Steal Your Heart Away

On board the Finalizer, Lieutenant Dolphed Mitaka approached the helmeted figure in black with great apprehension and doffed his cap. He swallowed hard.

“Sir, we were unable to acquire the droid on Jakku,” he managed to get out, his voice wavering only slightly. Kylo Ren stood with his back to him, monitoring a bank of consoles. When the dark lord half turned to reveal the menacing mask, the junior officer thought he might wet himself. “It escaped capture aboard a stolen Corellian YT model freighter.”

Ren digested this unwelcome news with a hidden sneer. “The droid…stole a freighter?”

Mitaka knew his words sounded lame, but he put on a brave face. “Not exactly, sir,” he went on without missing a beat. “It had help.”

Kylo Ren turned fully around to face him, giving the poor little man his complete attention.

“We have no confirmation, but we believe FN-2187 may have helped in the escape.”

Mitaka’s last words were drowned out by the roaring ignition of a lightsaber. He cringed as Darth Vader’s spawn began slashing the bank of consoles in a blind fury. The trail of scorched and melted destruction was not new to the lieutenant, and he knew there was nothing he could do but wait for the fiery tornado to die down. He closed his eyes and cringed as sparks rained down, dreading how he’d tell General Hux they’d need to put in a requisition for more consoles.

He breathed a little easier when he heard the blade extinguish.

Ren half-turned again, calm now, and asked casually, “Anything else?”

The junior officer’s heart began to pound again. “The two were accompanied by a girl,” he said after a deep breath.

Mitaka didn’t know what hit him, or rather what hoisted him off his feet and dragged him by the neck into Kylo Ren’s vice grip.

mitakaforcechoke3

“What girl?” Ren demanded through gritted teeth. The mention of a girl on Jakku stirred something deeply emotional within him, something deeply...protective. He didn’t quite understand the violent reaction himself, but he understood that the First Order had let not only the map slip through their fingers but also this…girl.

A girl who didn’t know her own power.

A girl to be feared and yet…loved.

He dropped Mitaka and stormed away from the still sizzling comm station. The little man, though gasping and shaking, would live to make his reports another day. Ren had more important things to think about. So important that he went straight to his quarters and into his inner sanctum. As the doors swished shut behind him, he took a seat in the darkened alcove before the melted helmet. He reached up, unlocked, and removed his own.

“The girl,” Ren said breathlessly. “Tell me, Grandfather, what you know. I feel her through the Force and I don’t know why.” The melted helmet said nothing. “Who is she?” the young dark lord demanded.

After a long moment, he buried his face in his hands and let his thoughts roam to the furthest recesses of his mind. There was something about a theft…long ago. He thought again about the current theft, hoping it would jog his memory. A freighter was stolen — a Corellian YT model — except it wasn’t a freighter. It was…a speeder bike. Ren lifted his head and stared, his eyes focusing within. He couldn’t remember the exact model, but it was black and sleek with red racing stripes.

He could barely hear it at first — a high-pitched little voice, defiant and boastful. He settled himself into a meditative position and closed his eyes in concentration.

“I can take whatever I want!” the voice insisted. It belonged to a little girl with brown hair knotted in three buns at the back of her head.

“I’m sure you can,” he heard himself — a younger, happier version of himself — say with a laugh, “but that doesn’t mean you should.”

She stared up at him, took in his folded-arm stance and began to cry. “I did it for you,” she told him between sniffles, stung by his rejection. “You always wanted a speeded bike.”

“Well, yeah, who doesn’t?” Padawan Ben Solo dropped to a crouch to look the five-year-old in the eye. “Hey, Rags,” he soothed, laying a hand on her shoulder, “I appreciate the thought, but I can’t pay for it.”

She wiped her face and sniffed. “It belongs to you! No one else can race it as good as you!”

He grinned, but his smile quickly faded. “Where did you get it and how did you get it here?” He glanced around, expecting the constable to swoop in on his own speeder. Everything had a tracking device these days, and it wouldn’t be long before the authorities located the stolen bike

She pointed a tiny finger at a dealer’s shop far in the distance. “I didn’t know how to drive it, so I lev-tated it.”

He stood, staring and gaping where she pointed. “You levitated it all the way from there?” The feat was unheard of at her age, even among the most adept Jedi padawans. He felt a tug on the hem of his tunic and looked down.

“Can we take it for a ride?” She beamed.

He gazed at the bright little face — the face that was so hard to say “no” to. He grinned.

“I said, it’s a damn good thing I had that door override installed.” General Hux crossed his arms and glared down at the dark lord deep in Sith meditation.

Kylo Ren slowly opened his eyes.

@MyKyloRen  27 October 2016

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Vader’s Spawn

Music spilled from the concert hall like cascades of a moonlit waterfall as Ben Solo mounted the steps and crossed the lantern-lit courtyard. He turned aside from the crowd and strode over to the balustrade to take in the panoramic view of the Naboo capital of Theed. He stood for a long moment, watching the concert-goers sweep around fountains and reflecting pools in the Palace Plaza and up the marble stairs to the university auditorium.

“What are you thinking?” Amanda Snoke said softly, coming up

Kylo Ren by TheRealMcGee Art
Kylo Ren by TheRealMcGee Art

behind him and wrapping her arms around the young Jedi Knight. At twenty-three, he’d surpassed his father in height, but in her stylish boots, she was taller yet and stunningly beautiful in a mid-length dress of electric blue, her long blond hair festooned with tiny jewels.

“My grandparents stood here,” he answered absently as he opened himself up to the Force. “I can feel them.”

She breathed in deeply, enjoying the scent of him, and kissed his cheek. “I’m sure your grandmother’s family will have lots of stories to tell. They’re excited to meet you.”

After a moment he said, half turning, “Are they?”

They had answered his contact warmly enough, but he sensed great fear in them. They know, he thought. They know the story of Anakin Skywalker. They welcome me only as the grandson of Amidala Naberrie. Of the Jedi Anakin, they will not speak.

“Of course,” Amanda laughed, coming around to give him a quick kiss on the lips. She straightened the luxurious cloth of his jacket over his broad shoulders. He’d eschewed his Jedi robes for formal attire suitable to the Naboo ruling class. “But that’s for tomorrow. Come on.” She gave him a little tug. “Let’s go see these musicians you’ve told me so much about.”

At the door, they were met by a finely appointed usher who greeted them at once. “Prince Organa,” the young man said, addressing Ben with a congenial bow, “We have special seats for you and your companion in the balcony.”

“But we have tickets,” Ben pointed out, producing the image on his datapad.

The usher smiled. “Consider it an upgrade, compliments of the Naberrie family.” He gestured towards an ornate staircase. “If you’ll follow me, please.”

“Well, this is a treat,” Amanda said in an excited whisper as she took Ben’s arm and followed the usher to seats the university reserved for royalty and visiting dignitaries. When they were alone again, she said, “Were you able to get a message through to your mother?”

Ben shook his head. “The subspace relays are down.”

Amanda sighed. “That’s a pity. I’m curious to know if she’s formally accepted the nomination to run for First Senator. I wouldn’t want to miss her speech.”

“We won’t,” Ben assured her, powering down his datapad and returning it to his pocket. He rose to his feet as the musicians took the stage and the audience gave them a standing ovation. Settling back into the plush seat again, he let his mind wander the soundscapes of mesmerizing grandeur and solemn beauty.

Halfway through the concert, the band suddenly broke off mid-tune at a signal from university officials.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a dour man in professorial robes, “we regret to interrupt this special performance for an important subspace broadcast from Hosnian Prime.”

Ben leaned forward in his seat, resting his elbows on his knees.

“Looks like they got those relays working,” Amanda commented in an undertone.

The holocams flickered to life on stage and brought up the image of Senator Ransolm Casterfo of the Centrist Party. The young politician looked grim and pale, bracing himself against his console, mid-speech.

“It’s the nomination gala,” Amanda said, squeezing Ben’s arm. “Casterfo must be the candidate the Centrists nominated.  He doesn’t look so good.”

“The First Senator of the New Republic can only be granted supreme authority if we, the citizens feel that person deserves our trust,” Casterfo stated boldly.

Ben drew in a breath. “I don’t think he’s giving an acceptance speech,” he told Amanda gravely. He had a bad feeling about this.

“To my deepest regret,” Casterfo went on, “I have learned that Leia Organa does not deserve that trust.” He paused as murmurs began to swell about the Galactic Senate chamber. “Princess Leia’s lies have protected her long enough. Her deception cannot be permitted to endanger the entire galaxy.”

Amanda took Ben’s hand in hers. “What is he talking about?”

Leia’s son quickly got to his feet, pulling Amanda to hers. “We need to leave now,” he urged. He knew what Casterfo would say next.

“If people are considering electing her as First Senator, they have the right to know exactly who they’re voting for. Senator Leia Organa is none other than the daughter of Darth Vader himself!”

The auditorium erupted in a roar as Ben and Amanda reached the entrance to the box seating. Hearing the heavy footfalls of a security detail, the Jedi knight drew his lightsaber, pushing Amanda behind him as he ignited it.

“That won’t be necessary, sir,” the captain of the guard told him as the team came to a halt and fanned out. “We’re here to escort you safely to your ship. We can’t be certain how the crowd will react.”

“Your escort,” Amanda retorted with a lift of her chin as she stepped around Ben, “won’t be necessary. We have one of our own.” She inclined her head at seven grey-coated men that had slipped out of the box seats behind them. Ben had caught snatches of their conversation and assumed they were university students, but on closer inspection of their uniforms, he saw they bore the insignia of the First Order on their sleeves.

Ben Solo deactivated his lightsaber and allowed the Order to form around him and escort him out with Amanda Snoke proudly attached to his arm.

 

@MyKyloRen  18 October 2016

SOURCES:

Casterfo’s speech excerpted from Gray, C. (2016). Star Wars: Bloodline. New York: Del Rey, p. 236-237.

Light My Fire

“This isn’t the one I’m looking for.”

Kylo Ren deactivated the lightsaber and placed it back in the wooden box.

Bazine Netal stared up at the helmeted dark lord, folded her arms and gave a little huff. “It matches the description you gave me. The blade is even blue. Those crystals are hard to come by.” She had gone to a lot of trouble to obtain the weapon on the black market and she expected excellent payment. The young Chaaktil woman hadn’t risked life and limb to become one of the most feared bounty hunters only to be snubbed by a winnable Sith lord. “How do you know it isn’t the right one?” she challenged.

“I make it my business to know such things,” he sneered, his voice sounding extra haughty through the voice-changer.

He wasn’t about to share the mystery of Force-visions with this smartass mercenary. He’d held the blade for a long moment, concentrating on the visions that flashed through his mind – residue of previous owners, most often, but sometimes the Force revealed the future, so one could never be certain of a Jedi weapon’s history. But he’d seen none of the images he’d expected to see – only scenes of a few unknown skirmishes and then…blackness. The saber had seen little action and did not call to him as it surely would…if it were the right one.

He shut the lid on the box, signaling the end of the transaction and drew a datapad out of his robes. With a few taps, he completed the credit transfer into her account.

Bazine gave him a self-satisfied smirk and accessed her own pad. Her smile faded. “This is half the amount we agreed on,” she told him through clenched teeth. “That crystal’s worth at least three-fourths of the original price, but,” she cooed, stepping closer and catching the chin of his helmet between her thumb and forefinger, “I could be persuaded to take less in exchange for a peek under that mask.”

Ren stared down at the lithe figure in the black-and-white baffleweave dress – a pattern which jammed sensors – and the tight-fitting black cowl. If she had hair underneath, it was cropped short, but he’d heard rumors she wore the hood to hid burns inflicted by a flamethrower in her youth.

“What do you think you’ll see if I do?” He always liked asking this question of the curious.

Bazine shrugged, lowering her eyelids under heavily painted black brows, featuring a distinct black stripe that ran down either side of her nose. “Someone surprisingly handsome and a little…damaged.”

“You would be disappointed,” he returned flatly, lifting his chin out of her grasp.

She clucked her tongue and ran her hands up the fabric of his surcoat and under his cowl. “Fine. Keep the helmet on. How about a peek under the robes? I can feel some fine pecs under there.”

Ren said nothing. He gathered up her hands and let them drop to her sides. “You’ll get the rest when you bring me the right saber.” He took the box under his arm and exited her quarters, trailed by two of his Knights and a sweep of black robes.

The bounty hunter pursed her lips distinctly stained the color of dried blood. “Well, you’re no fun.”

Ren paid her no more heed than a bramble fly.

Back inside the hotel suite, he left his men in the luxurious lounge area and headed for the quiet of his own quarters. Alone in the dim chamber, he tore off the confining helmet and stood for a moment, breathing in the fresh air before dropping the helmet on the bed and settling into the chair beside the window. One hundred and four stories up, the room offered an exquisite view of the double moon rise, but the young man focused instead on the box across his knees – the acquisition that bought him halfway across the galaxy.

It was a bitter disappointment.

He closed his eyes, remembering a day in his final teen years when he peered into a similar wooden box with his uncle. They’d spent five years traversing the galaxy on a massive treasure hunt, gathering up every artifact they could that had survived the mass extermination of the Jedi. In many places they visited, Luke Skywalker was heralded as the hero of the galaxy, the Jedi master who killed Darth Vader and brought down the great Empire. But to young Ben Solo, he was the uncle who hid the truth from him, the uncle who had killed his grandfather – Ben’s mother’s father.

Padawan Ben Solo had never let on that he knew his grandfather’s identity and concentrated instead on learning all he could about the Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi knight who died in the Clone Wars the same year Darth Vader’s name appeared in galactic databases everywhere. With confirmation from disparate sources, Ben had connected the dots twelve years before the public did, twelve years before his mother was forced to send a private subspace message telling him why she never told him, telling him how sorry she was.

But she’d wasted her time. He already knew about the power of

The Death of Obi-Wan Kenobi by Joe Corroney
The Death of Obi-Wan Kenobi by Joe Corroney

Darth Vader, the power of the Chosen One. But the Chosen One had failed when he forgot about the power of the Light. The Force required balance, an equal knowledge of both sides. And so Kylo Ren, Leader of the Knights of Ren – formerly known as the Order of Revan – sought the lost lightsaber of the most powerful Jedi knight of the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Bazine Netal had reported an ex-stormtrooper claimed to have recovered the blade from Vader’s personal effects before the second Death Star was destroyed. The weapon now in the box on his knees had been in Vader’s possession – Ren could feel that much through the Force – but it had not been Kenobi’s.

He put the box on a low table alongside five others and picked up the case in the middle. Reverently, he opened it, drew out the saber within, and thumbed the switch. The blue blade hummed to life and with an eerie glow, lit the face of its new master – the grandson of its original master and creator.

 

@MyKyloRen   12 October 2016

I Want to Be Free of This Pain

Kylo Ren lifted his helmeted head, searching, seeking like a predator sniffing out its prey. He was here.  Han Solo. Ren knew that much from the ship that had crashed into the snowy surface of Starkiller Base – another example of his father’s brazen attempt to play the hero. His father – his own flesh and blood – come to destroy him, and the smuggler wasn’t alone. Ren had felt the Wookiee’s presence when he’d boarded the Millennium Falcon. The ship had been empty but alive with bright memory – a weapon more powerful than any thermal detonator.

Through the Force, Ren sensed those detonators now, mounted on various pillars and support struts, and he sensed the saboteurs who had set them in place. He half-turned to the stormtroopers who flanked him. “Find them.”

As the squadron moved off, Ren headed down to ground level and glided out onto the catwalk that spanned the oscillator shaft. If he could lure Han Solo out over the expanse, Ren’s job would be an easy one. There were no guardrails. The old man might simply stumble and tumble and that would be the end of it, or exposed in the open with nowhere to run, the troopers would take him out. But one thing was certain: Han Solo could not leave the base alive. He was a wanted criminal, guilty of not only crimes against the First Order but against the Galactic Empire before that.

Ren was nearly halfway across the chasm, striding purposefully, when a shout brought him up short.

“Ben!”

The boyhood name echoed across the vast empty space as true as any blaster bolt. Ren had readied himself for blaster fire. He could sense his father’s fear even at that distance and would not have put it past the old man to shoot him in the back. The Resistance had chosen well in appointing Solo as their operative, their assassin. He was an expert marksman and had the potential of worming his way under his son’s defenses by unleashing a barrage of foolish sentiment – or so they hoped.

Firing the name was a cheap shot and Ren was amazed at how badly it had stunned him. He could have easily deflected a bolt but not the name he had buried back on Hosnian Prime years ago. A name he never wanted to hear again. Sentiment, he told himself sternly. Nothing more. He balled his fists and turned to face the intruder.

“Han Solo. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”

Ren could feel his father’s heart begin to pound as the older man stepped onto the catwalk and took a few brave steps forward. Several levels above, a trooper took aim at the smuggler’s back. All Ren needed to do was give the order. But then something unexpected happened. On the highest level, a door slid open and two figures rushed in to stand and watch at the railing. One of them was the girl – a tempting but unwanted distraction. Outside, the last of the sun’s energy was slowly being drained away. Another distraction. With a word and a gesture, he could have the saboteurs killed – the Wookiee too, who was also watching above.

“Take off that mask,” Han Solo demanded, suddenly finding his old swagger.  “You don’t need it.”

Ren nearly laughed. Did the man actually think he could command him – the Co-commander of the First Order – by using his dad voice? The voice that had scolded him when he put chewing gum in Chewbacca’s fur as a boy?

“What do you think you’ll see if I do?” Ren challenged, using the voice changer in his helmet to full effect.

Han Solo’s stern expression didn’t change, but Ren could sense a great weariness in him. “The face of my son.

Ren hesitated for a moment then thought haughtily, Let him see whom I’ve become. Let him see whom he stands before. He reached up, unlocked his helmet, and removed it. He watched the expression on Han Solo’s face change to one of dismay. Ben wanted to say, “That’s right, Dad. You haven’t seen me in ten years – never once bothered! I’m not a boy anymore!” But instead he snarled, “Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish like his father, so I destroyed him!”

Han started walking again, advancing slowly. “That’s what Snoke wants you to believe, but it’s not true. My son is alive,” he implored, coming to a halt a few paces away from the child he once knew.

Ren gave a slight shake of his head. “No,” he returned flatly. “The Supreme Leader is wise.”

“Snoke’s using you for your power,” Han countered gently, moving closer. “When he gets what he wants, he’ll crush you.”

Ren took a step back as the smuggler got within arm’s reach but stood his ground. He wanted to scream, “How would you know, Dad? How the fuck would you know? You weren’t there! You were never there! You could never see what I see, hear what I hear, feel what I feel!”

Han stopped. “You know it’s true,” he said softly.

Ben did know . Snoke had already betrayed him once, he was sure of it, even if he couldn’t remember how. Ben was certain Snoke had altered his memories. But there was no way Ren – who had once been Ben – could ever go home. He’d face certain execution. His parents, influential as they were, could never prevent the grandson of Darth Vader from answering for his crimes and the crimes of the First Order.

“It’s too late.” The answer was barely louder than a whisper.

“No, it’s not,” Han urged. “Leave here with me. Come home.” After a beat, he added. “We miss you.”

He met his father’s gaze, but in the next few seconds, hundreds of images filled his head. He was a boy stung by fire wasps. He had survived the poison but without comfort from his absent parents in the care of C-3PO. Han had arrived as the medi-droid was lancing open the wounds and extracting the egg pods the insects had injected. Ben couldn’t scream loud enough, and Han had merely looked around anxiously and told him to “keep it down, kid,” when concerned neighbors pounded on the door.

When he was a little older, Ben had taken to playing in a band. The music was pensive and full of ambience. Han had come to a performance but to Han, music was for parties – loud, upbeat, and catchy. Ben looked up from his instrument to see his father blatantly yawning.

When Ben shared scraps of poetry he’d written as a teenager, Han had handed them back, saying, “I’m sure this is good stuff, kid, but I was never one for fancy words. Your mother is though. Go show it to Senator Mom.”

Han had never known what to do with his highly sensitive son, the boy who could be found out on the balcony or lurking in the shadows at galas – anywhere where he could be alone – the boy who rarely smiled.

Ben saw the sadness and regret in his father’s face and felt his own eyes begin to tear. Unmasked, he found it nearly impossible to block the emotions of others. They always overwhelmed him. “I am being torn apart,” he blurted. “I want to be free of this pain!” His stomach lurched and he nearly vomited. He remembered the Supreme Leader’s directive. “And I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.” His lower lip trembled. “Will you help me?”

Han took a step closer, his eyes fixed on his son’s. “Yes, anything.”

Ben watched the helmet tumble from his grasp. It hit the catwalk grate with a harsh clang. When he looked back at his father, a new resolve shown in the dark warrior’s eyes as he unclipped the lightsaber from his belt and held it out in offering.

Han looked confused, even frightened for a moment, then understood that Ben was asking to be disarmed. The older man gripped the blade’s pommel, prepared to clip the iconic weapon to his own belt and take his son home.

In the heavens above, the last of the sun’s energy was swallowed up by Starkiller Base. The star winked out. Ben met his father’s gaze for the last time, his eyes dark now in the red glow from the dim interior lights.

“You have compassion for him – the father who couldn’t protect you from bounty hunters,” Snoke’s voice growled with contempt Kylo Ren’s head. “The father who took you away from the only friends you ever had. The father who never told you Darth Vader was your grandfather!”

Ren’s hands tightened on the blade’s hilt as Han Solo’s fingers did too.

Suddenly, the blade ignited in a brilliant flame and pierced the old smuggler’s chest. Far above, Chewie howled and Rey shrieked. Ren shoved the saber through the resisting flesh, still meeting Solo’s shocked stare.

“Thank you,” Ren managed to get out through gritted teeth.

“Yes. Good,” Snoke praised his pupil through their special psychic bond.

With a final yank, Ren freed the saber from the body and watched dispassionately as the father reached out and touched his son’s face before tumbling into the chasm below.

Ben’s eyes went wide as across the expanse of space he felt his

Having Fun There, Kid by Jay
Having Fun There, Kid by Jay

mother reel as if she too had been stabbed. Instead of feeling buoyed by the power of the Dark Side, Ben was filled with a memory of his father lying on the bed, grinning up at him as he tossed the little boy into the air, making his son feel like he could fly.

 

@MyKyloRen  6 October 2016