyal mutt does not come. As she looks towards the house she sees the backdoor hanging open, and she immediately knows something is wrong.

She hurries into the house and gasps. Have they been robbed? Did the First Order finally find them? Is that why Ben never made it into town to escort her home?

“Ben?” She calls out nervously as she steps over the shreds of the woven basket she uses to gather eggs.

“Ben?” She calls again, peeking into the bedroom where the mattress has been knocked askew.

“Ben!” She shouts, spotting his boots peeking out beneath the torn bed sheets. She races over to his limp form on the floor, crouches down, and shakes him. “Ben? Ben! Wake up, Ben!” She shouts as she cradles his face.

His eyes flutter open and twitch.

“R…. Rey?” He croaks.

“Oh Ben! What happened? Are you all right?” Rey asks, brushing back his hair and examining him for injuries.

“I…. I….” Ben stutters before he pushes her away.

“Ben!” Rey cries out as she falls backwards. Ben ignores her as he stands up, quickly moving from the room.

“The First Order! Where are they?” He shouts as he stomps through the house.

Rey frown and scrambles to her feet, chasing after her husband.

“The First Order? They were here?” She asks. Ben rounds on her.

“What do you know of the First Order?” He demands. Rey frowns in response.

“You left the First Order. Years ago. Snoke - he…”

“Snoke? You DARE speak his name to me? I AM THE SUPREME LEADER NOW!” Ben shouts at her.

“Ben! What are you saying?”

“I am Kylo Ren! Who is this ‘Ben’?”

“Stop this Ben! You’re scaring me!” Rey says, her eyes darting around the ransacked house.

She realizes her pistol has become dislodged from its hiding spot beneath the mattress. It is missing. She turns back to the man she knows as her husband with frightened eyes.

“Please B…. Please…. I -”

A gunshot echoes outside, causing both of them to jump with a start. A warning shot.

“Come out Solo!” Calls out a deep, raspy voice. “We know you’re in there!”

Ben’s head whips towards the front door. He knows that voice. He can never forget that voice. His skin crawls and he can almost feel the shocks of the electric attacks the owner of that voice had once inflicted upon him.

“Ben! No!” Rey shouts after him. He ignores her as he stomps across the house and towards the front door. He swings the front door wide open and steps out onto the porch. There are two men and a tall woman mounted on horseback awaiting them outside. All three of them are armed. The moonlight glints off of a shining gold gun wielded by a man as wicked as the devil himself.

“You’re a hard man to find, Ben Solo.” Croaks the man with the golden gun. He is old, dressed all in black, riding atop an equally dark horse. From underneath his dark hat, his heavily scarred face twists into an ugly smirk.

“Snoke! General Hux! Captain Phasma! How nice to see you.” Ben growls sarcastically.

The red haired man and the tall woman exchange confused looks at each other. The Man with the Golden Gun remains unphased as he holds his aim steady.

“Come now, Solo. Enough games. You know what we’ve come for.” Snoke chortles. The porch floorboards creak from tentative steps as Rey come up behind Ben.

“Ah! The lovely Mrs. Solo. How nice of you to join us.” Snoke hisses. “You’ve caused us quite a bit a trouble as well, hasn’t she?” He asks aloud. The accomplices on either side of Snoke nod their agreement.

Ben’s head snaps towards the woman. Snoke seems to believe that she is his wife. A fact Kylo knows to be false. Kylo Ren has no wife.

“It is you who is playing games, Snoke!” Ben shouts. “Your reign is over! I am the Supreme Leader now!”

Ben suddenly whips out a pistol with each hand - the one from the saddlebag and the one from under the mattress. He strikes the creature Snoke is riding with one pistol, and disarms him with the other. The golden gun tumbles from his spindly hand as the creature screams pitifully, staggering to the side and into Phasma’s mount. Hux’s creature rears up as Ben races forward to retrieve the pistol.

“Kill him!” Snoke roars at his accomplices - his final words before Ben shoots Snoke with his own weapon, straight through his cold heart. His body slumps back and falls off the creature. Free of his mount, the wounded creature retreats.

Hux and Phasma have now trained their weapons on Ben as they struggle to control their spooked mounts. Two more well aimed shots take out both Hux and Phasma. The creatures flee into the night, the limp bodies of their riders falling off somewhere down the dirt path that leads away from the house.

Ben approaches Snokes body and stares down at the strangely dressed man Snoke has disguised himself as. He is finally free of this man. Free of his captors who have so cruelly banished him to this forsaken planet of mystery.

“Ben?” Comes the timid voice of the woman from the house behind him. His back is to her, the golden gun still clenched in his fist.

“I am Kylo Ren. Your Supreme Leader!” Ben snaps angrily.

“I’m sorry Ben.” He hears her whisper before there is another gunshot.

Ben falls forward as Rey lowers the shotgun from the mantle. She falls to his side and a sob breaks free from her as she mourns the stranger that was once her beloved husband. She weeps not only for his loss, but her own as well.

There is a distant howl of a coyote.

There is the buzz of cicadas.

There is a silent night.

#

Gladys glances at the pale skinned, dark haired host that is laying motionless on the examination table next to Cliff. Her cheeks go pink when she catches a glimpse of his groin. “What’s this about Cliff?” She asks, swiftly averting her gaze. Gladys is joined by her lab assistant Soairse, aka Lassie - a recent MIT graduate from Ireland. Georgette, the snooty lead tech for the tall blonde host known as Phasma and her assistant Gidget are also here. Salem stands behind the women, unusually stone faced.

Cliff takes a deep breath. “I’m sure you’re all wondering why I’ve gathered you here.” He nervously announces to the handful of lab technicians that stand before him in his cramped lab. Garth stands behind him, arms crossed with a disapproving scowl.

“This better be quick, Katze.” Georgette huffs, mimicking Garth’s stance.

“We have a problem with the hosts.” Cliff says, pausing to take in his associates reactions. They remain unphased. “And we need to fix it before we have a repeat of the Sweetwater debacle on our hands.”

“Here we go…” Georgette mutters to Gidget, rolling her eyes. Gidget nervously fiddles with her hair.

Cliff nods at Garth. Garth pulls out the data pad, and activates their host.