nuclear

They were young once, nothing more than boys and girls with powers too great to contain for our non-sensitive parents.

It's almost hard to believe that something called innocence ever existed in their lives. They've lost so much over the years, humanity has barely escaped them yet.

It will probably be the last thing that the Supreme Leader takes from us, the final contribution to their great, great, journey.

Kylo says everything will be alright, sometimes, I wonder if he believes that himself. Until then...I guess we wait? We don't really have that much of a choice anyway, all we have is each other, and sometimes I don't even remember my own name. My true name. Sometimes, I catch this one trooper without his helmet on, and I think to myself-such an inconsequential creature. He is darker in the skin than I, but he carries this lost look in his eyes, barely a hint of recognition behind them. I understand that it is against regulation for a Trooper to take his helmet off whilst he/she is on duty. I want to punish him, to make him hide himself. It angers me that he seems so lost, like he is barely alive. He should be proud, proud to serve this great cause of ours.

Until I realize why I am truly angry, why seeing his face displeased me so.

I see the same face on mine when I look in the mirror every morning and night.

And I hate it the more I see it.

What displeased me even more, is that every time our eyes meet, or figuratively speaking of course, his eyes spring to life. It is strange, and I cannot explain it, but it is what it is. He knows I've caught him, and there is zero point in reprimanding him as the Trooper immediately slams his helmet on his head, and apologizes profusely, and calls me a "sir" of all things. He seems scared out of his wits, but I know better. He does not beg for my forgiveness nor mercy, and perhaps he does not care as much as he would lead me to believe. Perhaps he is hoping I end him on the spot, if only to escape this hell for another while. But I don't, and I find this all, gravely amusing.

Which also disturbs me greatly.

I do not acknowledge it, it makes things easier to digest for us both.

My brief, forgettable encounters with this Trooper that seeks solace in the same secluded halls as I shakes me to my core, and I am reminded that I am not alone, and that Troopers are human as I am too.

Are we all to surrender our souls for faith?

- Unnamed Knight of Ren-29 ABY.

Jedi Killer!

He can hear the whispers everywhere he goes.

Jedi Killer!

He destroyed the Jedi.

When people ask if the Force is truly real, his name is second on their breath. Usually.

He despises them, their no different from anyone he's ever met, ever. They're all afraid, and they very well should be, he is bigger than all of them, he and his brothers and sisters. The First Order tip toe around him, sometimes pretend he doesn't exist, like some sort of monster that hides beneath them when they sleep, or in the dark depths of their no doubt deep closets. But they're wrong, so very wrong.

The galaxy has fooled themselves in to thinking that monsters hide in closets or under beds, when indeed, they are right in front of them. In plain sight.

He realizes that he has done horrible things. And he understands that he must continue to do so. So it was, Kylo Ren was stuck. It is like falling, then gradually slowing down to a halt-but you never hit the ground. No, he has been suspended in time for years now, his body grows, but he as a man does not. He can feel it sometimes when he summons the Force, and it barely hears his call. It can be something as simple as calling forth a cup to his hand that is so much more difficult than say, taking a blaster bolt to the shoulder and allowing the dark to fuel his body through the pain. It is moments like these that strike out to him, even while he is in this daze, that remind him how far he has truly fallen. It is beyond too late for him to turn back, there is nowhere to run, no one, not even his own family will take him back. He knows this, and the Knights of Ren know it too.

For it is just as much a fact for him as it is for them.

They are all they've got now, these forsaken souls are now kindred spirits forced together by their own doing. Perhaps they were too young, too naive, but it is much too late to regret it all now, so the choice between suffering alone or burning together becomes clearer, easier.

They must all endure this hell together.

The first time Kylo Ren had ever killed a man was when he was fifteen, on one of his father's "adventures" which even he knew by then were just cover ups for his low-key smuggling runs. Han Solo was never one to stay in place for too long, though he endured only by brokering a deal with his mother that occasionally, he will leave home for a bit with Chewie to "remain sane."

Whatever that meant anymore.

He had met a boy, on the last trip his father had ever took him on. He was olive skinned, and hair that oddly enough, reminded him of his father.

But there was a lot more to it than that. So much more.

Han Solo never let his son actually see his dealings, such was his way as the legendary general and elusive scoundrel-that he found ways to keep his son out of this side of his life, was also, well, living that life. All at the same time.

Chewbacca was a welcome distraction, after all, this was but a simple trade of hands that was as inconsequential as a game of pazaak. And yet like all things in life, it never goes according to plan. So he had sent him off with Ben to explore this meaningless smugglers den of a planet. Han had left inside to the cantina with a twi'lek male, the door swished open and alcohol combined with must rushed out, forming a superior force to subjugate poor Ben's nostrils to a fate worse than death.

Ben had scrunched his face in obvious distaste, but with Uncle Chewbacca's gentle yet firm tugging on his arm, he begrudgingly walked away.

As a growing teenager year old, Kylo Ren was nothing but a slip of the boy he was meant to be. His Force powers were manageable, damn near dormant. He could sense things though, had a knack for knowing people, but Han never wanted to exploit it, and Leia never asked. Their son was special, they had always known that.

It wouldn't be the first time someone tip toed around him, nor would it be the last.

He was at an okay height not yet eclipsing his father but almost a foot taller than his mother. On the other hand, he was as skinny as a boot lace, yet his nose, his ears-too big. He had wide, all knowing eyes, and the anxiety he felt around concentrated attention kept him silent. There were times where he shined though, academically, he was a prodigy. Truly the son of the prestigious pedigree that is Leia Organa. He had to live with high expectations his entire life, and after a while, those expectations become him. He was surrounded by people, yet he never felt the company.

So lost.

And they say you can see the same eyes in different people.

So when he broke away from Chewie, mumbling under his breath about not being a kid anymore, he heard, no, felt, an extreme case of despair. One that almost brought him to the floor in pieces. It came with a signal, or maybe a stench? Regardless, a trail, and so he followed it to the source.

What he found disgusted him to the core.

A man, big, plushy, and from where he was standing, in dire need of a moral cleansing, had a boy crowded in a corner, and he was groping him, moaning under his breath. Calling him beautiful. He had begun to push the boy down by his head, down to his knees.

Ben knew this for what it was.

He could hear the sobs from the other boy, could feel the rage at how he had been subjected to this fate. The boy allowed this though, clearly this must be one of those fabled last resorts that he had heard his mother ranting about one night as she discussed reworking impoverished communities on Coruscant. In one moment, a foul feeling dressed over Ben, he suddenly realized just how horrible life is for some people, if not most. He did not know either male, but he knew that this should not be happening, and that this must be ended.

Immediately.

Stop him Ben, you know how.

It was the voice again, and it was telling him what to do. Again.

"Stop!" Who was that meant for, again?

The man did, however.

He turned his head, a snarl on his lips, nevermind, a scar, that distorted his lip so, and he felt impossibly worse about this situation.

That boy could have been him, in another life, if he wasn't so fortunate and privileged.

That's Princess Leia's son.

That's the son of that bastard Han Solo.

That's the-

That's

"Stop!" And so his hand thrust out.

And the man smacked against the wall. Hard.

Ben heard a crack, and he wasn't sure if it was from the man, or the wall.

He raised his hand up again though, this guy needed to learn. Needed to learn that what he did was unforgivable, and that there are no second chances for men like him. The man raised with his fist, and Ben's fist began closing, slowly, imperceptibly at first. The man in his invisible grasp was not moving, not even trying to fight back, and through the nonsensical, hazy rage, Ben acknowledged that the man was already dead, if the bloody impact in the wall is anything to go by.

Nevermind the fact that the life within his corpse had dimmed to nothing at all.

Ben's hand shut, and he heard a snap.

His hand dropped, and so did the man, neck mangled. The moment had ended as quick as it began.

(At a later time, Kylo Ren notes how easy his first kill was, how quick the Force answered his summons. Then, he tries to reason out why still, to this very day, that it fights him so on other occasions, why still, almost 15 years from that day, that the Force pulls at him so. He still has no fucking answer.)

The haze clears, he can breathe again, it is now that he realizes that his heart is pumping in his ears. He can feel the blood pumping in his veins.

He looks up from the lifeless form, his eyes meeting large brown, terrified eyes. The same fear Ben had felt before hangs in the air, perhaps it is in his clothes by now. He notes that thankfully, the boy is not in a total state of undress, and that his pants are unbuckled, but not around his knee's. He realizes that he had arrived just in time, as things were about to become much worse. He approaches slowly, and the boy backs up to nowhere, now remembering that his back is literally to the wall. He nearly whimpers in fright, but his body freezes, and so does the rise and fall of his chest. Ben was always good at reading people, a gift and a curse. He could tell this boy was afraid, yet as they stood, he could see that he looked no younger than he did, nor any older, the same age maybe?

Once again, he realizes not for the first time, how lucky he truly is-that this indeed could have been him.

Would a savior had found him then?

Only you can save the helpless, you have the power. It's in your blood, let me help you. Let me help you, Ben.

He halts, he is scaring someone he had just saved, and the voice is at it again. He grits his teeth and grinds his palm against his forehead. His head hurts, a splitting pain, and he screams from the torture. His ears are ringing, and he calls out for his father, for his Uncle Chewbacca, he feels like he's dying. There's something grasping his heart, tearing it in two, it's like he's in a burning building, trapped, and he is breathing in the hell-fire and brimstone, letting it destroy his lungs. He can't breathe, so he is laid out on the ground, hand grasping for the other male in a desperate plea for help, suddenly, the roles reversed. Is he going to die? Will he help or run?

He had just killed a man.

It sinks in, the adrenaline is gone, and death is taking its place. Is this punishment? He can't truly tell, what had he done wrong?

He had saved a life, by taking another...But he still saved someone.

Someone who needed him.

He yells for his father, for anyone, but no one answers. No one, but him.

I am always here for you, Ben.

Trust me.

The word echoes in his brain, trust.

He must trust the voice, because the voice tells him to. The voice wants to keep him alive, and all it wants in return is Ben's trust. It's fairly amusing, but Ben doesn't have the oxygen necessary to laugh.

I will keep you safe.

And so the fire inside settles, gradually, but it's almost soothing, the receding pain is almost orgasmic in how it leaves him. He realizes that this must be the Force, maybe some sort of twisted mercy that it is bestowing on him. For a moment, he wants to chase after it, the rush and despair of knowing you're about to die, but having all that pain taken away in less than a blink of his eyes suddenly fulfills this entire incident. He had went through hell just now, and it felt wonderful, he felt validated.

(Somewhere, Snoke chuckles. He admires his handy work, or rather, a few words of encouragement to his new favorite prospect. Yes, Ben Solo will do nicely.)

Suddenly, a hand grasps his, and lightning shoots through his palm. He looks up through bleary eyes, and meets the eyes of the boy he had just saved. His mouth is moving, and he hears the words, but doesn't hear them. His brow furrows in confusion, and he tries to say, "What?" But he can't hear his own words either.

Finally, after another delirious minute, he can hear again. The boy was asking him, "Are you alright? What can I do? What can I do?"

He notes the distress in his voice, it sounds much like his mother's when his father disappears after a particularly nasty fight.

"Y-yeah. I am, I guess." He tries to sit up, and the boy let's him, but helps him to his feet. He now realizes his head was in the boy's lap.

"I thought you were-well, dead, or dying? I don't know, you just dropped and I...wasn't sure." He is on wobbly legs, but thanks to the support from the other male and a wall, Ben supposes he'll be alright, for now.

"I'm fine," he lies, "I should be asking you that." He can't help but keep the accusatory tone out of his voice, but naturally, it just comes out.

The boy is shaken still, Ben doesn't blame him, he is too. But aside from his earlier fear of him, of his own savior, the other boy shrugs his shoulders slightly, and backs away some odd steps.

Ben grunts, and stares at his hand, the same one he had used to kill the man, a few moments of staring nets him the knowledge that he is shaking terribly.

He heaves his guts on to the floor.

It's definitely not one his more better moments, and somewhere in his head, he notes that this isn't usually how the action hero holo movies go.

"Who are...you? And how, what, how, did you do that?" There's a hint of aggressiveness in the boy's tone now, strange.

"M'Ben. And I don't know."

"Um'Ben?" The boy states in confusion, "Interesting name."

Sigh. "No, it's Ben."

"Oh. Wait, what do you mean you don't know? You did it! You know what you're doing, and I know what that was, that...thing you did. That was the Force wasn't it?" The boy grasps Ben's jacket, forcing him to face him again instead of the ugly mess of breakfast from hours ago on the dirt.

It doesn't even sound like a question, after all, he did just say he knew what it was.

"I guess? I've never done that before. I don't go around killing people with it if that's what you're thinking." He says it so bitterly, he still can't truly believe this is happening either, thank you very much.

But wait, he has to know something, "How do you know what the Force is?" Not a lot of people do anymore.

The boy is quiet, and it is now that Ben realizes his name is still unknown to him, rude.

He is about to mention it until the silence is broken once more, "Because the older guys talk about it, say that they've seen Darth Vader choke a man from yards away...and it's not a stretch either, there are former StormTroopers here after all. They needed to go somewhere that could hide them away from the Republic. On the other hand, you've got smugglers from the days of the Jedi, nearly 60 years ago, and they say they've seen Jedi in action. I don't know the specifics, or if they're true. But from what you've just...showed me, I'm willing to bet it is." The boy has let go of him, is now regarding him suspiciously with his hands crossed against his chest. He is also taller than him by an inch or two. Ben regards him, then wipes his mouth.

"What's your name?" Ben is dying to find out, it itches inside him, he has to know who this guy is, for some reason. How did his despair reach him, and why?

The suspicious look is there, but it softens in to a realization, that he was rude to the man that had just saved his dignity, but not his dinner for the next few nights.

"Jacen."

Hmm, "Just Jacen?"

"Dunno what else it could be, I have no parents. No good ones. Otherwise..." His eyes drift towards the body, laying nothing but five feet away.

"Ah."

The silence that follows could have been considered awkward had things not taken this turn, for now, it feels like a brief pause between two forces. A quiet moment of overheating blasters.

And once more, the silence was broken.

"I think I've got the Force too."

Ben's head snaps back to Jacen, and he can see the same look in his eyes that he's been seeing in his own.

"What?"

"The Force, it...called you here, I felt it. I didn't want to do this, but I couldn't back out, I need to eat, and the person I work for requires me to work, so she put me out here." In other words, stuck.

Ben is still dumbstruck by the confession, he has never learned so much about another person his age in such a short span of time. He wants to say he's sorry, wants to wish this poor soul luck in his future, but no words come out.

"Keep your sorry's."

A short, raspy, intake of breath from Ben, and a knowing look in Jacen's eye.

"You-you just?"

"I can, have been for a while. Kinda let's me know who I'm dealing with, but only if I'm in front of 'em like me and you right now. I have to be talking to you for, like, really trying to. It's strange, and I can't explain it, but I know it's there. Like I said, I guess I called out to the Force, and it brought you here. Regardless, thanks anyway, Ben. I should be going now, I...yeah." He finishes awkwardly. The aggression and certainty fading now, neither knows what to say, what happened here cannot just go away. Suddenly, he remembers he is going to train with Uncle Luke soon in the way of the Force, of the Jedi. And an impulsive idea, a dumb (hey, its an idea at least!), brash idea, comes to his mind.

"Wait!" Ben grabs Jacen by the arm, surprise and panic evident in his face but it settles down fast.

"What more is there to-"

"Come with me." Aaaand-

There it is.