Redemption (Of Heart and Soul) There is, in all of us, at least a spark of good. All we have to do find that spark and hold on to it. Even in the depths of darkness, a single spark of light can hold back the shadows. Love is more than a spark. Love is brighter than the luminescence of the Sun. The cavernous interior of the thermal oscillator is silent. On the single narrow catwalk that spans the great well stand two men. One with jet-black locks, one with grey-white hair. One with the smooth inline face of a young man. The other's visage was lined with creases and wrinkles testament of a long and trying life. One an is a monster, his soul consumed by darkness, driving him to commit atrocities. The other is a hero, a savior of the Galaxy time and again. Old man and young Hero and villain Good and evil Father and Son The Son has fallen into Darkness. Consumed by hatred and greed, a murderer of the helpless. Beyond the reach of the Light, beyond any help or redemption. Or so most think. The Mother does not believe so. The Father has sworn to save his son from himself. To bring the Son back into the Light. After living so long in Darkness, can one resist its allure and open their soul to the Light that calls them home? Can one leave the Darkness behind and step back into the Light? This is the tale of one who did. "I'm being torn apart." Kylo Ren stood on the narrow footbridge, his silver and black mask resting at his feet, his true face exposed to the man whose blood flowed in his veins. "I want to be free of this pain," he said, his voice hoarse and ragged with emotion. "I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it." His dark brown eyes sought out his father's. "Will you help me?" Han Solo's clear blue eyes met his fallen son's gaze with fierce determination. "Yes," he said unequivocally, "Anything." Kylo Ren's gloved hand snatched his lightsaber from his belt and brought it between them. And stopped. He froze in mid-action, his right hand shaking as it gripped the energy weapon tightly. He knew what he had to do. Snoke had told him that there was only one way to end the pull of the Light. He had to strike down his father. The lightsaber stayed between them, not moving. His mouth opened to say something as he struggled to find the strength to commit this final confirming action. To bind himself to the Dark Side. "And achieve ultimate power!" Snoke's words. The power of the Darkness. Power Kylo had sought since he was foolish Ben Solo. "Ben." His father's rough voice cut through his thoughts. "Give me the lightsaber," Han Solo said, his craggy face alight with love and caring. "Put it away, son" he continued. "Let this go, all of it. This isn't who you are." Kylo Ren's face twisted in consternation. His hand began shaking even more violently and his throat went dry. "I..." He desperately tried to find the strength in him to complete his journey. To end the conflict and embrace the Darkness. He heard the siren call of the Dark Side, promising unlimited power. Promising respect, purpose, unquestionable authority. "Come home," Han said, his voice cutting through Ben's tortured reflections. The old smuggler's face grew soft with emotion and sorrow. "Your mother misses you, Ben. She wants to see you again. She wants you to come home." Kylo's breath caught in his throat and an image of his mother sprang into his mind. Princess Leia, beautiful, elegant, nurturing and loving. His mother's smiling face filled his mind, driving all other thoughts away. "I love you, Ben" he remembered her saying a thousand times as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Mom," Ben Solo croaked softly, his brown eyes shining with a sudden warmth. "Yes," Han cried triumphantly, "remember who you are, Ben. You're my son. Come back to us. Come back to your mother and me." Ben Solo just stood there in the heart of the thermal oscillator, his heart overflowing with emotion, his soul caught in the conflicting grips of Light and Dark. The two sides of the Force had been pulling him in opposite directions for years. Ensnared in the grip of both Light and Dark, Ben Solo cried out in agony as his soul was seized by conflicting forces and wrenched violently. At the far end of the oscillator complex, a set of blast doors slid open with a hiss, revealing the sky above Starkiller Base. The space above the great weapon was black and cold, with the fire of the sun being sucked into the reactor core to prepare the weapon. All was black and cold and shadowed...and there in the heart of darkness shone a single cone of light. A thin shimmering column of daylight that still shone bright, piercing the black veil of night, defying the terror that was stealing its light. Ben stared at the light, his soul twisting in agony, at war with itself. The Dark screamed at him to fulfill his destiny, to strike down the obstacle in his path. His hand shook even more violently, the lightsaber hilt barely remaining in his grip. And then he heard his father's voice cut through the chaos and speak in the warm gruff voice Ben remembered from childhood. "Come home, son." The Dark Side whispered furiously at Ben, screeching in Snoke's baritone that ultimate power was within his grasp. On one hand was the cold, lonely power of the Darkness. On the other was the warm nurturing Light, the unconditional and enduring love of his family. Ben had never truly understood that until this very moment. Seen in that light, the choice between Light and Dark was no choice at all. "Yes," Ben Solo said and took a single step forward into the light. He gazed at his aged father who had risked all to save his fallen son. He gazed up at the fading light of the sun. And he gazed inwards at the ruin of his soul, blackened and twisted by years of evil deeds. In that moment Ben Solo re-experienced every one of his sins. The faces of all his victims flew before him, all driving home the atrocities he had committed in the name of the Dark Side. He could see them all. The innocent students of the Jedi Temple, their shocked expressions and pleas for mercy forever burned into his memory Old, defenseless Lor San Tekka, his aged face so much like Han Solo's The captured Jakku villagers he had ordered executed, their begging utterly futile And the billions of innocent sentiments that had perished in the Destruction of Hosnian Prime. A billion screams, the Force itself shaking in violation with their deaths. The sheer magnitude of the evil he'd done struck Ben Solo all at once and he cried out in agony. Clutching his face in remorse Ben screamed, tearing at his hair. Han's eyes widened in shock, "Ben, what is it? What's going on?" Ben let out a long ragged sob, "I'm a monster," he cried, "I've done so much evil." Han stared at his remorseful son. "Ben," 'he began, but his son cut him off. "No," Ben said sharply, shaking his head in denial. "There's only one decent thing I can do after all this." He took the lightsaber still clutched in his hand and spun it until the emitter was pointed directly at his heart. "Goodbye Dad," he said in a sorrowful tone, "I love you. Tell Mom I love her too." His finger moved toward the activation plate. "No!" Han shouted and moved with incredible speed belying his age and caught his son's hand in a solid grip, holding his finger fast and stopping him. Holding his son in a firm grip, Han Solo looked his son directly in the eye. "Listen to me, son," he said warmly, "This isn't the way to fix this. Do you think your mother would want you to do this?" A choked son escaped Ben's throat, "I don't know what else to do,"' he said in utter helplessness. "I don't know how to come back from all the evil I've done." "You've already taken the first step," Han said, inwardly reflecting that Luke or Leia would be able to say this much better than him. But he had been witness to Luke's numerous speeches about Darth Vader's redemption. "Come home with me,"' Han continued, "Come to me and your mother and we'll help you come back from this." Ben stared at his confident father with questioning disbelief, "Do you really think I can come back from what I've done?" Han gave his son a crisp nod, "If Darth Vader could come back from two decades of evil, you can come back from this." He reached up to stroke his son's cheek gently, "Let the lightsaber go, Ben. Let it all go." A single tear broke rolled down Ben Solo's cheek. And then he relinquished his death grip on his lightsaber. His gloved finger slowly unwound from the weapon's grip, flexing slightly. As soon as he had let go enough, his father quickly pulled the weapon out of his son's waning grasp. Not giving the weapon so much as single look Han Solo threw the weapon into the oscillator core with all his might, flinging the instrument of evil into the abyss. The crude hilt tumbled through the deep, gaseous core and vanished from sight, never to be seen again. Ben Solo watched his weapon vanish into the abyss, feeling a small pang of loss. The feeling quickly faded as his father gripped his shoulder warmly. "Come on, son," he said, "It's time to go home." His aged face was alight with a hopeful smile, "Your mom's been alone for too many years. It's time we were a proper family again." Ben gave his father a weak nod and began to follow him along the narrow catwalk to the solid ground on the far side. As he took a second step into the light, his foot clunked against something metallic. Glancing down, he saw the black and silver helmet that had hidden his features since the day he had first embraced the Dark Side. As he glanced at the inert metal he was reminded of another helmet. A twisted and burnt orb of black metal that he had looked to for guidance. He was contemplating reaching down for the mask to retrieve it. And then he imagined his mother's smiling face and his father's proud grin. Two living beings who loved him with all their hearts. In the face of the love of his family Ben realized that the Dark Side held only cold loneliness and pain. Raising his gaze upwards, Ben Solo gave his dark helmet a solid kick that sent it flying off the catwalk. The black mask spun end over end into the dark abyss. Holding his head high, Ben turned his back on the ghosts of the past and followed his father into the light. No one has to live in darkness if they wish otherwise. Even a single step is enough to begin a journey back to the light. It is a long and weary way, with pitfalls and obstacles beyond counting. But the destination is the greatest reward of all. To live a life of peace and happiness with a pure soul is worth more than all the riches in the galaxy.