I posted this on Fanfiction.net a while back and hardly a soul paid it any attention. So I thought I'd post the chapters here too and get some feedback on them.
The idea with this story is that it is meant to be a sort of "replacement" for Episodes VIII and IX, taking place after The Force Awakens and being my own stab at a sequel to Episode VII. The catch, is that I have no compunctions about having numerous references and nods to Legends continuity, basically taking anything from Legends that I can safely transfer to Disney's continuity and including it in my story when necessary or warranted. Basically, think of this as not just a fan-made sequel to TFA, but also a "fusion" of Disney and Legends' continuities, with a few original ideas of my own to keep you all on your toes.
All that out of the way, I hope you enjoy!
Here are the first two chapters:
Chapter 1: Echoes in the Darkness
They'd finally found it.
Surprisingly (at the time), the blasted thing had been on Naboo. He'd ordered his men to search Byss a thousand times, and he'd had spies and agents on Coruscant poking about and around any of the countless buildings there that had once been major seats of power for Palpatine, or places he frequented for some other reason. Everything from the Jedi Temple turned Emperor's Palace, to the old Senate building and the opera house Palpatine oversaw the construction of, and where he spoke of Darth Plagueis to Anakin Skywalker. Even his old lair on the outskirts of Coruscant where he'd schemed as Darth Sidious during the Clone Wars was located and searched. And all of them had yielded their share of treasures, trinkets, and items he could make use of at a later date. But it was on Naboo that they'd finally found the last of Palpatine's Sith Holocrons.
It's always the place you least suspect.
Then again, Sheev Palpatine was born there, and his family had been one of Naboo's rich elite before their untimely deaths, so perhaps it wasn't the last place he'd have suspected.
Kylo Ren paced back and forth unsteadily, ill at ease in spite of himself. It was all over and done with. The tedium, the searching, the thought that he might never find Palpatine's last treasure. He had. He had found it and it was his to make use of as he saw fit.
He held the holocron, inspecting it and turning it over in his black leather gloved hands. The former Emperor had not skimped on intricacy or aesthetics; the holocron was a tad larger than most others, and was of the pyramid shape that Sith Holocrons favored (Jedi holocrons, conversely, favored a cube shape). It's design could perhaps be called ostentatious, but it was well made and well-designed; mostly a bold crimson that Sith in general and Palpatine in particular were partial to, with the entire border of the thing plus all of the edges being in solid electrum gold (the same electrum that all of Palpatine's lightsabers had as a decorative feature). Each of the sides of the pyramid plus the base featured additional gold designs.
What secrets are you hiding, I wonder?
Kylo Ren held out the holocron with one hand, and with a wave of his other hand called on the Force to open and unlock the holocron. It flatly refused to open. Frowning behind the ink-colored helmet that paid homage to his grandfather's alter-ego, Kylo Ren set the holocron down on a small pedestal in his room designed for holding them. Then he sat down and looked at the holocron long and hard.
I've studied the holocrons of all the great Sith of the past; Marka Ragnos, Naga Sadow, Exar Kun, Darth Revan, even Darth Bane himself. And all opened to me. None resisted my calling. They all knew I served the Dark Side. Why will this one not open? Does it consider me unworthy somehow?
Kylo Ren knew that was a possibility. The Emperor had been in life the purest manifestation of the Dark Side known to the Galaxy, and it was quite feasible that only one as committed to the cause as him could be allowed the privilege of accessing whatever dark secrets the holocron contained. And Kylo Ren, well…
I admit...I have been...feeling it again. That damnable call of the Light. Urging me, nagging me. Beckoning me to come to it and embrace it. Never. I will not surrender to it's pull. The Supreme Leader and the holocrons of the great Dark Lords of the past have taught me what I need to know. They've shown me the strength of the Dark Side.
Kylo Ren was interrupted by the sound of a knock on the door. He rose to his feet and answered. On the other side was a well-dressed First Order officer who introduced himself with perfect suavity, as Lieutenant Usher. He had come to Kylo Ren to inform him that the last piece of the missing map to Luke Skywalker had been found. Some backwater desert planet named "Jakku" was where it had been tracked.
As Kylo Ren got up to leave, he shot a brief look over at Palpatine's holocron, still sitting on the pedestal. Almost beckoning him to come back and try again. Daring him to. Taunting him, even.
We're not finished. Kylo Ren thought darkly as he looked at the holocron before going out to handle the situation on Jakku personally. We're not finished at all. I'll come back again when I'm worthy.
Days later, following the Starkiller Base fiasco, Kylo Ren awoke to pain from the injuries he'd sustained from that blue lightsaber he'd so coveted. His first instinct was to break the neck of the medic overlooking him but he restrained himself out of a sense of pragmatism. He did however, angrily shove aside both the doctor and the medical droids that were all fussing over him. He awkwardly clambered off of the table he'd been on, landing just as awkwardly on his feet and realizing all at once that he hadn't taken the time to let his injuries heal fully. No matter. He just used his anger from the pain to fuel himself, grabbed his discarded black garments (which had been repaired along with his injured body), and stormed off down the hallway. He wouldn't put it off. Not any longer. He'd been so caught up in everything that had happened with the girl and her friend and the damned Wookie that he hadn't thought of it until now; he hadn't had the time.
He had done it.
He had gone and murdered his own father when offered the chance to go back to the Light Side. He had gone irrevocably from conflicted adept to being baptised in the Dark Side. Gone was the call to the Light Side, gone were his doubts. All of it. As though they'd never even been there.
And that meant that Palpatine's holocron would not refuse him now.
Entering his room, Kylo Ren tried again to unlock Palpatine's holocron after shutting the door. And sure enough, this time, it opened.
The ghostly blue image of Emperor Palpatine materialized, his hood covering part of his face as it so often had in life. Beneath the hood, the hideous cracks and sickening, corrosive effects of Dark Side corruption were readily apparent. Looking at them on the Palpatine hologram, it was only then that Kylo Ren realized his own flesh now felt different. Bringing his hands up to touch his skin, he realized that he too now had the cracks. Not as extreme as Palpatine's, but still present. A quick look in the room's mirror revealed that he had also taken on the pallor and disease-like appearance of a true Dark Side devotee. And while (again), not as bad as Palpatine's, it did go some lengths towards ravaging his once handsome face. His eyes were yellow now too.
I shall have to correct this with Sith Alchemy. The changes to the face may mark me for what I am, but sometimes, the deception a handsome face can provide is better.
"Ah, a Skywalker…" The holocron spoke. "I've been expecting one of you for some time…"
"How do you know who I am?" Kylo Ren asked.
"The Force has always run strong in your family. It was...easy to detect. Besides...I see much of Anakin Skywalker in you."
"Do you know what I've summoned you for?"
"Oh, yes. I sense you wish to continue your journey down the Dark Side."
"I have already proven myself committed to it. Otherwise, you would not have opened to me."
"True." The ghostly blue figure made a smile, the sort of positively unnerving smile that would make most people's skin crawl right off. But Kylo Ren was not most people.
"...but you do crave more power, don't you?" Palpatine's holocron asked with that same mocking smile upon his face.
"Yes. I just need your guidance."
"Oh, you don't need guidance. You do not yet understand this, as you are not yet the master yourself. But it is the apprentice or student's duty to learn all that they can from their master, just as it is the master's right to refrain from revealing all their secrets."
"The voice of experience?" Kylo Ren asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Indeed. My own master for instance, Darth Plagueis. He made the grave error of teaching me too much, and too quickly at that. The moment that he did, he became…'unnecessary'."
Kylo Ren didn't need the pause before the holocron said "unnecessary". He was certainly well-educated enough in Sith lore to know the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise.
"So then you have nothing to offer me?"
"I have plenty to offer you, but I shall not reveal it all. Some secrets and knowledge I forsee being quite useful to you, and to the Dark Side's cause. But other things you do not need to know of at this time."
"Then what can you teach me?" Kylo Ren demanded, rapidly losing patience.
Palpatine's holocron smiled. "Let us start with 'The Dark Side Compendium'. Beginning with the Book of Anger..."
Chapter 2: Becoming a Jedi
"I'm not sure I'm doing it right." Rey confessed as she again failed to telekinetically lift the objects that her new Jedi Master had laid out in front of her.
"Don't get discouraged." Luke Skywalker said patiently. "Most don't get it right the first time."
"This isn't my first time." Rey pointed out. "It's my fourth time. And still nothing. I don't understand; I was able to summon your lightsaber to me on Starkiller Base. Why can't I do anything now?"
"Moments of crisis and moments of training are not the same thing. It's easier for an inexperienced Force-user to call on it involuntarily in a stressful situation. But, such invocations of power are at best unreliable, not to mention dangerous. The discipline and control that comes with being a Jedi is always better."
"Well, so far, I can't seem to get it."
"You're still tense. You need to learn to relax. Calm yourself and clear your mind. You can't demand the thing. A Jedi lets the Force flow through him or her. You try to fight back against a current, it doesn't go well."
"Is that what the Sith and Knights of Ren do? Fight against the current?"
Luke frowned as Rey mentioned those groups, but still gave a patient and mediated answer: "Not exactly. They don't completely resist or struggle against the current, but they do attempt to bend it to their will. Always for violent, selfish, or cruel ends. Jedi too can bend the Force to their will, but only ever in the service of a good outcome, and the relationship is far more reciprocal. Again, you must first let the Force in and trust in it, before you can expect to command it with casual ease."
As if to demonstrate this, Luke inhaled deeply, shut his eyes, and spent a split-second letting the Light Side flow into him as though it were every bit the powerful water he described it as. Even with her seemingly stunted progress, Rey could sense the power of the Light Side in Luke, feeling it like the comforting glow and warmth of the sun. Then, he opened his eyes and with a wave of his mechanical hand, effortlessly lifted every last object in front of himself and Rey off the ground, plus several large stones and boulders for good measure.
"Just demonstrating what you yourself can do, if you take what I just told you seriously."
"Alright, I'll try."
Rey shut her eyes as Luke had, and inhaled deeply. She did what she could to clear her mind, let go of her annoyance at past failures, let go of her frustrations and insecurities for just a moment, and reached out…
It was an interesting experience. She felt the Light Side come roaring into her, and it was a good feeling. Like being warmed from the inside out, and also to some extent feeling the texture and surface of the objects even though she was several feet from them. But still she felt them, almost as though they were a part of her for a brief moment. The sort of thing that make comparisons between Force telekinesis and a common tractor beam ridiculous to anyone who knew what it felt like to use the former (or experience it).
Rey dared to open her eyes, and saw the first few objects in front of her lift off the ground. Only the smallest and simplest ones, but they were still lifted nonetheless, and to her happiness, they were going up, up, and up. Soon, they were all over five and a half feet off the ground. Turning to look at Luke, she could see him beaming with pride.
"There, you see? You can do it. Just let the Force flow through you, don't fight against it, and soon you will be able to call on it on a whim. But you must never forget to nurture the connection. Trying to take the quick and easy path, demanding the power and trying to bend what comes your way to your will without regard for the cost, that's the way of the Dark Side."
"Have you…" Rey paused and bit her lip awkwardly as she hesitated to finish her question. But then she did: "You...speak of the Dark Side with such knowledge...have you ever used it yourself?"
"A few times, yes. And they were bad decisions on my part. But I felt I needed to know. Needed to understand why people would ever go for such a power. Those few tastes were a few too many. I pulled myself back quickly enough and never looked back. But I was also pretty committed to the Jedi path by that point. Many others who tried what I did weren't, and they weren't able to pull away as I did. And there have been others who were just as committed as myself, and they still got corrupted. Don't make any mistake, Rey; the Dark Side can corrupt anyone. It's a strong seducer."
"Like...what happened with Darth Vader...your father."
Luke Skywalker nodded solemnly. "Walk with me, Rey. I want to show you something."
Rey obeyed, following the older Jedi as the two took what both considered "the scenic route", walking along the edge of the landmass they were on and looking out at the deep blue ocean and clear blue sky. Even the outcroppings of rock and other patches of land had their own "rough-nature" appeal to them. Mindful of what Luke had told her, Rey opened herself up and all but dared the Light Side to come into her, and let her feel it's warm embrace. And it did. Just admiring the scenery and walking along, on the planet where the first Jedi Temple was, it felt good. She could see why Luke Skywalker had chosen to come here. After all that had happened to him, what better place to go to heal?
Eventually, the walk came to a cave entrance. Luke walked in first, and beckoned for Rey to follow. She did, and stopped short upon seeing what was inside:
It was filled with natural crystal formations that came in a rainbow of colors, from bright blue to forest green to to orange-yellow. Within the cave, Rey felt the presence of the Force spike dramatically.
"This place…" Luke said. "...is one of the first Kyber Crystal caves the Jedi Order discovered. Back when the Jedi were mostly based on this planet. This is where the crystals for their lightsabers came from. I find that, as the Force is particularly strong here, it is a good place to meditate."
Luke sat down and motioned for Rey to sit next to him. She did. As Luke began to meditate, Rey did her best to follow his lead. Shutting her eyes, Rey breathed in slowly but purposefully through the nose, and out through the mouth, as Luke did. To her surprise, she found herself easing into it rather quickly. Whether that was because of where she was, or just Luke's teaching (or both), was something Rey didn't know. But in any case, the more she breathed in and out, the more her muscles relaxed, and the more Rey felt incredibly at peace as much physically as emotionally. All of the tenseness, all of the physical stress, all of the raised hairs on the back of her neck even, all of it just melted away like ice in the sun. An especially appropriate comparison, considering Rey was again feeling pleasantly warm despite being in a dark cave.
"You feel it, don't you?" Luke asked with a gentle smile.
"I do, Master Skywalker." Rey said with a smile of her own. "It feels...wonderful. Like I could just sit here all day."
Luke chuckled. "Yes, I've heard stories of some Jedi who spent nearly all of their time in meditation. I though, always felt that a good balance between meditation and activity is more ideal."
"I understand." Rey said with a nod. "The Galaxy's a rough place. Can't just shut yourself out from it."
"No, you can't." Luke agreed. "And it's good you realize that. You're already well on your way to becoming a Jedi, Rey."
"Thank you, Master Skywalker."
The two meditated in the crystal cave for some moments more, before Luke Skywalker finally got up and beckoned Rey to follow him. She did, and he led her to another part of the cave. He looked at her long and hard and said: "When we first met, you returned my first lightsaber to me."
Rey nodded. "Yes. Because it was yours, and it belonged to you."
"And I had told you to keep it. But, I do also recognize that it would do you good to construct your own lightsaber, simply to have that experience, and have a lightsaber to call your own and only your own." Stepping to one side, Luke revealed several components that Rey deduced very quickly were different pieces of lightsabers.
"The time has come, apprentice. You must construct a lightsaber from the materials here. The final piece, will of course be the crystal itself. Choose the pieces of the hilt first, and then the other interior mechanics, and finally, we can select a crystal for you."
Rey nodded. "Yes, Master Skywalker."
So Rey sat down and looked at the different hilt pieces in front of her. She decided quickly against some of the more spiky, sharp, or pointed pieces, finding them too intimidating or violent to suit her personality, instead favoring a bottom that was a small, silver sphere, overall smooth handle pieces, and the upper hilt decorative feature was an inwards facing metal "hook" with a dulled tip. Stylish and eye-catching, but not overly hostile or aggressive. Just how Rey liked it.
For all of that though, Rey had given some thought to constructing a double-bladed lightsaber, as such a long-handle weapon that was lethal on both ends did not seem to her entirely different from the metal staff she'd used up to that point. It could end up fitting her combat style better than a regular lightsaber, despite the weapon being seen as inherently aggressive and violent, and associated much more with the Sith than the Jedi. But even in spite of that, numerous Jedi throughout the history of the order had used the weapon, as Rey had learned in her studies with Luke. Such names as Bastila Shan, Satele Shan, the Barsen'thor, (all women, Rey happily noted), plus the Jedi Temple Guards and Jedi Brutes that guarded the Jedi Temple during the last centuries of the Old Republic. If all of them could use the weapon whilst maintaining a passive or serene personality, who was to say that Rey could not?
Of course, Rey's studies under Luke had also taught her that double-bladed lightsabers were traditionally harder to master. Merely being able to use one indicated, if not necessarily a master duelist, someone whose skill was not insubstantial or anything to sneeze at. But then in that case, perhaps a Lightsaber Pike? That too was long-handled and in fact built essentially like a staff...just one that had a lightsaber blade coming out of it.
Rey decided to ask Luke, who simply told her that she needed to decide for herself which lightsaber type would suit her the best. With this in mind, Rey decided to build a double-bladed lightsaber, but kept the hilt of her would-be single-blade intact just in case.
Next, Rey set about designing a double-bladed lightsaber hilt that was far less sleek in design than her single-blade hilt; a mix of pale and dark gray, and with a pronounced upwards-facing cup-guard over one of the ends (a wide emitter shroud, in actuality). Rey next began selecting the proper internal mechanisms: the energy modulation circuits, the blade energy channel, a crystal energy chamber, a focusing crystal activator, an energy gate, a power vortex ring, a diatium power cell, and more. Once all of this had been accomplished, all Rey needed was a crystal.
Approaching Luke, Rey showed him her selections. He looked over her work and gave a nod of approval. "Very good, Rey. I can see you've learned your lessons well. Now to the final thing that will bring it all together."
Without needing to so much as wave his hand, Luke telekinetically summoned a trio of kyber crystals, one blue, one green, one yellow.
"When Illum was discovered, the Jedi came to have that as their primary source of lightsaber crystals, and so nearly all of them were either green or blue, as all Illum kyber crystals are one of those two colors. But as you can see, on Ahch-To, yellow crystals exist as well. And in the early centuries of the Jedi Order, one's lightsaber crystal often spoke to the kind of Jedi one was."
Rey nodded, remembering more of the lessons Luke had taught her as she looked each of the crystals over. "Yes, blue is the color of the Jedi Guardian, green the Jedi Consular, and yellow the Jedi Sentinel. At least, before Illum."
"Yes, though even after Illum, the practice was not completely abandoned. Master Yoda for instance, is known to have described himself with pride as a Jedi Consular and wielded a green blade. And my own father was a Jedi Guardian before his fall to the Dark Side, as was his own master, Obi-Wan Kenobi."
"So now I am to make the choice?" Rey asked. Luke nodded. "Perhaps, some questions to make the decision easier for you?"
Luke nodded. "Your answers will give me some insight, and allow me to make my own recommendation. But remember, you can take my advice or leave it in this instance."
"I understand." Rey said. "I'm ready."
"Very well. First question: a woman and her child are being accosted by a group of thugs and you see it happen. What do you do?"
Rey didn't need to think hard about this one. She had always despised bullies of any sort (having certainly been victimized by them several times herself when younger), and she wouldn't hesitate when dealing with thugs attacking unarmed women and children. "I'd intervene. I'd attack the thugs and help the mother and her child flee."
Luke nodded. "Indeed...then here is the next question: you are in combat with someone aligned to the Dark Side of the Force…"
The moment Luke mentioned this, Rey immediately thought back to her duel against Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base, and with it the traumatic memories of seeing Han Solo murdered and Finn struck down. If Luke sensed the sudden and uncontrolled spike of anger inside Rey, he said nothing. Instead, he finished his hypothetical: "...and there is a pause in the fighting. What do you do?"
Rey was all set to answer "attack him again", but caught herself at the last moment. She realized that that was that spike of anger she associated with Kylo Ren talking, not a Jedi. A true Jedi, she reasoned, wouldn't necessarily be so quick to strike if their foe was hesitating. So instead, Rey decided to go for a more peaceful answer: "I maybe try to reason with him. Convince him to stand down."
Luke nodded and smiled at this. "Restrained. That's a good quality in a Jedi, and anyone for that matter. So to continue with the third question: "How would you bypass a locked door that stands between you and your objective?"
Rey smiled at this very innocent question. She was of half a mind to jokingly respond with "knock", but she knew that even with such a benign scenario she needed to answer honestly. She thought about it, and knowing herself and how she'd handled herself on Starkiller Base, answered: "I would try to find some way around the locked door, or failing that, try to force it open in some way, either by hacking the door, or cutting it down with my lightsaber."
"That last one could attract unwanted attention." Luke noted.
"I agree. That's why I'd only try to use it as a last resort. I'd much rather pick or hack the lock, or go around the door altogether."
"Yes, I thought as much. One final question then: imagine that you are the head of an enclave on a contested world…"
Hard to imagine that. Rey thought, as she'd never had even the tiniest bit of authority in her life, let alone being the "head" of something. But even so, she still tried to envision the scenario as best she could as Luke continued: "...and the First Order have come and are causing unrest across the planet. How do you deal with the threat they pose?"
"How many of them are there?" Rey asked.
"Knowing the First Order, I'd imagine more than a few Stormtroopers." Luke said with a gentle smile. Rey nodded, and thought about it. Trying to just hunt them all down seemed like a waste of time and resources if there was so many of them and they were so widespread. But on the other hand, negotiation would never work. She considered trying to lure them into a trap...or perhaps attempting to get help. Ultimately, Rey answered with: "I would do my best to work with others to stop the First Order, or at least mitigate the damage they were causing."
"A solid answer." Luke said, before saying: "Well, based on your second and fourth answers, I would most identify you as being a Jedi Consular. And indeed, with your incredible affinity for the Force, you could potentially be a very great one."
Rey thought about it. She was willing to fight and stand up for herself and others, but all Jedi were. But Jedi Consulars tried to avoid violence even more, and focused more on their affinity for the Force. For fighting and combat if necessary, but ideally for serenity and negotiation and compromise. Rey considered her own nature: she had been filled with anger and hatred towards Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base, and towards others before that. But remembering that fight with the fallen son of Han and Leia left a bitter taste in her mouth, like an adult remembering their cruelties as a child, or someone wishing to take back harsh words or deeds they should have never indulged in. No, that sort of fury wasn't who Rey was. When she thought of who she was, she thought more of her first meeting with the droid BB-8, and her choosing not to sell him even when it would have been in her best interests to do so. She thought about how life on Jakku should have stamped out anything like warmth, or compassion, or humanity, but Rey's heart had remained kind and gentle, and been left unpoisoned. She thought about her bonding with Finn and Han before the latter's death and the former's being left close to it.
She nodded. Yes, I think a Jedi Consular suits me just fine.
"I agree, Master Skywalker." She said. "I think I'd do best as a Jedi Consular too."
"Good. Then select the green crystal."
Rey was all set to, but then she noticed something that caught her eye: crystals within the cave that were neither blue, green, nor yellow. Some of them were an amethyst purple. Intrigued by this, Rey asked: "Master Skywalker...those amethyst crystals...those weren't for a particular kind of Jedi, were they?"
"Well, yes, actually they were. But not one of the three specializations." Using telekinesis (again without having to raise an arm or flick a wrist), Luke summoned one of the amethyst crystals, the jewel floating in-between him and Rey. "These kinds of crystals are especially rare. Barring synthetic lightsaber crystals used by the Sith that are made purple on purpose, the only other kind is the Solari Crystal."
"And I take it that's a Solari Crystal?"
Luke nodded. "Yes. You almost never see these outside of Ach-To. Mace Windu's lightsaber crystal was one of the exceptions. They're attuned to the Light Side of the Force, so only one who is firmly committed to the Light Side can use them. In the hands of anyone else, the lightsaber blade will not turn on." Luke took the floating amethyst crystal in hand and held it out to Rey. "You may have this Solari Crystal, if you wish."
Rey bit her lip and looked at the crystal nervously. "I...I don't know. If what you just said is true, I'm not sure I'm worthy of it…"
"Nevertheless, you may have it if you wish. If you are not worthy of it this moment, you may become so later. And such crystals have no value to anyone but a Jedi. There's little harm in having it."
Rey had to admit that Luke's reasoning was sound. So it was that she took the Solari Crystal from him and pocketed it. Once she did, she took the green crystal to use in the meantime.
"I'm ready, Master."
Luke nodded. "Good." As Rey began using the Force to put the crystal inside it's container and then assemble the rest of the lightsaber, Luke continued: "As Master Luminara Unduli once taught: the crystal is the heart of the blade, the heart is the crystal of the Jedi, the Jedi is the crystal of the Force, and the Force is the blade of the heart. All are intertwined: the crystal, the blade, and the Jedi."
No sooner had Luke finished saying this did Rey finish assembling her double-bladed lightsaber. It floated for only a moment more before she nervously touched it, feeling the cool metal in her small hands. She pressed a button, and a green blade the color of a summer meadow sprang out. The second green blade followed shortly after.
"Congratulations, Rey. You've just taken one of the most important steps towards becoming a Jedi."