Kylo Ren vs. The Past: Part 1

With the release of The Last Jedi fast approaching, I thought I’d recap what we know about Kylo Ren so far — from The Force Awakens and leaks from The Last Jedi, interviews with cast and crew, fan theories, and fan art. As theories are confirmed or dropped, I’ll be revising my own thinking, along with this series of posts, which reveal some of the inspiration and theories behind the fan fiction on this site. Kylo has a lot of enemies he’s facing and he’ll need to defeat every one if he’s to survive, so let’s get started.

Jedi Killer concepts by Christian Alzmann

The mysterious First Order warrior is introduced in The Force Awakens as a commander of a strike force, striding down the ramp of his bat-like command shuttle. He’s intent on seizing the map that will show the whereabouts of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. We don’t know what the dark warrior’s motives are, but we assume it’s to kill Skywalker. We assume he’s hunting down any surviving Jedi, and Luke poses a special threat to the First Order. In the preliminary concept art, Kylo Ren was originally dubbed the Jedi Killer and looked more machine than human — a black plastoid grim reaper. But as time when on and the character was given a name, he was more refined and clearly human. From what’s been leaked about The Last Jedi, I believe Kylo’s hunting Luke not to kill him but to stop him — from doing what, I have a couple of theories — but I think Ren’s main objective is to acquire ancient artifacts and through them power, not to control the galaxy but the universe. Could it be that Luke’s intent on destroying these artifacts? More about that later.

Kylo Ren’s heavy black garments cover him from head to toe, concealing every inch of him, concealing his identity, along with the helmet that distorts his voice. For a closer look at Ren’s garments, click here for that story. He’s a faceless menace whose humanity has been smothered. He’s a monster, and his monk-like robes suggest he belongs to an order outside of the military. That order, we learn, is the Knights of Ren. For my take on who the Knights are, click here. Many people are tempted to call him a Sith due to his powerful Force abilities and allegiance to the dark side, but according to Pablo Hidalgo in The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, “Kylo Ren is no Jedi, nor is he a Sith. He is the archetype of a new generation of dark side users that have emerged to fill the void left by the Siths’ demise.” (p. 24)

But, despite his dark disguise, Lor San Tekka knows who Kylo Ren is, even though the enforcer’s true name is forbidden to be spoken within the First Order. We only see Ren without his helmet in the presence of Supreme Leader Snoke and General Hux — and later when all hell breaks loose on Starkiller Base. So, it’s likely that no other officers and no troopers know Ren’s true identity, but Lor San Tekka in the Jakku village of Tuanal knows. He’s a member of the Church of the Force who’s traveled far. He knows the man beneath the black shroud. And Ren remembers his captive from long ago, perhaps more than he’s consciously aware. There’s a dark and unfortunate history between them. For that story, click here. “Look at how old you’ve become,” he tells San Tekka in disgust. The old man counters with hope. He remembers under the disguise the youth he knew and perhaps loved and tries reach out to him. “I know where you come from,” he tells the enforcer. “The First Order arose from the dark side. You did not.”

In The Force Awakens novelization by Alan Dean Foster, the encounter is described as this: “ Ren spoke first, without hesitation, as if he had anticipated this meeting for some time. ‘The great soldier of fortune — captured at last.” (p. 20). When San Tekka continues to evade Ren’s search for the map, Ren says in the novel, “Don’t turn a simple transaction into a tragedy for these people….Hasn’t your presence here done enough for them already?” San Tekka replies, “I made my peace with these folk and this place long ago.” (p. 20-21).

So, San Tekka is not an innocent. He was a mercenary once, selling his services as a warrior. The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary paints the old man as a desert sage, retired from a life of exploration and adventure. He’s a font of obscure information and wears a Chain of Wisdom around his neck. “As the Empire toppled, retreating Imperial officials destroyed records that would have been vital to the New Republic’s attempts at galactic reconstruction. New Republic bureaucrats turned instead to firsthand accounts from well-travelled locals to fill in the gaps.” (p. 14) Hence, this was the most recent role San Tekka played…until Kylo Ren executed him in cold blood.

As a follower of the Church of the Force, the old man was a worshiper of Jedi ideals and believed one day the Jedi would return. “In his travels, Lor San Tekka uncovered much of the history of the Jedi Knights that the Galactic Empire had tried so hard to erase. Others now seek him out for his knowledge of Jedi secrets.” And this, I believe, is why Kylo Ren has sought him out — not only for the map to Skywalker (who is another font of esoteric knowledge) — but to harvest the ancient wisdom locked up in San Tekka’s mind. Ren also hopes to recover any Jedi artifacts the old man may have stumbled upon.

What are these artifacts? We don’t know yet, but we know some of them will feature in The Last Jedi. Director Rian Johnson is all about focusing on the past, digging up relics and showcasing an aspect of the Force we’ve never seen before. One of these relics is Luke’s red kyber crystal shard which he keeps locked in a box and later wears around his neck. It’s said to have belonged to an ancient Jedi. Luke is rumored to keep other relics in his backpack, including an ancient compass, along with a lightning rod — a weapon used by the Jedi of old, possibly like a cattle prod. There are also books of precious Jedi lore kept on the island of Ahch-To, home of the original Jedi Temple and Luke Skywalker’s refuge for many years.

I also suspect Kylo Ren’s been on the hunt for Darth Vader’s effects, specifically his lightsaber. He may believe that the shard of crystal Luke now has belonged to Vader. We know Ren acquired Vader’s melted helmet and enshrined it, feeling its residual dark side power imbued with it. It would make sense for Ben Solo to attach himself to the movement known as the Acolytes of the Beyond, a group of non-Force-sensitives who operated as dark side fanatics worshiping fallen Sith, featured in the Aftermath novels by Chuck Wendig. They purchased Sith artifacts and destroyed them. In doing so, they believed they were returning the objects of power to the dark lords in death. By Kylo Ren’s time, the Acolytes were keeping the artifacts they recovered and using them in uprisings against the New Republic. Ren may have made use of Acolyte cells scattered throughout the galaxy to recover some of Vader’s personal things. Foremost on his list would be Vader’s lightsaber. We assume it was destroyed when the second Death Star exploded, but who knows? Click here for a story involving featuring the Acolytes.

Next time, we’ll continue looking at Kylo’s past and more specifically, his family ties.

@MyKyloRen    29 September 2017

________________________________

Foster, A. D. (2015). The Force Awakens. New York: Del Rey.

Hidalgo, P. (2015). Star Wars: The Force Awakens: the visual dictionary. New York : DK/Penguin Random House.

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

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The Chosen One

Luke Skywalker stood in the doorway, bearded now after his long journey from Jedha. Leia Organa Solo ushered him into the small but inviting apartment with an excited hug.

“We didn’t think you’d have time to come by until tomorrow.”

“This couldn’t wait,” the Jedi master insisted, mirroring his twin’s excitement as he pushed past her into the sitting area. Han looked up from his game, gave his brother-in-law a quick nod and went back to studying the holo images to make his move.  Whatever Luke was on about, it was more Jedi nonsense and didn’t concern the ex-smuggler. Had had more respect for the Jedi since the Battle of Yavin, naturally, but he respected games of chance more, and this one was getting the better of him. Luke watched Han grit his teeth and smiled sadly. Nothing would change with Han. Gambling would always be Han Solo’s faith.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Leia prodded.

Luke turned back to his sister and gripped her by the shoulders. “I found something better!”

She took a step back as he reached into his satchel and pulled out an object she’d only seen once before in her childhood. She’d found it in the office of Bail Organa, her father — or the man she’d always known as her father — Viceroy/First Chairman of Alderaan, one of the most influential founders of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. She remembered being fascinated by it — words, one after another, not backlit by a datapd or console, or projected in a holographic message by a droid — but written by hand. Something she’d never seen anyone do, although Threepio had promised to give her a demonstration from his databanks one day.

As they sat together, Leia looked now at the bound folio pages in Luke’s hand. “A book?” Bail Organa’s book had been one of Alderaanian poetry.

It was gone now.

Luke was grinning from ear to ear. “One the Empire didn’t find.”

Leia raised an eyebrow. “And you can read it? It must be ancient.”

“Threepio says by more than ten thousand years,” he confirmed, ignoring her skepticism. He placed it gently on the glass table before them and reverently turned a few pages until he found what he wanted to show her. “If Obi-Wan had lived, I’m sure he would have shared this with us.” He pointed to a passage that was illuminated by an ancient Jedi symbol. “This tells of the Prophecy of the Chosen One.”

Lei’s face fell. She knew Vader had once been called the Chosen One by the very Jedi he betrayed. She had no interest in discussing the exploits of the biological father she shared with Luke, let alone a vague and plainly erroneous prediction of some nebulous galactic savior.

She folded her arms and gave her brother a glare of exasperation. “Really?”

The Jedi Master sighed. “Look, I know you don’t believer in this stuff, but there’s one thing here we can’t ignore.” He waited for her to spew about Vader, but when she simply cocked her head to one side, he went on. Han was still oblivious, nose in his game. “The Jedi were wrong.”

Leia cocked her head to the other side. “About what?”

“Our father wasn’t the Chosen One.”

She almost laughed. “Well, that’s a relief.”

Luke didn’t miss a beat. “Your son is.”

“What?” Leia launched herself out of her chair. She cast an astonished glance at Han. “Did you hear what he said?”

Han gave her a dismissive wave without looking up. “Some mumbo jumbo about the Chosen One.”

Leia rolled her eyes and then leveled her gaze at Luke. She spoke slowly, deliberately, mustering all her patience. “Why would a book from an moldy cave point to a nine-year-old boy thousands of years in the future?”

“Come on, Leia.” Luke’s frustration level was starting to mirror his twin’s. “You know what an exceptional child he is.” He lowered his voice. “What an exceptional Force-user he is. The Prophecy speaks to that.”

“Prophecies are easily misinterpreted,” she returned coolly as if she were in a senatorial debate. “They’re not a science.” Luke opened his mouth to speak, but she held up a hand. She didn’t have time for long-winded doctrine. “Name one prophecy that’s been scientifically proven.”

Luke took a deep breath. He knew his sister would be tough sell, but he needed to get Ben the protection and training he needed — protection from those who hunted Force-sensitives and training to control the wild power within his nephew’s tiny but growing body. “There was the Prophecy of Hujusal M’akth on Tatooine. The Prophecy of Chierrruwwuthy among the Kaapauku of Kashyyyk.” He gave Chewie a pleading look. “You remember that one, don’t you?”

The Wookiee gave an affirmative roar as he peered over Han’s shoulder, eyeing the progress of the game.

Leia wasn’t going to let her brother win this argument. “Human prophecy — in recent times,” she challenged. “No offense, Chewie. If it’s my son we’re talking about, he’s not allowed to venture beyond the parameters of his room.”

“Actually, mistress,” C-3PO hesitantly broke in, “there have been exactly 26 prophecies that have been scientifically proven in recent human history regarding the Chosen One. Elik Vedde the Third predicted in 23 BY that the Death Star would….”

Leia quickly cut him off. “Thank you, Threepio. We could use some tea,” she redirected him.

“And then there was the time…that….”

She raised an eyebrow, knowing his photoreceptors would respond her body language with due efficiency. The droid jerked as his nonverbal subroutines kicked in.

“Oh…I’ll put the kettle on straight away.” The protocol droid excused himself, muttering how he didn’t understand why a perfectly good cup of tea couldn’t be had from the food synthesizer. It was, after all, the latest model and a very costly one at that.

Leia turned back to Luke, assured that the meddlesome droid would be kept busy for a few minutes. “What does this prophecy say?” She would be reasonable, she decided, and hear him out.

The Jedi Master exhaled in relief. He was getting somewhere. He pointed to the page in the book once more. “It says a Force-sensitive with powers the Jedi have never seen before will destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force.” He glanced down at the text. “Well, it says that in forty-two verses, but I thought you’d want the executive summary.”

“And Ben has powers you’ve never seen before?” For once, Leia was glad Han wasn’t listening.

Luke got to his feet. He couldn’t sit still any longer. “Yes, and the prophecy speaks of a child born of a royal line yet knowing no privilege. A child whose father is absent.”

Leia pinched the bridge of her nose. She didn’t like where this was going. Her brother could be so gullible, so trusting sometimes. “Han, isn’t absent,” she countered. “Supervising the races and the shipping business takes him across the galaxy, but Han’s always there for Ben by comm.” She flung an arm in her husband’s direction. “He’s here now.”

Luke nodded in polite agreement. “Where’s Ben?”

“Playing in the solarium.”

Luke nodded again, gazing at Han grumbling at the gaming console.

Leia caught the accusatory look on her brother’s face. “Chewie’s keeping an eye on Ben,” she said a bit too loudly.

The Wookiee gave a rumbling sigh under Leia’s fiery glare and went to check on the child-in-question.

“It says the Chosen One will have a midi-chlorian count equal to a Sith lord’s,” Luke went on, eager to get his point across.

“Which is?”

“Seventeen thousand or higher. Ben’s is already that, and at his age….”

Leia exploded. “You tested him?”

Han looked up from his game.

“I had to.” Luke laid a gentle hand on her sleeve. “I had to know what I was dealing with.”

She shrugged him off. “What you were dealing with?” Her thoughts turned to Vader — the man who tortured her and gripped her fast while her homeworld was destroyed. She didn’t want to know what his midi-chorian count was. If there had been a record of it, it was long gone.

Luke was speaking very softly, reassuringly now. “The Chosen One will also radiate the Force in everything he does. Everything he touches, he’ll set in motion.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “That sounds like Ben with the control problems he’s had. The Force sticks to him like some sort of cosmic tar.”

Leia stared at her brother. “You mean shattering or short-circuiting things he touches.”

The Jedi Master nodded. “He’s better now at controlling the Force as it moves through him, but you can see how frustrating it is for him. I need to take him offworld and find the origins of the Jedi. There has to be an enclave out there — Masters more skilled than I — who can train him to bear this burden.”

“You’re not suggesting we tell him about this prophecy, are you?” After a deep sigh, Leia gave her twin an imploring look.

They all turned and gave a start to see Ben standing in the doorway, the glass of tea shattering in his hand. Blood began to drip from his fingers.

Han looked up at Leia and Luke and gave them a rueful smirk. “I don’t think you have to.”

Leia flew over to her son and took his bleeding hand in hers. “Who gave him glass?” she demanded.

Chewie, quickly following his young charge, bellowed at Threepio, who came shuffling in to see what the fuss was.

Ben Solo stared at the tea stain and broken glass on the white carpet. “Sorry, Mom.”

 

@MyKyloRen    25 August 2017

On the Knights of Ren

There’s a theory floating around the Star Wars fandom I find fascinating. It delves into the origins of the Knights of Ren, the secret paramilitary order Kylo Ren commands under Supreme Leader Snoke. The theory — and it’s a convincing one — focuses on the name Ren, Ben Solo’s assumed name and it’s ultimate reference to one of the franchise’s most beloved (yet widely unknown) characters. Ren is, as the theory goes, a corruption of Revan (R’en) and the Knights of Ren are a New Republic version of the Old Republic Revanites, or the Order of Revan.

Ok. Even if you grew up with Star Wars like I did and consider yourself a huge fan, it’s safe to say you’ve never heard of Revan if you haven’t played the Star Wars multi-player, choose-your-own-adventure online games Knights of the Old Republic or The Old Republic: The Shadow of Revan. For those who have, Revan is an old favorite and the fandom continues to petition the franchise to make a movie about him. Revan won the 2015 Black Series Fan Choice (for action figure development) at San Diego Comic Con, and his figure was released in late 2016 and widely available in early 2017. Revan’s story is about the tragedy of manipulation, the corruption of ambition, and the ultimate triumph of love (if you chose the Light side conclusion to the game, that is).

So, who was Revan and the cult who followed him? The Order of Revan, “a secret society known as the Revanites hides deep in the jungles of Dromund Kaas. Composed of members throughout Imperial Society — from esteemed Sith to enterprising slaves — the Revanite cult worships the teachings of the legendary Jedi Revan…. Revan wielded the dual philosophies of Sith passion and Jedi tranquility to conquer his enemies: he even nearly assassinated the Sith Emperor. Today, the Revanites secretly follow the path forged by Revan and await his return….”¹

Now, you might be asking yourself, why would a cult of Revan — a Jedi — develop among the Sith? We’re still talking ancient history here — over 3,500 years before Luke and his band of rebels destroyed the first Death Star and Vader went spinning off into space. At that point, there were definitely more than two Sith (a master and an apprentice), as suspected by the Jedi in The Phantom Menace. The Sith Empire controlled a good chunk of the galaxy and was a huge threat to the Old Republic. Revan was captured by the Sith, his mind overcome and controlled by the powerful Emperor until he was turned into the Dark Lord Revan and sent back to the Republic as a weapon. Revan nearly destroyed the Republic until the Jedi captured him again, erased his memories, and turned him back against the Sith.

He was ultimately imprisoned again by the Sith when he went looking for answers after nightmares of his former life started seeping through his broken memory and he followed his nose into Sith space. But this time he wasn’t captured by the Emperor but by a faction that opposed the mighty ruler. You can see where this is going.  Revan, knowing the threat the Emperor still posed to the Republic, led the charge against him and failed when his ally, the Sith Lord Scourge, turned on him (never trust a Sith. Seriously). The Emperor overwhelmed Revan, put the powerful Jedi in stasis, and fed off Revan’s essence for 300 years, probing his mind for the Republic’s weaknesses.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if this legendary Emperor — who had the ability to suck the living Force from a planet — were Snoke? Snoke is, after all, experiencing difficulty with his corporeal form. It seems logical that he would want to find a new body and with it immortality through the manipulation of the Force. But, that’s a theory for another post.

Now, why do I think the Knights are followers of Revan? Knights implies an order and a code of conduct. Based on their attire, they’re clearly a war band — heavy armor, helmets, and a plethora of hand-to-hand combat weapons. They’re also masked — a trademark of Revan. The traditional and rather medieval-looking weapons they yield also implies they aren’t Force-users. Only their leader, Kylo Ren, fights with a lightsaber (at least as far as we’ve seen).

As for Kylo, we can make an educated guess as to why he might be a follower of the ancient Jedi-turned-Sith-turned-Jedi. Kylo’s “ability to use the Force grants him many impressive combat skills, but Kylo Ren is no Jedi, nor is he a Sith. He is the archetype of a new generation of dark side users that have emerged to fill the void left by the Sith’s demise….The Supreme Leader believes Ren to be the ideal embodiment of the Force, a focal point, of both light and dark side ability.”²

Snoke reprimands his apprentice every time Kylo is seduced by the Light. In order for the for the leader of the Knights to remain ruthless in battle and interrogation tactics, Snoke needs to keep Kylo mean through “reminders” (i.e., torture). But in the novelization when Kylo confirms that it is his master’s teachings that keep him strong, Snoke demures. “It is far more than that. It is where you are from. What you are made of. The dark side — and the light.”³ The Supreme Leader needs Kylo’s Light side skills as well as the Dark. Without the two, Snoke’s power is incomplete.

Revan realized the same thing. “Revan devoured knowledge with an insatiable appetite under many Jedi Masters….Revan’s determination and pride sparked concern among the Jedi Council.”4 After he defeated the Mandalorians and chased them from Republic space, he discovered ancient Sith knowledge when he strayed into the Sith Empire. Desire to gain this knowledge was the start of his downfall. I believe it was Kylo’s as well. In my fanfic, young Ben Solo is on a scavenger hunt for Jedi and Sith holocrons and data files. He voraciously reads and practices what he finds.

But this passion for knowledge of both sides of the Force was not fueled by the influence of the Dark side. Both Revan and Ben could be classified as Gray Jedi. They left the Jedi Order to follow their own path and what they believed in — that balance had to be maintained between the two, that neither the Jedi nor Sith understood the Force in its totality. Unfortunately, both were preyed upon powerful Dark side users while they undertook their quests to study the Force.

“While Gray Jedi believed that the Force did indeed have inherently Light and Dark sides, they recognized that these aspects could not be separated without negative consequences. If the Dark Side and the Sith were to gain dominance, life would become self-destructive and be extinguished. However, if the Light Side and the Jedi Order’s quest for peace were allowed to come to pass, the galaxy would fall to lethargy, apathy, and eventually fade and die. Both Light and Dark were part of the Force, and all aspects of the Force had to be studied and respected.”5

So, if the Knights of Ren are followers of Revan, who believed in the balance of the Force, what happened to tip them over the Dark side? Snoke, of course, who needs them as a special ops strike team. And it would make sense that the Knights Kylo commands is only one faction of a much larger order, spread throughout the galaxy. But before Snoke dragged Ben Solo away by the scruff of the neck, it makes sense that Padawan Solo believed in his own code, which set him at odds with his uncle and Master:

Flowing through all, there is balance.

There is no peace without a passion to create.

There is no passion without peace to guide.

Knowledge stagnates without the strength to act.

Power blinds without the serenity to see.

There is freedom in life.

There is purpose in death.

The Force is all things and I am the Force.

(One version of the Gray Jedi Code)6

 

Compare this to the Jedi and Sith Codes:

 

It’s time for the Jedi to end. Time to bring balance to the Force.

@MyKyloRen     14 July 2017

__________________________

1Ryan, I. et al. (2012). Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Epic Conflict. New York: DK Publishing, p. 304.

2Hidalgo, P. (2015). Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary. New York: DK Publishing, p. 24.

3Foster, A. D. (2015). Star Wars: The Force Awakens. New York: Del Rey, p. 139.

4Ryan, I. et al. (2012). Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Epic Conflict. New York: DK Publishing, p. 73.

5http://swfanon.wikia.com/wiki/Gray_Jedi_Code

6ibid.

The Balance

“What are you doing, Ben?”

Luke Skywalker’s tone was one of exhaustion. He was too tired to feel the intense frustration he had a right to feel. He stared at his lanky sixteen-year-old nephew and padawan, who merely mirrored his tired expression, but a fire smoldered behind the coal of the boy’s dark eyes.

“And don’t think I don’t know you’ve been hacking into classified files,” Luke continued in a low but firm tone.

Ben lifted his chin. “Knowledge shouldn’t be locked away in a vault. It should be available to everyone.”

Luke closed his eyes and slowly shook his head. Not this argument again. “There’s a reason why these files are classified. This knowledge is dangerous to those who aren’t ready to understand it.”

“These files are all marked for deletion!” This last work was punctuated by a finger aimed at the Jedi Master’s face. “Every last one!”

“Ben,” Luke admonished quietly, trying to exert a calming presence over his excitable padawan through the Force, but Ben immediately threw up a defensive wall in his mind. Luke hoped their words wouldn’t carry beyond the confines of the softly lit study. He tried again, but his nephew cut him off.

“You’re purging any datafile or holovid you don’t agree with! Anything classified as Dark side knowledge. Anything written by Gray Jedi! You have no right to destroy what you don’t understand!”

The boy was more than precocious, Luke thought. He was arrogant, argumentative, and self-righteous, but he was still a boy, the Master reminded himself. But so was Darth Vader…at some point. “What I do understand is this,” he said calmly but grimly. “The Dark side won’t be eradicated until it has been discarded as an option for acquiring power.”¹

“So, you’re just going to attempt,” the youth spat back, throwing up his hands in a gesture of futility, “to eradicate all knowledge of it?” Ben began to pace. ”What about the Jedi power of affect mind — the ability to bend the will of the weak-minded?” He stopped in front of his uncle and stared him down, hands on hips. “What would you classify that as?” The padawan didn’t wait for an answer. “Isn’t domination a Dark side power — something the Jedi have no business wielding?”

Luke let out a long breath. “The Jedi use their abilities for good.”

Ben folded his arms. “How convenient. Who gets to say what’s good?”

“Society, Ben.” It was Luke’s turn to pace. He found himself walking around the big greel wood desk, running a finger along the carved edge, putting distance between them. “And that’s why I’ve come to the conclusion I have.” The Jedi Master stopped on the other side, resting his knuckles on  the desktop, waiting for his padawan to meet his gaze.

Ben tossed his hair out of his eyes and gave his master a petulant stare.

Luke came right to the point. “You can’t stay here, Ben.”

Silence slowly grew to a planet-sized bubble…and then popped.

“I can’t have you leaking this information to the other students.”

“It’s too late,” Ben bit off with a sneer.

Luke dropped his gaze, deeply saddened. “It’s never too late, Ben. I hope someday you see that.”

“You can’t dismiss the Dark side and you can’t destroy it. It’s not possible because you can’t separate it from the Light. If you do, the universe will be destroyed!”

“If you believe that, Ben,” Luke returned simply, “then I have failed you.”

Ben stared, dumbfounded. “The two need each other! They’re born out of chaos.” His voice took on an urgent, pleading tone. “All life is created from chaos by the interaction of the Dark and the Light. One cannot overcome the other and they can never be in balance! If that happens, the engine that creates life and keeps the cosmos going comes to stop!” He swallowed hard, desperation in his eyes. It was an ancient belief of the Gray Jedi, who’d been purged long ago from the Jedi Order. Their doctrine was not welcome.

Luke came around the desk to grip his nephew by the shoulders. “Ben, you have many talents and an intelligence beyond your years. Someday the Jedi path may be for you, but not now. You have a strong passion for justice. I suggest you go to university and explore a career in Galactic law.” He managed an encouraging smile. “You’ve got the head for it.”

Ben said nothing.

“And I have you to thank for setting me on a new path.” Luke gave the teenager’s arm a final pat before moving off, his heart lightening now with hope. “I’m taking a sabbatical to look for the first Jedi temple. You’ve convinced me I’ve got to bring the Order back to its original teachings.”

Ben looked at his boots a long moment in a stance of shame…or so the Jedi Master thought, until the young man raised his head, anger blazing so intently in the dark eyes that Luke thought for a split second they were red.

“You’d better hope you find it before I do, Uncle,” Ben Solo told him in a voice low and dangerous, “because when I find it, I will destroy it.”

 

@MyKyloRen     12 July 2017

¹Luke Skywalker in Windham, Ryder. (2007). Star Wars: Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force. New York: Ballantine Books, p. 64.

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.