STAR WARS: THE RISE OF THE FIRST ORDER
UNKNOWN REGIONS, 29 ABY
The armed guards were an unnecessary but prudent display of power, Ben thought. The stormtroopers were different from the ones of the Imperial remnant hardliners; more focused, more driven and, Ben suspected, much better shots.
They had escorted him, four guards in total, to a room which was sparsely decorated and furnished. A single light illuminated the central table, bathing it in blue. What an odd choice, he observed. The stormtroopers left, leaving him alone to ponder.
It had been six months since he had abandoned the Jedi Order. The Dark Side called to him, trying to seduce him with its power, while the Light tried to bring him back. He was conflicted, feeling both sides fight over him like a piece of karkan ribene.
Part of him wanted to return to Ahct-To, to be with the other apprentices and learn more about the Force. To be where the Jedi Order had started. To help rebuild them into something great, to be something that would help bring justice and peace to those who needed it.
Another part of also wanted to return as well. But with much darker intentions. The Dark Side had told him to slaughter them all, to embrace what his grandfather had done all those years before. Kill Jedi. Erase them from existence and hunt them to their extinction. Be a Jedi killer.
Bring back the Sith. Fulfill your grandfather's legacy.
Let the past die, he told himself. Kill it, if you have to. There's no going back.
"Young Solo," came a calm crisp voice. That was when he felt something...strange. He felt a void between him and the Force, entrapping him, smothering his connection with the galaxy. He could not feel anything and he tried to reach out, only to be snuffed and rebuffed.
He panicked, not knowing what was happening around him. This had never happened to him before. He had always been connected to the Force. When he was born, when he created his lightsaber with Uncle Luke, to when he was conflicted between dark and light. But it was simply...gone.
"What is going on?" he demanded, almost activating his lightsaber. He saw who had spoken to him, a blue-skinned Chiss with blood red ruby eyes, walking out from a door, dressed in an immaculate white Imperial admiral's uniform. Next to him a grey uniformed Imperial captain walked in stride, his white mustache drooping while he looked with displeasure at Ben. "What did you to me?"
"Ysalamiri. They sever your connection to the Force and with your reputation...I would not have agreed to this meeting without it," the Chiss explained calmly, his head tilted slightly, tone cordial. "I am Thrawn."
Ben stiffened. He had heard of Thrawn, but he was of legend, stories of long time ago. A tactical genius who had been one of the only non-humans to rise through the ranks before defeating the man known as Nightswan and disappearing after a battle with the infamous Phoenix Squadron.
He had known Ben's grandfather, Darth Vader, if the stories were true.
"If I wanted to, I could kill you and your subordinate right now and be on my way back to Wild Space."
Thrawn's eyes lit with amusement. "No doubt you could. But there is a platoon of stormtroopers waiting outside this door. In the unlikely event that you kill me and them, the TIE fighters overhead have orders to bomb this base until there is nothing left. You will be left here alone, with no allies and nowhere to go. And you will die alone, without purpose and for nothing."
"I'm trapped," Ben realized. Thrawn's lips curled into a brief smile.
"It depends on what one thinks is a trap," Thrawn said. "To me, this allows us to meet as equals."
"It doesn't feel like it."
"What you feel and what is fact are two very different things."
Ben Solo carefully observed this Thrawn. His white Imperial uniform was pressed and cleaned, with the rank of Grand Admiral etched on the rank plaque. His hair was combed, his red eyes carefully analyzing Ben as well.
The Empire had formally agreed to peace during Ben's childhood and had ceded most of the galaxy to the New Republic. Now they were confined to a quarter of their former territory, unable to do much but bicker amongst themselves.
Is he loyal to the Emperor, a long dead man killed by my grandfather? Or is he loyal to another master? Another Emperor in the Unknown Regions that seeks to unleash another terror on the galaxy?
And for some reason he wanted to know. He needed to know.
"Why am I here?" Ben demanded.
Thrawn's face was expressionless, except for the luminous red eyes which bore straight into Ben's own. He simply drew a remote from inside his white jacket and pressed it. Soon, the light turned from blue to yellow, lighting up what had not been illuminated before.
A plethora of different pieces of art soon became visible to Ben. Ben recognized none of them, though he did admire a painting of a world that was blue and green, with smatterings of clouds around it. A single moon orbited around it, pockmarked with craters and scars.
"Art is a wonderful thing, Mr. Solo. It allows us to take a glimpse into a species's thoughts and beliefs. Art is a gateway into the mind of your enemies and your allies. To help you anticipate their actions, to understand their thinking."
Ben did not want to discuss art. He was not an artist, though he had drawn sketches of the Jedi Temple during his time there. He turned away from the piece and instead locked eyes with the Chiss admiral. His hand went to his lightsaber again, though he remembered Thrawn's warning. With effort, he took his hand from his side and forced himself to calm down.
Uncle Luke would have gone into a lecture about letting the Dark Side cloud his mind and that he must stop trying to give into his anger. Ben hated that, but he was, in a way, appreciating those words right now. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the Dark Side.
"What is this planet?" he instead asked. Thrawn hummed.
"I don't know," the Chiss admitted. "It was a painting Captain Eli Vanto recovered from a freighter on the edges of the Unknown Regions. It is quite beautiful, is it not though? Such a contrast to the bustling metropolis of the Imperial Center or the quiet but desolate mining planet of Lothal. But that's not why you are here."
Thrawn turned again, this time directing Ben's attention to a map. There he could see the Mid Rim, the Outer Rim, the Core Worlds and Wild Space. He had traveled through Wild Space for the past few weeks. He had seen planets such as Lystra and enjoyed the simplicity of it all, as opposed to the hustle and bustle of Coruscant and Hosnian Prime, or the loneliness of Ahct-To.
"The Unknown Regions is lurking with dangers. Threats to every single living being that live in known space. Threats that my subordinates have been working to combat for the past thirty years," Thrawn said. "They have largely succeeded, but have run into an interesting...conundrum, I believe the word is."
Ben had to admit, he was rather curious. He looked at the Chiss with his own eyes, meeting those cautious red ones.
"And what is this conundrum?" he asked. He paused...thinking. "And what does it have to do with me?"
The admiral smiled, white teeth gleaming.
"The conundrum, Mr. Solo, is the discovery of a new galaxy, one teeming with life and new threats," Thrawn revealed. Ben recoiled in shock. A new galaxy? And soon a new galaxy appeared, replacing the map of the known galaxy. "My commanders are waiting for my orders, to see what we should do about this newly founded adversary."
"And again, what does this have to do with me?" Ben demanded. "You speak of art, you speak of new galaxies, but you don't reveal what you have in plan for me, if you even have a plan. What do you want of me?!"
Ben did not mean to shout, but he was tired of this game that Thrawn was playing. And Thrawn simply smiled.
"I want you to help me. You are strong in the Force, as your bloodline is of that of your grandfather, Anakin Skywalker. You have trained with Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi. But more importantly, you seek purpose. I can give you that purpose. To help protect the galaxy that you live in from outside threats," Thrawn said.
Ben balked. "You want to use me as a weapon for your war against a new galaxy?"
Uncle Luke had always taught that the Force was not just a weapon. It was a way of life, to help you find balance in all things. The Force surrounded everything and everyone and sustained life. It was the energy field that connected everyone throughout the galaxy.
The Force is powerful. And it is not to be abused by those who can wield it.
"You make it seem like a travesty. The Force is but one weapon in a war for survival. And I will need every weapon at my disposal for this war."
"The Force is not just a weapon. It is what binds us together. Connects us. It flows through every single person, even you, Grand Admiral."
Thrawn gave a ghost of a smile. "I do not doubt that. But with the death or disappearance of the Imperial Inquisitors, the surviving Jedi flocking to Luke Skywalker's banners and the few Force-Sensitives who did not side with either faction refusing to help, you are my only option."
Thrawn turned to his aide and extended his hand. The imperial captain gave the admiral a datapad and the Chiss then extended it to Ben. Ben reached for it, but then hesitated.
Is this the step I want to take? He did not know. His hand shook, but he then firmly grasped the datapad.
"Welcome to the First Order, Ben Solo."
AN: Hey everybody. This is my first story in a couple of years, but after watching the sequel trilogy, I wanted to try something different. This is the intro chapter.
We're going to mix some stuff up from both EU and canon. I liked the sequels, not going to lie, so which is why they're going to be heavily featured in this story, such as Ben, Rey and Finn.
Don't expect regular updates, just a warning. Hopefully everyone enjoys!