Star Wars: Push

Fear is the strongest sensation in the room.

She struggles against her restraints, breaking into a cold sweat as she realizes she's confined to a chair in a room. Her fears are primal, instinctive… the fears of a lone girl on a desert planet, working among ruffians twice her size. Its rawness almost makes him smile. Her fear licks at the Force, gaining strength, and dances behind the stony look she gives him, every muscle in her slender body tightening as he leans over her.

"You know I can take what I want."

The threat carries a double meaning, searing to the heart of her terrors. She breaks into a cold sweat and he can taste it in the air. Her hands tighten into fists, the fear intensifying, flooding the Force with emotion. He knows the scent well, feels familiar vibrations singing in his veins.

Show me.

His inner voice penetrates her mind, a command she tries to resist. He senses barriers lift in her thoughts as she builds a defense against him. No one else has ever tried, has ever had any instinct about how to do it. Curious, he lifts his hand and concentrates, easily stepping into her mind. Shadows dart away from him, whispers leaving vapor trails in their wake, murmurs in the darkness as she hides the truth from him. Chills run down his spine. She is not merely refusing to think about what he wants from her, but striving to not think of anything at all. Her mind is blank, determinedly so, and he realizes she is concentrating on the pain in her right hand, as her fingernails dig into her palm.

Pain distracts us from our emotions… it does not hide the truth.

The taste of blood is in his mouth, her anguish intensified with each forceful push against her barriers; he ceases to play gently and they fall around him like a child's piled up toys. Flashes of memories bleed around the edges. He experiences her fear and longing… alone, lost, abandoned. "You've been so lonely," he murmurs, "so afraid to leave. At night, desperate to sleep, you'd imagine an ocean. I can see it… I can see the island."

White sand drifts through his mind, tears streaming from her eyes as he accesses further emotions. A flickering image of his father comes into focus, bathed in a rosy hue of admiration for the most infamous smuggler in the galaxy. Resentment rips through him and he snarls, tightening his own hand into a fist. He opens his eyes and finds her looking at him, sweat on her brow, the muscles in her cheek working as she tries to fight him. Anger flashes through him and dies, as he forces it into submission. His voice is surprisingly level, in control. "And Han Solo… he feels like the father you never had. I can tell you for a fact he would have disappointed you."

She flinches and he feels her shock, the cold sweat of realizing the truth. Her resistance falters, cracks appearing around them, and he pushes into her thoughts, stepping over and around the twisted remnants of her resolve, finding her immediate memories, the dismal sand of her home planet. So she is just a scavenger after all.

And yet…

He digs deeper, no longer interested in the droid or Luke Skywalker. The pathetic, weak child of Lord Vader can wait. This girl is hiding the truth from him, a truth he senses she does not even know… and the faintest hint of a smile touches his lips. She is furious… not at him but at herself for letting him breach her defenses.

Yes, feel the anger… taste it… let it devour you, feel its power.

Her teeth grit together and she convulses, held in by her restraints. The Force hold he has on her intensifies, until it burns in her mind, scorching a path toward her distant, locked away memories, the ones she has hidden away from him in the furthest corners of her thoughts. She whimpers, her dark eyes intent on him as he—


Force power rushes back at him, blasting his mind with such strength that for a moment he is lost in the emptiness. Then his own memories flash into existence; his loneliness and pain, his remorse and guilt, his fear at not being strong enough to serve the Dark Side… terrible, sentimental images parade in front of him before he can stop them: moments of light and dark… Han's disapproval, his experimentation with the Force, his father's rage, his mother's angry words following him out the door… Luke's disapproval, his scorn for Ben Solo's perceived weakness…

The Dark Side calling to him, whispering from the shadows, promising him freedom from fear…

Fear is something both of them know, and both of them run toward it rather than away from it.

He tastes his own blood this time, rage replacing confusion as the barrage of images repeats in his head: slashing, hacking, a flash of red light saber, childish screams dying into receding echoes, Luke's anguish flooding into the Force, before he fled… like a coward, into the emptiness…

It is the first time he has ever been violated, the first time anyone has ever pushed back. His eyes widen and his breath catches in his throat.

How are you doing this?

Confusion lingers in the air between them. She doesn't know, but she pushes back… and here she stands, in his mind as he tries to access hers. Arches fade in around her, the gloom of his mental halls disintegrating, flooded with her Light. It sucks the air from his lungs, like a blow to the heart; he slams the door on her so hard that it breaks their connection and he staggers back, looking at her in shock, horror dancing at the edges of his consciousness.

She stares back at him, tears of pain in her surprised but angry eyes. "You're afraid that you will never be a strong as Darth Vader."

The past unravels in his mind, bringing it raw and bleeding to the surface. Chills run down his spine. She is too strong. She is… no, it cannot be… all the Jedi children are dead. Their screams live on in his head, images of their deaths replaying in moments of sentimental weakness. His red light saber cut a path through them, sending terrible vibrations through the Force. He sensed them all, he sought them all out, he killed them all.

Or did he miss one?

She is so familiar, this girl… so strong with the Force, but untrained. She is helpless, as astonished as he is at what happened, that she could Force-push back and find herself in his memories and thoughts. Fear battles against self-satisfaction, in the depths of her exhaustion. The Force hums with intensity, reflecting their shared influence. He wants to go back to those memories, to the darkness and the rain, to the screams of children forever silenced except in his moments of regret and despair, as he begs Lord Vader to take sentiment from his mind, to relive them in anguishing detail, to see if he somehow missed her, the most important child of all.

What have you done?

Her thoughts seer into his head and he reads abhorrence in her eyes, her condemnation as violent as the realization that she is still holding onto him, that her thoughts still penetrate his mind. She knows… she saw… and she would kill him for it, if she could. She struggles in her constraints; sweat beading on her brow, one simple intrusion draining her of energy.

Exhaustion fights to claim him but he refuses to submit, to show it. He thrusts the Force through her with such anger that it prevents her from screaming aloud; her mind screams at him, pain wracking her thin body until it shakes. Only when she nearly falls into unconsciousness does he leave her there, alone… with a sinking, sick feeling that she is the one.