Message in a Bottle

He stood there with his back to her, a monk of the old Order, staring out into the sea. But he knew she was there and he knew why she had come. The past was repeating itself. It had caught up to him and wrapped him up in its sticky web. With a heavy heart, he turned to face her and lowered his hood. One hand of flesh and blood, one of servos and chrome.

It was him. She was sure of it. She needed no holos to confirm his identity.The Force screamed at her in its omnipresent whisper: Luke Skywalker.

She quickly dug into her satchel and pulled out the thing that belonged to him — and his father before him — and held it out in offering. He stayed where he was, his expression darkening. He moved his head ever so slightly, almost as if to shake it, as he eyed the loathsome thing in her hand. He couldn’t be that man, wouldn’t be that man, again.

She extended her arm further, imploring him with tearful eyes to take the lightsaber — the one that Anakin Skywalker had built. The one Obi-Wan had kept hidden. The one that had made Luke Skywalker a powerful Jedi.

And the girl? She was strong in the Force. Too strong for her own good.

He quickly shielded his mind from her. She had survived and overcome her spartan existence on Jakku and he was glad for it. It would have to be enough.

She tried a different tactic, putting away the lightsaber and drawing out another one. “Perhaps this one’s more to your liking?” She suggested with a hint of a hopeful smile.

Luke recognized the hilt — the lightsaber he repeatedly blamed himself for not being able to retrieve. The blue-bladed one belonging to Master Kenobi. Still, he said nothing, pushing past her and down the steps to the round stone huts clustered on the terrace below.

She followed. “There’s more,”  she told him firmly. “I have a message from General Organa.”

“I’m sure you do,” he grumbled, ducking into one of the huts. He bent low over the hearthfire and poked at the bundle of dried lichen and moss until the flames rekindled.

The girl peered into the dark interior. “She spent half a day recording it.”

He set an old pot on a tripod over the fire and straightened, but he did not turn to look at her. “He’s coming,” he said simply. “I know.”

“What?” she blinked, confused. When the Jedi said nothing more, she stowed away the lightsaber and drew out a holopad. This she placed on the low stone table. “Please,” she begged, activating a switch. “I’ve come all this way. Just listen. Then I’ll go.”

The transparent blue image of General Leia Organa projected from the center of the device. It flickered once then stabilized as Leia began to speak.

“Luke, this is Rey,” she said with a gesture aimed at introducing the young pilot who had sought him out. But Luke Skywalker kept his attention on the pot over the fire, adding a pinch of salt and herbs.

“She witnessed the events I know you’re aware of,” Leia went on almost in an accusatory tone, almost as if she knew her brother were only half-listening. “So, she’s worth hearing out. She can give you perspective I can’t. And she’s come a long way to find you.” Leia clasped her hands in front of her, giving him a sad sisterly smile. “You know through our bond that Han is gone, and I know you’re blaming yourself. You think you failed us because Ben turned to the Dark side.” Leia paused and let out a long breath. “It wasn’t you. You must know that. It was Snoke. Han and I made all the wrong decisions with Ben — to protect him — but Snoke was there to pick up the pieces. We knew a great evil existed, but it was so well disguised we were all deceived. It’s been seeking out and devouring Force-sensitives for thousands of years. That much I know from the intelligence I’ve gathered, which I’m sending to you with Rey.”

She lowered her head for a moment and took a deep breath. “We lost so much in the Hosnian System, but we struck a significant blow to the First Order with the destruction of Starkiller Base. But Snoke is still out there and part of his power comes from Ben. To stop Snoke, we must tear Ben away from him.” She made an imploring gesture. “Luke, you’re our only hope of breaking Snoke’s bond with Ben and of bringing our son home again. Hand would agree. He has a message for you too. I’ll let him say it in his own words.”

The image of Leia flickered and was replaced by a holo of Han — a younger Han by a few years — who stood holding a golden cube in his hands.”

“Hey, Luke, if you’re watching this, it means I wound up in a sarlacc pit or got frozen in carbonite again. Either way, the joke’s on me.” He smirked the old familiar smuggler’s smirk and spread his hands. “But when wasn’t it?” He held up the cube. “I know you’ve been crossing the galaxy looking for these things and I found this in a crate of old sabacc cards. Crazy, right?” He laughed lightly, tossing the cube from one hand to the other. “I was gonna give it to you, but you took off on us, so I’ve been keeping it safe. Only Jedi can open them, right? Ben tried, but he couldn’t, so I figured this has got to be pretty important.”

Secret Holocron by Drew Norman
Secret Holocron by Drew Norman

Luke Skywalker stopped cold and turned from the hearth to stare at the holo, eyes widening., his face bathed in the bluish light. Rey watched him, chewing on a thumbnail.

“Oh, and you’re gonna want to do some sort of Jedi scan on the Falcon — if you can find her, that is. There’s some stuff hidden in places even Chewie doesn’t know about.”

Luke’s eyes darted briefly to Rey.

“We found her,” she confirmed softly.

“And Ben….” Han’s voice trailed off and he struggled to find the words. “We’ve lost him too. I’m hoping you can help Leia with that….” The old smuggler looked as serious as he ever did. “It’s been great knowing you, kid. May the Force be with you.”

The holo ended and winked out.

Rey held out the holocron — the gilded cube Han once held — to the Jedi Master.

 

@MyKyloRen  13 December 2016

Special thanks to Drew Norman for his inspired artwork.

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