Kylo Ren, Master of the Knights of Ren, held up the pyramid-shaped vessel in great reverence. “The flames of her fire have died,” he told the clan of seven warriors gathered around him.
“But they have not gone out,” they intoned in answer and lifted their helmeted heads to the dark skies as one.
Ren added his voice to theirs, raising the blood-red vessel high above his head. “They shall be kindled again!” He brought it to his forehead and rested it there a moment’s contemplation, bringing the ritual to a close. As the men stood down, awaiting their leader’s orders, Ren wrapped the holocron in its black shroud and tucked it into the shielded container. This he carefully stowed in its ritual alcove on board the small freighter they’d brought down half a kilometer from Niima Outpost.
Before leaving the ship to guard-droids, he removed the ritual mask of the secret order and secured the identity-concealing black metal helmet upon his head. Outside with his men again, he said tersely, “Move out.” No further orders were needed. They knew what they had returned to Jakku for.
A different one this time.
Not a clone, like all the others grown in the laboratory beneath Carbon Ridge. The transfer would be unique this time — as dangerous and unpredictable as its recipient, one that was not in stasis but conscious and strong in the Force. A ripple of excitement passed through their ranks as they made their way across the midnight desert toward the trading post.
Lightning flickered on the horizon.
They hadn’t gone a quarter of the distance when Ren brought his men to a halt. The dusty air was rife with the earthy smell of rain and the reptilian-like stench of a Kyuzo clovoc — a warrior clan. The Kyuzo were nowhere in sight yet, but he knew they were just over the ridge, some eyeing the Knights with bright golden eyes, others with insect-like compound eyes. Through the Force, he could see them in their wide-brimmed helms — a hundred maybe in the traditional armor of the clovoc. He knew who their leader was. The Acolytes of the Beyond had given him that much information, as well as the clan’s coordinates.
The Knights had come for the girl, but Ren had come for a particularly desirable artifact — one of Darth Vader’s most prized possessions. One that dangled from the belt of Zuvio, the Kyuzo constable of Niima Outpost. One Zuvio meant to trade to Lor San Tekka over in the village of Tuanal in a sweet deal. Zuvio was tracking Ren through slitted eyes. A shiver ran up his spine. He motioned his warriors to fan out.
Ren let them come. He could feel them circling like wolves, closing in on his small band. The Knights were outnumbered more than ten to one, but Ren sensed neither fear nor hesitation in his men. They stood in a circle back to back, hands gripping blasters, rifles, and servo-pikes. Ren unclipped his lightsaber from his belt.
“That’s far enough!” Zuvio called out of the darkness through an interpreter droid. “You’re not welcome here.”
Ren said nothing for a long moment, letting the not-so-distant thunder speak for him. At last he said with a sneer, “You know what I’ve come for.”
Zuvio didn’t hesitate. “I do. And you’ll have to fight all of us to get it. So you might was well turn around and get back in your ship. If you set foot on Jakku again, you’re dead men.”
“We’ll see.” Ren ignited his fiery lightsaber and gave it a spin.
In the next instant, the clan didn’t know what hit it. They ran at the small band of intruders, alien battle cries drowned by the crashing peel of thunder.
Or was it?
The vanguard of Kyuzo warriors fell in a wide circular swath as if they were toys and some huge invisible hand had knocked them all down. Their charge came to a halt as the rearguard stopped cold, stunned. They’d never seen so many of their brothers leveled like sheaves of grain — without being touched. The rain came down in sheets. In the center of the ring, the Knights stood motionless. As did Zuvio. The constable watched in horror as one of his warriors screamed and convulsed in the deepening puddles.
“See to your man,” Kylo Ren called to Zuvio as the remainder of the Kyuzo fled into the night, spooked by an invisible force.
The constable turned to stare in disbelief at his writhing clansman. Had he been hit by lightning? The warrior was in agony and dying, but not fast enough. Zuvio didn’t feel the tug at his belt as the lightsaber clipped there flew away in a Force-summons and into Ren’s outstretched hand. Zuvio was intent on ending his brother’s misery. The constable raised his pike over his head, ready to strike a killing blow when a crackly flame emerged from his chest. Zuvio shrieked.
Ren blinked. He wasn’t sure what he’d just seen. With the artifact firmly in his grasp, he’d meant to retreat, but there she was in front of him…and Zuvio had meant to kill her. Ren had acted on pure instinct — shoving his blade through the Kyuzo’s armor and on through the resistance of the rib cage. When the constable crumpled at his feet, the young woman had quickly staggered to her own, staring in horror. She took several steps back.
He recognized the scavenger, although she must have been just shy of twenty now. He blinked again and moved towards her as if in a dream. The day was bright. The girl — a five-year-old — reached out a thin arm to him and cried, “Come back!” In another blink, she was gone. Vanished. Back into the Force, surely. Ren stood alone with his knights in the pouring rain.
He looked down at the coveted lightsaber in his left hand and ignited the blue blade.
It was Kenobi’s all right. He extinguished it and clipped it to his belt.
“Forget the girl,” he told his men, hefting Zuvio’s cooling body over his shoulder. “We have what we need.”
@MyKyloRen 6 December 2016