Eyes flickering, mind rousing and ears tuning in... Hearing...nothing. Feeling nothing. No tender hands holding his. Wondering 'What is this place?' Then, eyes open and... shock. Endless stars and the immense blackness of space.........
There were 2 trees in the garden. One of good and evil and one of LIFE..... “For every item that carries the darkness of humanity there's one that holds the light. And that light is worth believing in. Not just in others, but in yourself as well.” ― C.M. Rayne
'The last thing I remember, I was smiling for the first time in forever, kissing Rey...then I sensed my Mother's spirit and now......
Ben's heart beat wildly as he quickly sat up and turned his head. Was this just a memory again? He could hear the bittersweet sound of his fathers voice echoing in the atmosphere and then a sweeter voice... ...'Ben'
Ben looked intently in the darkness hoping to see his mother's face but only heard her gentle words, 'Go find her....'
Find her? He didn't know where he was, how he got here, what had happened.... Where would he even start...how long had he been here? Taking a deep breath Ben gingerly stood up and was pleased to find his legs were healed, strong. Looking down, he could see nothing beneath his feet except galaxies and stars yet he stood firm...
Ben reached out his hands in the still air, nothing. He felt absolutely nothing. As he pondered his next move he suddenly heard gentle breathing break through the calm. Along with it he felt a strong powerful presence very near and very real....Whoever or whatever it was was close.
Incoherent at first but becoming clearer Ben heard a voice....'Do what I couldn't with Padme. Go beyond this World between worlds, return to Rey and have a life.' Ben stumbled backwards, stupefied as the force ghost of his grandfather materialized before him. Anakin looked tormented...
'I'm still haunted by her kiss....' Ben was only now beginning to understand. Heartbreak, lovesickness. Anakin seemed inconsolable. He obviously longed for Padme even after all this time.
Ben could once again hear his mother Leia's voice... 'Ben, you must find her. You and Rey are 2 sides to one coin. A dyad. One cannot exist without the other. There is no balance without you together. '
'Rey is as deeply affected as you are but she thinks you are lost, she is only aware of her realm. Deep down, she knows you must still exist in some plane because she is alive. She has not yet obtained knowledge of this netherworld. .. '
Rey...See her again? Ben longed to hold her again, touch her face, kiss her, look deeply into her eyes. His chest tightened and it hurt to breath. Ben remembered all the times he had felt so alone, torn, anguished, discarded. Rey was the only person he had ever dared get so close.
There had been so many times they drove each other mad either from passion or anger....they could have destroyed each other but they never did. He remembered how extraordinary it was to fight against Snoke side by side with Rey. He had wanted so badly to kiss her then.
He also remembered how angry and hurt he felt, humiliated even , when she had refused his hand. Well, Kylo Ren's hand. But then..... He also remembered the vision he had when they had touched hands. He clearly saw their future standing side by side as man and wife. He had never had the courage to tell Rey that detail.
He also had never felt their union would be so brief and temporary...
'How, how do I return?' his voice cracked and seemed oddly out of place in this nowhere land. Han and Leia spoke together, 'You'll know son. Your connection with Rey will guide you. '
Anakin laid a tender but firm hand on Ben's shoulder. 'I can lead you to the portal between worlds that leads to the deeps of Exogal but I cannot go with you. Ever since Palpatine used Vader's voice to misguide you I've been hindered from crossing into that reality in a more physical form...
Anakin silently led Ben past a massive ancient door bearing the symbol of an evergreen. Ben hadn't noticed it before, for some reason it reminded him of Naboo... In complete blackness they felt their way along the rocky walls of the narrow pathway until they approached a brightly lit portal leading into Exogal .
Ben turned to embrace and say goodbye to his grandfather when suddenly Anakin lurched forward then shot backwards so rapidly Ben couldn't react....he watched amazed as Anakin disappeared from his sight... 'Wha??' Ben murmured in shock....
Anakin had the air knocked out of him and grasped for breath, choking in the air as it rushed by him. He yelped when sharply landing on a rocky crevice. The endless spinning immediately beforehand left him with a nasty sense of vertigo and nausea. Anakin was not amused to find himself on the high ground. Looking down, he noticed
Ben on the other side of what appeared to be a 2 way looking glass. 'Ben!' He shouted but to no avail as he watched his grandson frantically pacing back and forth looking for him on the otherside. Ben could not see or hear him...
***** "Rose thanks for coming to Tatooine and helping me set up the new Skywalker school." Rose looked up from her work, glancing up at Rey then over to 'broom boy' who was practicing force grabs with an unappreciative D-O. "No thank you, no no thank you!"
Rey giggled then cautioned Temiri, 'Never underestimate the power of a droid, best to leave D-O alone!' Temiri shrugged but listened dutifully. 'Yes Master' he replied as D-O quickly breezed out of the room. Rey turned back to her friend Rose and smiled, "I'm going to work on my saber skills, be back in a bit"
In the canyon Rey felt comfort at the initial hum then 'wwwwsshh' of her saber. As she practiced her Hyperspace moves she noticed her saber flicker and crackle. She shook her hilt and swore that a familiar sight shimmered back. 'Ben?!' She cried out as she dropped her saber. 'Ben?' 'I must've imagined it, there's no way....' Rey wondered as
she leaned over to pick up the hilt that was once her staff. No, she told herself, Ben's gone. He disappeared right in front of my eyes. I must be seeing things.
------- Anakin found Ben's TIE fighter that he had left on Exogal after the defeat of Palpatine. What am I doing here? he wondered. Most everyone he loved were safe in the world between worlds or.... lost forever like Padme and his mother. 'What *am* I doing here?' This time he said aloud.
Yoda's words from long ago echoed in his brain, 'Train yourself to let go... of everything you fear to lose.' The words still stung but Anakin had found the opposite to sometimes be true. Holding on to what he feared to lose, his son Luke , had led him to redemption. 'What a strange journey' Anakin painfully contemplated as he boarded Ben's ship.
+++++ Ben sat in the utter stillness, still trying to figure out what happened to his grandfather . Unexpectedly he felt that same weird woozy feeling whenever he and Rey would Force bond. His eyes became blinded by a bright yellow light...squinting through it he swore he caught a glimpse of the woman he loved. 'Rey? he whispered, then nothingness....
----- Whush whush whush whush... Anakin had never in a million years thought he'd find himself back in a TIE fighter but then again he had thought of Vader as an entirely separate entity... The Force could be a b...it obstinate. Anakin cringed when the Force strongly urged him to return to Tatooine.'I hate sand' he said through his teeth as he faithfully obeyed.
***** Rey sat, stunned.... 'Ben....' his name whispered, so precious, so loved, so....heartbreaking to speak. Why had she felt that odd gut feeling again like she did during their Force connections?
As a new Skywalker Sentinel her purpose was to seek knowledge just as much as training for combat so she ran back to her quarters. Falling on her knees, she reached under her bunk and grabbed the locker holding the precious cargo of Jedi texts .
Carefully, she flipped open each book and fingered through the pages....She couldn't stop thinking. How had she seen Ben? Why had she felt their force connection? She remembered his words, they were a dyad....'What does this all mean?' She wondered...
------ As Anakin made his journey back to his home planet, he felt a familiar, comforting yet disturbed spirit.....To his surprise he turned to see his Master of old Obi-wan seated supernaturally beside him. "Hello there" Ben said with a smile, "Anakin brother , its time to fulfill your role truly...finally help bring lasting balance to the Force."
"You are the only one who is strong enough to help Rey and Ben come back together and complete their Dyad. They must become truly one as only husband and wife can. .....this is your destiny, the true fulfillment of the prophesy."
+++++ Ben continued running his hand along the stony wall and moving forward. Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement. It was a child running towards him. Perhaps 7 or 8 years old, a mess of dark curly hair and slender build, a boy. Upon closer inspection Ben wondered if it was a younger version of himself who had somehow time traveled here.
'Hey mister, can you help me get home? I can't figure out how to get over there' he said pointing to the rocks as if he saw something beyond them. 'Home?' Ben asked, 'What are you pointing at?' 'That place there sir, can't you see it?' The inquisitive boy asked.
Ben said stoicly, 'No, I dont see anything but stone.' 'Ohhhh' replied the boy knowingly, 'You dont 'see'? Welp, you've gotta use your heart, that's what Mom says...' 'Who's Mom?' Ben tried to ask but the boy ran past him, out of sight. 'Hey, do you have a name?' Ben hollered after him.
From a distance he heard 'Adam, my name's Adam.'
Ben turned to follow and as soon as he took his first step he felt soft moss under his feet. Turning around all he could see and smell were evergreens, ferns, and the moss covered earth. The stony walls near Exogal's portal had dissapeared into a magnificent woodland. 'Adam!?' Ben shouted but the boy was nowhere to be found.
***** 'Rey, you've been studying those books all day and haven't eaten a bite, come have some dinner...' Rey starting to shake her head no but Rose pulled her up by her arm, 'c'mon before I mind trick ya'. Rey smiled and hugged her faithful and wise friend. Rose proved true these past months.
While Rose helped Rey on Tatooine, they both overcame heartbreak together. Now Finn was over the moon for Jenna and off learning more about her and her father Lando. Poe had started a pilot school with Zorrii Bliss for recovering addicts who wanted to get out of the spice trade.
While Rey pondered their current situation, she took a few bites of her dinner then played with the food on her plate. Sensing a strong presence in the Force, she studied her surroundings. When the familiar roar of a TIE fighter boomed overhead she stood up and ran outside. Rose popped up to follow Rey, 'Who could that be?' , Rose was surprised to see a worried look on Rey's face.
______ As Anakin exited the Whisper Rose coughed aloud 'Who's the hottie?' With a quizzical look on her face, Rey approached the handsome man only to realize he was a vibrant Force Ghost.
Visions flashed in her mind as they had when his lightsaber had called to her on Takodanna. All of his history automatically downloaded into her mind. Growing up as a slave, his mother dying, loving and losing Padme, becoming Darth Vader, being redeemed...she was left speechless.
+++++ In the distance, Ben saw a stone hewn castle as he continued onward and upward following the woodland path. Enjoying the fresh air he almost didn't notice a large black monolith of a droid named CSL1938 approach and exclaim "What's this, mwah, what's this, mwah?"
Ben smiled, "Everythings perfectly alright now, I'm just passing through...." "No, mwah, no! She's waiting, mwah for you, mwah, her majesty, mwah, is waiting for you ! Mwah, follow me!" CSL chattered as he scooped Ben up in his enormous mechanical arm and aggressively escorted him inside.
"No one's waiting for me droid, no one even knows I'm here," Who's 'she' anyway? thought Ben. "Her majesty, mwah, her majesty". CSL unceremoniously plunked Ben down beside a huge fireplace. As tall as he was, Ben noticed he could have easily cleared the mantle and walked inside the hearth. It was that massive.
Ben turned and watched CSL cumbersomely exit the Great Hall while half a dozen timid handmaidens, heads down and arms crossed seemed to float in. They all bowed as a beautiful woman stepped foot past the entrance. Mesmerized Ben quickly noticed a resemblance. This great woman looked strikingly similar to his mother.
Padme, still young and vibrant, approached Ben. "Welcome Ben to Khfim, the incorruptible land. Here nothing wears out, ages, or decays . I beseeched the Whills to call you to me, I'm so pleased they succeeded. " Padme touched his face, " You look so much like my mother, your great grandmother. "
Noticing Ben's intense attention, she continued, "I arrived here after Polis Massa. I had just given birth to your mother and Uncle Luke and was as surprised as you are right now that I soon found myself in a place like this one."
"I've been here a very long time sensing your grandfather's grief all the while not only as Darth Vader but now again as Anakin, the man I love. He has searched endlessly for me, I've felt it. Now you're searching for someone you love. " Ben nodded. "Perhaps now the longing we both seek is no longer behind us but in front of us. "
^^^^^ "Finn, you ok man?" Lando asked watching the exstormtrooper's face change from happy and excited to wary."You feeling that Force thing again?" Finn nodded and tried to communicate with Rey using a connection. "I've got a weird feeling about this, I think I've got to go to Tatooine and help Rey."
****** Standing next to the TIE fighter, Rey listened intently as Anakin explained everything. The World Between Worlds, seeing Ben, the Exegol portal, what it meant being a dyad. "But how can we possibly be together, how can I enter the World Between Worlds?" Just then she saw a small boy giggle and run past them.
"Who was that?" Rose muttered. Rey got that strange Force feeling again, "Ben?" No, it couldn't have been, Anakin had told her he had seen him as a grown man, not a boy. Then why was she sensing Ben when she saw him run past?
++++ Padme sat down and explained to Ben how she had made many attempts but hadn't been able to peirce the veil and return to the World Between Worlds. Over the years she had learned that Palpatine had put a curse on her and even with Sidious now being destroyed she hadn't successfully returned.
***** Rey tried to forget about the boy and focus as Anakin shared the coordinates on Exegol where she could her access the portal. She was distracted internaly because she didn't trust him. Her visions clearly showed how he had arrogantly and selfishly betrayed Padme and Obiwan. While Rose later entertained Anakin, showing
him their school, Rey slipped away on the Millennium Falcon, "I just want to get out of here!" She felt frustrated, lost, confused. She could trust Ben even when he had done such wicked things. He had never lied to her. But his grandfather? Rey was finally realizing she did feel betrayed, right or wrong, for the first time since Ben disappeared she finally felt anger, fear, how could he have
abandoned her? Was he just like his grandfather? There was so much promise to keep, so much love to fulfill, a life to share . All obliterated when he ...died. "Did he die?" She whispered, "Are you dead!?!" She screamed. Wah wah wah wah...the Millennium Falcon sounded as she jumped into hyperspace.
She drove the old bird ruthlessly, aimlessly. No Force Ghost now, no Luke , no Leia, no voices like those she heard on Exegol to guide her. Just the noise of the Falcon and loud sobbing occasionally littered with screaming. Rey didn't want to admit they came from her...
^^^^^ Finn landed the X wing on Tatooine and was surprised to sense so much pain and torment. As he walked towards the Skywalker Academy, he was shocked to see Rose talking to a Force Ghost. "Where's Rey?" he called out.
"Finn, what are you doing here? Rey's right...here, oh, uh, she was right here..." Anakin vanished as Finn advanced. Rose felt like her head was spinning. "She was just here...." "Who was that guy, the Force Ghost?"
"That was Anakin, you know *Darth Vader*, Kylo, I mean Ben's grandfather. He was telling Rey how to rescue Ben..." Finn shook his head, he could never understand how Rey could be attracted to someone so irredeemable. He would never call him Ben. As far as Finn was concerned Kylo Ren was evil and deserved death.
**** Rey was so glad she was all alone. She could cry, scream, yell, let it all go and then some. She finally felt aettled down a bit when much to her surprise she heard someone and something clearing their throat and beep bopping in the hydraulics compartment. She didn't have to say anything
Force sensitive and now emo sensitive Temiri along with D-O peeked their heads around the corridor leading to the cockpit. "What are you doing here Temiri?!" "Um, I was trying to find Adam." "And *who* is Adam?" "I thought I saw him run in here
after I gave him something to eat. You know, when you were talking to Master Luke's father..." "Adam? The boy with dark curly hair?" "Yep, I thought I saw him run in here so D-O and I looked everywhere but we couldn't find him. We was gonna leave but then you came in. I didn't want to get into trouble so..."
"You hid " Rey stated matter of factly trying her best to give her 'You're in trouble but not really in trouble ' look. She continued, "Well, I'm glad for your company. Looks like we better head back." " Ain't ya gonna look for your boyfriend?"
Rey glared at Temiri who then giggled before running off to play dejarik with D-O. She was surprised they had ended up at Rakata Prime which was terribly close to Exegol. She didn't want to take chances with Temiri's safety so she started to navigate back. That's when she had the strangest experience in her life,
and that was saying alot! She swore she could see *that * young Adam tumbling alongside the Falcon mid air then flying off in the direction of Exegol. To her chagrin, she attested that she saw him laugh, smile and wave for her to join him. She wasn't sure if it was a dream or a vision and despite her better judgment, she did just that....
----- Ben kicked the ground as he walked the grounds of Padme's Castle Pyoor. They had tried several times without luck to return to the portal and access the World Between Worlds. He was frustrated and stymied, why were they always blocked from passing through? Perhaps there were lessons he could only still learn safely here.
So far he had come to learn the meaning of forgiveness and redemption through his grandmother. Padme had shared with him her deep love for his grandfather despite all the wrongs he had done. How happy she had been here when the Whills informed her of his turn back to the light after he saved Luke. How she continued to have unconditional love for him.
Padme also showed Ben unconditional love during his stay in Khfim. Even though her appearance was young, she had existed a long time and treated him like a grandson. She made him feel safe, cherished. She spoke encouraging words to him everyday, made sure they served his favorite foods and always believed in him. She told him "You're not done, you're part of a dyad. We'll
find a way back to Rey. You will fulfill your destiny Ben. " Although she had died to pass into this world Ben was different. He existed *in between *, not dead but stuck outside of reality. After their failures to return, Padme believed only something extraordinary could pull them through to their loved ones.
Ben was pondering what exactly that would be so on this day he decided to call out to the Whills and seek their guidance. He paced round and round Padme's property focusing and calling out, unaware of the disgruntled pack of former conscripted First Order soldiers and their leader, a wiry bitter man, stalking him and hiding in the brush.
When he came around the third time their leader Vos yelled 'Get him!' while the mob threw a Force immobilizing net around him. 'I've been waiting a long time for this. Vengeance for my father!' yelled Vos.
^^^^ Later in the evening, Finn and Rose figured out that Rey had taken off in the Falcon. Rose felt Rey would come back quickly as she sometimes took the old girl for a spin when she was stressed or needed a break. Rose *had* noticed Rey acting strange lately. Finn wasn't so sure about that but he was relieved when Anakin didn't reappear since his arrival.
----- Despite the Force blocking net, Ben was still able to read the mind of his kidnapper Vos and quickly understand the history between their fathers and the bitterness Vos felt. He could also Force read the thoughts of all the liberated Stormtroopers. How they had been kidnapped, abused, mind controlled, tortured, violated. How much they
hated Kylo Ren now Ben and wanted to see him suffer, inflict their violent retribution swiftly. "You scum, you don't deserve to exist in a place like this!" "There's no forgiveness, you're evil!!!!!" "You deserve to die, you deserve pain!" He heard them shout as they dragged him along the ground hitting
his head on knotted tree roots and jagged rocks. Ben pondered everything they said. The mob was right, he deserved torment for his actions, he didn't deserve this paradise. As they beat him senseless, with his last moment of consciousness he saw his grandmother's face, his mother, and Rey. Loving, forgiving... there must be more than just
the dark and light sides, the knowledge of evil and good....
^^^^ Fitful 'sleep ' and bizarre dreams, Finn sighed as he woke up for the fourth time. In his dreams he was always chasing after Rey, protecting her, fighting Kylo Ren and.. then the dream would end. 'Damn' he said as he felt a strong unction. BB8 came along side with wistful whrrrrs. 'We've got to help Rey BB8.'
He could hear Rose softly snoring in the next room. Quietly packing up his things, he nodded to BB8 to follow and they both took off in his X-wing guided by the Force to find Rey. After hearing Finn leave, Rose peered open her eyes for the all clear then snuck off in Ben's TIE fighter to follow Finn at a safe distance. 'What's going on?' she wondered...
***** Rey, Temiri and D-O had tried for several hours to Force open up any kind of portal at the co-ordinates Anakin had given them. "I'm so tired Master Rey and I'm thirsty." "Here", Rey handed over her half empty canteen.
Frustrated, she sat down on the dusty sheets of shale and fell back looking up at the exposed stars thanks to her grandfather busting open the ceiling. That's when Anakin's face appeared above her head. He stood tall and smiled a goofy smile as he looked down on her. "I've got a good feeling about this" he said as he sat down next to her. Temiri ran up
to greet Anakin but Rey quickly sat up and gave him a sideways glare. " I know you don't trust me Rey, you need to see proof that I've changed. I want to help my grandson and that means I want to help you. I hope I can show you I've truly changed. " Suddenly Temiri shouted "Hey did you see that?! Hey Adam!"
Temiri ran off after Adam with Rey racing behind and yelling his name, 'Now I know how Finn feels ' she mused.
----- Ben found himself in yet another plane of reality. No stars, no universes, no ground, just...being. He sighed heavily then was overwhelmed as the creation of the universe and all of history flashed in his mind.
He saw pre-man history and the current age of man...then the age of the King, the Kingdom Age. Ben's jaw dropped, he felt like his innards would melt and all strength left him. He fell to his knees then on his face. Love....he felt Power, Love, holiness, tenderness, Truth.
Truth reached down and lifted Ben by his hand, strengthening him but also frightening him. All of his sin, killings, torture, ruthlessness and evil acts was owned by the Man Truth before him. Ben was speechless. "You must find the Tree of Life. The time of good and evil is over"
Ben immediately found himself in his room at Padme's palace. Laying in bed, safe, next to a cozy fire in the hearth. Totally healed. He gratefully took a deep breath of air and stood up shocked to discover he wasn't alone. Mesmerized by the flames, The Whills silently floated above, seemingly oblivious to Ben's awakening .
But their words betrayed Ben's thoughts 'Find the tree' they said in unison, 'tree of life' 'Sacrifice must be made.' 'Follow the Weh.' As they disappeared a holographic map appeared in their place.
CSL 1938 lumbered in sqwacking and investigating the awe map"What's this, mwah, what's this, mwah?" "Follow it you must, mwah, follow it you will " Ben nodded then asked, "What happened to..." "Vos and troopers, mwah, Vos and troopers....wandering in the forest, mwah" CSL shooed
Ben outside, handed him victuals and shoved him on his Weh. TBC