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.
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.”
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