A plain, sprawling as far as the eye can perceive.
The air still, sharp with the scent of ash.
Black stone, in countless fragments strewn across the ground, slowly rising into the air.
A young woman in white robes, cross-legged, hair knotted back and eyes intent.
Rey raises her hand slowly. Before her, suspended, is the form of the Millennium Falcon, the final small stone pieces rising into their place in a perfect quarter-size replica. Rey knows every passage, every pipe, every panel, and each is there, held still under her concentration.
And then it isn’t.
With a crack, the simulacrum ship judders, then crumbles under its own weight, black stone flying in all directions like smashed glass. Rey’s expression shifts from concentration to dismay. It is only then that she senses the figure behind her. She twists around to look up at him in protest. “Master-”
“Enough.” Luke Skywalker motions with his head, signalling that she should rise. “Walk with me.”
Rey focuses on keeping her expression calm as she joins her master, walking along a natural ridge formation in the plain. It’s not like the desert back home – it is too jagged for one, scratched with ridges and low cliffs and deep cracks that score the uneven landscape. But it is dry here, three days’ hard trek from the sea. They left the bright green of the hardy grass among hard stone by the first day – and yesterday the last of the scrubland gave up, leaving them to walk upon the harsh black plains alone. Sometimes the wind whips up enough dust to make the eyes sting, but Master Luke says it’s nothing like the dust storms you get on Tatooine. Rey thinks of Jakku, and is inclined to agree.
“Maybe I have pushed you too quickly,” Luke muses. “Perhaps we should go back to basics.”
“But I don’t understand!” Rey cries, calm discarded. “I did exactly what you taught me! Let me do it again.”
Luke gives her a sidelong glance, one eyebrow ever so slightly raised. It took her three hours to get to the point she had done. It doesn’t seem to matter to her right now.
He raises his hands.
From the ground erupts a million grains of rock and dust, swirling into the air, revolving as one mass – an enormous sphere, riddled with trenches and geometric shapes and a circular indentation that makes it instantly recognisable as the space station of legend.
“Throw me an X-wing,” Luke murmurs as he holds the Death Star’s revolving spectre above their heads. Obediently, Rey flicks her fingers, spinning the tiny spacecraft into shape within the palm of her hand and pushing it towards Luke.
“What allowed such a tiny thing, against all odds, to take down such a monstrous battle station?”
“Ambition,” Rey answers instantly, fire in her eyes. She has heard the stories again and again from childhood, around firesides on Jakku, and from the one who flew that X-wing himself.
“Well… yes,” her master concedes. “But it was only possible due to the Force.”
“The Force is always the answer,” Rey snarks back under her breath. Luke graciously ignores it.
“The Force flows in and around all things,” Luke explains. “Size, power – all this is irrelevant. The Force is only limited by your own ability to comprehend what is possible to you.”
Rey nods, impatiently. “I know all this from what you told me. I don’t understand what that has to do with why my Millennium Falcon broke.”
Luke smiles. “You actually did everything right. I was the one who destroyed your ship. I needed to see how you would react. And whether you would notice it was me. Search your feelings.”
Rey closes her eyes, thinks back to that moment of completion. She remembers the satisfaction, the sense of triumph, the mischief tinged with a little ruefulness as she reached out and broke-
“Oh,” she says, eyes snapping open. “It was you. I sensed it. I just…didn’t notice.” Her brow furrows. “I thought I was doing well.”
“You were. But you can always do more. You are always capable of more.” Luke plucks the X-wing from the air – Rey feels it now, the point at which his control takes over, and now she allows it to happen consciously – and sends it flying into the trench, mimicking that run of long ago. “Back then, the entirety of my focus was on making that shot, just as you were focussed on your creation. But that was before I had even begun to learn the power of the Force. Even after I left my training, I continued to learn. When Alderaan was destroyed, my own mentor felt the disturbance of the death of billions of people. If I took that shot now, I wonder if I would also have sensed it. The joy of the Rebellion – and the cry of a million people as their lives were snuffed out.” The X-wing pulls away. Luke gives Rey a small nod, and she brings her hands together before throwing them out wide. A sharp crack like thunder once more, and the Death Star explodes from within, arcing out in a collapsing disc of black stone that pummels the ground around them.
“Nicely done,” Luke says softly. Rey’s spirits are lifted by the approval, but something still sits uneasy with her.
“It was the right thing to do, though, wasn’t it?” she asks. “Destroying the Death Star. And the Starkiller. Even though so many died.” Finn comes to mind, unbidden. She swallows at the implication and forces herself to dismiss the worry that threatens at the edge of her thoughts.
“Yes. It was.” He says it without joy, but firmly. “Many more without power would have died if we hadn’t. But your actions have an effect on the entire universe, just as the universe affects your actions. To have full knowledge of the Force is to fully understand how you and your actions fit within the world. To reach the full potential of the Force, you must fully understand the universe.”
“Is that even possible?”
“You can always do more. You are always capable of more.”
Rey inhales with sudden understanding. “Ambition.”
Luke laughs gently. “Ambition. Come. Let’s begin again.”
Master and apprentice exchange a smile. Then they spread their arms, and a million shards of rock rise into the sky.