Kylo Ren stood alone in the snow, fingers clenched around the hilt of his lightsaber. In a fit of rage, he ignited it and slashed at the rocky outcrop near the cliff’s edge on Starkiller Base. Chunks of rock splintered and split, spewing up hot embers and tumbling with hissing slabs of ice into the deep ravine.
When he had exhausted his strength, he allowed his knees to buckle under him and he sank into the melted mess at his feet, deactivating his saber. His head drooped and his shoulders slumped under the weight of Snoke’s latest lesson. Ren hadn’t been quick enough to do his master’s biding and had paid the price. The pain had seared like lava through his veins. After a long moment, his breathing slowed and he lifted his head to gaze out over the ravine and thought how easy it would be to step over the edge. It would be over in seconds and then the velvet blackness would surround him. He would feel nothing. Snoke would never let him do it, of course. Even now Snoke knew where Ren was. The Supreme Leader allowed his apprentice his Sithy fits so long as he didn’t harm himself. But whenever Ren thought of destroying himself, Snoke made certain the pain stopped his protégée in his tracks.
Instead, Ren did the only thing he could. He began to draw within himself again, to pull his senses and emotions beneath the shroud he wore. But the cold wet seeping through his robes distracted him and a distant voice began to tug at his mind. It was the blond woman’s voice, calling to him in a motherly tone – authoritative yet soothing.
He’d heard her but ignored her plea. The anger raged within him until it had to come out. It had nowhere else to go.
Dr. Amanda Snoke poked her head in the open door of the hangar shed, knowing all too well the sight she’d see. Her teenage charge was in the midst of a full-blown meltdown. The neat racks of tools were hanging askew, every wall was gouged and dented, wrenches and drill bills littered the duracrete floor. A handful of droid parts few past her as she instinctively ducked back out again. She decided to wait until the roars turned to wails. They always did.
She found him on his knees, face buried in his hands. A trickle of blood dribbled down the back of his hand from a cut on his knuckles. She bent over him and put a hand on his head. “Do you want to talk about it?”
His whole body shook as he choked on silent sobs. He felt as if he would never breathe again. He didn’t want to ever breathe again. “She betrayed me!” he blubbered through his fingers.
“Ah.” She tucked a loose strand of his hair behind his ear. “The girl you’ve been so smitten with.” She waited, but when he said nothing, she gripped him by the arm. “Come on. Sit with me. Tell me about it.” She looked about for the med kit among the rubble, and when she’d gotten him over to a bench, she took his hand and began to clean his cut.
Ben Solo let out a long breath. “She dumped me for a guy in her class,” he said, keeping his eyes on the floor. “She just told me he raped her.” He bit his lip and lifted his chin. “Suddenly I don’t look so bad to her.”
The woman nodded. “Well, I honestly don’t know why the New Jedi Order has allowed their padawans to form attachments. I think it’s a mistake.” She finished bandaging the wound but held onto his hand. “There are enough distractions for a young mind without romantic attachments weaving a web of lies and deceit.”
Ben wasn’t listening. He looked up, his eyes pleading for understanding. “How could she do that to me?”
“Sometimes girls can be mean in order to get what they want.” She gave him a stern look. “I hope you rejected her. She’s unworthy of you.”
He looked away. After a moment, he nodded.
She gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “You’re strong, just like your grandfather. You’ll get through this.”
“You knew my grandfather?” His eyes immediately brightened. “Which one?”
“Your mother’s father, Anakin Skywalker,” she told him with a smile, “but it was my father who knew him. He told me many stories about your grandfather.”
Ben pulled his hand away and turned to face his guardian. “All my parents have told me is that he was a Jedi Knight who died during the execution of Order 66.”
She gave him a sideways look. “That might be true from a certain point of view, but your grandfather actually died during the Battle of Endor.” Amanda Snoke held his gaze, making sure her charge was following her.
“Your grandfather was Darth Vader.”