Beds are Burning

The flames licked Kylo Ren’s lips, lapped at his throat and down his bare chest, awakening waves of sensation he forgot he’d ever felt before. His whole body was ablaze. The fire swooped lower and ignited his core so that he burned bright and hot from the inside out. The white heat was unbearable, yet he longed to be consumed by it, to blaze like a star gone nova, impregnating the galaxy with the seed of life itself.

It was all so big — this thing that was the universe — bigger than the Light and the Dark. Bigger than the Force. It overwhelmed and surrounded him, made him feel small yet limitless at the same time. He surrendered to the sensation of vastness, power, and helplessness, his breath coming in quick gasps.

But the flames had other plans for his bewildered mind. They leapt up in a familiar place, a much smaller place, though he’d only seen it before in holovids. The Jedi temple — one of thousands strung across the galaxy like pearls in a necklace. A figure cloaked in black stood watching the sacred grounds go up in a blaze that sent walls crumbling and the roof caving in in a shower of sparks. It was night and the smoke billowed and smoldered in great clouds of vile consummation.

Ren wanted to laugh. Temples were superficial things made by mortal men. Everything made by sentient beings was destined to revert back into the atoms from whence it came. Time was the master of all things, and yet time couldn’t destroy the Force. It was and ever would be. Whoever the cloaked figure was was an idiot. He thought by destroying the temple, he would destroy a conduit of the Force. Kylo ignored the annoying Force-vision and returned his mind to more pleasurable matters.

Until a shiny robotic hand reached out to rest reassuredly on the domed head of droid.

A blue-and-white astromech droid.

Ren sat bolt upright with a grunt of desperation, tumbling Amanda off of him. He was out of bed and reaching for a robe before she could grab him and pull him back.

She sighed. He was so distracted these days. “What is it? What do you see?” She tucked a strand of long blond hair behind her ear and clutched the black satin sheet to her breasts.

Kylo had begun to pace before the long transparisteel windows of their flat. “He’s burning the archives!” His fingers flexed into fists at his sides.

“Who is? What archives?” she asked in a patient tone.

“My uncle!” he snarled. “The Jedi archives on Ilum!”

Amanda blinked. “Why would he do that?”

It’s so much bigger, Ben, Ren heard Luke say through the Force. All of it — the Light, the Dark. It doesn’t matter. All that was taught was wrong. The two cannot be separated. The Truth lies beyond the edge of Known Space.

“No!” Kylo raised a fist and pounded the window. “You have no right to rob me of that knowledge!”

Amanda Snoke sighed again, grateful for the durability of transparisteel. She slid out of bed, trailing the sheet like a train.

Ren raised a fist again. “You have no right to decide say what the Truth is!” BANG! “I have the right to decide for myself!” BANG!

“Stop,” Amanda said softly, laying a hand on his shoulder.

He wrenched away to scream at the night-lit skyline, “I hate you!”

Amanda watched the grandson of Darth Vader rail and pace like a caged animal, alternately holding his head in disbelief and flailing his fists in rage.

“I never had a chance to go through them!” he wailed. “I never had a chance to look at those files! They date back before the Jedi!”

“I know,” Amanda told him in a understanding tone. She grabbed him, pulled him around, and cupped his face in her hands. “Done is done. You don’t need those files to be who you are. They don’t define you.” She gripped him by the hair, her gaze intensifying. “Come back to me.”

She kissed him hard.

 

@MyKyloRen   15 June 2017

Easy to Be Hard

Senator Leia Organa closed her eyes as the holographic projector shut off. Her head ached and she massged her temples as a sense of foreboding swept over her. The verdict was in the bag now — tied up in a pretty little package and served to the judge on a mythra platter. She was relieved the spice-lord was being brought to justice after getting away with human trafficking for decades. But the way the evidence had been gathered and presented to the courts on Kuat chilled her. She wished now she hadn’t been part of the Senate Intelligence Committee and were back home on Hosnian Prime with Han and Ben. Ben had just completed his exams at Hanna City University and was enjoying some time off relaxing with friends — although she had a bad feeling about the latest group of intelligentsia he’d introduced her to last fall. They were elusive, guarded somehow — more than most young people around their elders. And Han? Who knew what Han was doing between races and overseeing shipments now. Probably tinkering with the Falcon again.

Tinkering, Leia thought acidly, like this new data-gathering procedure is doing with this citizen’s head. Still, no matter how much the invasive technique and its implications rankled her, she wouldn’t have missed sitting in on the trial. This was the first — and possibly the last — case in which a verdict would be rendered solely on the memories of the accused. It was something new the Kuat System was trying. Why waste time gathering physical evidence that could be insubstantial or tampered with when you could go directly to the source — the accused’s head. Assuming the case wasn’t one of insanity, certainly the defendant knew if he was guilty of the offense or not. And his memories would prove it.

But memories, she remembered thinking, weren’t always accurate, like the time when Han swore Ben had been conceived under the trees on Endor. “No, sweetie,” she’d corrected him with a knowing look and a slight wince. “It was the Dejarik table.” She’d patted his cheek then and gone off to wonder just how much action that old table had seen in the Falcon’s sordid past. It didn’t matter. She knew her life with Han and Ben was secure.

If life ever was.

She watched now as the accused — a scrunch-faced Toydarian — rose for the verdict.

“After viewing the memories of Noyduu Voog, how do you find the defendant?” the elderly Korun judge asked the jurors.

The spokeswoman responded with confidence. “We find him guilty, your honor.”

The Toydarian looked as if he would explode. He desperately wanted to fly the scene, or at least flit about in agitation, but his bee-like wings had been pinned. He’d been given a chance to defend himself, but it wasn’t enough. It would never be enough with his species.

“Master Jedi,” the judge intoned, addressing the one overseeing the memory extraction during the trial — one who was seated behind a mirrored glass partition, watching the proceedings. “After examining the defendant’s memories, how do you find him?”

There was a moment’s hesitation then a deep voice said through a distortion device, “Guilty.”

Leia was hardly aware of the Toydarian as he was escorted from the courtroom — defiant and vengeful and screaming that Jedi mind-tricks didn’t work on his species. Instead, she found her mind wandering back to the memory capture process and the day Luke had explained the technique to her.

The Force-sensitives Luke oversaw at his academy weren’t the only survivors of Order 66. There had been others scattered throughout the galaxy, and some who had developed additional survival skills. Reaching farther into the Force, they’d found they could not only read the thoughts of other sentients but also probe into deep memories of the subconscious. Only then could they truly know whom they could trust. One such Jedi had been behind a screen in the courtroom — to protect his identity — extracting Noyduu Voog’s memories of the humans he’d enslaved and abused, and relaying them through his own mind to a device that transcoded the electrical impulses into visual images for all to see. The feat was nothing less than astonishing, but Leia worried about the vulnerability of the data. A mind intent on evil purposes could project what it wanted. She knew that much from reading text preserved in holocrons Luke had shared with her. The people had been brought around to believing that the Jedi were a force for good again, but they, like all sentient beings, could be tempted by the Dark side. And Leia didn’t know this Jedi inquisitor behind the screen. He’d been retained by the Kuat government for this difficult case, which lacked physical evidence. His identity was classified and his voice electronically modified.

Like a hooded executioner of the Old Republic, she thought.

Yet there was something familiar in the Toydarian’s memories — something out of place among the scantily clad and violated slave women. A little girl who’d reached out wailing, “Come back!” Her face was familiar.

Leia took a deep breath to clear her head then stepped through the door to the judge’s antechambers. She had to have a word with him, to voice official concern, for the record. What she heard next made her blood freeze. A voice raised in aggravation and disgust. A young, awkward voice.

“Yeah, well, I can’t do it anymore!”

Ben Solo by Lucrezia Ciaffaglione

Ben Solo burst from the judge’s chamber and came to an abrupt halt. He blinked. “Mom.”

The judge was on the young Jedi’s heels. “Why not? Everything went perfectly. We’re just….Senator Organa,” he breathed, nearly colliding with Ben.

Leia said nothing. No words would come.

Ben broke the stony silence first. “I can’t keep my own memories isolated,” he told the judge without breaking eye contact with Leia. He sensed his mother’s concern, read disapproval in her shock, and quickly brushed past her.

She turned to grab his sleeve. “Ben. Wait!”

But he was gone.

 

@MyKyloRen   17 May 2017

 

Cloudy with a Chance of Snoke

He knew he shouldn’t do it. He was supposed to be calculating the surface escape velocity and time dilation along with the rest of the eighth-year class of the Jedi Academy. With a sigh, Ben scrolled through the long list of problems Master Luke had loaded onto their datapads.What a waste of time, he thought bitterly, despairing at the sets of complex equations and graphs confronting him. We have nav computers and droids for this! But when he’d said as much one time to his uncle, Luke had countered — hands on hips — “One day you’re going to find yourself in hyperspace without a nav computer.”

“Then the astromech will take over.”

“It’s been blasted to a bizillion pieces,” Luke shot back, continuing his grave scenario.

“Then the backup system will kick in.”

Luke had snort-chuckled. “Gone too.” He raised an eyebrow at his teenage nephew and padawan.

Ben threw up his hands. “There’s the Force!”

Luke had shared a knowing smile and a laugh with Han, who’d been in the room at the time. “That’s not how the Force works, kid,” Han had warned, giving Ben a fatherly pat on the shoulder. “You wanna fly, you gotta play the exam game with Republic licensing officials.”

Ben’s nostrils flared with indignation. “You didn’t.”

Han had turned back then and held up an admonishing finger. “I do now.” Then with a bit of chagrin, he’d added with a grumble, “Your mother has made an honest pilot out of me…among other things.”

“But if I didn’t go through official channels,” Ben had challenged, “I could better serve the Republic as an underground operative.”

Han rolled his eyes. “He’s on this spy kick again,” he’d said in response to Luke’s baffled look, then to Ben he’d added, “Even spies start out by going through official channels.”

It was Luke’s turn to sigh. “Just learn what you need to know for your pilot’s license, Ben.”

The words echoed in Ben Solo’s head as he stared at his datapad. Just a thumb-click  away were the fascinating datafiles and holovids that thoroughly engrossed him on breaks, in the evening, and during any time he had to himself. Ancient scrolls and books that survived the destruction of the Great Jedi Library on Ossus. Datatapes recovered from the wreck of the Chu’unthor, a mobile Jedi training academy that crashed on Dathomir. The exploits of Jedi-turned-Sith-turned-Jedi Revan — his journal only recently discovered. The philosophy of the Potentium and the belief that the Force was a benevolent field of life energy and that the Dark side did not exist. Studies in battle meditation and Force-camouflage. Texts on cloning and essence transfer. Manuscripts by prophets of the Dark side and fragments on Sith poison. Reports of esoteric Sith symbols and starship empowered by Sith consciousness.

It all fascinated him. Anything not involving mind-numbing numbers and calculations, that is.

Ben stole a glance at Luke standing at the head of the class. His uncle appeared to be engrossed in something on his own datapad.  Probably the next boring lesson on the Jedi Agricultural Corp, Ben thought dejectedly. The Jedi taught There is no passion. There is peace. But Master Luke was certainly passionate about the two subjects that made Ben want to scream: navigation and moisture farming. Flying, Ben thought, is for droids. And what was the point of moisture farming an arid world when there were arable worlds that could supply the consumption requirements of the galaxy efficiently and abundantly? The problem lay in the distribution system and the greed of the wealthy few.

He sighed again, totally distracted now, and thumbed the link that give him access to the archives. He scrolled through the list of forbidden texts — he’d hacked into them on his twelfth birthday as a little gift to himself — and opened a scrap of text from the Darth Plagueis Collection. He could finish the nav calculation assignment later. Right now he had to know what Plagueis thought on the subject of galactic politics.Plagueis had been a Sith Lord and Master of Emperor Palpatine and a Muun, which meant he had his nose buried in the dealing of the Intergalactic Banking Clan.

Ben wasn’t far into Plagueis’ eerily intelligent plan when he felt a disturbed presence watching him. He knew he should immediately exit the archives and flip back to his lesson, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Plagueis’ words to Palpatine. As he read on, Ben could feel the Darkness seeping in from beyond the edges of known space, where no starlight could be detected. A shiver ran through him…and then…it was gone.

His datapad.

His datapad was in the hands of Luke Skywalker.

“Care to share with the rest of the class what you find so interesting, Ben?”

And that was Luke’s mistake. The one he would eternally regret and chew on for years.

Ben hesitated for a second, the color rising to his cheeks as he got to his feet. He was embarrassed, to be sure, but not humiliated. He saw the smirks on the other padawan’s faces, heard the giggles muffled behind hands. He sensed his classmates’ scorn for the padawan who always managed to screw something up, but he was empowered by their curiosity.

And that was their downfall.

He folded his arms, met their gaze, and quoted, “A cunning politician is capable of wreaking more havoc than two Sith Lords armed with vibroblades, lightsabers, or Force pikes.”*

“I see,” Luke said absently, his eyes locked onto the text displayed on the pad. He quickly motioned Ben out into the hall and waited for the door to slide shut behind them. He turned to face his nephew, exasperated. “What are you doing, Ben?”

Ben knew he wasn’t just being chastised for goofing off in class. There was something far greater at stake here. He’d lit a spark among a couple of his fellow padawans. He could feel their eager young minds burning through the Force.

He smirked. “You told me to share what I was reading.”

Luke ignored the 14-year-old’s sass. “You mother is a politician who cares about the Republic and all it stands for.”

Ben folded his arms. “And the Republic cares only about its pockets.”

Luke stared at the head-strong boy, almost as if he were seeing his nephew for the first time. The Jedi Master’s thoughts were interrupted by the approach of a tall, young blonde — a professional human woman who had the air of a CEO.

“Good midday to you, gentlemen,” Amanda Snoke greeted them cheerily. “I got done with my meeting early and I thought maybe you’d like to go for lunch.”

Luke gave her a courteous nod, but his eyes quickly shifted back to his nephew. “You go, Ben. Class is almost over. Your mother’s out of comm range, but we’ll talk about this later with Han.”

Ben beamed up at Amanda as she hooked her arm in his. Over his shoulder, he threw his uncle a murderous glare as he turned the corner with his friend and exited the study hall into the cloudy afternoon.

“Problems?” she asked.

@MyKyloRen  18 April 2017

*Luceno, James. (2012). Star Wars: Darth Plagueis. New York: Del Rey, p. 204.

Redemption Foreshadowing in The Last Jedi

Interesting. The Battlefront II trailer released today places Kylo with the The Last Jedi heroes — not villains. Also, we have the first look at how bad — or, how slight — the scarring on his face is. If he had completely turned to the Dark side at the end of The Force Awakens and truly became “a monster,” the concept artists would have disfigured him into something hideous. His flesh would reflect the corruption and decay of his soul, much like Anakin’s and Palpatine’s did.

And that scar is located in the same spot where Han lovingly last touched his son. The murder of Han will scar Ben Solo for life, but Kylo, it seems, will still have a choice in The Last Jedi. And who better to help Luke bring the Jedi to an end than his former padawan who understands the Darkness now. What the galaxy needs is a new kind of Force-user — someone like Revan of the Old Republic who was neither Jedi nor Sith, who understood the Force in its entirety.

As Luke says of the Light, Darkness, and the Balance in the trailer for The Last Jedi, “It’s so much bigger.”

Alive and Kicking

Leia felt the sharp kick in her swollen belly and gripped the hand-railing in the elevator. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, then let her breath out slowly. The other woman in the lift laid a hand on her arm.

“Are you alright, your Highness?”

Leia opened her eyes and regarded the blonde woman a moment before closing them again in resignation, steadying herself. The girl was taller than Han and athletic — a student at Hanna City University. Probably a grav-ball player.

“It’s Senator now,” Leia told her wearily, managing a small smile of thanks, “and it’s nothing I can’t handle. I’ve been in far worse situations.” But as the door chime announced their arrival on the rotunda level, she gave another gasp and gripped her belly. “Although something tells me, this one’s going to be as restless as his father.”

“Here, let’s get you to a chair, Senator,” the girl offered helpfully, ushering Leia to a seating area and easing her onto a cushioned bench. “When are you due?”

Leia sighed, looking down at her unborn child. “You and I have one more standard month of this,” she told it with a slight laugh. “Do you think you could not drive me crazy for one day?” She leaned her head against the cool stone wall for a moment before turning back to the girl. “I’m here to see Professor Sulmi. This is the right floor, isn’t it?”

“Oh, yes. His office is right down that corridor,” the young woman confirmed, pointing down a hallway past a splashing fountain to the right, “but I’m afraid he’s just been called away on a family emergency. He told me to be on the lookout for you.” She extended a hand. “I’m Amanda Snoke, his research assistant.”

Leia took it and returned a firm shake. “I’m very sorry to hear that. I hope everything’s alright.”

Amanda tucked a stray strand of her long hair behind her ear. “His wife took a nasty fall, but I hear she’s in the bacta tank now and is expected to make a good recovery.”

“Oh, dear,” Leia said, absently rubbing her belly. “Please give her my sympathy.”

“Of course.” Amanda shifted her long legs on the bench, turning to face the renowned rebel leader. “You’re here to discuss what we’ve learned about Project Harvester.” It wasn’t a question but a confirmation regarding Leia’s visit to the university.

“Yes, that’s right. I understand many of the files have been declassified now.”

Amanda nodded. “Although many are corrupted and haven’t yet been repaired by the data recovery droids.” She pulled a datapad out of her messenger bag and tapped a screen. “Here’s a basic overview of the project as we understand it so far, along with a directory of files. I’ve downloaded them all to a datacard for you.” She handed the pad to Leia.

“There’s a lot more here than I thought,” Leia said, skimming through the overview.

By all accounts, Project Harvester originated on the planet Arkanis for the purpose of identifying and enslaving Force-sensitive children. Data contained in reports issued by staff at the elite Imperial academy run by Commandant Brendol Hux indicate that the project was overseen by the academy and that many of the children acquired were orphaned naturally or purposefully prior to their processing.

Leia shuddered. She knew the reports would divulge the elaborate experimentation done on these unfortunates, as she’d always feared. What she and Luke hoped to do was locate any survivors and help them in any way they could to return to normal lives. It made her skin crawl to think what the Empire had done to these innocents.

The baby kicked again — so hard this time that Amanda caught a glimpse of the tiny foot through Leia’s maternity dress. “He is a restless one, isn’t he?”

Leia rolled her eyes. “You’re right — it’s a boy — and if he doesn’t come soon, I’m babybengoing to strangle the nerf herder who left me to deal with him alone.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Senator, I didn’t mean….”

Leia laughed and held up a hand. “It’s not like that. Han’s looking for family housing — something we both can agree on. We don’t have much time before the baby comes.”

Amanda smiled and reached out a hand towards the princess’s belly. “May I? My mother was a midwife and I helped her from time to time.”

Leia hesitated a moment, then nodded.

“Do you have a name for him?”

“Ben.”

Amanda gently palpitated the baby bump. “Hello, Ben. You may be restless, little one, but I’d say you’re getting a bit too comfortable.” She met the senator’s gaze. “When the time comes, he’s not going to want to leave his cozy place.”

“Oh, great,” Leia said with another roll of the eyes. “Just what I wanted to hear.”

“And he’ll be born during double moon-dark — a time when many creatures hide in the safety of their lairs.”

Leia laughed lightly at the superstition. “Well, I hope to deliver him on Birren where there are no moons. My family has a quiet retreat there. I haven’t even seen it yet.” She laughed again and waved aside the matter as inconsequential. “Moons remind me of an old superstitious song from my childhood. And after the Death Stars, I don’t care if I ever see another moon again.”

Amanda’s eyes grew suddenly bright. “I’m afraid after you arrived, they had to shut down the hyperspace lanes.”

Leia struggled to get to her feet. “What?”

“They’ve destabilized again after the ion storm moved through. It could be a few weeks before it’s safe.” She rose and put a comforting hand on the Leia’s shoulder. “But don’t worry. Chandrila’s med centers are highly rated, and I’m sure we can find you temporary housing that will suit you both.”

Little Ben turned again and began to hiccup.

Leia looked up at Amanda. “Can you find something suitable for this fussbudget?”

@MyKyloRen   1 March 2017

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/

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