Author's Note: This will contradict canonical timeline. I wrote this mostly to speculate in fic as to how Rey Skywalker might play out (if it becomes canon), how Rey ended up on Jakku, and to get inside Kylo Ren's head a bit. Could become multi-chapter in the future, or a series of speculation/pre-TFA one-shots. Some dialogue from previous films in the series which is obviously not of my own invention. I own nothing, of course. May the Fourth be with you :)
Ben Solo—I am Kylo Ren. Ben Solo is dead. I am Kylo Ren. Ben Solo is dead—stared at his greatest accomplishment holding down the urge to vomit.
How had grandfather done it?
The sight of bodies littering the temple floor did not imbue him with the sense of power that Supreme Leader had promised him he would feel, nor did he feel much closer to the dark side. Rather the dizzy tilt of nausea and a crushing, suffocating guilt flooded his brain and stormed in his stomach.
No, Ben—Kylo Ren, Ben Solo is dead—felt almost powerless for the first time in his sixteen years as he stared at the corpses of his fellow Jedi.
The Jedi are dead. Ben Solo is dead.
They hadn't been friends. He'd been too alone for things such as friends, sitting beneath the trees in the courtyard and reading his books, or meditating as Supreme Leader had taught him to.
But solitude was not so terrible. He had Supreme Leader, he had grandfather's memory, and grandfather's legacy to carry out.
Your grandfather was a good man, Luke had said.
Your grandfather was a powerful man, Supreme Leader had whispered to him. The truth.
And now, after all of the death that Kylo Ren and his Knights of Ren had wrought upon Luke's temple, Luke's greatest achievement, Ben had their names ringing in his ears. The names of the Jedi.
Eru-Deja, Lela, Gobi, Jinn, and countless others.
Luke was not among them. He had been meditating far up in the mountains, as he always did this time of week.
He had promised to take Ben with him one day.
Ben had not seen her since the siege on the temple began, but he did not want to imagine where she was, or what had happened to her.
Ben—Kylo Ren—felt a different sense of guilt for the relief he found in his ignorance of her fate. She was likely dead upstairs, but he was thankful that he had not been the one to kill her. How ashamed Supreme Leader would be if he knew of these thoughts. Ben turned away from the carnage littering the stone floor. He could look no longer.
"Master." A knight stood, illuminated in the temple's simple doorway by lightning. "Supreme Leader awaits our return."
Kylo Ren nodded and swept from the room, his stride long and swift, keeping his hidden turmoil a secret, safe within him.
The other knights had gathered in the rain outside, ready to board his ship. Kylo Ren watched each of them ascend into the shuttle until one was left, awaiting him as was respectful. The storm grew angrier.
Strange weather for a planet usually so peaceful, so calm. It raged down on him, droplets stinging his unarmored shoulders and bouncing impotently off his mask. A mask like grandfather's.
How had grandfather done it?
No, Ben thought. Please. Not—
But it was.
Rey burst free from the shelter of a storm drain at the temple's base and ran toward the mountains, toward where Luke and Artoo were, her short legs sinking deep in muddy puddles and her clothes soaked through.
She ran past the bodies of her friends, never once looking down or looking back. Every movement was a struggle, but she was determined. She'd always been so determined. With a battle cry, the knight chased her until they were both out of sight.
And, without thinking, Ben chased the knight.
There was a clap of thunder and Rey fell, tripping through the sludge and landing hard as the knight closed the distance between them.
"Wait!" Ben shouted as the knight raised his weapon to bring it down on the little girl's head. "Don't!"
Kylo Ren ignited his saber. He grabbed the knight by his shoulder and struck, the blade sinking through him easily, the way the rain soaked through his clothes. The knight grunted in shock and fell with a death rattle, joining the fallen Jedi, indistinguishable from them by his wounds alone.
Ben silenced his lightsaber, shocked with himself. Thunder roared above them.
What have I done?
Rey stared up at him, stunned and frightened and soaked to the bone, before her brow furrowed in sorrowful, anguished fury and she launched herself his way, trying to punch and kick him away from her.
"Ugh!" he grunted when she landed a particularly effective hit to his stomach, but he caught her by her shoulder as she scrambled to get away.
"No! Let go of me!" she shouted, walloping him again. "Let go!"
Rey closed her eyes in concentration, and he could feel the Force gathering around her. When she opened them, the weight of her power pushed against him and he fell back into a puddle.
"Rey!" he shouted.
She stopped and looked back in surprise. Ben rose to his knees and pulled his helmet from his head.
Her eyes went wide.
"Rey, it's me!" he said. "It's me…"
Rey's chin trembled and, with a cry, she ran forward to hug him around his middle. He screwed his eyes shut in relief, held her tight, and made what he hoped was a comforting sound.
"It's all right," he whispered, rocking her and feeling her fear through the Force. "It's all right. I'm here. They aren't going to hurt you. I won't let them hurt you…"
It sickened him that it was true.
"Ben, they're all dead!" Rey cried. "Everyone's dead, Ben!"
He winced at the name. Ben Solo is dead. I am—
"Ben?" Rey said again, her large eyes filling with tears and her small, vengeful fury fading in the face of a grown up. A grown up she trusted. "Is dad—?"
"He's alive," Kylo Ren said. That much was true. The Knights hadn't known that Luke Skywalker would be taking his weekly sojourn up to meditate in a secret spot in the mountains, leaving his students behind.
Leaving his daughter.
All in my care.
Supreme Leader would be displeased with his timing.
"Then we have to go!" Rey said, the insistent determination back in her voice, this time with a hint of persuasion that rippled through the Force. At six years old, she was the temple's greatest student.
Strong with the Force, like her grandfather, Luke had said once.
The memory soured in Kylo Ren's mind. Sometimes, Ben was sure Rey didn't realize she was using the Force. It came to her as naturally as breathing.
It wasn't fair.
Rey grabbed Kylo Ren by his sleeve. "We have to go get him! He's this way, we have to—!"
A light from the ship behind them blared on—A searchlight.
Ben caught Rey and pulled her to the ground. She tried to stand and he gripped her wrist to stop her.
"No!" she said, starting to cry and trying to crawl toward the mountain once more. "Dad! Dad!"
"Be quiet!" Ben demanded, his heart pounding with fear for her. The light passed over the bodies beside them. Rey saw their open, vacant eyes and went very still.
They will kill you, he tried to tell her without speaking. They want to kill you. Do you understand?
Rey trembled, tiny hands balling into fists. She nodded.
The light passed, the rain quieted, and Ben made up his mind.
"Ben, we have to go," Rey whispered, her eyes straying again toward the mountains.
Kylo Ren weighed his options as the ship rose without him. It stopped, and for a heart-pounding moment he thought they'd been discovered, only for it to launch two short range missiles toward the temple. They impacted with a fiery blast that made his ears ring. He squinted through the debris.
The structure was still standing defiantly, only the eastern walls knocked in, but oh how it burned.
Kylo Ren stood and stared up at the blazing temple, pride curling in his stomach along with the guilty sickness.
He had done it.
Beside him, Rey stood. In the brightness of the fire, Kylo Ren could see her face, wet with tears and rain, screwed up in anguish as she watched her home burn, her horror palpable. Ben could feel her agony in his own throat like bile and his guilt edged in on his pride. Above them, the ship continued to rise until it blasted into space.
What would they tell Supreme Leader, he wondered? What would he tell Supreme Leader? They hadn't been seen…
Ben looked at Rey once again. She turned from the ruin of the temple and took his hand, trying to tug him behind her. He remained immobile.
She would only remain a rival, be it for Luke's praise, his parents' affections, or even Supreme Leader's interest.
He could feel the dark. It whispered to him…
Kill her. Kill her now.
It would be so easy. A shiver ran down Kylo Ren's neck as his fingers closed around his lightsaber. All it would take would be a moment, just a moment…
Then a pull to the light flooded through him, so quickly it was staggering.
Ben was hit with memories.
He'd been there three days after her birth, been the third to hold her, after Luke. He'd watched her at his parents' home when Luke had been researching that old temple. He'd taught her how to levitate small rocks in the temple courtyard when she was only three. He had given her rides on his shoulders, comforted her when she scraped her knees, told her stories, let her drag him from his solitude by putting her hands over the pages of his books, and he had laughed when she would pretend to be menacing and chase him around the temple grounds.
He had promised his uncle that he would protect her.
"Ben, I'm scared,"Rey said.
Ben knelt before her. "I'm going to keep you safe, all right? I'm going to take you far away from here…"
"But dad…" Rey said.
Ben swallowed and faked a smile. "He knows where we're going. He'll meet us there."
She hesitated, her eyes narrowing as they stared at his lying face. He could feel her probing, perhaps without realizing that she was, and he put up a wall of comfort in his mind. He thought thoughts of Luke.
"We'll see him again," Ben said. "I promise."
Rey nodded. "Okay…"
With that, Kylo Ren lifted her up, turned away from the mountains, and ran with her past the blazing testament to his devotion to the dark.
Something was wrong.
There was a great disturbance in the Force.
Yoda? Luke reached out with his senses. Obi-Wan?
There was no answer from either of them, not a hint of presence. It was as if a veil had dropped down all too suddenly, a veil of thick and sluggish darkness. The fire before Luke wavered, casting strange shadows across the ground.
A tremble of urgency broke through the dark like a shard of glass and resounded like a scream.
Go, Luke! Run! Before it's too late. Run, Rey—!
Anakin's command went silent, snuffed out by the rising darkness.
And Luke obeyed it.
Thunder clapped outside the cave as he raced into the storm. He had trekked the mountain paths on foot, part of his meditation, but Luke found himself wishing he'd traveled by speeder.
He crashed through the trees, running blindly. He could not feel Yoda or Obi-wan or even Anakin—who had been a readily available presence of fatherly assurance and peace for almost seventeen years, no matter how distantly he drifted—any longer. But he could still feel the Force, and it guided him.
Please. Please. Please.
It took him a quarter of an hour to reach the base of the mountain, another to see the blazing silhouette of the temple rise before him on the horizon. It was a minute more before he saw the bodies.
So many bodies.
Luke screamed. He could do nothing else. It was ripped from him, a wordless sound of pain. Droves of his students lay dead in muddy graves, illuminated by the firelight, some with looks of horrified surprise still marking their faces.
He walked toward the temple in shock, taking in every crumpled corpse, unable to propel himself forward at a greater speed and knowing that he should. Unable to suppress it, Luke fell to his knees and vomited.
He looked up at the temple and it consumed his vision. The temple in flames. A sob escaped his lips.
He heard a comforting beep beside him. Artoo had followed him down. How long had he been there, just staring at the horror before him? There was no time to mourn now. Anakin's warning had been clear. He had to hurry.
With a lump in his throat, Luke forced himself upright and kept on. He stopped near the temple's entrance where two girls had fallen, ones barely older than Rey. Her friends. Syra and Len. Syra had hit her head on a stone when she fell. There was so much blood. They'd been run through with a lightsaber.
Who could have—?
And how many had they killed?
"Rey…" Luke whispered, the possibility that she was among their number was becoming too real. "Rey!"
He drew his own lightsaber from his belt, and ran into the burning building.
"Rey!" Luke shouted, coughing as he inhaled smoke. His cloak ignited and he shrugged it off, running up the stairs and not bothering with stealth when his child could be—
No. He couldn't think of it. He couldn't think the word.
He reached out—the Force was laced with the dark side, blocking him and clouding his path.
Luke choked on a sob of relief.
He could feel her. She was alive. She was alive.
Kylo Ren watched Rey from beneath a different mask—a covering like a Jakku scavenger might wear—as she roused from where she slept, curled in the co-captain chair.
"Dad?" Rey said groggily. She blinked and saw Kylo Ren kneeling beside her, staring at her through the slit in the mask. Through Ben Solo's eyes. "Ben?"
He gave no answer.
Rey looked out the window at the vast, endless dunes that were growing ever closer as they landed. "Where are we, Ben?"
Ben Solo is dead.
The ship he'd stolen from the yard not far from the temple met the ground in a burst of sand outside the front window.
Rey sat up. "Where's dad?"
He said nothing.
Her face screwed up in frustration. "Ben?" She tugged his sleeve, and he knew his silence was frightening her. "Ben, where's dad? Ben!" Rey released him and her lip trembled. "Ben, say something."
She was going to cry again, as she had so ceaselessly while they'd run to the ship yard before he'd used the Force to put her in a dreamless sleep. He readied himself for it. Her tears were accusatory, cutting, even more cutting in the face of what he was about to do.
Rey tried again, reaching for his mask. "Ben…"
I am Kylo Ren.
Kylo Ren caught the girl by her shoulders, and looked her in the eye. Hers brimmed with tears.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "It's for your own good."
He raised his hand. Concentrating all of his energy, drawing on the dark side, he pushed it forward.
Rey's eyes went unfocused. She fought against the mind wipe, he had guessed she would try, and nearly ousted him. But as strong as she was, she was tired and hungry and afraid, and for once her natural talent didn't trump his superior training.
And with one last push of his hand, almost all that had been Rey Skywalker was snuffed out.
Luke started up his starfighter, ready to chase Ben—Ben—across the galaxy if need be, when he felt Rey's light go out.
No. That's not possible…
Luke reached out, trying to feel even a glimmer of her. She was alive. She had to be alive. He had felt it.
That's not possible.
But it was.
Rey was gone.
"No…" Luke fell back in his seat, clutched his head in his hands, and wept, the last vestiges of his hope gone.
Rey was dead.
Ben felt a guilty sense of accomplishment. For the first time, he had beaten this girl, this child, his cousin, at this game. Kylo Ren took what he needed, wiped what he could. Her emotions were running strong. Echoes could still linger…
Father, father, father! her thoughts had screamed. A child's single-minded longing for familial protection and comfort. Kylo Ren only hoped he'd done enough to wipe it all away.
But he'd left her mind intact, he'd left an instruction—wait here for me—and he'd left her a name. That was more than Supreme Leader would have left her. More than grandfather would have, perhaps? Kylo Ren was crushed with shame for his weakness.
He would never be as strong as grandfather.
Rey inhaled one last wheezing breath of resistance and fainted. Kylo Ren caught her and lowered the ship's hatch, carrying her out into the blinding sunlight.
Waiting there was the creature he'd spoken to. Unkar Plutt.
"This the one?" Unkar asked, giving Rey a beady-eyed once over. He reached out to pinch her arm. "Scrawny."
"Strong," Kylo Ren corrected as menacingly as he could. He wished he'd still worn his voice modulator. "She'll work hard. And you will be watchful of her. Make sure she never leaves this place. I'm granting you a bargain, junker. Be sure not to break it. Your life will be what's forfeit if you do."
Unkar swallowed hard as Kylo Ren lowered Rey to the sand. She began to stir as he marched back to his ship. Her ensuing scream was shattering.
"Wait!" Rey screamed after him. "No, please!"
Ben heard her try to run, heard her fall, and heard Unkar berating her. Ben's heart twisted in his chest and a lump formed in his throat, but he did not dare turn back to face her.
Supreme Leader was going to ask what had happened to Skywalker's daughter, but he could never know what had become of her.
"Please! Come back! Please!" Rey's screams echoed in his ears, climbing in volume and desperation.
Ben screwed up his face, tears spilling down his cheeks, infuriating him, and he felt a pull to return, to restore her, and to take her home. A call to the light. A sob escaped his lips with new shame. He was weak. He was worthless.
Grandfather wouldn't have cried.
The call intensified, and so did Rey's pleads.
"No! Come back! Come ba—!"
The hatch shut and he blasted away.
Leia stood in the doorway of the charred remains of what had been Rey's bedroom, her hands filthy from helping him bury the dead.
"Luke, please…" Leia whispered. Her throat felt raw with sobbing. "I never should have sent him away. I knew there was something. I knew he was…but I didn't know he could do anything like this. How could I have known he would—? The Jedi…Rey." Leia's voice cracked. "He loved her as much as we did, I know he did…I can't believe he could… Please, Luke, please talk to me."
Luke sat hunched and immobile, holding a small doll that had once been fashioned like a Rebel pilot. Now it resembled a blackened corpse. When he spoke, his voice was hoarse. "Leia…leave."
Leia recoiled back as if he'd slapped her.
Your son killed the Jedi, she felt more than heard through the Force, Luke's usually serene emotions rising like a storm. Your son killed my daughter.
Ben killed Rey.
He wasn't blaming her. He was grieving.
Han's hands were gentle on her shoulders as he steered her out of the room. Leia hadn't realized he was listening. He guided her into the hall.
Leia turned and Han held her.
"It's my fault," Leia said, pressing her face into his chest and crying. "I failed him."
Ben, Luke, both of them…She could feel Han's own tears in her hair.
"No," Han said and held her tighter. "It's me…Ben blames me for…for him not being what he wants."
For not being as powerful as he wished he was.
Leia trembled with rage and frustration and grief. She clenched her fist so tight that her nails dug into her palm. An ash-coated vase that had survived the burning shattered at the hall's end, startling them both.
Leia pulled out of Han's embrace and stared at the shards, the destruction she hadn't even tried to cause, but had brought on by emotion alone. With this great power that she had never even asked for.
Leia whispered, "He doesn't know what he wants."