Chapter 1: Of the Mother
Leia Organa Skywalker- Darth Veil
When the Galactic Civil War ended at the Battle of Endor (4 ABY) which saw the defeat of the loathsome Rebel Alliance, the Empire rose to ultimate power over the Galaxy, bring peace and prosperity to all. Carrying the Empire to victory, Lord Darth Vader and his daughter, Leia Skywalker, now Darth Veil, cut down the rebel forces with the power of the Dark Side of the Force. After the surrender on Endor, Vader and Veil captured a wounded Luke Skywalker and questioned him for secrets of the Rebels and Jedi. Managing to escape with his life, the Jedi Skywalker fled the Death Star and ran away to hide out in the Unknown Outer Regions.
Please Note: The Jedi, Luke Skywalker, is a dangerous fugitive from the Empire and should be treated with extreme caution. Do not attempt to confront or capture him. Simply inform the Empire and wait for the Stormtroopers to arrive and assist you to safety and apprehend the fugitive. It is essential to the Empire that Skywalker is retrieved alive, so do not attempt to harm him. He may only be harmed in an act of direct self-defense. Any damage inflicted on the fugitive is punishable by serious consequences.
Darth Vader continued to serve under the Emperor while training Darth Veil as his own apprentice. Leia still had much to learn from her father about the Dark Side.
Leia Organa Skywalker learned of her origins upon the first meeting with her father, aboard the First Death Star, after being captured for conspiring with the Rebel Alliance. Through the Force, Vader sensed his connection to the young woman, and after consulting with the Emperor, his suspicions were confirmed. After her torcher for information, and the destruction of Alderann, Vader revealed to Organa her true heritage and suggested she had great potential in the Dark Side. Enraged, Organa attempted to escape, beginning to experiment with her Force abilities, but was thwarted by Vader. She was later rescued by Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, smuggler and criminal. Their escape was made possible after the known Jedi fugitive, Obi-Wan Kenobi, engaged Darth Vader in a deadly lightsaber duel, resulting in the Jedi’s death.
Struggling with her draw to the Dark Side, Organa rejoined the Rebels as a commanding officer. She did not inform her compatriots about her connection to Vader or realize the truth of Luke Skywalker as her twin brother. Organa’s relationship with the Smuggler, Han Solo, grew into a complex romance after Skywalker left to travel to a distant planet to train to be a Jedi.
The pair traveled to Cloud City to meet with an old associate of Solo’s, Lando Calrissian. But the ex-smuggler had been secretly working with the Empire and the Bounty Hunters Darth Vader had employed to assist in the capture of the rebels. Solo and Organa were taken into custody. While Solo was given to the Bounty Hunters and being prepped to be frozen in Carbonite (a dangerous procedure and uncommon in those days because of the complexities of handling the substance) Organa was questioned by Vader himself. Again, Vader insisted of her growing power in the darkness and invited her to join him. He then revealed that Skywalker was his son, making him her twin brother, and assured Organa it they could be together as a family, the most powerful in the galaxy. In the end, she declined but the idea had been planted in her head and the dark side was working strongly within.
When Luke Skywalker sensed the danger his comrades were in, he left the planet where he’d been training in the outlawed religious order of the Jedi, and snuck aboard the station called Cloud City. There, after a failed rescue attempt, he was confronted by Darth Vader once again. While Calrissian betrayed the deal he had made with the Empire, Skywalker and Vader fought within the center of the station. Unbeknownst to father or son, Organa had broken away from the group when she sensed the fight beginning through her connection to the Force.
It was then that Darth Vader revealed the truth about Skywalker’s lineage. Though the details are unclear to the majority of the Galaxy, somehow Skywalker got the upper hand. Lord Vader fought valiantly and fearlessly, commanding the Dark Side with the authority of a true Sith, but Skywalker was underhanded and devious and sensed Vader’s compassion for him, and he used it to his advantage. Even after loosing an arm, the Jedi was filled with anger at this revelation; for he hated Vader and the Dark Side. He prepared to strike down his father with his own Lightsaber (see pg. 422 for the history and creation of the Lightsaber) but Organa was secretly watching. When she saw what her brother was about to do, she revealed herself, holding him at blasterpoint, forcing him to stop. When Luke attempted to attack her, Organa shot him with a nonfatal blaster bolt and he fell through the ventilation systems and down to the bottom of the station, where he was rescued by Calrissian and Solo. Organa took up the fallen Lightsaber that had once belonged to her father, and claimed it as her own; later bleeding the Kyber Crystal (see pg. 121) to the Dark Side.
Father and Daughter united by the power of the Dark Side, Vader and Organa returned to the Emperor, who allowed Vader to train Leia as his own apprentice. It was not until they captured and tortured the Jedi Skywalker at the Battle of Endor, did Organa become the fearsome and diplomatic Darth Veil the Galaxy knows today. She was knighted by Sidious himself sometime after the victory celebration (though it is also noted that both she and Vader were severely punished after Skywalker’s escape and were forced to go through several difficult trials to prove their renewed allegiance).
It is unclear when it happened, but we are fairly sure it was in the year following the fall of the Rebel Alliance, that Veil became pregnant with a son. Sources can only speculate that the father was none other than the Smuggler turned Rebel General, Han Solo; since Leia Skywalker has never shown any romantic interest in anyone else, and we know she continued her meetings with him even after their separation.
In the year 5 ABY, the boy was born, and was christened by his mother, Ren Skywalker, giving him the name she had inherited from her own father. Though devoted to raising her son, as the boy grew, Darth Veil rose through the ranks and was given more responsibility within the Empire. Vader began to age and grow weaker due to his unstable physical health, while Veil thrived, working in tandem with her aging father. When Ren was twelve years of age (17 ABY) Veil was promoted in rank to command the undefeated forces of the Empire by the Emperor’s decree.
As Ren Skywalker grew, he was trained by his mother and his grandfather in the Dark Side of the Force. When old enough, he was employed under Veil as a leader of a special operations Squadron that specialized in stealth and reconnaissance. Though still not a Sith, and not yet promoted to the level of Apprentice, Ren is directly overseen by Darth Veil and does her bidding.
In the year 22 ABY, the Rebel Smuggler Han Solo was captured singlehandedly by Darth Veil. She brought him to the Emperor as a token of her alliance. Solo was killed in a private execution taking place on Mustafar and was likely cremated and buried in an undisclosed location. We know nothing else about this matter.
Today, (27 ABY) Darth Veil leads the Empire’s forces to glory and victory after victory, as they continue to claim and civilize the Outer Reaches of the Galaxy. She and her son reside in the now restored planet of Slelqtor (once Endor) the Capital of the Empire, which the Death Star resides above.
-From Page 6966 of “A History of an Empire Reborn”; Mancoon Dejen, 27 ABY
Son of the mighty Darth Veil (Leia Skywalker), and Grandson of Lord Vader himself, sworn to Emperor Palpatine; Ren Skywalker is rumored to be
Chapter 2: A Sea of Nothing
She bites her lip to keep from crying out, but her hand still stays clamped on the back of her neck, grasping at the intangible, horrible prickling feeling sending an alarm throughout her whole body. Danger; it says. Something is coming. Something bad.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Something is coming. Rey lies in the darkness behind her eyes, basks in it, burrows down and hides in it. Her dreams shake with a darkness. They rumble. A shiver rises like a wave across the skin of her exposed arm as she feels it moving inside of her mind. A darkness; it blocks out the stars, grows and builds as she swims across the pond of space. And then a piece of that darkness draws near, morphing into a hand, reaching to caress her face. Strangest of all; in this dream of that tastes like a nightmare, she is not afraid of it, does not back away. There is something familiar in its soft touch; something the core of her knows better than even her own heartbeat, that makes her lean into the fingers of smoke.
Something is coming.
Then she feels it. Warmth on her skin, her real skin. And when her eyes fly open, there is a bright sunbeam covering her entire chest, blazing in through the small window in the wall above her make-shift bed. “Oh no!” She mutters, throwing aside the threadbare sheet and lurching to her feet. She was supposed to be up hours ago, before the sun had risen. Now, she’s lost most of the morning! The sand is going to be blazing hot and all the other scavengers will have hours lead on her. She’ll never find enough to buy portions for tonight’s dinner. Stupid! Stupid! How could she have slept so long? She never sleeps in this late!
Her dreams forgotten, all else forgotten but the heat of the ruthless sun and her empty belly, Rey grabs her staff and bag of gear from just inside the doorway and races out the door of the fallen At-At and into the blinding light of Jakku’s sand swept plains.
The rest of the morning is a blur. She retunes to the ruins of the Star Destroyer she’d been scavenging the day before, only to find it bare, picked clean by others who had the sense to arrive before the sun did. In a foul mood, Rey kicks about in the wreckage but only finds a few screws, bolts, and wire casings. But there’s no use in wasting the rest of the day feeling angry or sorry for herself. Standing here won’t buy her the next few weeks of survival; only the scraps of other people’s hard-earned labor can do that. So, she sets off on her speeder, engine thrumming between her tightly gripped knees, until she finds the bare-boned carcass of an old Imperial star ship.
She has to fight off three Tusken Raiders to claim the rights, but finally she gets to work on what remains of the Imperial Fighter. It’s a poor haul in the end. She’ll have to work doubly hard for several days, just to make up for today’s mistakes. Loading on as much as she can fit onto the speeder and burying the rest, Rey rides inland, toward the outpost. The ride gives her a moment to breathe, a moment to think.
Closing her eyes, she holds the controls steady and finally allows herself a deep sigh. This has been one of the worst days in a very long time. And Rey knows about bad days; just as she knows about waiting. It had all started when she’d woken up so late that morning. But looking back further, she can see this foul mood began with the strange dream she’d experienced. She can’t remember ever having the dream before, but when she’d been in it, it had felt more familiar, more real than her own life here on Jakku. It had darkened her mood all day, made her jumpy and irritated. Frightened. Something is coming; that’s what her dream had been trying to tell her. And though everything feels normal on the sandy sea, she can’t shake that feeling.
Niima Outpost. The refuse pile of Jakku. It is late afternoon when she arrives on the outskirts of town and climbs off her speeder, immediately gathering her wares and begins dragging them towards the cleaning tent.
Rey is halfway there, grunting and struggling with the heavy net that digs into the sand because of the weight of all that metal, when she feels something prickle on the back of her neck. It makes her fists clench, her muscles tremble. A tremor runs down her spine. Immediately releasing the net, Rey’s hand flies to the back of her neck, making her lose her balance and go down hard on her tailbone. She bites her lip to keep from crying out, but her hand still stays clamped on the back of her neck, grasping at the intangible, horrible prickling feeling sending an alarm throughout her whole body. Danger; it says. Something is coming. Something bad.
A moment later, someone cries out from the other side of the outpost. Then another, and another. The noise of alarmed people and creatures swells and draws nearer, and then joins with another sound. The sound of ships. Still cupping a hand to the base of her skull, Rey slowly turns to see the entire population of Niima Outpost scrambling, flailing about, as the horizon darkens with a cloud of black ships. She knows those ships, those models. Everyone knows them. You don’t have to be a scavenger to recognize that the sips approaching in that dark swarm belong to the Empire.
“Run!” Her mind- no something deeper engrained in her very core- screams. “Run!”
Dropping her goods, her very livelihood, Rey scrambles across the sand, her feet slipping. She’s beneath the flapping side of a tent before she even dares take a breath. But she doesn’t stop there. Crawling on her hands and knees, she dives out the other side, and into another dwelling made of old metal and rotting cloth. Everyone knows what happens when the Empire comes to a middle-on-nowhere planet like Jakku.
Rey has just made it to the last tent in the clearing when the squadron of ships arrive. The engines are a deafening roar. They kick up the wind, so that the sides of all the buildings billow and rip open. Rey remains inside of hers, lying on her belly behind a pile of crates, peeking over the top. She watches as the ramp of a huge, black Emperial Cruiser, lowers open, hissing with steam and flooding the dusky dessert with an unnatural white light. Rows of Stormtroopers file out, and behind them; the dark figure of their commander. A woman. Rey can tell by her figure, and by the hair, tied in a complex knot behind her head, just above the cruel curve of the shiny black mask that covers her entire face. There is a weapon in her hand. Rey wonders for just a moment what it is, because from this distance it only glints silver in the bright lights. But then, the woman warrior lifts it above her head and ignites it; and Rey knows exactly what it is- who this is. A Sith Lord.
The woman waves the blazing red blade of her weapon in a high arc. When she speaks, her voice is toneless, modulated behind the mask. “People of Niima Outpost!” But the people aren’t listening. They cower beneath the harsh lights and the woman’s soulless stare; some even cry out. Turning to a Stormtrooper to her right, the Sith Lord nods, and the soldier lifts some kind of device from his belt. A moment later, an earsplitting sound pierces out from the device, vibrating the very air itself. When the Trooper returns the device to his waist, the desert is as silent as a tomb.
“People of Niima Outpost.” The Sith Lord raises her voice again and this time, it can be heard clearly, echoing across the dunes. “I am in need of your cooperation. I am looking for someone. Bring forth all the young women of your outpost so they may stand in the favor of the Empire.” There is a slight rumbling from the people scattered among the shack and tents, but the woman raises her lightsaber again. “Do this quickly and without a fuss, and you will be rewarded. Refuse to assist the Empire or resist, and your entire population will suffer the consequences.”
Young women? Rey thinks. No… No! What could this mysterious woman want with them- with her? Rey has heard stories about rich mercenaries and crime lords visiting inconsequential planets like this and taking all the girls as prizes in their parties and tournaments. But never the Empire. What does the Empire want with them? Rey can’t help feeling that it must be something worse even than the drunken celebrations of the crime syndicates.
She watches, pearlized, as a mad scramble ensues. The villagers dash into the huts, and then girls begin to trickle into the clearing. The stormtroopers force them into orderly lines, nudging them with the butt ends of their weapons; like a heard of Banthas. Rey scrambles under a pile of old rugs when one of the men comes into her tent, searching for more girls. He finds none.
Finally, all the young women of Niima Outpost are corralled into clearing, into the cold, blinding lights. The desert grows quiet once again. The Sith Lord disengages her red lightsaber and replaces it at her belt, then, moving to the end of the line of girls, she reaches out a leather-clad glove toward the first’s face. Rey- and everyone else in the gathering- holds her breath, but after a moment, nothing happens, and she moves on to the next woman in line. Slowly, patiently, she makes her way down row after row, keeping her hand raised the entire time, a look of concentration furrowing her brows. Whatever she’s looking for; she doesn’t seem to have found it. Because a moment later, she is whirling toward the other villagers, fists curling at her sides. “Where are the others?! There must be more!”
“I-.” One of the men stutters. “But there are no more, My Lord.”
“Quiet”, she snarls, and swipes her hand through the air, somehow knocking him to the ground. “I know when you are lying.” Her narrowed eyes survey the edges of the clearing. “General.”
“Yes, Lord Veil!”
“Find me every last woman in this village. Tear the place apart if you have to.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
Before Rey can react, the entire squadron of white armor-clad soldiers are rushing out among the tents, blasters raised. No! There’s no time! There’s nowhere to run, but she has no choice but to risk it. If she stays here, they’ll surely find her. She falls to her belly and begins to crawl, to the other side of the tent and then under the flapping side. There is nothing to shield her, nothing to cast a shadow for her to hide in, but still she slithers along on her belly toward the group of huts on the next rise. Breaths rasping, heart pounding, Rey crawls along as fast as she possibly can, ignoring the burn of the sand on her skin, the burn of her lungs and her muscles.
Even before they call out, she knows they’ve found her. Their heavy footsteps are too close, too loud in her ears. Then they pause for a brief moment and the light shining over her shoulder grows even brighter. “You there! Halt!” What can she do but continue to crawl onward? Even as they surround her, their white boots kicking sand into her eyes and nose, she pushes on. At the last moment, when hands close around her ankles, she lashes out with kicks and punches. But it hurts her far more than it hurts them. Flesh and one are no match for solid metal.
The Stormtroopers carry her, kicking and screaming, back to the illuminated circular clearing. When the Sith Lord comes into sight, she digs her heels into the dirt, attempting to hold herself back. More than anything in this whole planet, she does not want to me this woman!
After a bit more struggling, they throw her to her knees before the woman. Where she kneels in the sand, the Sith casts a long shadow across her body; stark and wicked.
I refuse to cower; Rey thinks to herself. Gritting her teeth through the grains of sand, she shakes her head. I cannot grovel on the ground like this! Mustering all her courage, Rey rises shakily to her feet and lifts her head to face the woman.
Cold, inhuman eyes. Rey can see nothing behind the glassy exteriors of the mask’s lens. The hash, black mask is molded to the Sith’s features like a second slimy skin. And from her hairline to her fingertips, no piece of her skin is showing. The woman is shorter than Rey herself; though even so, Rey feels the animalistic urge to cower beneath her authoritative gaze. The woman radiates power, confidence. A dark energy courses beneath her skin; Rey can feel it, like the live wire in a ships control panel. She is in control and she knows it, counts on it. Rey knows, without testing her, that this woman could destroy her with a snap of her fingers, and that would be the end.
The Sith regards Rey. She remains quiet for several moments, observing the scavenger. Then with a calm grace, she raises a hand of dark leather splays her fingers in Rey’s face. Rey tries to back away, to evade the sudden probing push against the inside of her mind, but she feels the hard press of the trooper’s blasters at her back.
“What is your name?” Rey does not reply. It hurts! The woman is pressing- probing at her mind, burying deep inside. Then again, “What is your name?”
Rey grits her teeth. Tears prick her eyes. Maybe she should try to lie, give a fake name. But the Sith is already inside her own memories. She will know soon enough. “Rey.”
“Rey what?” The woman asks calmly.
“Nothing.” Rey’s voice cracks. “Nothing at all.”
This is wrong! This is so wrong. Its pervasive and disgusting. It hurts. Gasping, Rey tries to force back against the overwhelming dark power this woman commands, but she is no match for it. The Sith doesn’t ask any more questions. She knows exactly where to find everything she needs.
After several more moments of searching, the Sith leaves her mind with a jerk, and her hand falls to her side. Rey imagines a smile twisting somewhere behind that dark mask. “Very good.” She says simply. “Well Rey, consider yourself lucky. You’re coming with me.” Then she turns and starts marching toward her ship, motioning for her soldiers to follow. Rough hands grab Rey and, while one of the troopers enclose her wrists in binders, the others shove her forward.
“Wait! No”, Rey suddenly cries out, heart in her throat. This can’t be happening! “Where? Where are you taking me?!”
The Sith doesn’t even stop. Slowly, she turns her head. “No one is going to hurt you. You’re to be a guest of the Empire.”
No! No, please. “I can’t!” At that, the woman does pause, craning her neck to glance back.
“I can’t leave! My parents-. They’re gone, but they’ll be coming back soon. I have to wait for them!”
The lights reflect off of the Sith’s mask. There is a moment of silence. “How old are you?”
“Doesn’t seem like you’re still in need of your parents.” She replies flatly.
Rey shakes her head. She can’t help it. She’s crying now. “Please. They’re coming back. They need to know that I waited. I need to be here when they come back!”
“Sometimes people just don’t come back, no matter how much we want them to.” There’s an edge to the Sith’s voice. Rey’s stomach goes cold. She swallows thickly.
“They will. They- they are…” She attempts.
The Sith Lord turns fully round then. There’s somehow a softness to her, a humanity underneath the folds of her hooded, deep burgundy robe and leather belt fastened round her waist. Her voice is soft, almost consoling, when she speaks. “Dear child, you already know; they’re never coming back.”
Then they’re yanking her along, and she’s fighting back harder than ever, tears stinging her eyes and rage roiling in her veins. She won’t go! She can’t! But she cannot break away, and when the ramp slides open again, with a hiss of steam, her captors drag her through the opening, behind the dark woman.
They lead her to a small compartment near the front of the ship. The walls and floors are a shiny black and there are benches set into all four walls. The troopers deposit her onto one of them, then retreat from the room, the door sliding closed behind them. Before Rey has a chance to jump to her feet and make a plan of escape, the Sith Lord enters the room. Rey watches, hunched against the wall as she crosses the distance; and to Rey’s utter surprise, raises her hands to her face and removes her mask. It hisses a little as the clamps that hold it place recede back into the metal of the mask, and all that is left is the face of a woman, a human woman.
She’s older than Rey expected. The corners of her eyes and her forehead is creased with wrinkles. In this softer lighting, Rey can see that the dark brown strands of her hair are beginning to be threaded with grey. Rey can do nothing but stare in wonder at the small woman before her, who looks so normal, so nonthreatening; she could be someone’s mother. She could be just normal woman… if not for the lightsaber clipped to her belt, and the unnatural yellow and red rings inside the irises of her eyes.
Rey does not speak. But after several moments of close scrutinization, the Sith does. “My name is Darth Veil. I am a Lord of the Sith, a servant of the Emperor, second to only him and Darth Vader.” Very slowly, Darth Veil’s hands move to clasp in front of her. Her voice is calm and warm. “Since we are going to be working closely together, you may simply call me, Veil.” Darth Veil falls silent then, waiting patiently for Rey’s response. She’s not going to get one. Rey has nothing left to say to her.
After another long moment of silence, Veil sighs and turns, making her way to the bench opposite, and taking a seat. The two women stare each other down from across the cramped space.
“Perhaps you’re wondering why you’re here”, Veil says. And though Rey has intended to ignore her, she nods. She really does want to know. “I have been searching for quite some time now, across this entire system, and many others, for someone like you.” She takes a moment to carefully remove one of her long, leather gloves. “You see, my son is in need of a mate. A wife. The time has come and gone, but it had to be the right person. And so, I have worked tirelessly; and now I’ve found you.”
Me? Rey thinks, with sudden horror rising in her chest. A mate? A wife for some strange man, the son of this evil-looking Imperial woman? It can’t be! Terror rising in her throat, Rey glances around at the slick black walls, anywhere but at the Sith. Could she still somehow be locked inside her dream? This entire day has been bazar enough…
Finally, Rey meets Veil’s yellow eyes. She has to swallow tickly to keep the panicked tears from her own. “Why me? If you could have anyone, why me?” It doesn’t make sense. Surely, they would want someone wealthy, from a high-born family; not some dessert rat.
“That was the problem…” Darth Veil sighs, stretching her feet out before her, relaxing even as the ship shudders around them. “My son could have anyone in the Galaxy he wanted. But he didn’t want any of them. They tried- oh yes, they tried. Those silly rich girls from the Empire’s finest families. They would have tried anything to get into a position of such power. But my son is too good for them. I command the Empire’s forces, sit at the sable of Darth Sidious himself, just as my son will do someday when I am gone. That is why we needed someone unknown, someone outside the politics, who wouldn’t try to influence him one way or the other.” Off comes the other black glove, and Veil then drapes them across a leather-clad thigh, poking out from the slits in her long, red robe. “But just as he will take over for me when I am too old; his children will need to take over for him. That is why it was imperative to find him a woman who is strong with the Force.”
The Force? Rey has heard of such a thing, though she’d always imagined it as sort of a fairy tale. The Force is what gives the Emperor his power. It is also what gives the Sith power. How could she have such a gift? Noticing Rey’s puzzled expression, Veil leans forward in her seat.
“I have not been able to find someone strong enough with the Force before this. My son is incredibly gifted, the strongest Force-sensitive in a generation. What he really needs, is an equal. When we neared the surface of this planet, I sensed you. Out of everyone on all of Jakku, you were the strongest. I knew then that I had found the one.” Starring up in wonder, Rey watches as Lord Veil crosses the room to stand before her.
“You will be happy in the Capitol. My son will take care of you.” Veil’s voice is almost tender. “You will never want for anything again. You will never miss another meal. You will never lie awake on that hard bed inside of pile of ruins, alone. You will never have to work the skin from your fingers, and walk until the heels of your feet bleed ever again.” She has seen everything in Rey’s mind; she knows everything the young woman has endured her whole life. And Rey can’t help but admit; it does sound nice.
“You will marry my son and bare his children, and as long as you do as you’re told and remain loyal to him, you will never have a cause to worry again.” The ship lurches sickeningly around them. And the woman takes a step back, returning the gloves to her hands and tucking her mask into the crook of her arm. “You’re a very lucky girl Rey. See that do not disappoint us.” Then she turns and the door whooshes open. Rey is about call out, but then the Stormtroopers return and take her by the arms. This time she does not struggle.
Rey’s mouth falls open, blinking rapidly and lurching to a stop, as the troopers lead her down the ramp and out into the hugest building she’s ever seen. The hangar bay is filled with ships; Cruisers and Tie-Fighters, and there are soldiers everywhere. But there’s no time to gape. Before Rey can get a good look at her surroundings, her guards are hauling her after Lord Veil, who is marching purposefully toward a dark hallway. At the entrance, flanked by dozens of troopers, stands a menacing looking figure, dressed all in black. He is also wearing a mask.
Darth Veil comes to a stop before him, and so does Rey. Bowing his head in a show of respect, he does not look at Rey, only keeps his attention focused on Veil. He’s much taller than either of them, with broad shoulders and dark tunic that reaches just above his knees. His mask covers his entire head, so she has no idea of what could be underneath.
“Master Ren.” Veil says, nodding to the man.
“Lord Veil.” The man replies. His voice is unnaturally deep through the mask’s modulator.
“As you can see, we’re returned successful.” She motions toward Rey, and the man- Master Ren- nods. “Lord Vader and Emperor Palpatine will be pleased.” Veil turns and motions for the soldiers to come near, leading Rey with them. “My I present, Rey from the planet of Jakku.” Master Ren does nothing but look at her. “And Rey, this is my son, Ren Skywalker.”
Oh… Oh! Oh-no… Her son… her son is another Sith. He’s just like his mother, mask and all. Rey feels her veins turn to ice and she wants to run, run far away from here. Without meaning to, she’s leaning away, pushing backwards. But the troopers sense her hesitation, and they shove her forward, so that she’s standing directly before the hulking man. He regards her through his mask; probably with disgust.
When Rey glances at Darth Veil, she sees that the woman is not looking at her, but is starring very intently at her son, probably trying to gauge his reaction. He seems to notice. For a moment, they bother stare at each other, then, very intentionally, he nods once, then holds out a gloved hand toward Rey. She’s startled by this. For a moment, she just stares at the extended fingers, terrified of them. Then slowly, she forces herself to reach out and take it.
As soon as their hands touch, a spark of energy shoots up through her arm. She winces, but doesn’t let go. Because through initially it was electric, there’s something different passing between them in this moment. Even through the material of his glove, she can feel it; like a magnet or a live wire. There’s something unmistakably familiar to this touch. And though she should be terrified of this imposing man in all black, she suddenly isn’t. His fingers are tense beneath hers; tense in a way that she knows he can feel it too. But a moment later, the tension snaps, and they break apart.
Unable to shake the strangeness of the encounter, Rey stares down at her hand, the one that had just touched his, and bites her lip. Darth Veil is still watching, intent gaze shifting between them. Whatever she was looking for; she must be satisfied, because she flicks her wrist. “Come along.” She begins down the hallway, Rey and the Stormtroopers tailing after. Rey keeps her gaze lock straight ahead. She does not look back, even when she feels the gaze of her to-be-husband focused on her back.
They make their way down several hallways and then into an elevator. When they emerge on the other side, the interior is very different form the hangar bay below. The walls are made of stone and there are windows looking out over sprawling city, lit by thousands of lights in the dark night air. Several pale moons hang in the heavens above the cityscape, and among them; a dark round shape that is definitely not a moon. The Death Star…
Before long, they have entered a hallway hung with drapery, with ornately carved sconces mounted between doors of polished marble. Darth Veil stops in front of one of them, and it opens, revealing the room beyond; all soft lighting and pale silks. Ray gapes at it, then at the Sith Lord.
“Your room.” Veil says, motioning for Rey to enter. Rey’s jaw only drops further as she does, starring at the lavish finery all around her. “This is where you’ll be staying. At least until the wedding, when you’ll be moved to Ren’s apartments.
The wedding… Rey had almost forgotten. Her stomach twists at the reminder, and at the idea of the Sith’s apartments. Suddenly she has to know! Whirling back around to face the doorway, she begins to ask: “But when-.”
“Your servants will come to assist you soon. Until then, make you’re self at home.” Darth Veil motions to the wooden table loaded with platters of food. “Have something to eat. Further instructions will follow.”
“But…” Rey is about to protest, but then the Lord Veil takes a step back and the black marble door slides closed, leaving her alone inside the most beautiful room she’s ever seen.
Thanks so much for reading! Please let me know what you thought!
I'm not entirely sure how long this fic is going to be, but it's a story that's been in my mind for a while now, and I know this isn't exactly the best time to be starting something, but it just felt right. I'll try to update as often as I possibly can.
Chapter 3: A World of Iron
Leia sighs a little. Ren can feel her eyes on his back, but she doesn’t comment until he turns back around to face her. “You’re going to do fine, Ren.” She smiles softly. “Your life will finally be complete. You can let go of all those distractions and focus our true mission. The Emperor has so much in store for your future. Just you wait; it’s going to be… better than you could imagine.”
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
When Leia enters the room, he is standing over the control panel, the map of the star systems they are in the midst of conquering projected before him. Her own personal project, her creation; total and complete domination over the entire galaxy, something no one has ever been able to do. And all at under Darth Veil’s control. Though she oversees the project, her son is her second in command and he has adopted many of the responsibilities. He’ll never feel as strongly about as she does, but it still feels good to be working toward a higher purpose, feel like he’s making a difference.
Steadily, the young man turns and stands at attention. She is the only one besides the Emperor and Lord Vader that he need do this with. The rest of the Empire in his inferior.
“Ren.” His mother has removed her mask, has it cradled under one arm as she strides into the room; empty, save them. Ren does not remove his.
“Lord Veil”. His voice is deeper and rasps through the helm’s modulator.
Leia raises her hand dismissively, shaking her head as she joins him at the control panel. “At ease.” Slowly and deliberately, Ren reaches up and presses the tiny button that releases the front of the mask, and then does something he normally wouldn’t do inside an Empire command room. The mask hisses as it comes open. He can feel the fresh air rushing in, caressing his sweaty cheeks and ruffling dark hair into his eyes, even before he’s removed it. He can’t deny that it feels good to take it off after a long day commanding his men, but there’s something comforting, protective about the shield across his face; no one can know what he’s thinking or feeling; no one can see if he’s afraid.
Ren doesn’t need the mask; not like Grandfather does, not to survive. But it has just sort of become a right of passage in the Skywalker family. The Emperor himself gifted the young man the black metal helm on the day he joined the Empire’s ranks, just as he had with Ren’s mother before him. At first, he had hated the cramped feeling, the heat and the tightness around his head. But then he’d gotten over it- or used to it and finally realized how useful it could be when threatening frightened villagers or interrogating bounty hunters. It could be anybody behind that mask. It could be Darth Vader himself.
Ren copies his mother, tucking the mask between his torso and the hard muscles of his forearm. Then he turns to find her studying him, the same way she had when she’d first returned with the girl from Jakku. He doesn’t say anything as she draws closer. When she raises a hand toward his face, he thinks she’s about to touch his cheek, but then her fingers lightly comb the hair from his eyes. Ren stiffens, suddenly uncomfortable, and stares straight ahead until she’s finished. His mother seems to be in an odd mood today.
“So, was it her?” Leia asks, stepping away, back to business.
After a moment of silence, Ren nods. “Yes.” It’s barely more than a whisper. Leia smiles triumphantly, chest puffing in satisfaction.
“About time. I was beginning to think you’d just imagined this girl.” His mother waits for a response, but he has none to give. Honestly, he’s a little upset that she would suggest it. He hadn’t imagined her, though he wishes he had. When Ren had complained of dreaming about a girl through the force, being drawn to her above all else, because of her strength in the Force, Leia and Grandfather had been suspicious. At first, the had suspected it might be that accursed Jedi Luke, who shared their name and their blood, trying to influence him from beyond the Unknown Regions. But then, when he’d described the feelings of his connection with this strange girl, they had become curious for very different reasons…
“You’ll finally have a match that’s worthy of you. After all this time, it feels good to know the future of our bloodline in secure.” Gazing out the window at the hangar bay below, a bright white turns half her face to shadow. She pauses a moment, then turns to look over at him. “How are you feeling?”
“Just fine.” His voice is hollow, impassive.
“Are you ready?” And when he doesn’t immediately respond, she adds; “for tomorrow night?”
Suddenly, he’s uncomfortable. Moving away from the panel, he crosses to the console in the middle of the room, leans against its hard, marble edge. “Yes.” He knows what he has to do, what his duties are. He’s never been interested in any of the women he knows, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought about them. He is a man, after all.
Leia sighs a little. Ren can feel her eyes on his back, but she doesn’t comment until he turns back around to face her. “You’re going to do fine, Ren.” She smiles softly. “Your life will finally be complete. Without the phantom girl bothering you, and no more wanting for companionship, you can let go of all those distractions and focus our true mission. The Emperor has so much in store for your future. Just you wait; it’s going to be… better than you could imagine.”
Ren stomps from the room. The shiny surface of the floors reflects back the image of his long legs and gaunt face below him. Gazing down into his own expression, Ren tries to calm the anger rising inside him, anger caused by the frustration and worry he feels about this match- this marriage. He didn’t ask for this. He didn’t ask for his mother to actually go out and find this girl he’d been dreaming about. He just wanted it to stop, to stop the agonizing feeling of her loneness added upon the tenfold of his own! But Mother has been wanting him to do this for a long time. And, though she is his mother, she is also his commander, his superior. Her command is law, and he dare not refuse.
It is dark in the passageways of guest rooms where officials and servants of the Emperor stay while visiting their castle. He is just passing down the final hallway, almost to the personal elevator that leads to the upper levels that belong to the Skywalkers, when he notices a group of handmaidens outside one of the empty guest rooms. But it's not empty… The girls are whispering and chuckling to themselves, listening at the door. Ren squares his shoulders, about to stomp in their direction, when he pauses. Of course, this must be the room his mother gave to the Jakku girl.
Suddenly, one of the maids turns and gasps when she sees him. Prodding her fellows with an insistent elbow, continues to stare at Ren, until the other girls tug her away, scurrying down the hall as quickly as they can. Sighing, Ren runs a hand through sweat-dried hair, and turns to go. But then he stops. His head lifts slowly and he dares a glance at the closed door. The woman he’s about to marry, his bride, is just on the other side. He didn’t even say a thing to her when they met earlier. The least he could have done was offer a kind word. But, of course, he hadn’t, and now they were still complete strangers. He wonders for the briefest of moments weather he should go to her, knock on that door and ask to come inside and introduce himself properly. But after a moment of heavy silence, he decides against it-comes to his senses, and hurries away.
There will be plenty of time to get to know each other after this is all over; only the rest of their lives…
There’s a crease in her cheek. Running the pad of her calloused finger against the mark, she wonders to herself how it got there. She’s lying on a sofa in a room of pastel lilac. She must have fallen asleep after that meal, one larger and more extravagant than any she’s had in her life. After stuffing herself silly, she must have lain down on the sofa and fallen asleep. The seam in the cushion must have pressed against her cheek, leaving a line from above her eyebrow to the corner of her lips.
Still rubbing at the sore spot, Rey rises and pads across the cold marble floor. The first thing she checks is the door. Of course, it’s locked. Then the window; also locked and several stories above the ground. Its still dark outside, through she can see a faint light on the horizon, the first sign of dawn approaching. Kicking at her discarded boots, Rey makes her way to the other end of the room where strands of gossamer make a wall of curtains around a huge, canopied bed. She really shouldn’t have spent the night on the couch when there was a perfectly good bed here the whole time!
Throwing caution to the wind, Rey tosses back the covers and climbs beneath the satiny softness. Her clothes are filthy, but without anything in sight to replace them with, she isn’t about to take them off for the sake of keeping her captor’s furniture clean. There’s no way she’s about to be caught walking around naked in here!
She’s been sleeping several hours. Rey can tell by the blinding light piercing her vision the moment she opens her eyes, that she’s slept well into late morning. Rey grimaces at the light, then winces when she feels her stomach roll. Maybe she should have taken it a little easier with the food last night…
Rey has just spilled out onto the floor, legs tangled in blankets, halfway to the refresher room, when she finally realizes what had woken her from such deep sleep. There are a handful of young women, all dressed in plain black gowns, hovering beside the doorway. Apparently, they had just come in. They’re all starring at Rey.
Rey stares back. And after several long moments, she carefully extracts herself from the blankets and rises shakily to her feet. Suddenly feeling self-conscious, she grips her hands in front of her and continues to stare. Finally, the oldest-looking woman takes a hesitant step forward. “Excuse me Madame. Lord Veil has commanded we begin to prepare you at once. She says you will need to be ready by the hour before sunset.”
Rey frowns, brows knitting together, anxiety roiling in her gut. “Ready? Prepared for what?” The woman glances uncertainly at the younger girl beside her.
Oh-. Oh… Rey can feel terror rising in her esophagus, but she forces herself to remain composed. Tonight? But why so soon? They couldn’t at least give her a moment to settle in? “Are you sure that’s what it is? Tonight?” A few of the young women nod. That’s it then. This is it. She might as well give in.
Looking around her at the tall ceilings and food-barring table, she thinks; this can’t be so bad, right? Sure, she’ll be married to a murder and a Sith Lord, but at least she’ll live like a queen and never have to worry about going hungry again. But she’s not fooling herself. She’s absolutely terrified! This is not a life she wants in exchange for what she’ll have to endure! And her parents… they’ll never know what happened to her, never know that she waited for years, looking to the skies for even a sign of their return.
But when the servant girls finally venture over and begin to guide her toward the refresher room to begin preparation, Rey does not struggle. She will give in… for now.
She makes them all look away when they force her to undress and climb into the tub. She’s only bathed a few times in the past year, and no one has ever seen her naked since she was a child. They slide the wrap-around curtain around her once she’s inside, after gifting her with some explicit instructions on cleaning, and a course bristled brush. The water’s embrace is intoxicating. Slipping beneath the warm surface, Rey can’t help thinking she’s never felt anything more exquisite.
After her skin is rosy and stinging from all the scrubbing, they hand in a sharp-edged razor blade. They explain exactly what to do with it and where to use it. Rey is about to refuse, but one of the women tells her that if she doesn’t do it, they’ll have to come in and do it themselves. So, Rey complies.
When she emerges, feeling raw and exposed and a little irritated, they’re waiting to wrap a long, white, flowy gown around her shoulders. The lining of the thing in made of the softer material than she’d even imagined possible.
Why do they have to hover around her like this!? They from a sort of swarm all around her dripping body as they guide her to the dressing table beside the tall windows that look out on the balcony. Immediately, they get set to work on her hair. It takes two of them to brush and dry it with some kind of hand-held device. Others get to work on the jagged edges of her finger and toenails, buffing and polishing them. One girl begins to rub a sweet-smelling gel into the skin of her face, while the remaining one goes about setting up the clothes she’ll be wearing tonight.
Rey makes them turn around while she slips on the undergarments. Pure white and lace, they are just thick enough to be enough covering to let them turn around again and continue working on her, without the cumbersome robe. The servant girls are still fussing with her hair, using pins and ties to hold it up on her head and at the nape of her neck. The same gel is applied to the rest of her body by their strong fingers, kneaded into her flesh until it no longer feels like sandpaper.
As a woman applies cosmetics to her face, skin tint and rose to her lips and cheeks, Rey’s hand drifts to settle beneath the other armpit. She clutches her arm to her breasts, hiding their near nakedness from sight. She’s suddenly terribly and painfully nervous. She wishes they would just put the dress on already. It’s less frightening looking at herself in the gown she’ll be wearing when she promises to marry a stranger; rather than the underclothes he might be ripping off afterward.
Shaking her head, she grips her hand into a fist beneath her arm, swirling her thumb against a sore place. She can’t think about this! She can’t think about this now, or she’s going to puke all over the woman kneeing moisturizer into her thighs and all over her white underwear! When Rey retracts her hand, it’s smeared with blood. Startled, she raises her arm to see that she must have cut herself shaving off the long hair that had grown there. Hurriedly she retracts her arm, but the servant girls have already seen it, and they cry out, insisting they take care of it at once. Then there’s more hovering and fidgeting, until a bit of bacta is applied and they can finally go back to their tasks.
The sun slowly sinks down to the horizon. Rey watches it’s decent with dread building inside. When they’re finally finished with her hair, body and face, and are ready to slip on the dress, the sun is already dangerously low. She can feel it coming; time has irreversibly run out.
The gown has long sleeves and an open back. It’s pure white, scattered with the tiniest fragments of crystal that twinkle in the dying light. Rey stares at herself in the mirror. She can’t help it; her mouth falls open. She hadn’t expected to like it; the way she looks in flowing layers of soft material, how it feels against her mostly bare flesh. With the soft sandals on her feet, she likes the way the cool fabric brushes her toes. This is luxury and wastefulness at it’s very worst, and still she finds herself in awe at the way it makes her feel. She is beautiful. She is tall and shining.
Still in a kind of false daze- that she holds onto as long as she can- she lets the handmaidens guide her out of the room. Of course, she notices when the rows of stormtroopers fall into place along side them, but she keeps her breaths steady. If she can just remain in the right headspace, this will all be over soon.
There’s a veranda, overlooking a garden. From between tall, marble pillars and heavy curtains, she can see it. There’s a small lake below. Roses. Flowers that she could never name even if she spent her whole life guessing. The walls around the gardens and the willowy trees almost block out the dark spires of the buildings of the surrounding city. Stay calm, Rey; she thinks. Focus on how beautiful everything is. There are vines curling around the outer railing, with tiny blushing buds waterfalling down. The dying sun kisses the surface of the pond. It sparkles and dances. If she must do this thing, at least it is in a place like this…
Then she sees them. An old man dressed in long decorated robes stands beside the railing. Her eyes go immediately to the man at off to his left, covered in head-to-toe black, with arms folded stiffly across his chest, his helmet shining with the reflection of the falling sun. At his side, stands the woman from before, the one who brought Rey here. Darth Veil. But she’s wearing a gown this time; dark blue and black with accents of gold. And finally, standing beside the old man, a younger man with a dark cloak and onyx hair to match. Her betrothed; the man she’s meant to marry. Rey has never seen him without the mask, but that hulking stance is unrecognizable. That is the man she will spend the rest of her life with.
Rey freezes when they lock eyes. His are even darker than his hair. Rey suddenly can’t breathe.
Desperately, she begins to press backward, away. The illusion of calm is slipping away too quickly! If she could just have more time- a few days she could make herself do it. She’d be just fine with a few days to prepare; she thinks to herself, pressing back harder against the hands that have seized her from both sides. As they force her forward, they squeeze hard enough to bruise.
“No… wait…” She whispers. The others on the veranda can’t hear, but she knows her maids and the troopers can. But that doesn’t matter. They don’t listen. They drag her along until she’s sanding before them. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. This is the end…
“Welcome Rey”, Darth Veil says. Rey swallows, eyes darting around to the others present. Her eyes pause a little too long on her intended's, but he quickly glances away. Rey wonders; could he see her fear in her eyes?
“We’ve all been waiting for this day for a long time.” Veil says. “Shall we get started?”
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