Padawan Ben Solo stood on the terrace of a secluded resort on the outskirts of Capital City, gazing across the tidal marsh to the waving grasslands beyond. Behind him, a clutch of tourists sat sipping exotic drinks overlooking Lothal’s inland sea. But Ben’s eyes were drawn to the endless swirls and ripples the wind stirred in the long sedges instead of the predictable pattern of the waves. There was nothing new to learn in the surf. The waves were mind-numbing, like Jedi meditation. Yet out there, on the landward side, he keenly felt a presence. The Jedi had left behind their temples. And those who had hunted them had followed, leaving their own ripples in the Force.
They still hunted.
“It doesn’t seem like the Empire was ever here,” he said without turning around.
Dr. Amanda Snoke came up behind her fifteen-year-old charge and handed him a glass of chilled muja juice. He’d been in her custody as a ward of the state ever since he had caused the death of a young boy at age ten. It had been ruled an accident and Ben had been permitted reprieves to see his parents and train with his uncle, but Amanda was his primary guardian during his eight-year sentence. Although only thirty-three, she’d become a renowned psychologist not long after earning her degree for her work in understanding the development of force-sensitive children.
“Yes,” she agreed, joining Ben at the railing. She glanced over at the rounded, white towers hugging the coastline to their left. The mines and refineries — even the Imperial Command Center — had been torn down or converted into luxury residences and civic buildings. The smoke, toxic gas, and dust had long ago been filtered from the atmosphere.
“But my grandfather was here,” Ben went on, his voice distant and pensive. “I feel his presence.”
Amanda’s rosy cheeks dimpled in a smile. Han and Leia had not revealed the identity of Ben’s maternal grandfather to their son, but Amanda believed that such a revelation was essential to the young Jedi’s growth. To understand who he was and what he could become, he needed a clear understanding of the power that coursed through his blood. She’d shared the little family secret with him a few months prior to his fifteenth birthday. He talked of Darth Vader — in private — as his grandfather, but there was still a shadow of doubt in his mind. He couldn’t quite believe how a scrawny kid who had been bullied at school and shadowed by bounty hunters could be the offshoot of one of the most powerful Sith the galaxy had ever known.
So, she’d brought Ben to this frontier world of vanishing farms to celebrate his birthday away from prying eyes and to see him off down a promising path to a new life.
“Speaking of your grandfather,” she said with gentle enthusiasm, “I have some test results to share with you.” She took a small datapad from a pocket and swiped through a few screens. “Here. This top line is the DNA profile of Darth Vader and the middle is Anakin Skywalker’s. The bottom is yours.” She overlaid the top two sequences for an exact match. Next, she laid Ben’s on top and pointed out unique areas of correlation. “There’s no doubt that you are his descendant.”
Ben didn’t need the course he’d taken in advanced genetics to see the near match. It was obvious, right down to the midi-chlorian levels.
“But,” Amanda continued with growing excitement, “what’s truly interesting is how far back in time this profile goes.”
Ben tore his gaze from the display to look up at her. “How far?”
“About 10,000 standard years.” She tapped the display and brought up another screen of tabulated data and charts. “Through your mother’s line, you are the descendant of one of the most powerful Force-users in history — a man who understood both the Light and the Dark. A man named Revan who lived 4,000 years ago.”
Ben looked up again. “I’ve never heard of him.”
“The records the Jedi Council kept on him in the Coruscant archives were lost with the destruction of the temple. But his name and story have survived — sometimes intact, sometimes corrupted — on other worlds. We’ve been able to piece a lot of it back together. Including a copy of his extensive medical records.” She handed him the datapad and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Take a look through the files whenever you want. It’s a little birthday gift to you.” She kissed him on the cheek.
He smiled awkwardly. “Thanks.” He thumbed through a few preliminary screens. “You never told me where you came from. I mean, you said you sort of grew up and went to university here” — he gestured at the expansive city nearby — “but I get the sense this isn’t where your people are from.”
She raised an eyebrow at him.
“In your mind,” he went on, looking at her intently now, “I see flashes of a gray-brown planet — a place where buildings stand untouched by war, but life, sound, and color are washed away. It’s like the Force doesn’t exist there.”
“Curious,” she returned evenly but with a smile. “Well, this isn’t a world of much color, is it?” She swept a hand at the brown grasslands in front of them. “I’ll tell you the story of my world someday, but right now I’d like you to meet some of friends. They’re part of an ancient order known as the Knights of Ren.”
As she walked him through the tranquil halls of the resort to the glass-domed dining area, she didn’t tell him her people came from beyond the regions of known space.
She didn’t tell him that she’d known Revan…personally.
She didn’t tell him that the lovely human body she occupied was one in tens of thousands she’d inhabited over the millennia.
@MyKyloRen 17 January 2017