Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Why did you have to make it so easy?
His father's staring at him, eyes pleading, but not for himself—for his son. And Kylo Ren is teetering, knowing he's luring his father, tricking, manipulating—and yet meaning every word.
His lightsaber plunges into his father, and it's over, he'll be free, he has killed the light.
Except Han's fingers trace his face, and Ben wants to close his eyes, go back to a time where he was sitting on his father's lap, asking for stories about the Rebellion, the Force, his grandfather—
His grandfather. That's why he's done this. He remembers as his father's fingers fall away, as Han falls away—and his grandfather's there. Darth Vader is watching.
"Grand—" he begins, but he doesn't get any further. Now Kylo's falling, tumbling through the air—use the Force, pull yourself up, do something or you'll die you're going to die—someone is laughing, who is laughing, this isn't funny—
With a gasp, Kylo Ren jolts up in his bed, shaking and with bile stinging his mouth. He swallows. It's bitter. It burns.
His fingers trace the scar that stupid girl gave him on that same night, months ago. Why is he still dreaming about this? Snoke would be furious if he knew, if he discovers the pull of the light still hums inside his protégé's soul. He shudders as he pictures Snoke's disappointment.
Kylo looks towards his grandfather's helmet for solace yet again. It's becoming a nightly occurrence: nightmares, prayers to his grandfather, biting terror that Snoke will find out just how weak Kylo is—so weak that what should have severed the light entirely seems to have awakened it.
A knock on the door shatters his turmoil. A stormtrooper gives him a message. Snoke has requested his presence. Kylo chugs a cup of water, splashes it on his face to get rid of the sweat before he plunks on his mask and strides down the hallway.
"Your hands are shaking. Are you all right?"
Kylo tenses as he turns to Hux. The General's facade of concern breaks when Hux can't stop himself from smirking. "I'm fine. Why are you here?"
"Snoke summoned both of us." Hux grins as he pushes open the door, marching in ahead of Kylo, who picks up the pace to approach Snoke ahead of the General.
He folds his hands and Snoke doesn't notice as he gives them their assignment: to find Maz Kanata and bring her to him.
"Find Maz? Why?" Rey turns to Luke, her stomach jumping.
"You don't need to know yet."
"If we're doing this mission together, it'd be helpful to know—" Rey begins.
"We're not doing this together." Luke crosses his arms, leaning against a rugged rock. R2-D2 chirps in the background.
"You're ready. For a mission such as this."
"By myself?" She's ready. She is. Is she? Rey can't decide whether she wants to leap in excitement that Luke thinks so well of her, or give in to her old insecurities. You're no one.
"So long as you focus. Follow the Force and it will lead you. It's calling from Takodana." Luke pries himself away from the rocks and sits on the grass. Rey copies him.
"I'm not fully trained yet."
"Neither was I when I left Yoda to save my friends. Although that was a trap. This is not."
He is not reassuring her. She chooses her words carefully. "Why… just me?"
"It won't be just you. I won't be there, but you'll have others." Luke gives her a smile, an almost fatherly smile, as if he knows something Rey does not. "I couldn't have done half the things I did without Leia... and Han."
Rey yanks up a chunk of grass and tosses it over the precipice and into the sea. She can't see where it lands. Han. She still feels a mixture of horror and rage and that all too familiar feeling of someone she loved leaving her forever when she thinks about him, remembers his own son stabbing him to death.
"Rey." Luke's hand is gentle on her arm. "You must control your anger."
Luke laughs. "Believe me, I know."
"So..." She tosses a stone now. "Who's going with me? Chewie? R2?"
"R2's staying here. But Chewie, of course. You can't go anywhere without your co-pilot. And Finn. And BB-8, because I of all people know how useful droids can be, and according to my sister, BB-8's been missing you. Poe Dameron agreed to it. Says—and I quote him here—you kicked a lot of ass together last time. "
Rey laughs. "When do we leave?"
Takodana. Different location, same planet.
The last time Kylo was here, he captured the girl... and his father was also here. Was alive.
Stop! Kylo gulps in air, clenching his fists and glancing at a dour Hux. "Search the village."
"Yes, sir." Kylo can tell just how much Hux hates answering to him and relishes it.
Stormtroopers fan out, marching through the town. Random screams pierce the air, occasionally accompanied by a blaster shot. Kylo heads towards the cantina, clutching his lightsaber. What a fool this Maz is. Why would anyone stay on the same planet after the First Order destroyed her palace?
There's a flash in the forest, and Kylo whirls towards it, remembering how the girl fled into it. He slides closer, quiet, lightsaber ready in his hands and head swimming with the promise of Hux's scowl when he's captured Maz and Snoke's praise—
"You're as dumb as a Hutt!"
A thud, and a child's voice yells back, "At least my father wasn't a—"
Another thud. Kylo peers around the enormous tree he's hiding behind to see four kids, none of who could be older than eight, tussling with no idea of what was going on in their town.
Three against one, but the one boy was fighting back on his own. He might have made a good stormtrooper.
"Ben, what did you do?" his mother shouts.
"They were hitting me, so I hit them back!"
His lightsaber sings as it turns on and he marches out form behind the tree. Three of the boys scream and flee deeper into the forest. The one boy, skin around his eyes indigo and maroon, gawps at him.
"Who are you?"
Maz Kanata. His mission. Kylo shakes his head and turns on his heel, stalking away. Footsteps behind him tell him the boy is following. Fool.
In the cantina, tables are overturned, the smell of ale stings his nostrils, and people cower on the ground, flinching whenever his lightsaber comes close.
Hux punches a Rodian who is tied to a chair in the face. Blood spurts from the creature's nose. "Where is she?"
"Step aside, Hux," Kylo says calmly.
"Where were you?"
"Step aside!" Using the Force, Kylo pushes Hux to the floor. The man grunts as he hits and, Kylo is sure, glowers up at him. No matter. Now Hux might be aware of his proper place again.
"Where is Maz Kanata?" Kylo brings the edge of his lightsaber close to its green face. Sweat sizzles on its skin.
"I don't know, I don't know—ahhh!" he screams, writhing as much as his restraints allow as Kylo uses the Force to tear apart his mind, look for—there.
"Kill him," he orders a stormtrooper.
"Kill them all," adds Hux, now standing tall and stiff next to Kylo.
"Wait until I return," Kylo barks as he heads down the stairs.
"Is it really necessary to kill them all, Ben Solo?"
The creature isn't even hiding. She's waiting at the edge of the stairs, arms folded, with almost a smile on her face.
"Don't call me that!" Kylo shouts, pointing his lightsaber at her. "Get upstairs!"
"Your parents named you Ben Solo, and you can't run away from that forever. Darth Vader could never quite leave Anakin Skywalker—"
"Shut up!" Kylo chokes her with the Force, watches her sputter and wheeze. "Take her away," he orders the stormtroopers.
"Now, kill them all," Hux commands.
Kylo turns to the insufferable general. Whatever Snoke's opinion, he can't tolerate the man's arrogance anymore! "You should have waited for me instead of wasting—"
"I didn't know how long you'd be, and I can—"
Kylo's eyes sweep the room, watching scantily clad Twi'leks clutch their lovers and wail as the stormtroopers aim. A pair of eyes meets his from under a table.
He can take him for a stormtrooper. But Kylo knows Hux will say the child is too old, and he is. Kylo could say he senses the Force in the child, but he doesn't. He just senses himself.
Kylo backs against the table, his dark cloak concealing the child from the stormtroopers, from the blasters, from Hux. "Why must you always challenge me?"
"Me?" Hux sputters. "You knocked me to the floor! In front of people!"
"I'm in charge here!"
Hux swallows, eyes glittering. "Snoke thinks you're special because you can use the Force, but really, you are petulant, distractible, and weak," he hisses. "You can't—"
Silence takes over as the stormtroopers finish their duty. Kylo motions for them to leave.
"After you," Hux sneers.
"No." Kylo uses the Force to push him out ahead of the stormtroopers. "After you."
He can hear the boy's sniffles from under the table, but the kid is alive. Hopefully his parents are too.
Unless they were in here.
Kylo shakes off that thought as he marches out, the door slamming behind him with a hollow bang. He owes the child nothing more.
He heads for the ship, which landed in a small clearing in the forest. A cloud slides over the sun, and shadows vanish into a deep grey. A twig snaps behind him, and the unmistakable sound of a blaster fires through the air.
Red pain sears through his shoulder. Purple stars spark in his eyes. Black grabs him and pulls him down.
"The Force didn't help you then, did it?" scoffs Hux as he kicks Kylo's limp body and saunters back to the ship, alone.