Who is in Control?

On the crumbling edge of the sinkhole, Rey thought she’d met her end. If Kylo Ren didn’t slice her in half, the planet would swallow her in its death throes. The ground beneath her feet shuddered and heaved but she was more aware of the dark energy that pulsed through the vicious lord who had her trapped.

“You need a teacher! I could show you the ways of the Force!” he growled and gritted his teeth.

But another voice, one that seemed to be in her head, was gentle and urging, unfamiliar yet familial, like a brother, uncle, or parent. “The Force, Rey. Feel it surround you, flow through you!”

“The Force,” she murmured and closed her eyes despite the peril that enveloped her.

“The Dark Side of the Force is strong,” the voice told her, “but it can never win. It will always be balanced by the Light.”

She found herself following that voice and letting go of her fear for the moment, opening herself to the powerful energy that passed through her in a constant stream. It was invigorating yet soothing.

“Become the Light,” the voice directed in a whisper.

Back on Jakku, she would have laughed at the suggestion. The tales of the Jedi and their magical powers were just legends, but now she believed. She had Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber in her grip and the powerful dark lord at bay. She could feel his intensity, feel him watching her with an urgent curiosity and desire. She could use that to press her advantage. He towered over her and could have struck her down numerous times or shoved her into the gaping chasm, but he had done neither. He was strong, but his strength was ebbing as the blood leaked from the tear in his side. Through the Force, she also knew that the killing of his father had drained him. He’d thought the heinous act would increase his power, but it had robbed him.

“He is weak,” a different male voice – one from the shadow-world –  growled in her head. “You can defeat him,” it purred.

She felt its ferocity and opened her eyes.

Kylo Ren’s pupils widened as he took in her transformation, but he met her gaze unflinching.

With a snarl, she summoned up a surge of strength from the Force and slipped under his guard, spun, and delivered a series of powerful overhand blows that made him take several stumbling steps backward. She was relentless in her fury as he fought to fend her off. Then, with a sweeping strike, she nearly knocked the saber from his grasp and followed through with a slash that rent a chunk of cloth from his robes and drove him to his knees. She stood there stunned, amazed at her own prowess as he quickly regained his feet. Then she slammed another solid strike that ripped through his surcoat and jerkin to the skin just below his left collarbone.

He backed off, struggling to maintain his footing in the snow. She advanced, feeling the anger surge within her. Once again she lifted the lightsaber over her head and brought it crashing down on him. He blocked the blow just in time but caught her foot full in the gut.

He went down.

She prowled around him, once more letting him gain his feet, for she desired now to kill him as a warrior – standing instead of begging for mercy. There was no glory in killing a helpless victim. She wanted to beat him – the dark warrior, not some broken wretch.

He swung widely and clumsily. She parried easily and they met, each gripping the other’s lightsaber hand and circling round in a strange dance of the Force. But in his weakened state, he was no match for her growing power and she drove his blade into the ground, seeking to extinguish it. With a growl, he struggled against her until she freed her lightsaber and slashed through the hilt of his and knocked him flat on his back. The blow left a burn mark angled across his cheek and forehead.

She halted, breathing with loathing, exalting for a moment in her triumph, thinking she’d killed him. But when the red haze of hate cleared from her vision, she saw that he was only stunned and struggling to sit up against the pain that ripped through him.

Good, she thought. You deserve agony more than death.

“Yes,” purred the deep, gravelly voice – the Supreme Leader’s voice. “Finish him. He is useless to me now. I made him my masterpiece, but you have destroyed him. It is you who should stand at my side.”

These last words were soothing, silky, but they died on the wind as the voice from the Light – the first voice she’d heard – broke through.

“This little one’s not worth your effort,” it told the Dark voice then turned its focus on her. “Be mindful of your feelings. They betray you.”

Feelings.

BenLittleRey18
It’s You by Niima Junk Dealer

She stared at Kylo Ren and saw a dark-haired boy bouncing her as a little girl on the soles of his feet, making her feel as if she could fly.

She blinked.

The vision vanished and the planet opened up between them. Ren would die another day.

She ran.

 

@MyKyloRen     28 June 2016

 

Boy at the End of the Hall

“Jedi Killer!”

The voice was low and dangerous in Kylo Ren’s ears, yet somehow…appreciative, encouraging.

Ren tossed in his dream-sleep, gripping the coverlet so hard his knuckles went white. The light and heat were intense as the temple went up in flames around him, swirling in dizzying eddies along with the shrieks of younglings. He had to get away from the awful sound, the stench of death, the acrid smoke…and the Light…what was left of it. He needed the velvet calm of the Void, to fold himself into the Dark and be its nurtured fetus.

But the dream was always the same. The temple would not release him no matter how many corridors he ran down. The flames and the screams roared behind him, threatening to singe his soul, and before him scurried the last youngling – a boy of about nine with dark unruly hair and the braid of a padawan.

“Yes, good,” a gravelly voice purred in Ren’s ear. “He is trapped.” The voice dropped a notch in pitch. “You know what you have to do.”

With the boil of bloodlust from the Dark Side, Ren pursued the child through a maze of corridors that slanted and twisted in unnatural ways. The padawan’s evasive skills were impressive – catlike and slippery – but the child was unarmed and weak, his use of the Force clumsy. He was no match for the dark warrior shadowing him.

The masked hooded reaper reached out with the Force and pulled the boy to him with a vengeance, gripping him fast by the scruff of the neck. The padawan flailed and screamed as Ren raised his lightsaber to complete the cruel harvest.

“In our vain pursuit of life for one’s own end, will this crooked path ever cease to end?”

This was a new voice – one of patience and guidance, feminine in pitch and undoubtedly from the Light. He strengthened his grip on the struggling wretch.

The master sensed a hesitation and spoke to his apprentice in no uncertain terms. “Kylo Ren…you must finish your task.”

The boy was so helpless, his small voice pitiful and pleading for mercy. His young body delicate and agile – an innocent thing of grace and beauty – his young mind so full of compassion and potential. It would be a shame to ruin this little being.

I know what I have to do, Ren thought, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.

He instantly felt a sharp stab of excruciating pain rip through his head and snake down his spine. Snoke was growing impatient. Ren spun the young Jedi around as the boy’s howls increased in volume. He would snuff out this Light face to face – not in the back like a coward. He would slip faster into the Darkness this way.

But he wasn’t prepared for the soft eyes that stared up at him – green eyes full of fear but also full of self-preservation. Eyes brimming with a deep sadness and longing. He’d seen those eyes so many times in pools and mirrors, in the newly polished wall plates of the Millennium Falcon.

His eyes.

With a sharp intake of breath, he let the boy go. Then with a white fury, he grabbed the child again and flung him into a blackened chamber. Ren worked quickly to block the door with old furniture and chunks of temple debris.

He never wanted to see that face again.

The rest of ship’s night passed in a blissfully dreamless state until a scraping sound and a gentle voice made Kylo Ren sit bolt upright even before he was fully awake.BoyattheendoftheHall

The girl – a wiry young woman who wore her hair in three distinct knots down the back of her head – was clearing away the debris piled against the chamber door. In the next moment, she had the door open and was beckoning to the dark-haired boy cowering in the corner.

“Ben,”she said. “It’s ok. You can come out now.”

 

@MyKyloRen  with special thanks for the inspiration to @Datscavenger        24 June 2016

Dream Weaver

Rey awoke in a panic, flinging off the flimsy blanket in the dimly lit cell. It wasn’t until her fingers felt the cold stone of the beehive hut that her breathing slowed.

“A dream,” she exhaled. “Just a dream.”

She’d learned a lot form Luke Skywalker in the past few months on Ahch-To, but the more she learned, the more she was certain she didn’t understand…and wasn’t sure she wanted to. The Force was big. Really big. And she was just a scavenger – who defeated Kylo Ren – Luke was always quick to remind her. She could have easily ended the dark warrior’s life when he was down, stunned and spent. But the truth was before that crucial point in their encounter, he could have killed her as easily as swatting a fly. No, he had let her go.

And now he was coming for her. She could feel him in her blood. All through her morning training exercises she tried to convince herself that her dreams were the remnants of her traumatic experience as his victim.

In one swift fluid movement, Luke brought his staff sweeping behind her knees and knocked her off her feet. She sat there stunned, her pride smarting more than her backside. Good thing he wasn’t using a saber staff, she thought wryly. She was quick and nimble with her own quarterstaff, but no matter how hard she tried, he was better…despite is age.

“You let your guard down again,” the old Jedi admonished as he reached down and gave her a hand up. He tossed his staff aside and reached into his robes. “Take this. We’re going to try something new.”

She hesitated to grasp the proffered lightsaber. Although it felt like it belonged in her hands, she still hated the thing. Luke had been teaching her the seven forms of lightsaber combat, but without a saber of her own, they hadn’t been able to spar. And every time she took his saber – Anakin’s saber – to hand, the visions came.

Luke understood her hesitation and either helped her focus her attention elsewhere or waited patiently for the visions to pass through her. Sometimes they contained valuable insights. But this morning he firmly met her gaze and made the battle-meld connection, linking their minds in the Force.

Rey gripped the lightsaber and activated it, assuming a defensive stance. She was relieved when no visions came. Luke was blocking them and she could hear his commands in her head. He took up his own defensive stance a few meters away.

Come at me, he commanded.

You are unarmed, she heard herself protest through the Force.

Am I?

She glided toward him in graceful movements, blocking his disarming thought and guarding against a Force-pull on her saber or a Force-push as he’d taught her. But even as she did, she found herself reeling and the ground rose up to smack her in the chest. She lay there clinging to the grass, desperate as the world spun faster and faster. She was afraid that if she let go, she’d fly off the jagged cliff. Then suddenly the dizziness stopped as Luke severed the connection between their minds.

Malacia,” he said, getting her to her feet and retrieving his lightsaber where she had dropped it. “That is how you defeat him unarmed.”

She wavered against the lingering nausea, gipping her Master’s hand to steady herself. “But he’s coming with his Knights,” she managed to get out between gasps. “We need to leave this place.”

Chewbacca vocalized his complete agreement. He’d taken a break from tinkering with the Falcon to watch the proceedings.

“He would only follow us,” Luke told them in no uncertain terms. He had seen the same Force visions she had seen in her sleep. There would be no outrunning his former padawan.

She watched the old Jedi head back up the steps to the stone hovels, wishing she could tell him about the vision that had awoken her that morning.

That face – unmasked and unexpectedly handsome – was inches from her own, just as it always was in the reoccurring “I can show you the ways of the Force” nightmares.JediBenReyloPhoto2

“We have to talk, Rags,” he’d told her. “There are things you need to know, things you don’t understand, things that are bigger than the two of us.”

Rags. He’d called her Rags. She found herself laughing at that, laughing at some fleeting childhood daydream of a meadow and daisy chains.

He had smiled, enjoying her laugh.

 

@MyKyloRen     15 June 2016

Crystal Red Persuasion

“I hate the idea of using a synthetic crystal for your lightsaber, Ben, but I’m beginning to think the Empire left us no choice.” Luke Skywalker brought the small two-seater craft into a smooth landing in the forest clearing.

Ben knew from his uncle that very few caches of natural kyber crystals remained intact following the reign of Emperor Palpatine, who had personally seen to their destruction along with many of the old Jedi temples. He’d quarantined and hidden the best specimens for himself, but with his death and the death of Vader, their location remained a mystery. Palpatine, of course, had also seen to the destruction of Jedi libraries across the galaxy, but an undisclosed number of datacards and holocrons had been spirited away by the Church of the Force, an underground movement of those who understood the ways of the Force but could not wield it.  From the ancient tradition of lightsaber construction described in one of these holocrons, Ben knew that every padawan learner had to construct his own saber. Only then could he become a Jedi. He either completed the ritual or died in the attempt.

Ben was eager to give up his training saber, which wasn’t even a real saber with a reduced energy blade but just a wrapped wooden stick. All the functional training sabers had all been destroyed with the purge of the Jedi. He was also afraid to admit he feared the construction of his own blade. If the focusing crystal wasn’t aligned properly, the lightsaber would explode upon its first ignition. Luke had given Ben his own green-bladed saber to wield in a few training exercises – to get the feel of it – and Ben had handled it well, but the padawan wasn’t so sure he could align a crystal. Luke had said he was ready, but sometimes the Force got away from Ben. He channeled too much and at times lacked focus. How could he possibly balance and fine-tune a delicate crystal?

He didn’t want to talk about that now and he was tired of studying ancient texts Luke had recovered. As they secured and departed the ship, he asked his uncle and master, “If we have the technology to forge synthetic crystals, wouldn’t that be easier than searching the galaxy for real ones?”

Ben knew the answer was to be found in the texts and Luke would be disappointed his apprentice lacked the patience to find it, but the Jedi Master sighed for another reason as he led the way down an old footpath.

“Only the Sith use synthetic crystals,” Luke said over his shoulder.

He quickly turned away again. He himself had been unable to find a natural crystal and would never tell Ben that the crystal in his own weapon was synthetic. Luke had forged other crystals since the making of his own lightsaber, but unlike his first green crystal, all the consecutive ones glowed red in harmonic vibration with the Dark Side of the Force.

He had destroyed them.

“But the Sith are gone,” Ben countered, following closely.

“Like the Jedi, as long as their teachings are out there somewhere, they’re never gone.”

It was Ben’s turn to sigh as they pushed through the dense and decaying undergrowth. “But we’ve been searching for crystal sources on three different worlds and only found one that’s suitable.”

“And that one didn’t speak to you,” Luke grumbled under his breath.

His nephew had always been fussy ever since he was a baby – about food, temperature, his bed, clothes…everything. Why should a kyber crystal be any different? The Force connection was essential.

“Even Ilum had been ransacked,” Ben interjected. “How will we ever find enough crystals for all the padawans?”

Luke came to a sudden stop as the path opened up before them and a steep hill rose from the forest floor. “Where there’s a temple, there are crystals.”

Ben came up beside him and followed his master’s gaze up the rocky slope. He could just make out a domed structure at the top – a citadel from a lost time, born out of the rock. The dome was cracked and crumbling in places, and from out of a breach a flock of birds exploded and wheeled about the ruin. Luke’s previous searches had them crawling through a myriad of Jedi ruins, and while this one was equally empty, to Ben it seemed alive.

Search for the Lost Temple by Jenny Dolfen
Search for the Lost Temple by Jenny Dolfen

They slowly made their way up the craggy path and as they neared the low stone wall that surrounded the temple, a voice called out to them, “Be welcome and at peace, pilgrims. I am here to serve. My name is Lor San Tekka.”

“Luke Skywalker,” the Jedi Master said, extending a hand as he approached the temple warden.

San Tekka took Luke’s hand in both of his and grasped it warmly. “I know,” he said with a genuine smile and he turned to Ben. “And this is one of your studious padawans.”

Luke glanced over his shoulder. Ben had stopped to smell a flowering shrub and was face-deep in it. Blooms are strange for this time of year, Luke thought, when the trees are shedding their leaves. He sighed. Ben was never where he should be.

“Ben,” he called, holding out an arm towards his 14-year-old nephew.

After a meal of simple fare around a freshly swept hearth, San Tekka rose from the table and took an ornate box down from a lit recess in the wall.

“We’ve only ever found one crystal here,” he told them, opening the box to reveal a red one with a visible crack running through it. “It’s flawed and synthetic, but I believe it’ll work.”

Ben rose from his chair, a look of rapture spreading over his young features – a look Luke had never seen before. The padawan’s hand hovered over the gem. “That’s it! This is the one!” Ben breathed.

 

@MyKyloRen   3 June 2016

The Chain of Wisdom

Rey abandoned scavenging for the day and set out just before dawn on the Pilgrim’s Road before the heat of Jakku became unbearable. Unkar Plutt had given her one whole portion to investigate the fireball that had lit the horizon the previous night. He’d promised her two full portions if she returned with any droids – intact or in pieces. His thinking was that a secret fuel supply, or even a ship, had exploded in one of the Sacred Villages and the villagers were all dead or the survivors would be in need of water, food, and shelter. More indentured servants for him. So, she still expected to do some scavenging, but technically, it was a reconnaissance mission.

Rey accelerated her speeder past the Graveyard of ships along the old happabore trail to the far side of Kelvin Ravine where the village of Tuanul lay. She only knew one person there – an old explorer of the far reaches of the galaxy who was a font of esoteric wisdom.  Lor San Tekka belonged to the Church of the Force, as did most of the villagers, and Rey had in the back of her mind to seek him out some day. He undoubtedly had some great stories to tell to pass the time – stories about the evil Empire, the First Order, and the Resistance. He probably even knew the legends of the Jedi.  She didn’t really care about the mystic spiritual stuff, but the stories she had heard of the Jedi were exciting. And if anybody knew what was going on in the region, it was Lor San Tekka.

She hoped nothing bad had happened to him.

As she approached the huddle of huts and hovels that made up Tuanul, she eased back on the throttle to take in the lay of the land. Something had happened here alright. The place was deserted. As she brought her speeder to a halt and dropped to the sand, the sun was a hand-span off the horizon – high enough to reveal scorch marks on rocks at the village’s edge. Here and there she picked up chunks of fused sand – evidence of blast bolts from high energy weapons? Sand had begun to drift over piles of rubble and ash that had once been houses. Shreds of tents and poles were strewn everywhere, but there was no one about. Not even any stray animals.

For a moment, she thought the village had simply caught fire – the fused sand the result of nothing more than a lightning bolt – and the people and herds moved on. But then a tiny glint of stone caught her eye. She stooped to pluck it out of the sand. It was a handmade necklet of chain links interspersed with milky white stones and smoky blue crystals. The necklet terminated in front with two loops of leather, one hanging off the other. She recognized the artifact at once and knew that the rightful place for the Chain of Wisdom was around the neck of Lor San Tekka.

A shiver went up her spine and splintered through her mind. She heard voice – a man and a woman’s talking low – and a second later she saw them beyond an arched doorway hung with beads in a dimly lit room.

“I know it’s asking a lot,” the blond woman said, laying a hand on the old man’s arm, “but if you could find a place for her here and keep an eye on her, we’d be very grateful.”

Lor San Tekka’s eyes narrowed. “You say she has Force capabilities?”

“Yes. Her parents were Dark Side adepts, but they’ve been killed. Luke Skywalker took her under his wing for a time but fears the terrible power that is now hunting Force-sensitives. That power could easily ensnare her.”

San Tekka nodded. “The Dark power behind the First Order,” he confirmed.

“Precisely.” She gave him an imploring look. “Will you help us?”

lor-san-tekkaHe rose slowly to his feet and poured two cups of spinebarrel juice and handed one to her. “Yet since she arose from the Dark Side, they thought it merciful to bring her here, where she might endanger all of us?”

Amanda Snoke accepted the cup. “She is untrained and does not comprehend her powers. She’s not even aware she has them.” She took a sip. “We’d like to keep it that way.”

The voices began to swirl into a cacophony of distant babble and Rey put out a hand to steady herself as the vision faded. She blinked in the growing sunlight, suddenly aware of an overpowering presence of another who had been there that day – a dark-haired boy, a teenager, who had sat with her on the floor playing a game of Dejarik.

“You’re better at this than you think, Rags.”

His smile was a galaxy wide.

 

@MyKyloRen    31 May 2016