Tell Me Lies

Senator Leia Organa gave her thirteen-year-old son a quick kiss on the forehead. “This meeting should be short, sweetie, and then we can have some lunch together. Think about where you’d like to go.” She paused as the door of the apartment swished open and C-3PO toddled up behind her. “Threepio, you’re about due for an oil bath,” she said to the gold-plated droid and then to her son, “Ben, could you take Threepio to droid maintenance on Level Twenty-Four?”

Ben Solo glanced up from the breakfast nook where he sat watching a holovid of an Echani competition from Akiva. “Uh-huh,” he mumbled around a mouthful of cereal.

“Oh, thank you, sir!” C-3PO interjected with sincere gratitude, “but, Your Highness, won’t you need me to record and translate for you today? The meeting may be brief, but there are a number of senators who….”

Leia held up a hand. “Not today, Threepio.” She shot Ben one last look. “You and Chewie stay out of trouble today,” she told him with a smirk, remembering the last time she’d left Chewie in charge of Ben. Ben was only ten then, but he’d convinced Chewie to help him practice his levitation skills. Leia had come home to find one distraught and growling Wookiee stuck on top of the roof of the hydroponic gardens with no way to get down. Young Ben had been too exhausted to lift him down again and Chewie had been too big to fit in Leia’s personal speeder.

Ben gave his mother a listless nod, eyes glued to the holovid. A second later, he heard the doors swish shut behind her.

“Sir,” C-3PO said, moving towards the kitchen as a buzzer sounded, “if you would like some freshly squeezed terrberry juice, I believe it is ready.”

“Sure,” Ben acknowledged absently as the soft low rumble of Wookiee snoring started up in the next room.

“Oh, dear!” C-3PO cried in dismay. “One of my servos seems to have frozen.”

With a sigh, Ben paused the holovid and came into the kitchen to find the droid waving his left forearm in a frenzy.

“What happened?” Ben said wearily. He had little interest in anything mechanical, which Han failed to comprehend. What boy didn’t like to tinker and fix things? It was important to understand how things worked, especially if you found yourself parsecs away from the nearest repair shop. But Ben always had his nose glued to a datapad, always scrolling through legends of the Old Republic and working out calculations in arcane disciplines. He spent as much time studying cloud patterns as Han did studying hyperdrive schematics.

C-3PO stopped jerking about and cocked his head to one side. “I’m sorry, sir, but my wrist seems to be malfunctioning.”

“Not again,” Ben groaned. “Who made you?” He took the droid’s hand in his for a look at the offending joint.

C-3PO interpreted the boy’s exasperated utterance for a question that demanded an answer. “Why, it was Anakin Skywalker who assembled me,” the droid reminisced in a merry tone. “It took him almost six years to give me coverings. Your….” His voice trailed off as a subroutine in his programming stopped his vocalization process. “Oh….” He uttered, confused for a moment as a new subroutine took control.

Ben caught the stumble and was eyeing the droid intently, ignoring the stuck servo. “Anakin Skywalker?” He recognized the surname as that of his uncle and mother – before she had become Leia Organa, that is. He’d been told that the twins had been separated at birth and adopted because their parents had been killed during the Clone Wars. Ben had accepted the story without further interest for a long time because there was nothing more his mother or uncle could tell him. They knew nothing of their biological parents but told him tales instead about their adoptive parents. But now Ben’s interest was piqued since C-3PO was obviously undergoing some automatic corrective programming.

“Uh, yes, sir,” the droid responded with a twitch of his head.

Ben let go of C-3PO’s wrist and leaned back against the cabinets, arms folded. “Was he related to my mother and uncle?”

The droid was not programmed to lie, but his speech simulator quivered. “Yes, sir.”

“My grandfather?” Ben ventured.

“Oh, uh….” C-3PO gave a little jerk as his behavior protocols went through a checklist. “Yes, sir,” he finally responded. “Let me just get that juice, sir. You must be thirsty and I still have one good arm.” He toddled off good-naturedly, but Ben grabbed his dysfunctional arm and spun him around. “My goodness!”

“What are you not telling me, Threepio?” Ben Solo’s eyes narrowed. He didn’t recognize the name, but he did recognize a ruse.

“Nothing, sir!” C-3PO threw up his other hand and tried to pull away.

Suspicion and rage grew within the young padawan. “What are you hiding?” He held the droid’s arm with a death grip as C-3PO struggled to get free, babbling a string of incomprehensible monosyllables.

Ben stumbled backwards, stunned, thudding into the wall as the arm came off in his hands. He blinked while the droid wailed.

“Oh, dear! My…arm! At times you don’t know your own strength, sir!”

They both turned as a tall shadow fell over them. Chewie took in the scene and gave a questioning rumble in Shyriiwook.

Ben groaned and looked away. “Mom’s going to kill me.” Suddenly, he looked up at c-3poandchewiethe tall Wookiee. “You’re always threatening to rip people’s arms off. Couldn’t we say you did it?” he suggested hopefully.

Chewbacca roared and lifted his chin.

 

 

 

@MyKyloRen    28 September2016

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Thorn in My Side

Ten meters from the ramp of his command shuttle, Kylo Ren paused as the black smoke curled up from the ruins of Maz Kanata’s castle and the last desperate skirmishes played out. He turned his black-hooded head slowly, his heightened senses honing in on a presence. He was here, of course – Han Solo – with the droid and the Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca…and the…traitor. The First Order had received the transmission from Bazine Netal as to their whereabouts. The Resistance fighters were alive and warranted capture, interrogation, and execution as war criminals, but Kylo Ren cared nothing about galactic politics. The Force – and all its power – was so far beyond the comprehension and puny lives of most beings. Let them wage their pointless wars. The strong would survive.

kylocarriesreyshuttle

 

He dismissed Han Solo without further thought and strode up the ramp with the girl in his arms. He gave the orders for his second-in-command to take the helm, and as the bat-like craft took to the skies and spread its wings, he laid the girl’s limp body in an empty seat and strapped her in. But instead of taking the co-pilot’s chair, he lingered there looking down on her tender young face, his gloved hand resting on her wrist. She was lovely, yes, and behind the closed eyes he’d glimpsed a rare intelligence and fortitude, but those desirable traits weren’t what had drawn his attention. She’d seen the map, there was no doubt of that, and he was certain he could extract its contents, but he’d seen something else in the dark recesses of her unconscious – memories of a man he’d slain in a fit of rage just days before.

Lor San Tekka.

“How do you know him?” he asked the sleeping girl, the words barely loud enough to get picked up by the microsensors in his helmet.

What Ren had seen was a curious string of images from the viewpoint of a small child perhaps, judging from the angle of perspective. And he’d heard that child’s voice – a girl, frightened and desperate. San Tekka, a renowned explorer and Church of the Force leader, was perhaps a decade or more younger in the memory, his hair just starting to go grey, his face less sun-worn and lined.

Ren gripped the arm of the chair as the shuttle lurched.

“Best strap in, sir,” the pilot called back to him. “There are a few stragglers out there taking pot-shots at us.”

Ren ignored him and crouched beside the girl’s seat in complete fascination. Slowly, he reached a hand out to her face, probing gently with the Force, sifting through the layers of her unconscious until he found what he was looking for. Yes, the map was there, well-formed and intact, for she had a photographic memory, but he brushed the image aside. There were far more interesting things to dredge up. Ren closed his own eyes as an image unraveled and played like a flickering old holovid.

“I’ve tried to get a message through to Skywalker,” San Tekka informed two women who wore the insignia of the Church on their simple robes. “He’s out of communication range again and no one knows  when he’ll be back. It seems his search has taken him deeper into the Outer Rim.”

“What’ll we do now?” the older of the two women said in a weary undertone. “We need guidance. And you need to follow that lead.”

San Tekka nodded. “We cannot let that artifact fall into the wrong hands.”

“We’ve never encountered a Force-sensitive like her before. Is there no one else who can help?”

“She’s already destroyed the programming of three droids,” the younger woman put in. “You should see what the power of her mind did to their circuitry. If she turns that power on the other children…or us….” She winced as her voice trailed off, leaving the unpleasant thought unspoken.

San Tekka was quick to hold up a hand. “She’s shown no ill-will towards the other children,” he reassured them. “She is defiant and strong-willed,” he allowed, “but Skywalker assured us the mind rub would erase the memories of her Dark side origins. It has done that. I sense no bitterness in her – only the normal frustrations of a young child.”

“A child with devastating powers,” the first woman corrected. “That mind rub was performed by a padawan learner – a boy who wasn’t up to the task perhaps. We need Skywalker to touch her mind again and remove all understanding of the Force in her.”

San Tekka sighed. “That would be best for all concerned, but I must leave on the morrow to meet with this dealer on Dantooine.” He rose and made to push aside the beaded curtain that separated the two rooms of the hovel.

“Lor,” the older woman said in a low voice. “The girl will not forget how to access the Force when she has us to remind her – all our daily meditation rituals. We will not stop them for her sake.”

“Nor would I ask you to,” San Tekka answered, turning, one hand curled around a strand of beads.

The woman eyed him intently. “When you return, the girl may no longer be here.”

San Tekka returned her gaze, unblinking. “We swore an oath to protect her.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt the droids,” a high-pitched voice whimpered from out of the shadows. The next sentence was choked with sobs. “I won’t do it again.”

“Sir.”

Kylo Ren was vaguely aware of another voice behind him. A stormtrooper. The dark lord backed himself out of the girl’s head faster than he’d wanted.

“Sir, I can take the prisoner to the interrogation room, if you wish.”

Ren stood up slowly. “I’ll take her myself.”

 

@MyKyloRen     20 September 2016

Remember Me, My Friend

“We can’t leave here without a look through the Graveyard of Ships.” Ben Solo shoved a hand through his hair and looked intently at the woman he escorted through the ramshackle bazaar of Niima Outpost, his Jedi patience wearing thin. “Have you seen what they’re scavenging here?” He gestured expansively at the washing tables a few meters away from where they stood in a long line with other offworlders. “Datapads, droids, intact astromech memory cores, shield generators, sensor domes, hyperdrives, proton bombs, and tons of Imperial regalia – helmets, badges, blasters. It’s amazing!” He could hardly contain his excitement but lowered his voice to just above a whisper as they moved up a few paces in the queue. “There might even be something of my grandfather’s on that star destroyer we passed.”

Amanda Snoke mopped her forehead with the end of her head scarf. “Look at you,” she exhaled sharply. “You’re not even sweating. “How can you stand this heat?” What little breeze there was under the awnings wafted in off the superheated sands. “Don’t answer that question,” she said, heaving another sigh and giving the sixteen-year-old padawan’s cheek a pat. “I’m sure it’s got something to do with that mysterious Jedi endurance of yours.”

Ben ignored her. “You haven’t answered my question.”

She glanced about at the milling crowd and at the dealer whose booth they stood in front of – Bobbajo the Crittermonger, he was called – the only dealer sanctioned to sell food to spacers. She dreaded what they’d find once they reached the window. She’d seen a lot of unsavory-looking scraps carried off by customers ahead of them, but she and Ben couldn’t leave Jakku without restocking their water or food supplies.

She leaned in close to Ben and said quietly, “In case you hadn’t noticed, this place is full of unpleasant types who undoubtedly multiply after dark, as do the predators that crawl out of the sand the moment the sun goes down.” The padawan opened his mouth to protest but shut it when she held up a hand. “Not even the scavengers are out hunting treasures in this heat.”

Ben lifted his chin. “I can handle myself. The heat doesn’t bother me.” He tried again to infect her with his excitement. “But this is where the Empire staged its last stand. Rumors are that the Imperial ships went down protecting a secret base or treasure that the Emperor looted from ancient civilizations. Some say he had a throne room here. He’d planned to explore and conquer the rest of the galaxy from here.”

He fell sullenly silent as their turn came and they stepped up to the window. He watched as Amanda haggled with the creature named Bobbajo over packages of old Imperial or New Republic rations – all scavenged from downed ships – along with several kilos of water to get their recyclers started again, and baskets of fresh spinebarrel cactus. The water, such as it was – unfiltered and muddy-looking –  was the most costly, but with a subtle wave of his hand, Ben got the foodmonger to cut his price in half.

Amanda Snoke chuckled as they made their way back to the ship, followed by a luggabeast carrying their crates. “Remind me to take you every time I go shopping.” She gave him a gentle pat on the shoulder.

Ben was determined to make the most of her good humor. “So, can we stay one more night so I can have a look around that destroyer? If I can find anything that my grandfather touched, I can learn the truth. I’ll know it through the Force. I just need a….” His voice trailed off at the sound of a high-pitched familiar voice – a cry of desperation and despair.

“No! Come back!”

The young Jedi spun about to peer around the plodding luggabeast. He stopped cold when he saw little Rey straining against the grip of the rotund junk dealer known as Unkar Plutt.

“Quiet, girl!” Plutt growled, gripping her scrawny arm.littlereycomeback

“Come back!” Rey wailed again, reaching out towards Ben.

Amanda Snoke turned.

“It’s Rey!” Ben cried. “What’s she doing with him?” It took the boy a second to put together the most plausible explanation. They’d left the child only nine nights ago with Lor San Tekka in the Village of Tuanul. “He sold her!” Ben shrieked. “That bastard sold her into slavery!” The anger boiled within him. “I’ll kill him!”

“Ben!” Amanda grabbed his arm and jerked him back as he made to rescue the girl. She quickly gripped him by both arms with all her might and looked him in the eye. “Listen to me.”

He didn’t want to, but he owed his friend and long-time guardian that much. She held up a hand. “I know it looks that way.” Her fingers curled slightly towards his face. “But you’ll do no such thing,” she intoned in a voice low and dangerous.

Within seconds, Ben gave a sharp cry, clutching at his head. A moment later, his knees buckled and he went down.

“San Tekka may be clueless, but he’s far too good at finding me Force-sensitives to be wasted.” She knelt beside him as he lay unconscious and stroked his dark hair. “And that will be the end of that, Ben Organa Solo,” she told him. “You’ll remember the girl no more.” She glanced up as a couple bystanders came running to offer assistance. “Heatstroke,” she announced. “He’ll be alright in a minute.”

 

@MyKyloRen    10 September 2016

The Way We Were

“Look, Ben,” Luke Skywalker sighed, “I understand how you feel, but this is how it’s got to be.” When the sullen teenage padawan looked away, the Jedi master went on, choosing his words with care. “She’ll feel no pain, I promise, and she won’t have any knowledge that her memories have been altered. If we leave the memory of her parents intact, she’ll find the dark path they started her down.”

Ben Solo wrapped his long arms around his equally long legs and rested his chin on his knees. Luke watched his nephew for a moment. The boy had sprawled one step below him on the stairs of the academy, leaning back on his elbows while they talked of the coming trip to Jakku and some amusements they might show Rey along the way. He knew Ben was dreading the separation from his little friend – the bright, seemingly normal, six-year-old who followed him everywhere – but he seemed to have finally shaken off the attachment and accepted the alternative future the Force had in store for her. That is, until Luke had mentioned that it was time for her to undergo a memory rub. The padawan had physically and emotionally drawn into himself again.

“Even if that didn’t happen,” Luke tried gently, “she’s been traumatized by witnessing the death of her parents. Instead of simply erasing that memory, I want to give her a brighter one.”

Ben lifted his chin. “But she still won’t understand why we’re leaving her there.” He gave his uncle a sideways glare. “You haven’t told her that yet.”

Luke shook his head and looked out across the busy square. “It’ll require another memory rub when we part ways with her. She,” he hesitated, “won’t remember us. She’ll think she’s the descendants of Rebel fighters who were stranded after the Battle of Jakku. I want to work Lor San Tekka into her family memory some way, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet.” When Ben turned away again, Luke sought to reassure him. “Look, I know this Force technique works. I used it successfully on Brenger Par – the boy who survived the terrorist attack on the capital last season. He hasn’t had any nightmares since.”

“Neither has Padawan Devlan,” Ben muttered, his chin settled again on his elbows.

“Yes, that’s wonderful,” Luke exclaimed. “I’ve noticed the change in him. He’s turned a corner.”

“Because of me.”

“What?”

Ben turned to gaze up at his master, a gleam of defiance in his eyes. “I pulled the memory of the fire out of his mind.”

Luke stared, dumbfounded. “You did what?” It wasn’t a question but a panicked request for confirmation. “How did you do this, Ben?” Luke laid a hand on his nephew’s shoulder.

Han Solo’s son shrugged him off. “I learned the way you did. From the Sith Book of Alteration.”

“What?” Luke got to his feet and came around to face his padawan. “That text was sealed! How did you….”

“It obviously wasn’t sealed very well,” Ben countered, rising to stand, arms folded, looking down on his uncle from the step above.

Luke gaped up at the insolent teenager. “Why would you attempt such a dangerous procedure without any guidance?” His jaw dropped again. “You could have seriously harmed or killed Devlan.”

Ben stared down his long nose. “But I didn’t and I could give the same peace to Rey.”

Luke suppressed an explosive laugh. “No, Ben. That’s totally out of the question.”

“So, it’s ok for you to have the power, but not me?” Ben shot back.

The Jedi master lifted his gaze to the cloudless sky before fixing it again on his padawan. “I didn’t say that, Ben. But you’re not ready for this kind of knowledge. There’s a lot I need to teach you about power. A lot more you need to….” His voice trailed off as the comm device in his pocket signaled an incoming message. He fished it out of his robes, activated the display, and pressed the decryption button. “It’s your mother,” he groaned. “Her ship is down with a malfunctioning hyperdrive. The delegation can’t send another for three weeks. I’m going to have to pick her up.” He shoved the device back into his robes with a sigh. “One can’t deny family.”

#   #   #

Kylo Ren stared down at the lifeless form of Lor San Tekka. He tried to blink back the memory of when he last saw the man – a leader in the Church of the Force – but the images came on strong, unbidden.

San Tekka had hovered in the doorway of the hovel he called home, watching with fatherly concern as Ben Solo crouched before little Rey.

The girl looked stunned as the young Jedi held his hand near her face. While he concentrated on altering her memories, behind him, unbeknownst to him, Dr. Amanda Snoke spoke directly into the girl’s mind.

“Rey, I want you to search the ruins and caves of this place for me. I want you to look for a large and powerful red crystal. If you find it and bring it to me, you shall be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams.” She stepped back, certain the girl had understood her directive, as Ben broke his trance.

Padawan Ben Solo/Kylo Ren by JBadgr
Padawan Ben Solo/Kylo Ren by JBadgr

He had planted a vague impression of a family in Rey’s head, but he did not trust San Tekka. Ben had not done as Luke, his master and uncle, had bidden. He’d left Rey’s memories of himself intact but locked up in a dream state – water-colored and scattered.

Kylo Ren gazed past the frightened villagers into the darkness beyond, wondering why he saw himself crouching before the little girl in his mind.

 

@MyKyloRen     8 September 2016

Thoughts on the First Order

Reading this political analysis on the First Order, it’s important to consider the source — The Federalist — and it’s place in American politics. I’m about as liberal as they come, so I was prepared to have my feathers ruffled, but by the time I’d finished reading this article, I realized that this is how Ben Solo must see the First Order.

The bad guys, of course, never see themselves as “bad guys.” They believe they’re doing the right thing. But who exactly are the bad guys in Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Answering this question, like answering it in real life, is never as easy as it seems. Consider the following points:

  • The New Republic is an inefficient, bureaucratic mess incapable of protecting its own citizens. This point is borne out in the novel Bloodline by Claudia Gray. Senator Leia Organa would be the first to agree.
  • The Resistance faction are state-sponsored terrorists.
  • Luke Skywalker is a religious extremist who trains child soldiers.
  • Han Solo is a deadbeat dad who runs out on his wife.
  • Han Solo smuggles weapons of mass destruction [rathtars] to criminals.
  • The First Order treats its soldiers as such valuable assets that it literally tries to talk disobedient soldiers (FN-2187) around rather than lock them up [or torture/execute them].
  • So efficient is Kylo Ren as an interrogator that [Poe] Dameron is left in sufficiently good physical and mental condition to walk out of his cell and then pilot a TIE fighter.

http://thefederalist.com/2015/12/22/the-first-order-are-the-anti-heroes-of-the-force-awakens/

After you’ve chewed on this food for thought, I’d love to hear what you think.

Ambush in the Forest

Kylo Ren awoke from a drugged sleep in his chamber on Starkiller Base and dragged himself into the refresher. He stared at the reflection in the mirror. The long face was drawn and pale, and beneath his sleep clothes, his sinewy form had melted away. His breathing was still a bit wheezy, but the coughing fits were over. He was starving, and he took that to be a good sign. The virus had struck a month ago and wiped out half the First Order forces within a week. Ren and Hux had been quarantined immediately once the infection had spread through the Ninth Division from the fool who had brought it back with him from shore leave. At least the idiot’s dead, Ren though bitterly, and I don’t have to Force-choke him.

All their biological protocols had failed to contain the disease, and many officers – those who were alive – speculated that the trooper had been a purposely infected and sent to deliver the superbug to the First Order ranks. Ren had to admit it was a brilliant move – warfare without bloodshed or property destruction, a maneuver that crippled the enemy as effectively as any Death Star.

He was not looking forward to the day’s status report. Hux was still in a coma, that much Ren knew, and he himself had only survived the epidemic due to his ability to tap into the Force. He’d still required drugs to prevent his lungs from completely filling with fluid, and that bothered him. He hadn’t felt this weak since was at the academy. He’d been sick then, but not due to an infection. The memory was fuzzy, illusive, but bits and pieces of it came back now as he stared at the gaunt figure in the mirror.

He’d been fifteen and home in his own bed in a severely weakened state. He remembered medi-droids poking at him, reading his vital signs, and injecting fluids, but he didn’t remember his mother leaning over him. Where had she been? On one of her missions, fulfilling senatorial obligations, he supposed. He recalled waking once at the touch of his father’s hand on his cheek, but when he was finally able to get out of bed, Han Solo wasn’t there. Ren knew he’d been close to death then. Why hadn’t his parents been there to rejoice in his recovery?

There was one who had been there. He could see her face now – the blonde woman who haunted his dreams, the one who was responsible for stealing his memories. He was sure of it. Before he got up on that bleak night long ago, she’d laid a cool hand on his forehead and spoken softly to him, read him legends and tales from the Old Republic days and spoon-fed him when he was too weak to keep his eyes open. And when he was finally strong enough, she’d brought him out on the open patio overlooking the city lights. The air was cool for that time of year and she’d propped him up on the lounge chair, tucking the blankets around him. She heaved a sigh as she settled into a chair next to him.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to hear this story.”

At first he hadn’t known what she meant, his head still reeling from the strange sickness.

“Your uncle has been out of contact – something about terrible ion storms disrupting communications, but I managed to get a few messages through to let him know you were fine,” she went on, then reached out and patted his knee. “He’s doing ok too, but he’s been worried about you….So, can you tell me now what happened?”

Ben Solo had frowned in concentration, straining to make sense of the images that flitted through his addled mind. He and his uncle had been in some sort of skirmish that had ended in a huge flash of red. When he closed his eyes, sometimes that was all he could see.

“There was a tree,” he began slowly, “in a forest. Uncle Luke and I had been

Jedi Master Luke Skywalker by Rabittooth
Jedi Master Luke Skywalker by Rabittooth

investigating an old Jedi legend when we suddenly sensed a great disturbance in the Force.” He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, remembering. “We both ignited our lightsabers and put our backs together, turning to face the threat. They came out of nowhere – a man and a woman. We didn’t sense them until they were upon us.”

“Who were they?”

Ben shook his head, wincing a little. “I’m not sure, but they…they were…strong with the Dark side of the Force.” He let these last words out in a whisper. “I barely got in a few blows and was fending off the woman, but there was a little girl with her. She stepped out from behind the tree and distracted me.” He shook his head to clear it. “She planted something in my head – a thought or image – I can’t remember now, but the next thing I knew, I was flung against a tree on the edge of the clearing….Then I woke up here.” He looked up sharply. “Has my uncle said anything…about whether or not he…killed them?”

Amanda Snoke took his cold hand in hers. “All he said was, ‘Tell Ben everything’s ok’ and you needn’t worry about being attacked again. That’s all I know, sweetie.”

Kylo Ren turned away from the mirror, breathing hard as the word echoed in his head.

Sweetie.

His jaw clenched and his fingers curled into fists…but he didn’t know why.

 

@MyKyloRen   30 August 2016