Senator Leia Organa remembered the last time she’d lost her son. He’d looked back only once then too before turning to follow those who led him away. Both times she’d wondered what she might have done to keep him close, to keep the Darkness from reaching out and seizing him by the hand. It had been an accident when Ben was ten. He hadn’t meant to kill the toddler, but Ben’s Force abilities were deemed a threat to society. Han and Leia Solo were given the choice of either committing their son to the Institution of Mental Arts — a government-run rehabilitation agency — or place him in the hands of a guardian who understood the ways of the Force. Naturally, Leia had turned to Luke.
Luke Skywalker had made great progress in helping Ben Solo understand and control his growing abilities — so much so that Luke now had a fully fledged Jedi academy in operation. It was so successful in locating and training Force-sensitives that the Jedi master was able to leave the academy in the hands of his first class of padawans while he scoured the galaxy for Jedi ruins and artifacts. He’d taken Ben on several exploratory missions, but over the past couple years, uncle and nephew had had a falling out. They still worked together, but neither would talk about it…until today. And the day had been a long one for Leia, full of meetings and dodging the media. The reporters and camera droids were relentless now that the galaxy knew Leia and Luke were the spawn — that’s how the press liked to phrase it — of Darth Vader.
Leia was glad Han hadn’t been there for her meeting with Ben that morning — the first time she’d see him since the news broke. To lighten things up, Han would have cracked some joke, Ben’s feathers would have gotten ruffled, and the conversation she’d had with their son might never have happened.
Ben had been away with Luke — or so she’d thought — tracking down Jedi holocrons — and she’d sent him a subspace holo telling him how sorry she was he’d had to learn the truth about Vader from the media. She’d always meant to find the right time to tell him about his grandfather, but in truth, she’d thought Luke would be the one to enlighten Ben about their dark family legacy. But Luke never did. Leia wanted to throttle her brother. He was the one who understood the Force, how one could turn to the Dark side, but it couldn’t be helped now.
Ben had eventually messaged back that he’d be on Hosnian Prime in three days but that he couldn’t stay long.
He didn’t even call it “home” anymore.
Her gaze followed him from the door of the hangar as he strode towards the spacehopper that would take him offworld again. How did he ever get to be so tall? She mused, watching his long purposeful strides. He was such a tiny baby. Now his presence filled the room and his words filled her heart…with fear.
She’d been shocked to learn he already knew the blood of Darth Vader coursed through his veins.
“How did you find out?” she’d asked him, setting down her cup of caf a bit too hard. “Only Luke, the Lars, me, my adoptive parents, and Obi-Wan knew.”
Ben lifted his chin. “Amanda told me…when I was fourteen.”
Leia sat back in her chair and stared at him. He was referring to Dr. Amanda Snoke who’d been his counsellor from an early age, helping him through the emotional turmoil he often experienced. He’d been remanded to her custody after the murder trial until he was eighteen. Now that Ben was in his mid-twenties, Leia didn’t like the relationship he shared with her. It was far too trusting, far too…intimate. Leia quickly brushed those uneasy thoughts aside. That was a conversation for another time.
Will there be another time?
“She was there for me, Mom,” he’d told her, almost answering her question with an unspoken “when you were not.” But he said instead, “She found a holo sent to the Naberrie family on Naboo, assuring them that Padme’s twins were in good hands. It was sent using an old Jedi encryption code.”
“I see,” Leia managed to say, resisting the urge to scream, running her finger around the rim of her mug. “Dr. Snoke never said anything about that to me.”
Ben nearly exploded. “She didn’t have to! You already knew!” He took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. “I’ve just come from Naboo. I had to walk where my grandfather walked.” He looked away, biting his lower lip as if he were choosing his next words very carefully. “I’ve met a group of collectors who are looking for Grandfather’s personal effects.” When she didn’t say anything, he added, “I’m going with them.”
Leia noticed he’d used the word “grandfather” to refer to the Sith lord rather than “Darth Vader.” To her, Vader would never be “Father.” She didn’t like where this was going.
“Ben,” she tried softly, reaching out a hand to him, “what good will it do to put your hands of his things?”
Ben pulled away. “Everything! You wouldn’t tell me about him, so I have to find out myself. I can see things through objects. Through the Force, I can connect with him.”
Leia tried again after letting out a long breath. “And then what?”
Ben studied the ceiling.
“Look, why don’t you talk to your uncle. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, he’ll probably find it easier to talk about his encounter with Vader.”
Her heart sank as Ben’s gaze dropped back to her and he slowly shook his head.
“He doesn’t see the value in studying the Dark side.”
“It’s incredibly dangerous!” Leia interjected. “He’s seen first-hand the cruelty and destruction. We both have.”
Ben pushed his chair back from the table. His features hardened. “I didn’t say I was joining the Dark side, Mother, but I need to study it. All aspects of the Force must be studied and respected. Knowledge for knowledge sake alone does nobody any good. Knowledge must be used to bring about change for the good.”
Leia didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t comprehend how gaining Dark side knowledge could be put to good. “Ben,” she began gently, “Please think about what you’re getting into. You weren’t there, you….”
He stood up. “That’s why I have to find these artifacts — to learn the truth.” He gave her a stony look and she knew he wanted to say, “the truth you hid from me.”
As he turned towards the door, she moved to grab his arm, but he kept going. “Ben, please, tell us where you are from time to time.”
He stopped and looked over his shoulder.
“Let us know you’re all right,” she pleaded.
He gave her a slight nod and she watched him walk away.
@MyKyloRen 22 November 2016