B'Ransu Five Years Ago. "You think that what Master says is true? About bringing balance to The Force?" "...I mean it has to be, right? My mother always tells me these...extraordinary things about him, everything he's done...what he's overcome...If he can do it, so can we, even more so..." I was 15 years old. I sit beside a lean and spirited 27 year old Ben Solo, fresh and ripe in his apprenticeship under Master Luke Skywalker. He was the only one at the time, the rest of us just Padawan, but some showed more promise than others. Ben had watched over me like a guardian, pushing me with tough love and a disciplined motive to become greater than what I was the day before. He looks down at me, my short hair breezing in the wind, and smiles. I return a smile and kick my feet out as our legs drape over the edge of a jagged cliff, looking amidst the river blow in a dense jungle cove. Ben: "You have greatness inside of you Su, don't ever let anyone take that sight away from you. We are to restore what was lost to this galaxy. You and me." "It's you and I actually...." Ben: "Smart Ass....get up, let's go again." I rise from the edge of the cove as I look at a much more kempt and polished warrior who was like my big brother. He smirks at me as his eyes and face silently asks 'Ready?', and I oblige by a nod and a bow, before my young face turns cold and hardened, breaking into a kendo stance, legs split at the sides and left arm in front of me, as my custom built lightsaber emits a deep blue as it flashes on. The first one I ever built on my own. 32 inches of lethal peacekeeping. Ben chuckles as he draws his lightsaber, also blue in color, but more arctic in hue. The saber spawns strong and passionate, followed by two small exhausts seconds later, forming a crossguard. He wastes no time. He pushes at me with everything he's got. Our sabers collide like lightning in the dense foggy jungle. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Two Years Ago. GRRRRRRRRRRZZZZZZZZZZZZZZGHHHH!!!!!! Lightning collides in the area all around me as heavy rain drenches on my face. My arms raised as a red streak tears my flesh, my body crumpling into the ground below. My ribs and torso searing with a burning death, the smell of smoke arising from my garments. I hear screams. Men. Women. Younglings. All Jedi. The thick mud covers my despair under my body as the night sky rumbles with thunder and more flashes. I couldn't move. My body was done, and I knew soon I would be as well. I hear grunts and cries from all around the land as the sound of buzzing light ends them, one by one. My body twitched in pain as feeling begin to come back and adrenaline kicks in. I dig my fingers into the mud as I forcefully pull myself along the heavy substance, the mud rubbing against the left side of my face buried in it. My eyes dart around for something, anything. A sign of hope. Master Luke, someone that hid....but to no avail. My eyes locked onto a Twi'lek girl, scared and confused, no more than 11 standard years old. I watch as a couple dozen yards away a red crossguard saber pierces her temple. I wanted to scream, to cry, but the pain wouldn't let me. More I scrape myself along the mud, my vision starts to become blurry, my ears ringing and hot with boiling blood. I could hear a voice, a deep, pitched, almost electric voice. It was him. My once loved brotherly figure, saying something I never thought imaginable. Kylo Ren: "Destroy them all." My heart races into overdrive as my peripheral spots a flickering light in an academy storehouse about 15 yards from my location, hidden behind faltering flames and fires being put out by the wave of rain. I close my eyes and focus on The Force, meditating on healing my lethal level injury, but I was but a Padawan still, the thoughts that I was just weeks away from apprenticeship saddens and destructs my heart. I had to utilize my abilities now more than ever....it was literally life or death. Another pull from my burned muscles. I grunted in agony as quietly as I could....the heavy rain and thunder sheathing my noise. Or so I thought. My heart dropped, The Force was pulling me inside. I could see the storehouse in front of me, but I knew....I was going to die. Someone was behind me, looking over me. I strain to turn my heated body around, and I lock eyes with a masked, very tall figure looking at me. No lightsaber, no weapon, just his mind. I knew who it was immediately. It made a tear form and fall down my cheek, indistinguishable from the raindrops. My heart pounded, time slowed down. I was about to die, and the most crushing thing was not that it was at the hands of once close Kylo Ren....it was that my last image was going to be my best friend taking the life from my very soul. My eyes go in and out, blurry then clear, as he lowers down.....and then nothing. I hear the same voice, the same voice as Kylo Ren's deep and sooted sound. But it wasn't his mask.....it was my best friend's. It was Orix. Orix: "Goodbye." Dawn. Daylight. I awaken with a tormented and betrayed body. Everything burns, even just to breathe. I squint in the storehouse of the burned down academy, chars and cinders all around, along with wet floors and mudded ashes. I was propped against the standing wall, alive. I was alive. How was I placed here? Orix....I remember Orix. I try to scream out for help, but my voice is packed with soot and ash, dry as cinnamon. I knew no one would answer back. They were all gone. I didn't bother to move. I didn't bother to survive, I knew what awaited outside. Death, loss....all ways to the dark side in fear. So I sat there, waiting to die, to give up. I begin to cry with the very little fluids I had left in my body to spare, which were none. My face snickers up and my muscles burn as the contractions from the damaged parts caused me to hurt. Inside and outside I was destroyed, crushed. By the dark side....by my best friends....I just cried, and cried....until I died, or at least that was the plan. ?: "I feel it....someone's still alive....Mako, Maar...clear the debris...." I heard the voice of someone....I didn't know who...sounded like Master Luke, but I was hallucinating. It wasn't him in reality, but I seen his face as he approached me and called out to me, but really it was the head apprentice Biggs Ri-Ku. The human male with a love for The Jedi...or what used to be us. The last thing I saw was the three of them pulling the rubble back, one running to me as I passed out. I don't know how they survived. No way Kylo seen them or they'd be dead right now. Either way....whether they fell into the ravine below and lived, or used some illusion of the Force. I was glad they lived, because when I closed my eyes, I knew I was dead. I was wrong again. I wish that I wasn't. ______________________________________________________________ Present Day. I awake in the middle of the night in a dampening, heavy rain forecast of Coruscant. Thunder and lightning rumbles and clashes in the sky as I wipe my eyes. It was pitch black, I could feel Maar's chest under my head. It was a strange situation indeed. He would argue with me, and me with him, I would snap at him, he would ignore me. He would lash out at me even mentioning Kylo's name in a positive aspect, I would shun him for even trying to apologize for being an impossible person. But every night, we would sleep side by side on our sleeping pods, and either he would end up over on mine, or me on his. Maybe because we're too bitter to admit we're angry and hurt. Maybe because we have no one else that will understand. It's never been anything past mutual, too much of trying to stay alive and secret to even consider more, with anybody let alone him. We'd wake up, look each other in the eyes, and I would get up and storm off. Rinse and repeat. I left Maar sleep, a part of me wanting to get a punch in for no apparent reason. It was different from being angry enough and pained to the point where we'd go to the dark side, because we always balanced each other out, with meditation, with sparring, with always staying sharp and remembering them, the ones we lost. Everyday we think about them. How Maar, Mako Qua, and myself escaped that damned planet, as our overseer Biggs Ri-Ku sacrificed his life by stalling a Condor Dragon from getting all of us as we boarded an old cargo ship. He didn't make it. It was just us three now. The last of a repeatedly dying breed. I close my eyes and meditate their memory as I balance my spirits out. Two years of despair and isolation. I didn't know about Maar, but I'd gotten used to it. Better to be alone than to entangle in loss again. Fear of loss was a path to darkness, but absence of loss cuts that problem out altogether. I walk across the rugged carpet of the flat, spotting my wool socks in the corner. I slide them on and check diagnostics from our systems. Alarms and backchannel flags in case The Resistance or Order had heard of surviving Jedi other than Luke. Nothing. Good. That means after all this time, Orix for whatever reason hasn't told Kylo, or any of them....many times I wanted to use my telepathy to call to Orix, and everytime Maar would shut the idea down as it'd risk our security and livelihood. I knew Maar was right, but I would get so annoyed I would end up saying mean things, but not out of hate or fear. Just sadness. Same thing with Kylo....I felt the conflict and good in both of them on Devaron, but when I consider calling to them, same old rodeo with Mr. Zhet. He was right, but I'd never tell him that publicly. I made sure the security locks and hidden embedded cameras outside the flat were operational. Holo tripwire sensors were operational and not flagged. Good. I squat into Indian style as I take out a private encrypted remote server comm link. My server. Programmed and created by me to block all back channel, primary, and military communication across 100 parsecs. Unless I wanted them in. It was only linked to one other comm in the galaxy. Mako Qua. I activate the sync and await as the beeps reach out to my friend. "I can't sleep....is this a bad time? I know it's afternoon there and you're probably collecting herbs and supplies. I had a dream just now...about back then. About Ben...Biggs...all of it." I look back at Maar, trying to be as quiet as possible not to wake him. "How's Kashykk? The city life here is starting to get boring. The underground sounded so scary as a kid, but now...really living here. The criminals are harmless....just wanna be renegades that pose like they're tough. The Black Market has some really rare and great supplies and items though. I make a living repairing droids and creating private programs and network servers for criminals. You'd be surprised at how many credits they pay for that sort of thing.....I don't know what Maar does...he just kinda leaves and returns with credits. I don't say anything...because..." I knew Mako knew the reason. The bickering. The venting. The sadness. The pain. I move towards the window and look out into the draped landscape of wet and semi-flooded streets of underground Coruscant. "I want to ask you something....be honest with me, well I mean you are but....do you think we can save them? Orix and .....Ben? If I were to call them..."