When Kylo entered his quarters Niney was buffing a fresh coat of carbonized lacquer on her base.
‘What a vain creature’ he thought stopping to wonder if a droid could truly be aware of its own appearance.
He needed some time alone before he met with Hux in his ready room. He changed into fresh clothes and prepared his helmet on the table beside the door.
His thoughts drifted to another helmet, his grandfather’s; Darth Vader.
“I know now it is her” he quietly proclaimed. “Have you always been leading me to this? Or is this the will of the force?” Kylo remained silent for a long moment.
He knew better than to expect an earnest reply, but he had half hoped for a sign.
“Perhaps the two things are one and the same for you now grandfather. Either way, I need direction.
Is my training complete? Have I demonstrated strength or weakness?” Kylo thought of the weakness Snoke had ordered him to cull. Han Solo, his father.
He could feel himself tremble as he sat down and looked up at the helmet, his mask, that thing which was the epitome of Kylo the master of the Knights of Ren.
Han Solo, despite his shortcomings as a father, had been so strong on Star-killer. Stronger perhaps than anyone he had ever seen, and Kylo had asked for his help.
“Take off that mask. You don’t need it” Han chided him.
True there was no mask he could hide behind with his father or mother, but what came tumbling forth when he removed his armor scared him much more.
It had felt surreal, removing his helmet and letting it fall to his side on that bridge. He tried to remain guarded but it was useless. Han gave voice to his innermost fears.
“Snoke is using you for your power. When he gets what he wants, he’ll crush you...You know it’s true” his father said.
This very moment Kylo had wondered if Han had any latent telepathic abilities he never developed or understood.
It was entirely possible, he imagined his father would have balked at the onset and buried the connection deep.
Acting out of fear or confusion in the same manner he rejected his own son so many years ago.
He remembered growing melancholy thinking about a father who could have shared his experience and understood him. ‘Such a waste’ he mused bitterly.
Not even he had the power to know what could have been, and neither of them ever would.
“Its too late” he had conceded mournfully knowing full well what almost was and what never could be.
But Han had told him he was mistaken, and he had never lied to him. Sometimes as a child he wished his father could have lied like the smuggler he was. For his sake.
To shield him from his apprehension and unease around a child so gifted...so powerful.
“I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain” Kylo had admitted tearfully.
He had felt like a live wire. On such a precarious edge between the forces of light and darkness. Both sources of power were beckoning him, he had only to reach out and wield them.
Yet he was powerless to choose. All at once he was a child again overcome by his own ability; his decision. But there was no choice, not really.
One of them had to perish on that bridge, and the other had to cross over alone.
“I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?” he had implored.
When his father answered Kylo was shaken by how unlike Han Solo the ferocity of his commitment was.
“Yes. Anything” he vowed.
The last of the light from the distant sun Star-killer was consuming to power its weapon vanished. Darkness consumed the oscillator room.
Kylo was unaware he had extended his saber toward his father. Han held fast in return. The hand joined between them shuddering.
The darkness was pressing so close around them both, he needed to move, to decide, to reach forth and claim strength or kill his weakness.
Before he could find the heart of his feelings between the hope, pain, fear, rage, and regret; before he could disentangle himself from the silent pleas of the scavenger watching above,
it was done.
His saber crackled wildly as it tore through his father’s chest. Han’s eyes wide for a moment before they softened and he felt Han’s hand upon his face.
“Thank you” he heard himself say.
Then his father was gone. Falling from the bridge into the bright mist of the oscillator’s power field below.
Until Chewbacca’s blaster bolt struck him in the side he had been falling too, lost in reflection and unsure of how this moment had arrived.
Hindsight was no clearer he thought as he rose to his feet.
Some quandaries had no resolutions and Kylo may never know if his father had sacrificed himself to save his son,
or if he himself had fulfilled his duty and emerged that crucible as a man complete; whole with the darkness.
Securing his helmet he paused before the door. The only thing certain now was a debriefing with Hux in his ready room.
Niney chirped a reminder about asset inventory in the aftermath of Star-killer and he struggled not to zap the droid with dark side lightening.
Reaching through the force he sensed calming waves wash over him. Balance restored within himself Kylo Ren left his quarters intent upon being whole, perhaps one day without his mask.