A Matthew Stover-esque take on Starkiller Base.
This was Ben Solo:
Born the day that the Empire died. Son of a former princess, Rebel leader, Senator. Son of a smuggler, war hero, general. Heir apparent to the Jedi Order. Student, and nephew, of the last of the Jedi. Grandson of Darth Vader, Sith Lord, redeemed Jedi.
Destined for greatness. Destined to be the successor to his uncle. Destined to be the Jedi his grandfather was only in his last moments. Destined to be the Skywalker of legend.
But legacies don’t define anybody. They can’t, because they don’t know the person whom they define. Ben Solo’s legacy knows not what he wants, or who he is; it cares not for this. It cares only of the past, and not his future.
Ben Solo, a man defined by legacy alone, knows not who he is.
The only thing Ben knew about himself was the loneliness inside of him. In his quiet moments, he couldn’t hear the Force; instead, it was the creeping shadows of doubt, fear, and loneliness. This loneliness spoke in a whisper, yet he could hear it louder than any other voice.
This whisper came to him, even as a child. He became bitterly cold when he heard it. In hushed tones, it told him of doubt, of fear, of isolation. But, with bravado, it breathed into him dreams of power, of belonging, of more. Of being greater than his legacy. Of leaving the past behind and carving a future for himself.
One morning, that whisper became a shout. His father, the legendary Han Solo, did not care for him. He would never understand his son, in the full splendor of his power. His mother had sent him away out of fear of who he may be. The whisper grows louder and louder, as if it were a speaker right next to him.
Soon, the bitter cold becomes appealing. He seeks it out and basks in its frost. His heart becomes cold, he becomes distant from his uncle and the other students. Aloof. In the darkest days, in his restless nights, in the moments where the anger threatens to overtake everything he is, he can hear it. But sometimes –
The feels the warmth of the light break in through the cold. Beams of light break in through the cracks in the mental walls he has established. He desperately struggles to retain the cold, to listen to the voice speaking to him across the galaxy, but the warmth chases it away.
And the worst part about it? He can’t help but be attracted to that warmth.
But when his uncle looms over his resting body in his tent, lightsaber ignited, eyes showing the conflict of fear, anger, desperation, love, and pity all at once, Ben Solo’s world comes down around him.
This is what it is like to be Kylo Ren.
His lightsaber – jagged, broken, cracked, just as he is – is turned off. It is almost as if he can’t control his body anymore. He is weakened.
His father’s hand caresses his face. That warmth, that damned warmth he can’t avoid, starts at his father’s palm and rushes through his body, chasing away every bit of frosted hatred he could hold on to.
That hand breaks open a hole in the wall he has so carefully built around his heart. The wall that keeps the warmth, and family and friends and love, out. The wall that he constructed to keep the cold in, that he may never return to the light.
To return to the light would mean death. Would mean the isolation. Would mean going back to his uncle, who tried to kill him. Back to his father, who didn’t understand him. Back to his mother, who…
Ben Solo is dead, but Kylo Ren is not fully alive in his place. He desperately claws for the anger that melts away with the warmth of his father’s touch. As Han Solo falls, his mother’s pain echoes across the galaxy. He feels as if he is being stabbed in the heart. He desperately tries to remember each bit of anger, every moment of loneliness, every time his father felt distant, but he cannot hold on to any of it. His mother, fallen on supply boxes, heart broken.
Now, the only thing he can see is his father’s face. The love of a father, though betrayed, hoping for his son to finally come home.
But his son will never come home. But Kylo Ren may never take that son’s place.
He pushes that fear aside. Maybe now the voice, the voice that was once a whisper, will finally acknowledge him. It will finally give him the praise he is due. Maybe now the voice will finally affirm the sacrifices he has made for the dark side. How he has given everything away to Snoke.
Supreme Leader Snoke. He whose voice has been ringing in Ben Solo’s ears for three decades. The only father figure Snoke has now.
He pleads with the dark side to hear that voice again. To push away the warmth still kindling his soul, bringing light to his heart, rekindling lost love for a family now rent asunder forever.
A blaster fires, ripping a hole in his side. His hand flies to the wound, and he looks up to see Chewbacca, roaring, bowcaster in hand. Chewbacca shoots two more stormtroopers.
The warmth fades as the cold comes in. Chewbacca, just like Han, just like Luke, just like… Chewbacca has betrayed him like everybody else has. Not everybody-
He pushes the thought aside as he sees the girl. The scavenger. The stormtrooper. The traitor. Those who have everything he has worked his whole life for, just above him. With Chewbacca, the latest in the series of family who has left Ben Solo to become Kylo Ren.
He holds the pain – both emotional and physical, close, drawing power from it.
And he runs.