SUMMARY: [ABY 20] Fifteen-year-old Ben Solo is perched on the brink of life and death, facing his own demons and the despair left behind by one of the Death Star’s first target shots — a gaping and charred chasm on Crait known as the Abyss. His friend, Ymateb, is desperate to save him.
Chirrut Ymateb was in a panic now. She knew, as an aspirant Disciple of the Whills, that the moment between breaths was the balance of the Force. Between life and death. Rest and action. Serenity and passion. Hope and despair. She had to find that balance for Ben Solo. She had to break the pull of the darkness.
“Ben,” she whispered softly, urgently, turning back to face him when he didn’t follow. The call of the Abyss filled his ears and was starting to buzz in hers. She winced and shook her head, determined. “Ben, where you see darkness, I see stars.” She held up the letter Maz Kanata had sent, bearing messages from his parents and uncle. “These people love you. They’ve not forgotten you.” She reach for his hand and squeezed it, her dark almond eyes glistening beneath the red headdress that marked her as a Disciple and kept the glare of Crait’s sun at bay.
Ben Solo, Jedi Padawan learner and honored guest, didn’t blink. The black chasm still had his complete attention. She couldn’t see his face — he’d drawn his hood up against the brilliant sun — but she knew his expression was one of deep despair. She couldn’t let the Abyss claim him, so she did the one thing the Force told her to do.
Was it the Force?
Ymateb grabbed him by the hood, pulled his face to hers and kissed him on the lips before either of them knew what was happening. For a split second, she was terrified her bold move might send him leaping over the edge in horror, but instead he kissed her back, soft and slow. When they pulled apart, their breath coming faster now, they stood clinging to each other, unsure of…everything.
Finally, Ben broke the silence. “Let’s run away together — as far as we can go.”
She pulled back a little to look him in the eye. “What? How, silly? We don’t have a ship…or did you mean on foot?” She was stepping away now, making a sweeping gesture that took in the far horizon, opposite the crater. “Look around. There’s nothing here but salt. We have to rely on the supply lines for food.”
“We can stow away on the next supply ship and go wherever we want.”
She gave a little snort. “And then what? How will we live?”
“You can sell your paintings,” he suggested, stepping closer, “and I’ll be a pilot.”
Ymateb smiled a sweet smile that lit up her tender face. She was human, born on Jedha the year the Rebel Alliance blasted the remnants of the Imperial fleet out of the Jakku skies, the same year Ben was born on Chandrilla. She barely remembered the ash and smoke that clogged her lungs, but her belly never forgot the hunger.
“I have a better idea,” she soothed, her voice barely above a whisper. “Why don’t we run towards — runs towards life.” She took both his hands in hers, pulling as she stepped backwards away from the lip of the chasm. “Towards hope.” Three steps more. “Towards balance.”
She stopped, letting him catch up to her and kiss her again. “I shouldn’t let you do that,” she whispered, eyes still closed as she enjoyed the lingering sensation. “I’m ruining your vow.”
“What vow?” he murmured into the folds of her headdress. He’d never seen her hair. He assumed it was long, black, and strait like that of her father, Chirrut Neges. He started to reach for the red cloth, hoping she’d let him draw it back so he could see more of her beauty.
Ymateb stepped back. “Your Jedi vow.” When his face fell and he looked away, she said timidly, “Don’t you want to be a Jedi?”
She bit her lip, studying him. “I envy you. Your uncle’s going to teach you the ways of the Force and you’ll be able to know it in a way I can only dream about.” She took a step closer. “You’ll be able to defend the helpless.” Her palm found his chest. “You’ll be a hero.” She sighed and gave him a pat. “But you’re not supposed to have attachments.”
He gazed at her longingly from beneath his hood. “It’s too late,” he told her softly and touched her cheek.
Her warm fingers closed around his. “Then stay here with us. Guardians do not put such unnatural restriction on themselves. All is as the Force wills it.” She squeezed his hand. “The Force brought you to us.”
Slowly, his mouth stretched into a wide grin and she beamed back at him, reflecting the light in his eyes.
By the time they made their way back to the compound nestled into the caves, twilight was settling in and the howling yips of vulptices echoed off the rocks. Chirrut Neges met them at the door, staff in hand, his sightless eyes lifted to the bright star on the horizon, his long black hair stirring in the night breeze.
“Life binds the living, does it not, Padawan Solo?”
Ben nodded, then remembered the Guardian couldn’t see, although it never seemed like the man couldn’t see. Did Neges know he’d kissed his daughter? Ben’s face colored as he answered, “Yes,” giving Ymateb a sidewise smirk.
Neges held out a hand to his young charges and ushered them in. “In darkness, you must follow the light to find your way to the beginning again and again and again,” he told them with an encouraging smile as the simple wooden door swung to behind them, shutting out the night.
@MyKyloRen 15 June 2018
NOTE: The following quotes were borrowed from Rucka, Greg. (2017). Star Wars: Guardians of the Whills. Los Angeles: Disney Press.”The balance of the Force is found between life and death. Rest and action. Serenity and passion. Hope and despair,” “Where you see darkness, I see stars,” and “Life binds the living.”