The desolate planet offers neither comfort nor solace. She came to only bury their sabers. It seemed fitting. Of course she came to build her very own. That seemed fitting as well. The dry desert wind whipped at her hair and stung her cheeks. Rey was all too familiar with the feeling. It had worn her, it had crafted and molded her all her life.
It was just like Jakku.
“I must find him ---- I must!!” There’d been no word from Luke, and absolutely no sign of Leia. There were no new revelations found in the old Jedi Texts. All her meditations had been futile, and the Bond…. There’d been nothing. Nothing!
She buries her head in her hands overwhelmed with grief. Feeling empty and so all alone, Rey sits upon the sand sobbing. Her heart was aching, aching terribly and she was inconsolable.
She had grown weary of her own tears. Ever since Exegol, all she had felt was grave pain and unending agony. Life without Ben. ….. life without her Bond Mate was no life at all.
“I can’t give up. I won’t!” She shouts defiantly through reddened eyes and tear streaked cheeks. The silence following was deafening as it unfurled over the shifting dunes.
Tatooine offered her no answers.
“Rey.” it was a whisper barely heard over the wind. ”Rey”
Her eyes strained as she searched, seeking out its origin, “Who’s there?”
There is Darkness, only darkness.
Weightless and empty, Ben senses that he is merely Conscientiousness without Form.
Pure thought…. pure energy. Constantly reliving his last moments on Exegol, he is caught in an endless loop. He must be trapped.
He climbs up out of the chasm broken. His limbs fractured throbbing and sore. Dragging himself to the ledge, lifting his aching arms and legs to the surface, all that drives him is her. Their bond non-existent….
He must get to her. With his bruised, bloody body, cracked ribs, broken hip and fractured leg he’s limping to her.
She leaps to her feet drawing her saber with a quickness. No one responds.
“Who is there?” She repeats emphatic now.
“Rey!” the whisper comes to her ears once more; it’s clearly the voice of a woman.
“Who are you and what do you want?”Rey bristles awash with the amber glow of her new lightsaber.
“My name is Bastila Shan, and I have come for you. I’ve come to help you”. All at once, the woman becomes visible to her. Rey, still guarded, takes her in from head to toe. She is very beautiful, a tad taller than Rey, auburn hair, athletic and muscular, and she imbues an ancient wisdom about her that is palpable.
“Help me--- in what way?” Rey ventures nearer, “And how do you know my name?”
“I know you as I would know myself” Bastila states while planting her dual edged saber into the sand. Rey can’t help noticing their physical resemblance. The one exception being everything about her suggests the Old Republic era.
“You are a Jedi Knight?” Rey questions, welcoming the aid now and most interested.
“Yes, I was once…. in another time and in another life. But you must hurry. We haven’t much time.”
“And where exactly are we off to?” Rey tilts her head raising an eyebrow.
“We are going to help you get Kylo Ren.” A man's voice chimes in suddenly from behind her.
“Ben Solo” Bastila turns to correct him sternly. “And this… this is Revan”
“Set a course for Ahch-To” Revan commands. ”You’ll need his uncle’s compass.” Rey now sets off to the ship, grabbing nothing to take with her.
While boarding the Falcon, Bastila turns to Rey, “Can you still touch his mind?”
After the course is set into the Navi-comp, Rey uses deep meditation to attempt to re-connect the bond with Ben. She senses him faintly.
She sends a tremor, a tendril through their connection. “I am coming!”
She deduces immediately that her visitors are not of this world. They are not Force Ghosts, however. There is no bluish haze or aura surrounding them. Rey does detect between then a strong thrumming of the Force much like her bond with Ben. She also notices the physical similarities between Revan and Ben. He’s not quite as tall, but fuller in the chest and more muscular. His helmet and visor, although tucked under his arm, and armor are so similar to the regalia of the former Supreme Leader, Kylo Ren. Revan has the same commanding presence, quite contained and deliberate.
“Much like you we have loved a love forbidden by the Jedi Order.” Bastila interjected. “We persisted and we won.” Rey nods intently. A smile comes to Rey’s lips for the first time in days.
“We both know your struggles and sympathize with your plight.” Revan assures, nodding to his wife. “Each of us has been both Light and Dark Side Force users. Both Jedi and Sith – we have both fought, healed and saved each other.”
Bastila stands directly behind the captain’s seat and places her hands lightly on Rey’s shoulders to assure her. “When you called on the Jedi of the past to be with you, they could help you defeat Darth Sidious, but they could never help you save Ben. The path you must walk now is one we have walked before.”
Revan takes the co-pilot’s seat beside her, “And we will show you the way.”
Rey leans forward and stares out the viewport, watching the blurred blue lines of hyperspace, anxious and for the first time in days encouraged.
The darkness consumes him once more. It’s covering him completely.
Each time he finds himself at the foot of that chasm, he has just one moment of clarity before the endless climb he must make over and over again.
Many times in that moment, he’s tried to re-open the bond with Rey to no avail.
But Ben has been plagued with visions. Primarily his visions are of past foes and victims of the Supreme Leader of the First Order. They are filled with guilt and remorse for the actions of the man he once was.
The vision he has now is of Lor Sen Tekka. They are searching a ruin together for some ancient relic of Jedi lore. San Tekka is much younger than when they last met. But so is Ben. “I’ll show you the Dark Side!” The words burn now, and chills run up Ben’s spine like claws on durasteel.
And then the pain returns.
“Rey....” He begins the climb once more.
“So, you know where I can find him?” Rey presses Bastila, she’s relentless now.
“The World Between Worlds, the Vergence Scatter or the Netherworld of Unbeing.” The ancient Jedi answers.
“How will the compass help me find Ben?” Rey asks curiously.
“It’s one of two things you’ll need for your journey.” Bastila answers.
“The third thing you’ll need you already possess. That is the love you hold in your heart for each other.” Revan adds.
“Love is one of the purest forms of Force Power.” Bastila smiles at her.
Bastila and Revan tell Rey their theories on the failings of the Jedi Orders teachings. Separating younglings from their families and forbidding Jedi to love are all senseless tenets which no longer hold logic or reasoning. Bastila impresses upon Rey, “They must change. Our lives, and yours and Ben Solo’s are a testament to that. They Must Change!”
“And you can change it.” Revan faces Rey and sternly offers, “Balance to the Galaxy cannot be achieved by one Jedi alone. You cannot do this by yourself, Rey, you are incomplete.” He then lowers his head, reaching for and finding Bastila‘s hand.
Rey processes his words carefully; and yet, they are what she already knows to be true.
They arrive on Ahch-To during a deluge, and Rey runs for Luke’s hut. A new passion fueled determination drives her legs. As she enters the aging stone structure, Luke appears to Rey and smiles. ”Bring back the balance, Rey.” He pointed to a hollowed recession in the hut, guiding her to the compass.
“The Force will be with you, Rey, always.”
Rey left the hut in a hurry, nearby she spies two figures; they are not Bastila and Revan.
Hera and Jacen Syndulla are on Ahch-To. They landed their ship, Ghost, on the other side of the island. Hera, an older middle-aged Twi'lek, informs Rey that after they joined in the Rebel fight at Exegol at the behest of Lando, they were about to head back home to Ryloth.
Jacen, her son, interrupts, “That is until I had a vision that YOU needed our help, Rey.”
Blackness like a blanket
The ever present Blackness covers him once more.
And in this moment a most unexpected vision appears to him.
Anakin’s Force Ghost appears in his new vision. His grandfather, the man younger than Ben is now, speaks to him much like a warped holo-disc, “Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love is essential to a Jedi’s life. So, you might say we are encouraged to love.”
If he could, he’d smirk or possibly scoff. The irony is inescapable. An ancient text from a planet deep within Unknown Regions called Earth titled Dantes Inferno describes Hell as repetition. This is not the World Between Worlds. This is clearly Hell. An existence without her is worse than no existence at all.
"Rey, please, please come find me, love."
The pain once again.
Bastila and Revan announce that they all now must travel to Csilla, the home world of Grand Admiral Thrawn. They seek the Rakatan Holocron (from Lehons Temple of the Ancients) which was obtained from the Star Forge before its destruction. Both Bastila and Revan tell of how many years ago they retrieved it without knowledge of its true power. Rey is riveted by their tales of adventure, about the Old Republic, but she’s more moved by the love they share. It inspires her more and more each day.
Hera and Jacen will join them. It’s clear what her role will be. Hera not only knows its location, but she also possesses the Intel to reach Thrawn’s lair. He was known for pillaging and collecting artifacts and artwork from his enemies. He once possessed her most treasured “kalikori”- a Twi'lek family heirloom. She later attempted to find clues into the disappearance of both Thrawn and her crewmate, Ezra Bridger.
Csilla is an ice-locked planet, covered in glaciers and snowy waste found in the Unknown Regions. Once they enter the atmosphere, they land in Csaplor, the Capital. Hera offers Rey the password; it’s Thrawn’s true name, Mitth’raw’nuruodo. She will need it to unlock his treasure trove of trophies, artifacts plundered from past foes defeated.
Rey goes in alone, clearly not prepared for the frigid temperature. She runs at top speed staving off the bitter cold. She hurriedly enters the password, gains access and enters. It is truly obscene how many stolen possessions lay within his cache. It is a vast expanse of wall-to-wall objects, boxes, shelves to the ceiling more than one hundred meters high. The opulence, decadence …it is all in black, black walls, black ceiling and floor. What fueled this man? It wasn’t greed; Rey feels it was something deeper. She stands in the entryway of the huge hall.
Silent and steady she closes her eyes, and reaches out her right hand. Using the Force, Rey calls out to the Holocron. She senses its presence. Focused and fixated, she calls once more her mind alight with determination.
The Rakatan Holocron hurtles through the air from almost thirteen meters away and finds its home safely in her hand.
Conscientiousness without form.
Ben fell back out of Rey’s arms onto the cavernous icy floor of Exegol. It’s always his last living memory. He now knows that the Darkness is to follow.
He also knows all too well that in this new moment of clarity, he will undoubtedly have another vision.
This time his vision is that of his father, Han Solo, on Starkiller Base; Ben’s mind literally aches with the weight of his regret. “Will you help me?” and his Hero, his Dad’s response echoes loudly in his mind. “Yes ….Anything”
When Han cups his cheek for the second time on Kef Bir, Ben, more than anything, dreaded not giving his Dad a hug. Touch starved and frozen in fear, the little boy inside wants to cry out.
Running on fumes alone now, Rey has neither slept nor eaten. Persistence is her only fuel. She reaches out to Ben through their bond again. “Ben, I’m so close – I can feel it. I Need You to Feel Me.”
Their next destination is their final one – the Jedi Temple on Lothal.
They follow Hera and Jacen to Lothal. It was her former home, and she knows the location of the Jedi Temple. The ruins of the temple are outside Capital City. They’re so close now and Rey tries once more to connect with Ben through their Force Bond. “I’m coming. I’ll see you soon, Love.”
The World Between Worlds - behind the ancient painting of the Mortis Gods in the Jedi Temple on Lothal is a gateway to the world between worlds -- a collection of pathways and doors between time and space. Uncovered by the Empire, the Emperor sought entrance, as access would grant him unimaginable power.
The climate on Lothal offers a welcomed respite from the harsher planets last visited. Hera lands the Ghost on the exact coordinates for the destroyed temple. Rey sets the Falcon down beside them. The Temple lies dormant now, merely a relic, a pile of dust and rubble.
Darkness - - Darkness again.
In this moment, Ben reaches out to reconnect the Bond with Rey once again.
Nothingness and silence is all he finds.
The new vision that comes to him is of Leia - his Mother - his Mom
She is calm, poised and stares into his eyes lovingly
It is a memory that he is not certain is a memory; he tries to call out to her,"Mom!"
She reaches out to him.
Placing each hand upon each cheek.
And delivers a loving kiss upon his forehead.
“I love you and I am always with you, my little Starfighter!”
If he had tears they would flow.
Bastila shares with Rey that her greatest strength and Force wielding power was that of Battle Meditation, which diminishes the power of her enemies and bolsters the power of her comrades in arms. She offers to use it in support of Rey’s efforts in finding Ben.
With both the Compass and the Holocron tucked in her pouch, Rey is ready. But Rey must use meditation to re-open the temple. She plants herself firmly upon the rubble sitting cross-legged, wrists to her knees. She feels the ground trembling lightly at first and then with great force. The ground actually opens up and swallows her.
Then she is falling deeper and deeper through the core of the planet, Rey plummets downward with great speed and velocity. She lands heavily spewing a large cloud of dust and dirt in her wake. The artwork of the original doorway lies shattered and broken strewn about the cavern floor. She sees the scattered shards of the mosaic; broken pieces of the Father, the Daughter and the Son. They are the Mortis Gods. The Closed Fist of the Son is where Rey must place her palm in order to open The Gateway.
She opens it and enters without hesitation.
Pure thought…. pure energy.
The Darkness trembles for the first time.
It marks the final recurring endless loop. The moment of clarity never comes.
Instead Ben feels only a vibration…. It’s ever so slight but there.
He attempts to connect with Rey through their Bond and
feels a tingling sensation.
Rey runs through the maze that is the World Between Worlds, transparent foot paths leading to an endless and infinite number of doorways and portals in time with an endless starry night sky. It is overwhelming and mind numbing. A stream of voices called out, murmured, shouted, and whispered. She feels the energy and power of this place. Suddenly she sees him up ahead, there’s no mistaking Ben.
She peered through the portal and witnessed what were their last moments together on Exegol. Her heart seizes in her chest. The pounding in her ears is excruciating. Witnessing and reliving the painful scene tears at her spirit. And yet, she is tenacious, incessant.
“You’ve come this far, Rey ---- Ben, I’m here, I’m here for you!” She waits for the exact moment - the exact second!
Rey reaches through the portal rapidly; it’s the moment before she places her hands atop his. She grabs his legs by the ankles and yanks him toward her with all the strength she possesses. He is unconscious – his limp and lifeless body is heavier than she ever expected.
They make it back through the portal. She stares at Ben in sheer disbelief. Nausea suddenly claiming her. Her ribs feel cracked. She steadies her breathing and briefly settles herself into the moment. She then scans Ben’s body checking for major injuries. Soaked in perspiration, dripping from her forehead, neck and shoulders, Rey immediately places her hand on his abdomen. Centering herself she uses the Force to heal him just enough to initiate some semblance of recovery. The nausea comes over her once more but she pushes through.
Now there’s only the tingling sensation.
It overwhelms him with the intensity.
Humming and thrumming much like the tendrils of their Bond.
And then he senses her!
Rey retraces her steps while she uses the Force to pull Ben behind her. She now knows she’ll need both the Holocron and Compass to exit the gateway. Once they reach the cavern again, Rey pulls the Compass out from her pouch and holds it out in front of her, arms outstretched. Barely seeing Ben beside her, or her hands in front of her face, she desperately searches for the gateway. The Compass, all aglow, finally points her to the gateway. Once she’s found it, Rey places the Compass in her boot. Standing in front of the gateway, she pulls out the Holocron.
She stands astride Ben’s chest facing the entrance to the gateway. She starts to meditate once again. It spins up out of her hand and seemingly sets afire, blinding crimson light appearing as flame along the gateway walls. The Rakatan Holocron serves as a drill carving, pushing, heaving and discarding earth as it propels them through the rocks, rubble and debris of what remains of the Jedi Temple.
Jagged rocks tear at her limbs as they ascend. Rey uses the Force to carry Ben’s weight and a Force push to keep clear of debris as much as possible. Her whole body is weakened by maintaining control of the sheer mass of Ben. She winces and gasps suddenly as a rock face glances her hip just before daylight seeps into view.
Dust and dirt filling her lungs, Rey reaches the surface with Ben in tow. Exhaustion over takes her now. And yet the idea of success propels her. She is vigilant and fiercely committed. There is such a sense of joy and relief now. She has HIM! Ben!!
Bastilla and Revan meet her at the entrance. Revan rushes to Rey to assist her with Ben’s still body; his dead weight offers him no difficulty.
He carries him to the Falcon and lays him down gently, while Bastila tends to Rey’s wounds. Having handfuls of Bacta patches on hand, she’s ready. She immediately observes that both their injuries mirror one another’s.
Bastila comforts Rey saying, “You must always remember, that Your Dyad….. your Force Bond is symbolic, much like ours, it is a demonstration and testament of the cautionary tale that need be told; it is necessary for the survival and the future of the Jedi Order.” With knowing eyes she allows Rey to go to Ben and gather him in her arms.
Revan steps away noticing signs of the beginning of regained consciousness. Providing Rey with his last words, “The Skywalker Legacy must be preserved, and a new Jedi Order must be formed, and restoring the Balance --- all these things must be done….. By you, By both of you! Together!”
Rey turns to Ben, still cradling him in her arms, and she feels his pulse strengthening. His brow furrows gently, and his eyes’ rapid movement beneath his lashes stirs, accompanied by a low moan. Rey holds her breath for that one second desperately trying not to blink.
His tear-filled eyes open slowly roving between her eyes one to the other taking in her face that’s etched in and committed to his long worn memory.
And Rey beams.