Chapter 4: They’ll Be Back…One Day

SUMMARY: [ABY 18] As a diversion and a way to escape the heat of the day, Padawan Ben Solo and Master Luke Skywalker explore a ruin from the Battle of Jakku — a downed Imperial walker. While they expect to find the AT-AT completely stripped, what Ben finds instead has far bigger implications.

Ben grinned from ear to ear as Luke banked the speeder bike to the left and slowed to make a curving pass over the downed AT-AT. The old Imperial walker was stretched out flat on its side like a prehistoric beast smothered in a sandstorm. As they set down near the auxiliary hatch in the vehicle’s belly, Ben jumped off, pulling up his goggles and gaping at the massive ruin of Imperial might.

“Whoa! This is even bigger than I thought!”

Luke came up behind him and removed his own goggles, squinting against the late afternoon glare. “I’ve always wanted to get a look inside one of these. She’s probably pretty well picked over and her computers are likely fried, but it’s worth a try.”

“There is no try, remember?” With a smirk, Ben gave a whoop of excitement and sped for the hatch as fast as he could through the heavy drifts of sand.

They really should be investigating the caves beneath Carbon Ridge, Luke thought — negotiating with the Dead-Enders, and speaking with the parents of the Force-sensitive child back in Niima Outpost — but the day was getting on and the wreck was on their way to Tuanul. There, Lor San Tekka’s people would put them up for the night. Haggling for supplies and foodstuffs (if one could call it food) had taken way too long, even with San Tekka’s insights and a little Jedi persuasion. Now Ben was like a wound-up spring. If the kid didn’t burn off some of that teenage wildness, there’d be no sleep for anyone that night.

Exploring the old crash site from the Battle of Jakku was just the diversion they needed. Luke could thank the Empire for today’s lesson — he planned to teach Ben more about Imperial order — and a place to escape the oppressive heat.

“Hold up, Ben,” he cautioned his exuberant padawan. “Lor said there was no one living here, but there might be scavengers who have staked a claim.”

He knew all about survival on an arid planet. It was desperate, territorial, and cut-throat. No quarter.

Ben dutifully waited at the hatch, hand absently dropping to his blaster hilt. He couldn’t wait for the day when Luke would show him how to build his own lightsaber. Then he’d be a true Jedi. “You brought down one of these things?” he asked, itching to scramble around inside the Imperial beast.

“I sure did.” Luke placed his hands on the rusting hatch and gave a little push. Nothing happened. He tried again. It still wouldn’t budge. He put all his strength behind it and Ben did too but to no avail.

“Stand back!” Ben drew his firearm. “I’ll blast it open!”

Luke’s hand shot out to stop him. “What do you think would happen if you fired that at durasteel plating — made to withstand laser cannons?” he added for emphasis, raising an eyebrow.

After a pause, Ben sighed and put up his blaster. “The bolt would ricochet off the hull,” he answered sullenly.

“And probably kill you,” Luke finished sternly. “Now, how about we try it the Jedi way?”

“Yeah!” Ben enthused, reaching towards the hatch with both hands, palms out.

Luke chuckled. His nephew’s energy would keep him young…if it didn’t kill him. He stretched out his own hands. “Now, close your eyes. Concentrate.”

They both did. Giving the hatch a small nudge with the Force, Luke allowed Ben to do the rest. The kid strained and groaned with the effort, but finally the door creaked open. The Jedi Master motioned for his padawan to get behind him while he poked his own head into the dark, dusty interior.

The air was not only stale but smelled of charred wiring and decay. Likely most of the troops had made it out alive and abandoned the wreck, but not all. Sand fleas and rats had made short work of the rest. No doubt a few rats got stuck in the tight places and met their end in conduits and tangles of blackened wiring.

“Do you think Vader was here?” Ben’s curiosity was palpable through the gloom as he darted ahead of Luke and around a corner.

At first, Luke thought the question arose from fear, but he didn’t sense any from his nephew — only wonder. “I doubt it,” he answered warily. “He had more important things to do.”

The AT-AT hadn’t been picked clean after all. Though heavily damaged when it toppled, the armored vehicle was still full of valuable stuff — fuel cells, filters, scanners, sensors, even E-11 rifles still racked. Master and padawan took it all in as they made their way from one section to the next. Finding the flexible tunnel to the command section crushed, they turned back as the evening light began to fade.

Ben stopped so suddenly and peered at one wall that Luke nearly stumbled into him. His nephew’s breathing increased. Ben blinked. Slowly, the boy reached out a hand and ran his fingers down the metal plating.

Scratches. Tick-marks. Thousand of them. He could feel them. All around him, a voice. A girl’s voice:

They’ll be back…one day.

He quickly moved his hand away as she — this young woman — scratched another hash mark right where his finger had been. After a moment, her shoulders slumped and she moved away to roll herself into a hammock that hadn’t been there half a standard hour before. Turning on her side, she drew up her knees and clutched the thin blanket to her chest, her lithe body shaking with silent sobs.

“We should help her,” Ben whispered, turning to the Jedi Master.

Luke stared where his nephew pointed but saw nothing. “Who?”

Dumbfounded, Ben turned back and the pretty girl was gone. So was the hammock. The durasteel wall, other than corrosion, was unmarked.

But Ben Solo’s soul was not.

@MyKyloRen   14 February 2018

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Chapter 3: Lore of the Desert

SUMMARY: [ABY 18]  Brushing shoulders with the prickly Jakku natives, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and Padawan Ben Solo meet with a trusted informant near the bazaar of Niima Outpost. The man doesn’t have what Luke seeks but may offer what the Jedi needs.

“Hey, kid, wanna buy some spice?”

Padawan Ben Solo wrinkled his nose at the scruffy Crolute. The alien smelled like rotting fish and pond scum. “No,” Ben told him flatly in Basic.

“Ben!”

For once, the kid was glad his uncle was calling him. It gave him an excuse to bolt from this particular specimen of galactic slime.

Luke reached out a hand as his nephew drew near — excited and breathless, trilling in the hustle of Niima Outpost — and drew him in. “This place is worse than Mos Eisley,” the Jedi Master warned. “Stay close, all right?”

The boy nodded solemnly, taking an interest in one of the washing stations as they elbowed their way through the cluttered market stalls. Was that a fuel injector from a Star Destroyer positional thruster?

Luke suddenly stopped and sighed. “I honestly thought it wouldn’t be this hard to find him. I thought he’d be waiting for us.” He took in a deep breath and let it out, scanning the throng for a familiar face. “I don’t sense anything’s happened to him. I guess he’s just late.”

“Doesn’t he have a commlink?” Ben asked helpfully.

Watching the alien passersby, Luke absently shook his head. “There’s a warrant out for him. He’s gathered a lot of intelligence some folks would just as soon let die in Imperial graveyards.”

Ben leaned against the side of a booth selling what looked like desiccated hands — some with two fingers, others with up to eight. He cringed and groaned, “Great. Why do we always have to hang out with bounty-fodder?”

“Some times they’re our only hope,” Luke reminded him with a resigned chuckle as he thumbed through images on the datapad he’d removed from his pack. “There aren’t even any recent holos of this guy. He’s really good at laying low.”

“What did he look like?” Ben craned his neck, peering at the old images as they scrolled by. He saw a young human male — a soldier, by the looks of him, but neither Imperial nor Rebel.

“Here.” Luke handed him the pad. “Keep your eyes peeled…although he’ll probably find us before we find him in this gundark nest.” Luke always felt he had a sign on his back: That’s right. I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you.

Ben watched his master walk up to the Crolute — known as Unkar Plutt — standing now behind a wire screen in a prominent trading stall.

“Have you seen any mercenary types here today?” Luke said casually. The junk dealer was an unpleasant sort, but so was most of the population on Jakku, no matter what the species. That didn’t deter him from pressing for information. “A human male…with greying hair,” Luke guessed.

The junkyard boss regarded the shorter human, pursing fish-like lips. “This ain’t no tourist welcome booth, human,” he growled, brushing sand off his apron made from salvaged hull plates as surely as he’d like to brush the offworlder away.

Luke tried again, sensing that the dealer knew something of value. “Yes, but you’re important here,” he coaxed, appealing to the Crolute’s ego. “You know things.”

Unkar Plutt snorted. “I know an idiot when I see one!”

The Jedi Master sighed. Weak-minded. That could be useful, but he wouldn’t resort to using the Force yet. “Can you at least tell me where we can get….” He broke off as Ben tugged at his sleeve.

“Over there!”

Luke’s gaze followed Ben’s pointing finger to a man standing at a washing table, chatting with one of the scavengers. He glanced about the throng for a moment and then his eyes met Luke’s He smiled — a knowing smile.

“Good job, kid.” Luke patted his padawan’s shoulder and led him through the crush of hustlers and dealers to where the veteran traveler stood. “I didn’t think we’d ever find you.”

Lor San Tekka took the Jedi’s outstretched hand. “I never doubted it for a moment,” he returned amiably. “A mind in need calls to its kin, as the saying goes.”

Luke grinned down at his young charge. “This is my nephew Ben.”

San Tekka’s gaze grew distant but warm. “You have your mother’s eyes,” he told the boy with an air of fondness, “and your father’s heart.”

Ben gave him an embarrassed smirk, his attention already averted to the man’s wardrobe. For a mercenary, it was odd that the man carried no weapon. Not even a crude knife. And he wore a strange amulet around his neck. Ben was about to ask what it was when Luke came right to the point.

“You have information for us?”

“Indeed.” San Tekka waved them out onto the baking sands. All three of them drew up their hoods against the blistering sun. “I apologize, bringing you out in the heat, but this place has more ears than a maelog. My own hut is not much better.” When he was certain they were out of earshot and beyond range of recording devices among the market stalls, he continued in a low tone. “I brought you here because we’ve identified a Force-sensitive girl. Her parents are still unaware of her powers.”

Luke let out a long breath. There had been no way he and San Tekka could communicate — even on secure channels — about anything related to the Jedi. The Purge was still happening in some areas of the galaxy, despite the Galactic Senate’s efforts to stop it. The information about the girl was important, but not the lead Luke had hoped for. “I can’t take on students without a safe place to teach them. Do you have any suggestions?”

The other man started to shake his head but stopped himself, considering. “There is a system of caves beneath Carbon Ridge, but it’s controlled by the Dead-Enders.”

Ben cocked his head. “Dead-Enders?” They sounded exciting.

“Old Imperials — abandoned and barely scraping by. Most people won’t go near them, say they’re crazy. Rumor has it what they’re guarding is an Imperial lab. But if you could reunite them with their people, they’d probably let you have the place.” San Tekka’s eyes darted to a booth on the edge of the bazaar. He nodded in its direction. “There’s the little one I was telling you about.”

A ragged and thin woman scolded the girl — Ben recognized the waif as the urchin who had picked up his journal — for grabbing at a piece of dried meat on a stick. The girl began to cry when it was pried from her tiny fingers.

“She can’t be getting enough to eat,” Luke said, unable to keep the sadness form his voice. He suddenly clutched San Tekka’s sleeve. “Can you keep an eye on her while we check out the caves?”

The Jedi-follower nodded.

Luke patted his arm with gratitude and turned to his nephew. “We’ve got work to do, Ben.”

As they parted company, the hungry little girl — Rey was her name — reached out a hand toward the meat-stick and summoned it into her grubby fist as if by magic.

No one noticed except Ben.

 

@MyKyloRen   29 January 2018

 

Chapter 2: You’re Nothing

SUMMARY: [ABY 18] Jedi Master Luke Skywalker embarks with his nephew Ben on an intelligence mission he hopes will lead them to the first Jedi temple. But what they discover on a remote desert planet in the Outer Rim is not what either of them expected.

“I’ll miss you,” Leia pulled back from the awkward hug to look her son in the eye. At thirteen, Ben was already ten centimeters taller than she was and she had to look up. “You know I always do,” she told him, giving him a firm but loving look before patting his chest and turning him loose.

The boy nodded once, solemnly. “I know.” And turned to follow his uncle up the ramp of the Millennium Falcon as his father called after him.

“Tell your uncle to stay out of the asteroid fields this time.”

Luke, the uncle in question, caught the remark where he fiddled with an adjustment to the exterior lighting controls. He gave Han a half-hearted wave of acknowledgment.

Han drawled, “I’m only letting you have her because I owe you one!”

“More like fifty-one,” Leia muttered at his side.

“Hey,” Han protested, “I get around to paying my debts…eventually,” he added when she folded her arms and gave him an I-know-you smirk. Han ignored her and raised his voice again to Luke, “I want her back in eight standard days without any scratches.” How he hated loaning out the Falcon. He’d sooner cut off his own arm.

Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, finished his tinkering and gave his brother-in-law a two-fingered salute before turning to follow Ben inside. The boarding ramp of the Millennium Falcon closed with a hydraulic hiss. In the pilot’s chair, he wasted no time starting the departure sequence. R2-D2 cheerily rolled past and extended a data probe to plug into the ship’s nav system as Ben turned to make his way down an access corridor.

Luke broke off punching switches to call over his shoulder, “What, you’re going to let R2 copilot?” He’d expected his nephew to flop down in the copilot’s chair next to him in the cockpit. Han had taught the kid advanced nav skills at an early age and he was good at it. Piloting was the only thing father and son had in common.

“I thought I’d man the forward cannon,” Ben called back down the passage.

“Cannon?” Luke chuckled, turning back to his consoles. Why did kids always think every jump through hyperspace was going to involve a laser battle along the way? Holovids. They watched too many holovids. Luke smirked, remembering his own rampant imagination at that age. “We’re not going to need to blast our way out of here,” he yelled from the cockpit. “We won’t even need it to get us through small asteroids,” he said ruefully, more to himself. Where was the challenge in flying if you couldn’t zip and zag through an asteroid belt?

“Then why won’t you tell me where we’re going?”

Luke gave a start as Ben jumped into the copilot’s chair and spun around in it. I’m going to need to learn to connect with this kid through the Force sooner than I’d thought, he told himself. It was unnerving how Ben could creep up on him — almost as if he’d learned to hide his presence from the Force. “Because until now I wasn’t exactly sure where we were going. I just knew it was in the Western Reaches.” He thumbed a switch and fired up the sublight engines.

“But in order to file a flight plan,” Ben countered, lifting his chin, “you have to tell them what planet you’re going to.”

The Jedi Master sucked in a deep breath and let it out. This was going to be a very long trip. “That’s right,” he allowed. “Our contact is sending through the coordinates now.”

Ben lurched his attention to the nav computer. “Jakku.”

Luke’s eyebrows arched. “You know that from the coordinates?” He stared at the numbers on the readout. They meant nothing to him.

Between their chairs, R2-D2 emitted an impressed beep.

Ben shrugged as he strapped in and donned the copilot’s headset. “I didn’t have much to do in lockdown, so I spent it studying the galaxy.” Of course, he’d continued his schooling, but he didn’t consider that “much to do.”

Lockdown. The three years the boy was confined to wearing a precise movement tracker. He was able to stay out of a juvenile correction facility by being transferred to the custody of a court-appointed psychologist. After Ben had accidentally caused the death of a three-year-old through manipulating the Force, the tracker was deemed necessary to monitor his fine muscle movements. The device was so precise, it even reported when the kid had a bowel movement.

The court’s tracker was gone now and Ben was the Jedi Master’s responsibility. Luke hoped he was doing the right thing. Was he ready to match wits with his nephew? What about the kid’s incredible Force abilities? How would he control those?

“Why would anyone want to go to Jakku?” Ben was saying as Luke cleared their take-off and brought the ship into orbit.

“Your mother’s friend is there with information, I hope,” Luke revealed, “about the location of the first Jedi temple.”

Ben shook his head. “It’s not there.”

Luke almost snorted. “How would you know?” The arrogance of this kid.

“It’s not a place that’s strong with the Force,” Ben told him matter-of-factly, checking the readouts from the sensor array.

“I see.” Luke pursed his lips and prepared for the jump to hyperspace.

 

Niima Outpost was a hive of activity. They had been warned that collectors and salvage companies from all over the galaxy were converging to reap a profit from a new relic that had surfaced after a major sandstorm — a Imperial Stardestroyer. Luke and Ben pushed their way past stall after merchant stall, lingered for a moment to watch the auctioning off of parts, and pressed on again to the designated rendezvous site.

Ben gawped around him at the buzz of sights and sounds and was nearly knocked off his feet when his shoulder collided with a mean-looking Kyuzo.

“Watch where you’re going, brat!”

Glaring after the alien, Ben stumbled over another native — this one much, much smaller. A human girl-child, malnourished and dirty, held up a leather-bound notebook. He instantly recognized it as his own. The collision must have jarred it from the folds of his tunic. He reached down to take it, giving the girl a smirk, but when their fingers touched, something odd happened.

You come from nothing, a man’s voice echoed in his head. You’re nothing. But not to me.

The girl’s eyes went wide as if she heard it too. She dropped the journal at once and scampered off.

 

@MyKyloRen   22 January 2018

Author’s note: Contrary to popular opinion, Snoke did not create the bond between Kylo and Rey. The Force did.

Chapter 1: The Belonging You Seek

 

SUMMARY: [ABY 18] Thirteen-year-old Ben Solo is about to be released back into the custody of his parents after spending three years with a court-appointed psychologist who served as his guardian. The accident, caused by Ben, which led to the death of a toddler, is fresh on everyone’s minds. Leia Organa asks her Jedi brother Luke to take Ben under his wing.

“Leia, I can’t take him.” Luke Skywalker’s tone was apologetic yet oddly resigned. “I’m not ready to take on any students.”

Leia Organa folded her arms and gave her brother a stern look over her cup of caf. “If you had waited until you were ready to face Vader, we wouldn’t be having this conversion. If you wait now to start your training academy until you’re truly ready, you’ll be a decrepit old man.”

Luke took a sip from his own cup, sighed, and leaned back in his chair. It had been two years since he’d seen Leia and Han. His nephew, Ben, was thirteen now and could already look him in the eye. It was Ben they were discussing now, the reason for the Jedi Master’s aborted trip to the Mirrin Sector.

“Have there been any more incidents?” he asked abruptly, diverting his gaze from the Hosnian cityscape beyond the window-wall of the luxury apartment.

Leia shook her head and met his gaze with a soft reassuring look. “You know he didn’t mean it.”

“I know,” Luke quickly returned as their minds touched upon the accident that had occurred three standard years earlier when Ben had been left in the care of C-3PO for a couple hours. “The court decision to remove him from your custody was so swift, I was afraid he might have acted out.”

“He’s been fine.” Leia’s smile was genuine. “He misses us, of course, but it’s not like we can’t see him. Dr. Snoke says Ben’s growing like any normal boy, but he’s curious and has questions only another Force-sensitive can answer.”

Luke sat up, reached across the table and took her hand. “But you have this ability too. I’ve seen it! I’ve heard your most desperate thoughts. That’s why I was able to come so quickly.”

“The senate needs me,” Leia demurred. “We have so much to rebuild.”

“Let me train you first,” Luke pressed. “That’s always how I’d planned it — after I find the temple site. When the courts release Ben in a few weeks, he’ll need his mother. You’ll be a big comfort to him.”

She emitted a little sound that was somewhere between a chuckle and a snort, squeezing her own small fingers around his. “What he needs is a father who’s Force-sensitive.” She let go of her brother’s hand and rose from the table to gaze out on the majestic skyscraper silhouette for a moment.

“Where is Han?” Luke glanced about the senatorial living quarters and down the corridor that connected the adjoining bedrooms. He saw very little of the flotsam and jetsam that was Han Solo. There was a bottle of Corellian brandy sitting on a sideboard and a chess set on the coffee table in front of the spotless white sofa. An antique framed print of a Kesselian star chart hung on the wall.

“He’s refereeing the Shantipole Races again this year, but he’s promised to be back in time for Ben’s release.”

Luke sat back and threw one arm over the back of the chair, his gaze growing distant. “Ben’s here now — close by — isn’t he?”

“He’s with Dr. Snoke. They’re on the terrace down there.” Leia could just make out their forms — a tall, thin blonde woman and the dark-haired lanky boy that was Ben — eight floors below in the building across the courtyard. They were, no doubt, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. Leia wondered why she and Luke weren’t having this conversation on her own balcony. The light and fresh air were too great a distraction, she told herself. Too many eyes, even at this height.

“She’s done wonders for him,” Leia continued a little sadly but with genuine hope, speaking of the child psychologist who’d been assigned custody of Ben after the trial. “She’s given him courage and confidence.” Leia turned from the window to face her brother. “But Ben’s a teenager now.” She pressed her knuckles on the table as her voice took on a diplomatic urgency. “He needs an uncle to take him under his wing and show him what it means to not just be a man but a servant of the people, just as a special man once did for you.”

There was no arguing with that, Luke thought, letting out a long breath. Other Force-sensitive children had been located in the Gomar Sector. Distraught parents had reached out to him, asking for help guiding their young ones. Luke had promised he would, but he hadn’t even found a proper site yet, or funding, let alone staff to assist him with a proper academy. The place needed to be secluded and protected. Force-sensitives were still cruelly hunted, shunned, and feared in many places.

He rubbed his eyes. It was overwhelming. “Have you told him about his grandfather?” Luke asked in a subdued tone.

Leia stepped close and laid a hand on his sleeve, sitting down in a chair next to him. “You turned Vader from the dark side. Ben should hear that from you. When he’s ready.” Her smile was sad, but her eyes were full of hope.

Eight floors below, Ben Solo looked up.

“He doesn’t want me,” he said more to himself than to his guardian.

Dr. Amanda Snoke came to stand at the railing with her young charge. “What do you mean?” She followed his upward gaze.

“My uncle.” The teen’s eyes were full of hurt and longing. “He doesn’t want to train me.”

Amanda eyed him closely and laid a gentle hand on his back. “And you know this how? Did he tell you?”

The boy shook his head, the light breeze combing its fingers through his dark hair. “I see his mind. He’s afraid of me.”

She turned him to face her and gave him and encouraging smile. “When I found you after the accident that day, I saw raw, untamed potential and beyond that…something truly special. He sees it too. Your uncle’s never trained anyone before. He’s afraid of failing.” She stroked his cheek with her thumb. “That’s all.”

 

@MyKyloRen    8 January 2018

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I thought about starting this series with the one-off vignette I wrote in 2016 about the accident, but I didn’t feel most readers would be interested in a 10-year-old protagonist. Ben Solo’s social and psychological development (based on what we’ve seen of Kylo Ren’s behavior in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi) stopped in his teens, so I felt that was an appropriate place to start — and with Leia’s monumental decision to send him away.

What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?

REYLO

It’s a term that’s been around since December 2015, when The Force Awakens hit the theaters. The onscreen chemistry between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) ignited two years of impassioned discussion among fans. Reylo (Rey + Kylo) is a thing. A thing. This post is likely to contain major spoilers. You’ve been warned.

This week, Jessica Lauren Draewell announced she’d won Disney and Lucasfilm’s The Last Jedi fan art contest with this image, which will be officially adopted into promotional material for the film. Yesterday, the new tv spot was released showing Rey wielding Kylo’s lightsaber (against Snoke, I hope). Say it with me: REY-LO.

I started supporting Reylo on Twitter a month after I joined in February 2016 to analyze, defend, and role-play Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. It’s been a bumpy ride. The amount of hate tweets thrown my way after I shipped Reylo was amazing. But enduring that social unpleasantry has come with rewards. Constantly defending my position has made me a better writer, given me confidence, and led to some lasting friendships with like-minded fans from around the world. And I’ve learned to chuckle when someone unfollows me when I tweet something Reylo. About half of my 1,000+ followers are Reylo shippers – people who believe in the power of love. Love against all odds.

Why do I think Reylo’s a thing? Simple. Love conquers all. It’s the human salve that heals all wounds. George Lucas set a precedence for featuring the power of love in his Star Wars sagas. In A New Hope, it was Han’s love for Leia that brought the selfish smuggler out of his looking-out-for-number-one attitude and awoke a sense of altruism in him, which led to the destruction of the Death Star. In the prequel series, Anakin Skywalker was denied love…and look what happened. Both Kylo and Rey weren’t loved enough as children. Both were abandoned — emotionally and physically. One of them found the strength to pull through on her own and the other did not. In the end, it’s her strength that’ll save the other, whether it’s romantic love or simple human compassion. Unconditional love.

And then there’s Adam Driver’s performance. In The Force Awakens, J. J. Abrams was in complete control of directing the delivery — facial expression, intonations, body language — of the actors. He was responsible for setting the mood of every scene. If he wasn’t happy with a performance, he would have asked an actor to do a scene over and over until he captured the delivery he wanted. So, if Abrams didn’t want Kylo Ren to be enamored with Rey, he would have looked for a different type of performance from Adam Driver.

Rey’s Abduction by Erik Maell

The first sign Kylo is taken with Rey is obvious before we even see his face. The scene comes at the end of their first confrontation, when he captures her in the forest of Takodona. What does he do? Instead of overpowering her with violent means — he doesn’t beat her up, cut off her blaster hand, or Force-choke her — he painlessly immobilizes her and, rendering her unconscious, he bridal-carries her to his shuttle. If his interest in her was solely as a prisoner, he would have just slunger her unconscious body over his shoulder and hauled her — unceremoniously — away. Or he would have left her for a stormtrooper to carry. But Kylo Ren picks Rey up like a lover.

Next, there’s the interrogation scene. Oh boy. Why Rey is still unconscious, we see him crouching in a corner, watching her. He’s already put her on a pedestal, making himself look smaller and less intimidating to her when she awakes. He didn’t do that with Poe. And he does little things to make her feel less threatened. He loosens her restraints and takes off his helmet so she can see he’s human. When he pushes into her mind, he goes gently (gee, like a considerate bridegroom on a wedding night!) whereas he just ripped into Poe’s mind. He instantly tunes into her feelings and respects them. “You’re so lonely. So afraid to leave.” He identifies with her, because he feels the same way. He’s alone, incredibly lonely, and wants desperately to go home, although he won’t admit it to himself. Then when she manages to turn the tables and gets inside his mind, he’s genuinely hurt. He’s taken aback and feels betrayed.

Fast forward to their next and last encounter, to the fight on Starkiller, where he doesn’t kill her but offers to train her. But let’s back up to the beginning of the scene where he confronts Rey and Finn as they try to escape. I don’t think he meant to slam Rey into a tree. He’s wounded, bleeding, enraged, in shock, in pain, and exhausted. His ability to control the Force is diminished to be sure. He can’t Force-summon the Skywalker lightsaber and it flies to Rey instead. But Ren is still a force to be reckoned with (pun intended). He could cut Finn to pieces, but he doesn’t. If he does, he’d never stand a chance with Rey. Once Finn is down, he could still kill Rey since she hasn’t tapped into the Force yet, but he doesn’t. He’s fascinated by her. Adam Driver puts it this way: “He has been aware of this ability in himself from such a young age, and I don’t think there’s a lot of people around him who are on the same level. I think there is something familiar there [in Rey], as well as something to be feared, or something…that he can’t quite place.” (Entertainment Weekly).

He’ll Never Be as Strong as Darth Vader

Do we have a suggestion from Driver that Ben and Rey knew each other in the past? I’m still hanging onto that theory, which is only made stronger in the novelization where Kylo murmurs, “It IS you,” when the lightsaber goes flying into Rey’s hand. The narrative continues in the novel: “His words unsettled her: Not for the first time, he seemed to know more about her than she did about herself.” (Foster, 2015, p. 250-251). After seeing the tv spot yesterday with the massive spoiler (Kylo’s lightsaber in Rey’s hand), I’m wondering if Kylo hasn’t had a Force-forward vision of this moment. She’s either going to overpower him again or partner with him in The Last Jedi or both. As EW suggests, the danger isn’t in Kylo Ren and Rey becoming enemies, it’s becoming allies — a danger for Snoke, or a danger that they’ll both fall into the dark side and overpower the galaxy together. Snoke has it coming though. 🙂

Another piece of evidence for Reylo is that every image in Rey’s Force-vision in The Force Awakens is that has something seemingly  to do with Ben Solo/Kylo Ren:

  • Darth Vader battles Luke on Bespin. (Ben wants to be as strong as Darth Vader and overpower/overshadow his Jedi uncle)
  • The boy at the end of the hall. (Many fans think the little boy is Ben).
  • The Knights of Ren in the rain. (Kylo kills one to spare Rey).
  • Luke and R2-D2 before the burning temple/academy. (Kylo destroys it).
  • “I’ll come back for you, sweetheart! I promise!” (This scene doesn’t appear in the film but in the novelization — a voice calls out to her from the woods and she’s desperate to find the person. A Force-forward vision of separation from Kylo-Ben in the future…or in the past? Since Rey was left on Jakku at about age 5, Ben would have been about 15. “Sweetheart” isn’t a word a teenage boy would typically use, even if he had a soft spot for one of Luke’s padawans. But Padawan Ben Solo may have been connected to whoever abandoned Rey. I explored this idea in a series of stories in my fanfic.)
  • Kylo Ren igniting his fiery lightsaber  in the woods of Takodana, where he captures Rey and the two become aware of each other again.

On December 2, 2016, Director Rian Johnson tweeted an image of a red

We Are Parallel Lines by quinndallin

thread to tease the Reylo fans. It’s in reference to The Red Thread of Fate, also referred to as The Red Thread of Marriage. According to Wikipedia, “the two people connected by the red thread are destined lovers, regardless of place or circumstances. This magical cord may stretch or tangle, but never break.” Just like a Force-bond, which is a strong connection in the Force between two Force-sensitive beings. In the novelization, Rey’s seen Kylo in dreams, visions, and nightmares before she’s captured by him. When he encounters her, the layers of the dark side that have shrouded Ben Solo start to peel away like an onion.

Will Kylo and Rey join forces? It may be too soon for them to join up in The Last Jedi. Entertainment Weekly points out, “He hates her. This girl. This garbage picker. This amateur who somehow drew his family lightsaber to her hand [and now his!], overpowering his own bond with the Force. And yet, Adam Driver says Kylo Ren can’t help but harbor an admiration for Daisy Ridley’s Rey. (This probably burns at Kylo too). (p.27) As for Rey, she hates Kylo for murdering the father she never had. All she’s ever wanted is family, so she can’t comprehend why someone would murder his own father. But “when Rey feels rejected by Luke Skywalker, who also sees parallels between the power in her and the abilities of his estranged nephew, he inadvertently pushes them toward each other.” (EW, 2017, p. 27) Rey feels this bond with Kylo that even Luke cannot sense.

Here’s how I think The Last Jedi may play out in regards to Kylo and Rey:

  • Snoke sends out a siren song to Rey, and she comes before him either of her own accord (“Resist it Rey!”), or Kylo manages to capture her again and brings her to his master.
  • Snoke tortures Rey and awakens — again — Kylo’s compassion, and he manages to save her, possibly at his own expense.
  • Either he throws his lightsaber to her, or he’s incapacitated, and she summons it to her and manages to escape.
  • Either they’ll be separated again at the end of Episode VIII (and come together again in Episode IX), or they’ll come together at the last minute in VIII and form Team Reylo on a cliffhanger in the battle against Snoke.
  • The battle will continue in Episode IX and cannot be won until they’re a united team.

Whether romantic or platonic, you can’t deny the truth that is Reylo.

Your Place is Here with Me by Panda Capuccino

@MyKyloRen     8 December 2017

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Foster, A.D. (2015). Star Wars: The Force awakens. New York: Del Rey.

Up in Snoke

“When I found you, I saw raw, untamed power, and beyond that something truly special.” Powerful words from the creepy and elusive Supreme Leader Snoke. In the second trailer for The Last Jedi, he says them as images flash by of Kylo Ren leading troops into the Resistance base (the shot parallels Anakin Skywalker leading troops into the Jedi temple), a closeup of Ren’s helmeted head, and another of his hand picking up a refurbished lightsaber. The sentiment — yes sentiment! — is also reflected in this passage from the novelization of The Force Awakens, where Snoke tells Ren:

“I have never had a student with such promise — before you.”

Ren straightened. “It is your teachings that make me strong, Supreme Leader.”

Snoke demurred. “It is far more than that. It is where you are from. What you are made of. The dark side — and the light. The finest sculptor cannot fashion a masterpiece from poor materials. He must have something pure, something strong, something unbreakable, with which to work. I have — you.” (Foster, 2015, p.139).

Meanwhile on Ahch-To, Luke’s meditation exercise with Rey also takes in the big picture.  We hear him encourage Rey in The Last Jedi teaser trailer:

Luke: Breathe. Just, breathe. Now, reach out. What do you see?

Rey: Light. Darkness. The Balance.

Luke: It’s so much bigger!

Both our protagonist (Luke Skywalker) and our antagonist (Snoke) recognize that the Force is something more than a dichotomy of dark and light. They’ve got the universe figured out. Director Rian Johnson referred to Kylo and Rey as “two halves of our protagonist.” I’ll get into the yin and yang of our facing-off Force-sensitives next time when I do my Reylo post, but Episode VIII is going to be the start of the showdown between Luke and Snoke.

In The Last Jedi tv spot #6 (they’re getting spine-chillingly darker), Rey’s answer to Luke was revised to:

Rey: Light. Darkness… and something else. [helplessly] It’s calling me!

That something else is Snoke.

Luke: [frantically urges] Resist it, Rey!

So, who is Supreme Leader Snoke? When I first saw the character, I thought, “WTF? Who would follow that?” First of all, he’s a hologram of a being who’s somewhere in the Outer Rim Territories, lurking in the shadows, oozing out of black holes (or, that’s my image of Snoke, anyway). Most of his followers have probably never seen him in the flesh, but we will in The Last Jedi. And it’s flesh that’s regenerating through Project Regeneration after having suffered major trauma. Snoke’s legacy of pain and anger manifests and focuses itself on the Resistance. He will make them suffer.

Entertainment Weekly caught up with actor Andy Serkis who does the voice and motion capture for Snoke: “Serkis describes a cruel master, a 9-foot-tall alien humanoid who disparages and dominates his two lieutenants: Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson.) He’s a predator who identifies weakness and exploits it, drawing the young and promising to his side with promises of power, then using and discarding his protégés when they are no longer of use.” Unless Kylo regains his strength (I vote for joining forces with Rey) and his good-standing with his omnipotent master, Supreme Leader will crush him. “His training of Kylo Ren is not yielding what he wants,” Serkis says. “Therefore his anger towards Kylo Ren is intensified because he can’t bear weakness in others. Part of the manipulation is goading him with Hux and playing them off against each other.”

You have compassion for her….It isn’t her strength that is making you fail, but your weakness! (Foster, 2015, p.  207)

As EW and other sources have reported, we won’t get much of Snoke’s backstory in The Last Jedi (gee, I guess that’s an invitation for me to continue to write it!) But it’s been hinted that The First Order is superbly funded by the casino city of Canto Bight. So, that explains why Snoke dresses like Liberace playing Vegas with his long, golden smoking jacket and fat black kyber crystal ring. He can afford the best cryogenic and medical procedures. So, who is he and what in the Force happened to him? Here are some fan theories I think have possibility:

  • Zombie theory: He’s Emperor Palpatine (Darth Sidious), Darth Plagueis, Vitiate, some other Sith Lord, or an ancient Jedi brought back to life.
  • Clone theory: He’s the clone of Emperor Palpatine (Darth Sidious), Darth Plagueis, some other Sith Lord, or an ancient Jedi.
  • Force-entity theory: He’s some sort of being born out of a corruption in the Force, a manufactured monster.
  • Shaman theory: He’s a Shaman of the Whills.
  • Essence-transfer theory: He’s a Sith Lord body-snatcher.

I’ve based my stories so far on the last one, but I think any of these backstories would be awesome for the character. It would make sense if he were Darth Sidious, Darth Plagueis, or Vitiate, because all of these Sith Lords were obsessed with finding immortality and exploited other life forms and the Force to achieve it. In the end, they failed…or, we think they failed. However, Snoke’s regenerating form doesn’t resemble any of these Siths. And in the November issue of Empire, Andy Serkis states that Snoke is not a Sith, which means the character isn’t following any Sith traditions. Still, he could originally be a Sith lord who’s transferred his/her essence into a new body.

Throughout the history of the Sith, they’ve had this problem that the more powerful their dark-side powers become, the more their physical bodies start to deteriorate (there’s always a price to power). Hence the need to find new bodies. Snoke is obviously having corporeal problems, so I’m sticking to my essence-transfer theory, although he’s now found a way to revive his crushed and decaying body. He’s lived for a very long time that way. In the novelization of The Force Awakens, he tells Kylo Ren: “I watched the Galactic Empire rise, and then fall. The gullible prattle on about the triumph of truth and justice, of individualism and free will. As if such things were solid and real instead of simple subjective judgments.” (p. 139)

One thing that’s hinted at in the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig and in Rey’s Survival Guide is that the Empire had a secret research facility on Jakku. Perhaps this facility was dedicated to keeping Palpatine alive and conducting experiments with essence-transfer. Andy Serkis calls Snoke “darker than Palpatine.” That doesn’t surprise me. Palpatine for years had a network of observatories throughout the galaxy, “each one being part of his goal to find out what laid beyond the known galaxy.” I think this is where Snoke comes from — the Unknown Regions of space, from beyond the galaxy. He may have come through one of the observatories and used it like a portal. They were supposed to be destroyed on the Emperor’s death. As told in Battlefront II, Luke Skywalker visited the Pillio Observatory a year before Ben Solo was born and found the Emperor’s compass, which we’ll see in The Last Jedi. Speculation is that it’s that compass which led Luke to the first Jedi temple on Ahch-To.

In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren suggests to General Hux after FN-2187 defects that the First Order may want to consider using a clone army. Kylo is familiar with the merits of clones. So, what if Snoke has his own clone factory in Palpatine’s Jakku observatory, replicating a supply of fresh bodies for him to inhabit? And what happens when the clone bodies are no longer strong enough to handle his powerful essence? Perhaps transferring his essence to a corpse (from which life can’t be drained) might be a better start. I explored those ideas in this story.

So, considering all these possibility, this is the Snoke theory I’ve incorporated into my stories:

The creature known as Supreme Leader Snoke is a powerful being from beyond the known regions of space. He’s had or has more than one student and he possesses strong dark side knowledge. He’s damaged, crippled, and vulnerable, but he’s building up his strength to some day rule the galaxy (or universe). That’s why he needs Kylo — in body and soul — as his enforcer. But he needs access to the light to survive and to become immortal. That’s why he needs Rey. That’s why he needs them both — power and life. “When I found you, I saw raw, untamed power (Kylo), and beyond that something truly special (Rey)….Darkness rises and light to meet it.”

Life is power.

Who or whatever Snoke is, he had his eye on baby Ben Solo while Leia was carrying him. Check out this passage from Empire’s End:

“Leia.”

Her name, spoken in the dark.

Luke. She reaches for him but doesn’t find him.

The dark, now lit with stars. One by one, like eyes opening. Comforting at first, then sinister as she worries, Who is out there, who is watching us? Hands reach for her, hands of shadow, lifting her up, reaching for her throat, her wrists, her stomach —

Inside, the child kicks. She feels her baby turning inside, right-side up and upside down, struggling to find his bearings, trying so hard to find his way free of her.” (p. 105)

Creepy, no? Snoke’s on his own jihad against the Resistance, gathering promising young Force-sensitives to him. In the December 2017 issue of GQ, Adam Driver was interviewed: “‘We talked about terrorism a lot,’ Driver says of his early conversation with Abrams and Johnson about his character. ‘You have young and deeply committed people with one-sided education who think in absolutes. That is more dangerous than being evil.’” Like ISIS, Snoke is swaying the young, isolated, and vulnerable to do his bidding and to build his power base.

According to The Art of The Force Awakens, Snoke almost became a female character (p. 212). I think it would be awesome if Snoke’s battered body continued to regenerate to reveal a beautiful woman. Given Ben’s sensitivity and lack of bonding with a father-figure, I think little Ben would have readily responded to a surrogate mother — a replacement for Leia who wasn’t there enough for him. Enter Amanda Snoke in my stories, who looks a lot like Captain Phasma — because they’re a line of Snoke’s clone bodies — one to lure Ben into the First Order and one to keep him there. So far in my fanfic, Snoke is inhabiting the body of the Amanda clone as Dr. Amanda Snoke, a child psychologist who becomes Ben’s court-appointed guardian when he gets into trouble and the Solos lose custody of their son. Dr. Snoke nurtures and guides him as a good guardian should, but when Ben becomes a young man, she seduces him and introduces him to the Acolytes of the Beyond and the Knights of Ren. After the release of The Last Jedi, I’ll continue the storyline.

Role-playing Kylo Ren on Twitter, I used to unplug Snoke’s holoprojector a lot and then throw Hux under the bus. Well, that obviously didn’t stop Supreme Leader. He’s back and he’s pissed. But there’s still hope if we just unplug that regenerating machine.

Quick!

@MyKyloRen  1 December 2017

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Fry, J. (2015). Rey’s survival guide. White Plains, NY: Studio Fun International, Inc.

Foster, A. D. (2015). Star wars: The Force awakens. New York: Del Rey.

Szostak, P. (2015). The art of Star Wars, The Force Awakens. New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Wendig, C. (2017). Empire’s end: book three of the Aftermath trilogy. New York: Del Rey.

More Than a Feeling

WHO IS IN CONTROL?

Petulant. Volatile. Childish. Moody. Emo. Conflicted. These adjectives are frequently used to describe Kylo Ren. Adam Driver called the character he plays “adolescent.” Under Snoke’s ever-present shadow, Ben Solo’s emotional development stopped in adolescence. Director Rian Johnson explains to Empire, “Writing Kylo Ren is just so much fun. Star Wars boils down to the transition from adolescence to adulthood.” We followed Luke’s transition in the original series. In the prequels, Anakin Skywalker struggled to make the transition and only did so moments before his death in Episode IV. In Episode VIII, it’s Kylo, Rey, and Finn’s turn.

“We can all relate to Kylo,” Johnson continues, “to that anger of being in the turmoil of adolescence and figuring out who he’s going to be as a man; dealing with anger and wanting to separate from his family. He’s not Vader — at least, he’s not Vader yet — and that’s something I really wanted to get into.”

In these series of posts, I’ve been taking a look at Kylo’s conflicts — everything he’ll need to overcome if he’s to survive. And if there’s one thing everyone can agree on, Kylo is Kylo’s own worst enemy. Even Snoke, in one of his action-figure lines, tells his pupil, “Your emotions have made you weak.”

It’s Too Late by Missstreelight

Emotions will be the fuel for Kylo’s character arc. He’s going to have to master them. And that task is overwhelming for anyone who is highly sensitive. People with a high level of sensitivity have delicate nervous systems, register more nuances in color, sound, taste, smell, and touch. They can easily become over-stimulated and feel the need to frequently withdraw, but they are also capable to deep happiness in serene surroundings where they can control the level of sensory input.

I imagined in this story teenage Ben Solo becoming overwhelmed with the world. Although his parents never told him Vader was his grandfather, legends of the Sith Lord — with his iconic helmet — became a source of strength for him. If the sensitive teen wanted to shut out the world, one thing he might do is start wearing a helmet to dull his senses. As a youngster who was bullied for being sensitive, it’s not difficult to see Ben spending hours secretly pretending he’s Vader. But…he doesn’t have to pretend he can Force-choke those who annoy him.

Ok. So, why do I think Kylo Ren is highly sensitive and not your typical dark side baddie? Let’s look at the evidence. First of all, actor Adam Driver is highly sensitive. He’s naturally aloof and doesn’t like to be hugged. In Vanity Fair, Mark Hamill confirms that Driver is “moody and intense.” He’s not comfortable giving interviews and having to speak off the cuff. He’s a true introvert, and like all actors, he brings his own personal traits to the characters he portrays. He’s made a career out of turning “naked vulnerability into unconventional stardom…by challenging the usual ideas of both heroes and villains,” says The Verge. Driver divulged in the same Vanity Fair article, “There’s big personal things that I find about every character…that you have to make as personal as possible.” About becoming Kylo Ren, he said, “The things about that character that I find painful, I kind of prefer to keep to myself.” I suspect some of those things have to do with Adam’s relationship with his biological father (who is divorced from his mother) or stepfather.

And his father is something Kylo’s going to be focused on in The Last Jedi. Han Solo may not be appearing as a Force Ghost (he’s not a Force-user and lacks the training), but he’ll be haunting his son nonetheless. Will Kylo commit matricide, offering a viable explanation for Carrie Fisher’s absence in Episode IX? Assuming these shots go together, my hunch is no. Remember, Rian Johnson said Kylo isn’t Vader (yet). I don’t think he has the fortitude to kill his mother. I’m also encouraged by the helmet-smashing scene and interpreting it as a “f*ck this!” moment. If it is, this might be the moment were Ben Solo awakens and stakes his first steps to sever his ties with Snoke (if that’s possible). Of course, the scene could be an “I’ll show you!” moment, where Kylo decides he doesn’t need to hide behind the mask anymore: “I don’t need this f*ckin’ thing to be a badass!” Either way, expect tear-filled eyes, hard swallows, and lip-biting onscreen from Adam Driver throughout The Last Jedi.

Where the character ends up at the end of Episode VIII depends on who is in control — Kylo Ren or Ben Solo.

 

@MyKyloRen   24 November 2017

All You Need is Love

THE EMPATH

Ben Solo felt like he never fit in. He couldn’t understand why his parents were so unlike him. When he was little, he’d look up at the stars and wonder where he came from and where his real parents were. “They’ll be back,” he told himself, “one day.” But instead, Snoke came. Snoke came to prey upon the boy’s link to the Force, the undying life-energy the alien needed to maintain his immortality and his power.

That’s what narcissists do — they prey on empaths. And without a doubt, every emperor throughout history — on Earth and in a galaxy far, far away — was a narcissist. Narcissists are energy vampires. They use false empathy to get what they want. They’re incapable of real empathy or love, and they’re very persuasive charmers who know how to seduce those who are sensitive and attentive to the feelings of others. Anything they give always comes with strings attached. And for Ben Solo, the strings Snoke has attached to him are far-reaching and unbreakable…up until now.

In this series of posts, I’ll take a closer look at what makes Ben Solo Kylo Ren, what got him into the mess he’s in. If he’s going to escape Snoke’s clutches — and he does want to; the “Supreme Leader is wise” line is false bravado — Kylo will need to face his vulnerabilities and adopt strong, enduring protection strategies. These vulnerabilities aren’t weaknesses per se. With the right training, he can use them to his advantage and to the advantage of the galaxy. But at the beginning of The Last Jedi, he’s standing at a crossroads. He’s facing the worst dilemma he’s ever faced. Does he push further into the darkness, or turn back?

A couple paragraphs ago, I suggested that Kylo Ren is an empath. Huh? How can that be? He’s killed people in cold blood! He killed his own father! All true, but — and this is what doesn’t make him a psychopath — he regrets it. He feels remorse and he feels, intensely, the emotions of others — particularly Snoke’s.

Let’s back up. What’s an empath? Empaths are highly sensitive individuals who recognize, relate to, and physically feel in their own bodies the emotions and pain of others. As an interrogator, that’s what makes Kylo Ren so effective. He can instantly tell when someone’s lying or withholding information. Kylo is extremely intuitive and can sense energy around him. Emotions are energy. And he can do this without tapping into the Force. Why? Because he has an intensely reactive neurological system and he lacks the normal filters most people have to block stimulation. He’s a human radar for any type of sensory input. To him, the world is supercharged with fascinating — and overwhelming — details. It’s like he has 50 fingers on each hand, 10 pairs of eyes, 20 pairs of ears, 8 noses, and 12 tongues. And within his brain, he has a hyperresponsive mirror neuron system.

Dr. Judith Orloff states, “Researchers have discovered a specialized group of brain cells that are responsible for compassion. These cells enable everyone to mirror another person’s pain, fear, or joy….In contrast, psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists are thought to have what science calls ‘empathy deficit disorders.’” (2017, p. 9-10).

What did Snoke reprimand his pupil for in regards to the girl? “You have compassion for her….I perceive the problem. It isn’t her strength that is making you fail. It’s your weakness!” (Foster, 2015, p. 207-208).

Spoken like a true psychopath. But Supreme Leader is right. Compassion for the enemy is a bit of a problem for the First Order.

And yes, Kylo has compassion for Rey — a lot of compassion. He senses her loneliness, her feelings of abandonment, her longing for family, and he deeply resonates those feelings. She’s an orphan with incredible resilience and he’s totally fascinated by and enamored with her. What’s more…he knows her from somewhere in the past, but he can’t quite put his finger on it. More about that plot possibility when I post my predictions for Reylo just prior to the release of The Last Jedi.

Kylo also displays his empathic abilities when he hones in on the distraught FN-2187 (Finn), the stormtrooper who can’t bring himself to fire on the helpless villagers. Kylo stops and slowly turns to stare at the him on the way back to his shuttle. If you look carefully at that scene, you’ll notice Kylo doesn’t actually see FN-2187 commit treason. He can’t at that angle with the range of vision his helmet provides. Trust me, I cosplay in a replica of the bloody thing. Plus, his peripheral vision is also blocked by the hood. Kylo has to actually turn his head to see the trooper just standing there — long after the villagers were gunned down. First Ren senses something’s wrong through the Force, so he stops. What makes him turn towards Finn (as opposed to somewhere else) is his ability to sense the trooper’s anguish. It gives the dark lord pause, but he doesn’t do anything about the fact that FN-2187 is disobeying orders. If the trooper had been facing Darth Vader, Vader would have Force-choked him. So, why doesn’t Kylo act as Vader would? After all, he wants to be the new Vader, right?

I think Kylo doesn’t punish FN-2187 because he feels what the trooper feels — that he doesn’t belong in the First Order and he secretly wants to leave. That’s why Lor San Tekka makes him so angry when he says, “The First Order rose from the dark side. You did not.” San Tekka is like a parent telling a teenage child, “You’re better than this. You don’t belong with this gang.” Kylo knows it’s true, but he’s in too deep. It’s too late. He’s stuck. All he can do is scream, “I’ll show you the dark side!”

Maybe Kylo reports FN-2187 to Captain Phasma later, but I can’t believe Phasma didn’t notice FN-2187’s problem herself. That’s her job. She gave the firing squad the order. She confronts the trooper not long after the execution of the villagers, but we don’t know if it’s because Phasma knew about the issue herself, or FN-2187’s unit or Kylo ratted on him. Interestingly, it’s Kylo Ren who identifies FN-2187 as the traitor who stole a TIE and helped Poe Dameron escape before General Hux and Phasma do. Ren does this because he’s an empath. He senses the turmoil in Finn…and he has a certain amount of compassion for him because he understands that turmoil. He doesn’t even kill Finn in the final skirmish. He just incapacitates him. If he wanted to ensure Finn was dead, he would have run him through or cut off his head.

So, how can Ren have compassion for Rey and Finn and not the villagers? Simple. He can’t get away with letting the villagers live. He had to make an example of them. But he can let one nonfunctioning trooper slip through his fingers. As for Rey, he’s found a kindred spirit. It’s written large all over his face — before she slashes it, that is.

But there are bacta tanks and badass bandaids for that.

 

@MyKyloRen   17 November 2017

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Foster, A. D. (2015). Star wars: The Force awakens. New York: Del Rey.

Orloff, J. (2017). The empath’s survival guide: life strategies for sensitive people. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

Luke, I’m Your Nephew

“His Jedi training with Luke Skywalker ended in tragedy when, seduced by the dark side, he betrayed the other students and became responsible for their destruction.” That’s the official wording in Star Wars: Galactic Maps (p. 15). Other licensed sources day the same thing. Ben Solo “destroyed” Luke’s Jedi academy. And Kylo Ren “destroyed” Ben Solo. It does not say Ben killed his fellow students. True, he might have slain them. It doesn’t say he didn’t, but logically it doesn’t make sense. We don’t know how many students made up the academy or their ages and abilities. Statistically speaking, some students were probably older than he was, some were likely younger. With a range of ages, or if the students were all about the same age, they could have ganged up on Ben and defeated him. The only way he could have single-handedly slaughtered them all is if they were younglings — like Vader did — who didn’t stand a chance. Or if he had help, say from the Knights of Ren or Snoke. Instead, all the official wording places the students’ destruction on Ben’s shoulders. And Kylo Ren, as a fully-formed character, is never referred to as “Jedi Killer.”

And where was Luke Skywalker when this destruction went down? Until I saw the second trailer for The Last Jedi, where we catch a glimpse of Luke’s mechanical hand thrusting out of the fiery rubble, I’d always thought he was absent when Ben betrayed the students, that he returned with R2-D2 to find the temple/academy up in flames, as we see in Rey’s Force vision. Of course, the two scenes might not go together. But the cinematography fits. But after hearing Luke say in the second trailer, “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now,” I don’t think he wasn’t able to stop his young nephew, or…he was unwilling to.

So, it’s a given Ben destroyed the academy — reduced it to ashes — but I think he betrayed the students by leading them astray, turning them against Luke, and the teachings of the Jedi. He became a pied piper, turned them to the dark side, and recruited them for Snoke’s evil purposes. In this story, Ben’s discovered the writings of Darth Plagueis — the Sith who groomed Palpatine (Darth Sidious), who in turn seduced Anakin Skywalker to the dark side. There’s great knowledge in Plagueis’ journals, from heinous experiments to arcane arts — things deliberately kept from public knowledge and from Luke’s students. It’s all too tempting and Padawan Ben Solo can’t wait to share it.

But Ben and Luke weren’t always at odds. Luke was probably enthusiastic to train his nephew in the beginning. Luke, after all, possesses a great deal of compassion and understanding. He saw tremendous potential in his nephew. But what he failed to comprehend was the depth of Ben’s powers, and the hurt that fueled them, not to mention the influence of Snoke.

Young Ben initially got along well with his uncle — someone who wasn’t his parents and who had a great interest in him and could teach him many exciting things. Luke and Ben crossed the galaxy together, looking for Jedi artifacts. But as time went on, Ben became less enamored with the Jedi tradition. It was incomplete. It wasn’t the whole story. He wanted to know more. He wanted to know how the Force worked. His hunger for knowledge is insatiable. Knowledge is power.

In the canon novel Bloodline by Claudia Gray, which follows the life of Senator Leia Organa during the year ABY 31, three years before the events of The Force Awakens, Luke and Ben are on a journey and out of comm range. Perhaps they’re seeking the first Jedi temple together. Ben was born in ABY 5, so his betrayal of Luke didn’t occur before Ben was 26 (before ABY 31). With Snoke’s prodding from the shadows, Ben was skilled at keeping dark side knowledge he’d gained a secret and, with it, his true motives hidden from Luke. Now that we’ve heard Luke’s astonishing declaration, “It’s time for the Jedi to end,” it makes sense that Luke wanted to return to the original teachings of the Jedi. Perhaps he felt Jedi teachings and practices had been corrupted by galactic politics.

Luke’s had the wind knocked out of him while trying to reign in and guide his volatile nephew. Has the Jedi Master turned to the dark side? Hell no. He already faced and survived the biggest showdown with the dark side, so he’s not going to be tempted now. According to Disney Rewards Insider, Mark Hamill revealed, “In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke has lost confidence in his ability to make good choices. It haunts him to the core. But he hasn’t gone to the dark side. This isn’t an evil version of him. But it’s still an incarnation of the character I never expected. It has pulled me out of my comfort zone. It’s a real challenge.” (www.syfy.com)

So, does Luke mean it’s time for the Jedi — as we know them — to end? That’s the most likely interpretation, but I think it’s bigger than that. I’ll get into my theory about the upcoming drama in my post on the Force — what it is, and what shocking things might be revealed to our heroes and villains who tinker with it. After all, what you don’t know might hurt you!

In one my stories, I imagined Luke wanting to destroy the Jedi teachings he felt were dangerous, misleading, or misguided. Kylo Ren, on the other hand, wants to devour that knowledge — right or wrong. He believes it contains secret power, and while he was a Padawan, he went with his uncle to secretly collect and preserve it. All this time, Ben has been acting as an agent and spy for Snoke, whether he realizes it or not.

In the end, things come to a head between Ben — now taking the name Kylo Ren — and the Jedi Master. They argue over ideals, morals, and personal convictions, as in this story. But interestingly, there’s been no suggestion from official sources that there was a showdown between them. No dramatic duel that sent Luke into hiding. Instead, Luke’s retreat into the hermit life seems to be self-inflicted. Current speculation is that he’s taken the Barash Vow, which is “an oath taken by Jedi who completely refrained from all activities related to their order as a form of penitence, disengaging from anything but the Force itself,” according to Wookieepedia. In the Darth Vader Marvel comics series, Vader is hunting down Jedi who escaped execution during Order 66, like those who had taken the Barash Vow and were in seclusion. The idea that Luke went into seclusion over his perceived failure in starting the New Jedi Order makes complete sense. And when Rey arrives on the scene, hoping to bring him back into the fight between good and evil, he does not give her a warm welcome. He does not want that responsibility again.

Does Luke recognize Rey? Watching Mark Hamill’s facial expressions during that scene, I believe he does. The look he give her isn’t, “Who the hell are you, kid?” rather it’s simply, “Oh, shit.” He starts to shake his head as if he’s about to say, “Oh, no. You’re not going to lay that burden on me again, Rey.” So, is she his lost daughter? Absolutely not. First of all, Luke — as a devout Jedi — would have been too busy starting the new Order, teaching, and traveling the galaxy to start a family. The Expanded Universe (EU) stories where he does have one have been dropped, although not completely abandoned. Secondly, if he did have a daughter, he wouldn’t abandon her. That’s not in his character. And, most important of all, Leia would have recognized Rey through the Force as her niece, even if she’d never met her before. That didn’t happen in The Force Awakens.

Ok, so Rey isn’t Luke’s daughter, but he recognizes her. Who is she? I’m still thinking she was an orphaned youngling under his care and instruction at the academy. He might have been responsible for killing her parents. They could have been dark-side users. Whoever Rey’s parents were, she obviously is very strong in the Force and probably displayed incredible Force-abilities at an early age, like Ben Solo. “I’ve seen this raw strength only once before….” It’s entirely possible he’s talking about Rey as a lost little girl. She may have survived the destruction of the academy. I still think he’s responsible for abandoning Rey on Jakku — partly out of fear that she’ll develop incredible powers, and partly as a means to hide her from Project Harvester. He never meant for her to wind up in the hands of Unkar Plutt but left her instead in the care of Lor San Tekka. Luke had lost his way. He needed time, he needed guidance, and he sought it on Ahch-to.

There’s a lot of fan speculation about how the upcoming showdown between Kylo and Luke will end. It has to happen. There’s no avoiding it. Will Kylo kill Luke? Will Luke kill Kylo? No, not in The Last Jedi. Both characters are too important to the plot. I think Luke, Kylo, and Rey are going to have to join forces to defeat Snoke in Episode IX.

One thing’s certain when it comes to Kylo hunting Luke: Luke has something Kylo wants — a shard of red kyber crystal.

 

Oh, and Rey.

We’re not done yet.

 

@MyKyloRen   7 November 2017

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Fortune, E. (2016). Star Wars galactic maps : an illustrated atlas of the Star Wars universe. Los Angeles, CA : Disney Lucasfilm Press.

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