A green blade hummed to life and arced towards Ben Solo’s head in a swift movement.
Jumping quickly back, the faint ozone smell assailed the space where his head had been just moments before. Despite himself, his heart skipped a beat, the fear of decapitation driving him forward. Angling his body away, he felt his mouth tense. “Was that really necessary?”
His answer was another swift and merciless movement of a lightsaber, still aimed toward his head.
This time, Ben activated his own weapon, the blue blade coming up to meet the other, stopping it just inches from his neck. The blades hummed angrily in his ears and he frowned at his opponent in confusion. “Uncle Luke?”
The green blade disappeared as Luke Skywalker deactivated his lightsaber with a sigh.
The sudden lack of pressure caused Ben to stumble back a step. Heart still racing, he knew he had disappointed his uncle again. He hadn’t just seen it in the older man’s expression, but had felt it through the Force, and it stung. Warily he lowered his own lightsaber before deactivating it. “Uncle?”
Luke’s eyes searched Ben’s face knowingly. “Padawan,” he said in gentle censure.
Ben looked away from those knowing eyes in distaste. Padawan. Now there was a word he was truly coming to loathe. He knew his uncle had a lot of students, but that was no reason…
Luke’s voice was full of conviction and gravity. “I sense a lot of fear in you.”
Ben wanted to scoff, but instead gazed down as if contrite. He wasn’t. Not really. He was frustrated. Every time he had tried to talk to his uncle about his fears, he didn’t have the time for him. So, he’d be a good little Jedi Padawan and just agree with his master this time. “Yes, Master.”
He could hear his master’s cloak rustling. “You have to release these negative emotions to the Force. Your emotions betray you. Fear—“
Ben couldn’t help the little smile that came to his lips as he glanced up and gave the Jedi an impish look. “Is the path to the Dark Side,” he quoted from rote.
Luke smiled back sadly and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder and squeezed before releasing him. “Ben, go meditate. I know you’ve been neglecting that lately.”
Ben couldn’t help but narrow his eyes in disagreement, but bowed his head slightly, his dark hair obscuring his eyes from Luke’s view. The hand not holding his lightsaber fisted his robes tightly and he almost waited too long to respond as the older man swept by him. His voice sounded flat to his own ears. “Yes, Master.”
After the Jedi left, Ben went to his own room, deliberately avoiding the meditation room altogether. He already knew how meditation would go so it was pointless to even try. He would sit there, reflect on the Jedi Code, and realize how much he was never going to measure up. There is peace, Ben thought mockingly. “Kriff that. Peace is a lie.”
Han Solo’s voice floated unknowingly through the ventilation system to Ben’s room. “Listen, Luke. You don’t think there’s something off about Ben lately, do you?”
His master hesitated a bit too long. “What do you mean?”
Ben’s heart started racing. They never listened to him when he needed them to, but now they wanted to know his business?
“So you’ve noticed too then,” his father continued. “Even Leia’s noticed and she’s been busy dealing with—“
“This First Order thing?” Luke supplied.
Ben rolled his eyes. Since when had his mother ever taken the time to notice anything other than her precious New Republic?
His father sounded as if he’d tasted something sour. “Yeah- that. Ben argued with her. Said maybe they had a point.”
It was all Ben could do not to scoff loudly. They do have a point, he thought savagely.
“What?” Luke asked incredulously. “That’s impossible. He’s too smart for that. He knows we’ve fought hard to have a New Republic and reinstitute the Senate—“
“Level with me, Luke. What’s he been doing?” Han implored.
Luke’s voiced suddenly sounded weary. “He asked me about Vader the other day. Not Anakin Skywalker. Vader.”
And, of course, that incident would be blown out of proportion. How he couldn’t study the history of the Empire and his family without being scrutinized as an up and coming Dark Sider almost made him choke. Ben decided he didn’t want to hear anything else. He grabbed his jacket and threw open the door to his room, startling the two men.
His father looked guilty. “Ben! I thought maybe you and I could catch a bite to eat?”
For the briefest of moments, Ben thought about ignoring his father altogether, but one look at his uncle’s intent expression had him changing his mind. Luke Skywalker could be a bit too perceptive for his own good. Ben shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t see why not. As long as I get to drive.”
Han looked incredulous, as if Ben had just spouted the most appalling thing to date, even to his galaxy-hardened ears. A finger was pointed accusingly in Ben’s direction. “You ain’t driving nothing, kid. I heard about that swoop bike incident—“
Ben held up his hands in surrender with a smirk on his face. “Whatever you say, Dad.”
“Just so we’re clear.”
Soon enough Ben found himself at a local cantina with his father. He looked around disdainfully. He didn’t understand how his father was always drawn to these types of places. He also really could have gone his whole life without ever seeing a Zabrak and a Dug making out too, now that he was thinking about it.
“Hey, kid,” Han scolded. “Keep your eyes to yourself.”
Ben turned to look at his father, only to see him doing his ‘look casual’ act from the other side of the booth.
Han stared at his son in amusement. “So, how’ve you been?”
Ben shrugged uncomfortably. He didn’t talk to his father all that often actually, and it was rather awkward sometimes. However, when he finally found a topic he thought his father would like his eyes gleamed in excitement. “You know that swoop bike ‘incident’ you mentioned? I was working out the kinks in the power generator. Finally fixed it though.”
Han took a sip from his Corellian ale. “Yeah?”
Ben grabbed the topic like a lifeline. “They were going to scrap it when I got my hands on it. But it’s an actual Mobquet Zephyr-G. Those haven’t been in production since before the Clone Wars, you know. Still working on restoring it. May get around to painting it next week. I was thinking black.”
Han snorted. “Yeah, you would.”
Ben furrowed his brow in genuine confusion. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Han looked like he wanted to say something and then thought better of it. “Nothing. Does your mother know?”
Despite himself, Ben pursed his lips. “Not that she cares, anyway. I already told her, but she never—“
Han cut him off quickly. “Hey, I’m not her Worshipfulness, so there’s no need to lie to make me feel better,” the Corellian assured him. “You know- what you need is a drink. It’ll keep you grounded.”
Ben looked at his father incredulously. “Dad—“
However, Han Solo was already up and halfway to the bar.
Slumping down in his chair, Ben decided that he officially gave up. He just couldn’t connect with his father in any meaningful way. Then he got an idea. It would serve his old man right. He stood up and followed him.
Coming to stand directly behind his father, Ben pitched his voice to a low growl. Let his father think that some Huttese speaking scum was after him for not paying up! “Achuta, Solo. Wanto dah moolee-rah? Yo can ta bantha poodoo."
Han Solo didn’t have the reflexes of a Jedi, but he came close to it in that moment.
Just seeing his father jump that high, had Ben laughing hard, despite the blaster that was trained unerringly on him. A wave of his hand had the blaster floating safely out of the way. “The look on your face—“
His father hastily snatched the blaster from the air and holstered it. He glared angrily. “It isn’t funny. I could have shot you.”
Ben just grinned without repentance. “What’s a blaster next to the power of the Force?”
Han grimaced and shoved a drink into Ben’s hand before pulling him back to their booth.
Ben gave his father a knowing look. His father had never been comfortable with the idea of the Force. “Too much hokey religion for you?”
Han gave him a knowing look in return. “More like too much misuse of your religion.”
Of, course. Ben had forgotten. Even Han Solo could tell that he wasn’t following his own hokey religion correctly. That’s what came of being best friends with your son’s Jedi master though. You got all the bad reports.
Ben gave his father a rueful smile. “I suppose now isn’t the time to tell you I’ve mastered another kata in Djem So with my ancient weapon then. Which would be fine, except that Uncle Luke told me to concentrate on Soresu instead.”
Han ignored his quip and Ben let him. It was probably for the best.
It had taken Ben years to perfect his sabacc face, and it wasn’t because he particularly enjoyed playing the game. Anyone that spent any time with Han Solo had to learn the game, and Ben had lost track of how many times his father had lost and won the Millennium Falcon in an effort to get himself out of perpetual debt. However, a good sabacc face ensured that he could adequately pretend to care about what his father was saying regarding his alleged legitimate trading activities- or anything else for that matter- but Ben thought that Han Solo was anything but reformed. His father would always be a smuggler at heart and Ben hated it.
As they were leaving the cantina, his father suddenly threw out an arm and stopped him from crossing the street. “Damn Imps,” he muttered.
“There are no Imperials anymore, Dad.” Looking in the direction his father had indicated, Ben gave a short laugh. “Anyway, I know those guys. They’re not so bad.” He shook his head. “Well, Hux might be, but the rest are all right.”
Hux, a haughty looking young man with red hair, was surrounded by a group that was avidly hanging on his every word. He was probably waxing lyrical about the Arkanis Academy again. He recruited for the First Order heavily, even in the heart of the New Republic. In fact, his sole reason for being here was to recruit, as it was his current mission from Snoke. While he may not particularly like Hux, Ben could respect his vision and dedication to the cause.
However, if Ben thought he’d get away without some level of scrutiny, he was wrong, as his father gave him the most serious look he could ever remember receiving from the man. “Ben, how do you know them?”
“From around,” he answered testily. He then pulled his arm from his father’s tightened grip and frowned. “Watch it! Look. See that one over there? He’s from the temple.”
Han peered in the direction Ben had indicated. “I recognize him. I thought you didn’t get along.”
Ben felt his jaw tense. Leave it to his father to remember that. “We didn’t. Things changed.”
Han’s gaze was piercing. “What things?”
Ben shrugged nonchalantly. He really wished his father would just drop this whole line of conversation. “Just things. We discovered we had more in common than we once thought.”
Things like neither being particularly enamored with the Jedi Order anymore, but he wasn’t about to tell his father that.
Han grimaced. “And this Hux character? You have something in common with him?”
Ben sighed. Why did his father have to be so difficult today? “We talk. We know the same people. I don’t see the big deal anyway—“
This was shaping up to be a Solo family blow out. What would make this even better was if his mother showed up to add her two credits to the conversation.
His father glared at him. “Look, kid. Those guys are exactly the types that were Imps, and we all know the Imps didn’t really go away, they just changed labels. You can dress it up all you like, but you can’t trust people that look that clean cut and—“ His father floundered around as if looking for a word.
Ben actually snorted at this. He had an idea of what his father was really thinking though. “Clean cut? Really? You’re not exactly what I’d call a stellar judge of character—“
Just then Hux’s condescending voice rang out across the dark street. “Well, if it isn’t, Ren! We were just wondering if you’d be joining us this evening.”
And wasn’t that just wonderful! That’s all he needed was his father meeting and interacting with Hux. It was a good thing they used swoop bikes as a front for their other activities, because that was the only saving grace for this situation.
The group with Hux greeted him enthusiastically and Ben allowed himself a smirk. He crossed over to where they were loitering near a bunch of swoop bikes with a swagger, acknowledging his Knights with a nod of his head. “Why? Do you need help showing them how to properly mod a repulsorlift?”
Hux raised a disdainful eyebrow. “That’s why we keep you around, Ren. I have better things to do.” He eyed Han, who had followed Ben over. “Who’s your friend?”
Leveling a direct stare at Hux, Ben gave a false smile. “This is Han Solo.”
Hux wasn’t fazed in the least. He kept up the superior military attitude. “Ah- the smuggler! Your son has told us a lot about you.”
Yeah- Hux couldn’t have made that sound any worse if he had tried- and insulting people came effortlessly to him.
Han gave the younger man a dubious look. “Right. I’m sure it was all good.”
Hux gave Han a superior look that implied otherwise. “Well- we certainly need people like your son to help us keep our machines running properly. It would be outright disorder without him.” He turned back toward Ben. “I expect we’ll see each other tomorrow, then. I’ll comm you.”
Ben gave a serious nod. The First Order was more important than his father. He felt a surge of determination. “I’ll be waiting.”
They didn’t make it five minutes before his father’s disconcerting silence was broken. Ben had a bad feeling about this.
Han spoke quietly through clenched teeth. “What. In. All. Nine. Corellian hells. Was that about? And what’s with calling you Ren?”
Ben raised an eyebrow, unknowingly imitating Hux. Yes, the bad feeling was intensifying. He tried to play things off. “What are you talking about? It’s just a nickname.”
No sooner had the words left his mouth then he was grabbed by the collar and pushed against the side of his father’s speeder, the jolt making his teeth rattle in his head. “What am I talking about? Ben, those guys are dangerous—“
Ben smirked. And- seriously? Pushed against a speeder? He wasn’t one of his father’s smuggling buddies. “I can be dangerous—“
Han still had a tight hold on him and glared directly into his face. “Don't get cocky, kid. I’ve met men like that before when I went to the Imperial Academy on Carida—“
Ben grabbed his father’s hands that were still holding him by his collar. This he didn’t know. He couldn’t help the genuine interest from showing on his face and the disbelief that made it into his voice. “You went to the Imperial Academy?”
Han gave him a disgusted look and let go of him. “That’s the first thing I’ve said that you’ve been interested in all evening. I’m only surprised I’m not surprised.”
The action left Ben slumped against the speeder. He widened his eyes in shock. His father’s disgust at his interest almost left him speechless. It tore at his heart. “We’re just a bunch of swoop bike fanatics, Dad.”
His father looked truly angry now. “Swoop bike fanatics that wear all black and act like Imperials!”
He glared at his father defiantly, which was at direct odds with the flat tone of his voice. “You’re overreacting.”
His father waved a frustrated finger accusingly in his face. “Am I? That’s not just a swoop bike gang and you know it!”
He groaned in frustration and shoved a lock of hair behind his ear. “It’s not even a gang! It’s not like that!”
A hand slapped down on the speeder next to him hard enough to leave a dent. “The hell it isn’t! You think I don’t know how it is? How these things work?”
Ben crossed his arms defensively his eyes daring the older man to tell him about his life, as if he had been around or even cared for most of it. “Then tell me. How does it work- since you know so much?”
His father ran a hand through his hair in frustration and sighed. “Forget it! You don’t want to listen—“
Ben set his jaw and turned his head away, seething quietly. “Kind of like how you never listen to me?”
His father went very still. “Is that what you think? Ben—“
Ben couldn’t help the tears that sprung unwanted from his eyes. He felt the other man’s suddenly intense stare on his face. He resolutely refused to look his father in the eyes anymore. “Are we through here?”
His father’s voice was now full of worry and empathy. “Are you in trouble, son? Do you need help?”
He bowed his head slightly, letting his hair cover his eyes, not that it was working. He hated crying and it angered him that his father could elicit this reaction from him. He went on talking as if his father had never said anything. “Because I’m through here.”
Han closed the distance between them. “I know I’ve not been the best father—“
He let out a shaky sigh and spoke dryly. “Massive understatement—“
His father spoke softly and set a hand gently on his shoulder. “But if you’re ever in trouble- no matter what you’ve done- no matter where I am or what I’m doing- I’ll help you.”
Ben couldn’t help but to flinch. He looked up to his father with a sneer. Since when had Han Solo ever taken the time for any of that where his son was concerned before? It was too little too late, as far as he was concerned. “Yeah? I guess I’ll put your comlink number on speed dial then.” He suddenly shrugged Han’s arm from his shoulder and shoved off from the speeder, walking away. “You know what? I’ll find my own way back to the temple.”
He heard his father’s voice behind him, pleading with him. “Ben—“
Ben closed his eyes briefly and steeled himself. He didn’t look back. “See you around, Han.”
Ben jumped on his swoop bike and breathed a sigh of relief when it automatically lurched forward with a low buzzing sound. Pulling up on the throttle, it quickly shot down the street, swerving around traffic with a grace that could only come from having a driver with Force enhanced reflexes.
“Why did every kriffing planet in this system have to model their security forces after CorSec?” he muttered angrily to himself.
Usually he admired their efficiency, but it was quite different being on the other side of their efforts for once. The entire reason for this was due to the fact that he had lost his temper again; an unfortunate occurrence that had increasingly become a thing of regularity, though he did try to hide it from his uncle. This time though, this time, he was in for it and it was bad.
He could hear the sirens of the Planetary Security Force officers following him much closer than he would have liked. He feared being caught; he feared it greatly, actually. With a slightly shaking hand and a surge of adrenaline, Ben pushed the accelerator to the max, wishing he had been able to get his hands on a prototype accelerator instead, because it would never be fast enough. He needed it to be faster in order to outrun his problems.
From up ahead, more PSF officers were there to cut him off, so Ben made a sharp turn to the left, his swoop barely making the turn. He briefly looked over his shoulder at his pursuers, his hair flying into his face.
An amplified male voice sounded from a PSF speeder behind him. “This is the Planetary Security Force- pull over your vehicle immediately! I repeat- pull over immediately!”
He wouldn’t unless there were no other options. Ben tightened his grip on the controls and willed his swoop to go faster. His comlink went off. This was really not the time, but he had a feeling it was important. With half an eye on his pursuers, he answered. “Ren.”
Hux’s voice responded. “I have been informed by Supreme Leader Snoke that you are to—“ here Hux paused as if bracing himself and then continued disdainfully, “follow the will of the Force.”
Despite himself, Ben smirked. “That must have been painful for you to say.”
Hux had to be sneering. “He also wanted me to relay that failure is not an option. If so much weren’t dependent upon your success I would love to see you fail.”
However, Ben couldn’t banter with Hux any longer, as the PSF was closing in. The Force was urging him to do exactly the opposite of what he wanted to do, and he clenched his teeth in frustration. This was not how he wanted his day to go. “Well, then. Let’s hope you’re ready to do your part when the time comes. Ren out.”
Instead of continuing to outmaneuver the PSF on his swoop, Ben skidded to an abrupt halt, the momentum causing him to fly off the bike, but he was more than able to use the Force to roll and land gracefully on his feet, whilst raising his hands in surrender.
Ben was virtually surrounded by lights and sirens, all traffic having come to a stop around him, with bystanders curiously watching the scene in grim fascination. The PSF officers surrounded him, their militaristic uniforms and CDEF issue blaster pistols and rifles making the scene even more dire than it should have been for a mere traffic stop. Every weapon was trained on him.
He knew it was more than possible that he could outmaneuver them using the Force. He could cut them all down where they stood with his lightsaber, he could stop any blaster fire bolts with his lightsaber, and he had even been learning to use the Dark Side to stop the blaster fire altogether. He knew he could take them on and his chances of winning were high. However, to do so would be to go against what the Force wanted. He would have to cooperate.
A man in the uniform of a PSF Lieutenant stood directly in front of him with a blaster pistol. “Keep your hands up where we can see them! Get on the ground. Move!”
The next few moments consisted of Ben being shoved, pushed, roughly handled, having his lightsaber and comlink removed from his person, and having binders placed on his wrists before being shoved into the back of a PSF speeder.
Soon enough he was taken into the local precinct and booked before being taken into a room and seated at a table.
A uniformed woman with long brown hair walked into the room and sat on the other side of the table from him. She flashed a holographic badge and looked at him with piercing eyes. “My name is Inspector Roth. Under the law code of the New Republic, you have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to representation and may consult your representative now or at any time during questioning. Do you understand?”
Ben nodded, a lock of dark hair falling into his eyes. “Yes.”
She stared directly at him unerringly. “Good. You’ve been arrested for murder, destruction of public property, numerous traffic violations, and resisting arrest. What can you tell me about that?”
Ben raised an eyebrow and decided to remain silent. He really didn’t feel like giving these people much of anything. His body language alone was enough to infuriate the woman, and the Force confirmed it.
She placed her palms directly down on the table and leaned forward slowly in challenge. “How about a name?”
Ben smirked at her. “Kylo Ren. Aren’t I supposed to get a comm call?”
The woman pursed her lips in disagreement, but finally relented.
Ben was then escorted out of the room by an extremely burly looking bald man and practically shoved into a room with wall mounted comm units, before having his binders roughly taken off.
The bald Master Sergeant had a gruff voice. “You only get one comm call.”
The door was sealed behind him, and Ben stared at the comm units in frustration. He really didn’t want to make this call. Walking over to one, he stood before it with trepidation.
A holographic image came to life over the unit, and a smiling blue Twi’lek woman appeared. “This is the Intergalactic Planetary Communications Corporation. From state of the art ship comm units to personal comlinks, we’ve been dedicated to providing all of your communication needs for over seventy Galactic Standard years. Would you like to place a comm call?”
Ben quickly typed in the comlink number he wanted before he thought better of it.
The hologram winked at him. “Please state your name.”
He wasn’t amused. “Ben Solo.”
The hologram was now twisting her lekku flirtatiously. “Just one moment.”
Mon Calamari opera music started playing and then the crackling of a comlink was answered. His father’s voice filtered through. “Solo.”
Before Ben could say anything, the holographic Twi’lek came to life again. “You have received a collect comm call from the Planetary Security Force Correctional Holding Facility from—“ the unit paused. “Ben Solo,” the unit said in his own voice. “Do you accept?”
Han immediately responded. “Yes. Ben?”
The Twi’lek disappeared and was replaced by holographic advertisements for the New Republic Bank and Coruscant Crown Casino.
Ben figured he’d start off glib and go from there. “Hey, Han. How are you today?”
His father immediately jumped right to the point. “Ben, what the hell is going on? Why are you—“
Ben wasn’t about to let his father dominate this conversation. “So, I thought I’d call and—you know—chat.”
He was determined to ignore his father as much as possible. “At first I thought about calling Mother, but I figured she wouldn’t want to be disturbed, what with the First Order problem she’s finding herself embroiled in today.”
“Then I thought about calling Uncle Luke, especially considering he may have already sensed something was up. But, it didn’t seem right to take him away from his other students just to talk to me. I’m afraid he’s quite the busy Jedi today.”
Now his father sounded even more frustrated. Good. “Ben, what—“
Ben waved a dismissive hand his father couldn’t see. “Hush, Han. I’m talking here. By process of elimination, that left me with calling you.”
There was a short silence. “What happened?”
He kept up the glib attitude even though his stomach was turning in knots. “Oh, you know. The usual. Had a disagreement with someone. Lost my temper. Killed a man—“
His father sounded appropriately horrified. “You what?”
Ben continued doggedly. “Well, he wasn’t exactly a man, per se. He was Bothan.”
“Why? Tell me exactly what happened. Ben, you’d better start explaining—“
Ben paused for a long time and then spoke quietly. “This may take a while.”
His father reassured him. “Then it will just have to take a while.”
Ben let out a shaky breath. “Okay. All right—okay. I—I’m afraid I’m not the Jedi I should be.”
His father was confused. “What’s that got to do with—“
He was nervous. “Just listen! Okay? I—this is hard to say—“
“Take your time, son.”
It was now or never. Ben didn’t think he’d ever just outright told anyone this, even Snoke. “I don’t want to be a Jedi. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve come to hate the very idea of Jedi altogether.”
The incredulous utterance his father made was not unexpected. “What!”
Ben ran a hand through his hair. “I know—you think that it would be something I wanted—and I did. It’s just—now—I—“ Ben trailed off. “I can’t meditate. Not like they do. Not for a long time. And—before you ask—Uncle Luke never really has time for me—so I’ve let it go and it’s gotten worse. My emotions—all of it. I can’t release them into the Force like I should be able to. I’m not even sure I want to. So—I don’t. I tried. I’m sorry.”
He started pacing. Now that he had started, he was determined that he would get it all out. Everything. He would tell his father everything. “I’m not like you. I used to wish I was—did you know that? You can keep your emotions. Force sensitives—we—our emotions—anyway—the point is I looked for a new way to meditate. Mother is always busy. Uncle Luke never has time. You—well— Nobody listens—“
His father’s voice was emphatic. “I’m listening—“
It was a nice sentiment, but he ignored it anyway. He needed to say all of this. Perhaps it would be cathartic. “They never have. So—I found grandfather’s helmet.”
His father’s voice was a miasma of confusion and distaste. “Vader? His helmet? What does that have to do with anything?”
Ben gave a deprecating laugh. “Yes—it sounds crazy doesn’t it? I know it does. I started talking to him. I figured I might as well. Nobody else ever listened—so it couldn’t hurt—could it? He became my new meditation focus.”
Han sounded wary now. “Ben, I’m not sure I understand—“
Ben replied honestly. “I’m not sure I do either. It helped for a while—or maybe not—I don’t really know. Then I—you know the swoop gang?”
His father sounded resigned now. “Yeah. I remember.”
Ben kept pacing. “I almost told you about everything then. It’s exactly what you said it was, you know. The swoop gang is just a front.”
He could hear the weariness in his father’s voice. “I hoped I was wrong about that.”
Ben nodded. “I know. I could sense it. You know—I—I’m not at all what you think I am.”
“Then what are you?” his father demanded.
He felt so nervous right now. His whole body was trembling. “I—it’s complicated. I don’t know—confused, mostly.” He didn’t think he’d ever felt this raw and vulnerable. This was so hard to do, but he had to try to reach out to someone. His voice broke. “I—Dad—Dad—I need you. I need help. You were right. You said— you said no matter what I’ve done—you’d help me?”
He could hear the emotion and the determination in his father’s voice. Han’s voice sounded like it was going to break too. “Yeah. Yeah—I did. You’re my son. I’ll always be there if you need me. You want me to come now?”
Ben closed his eyes in relief. “It’s—yes. I need you to come. I need one person on my side. Snoke and Hux don’t count—not really—but—“
Han’s voice was sharp. “Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order?”
“Yes—he’s—you know I really think his vision for the galaxy has to be better than the New Republic. He’s—“
His father’s tone sounded hard. “Don’t tell me you’re involved with the First Order.”
Ben hastened to explain. “Supreme Leader Snoke has been teaching me about the Force— it’s so much more than I was learning with the Jedi—I—“
“Are you using the Dark Side?” his father demanded quietly.
Ben was momentarily breathless. His heart started beating faster. He didn’t respond. He wasn’t expecting a direct question like that. His nervousness and fear returned with a vengeance. What would his father say if he knew the truth?
Ben took a shaky breath and tried to still his shaking hands. “I—yes. I have been. I am. That’s the problem. I used it and I lost control today. But it’s—it’s not like I wanted to kill anyone—I just wanted him to shut up—and he made me so angry—I couldn’t—“ Ben closed his eyes. “But the Dark Side. Oh—Dad— I can’t resist it. It calls to me—I’m in so much trouble. I can’t—not on my own. I need help.”
Han sounded determined, but there was a slight hint of panic there too. “I’m on my way—and Luke—I should call him. I can’t—“
The very thought of seeing Luke Skywalker right now filled Ben with fear. He wasn’t ready to face his uncle yet. His uncle would turn his father against him. “No! You can’t! I just want you. I said I needed one person on my side. I don’t want him. I don’t want Mother. I want you.”
“Ben, how can I help you when I’m not Force sensitive?”
Ben found himself nervously fiddling with the ends of his sleeves. “I don’t expect you to help with that. I—you’ve killed men before—you understand—what I’m feeing right now. And—I need your help with the First Order—“
His father sounded contemplative. “Yeah—I could probably help with that—“
Ben felt relieved and almost smiled. He continued on excitedly. “And when you said you’d gone to the Imperial Academy—it made me think—and then I just knew. I knew then that if anyone could understand everything you would—you’d see things my way—and finally someone would listen and understand my side of things—“
There was silence and then— “Ben—why am I beginning to think that the kind of help you want isn’t the kind of help I’m talking about?”
Ben’s eyes widened in shock and confusion. “What? What did you think I meant? They’re not really able to hold me here—it’s not like I need help getting out of here or anything—but I figured—why not call my father? Why not convince him to work with me helping the First Order—just like you did with the Rebellion? I want you to help me—just one person in my life that gets me—“
His father now sounded quite upset almost as if he was heartbroken. “Your mother—your uncle—your friends—do you realize what you’re saying—what will happen?”
Ben’s palms felt sweaty. He hastened to reassure his father. “But if you help me—then they might see too! Don’t you get it? They’re just misguided—but we could both make them see—they’ll listen to you—“
His father was quiet. “No, Ben, they won’t. What the First Order is doing is wrong—“
Ben began to feel panic and desperation welling within him. “That’s such Sithspit! Why do you care one-way or the other? You didn’t really care about mother’s Rebellion at all—I know—I heard the stories. You were a smuggler. You were in it for credits! And that’s okay—Supreme Leader Snoke will give you credits if that’s what you want—“
His father yelled. “The Empire was wrong, Ben! I’ve lived it—and if the First Order is anything like it—then what they want for the galaxy isn’t any good either.” Then he paused and spoke gently. “Now—I’m calling Luke and your mother, because it’s obvious I won’t be able to handle this on my own. We’ll help—just not the way you want. The help you want and the help you need aren’t always going to be the same.”
Ben’s body froze. He almost felt as if he couldn’t breath properly. His heart felt as if it had lodged in his throat. Ice filled his veins. This was rejection and it hurt. He spoke tonelessly. “So—what you’re saying is—you’re not really going to help me.”
“Not the way you want help—no. I’m sorry, Ben. Overthrowing governments and killing people isn’t the kind of life I want for you. It’s wrong.”
The combination of censure and pity was almost too much for Ben to handle. His despair was quickly turning to ire. “Is that the sound of hypocrisy I hear in your voice, Han Solo? Are you really going to preach to me about right and wrong, old man? You said—you said—you told me you would—but you’re not are you? It was all talk—“
“Now listen here—“
Ben’s vision was obscured and he felt hot tears running down his face. He felt so bereft right now. He found himself yelling. “No—you listen! Nobody ever listens! Well—they’re going to start listening now. You’re just like all the rest—self-righteous—you're my father! You should be on my side! But no one ever is! That’s why I need to help bring order to this galaxy and make you all see—“
“Ben—you need to calm down right now—“
Ben’s jaw tensed and he clenched his hands. “I hate you!”
“No, you don’t.”
Ben was seething. He was practically insensate he was so angry. “Don’t tell me what I’m feeling! I loathe you! You lied to me—you’re a traitor—like all the rest—I don’t know why I even entertained the idea of hope—I hate you so much—and you know what? Han Solo—do you know what? If you’re not with me then you’re against me—“
Han Solo sounded sad. “Son—I love you—we all do—“
Ben growled. “Stop lying to me!”
Throwing out a hand, Ben used the Force and destroyed all the comm units in the room. He then slumped against the wall, his anger suddenly spent. Oh, kriff! What had he just done? He’d told his father everything; and now his mother and his uncle would soon know everything too. They were all against him and he was just as alone as he ever was but now they all knew about him. Despite their meaningless platitudes, Ben Solo knew that he would never be the son, the nephew, or the Jedi they wanted him to be. He had nothing. He only had the First Order and his grandfather’s legacy now. If this was the will of the Force, was he strong enough to endure and see it through? He had no idea and that scared him more than a little bit.
The door abruptly opened and the Master Sergeant came barreling into the room with one of those horrible CDEF blaster pistols from Corellia in his grip. He looked at the destroyed room in disbelief. “What the hell happened here?”
Ben straightened up and gave a cocky smirk. He shrugged. “Boring conversation—“
The other man looked at him in disgust. “Why you pathetic kriffing Sith Spawn!”
The Master Sergeant had no idea how true that actually was, Ben thought idly.
A humming buzz filled the darkened chamber of the temple, the blue lightsaber causing elusive shadows to spread wherever it shed its light. Ben stalked forward in a combination of dread and adrenaline. He spoke softly. “I know you’re there.”
The answer he received was a swift movement in his peripheral vision. A distraction.
Ben closed his eyes and let the Force guide his senses. “I can feel you.” There! To the left. “The only question is—“ He held out his hand and pushed. “Why are you hiding—like a coward?”
The deactivated droid he had sent in that direction with the Force crashed into the wall. It had been enough to flush out his opponent.
The other man now stood in front of him, brown robes and gray beard marking him for who and what he was; a Jedi, and that was without even activating his own lightsaber. What was worse was that his demeanor was entirely too calm.
This stoked Ben’s ire. He paced with a glower, his body language threatening. His voice was a growl. “Why won’t you fight me?”
The older man spoke earnestly. “I refuse to give you fodder for your violence. I feel the conflict within you. It’s not too late. Let go of this hatred, Ben!”
Ben sneered in scorn. “Is that what you told my grandfather too? I’m not like him. I won’t give in to this! I go by Kylo Ren now and I will continue what he started and failed to do. Look around you! Your pathetic Jedi Order has fallen, old man. And- I’ve found another teacher- one who isn’t limited by a Jedi’s weak and narrow view of the Force!”
“Many may have died here today, Ben, but there are others that escaped this. There is always hope.”
Ben’s jaw tensed in rage. “Then I will just have to hunt them down!” At the last word, he punctuated it with a violent swing of his lightsaber, aimed to cleave the other man in two.
His lightsaber clashed with the Jedi’s green one in an angry hum, but it was swiftly angled away, his opponent utilizing reflexes that should have belonged to a much younger man. The Jedi’s swift defensive moves seemed to give in to his violence but also managed to effortlessly take his own energy from him.
It was infuriating. He sent another blow, just as swift as the first back to the Jedi, only to find himself blocked again. Ben narrowed his eyes, seething. “I’m going to kill you, Luke Skywalker.”
Luke was a picture of serenity, tinged with sadness and pity. “You will try.”
Ben’s yell of outrage was accompanied by another fierce blow to his former teacher.
In a move so swift, Luke Skywalker parried and then abruptly cut off the power to his green lightsaber.
The result was devastating to Ben’s offense. He stumbled forward, his blue lightsaber tumbling from his grip.
It flew straight into Luke Skywalker’s waiting hands.
Ben warily took a step back from the older man, angling his body away in sudden fear. His heart rate accelerated and his shoulders tightened. He threw his hand out before him, trying to dislodge the lightsbaber from his old master’s grip. Ben suddenly found himself unable to move, the Force keeping him in place like a recalcitrant youngling. His voice betrayed his fear. “Give it back and fight me!”
Instead, his old master looked down at the lightsaber and examined it, a wistful expression on his face. “This lightsaber has seen a lot of violence. I know now that it was a mistake to give it to you—another conflicted young man. You’re too much like the one who made it. You must forgive me for this. It was foolish of me.”
The desperation of a lifetime grew in Ben in that moment. The pain, the rage, all of it, he needed something to hang on to. That lightsaber was one of his only connections to a past he never knew but connected with more than his present. “It’s mine! You don’t deserve it! I will fulfill his legacy with it!”
The Jedi fixed him with a piercing look of compassion. Luke’s words were quiet and firm. “No, Ben. Not today.” Luke looked up at him with tears in his eyes. “I have failed you. I am so sorry.”
With that, Luke Skywalker turned and walked away, leaving Ben immobile. Despite his visible sadness and regret, there was a certain placid nature about the man.
It was a nature that Ben himself had never known, but had once loved and coveted for himself. It was all ash and bitter gall to him now. It made him hate Luke Skywalker all the more. He was sick with it.
When he could finally move again, Ben stumbled woodenly, barely cognizant of his own actions. How he eventually made it aboard the First Order’s Star Destroyer, the Finalizer, he would never recall.
Clad all in black, his hood pulled over his head, Ben stood and looked out of the viewport. He felt a presence behind him.
“It must be hard,” Hux’s voice rang insincerely. “Trying and failing at your objective.” He gave a significant pause, and then— “I wouldn’t know.”
Hux walked up beside him and stopped. He didn’t face him, but looked out of the viewport himself. “Even still, it wasn’t a complete wash. So, there’s that, at least.”
Later, after reporting to Supreme Leader Snoke, Ben found himself trying to make sense of everything and justifying actions that perhaps couldn’t be justified. Even the Jedi Code, Snoke had told him, had some grains of truth. For all of their adherence to a so-called Light Side, even Jedi had believed that the Force was not contained by their feeble view of it. There is the Force.
And, even later, when reports started pouring in, news of his parents and his uncle came to his ears. His uncle had disappeared, having no purpose without any students around to teach. His mother had started the Resistance. His father had left his mother and returned to smuggling. They had done it all because of him. It was what he had wanted, but things hadn’t turned out the way he had hoped they would. Nothing had. Was any of this worth it?
‘Do not', Snoke had said, ‘limit yourself as they did. When you free yourself of these limited views of the Dark and the Light, the Sith and the Jedi, you’re simply left with the Force itself. Use it, Ren! Break the chains of your own making. Only then will your training be complete.’
At that moment, Ben had seen this wisdom for what it was. ‘You are most wise, Supreme Leader,’ he had responded. He had meant it.
And, later still, when he was alone, back before the viewport, looking out at the vastness of space, he contemplated this again. All of this had already cost him so much, and he had suffered greatly because of it. But, in that moment, a sudden understanding enveloped him, all previous words and teachings flooding him and coalescing into an epiphany. He had made these chains that now burdened him, but the Force itself would break them. He felt a surge of fierce determination. Kylo Ren clenched a fist. “The Force,” he told himself with assurance and a hint of wonder. “The Force shall free me.”