This is my entry for the Kyp Durron Index's first challenge. Enjoy (I hope)! * * * Kyp Durron pulled his cloak around him as his ship began its descent over the planet Ilum. Long hidden by the Empire, Ilum had recently been rediscovered by the New Republic, and Master Skywalker had sent his students to gather crystals for the construction of their lightsabers. Kyp did not think he was ready for a lightsaber. After the destruction of Carida, he had been almost upset that he hadn’t been punished for the deaths of so many…and that included his brother. Ah, Zeth, he thought. I am so sorry. He’d never forgive himself for that, he knew, and he would spend the rest of his life atoning for it. And he had a long life ahead of him, barring an accident or death in battle. Today was special for Kyp not only because it was his first time constructing a lightsaber, but also because he was turning twenty today. His jaw clenched. Twenty years old and he had already killed a planet. Yay. The ship entered Ilum’s atmosphere, and Kyp looked out of the viewport, seeing the white clouds of blowing snow slam against the ship. It looked cold out. Very cold. The ship finally touched down and the pilot told Kyp and the other Jedi that it was safe to leave. Kyp left the ship without saying a word. He stood looking up at the vast mountain above him. He shivered as the wind hit him. Great way to spend your twentieth birthday. Freezing. Without a word to any of his fellow students, Kyp fired his grapnel hook up the mountain to the lowest cave. He began climbing, teeth clenched in determination as he did. He reached the lip of the cave fairly quickly, but he had to stop several times due to the wind nearly blowing him from the cliff face. Inhaling through his nose, he climbed into the cave. His eyes widened at what he saw. Strange, large-jawed animals sat in the middle of the cave, breathing heavily. Kyp knew that they were gorgodons, powerful animals who could kill with their powerful tails. Silently, Kyp began carefully stepping around the animals. He had to search for a lightsaber crystal, and he didn’t want that search interrupted by a pack of very big carnivores. He was doing pretty well, until he stepped on one of their paws. His eyes widened and he kept his foot pressed down firmly on the paw. He felt sure the moment he lifted it, the animal would awaken and try to kill him. Just in case, Kyp slid his small vibroblade from his belt, gripping it in a backhand knife fighter’s hold. Finally, he slowly began to lift his foot. He sighed in relief when the gorgodon jerked slightly and then settled back down into sleep. Kyp was at the end of the pack, when he tripped over a small outcropping. Panicking, he tried to use the Force to keep himself up…but his palms still smacked loudly on the cave floor. The three nearest gorgodons’ eyes snapped open, and they leapt to their feet, growling. Other gorgodons began to snarl and awaken. Kyp’s eyes widened in fear and he brandished his vibroblade. He was in trouble, he knew. The other Jedi students might’ve gone to different caves, and even if they even came to this one, they weren’t here yet and wouldn’t be in time to help him before he was torn apart by vicious monsters. “Kark!” he snarled. “Kark, kark, kark!” Two gorgodons leapt forward, claws extended. Kyp rolled aside, and one of the tails lashed out and smacked him in the chest. Groaning, Kyp fell to the ground, and the gorgodons were on him. Determined not to die here, Kyp gathered the Force in his palms and sent it flying out in a massive, repulsing wave. The animals flew backward toward the mouth of the cave. Kyp reached out to their minds with the Force. I am not food. You want to go back to sleep. I am not here, I am not food. Go back to sleep; I’m not bothering you and I will be gone before you know it. Confused, the gorgodons began to walk in circles, as if trying to decide whether to return to sleep or to kill the intruder. Finally, one by one, they began to settle down and return to their restful slumber. Kyp sighed in relief. Turning, he walked down into the cave, sheathing his vibroblade as he did. Hopefully, everything would go smoothly from here on– Kyp! Murderer! Genocidal freak! Kyp grabbed at his head in surprise and fell to the floor. One of the voices had been Zeth’s, he was sure; the others had clipped Imperial accents. You killed your brother, you maniac! That was Master Skywalker’s voice. Kyp looked around in a panic, grabbing his vibroblade and jerking it from its sheath. What was going on here? You’re just like me, Kyp. Admit it. That voice changed halfway through. First, it was the deep, dark tones of Exar Kun; then it became the rough voice of Admiral Daala. “I’m nothing like you!” he snarled. “Nothing!” Oh, but you are, Kyp. Just like me. Kyp gasped angrily and swung his vibroblade wildly at the voices. And then, suddenly, they were gone. He slowly lowered his blade and looked around. The crystals were around him; he must’ve moved into the main cavern without knowing it. He closed his eyes and reached out with the Force, letting it guide him to the crystal that would sync with his lightsaber perfectly. He had the shell of the weapon in his cloak, but without the crystal it was just a shiny silver cylinder. Finally, he reached down and plucked a crystal from the floor. The crystal was clear, not yet attuned to Kyp and his Force presence. Kneeling, Kyp pulled the empty hilt from his cloak and placed it on the floor in front of him, beside the crystal. Closing his eyes, he reached out with the Force and lifted the crystal into the air. He poured the power of the Force into it, attuning it to him. His jaw clenched as he felt the Force swirling around him. The whispers began again. You are a murderer! You killed a whole planet to save your brother and couldn’t even protect him. You are a worthless pile of dung. You shouldn’t even exist! Kyp, you killed me! Your own brother! Why did you do it, Kyp? You gave in to the dark side, you let your emotion control you, and you killed me! “I’m so sorry, Zeth,” Kyp whispered. He opened his eyes. His lightsaber floated in front of him, the crystal nestled firmly inside the hilt. Kyp’s eyes widened in surprise at the sight. How long had he been out? Some Jedi took hours, days to complete their sabers. He looked down at his chrono. He’d been working for five hours. Slowly standing, he reached out and grabbed his lightsaber in the palm of his hand. Nervously, almost afraid to see the color, he put his thumb over the activation plate. He hesitated…and then he squeezed. The blade snapped to life, over a meter of cyan light. The light blue filled the cavern, washing off the other transparent crystals in the room. Kyp smiled at the blade. He’d faced his inner demons, and he’d won, and in the process, he’d created a lightsaber crystal bright and pure, the symbol of a Jedi Knight. At last, twenty years old, Kyp felt the first hint of the possibility of freedom from his demons. Deactivating the lightsaber, he clipped it to his belt and walked out of the cave, silently passing the gorgodons, to await the other Jedi.