The Last Jedi: Part Two

THE LAST JEDI (PART 2)

Luke eyed the four masked figures who hemmed him in, cutting him off from his padawan — but only in the physical sense. Powerful as the Knights of Ren were, they could not sever the Force connection he shared with Rey. He felt her struggling and scraping with their determined leader — the padawan who’d betrayed him and pushed aside his careful teachings. The bond between uncle and nephew, master and padawan, was still there and would continue beyond this life, but the Dark side had thrown up a shroud of cinder and vapor between them — or at least that’s how it seemed in Luke’s mind. He couldn’t reach Ben that way, but there were other minds not so veiled.

The old Jedi inhaled deeply and let his words out through the Force, along with a slight wave of his hand. “You do not wish to be on this island.” He felt two of the knights jerk as if stung, but none made a move or a reply. They didn’t seem bent on harming him — not yet anyway — only guarding him, keeping him out of the fray. “You will return to your ship and leave this world,” he continued to compel them a little more Forcefully.

The four dark warriors raised their blaster rifles and took aim. Luke didn’t blink. Instead, he closed his eyes, as if he were prepared to meet his death, but his inner eye was focused on the balance between the Dark and the Light. The blow by blow match between Kylo and Rey.

And then, it was over.

The Force tumbled head over heels around them, turning, spinning...plunging. Three of the knights went sprawling backwards as if a huge invisible hand had knocked them over. The remaining warrior, still on his feet, let loose a volley of blaster fire at the old hermit. Luke’s lightsaber was a blur, a pinwheel of blazing green light as he deflected bolt after bolt. Several of the blazing shots slammed back into the knight but couldn’t pierce his armor.

A split second later, Luke lunged sideways and stopped, reaching out with the Force, diverting all his strength to the small form plummeting down the cliff face. Still ten meters from the edge, he arrested her fall and guided her grasping hands with his mind to the dangling roots. Rey gripped them in desperation, clinging for life, as her lightsaber slipped from her grasp and tumbled, knocking out first one side of the staff then the other before clanking on the rocks below.

On the cliff’s edge, another fire went out. Kylo Ren stepped to the edge, extinguishing his lightsaber. His left hand shot out, steadying Rey, holding her in position, his face a mixture of hope and anguish.

“It’s just us now,” he repeated softly, taking her mind back through the past and imploring her to reconsider.

She lifted her eyes to him, blinking aside the bits of soil and moss that rained down from crumbling edge.

“I will never join you,” she managed to get out between gasps.

Art by Drew Norman
Art by Drew Norman

She let go.

She hit the water hard — the water, well clear of the jutting rocks — and lost all sense of direction as she went under, way under, dragged and shoved by rip current and wave. She painstakingly clawed her way to the surface, gasping and sputtering. The roar was deafening and cold. It sucked all the life out of her and tossed her around as if she were no more than a twig. Rey forgot all about her training. She forgot about the Force.

She didn’t know how to swim.

She gagged in a mouthful of air and spray — her last, she knew — and thrashed as hard as she could, but there was nothing solid to hold onto. The water closed in over her head. A voice. Luke’s voice.

“Rey, let go and flow with it. Let it surround you and buoy you up.”

She didn’t make it to the surface before her lungs screamed for air again. Brine flooded them when she heeded the urge, and blackness followed.

And then receded as if she were in a long dark tunnel. A tunnel with no light at its entrance. A tunnel with a soothing, pleading voice.

“Come back to me, sweetheart.”

The roar was gone. She was wet, but the water was no longer filling every orifice. Her eyes were open but there was only blackness.

There was the Force.

The Force.

Luke.

He’d save her and she was bundled in his cloak, safe upon the shore. He’d killed Kylo Ren.

She coughed against the burning in her lungs and throat then retched up watery heaves. A supportive hand pounded her back, and she allowed herself to be nestled close and warmed as her vision slowly returned. She clutched at the robe thrown around her, marveling at the strength and sensation returning to her fingers. In the near distance she was aware of the steady roll of the breakers…and the throbbing heartbeat of the muscled chest beneath her ear.

The dark cloth was smooth — almost silky between her fingers and still wet from the sea.

Dark. Silky. Black.

Black gloves — also wet — touched her face and smoothed the wet strands of her hair.

Rey looked up into the face of Kylo Ren.

@MyKyloRen   16 February 2017

Special thanks to graphic artist Drew Norman for illustrating this story. See what Drew’s up to at http://drewnorman.com/2017/02/09/star-wars-balance-in-the-force-comics/

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The Last Jedi: Part One

Author’s note: I don’t like to venture into the future, unless it’s to use it as a literary device to springboard back into the past. After all, this site is devoted to exploring Kylo Ren’s past. But the following scenario is such a great fan theory that I just had to see it in print. So, here it is…my envisioning of the great confrontation sure to take place on Ahch-To in Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi from Kylo Ren’s point of view.

 

The only light came from the primitive glow inside the corbeled stone huts. She’d been living in one and Luke the other, Ren supposed — the cells of the first Jedi acolytes, erected out of the bones of the jagged mountain that rose from the sea. The first Jedi temple. The Force was strong on Ahch-To but strongest on this peak. Ren could feel it coursing up through the soles of his boots, up his legs and spine, and out through the tips of his fingers. His mind was on fire with it as it cycled through his nervous system. He’d never felt more alive, never more sure of himself. He knew what he had to do, and he knew he had the strength to do it.

Why can’t they see that? he growled to himself.

They — the two silhouettes who stood apart yet together with him in the Force. The two facing him in the small grassy area outside their huts, lightsabers drawn but not yet activated. Ren couldn’t see their faces in the dark of the island night, but he could sense their hesitancy and doubt.

Emotions of the Dark side, he thought. Hypocrites.

He could also sense the presence of his knights where he’d left them on the rocks below with orders to neutralize the Wookiee and secure the ship, but neither the Millennium Falcon nor Chewbacca had been found. For the moment, it didn’t matter. Ren’s focus was on the girl. He took off his mask. He didn’t need it anymore. He’d worn it to frighten away any indigenes that might be lurking about, but the place was deserted. He also didn’t need the environmental readouts nor the night-vision the helmet constantly supplied him. He could sense everything he needed to through the Force, including the old man’s outrage.

“You’re not welcome here,” Luke Skywalker told him, breaking the human silence.

Ren snorted then smirked as a bolt of lightning lit up the clouds. He thought of letting the oncoming storm speak for him, but he doubted the old man was sharp enough to get the message.

“I haven’t come for a cup of tea, uncle,” Ren snarled as the rising surf smashed into the rocks far below. “You know what I’ve come for.” His gaze shifted to Rey’s face. He could feel Luke’s and Rey’s heartbeats quicken, their nervous systems and muscles preparing for battle. He fought to steady his own, fought to sway their Jedi minds through the Force, but he couldn’t get past the blinding wall of white that was their own righteousness. He steeled himself and sucked in a hiss of air through gritted teeth. Why do the Jedi think they know all the answers?

“I’m not going anywhere with you, Ben!” Rey shot back as another bolt of lightning streaked across the sky.

The name echoing on the roll of thunder stunned him. He took a step back.

“Best call him Kylo Ren,” Luke cautioned her. “My nephew belongs to the Dark side now, like his grandfather before him.”

A purple rage boiled behind Ben Solo’s eyes. He took three steps forward. “You don’t know me!” he screamed at Luke. “You never did!” And you never knew her!” The words came fast now. “You abandoned her!”

He felt her blink in shock. “What?” she said in a small voice.

“Don’t listen to him, Rey. The Dark side only speaks in untruths.”

Untruths?” Ben fumed. “That’s what you’ve told her all along! You never told her about her parents! You never told her you separated us” — Ben was moving, closing ground between them — “because of your fear!”

Fear. Fear led to anger, anger led to hate. Hate led to suffering. That was the Jedi mantra.

Luke ignited his green-bladed lightsaber. Rey ignited a purple double-bladed staff of her own. Ben was impressed with her progress. He reached out to her again through the Force but found the way still blocked. This time he was hurt rather than angry.

Why can’t she remember? the little voice inside him wailed.

His own altered memories had come flooding back when he’d peered inside her mind on Starkiller Base. She’d seen some of his deepest thought, fears, and…loves. He’d linked his mind with hers since their fight in the forest — over vast distances of space through the Force-bond they now shared — and she’d let him in.

He stopped five meters from them and ignited his cross-bladed lightsaber. He’d made a new one, but the crystal still crackled red. “You’ve poisoned her!” He bit his lower lip to keep it from trembling as he leveled the fiery blade at his uncle. “She knows I haven’t come to hurt her. I need her! We are the Chosen Ones. We will bring balance to the Force!”

Rey readied her staff. “My place is with Luke,” she told him in no uncertain terms.

“You heard her, Ben,” Luke said quietly, making one more attempt to project the calming Light side of the Force. “Leave this place. There’s nothing for you here.”

So, he was to be driven off like some mangy cur. It was bad enough she didn’t remember the love she once had for him — a little girl’s sweet attachment to an older brother — but to be shooed away by his own flesh and blood….

Kylo Ren swept in low — the opposite move Luke expected — and made a cut for old Jedi’s left leg. He meant to incapacitate Luke…and quickly. Skywalker parried, blade downward and shoved Ren backwards with the Force, but Ren was ready. His hand flew up, repelling the Force-shove. They remained locked in that position like two stags, until Rey made a cut to Ren’s left side. He disengaged to block her and spun out to side-step Luke’s swing. The lightsaber dance played on as the skies opened up and the rain poured down in curtains. Ren called upon the Force more than he ever had to before, but he kept his footing in the uneven fight. He blocked one opponent, then the other, keeping them off balance and widening the distance between the Jedi until Rey was backed up to the sheer-faced cliff.

She’d fought bravely, tirelessly, but she drew her strength only from the Light. He was desperate, drawing his passion from the Dark. Their blades locked.

Luke moved swiftly to close in on Ren from behind but found his way blocked by seven motionless shadows.

The Knights of Ren.

Cliffhanger by Eli Hyder
Cliffhanger by Eli Hyder

“I need you!” Kylo half-growled at Rey. “Don’t you turn on me!”

She gasped at the power he bore against her, thrusting her backwards. A few

pebbles broke off from the cliff’s edge and went crumbling into the broken seas below. She didn’t understand her past — their past — and she couldn’t let her guard down to tap into their Force-bond memories.

“Come with me,” he urged.

Before she could respond, the ground gave way beneath her feet.

She plunged.

 

@MyKyloRen  9 February 2017

No Jedi Need Apply

Nineteen-year-old Ben Solo stood at one of the recruitment kiosks in the university student center watching an unending stream of job postings flash by. He didn’t like the idea of getting a job. There were far too many fascinating ideas to explore — arcane and secret knowledge — places to see, skills to acquire and sharpen. But his path was not the Jedi path. He believed in balance and tapping into all aspects of the Force. He believed he could gain focus through passion, through knowledge he would gain power, and through serenity would come strength. This ideology put him at odds with the Jedi code and his uncle and master.

Ben recalled the heated words of their last argument, the muscles tightening in his jaw. There are other things a Force-sensitive can do besides be a Jedi, he told himself, but he would have to be careful. Although the nascent New Jedi Order was respected and supported by the New Republic, there were bounty hunters who sold Force-sensitives to slavers for huge profits. Jobs that were seemingly on the up-and-up sometimes turned out to be the linchpin in a crime syndicate. There were devices, Ben knew, that restrained or limited a Force-user’s abilities.

A slight shudder ran through him as he cued up a different job code and scanned the postings from every sector of the galaxy. Throughout the hall, more than a hundred students of every race and creed did the same. One had to be quick in submitting a request to apply. Desirable jobs fell off the posting nets within seconds and positions filled seconds later. To protect the applicant, Force-sensitivity  was never listed as a preferred skill, but one could always read between the lines. He paused the scroll on one particular posting that caught his eye.

INTERROGATOR

Assesses and interrogates enemy prisoners of war and deserters through approved means (including telepathy) to obtain military intelligence. Prepares interrogation reports and translations of enemy documents not rendered in Galactic Basic. Ensures the accurate exchange of statements, ideas, and intent. Applicant must possess a physical profile of 213679 and a security clearance of SECRET. Fluency in Mando’a, Olys Corellisi, Teedospeak, Shryriiwook, Jawaese, and Sith preferred.

“Well,” Ben muttered to himself, “I’ve got five out of six under my belt…plus a few more.”

He read on.

To qualify for consideration, the applicant must first pass the following psychological evaluation. Touch “I agree” to begin or “Quit” to exit without applying.

Ben touched the I agree button on the screen.

When responding to these statements, choose the one you agree with most.

  1. It is difficult to get you excited.

He winced. Already he didn’t like where this was going. Closing his eyes, he reconfirmed his own mantra: I harness my serenity while I set loose my passion. He touched No.

  1.  When making a decision, you rely more on your feelings than analysis of the situation.

Luke had always said, “Trust your feelings.” A Force-sensitive could live no other way. He touched Yes.

  1. You often contemplate the complexity of life.   Yes.
  1. After prolonged socializing, you feel you need to get away and be alone.    Yes.
  1. You willingly involve yourself in matters which engage your sympathies. If I say, “yes,” Ben thought, they’ll never consider me.    No.

And so it went for another 59 questions. Finally, he touched the submit button and filled in his username. The screen reverted to the posting section. Ben scrolled through a few more job descriptions and read a couple semi-interesting ones…until he was distracted by the student next to him. The young human male was clearly annoyed with the same set of questions put to him.

“I am never late for my appointments,” the young man grumbled to himself. “Strict observance of rules is necessary! Always trust reason over feelings.” This last statement sounded as if it came through gritted teeth. Then in a more reasonable tone, he admonished: “Always consider the rational approach….Submit.”

Ben stole a glance around the partition and saw a shock of ginger hair. He watched the young man gather up his attache case and stride off as if he were keeping pace to a parade march. Ben started to shake his head in disgust but turned when he sensed a familiar presence behind him.

Amanda Snoke gave him a quick squeeze. “Having any luck?”

“Maybe.” He turned back to the display screen. I just submitted an….” His voice trailed off as the face of a young human woman with short blond hair appeared onscreen.

“Thank you for your application, user 01999URF. My name is Captain Phasma. We gwendolinechristierequest that you take the next step and schedule a time to complete the general aptitude test at your earliest convenience.”

The woman’s image was quickly replaced with a scheduling form. Ben keyed in a date and was rewarded with the words, “Date verified and reserved. Please report 15 minutes early to the training center listed on your screen.”

He logged out of his account and gave Amanda a quizzical look. “Is that woman your twin or something? She looks exactly like you.”

Amanda gave him a little wrinkle-nosed smirk. “Curious.”

@MyKyloRen  2 February 2017