“The Throne Room”
Rey’s body moves in front of me like a wave hitting the shore. It delicately sways, but within it lies intense strength. She’s holding herself upright and completely composed, but I can feel what’s really going on inside her. Fear. Anxiety. It’s overpowering the feelings that were swirling inside her on the turbolift. My body tightens and then relaxes as my mind drifts to what just happened mere moments ago.
Such passion burned inside her, and it mixed with mine as we fell within each other with the Force. Perhaps I was the only one searching, but as I looked at her, I felt it all–the desire and the destiny singeing together as one between us. When we touched through the Force, we became even more connected than what first bridged our minds–when I first searched hers on my ship months ago. It opened something between us. Something that can never be shut. Something I refuse to close even if it were possible.
As we went down to Snoke’s lair, she looked at me in a way I haven’t seen anyone look at me in person. She stood there, refusing to let me believing anything other than what she declared was the truth. When we shared the ride down here together, she looked deep into me. It was as if we weren’t just the only two people in that turbolift, but the only two people in the entire galaxy.
She saw my future, she said. My future. When she touched me, she saw it. I saw her past, though. Why would I see her past but she’d see my future? Are our paths destined to become one? Are we piecing together our lives and have to fit them together through cooperation? Through mutual effort, affection, and longing?
As we approach Snoke, my feelings are getting more twisted and shaky. What do I do? I think to myself. I need to stay composed. I can’t show him that there is anything in me but loyalty. My stomach flops like a fish trying to make its way back water and sweat breathes cold spikes down my back.
There he is. Proud and slouched, lounging lazily against his throne, smiling in a way that makes my blood freeze. His eyes follow Rey as we approach. He looks like a beast about to leap upon its next meal. Anger and an instinct to step out in front of her to protect her threatens to disturb my composed focus, but I keep my feelings level.
His eyes fall to me.
“Well done, my good and faithful apprentice.” Snoke’s voice thunders through the room. It’s not that his voice is terribly loud, it’s just that it grumbles in a way that rattles the spacious room, causing echoes to shake through the air and into our heads. “My faith in you is restored.”
The size of Snoke’s bulbous head is exaggerated by the way his eyes fit so microscopically in the middle of his face. Those pin-prick eyes return to their prey. “Young Rey,” he says, as if he were her grandfather, “Welcome.”
Rey doesn’t flinch. Her face stays strong. Angry. Fierce. My chest tightens. I have to keep my feelings neutral, I think to myself. I look down and focus once more. In one limp movement, Snoke waves a wilted hand and removes the restraints that had been keeping Rey’s wrists together.
“Come closer, child,” Snoke says with a crooked smile. Rey still doesn’t move. Her eyes look like they could turn ice into fire. It’s the look she gave me in the forest. The look she gave me when we first spoke through the Force. A look I love but don’t really want to be on the receiving end of. With a flick of the wrist, Snoke tests Rey’s powers. I can feel everything. Through the Force, I can feel what she’s feeling, and I know what Snoke is doing.
As I feel the waves between us, I can tell he is only getting started.
“So much strength,” Snoke says, nearly chuckling. He looks between the two of us and continues, “Darkness rises, and light to meet it. I warned my young apprentice that as he grew stronger, his equal in the light would rise.” As he utters the last word, I feel Luke’s lightsaber leave my hand. I had forgotten it was there until it was gone and floating through the air. He looks at it and says, “Skywalker I assumed. Wrongly.” He turns his attention back to Rey and spits, “Closer, I said!”
Rey tries to take Snoke on through the Force, but it’s no use. He’s too strong. With another wave, she is at his command, no matter how unwilling she is to be so. Her body hovers above the ground and glides over to the Supreme Leader. I try to keep my head bowed. Panic threatens to swarm my body, but I push it away.
Rey is trembling in the air and I can feel her discomfort inside me. Fury is boiling within me. I want to tear after him and stop all of this at once, but I keep it at a simmer.
“You underestimate Skywalker,” Rey shouts, her voice wavering in discomfort, “and Ben Solo, and me. It will be your downfall.”
Snoke chuckles and, amused, says, “Oh? Have you seen something? A weakness in my apprentice? Is that why you came?” He continues to chuckle, this time louder and more patronizing. “Young fool,” he continues, “It was I who bridged your minds. I stoked Ren’s conflicted soul. I knew he wasn’t strong enough to hide it from you, and you weren’t smart enough to resist the bait!”
What? Is that true? I no longer have control over my emotions. Thoughts whirl rapidly in my mind and fall deep within me like a maelstrom swirling into a dark pit.
“And now,” Snoke says, “you will give me Skywalker. Then I will kill you with the cruelest stroke.”
“No!” Rey shrieks.
“Yes!” Snoke says back, toying with her like he does with everyone–and everything–else. With that, he raises a hand and throws her about in the air, pulling at everything she can possibly feel inside.
He rummages through her mind, searching for answers. He’s testing her and playing with her strengths and weaknesses through the Force. I sense his fingers–bony and invasive–prying to find anything he can use for his own benefit. He’s done the same to me countless times.
“Give me everything,” he hisses. Rey’s face is contorted in anguish, and her body is writhing in pain. Her head begins shivering where Snoke is playing inside, visibly showing the torment going on within her mind. Her mouth opens with a booming scream. My eyes squint shut and my lips begin to tremble. Her screaming continues. It’s getting louder. It sears into me. I feel it all, but at a distance. I can feel the discomfort, but not the actual pain. My stomach is sick and my emotions are almost as loud as the echoes of Rey’s violent cries.
I keep my head bowed and try my best to retain my composure. I think of Rey. I think of what Snoke will inevitably ask me to do.
I think of what I can do to stop him.
I think and I think and I think.
Then it all stops. Inside me. It stops.
Wrangling everything into a perfect corner within myself, I get to a state of perfect serenity and focus.
Rey flopped to the floor with a thump. My eyes peel open but I resist the urge to look at her.
“Well, well,” Snoke says, laughter drizzling from his cracked mouth, “I did not expect Skywalker to be so wise. We will give him and the Jedi Order the death he longs for. After the rebels are gone, we will go to his planet and obliterate the entire island.”
The Force fills me and I realize Rey is using it. I look up and see her hand outstretched, reaching for Luke’s lightsaber. It flies around, hits her in the back of the head, and lands safely back on Snoke’s throne. I return my gaze to the ground.
“Such spunk,” Snoke says, vibrant with glee. He continues torturing Rey, even showing her the fleet where her friends are currently under attack. He is trying to kick her while she’s down and cause her to lose hope in everything so he can get her as weak as he can. He wants to torture her in every possible way before asking me to kill her–and he will ask me to kill her. I try to stay calm. This will only work if I stay calm.
The sounds of lightsabers buzzed before me and I hear Snoke say something to Rey about having the spirit of a real Jedi. Then he says the words I’ve been wishing I wouldn’t have to hear: “And because of that, you must die.”
Then comes my cue.
“My worthy apprentice,” Snoke says in an eerie purr, “Son of darkness, heir apparent to Lord Vader, where there was conflict, I now sense resolve. Where there was weakness, strength. Complete your training and fulfill your destiny.”
Standing up, I grab my lightsaber and ignite it. Snoke pushes Rey to me through the Force and kneels her before me.
My eyes almost give me away when I see the horrified look plastered upon her face, the sorrow burned in the streaks of tears stained down her cheeks. I swallow a knot lodged painfully in my throat. I walk closer to her, steadily, and try to look as uncaring as I possibly can, even though it tears me apart inside.
Focus, I think to myself, I need to stay focused.
“Ben!” Rey shrieks, pleading at me, her face twisted in confusion and desperation. She looks at me so scared and so betrayed, I can hardly stomach myself as I strain my face to remain expressionless.
Looking deep into the darks of her eyes, I try to convey a message to her that only she will see. “I know what I have to do,” I say, hoping she realizes that between each word lies the truth.
Snoke roars with laughter. My shoulders relax a bit.
Good, he didn’t sense that. I can do this.
I lift my lightsaber with one hand and put my other hand behind my back.
Rey didn’t seem to get the message because tears start spilling down her face as she looks up at me. Her face holds the agonizing expression of someone begging for their life. I look away.
“You think he will turn, you pathetic child?” Snoke booms after he finishes laughing to himself. “I cannot be betrayed! I cannot be beaten. Don’t you see? I see his mind! I see his every intent!” He closes his eyes and continues mocking Rey while reveling in his “faithful apprentice.”
I move my hand and keep two thoughts in my head at once, but I only let myself truly think one: a lightsaber.
“Yes!” Snoke smiles as he speaks.
My fingers curl behind my back.
“I see him turning the lightsaber to strike true…”
My hand moves slowly as does my lightsaber in my other hand.
“…and now, foolish child…”
The lightsaber in my right hand moves towards Rey.
The lightsaber on the throne turns at the same angle, pointing directly at Snoke.
“…he ignites it and kills his true enemy.”
With one swish of my left hand, the lightsaber on Snoke’s throne buzzes to life, striking him in the middle, and killing my true enemy.