Tag Archives: George Lucas

Spotlight: Star Wars Rebels – Agent Kallus

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You may or may not have seen my post “Star Wars Rebels’ Zero Hour and Season 3 Review.” It was a long post. In that article, one of the things about Rebels’ season three which I noted was Agent Kallus’ defection to the Rebellion from the Empire. Some people were surprised by his change of heart this season, and I admit to being taken aback that he became the new Fulcrum.

However, I was not in the least bit astonished that he turned Rebel. If you are in the mood to look up my previous posts on Rebels, you will find in one or two of them that I mentioned a belief that Kallus would change sides. I knew right from the start that Kallus had “the heart of a Rebel.”

Of course, this begs the question: How did I know?

A friend asked me that a little while ago. It is a good question, one I cannot answer in a scientific manner. I knew when I saw the first advertisements for Rebels that Kallus would be an Imperial goon; that he would be an antagonist. I knew that his name comes from the word callous, which means “being hardened and thickened…feeling no emotion; feeling or showing no sympathy for others: hard-hearted.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)   But even as I watched Spark of Rebellion, I looked at Kallus and thought, “You’ll be a Rebel someday, pal. Just you wait and see!”

How did I know? There were lots of little giveaways, I think. Not many people would notice them, especially among the show’s target audience. I have been a child before. I know how they see things. I gave up on lots of characters fighting on behalf of evil as a kid, only to be blindsided with shock when they became good guys later on. It is totally understandable that kids would see Kallus as nothing but a hopeless baddy, irredeemable and undesirable. One even gave him the nickname WAFAR: Walking Advertisement for a Razor, in reference to his huge sideburns.

Despite helping to create the moniker and adopting it myself, I did not see Kallus as a hopeless villain, and below are some of the reasons why.

From the get-go, I noticed that Kallus did not mind going into battle at the head of a legion of Stormtroopers. When Vader steps on the scene, he is usually the central point of the conflict. He is neither with the Stormtoopers nor goading them on from behind. If there are Stormtroopers present when Darth Vader enters the scene, they are in the background, firing at the heroes. Vader takes center stage whenever he shows up.

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Kallus was different. He was not in front of the Stormtroopers, like Vader typically is, he was in the front line with them. This is also a departure from the aloof attitude demonstrated by most Imperial officers. They are all safely behind the Stormtroopers when they appear on screen. We have never really seen an Imperial officer, agent, or other bigwig dive into the thick of a fight against the Rebels. The obvious reason for this is that the Imperials are perfectly willing to dish out the pain, but they are not willing to experience it themselves.

Kallus is different. He is willing to fight. He is willing to brawl. Whether he is using a blaster, his Lasat bo-rifle, or his own fists, he enjoys the thrill of combat. He is not afraid of getting hurt, though he is not reckless and does not wish to get himself killed. Nevertheless, from the start it was obvious that he enjoyed a good scrap.

This, I think, was my first hint that Kallus had the makings of a Rebel. Another hint was that he was not prone to preening, as most Imperials in Star Wars are. I do not recall seeing Kallus boast over anything he did while with the Empire, even his successes as an ISB agent. One Star Wars encyclopedia claims that he turned down numerous offers of promotion in order to stay on the front lines. So he did not have an unhealthy, inflated opinion of himself. Hmm, not your typical Imperial reaction to success, eh, readers?

To the observant viewer, this shows that Kallus is not interested in power or advancement in the Imperial bureaucracy. He is interested in his job as an ISB agent because he enjoys it. He wants to be on the front lines, fighting what he thinks is the good fight. His scrupulous attention to his job, his lack of interest in prestige and power, his love of combat because he is at his physical peak, hinted that he had a sense of honor. Though he kicked a Stormtrooper down a Kessel mineshaft and did some other, similarly nasty things, Kallus definitely possessed an aura of real dignity which is lacking in most of Star Wars’ Imperial characters.

Hint number three about Kallus’ eventual change of heart was that he was smart. Most Imperials are so busy trying to “get ahead” in the Imperial power structure that they have lost whatever imagination they had before they became part of the Emperor’s machine. You watch them while they are working on the bridge of a Star Destroyer or some such place, and they are all vying for “their fair share” of the glory. This means that they never look beyond their own nose. Because they are so busy looking out for good ol’ Number One, they do not understand the Rebels.

The Rebels would never leave a man behind if they could find a way to save him. Kallus realized this at the start of the series and, like Grand Admiral Thrawn, he began to profile our heroes. He did not do it through studying art, as Thrawn does, but by assessing their actions in combat.

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There are benefits to both kinds of deduction, obviously. Thrawn’s fascination with art and what it shows about a particular artist’s or species’ mindset is a superpower all by itself. It is what allows him to make such great, overarching plans. If there is one thing Thrawn is proud of it is his intellect, the fact that he is the smartest man (or Chiss) in the room, and so he holds all his subordinates and enemies in contempt. Kallus’ understanding of the Rebels is based more on their performance in combat, and so he never held them in complete contempt.

Kallus is not a genius, like Thrawn, but he is intelligent. He analyzed the Ghost crew’s patterns of attack and would be ready to meet them when they came running to the bait he had set up. His hand-to-hand battles with the Ghost crew, particularly Zeb, taught him their personal strengths and weaknesses.

In a way, this knowledge gave him a more realistic and basic picture of the Rebels than the one Thrawn has drawn up. Thrawn understands how they think; Kallus knows why they think the way they do. Thrawn is detached from his knowledge of the Rebels. With very, very few exceptions, he has not engaged them in personal combat. He has studied their tactics, yes, but he has done so through secondhand reports. Though thorough, these reports do not equate to actual experience.

Kallus has not engaged the Rebels simply with his head but by fighting them physically. He knows, therefore, that they will do the totally unexpected, not because of a picture they painted on a wall or a mask they left lying around. They will do the totally unexpected because they are determined to survive long enough to get a Rebellion against the Empire up and running. If someday they have to die so that a Rebellion can be born, then they will do it. But if they can find a way to survive they will take that chance, however slim or insane it seems to be. That is all there is to it.

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Thrawn thinks he can synthesize thousands of years of art and battle tactics into an efficient metric by which to plan out the perfect battle. To an extent, he is right. But what Kallus knows and what Thrawn has not recognized is that heart beats brains every time. The Ghost crew’s determination to win, to look out for each other, trumped his every plan to bring them to face what he believed was justice. And all of his plans were remarkably neat, for an “average” Imperial. So how can someone so smart get beaten so often by people who, logically, should be easy to defeat?

The writers finally answered Kallus’ question in The Honorable Ones. After bushwhacking the crew in an Imperial factory orbiting Geonosis, Kallus follows Zeb as the Lasat tries to return to the Ghost via an Imperial escape pod. The two end up fighting while the escape pod jettisons, damaging the controls in the process and landing on an ice moon as a result. Zeb is knocked cold by the landing while Kallus breaks his leg.

The episode is actually nothing special, from the point of view of the plot. Two enemies who hate the other end up stranded together and have to work with one another if they hope to survive to rejoin their respective forces. We have seen this device used time and time again. It is not a particularly spectacular plot and, if handled badly, it leaves an awful taste in viewers’ minds.

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But The Honorable Ones pulls it off very well – and not just because of all the “freak-out noises” Kallus makes. Having watched Zeb for so long, we know how he is going to react when he realizes that Kallus cannot fight because of his busted leg. Kallus, however, believes that Zeb will take the first opportunity to kill him. He repeatedly tries to get his hands on a weapon, but Zeb disarms him and does not hurt him, in spite of pointing out how easily he could kill the ISB agent.

Zeb then makes a crack about how Geonosis is supposed to be a desert planet. He knows very well that they are on one of the planet’s moons – a frigidly cold one, at that. But in order to ease the tension of their situation, he makes a joke about it. Kallus misses the joke and takes him seriously. He lectures Zeb as though the Lasat was a child, asking how he could be bested time and again by an ignoramus like him.

Zeb’s curt reply – “Get a sense of humor, Agent!” – must have surprised him. Due to a bad experience with a Lasat mercenary some years before, Kallus held all Lasat in contempt. Because of this past encounter with a member of Zeb’s species, he probably knows more about the Lasat as a race than anyone but Zeb and Thrawn. This hatred of his for the Lasat blinded him to their better qualities.

So Zeb pointing out that he was joking and Kallus not grasping it is one of the things that makes the Imperial agent sit up and pay attention. Zeb is not a genius but neither is he stupid. He was having a bit of fun at their expense, like any soldier who still held hope of rescue would. If Zeb had been a human or a fellow Imperial, Kallus might have understood that his comment was a joke. Instead, his bias blinded him to Zeb’s sense of humor.

Throughout the episode Kallus slowly learns to take off his dark glasses and look at Zeb as he is and not how his hatred has painted him. What he finds is an intelligent, honorable Lasat who is tactically bright. He also realizes that Zeb has something he does not. Several somethings, actually…. He has friends. Friends he believes in and trusts to come for him no matter what. Friends he knows will risk their lives for him because they have done it over and over again. Friends he will in turn risk his life to protect and help.

Kallus has no friends, not because he does not want them, but because they do not want him. With the Imperials, friends are extra baggage. They can get you demoted or put you on the chopping block for their mistakes. The Galactic Empire of Star Wars reminds me a great deal of Lewis’ description of Hell in The Screwtape Letters. Almost everyone in the Empire loves nothing greater or better than himself. They all hate each other to some extent and cannot wait to show up the person sitting next to them so they can climb the ladder to the Empire’s upper echelons.

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And in The Honorable Ones, this is what Kallus finds out. He finds out that he has not been fighting for the right side at all. He has been working for an evil Empire, doing evil deeds in its name.

The way this is shown in the episode is when he apologizes to Zeb for what happened on Lasan. The initial mission statement was not to massacre the Lasat. At least, this was not the mission statement that Kallus and everyone below him saw. The Empire meant it to be a massacre from the beginning, but they knew that not all of their soldiers would gleefully agree to exterminate an entire species. So the Empire had to feed them this idea that they were fighting just one little battle but it spiraled out into an inevitable world-clearing assignment.

Kallus bought the lie hook, line, and sinker because he already hated the Lasat. Though he admired an individual Lasat’s honor and courage by accepting that warrior’s bo-rifle before the latter died, he did in general despise the species. It made him willing to listen to and obey the Empire’s lies even when part of him balked and said, “Maybe this isn’t actually the right thing to do.”

The real clincher comes at the end of the episode, when Kallus watches Zeb’s reunion with the Ghost crew from a distance. The kids rush up to Zeb, shouting with relief, while Hera offers the milder, “You had us worried,” line. Kanan’s brash, “I told you he was all right,” is the more manly way of expressing relief. It is clear that the crew is genuinely happy to see Zeb, that they love him as part of their battle family.

Kallus’ reception aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer is the exact opposite. No one rushes up to see if he is okay or even to take him to sickbay for his broken leg. The one man aboard whom he knows by name, Admiral Konstantine, has his nose in a datapad when Kallus tries to get his attention. Konstantine’s brush-off is totally at odds with the Ghost crew’s joyous discovery of Zeb, alive and well, on that Geonosian moon.

Disappointed and shocked that no one aboard cared whether he lived or died, Kallus limps to his austere quarters and sits down on his bed. The one colorful thing he has is a meteorite Zeb found and gave to him because it generated heat, which Kallus needed more than he did because he could not walk. Somehow, I think Kallus realized then that, if he and Zeb had been friends and he had been lost, the big Lasat would have welcomed him back to the ship heartily.

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Though he always respected the Rebels’ fighting abilities, Kallus finally realizes after this episode that they are in the right and he has been wrong this whole time. It must have hit him hard; finding out that you have been fighting for and doing the work of someone evil is pretty awful. But the interesting thing is that Kallus does not let his feelings overwhelm and destroy him. Instead of staying in bed, wracked with guilt, he follows Zeb’s advice: he starts asking questions, looking into what the Empire is actually doing, not what it says it is doing.

The answers he finds spur him to join the Rebels as a spy, feeding them vital information from the first episode of season three onward. Despite not being a hundred percent successful in helping the Rebellion all the time, Kallus’ information comes in handy more often than not. It is so valuable, in fact, that when the Phoenix cell gets word he might be discovered, they try to get him out of the Empire.

In this way, they recognize Kallus’ true value more than he does. They see Kallus as more than a useful tool that can get them intelligence which could mean the difference between life and death. They see him as he is: a man of inestimable worth in and of himself, a man who does not deserve to be murdered by the Empire. They are willing to sacrifice any future lifesaving intel he could gain to save his life.

But Kallus’ more practical, Imperial-tinted view of his role in the Rebellion means he is not yet ready to break away from the Empire. He stays behind to keep feeding the Rebels information, feeling he can do more good from the inside than from without. A noble idea, certainly, but in the end his decision is almost disastrous. Thrawn uses Kallus’ next transmission to find Phoenix Squadron’s base, methodically destroying the Rebel fleet assembled overhead to put a halt to the TIE Defender factories on Lothal. Kallus’ warning barely alerts the Rebels in time, allowing them to mount a defense against the attack.

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It is, however, a costly defense, with many Rebels lost in the battle, along with most of the supplies they stored in the base which they are just able to abandon. Kallus is forced to watch the people he decided to help get killed before his eyes, held as he is aboard the Chimera’s bridge, powerless to act on their behalf. Though he eventually manages to escape it is clear he is not very happy with the day’s events at the end of Zero Hour, Part 2.

It is not too hard to guess why. Kallus thought he could be of more help to the Rebels from inside the Empire, that he could be useful to them as a spy. Instead he got them discovered, which led to many of their men being killed in action and lost them a well-stocked hidden base. He is lucky that they decided to take him in despite all that, which is why he thanks Kanan for accepting him.

Kanan, through his Force-sensitivity, must sense what Kallus is feeling. He also knows the man will not accept coddling. He cannot. He is a grown, responsible adult, which means he has to deal with his feelings as an adult should.

This does not mean that Kanan cannot tell him how much the risks he took on behalf of the Rebellion, on behalf of the Ghost crew, mean to them. He thanks Kallus for risking so much for them, for doing the right thing.

Kallus’ expression after Kanan leaves is very interesting. In fact, it is comparable to Ezra’s expression after he helps Sabine and Zeb take crates of food to feed hungry Lothal refugees in Spark of Rebellion. After one of the denizens of Tarkintown thanks Ezra for the food, thinking he is part of the Ghost crew, Ezra’s face falls with shame. “But I didn’t do this,” he mutters. “I didn’t do anything.” He was looking out for himself when he got caught up in the Ghost crew’s raid, but the people in Tarkintown did not know that. To them, he is a new member of the crew of benefactors that supplied them with the necessities they could no longer acquire themselves. This leaves Ezra feeling guilty, a guilt which helps spur him to join the Rebellion because it helps bring him out of himself, showing him that there is a larger battle to fight. That he can, in fact, make a difference and help people in a way that matters.

From Kallus’ expression, it is clear he is running up against the same feelings Ezra did. He does not think that he risked much, not the way the rest of the Rebels have been for years. He is a Johnny-come-lately to the Rebellion; it has been building for years, and he never considered it anything less than evil until recently. In fact, he actively worked to destroy it. Kanan, Hera, Ezra, Sabine, Zeb, and even Chopper saw this evil for what it was from the beginning. Kanan has paid for his Rebel service with his eyes, for Pete’s sake, yet he is thanking Kallus for risking his life as a mole in the Empire! They have been fighting it, risking their lives to defeat it, far longer than he has. “But I didn’t do any of this,” he is thinking as Kanan leaves. “I didn’t do anything.”

Kallus is a big boy, and sooner or later he is going to realize that this assessment is not entirely true. Yes, he was not an enemy of the Empire from the beginning. Yes, he fought and killed Rebels before he joined their fight. Yes, he will be making up for lost time now that he has become a Rebel.

But he did risk his life to give the Rebels important, lifesaving information. He did warn them in time, not just in Zero Hour but in Warhead as well. He did throw off Governor Pryce’s command capabilities by upsetting her, reminding her of the consequences of failure in the Empire. He did, at last, escape the Empire’s clutches and join the Rebellion. He is, finally, becoming more of the person he was meant to be.

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That makes him pretty darn important. It makes him worth thanking. It makes him worthy of the Rebels’ respect. And it is going to make him a heck of a Rebel, readers. I cannot wait to see him kick some Imperial backside in season four!

Journeying with Kallus has been almost as much fun as following along with the Ghost crew. I hope he gets to the party on Endor at the end of Return of the Jedi, where our Phoenix Squadron friends can slap him on the back and offer him some of the local cocktail. Maybe, in whatever series follows Rebels, we will get to see more of Kallus. He is an intriguing character I would hate to lose as a viewer. As a writer, I would have to have a pretty good reason to kill him off.

But we will have to wait and see what Dave Filoni and his crew have in store for our heroes. The final season of Star Wars Rebels is going to big and probably painful on a series of levels. As the song says, “We may lose and we may win/But we will never be here again/So open up, I’m climbin’ in.” I’ve followed the Ghost’s hyperspace vectors this far, readers. I cannot turn back now. If you have come this far with us, I know it is the same for you.

So…may the Force be with you, readers and Rebels alike!

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More Fan Fiction: Star Wars Rebels

Hey, readers! Yes, this is another fan fiction story by yours truly. This one, however, is set in the Star Wars universe. Specifically, it is supposed to take place in the timeline of the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels.

I know not everyone likes the series, but the thing is that it has managed to catch and hold my interest for roughly two years. One of the things about the previous season which I liked was the daughter/father relationship exhibited by Sabine Wren and Kanan Jarrus in the episode “The Protector of Concord Dawn.”

It was so interesting and fun that I am hoping the writers give us another episode (or more) showing their relationship and strengthening it. But with Kanan getting blinded at the end of season two, I began thinking of what Sabine’s reaction to his injury would be. This little story is the result.

It is highly unlikely that this story will quite fit into the series’ line-up. But since when did fan fiction have to actually fit the narrative?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little jaunt into the Star Wars galaxy, readers!

The Force will be with you, always!

The Mithril Guardian

Sight in the Dark

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.

“Kanan!”

With a gasp, Kanan Jarrus sat bolt upright in his bed, shivering. Ahsoka’s horrified shout, ringing through his dream into his waking consciousness, faded and died as he blinked to chase the nightmare away.

Or tried to blink. Ever since Maul had blinded him, even closing his eyes could be a bothersome movement. On the rare occasions his nightmares did not feature Malachor, Maul, or the Empire’s Inquisitors, they showed the last thing he had ever seen – a red haze, the blazing red of Maul’s lightsaber as it filled his vision and wiped it away. It had been the only thing he could ‘see’ for the first few days after the battle.

Now, all he ‘saw’ was darkness.

Throwing his legs over the side of the bed, Kanan sat up and tried to get the shudders under control. It’s lucky I don’t have much furniture, he thought, now I can’t trip on my way out of the cabin. It was also fortunate that Hera had decided they should begin living on the Ghost again, if only for a little while. Even without his sight, Kanan knew the ship so well he hardly needed help getting around. On Atollan, he would have needed a guide to navigate the Rebel base. Especially since it was still being built.

Rebel… The word bounced around in his mind. Did he even qualify as a Rebel fighter anymore? Despite his Jedi senses, a blind Rebel could never lead a mission into enemy territory.

Could he?

He couldn’t see. Although he could rely on the Force to get around, and to fight, didn’t Kanan need his eyes to assess a situation and make a plan? Thanks to Maul, he would never be able to do that again.

Without consciously thinking about it, Kanan drew his knees up to his chest and hugged them, trying to chase away the chill which suddenly assaulted him. How could he lead Ezra, Zeb, Sabine, and Hera on missions for the Rebels now? What use was he? He could barely copilot the Ghost these days.

Would he ever be able to pilot a ship on his own again?

They were the questions which plagued him day and night, making it hard for him to focus: on the Force, on learning to get around by touch and hearing, on his friends.

The principles of relying on the Force which Master Yoda had taught him and the other younglings years ago in the Temple – adding helmets with the blast shields down as an extra challenge – only carried him so far. Master Yoda had never taught them how to eat or plan a battle without being able to use their eyes.

Those REALLY should have been part of the curriculum, he thought sourly. It would have saved him so much trouble now.

With a sigh, Kanan realized he was giving into his fears. Again. Slowly, he fought to release the pain, fear, and self-pity frothing in his chest, threatening to swallow him up. He was beginning to notice a cycle in this: nightmares, then fears crowding in on his mind, followed by paralytic indecision as those worries overwhelmed him. As if I don’t have enough on my plate already, he growled to himself. Now he was trying to add to his troubles by chasing his worries in circles every day.

It was in that moment when a voice, gentle and serene, came into his mind out of the past: A Jedi acts when he is calm, at peace.

The familiar reminder from Master Yoda rose in his memory unbidden, but more than welcome. Kanan felt his negative emotions begin to subside, giving way to quiet and calm. “Thank you, Master,” he said softly. Despite being separated as they were by light years, the Empire, and ever present danger, the Ancient Jedi master still managed to have a word of comfort him.

Yes, his questions were valid concerns. But worrying needlessly about them would not solve them. If anything, his anxiety was bound to make things worse. What he needed to do was figure out how to deal with being blind. It was a limiting factor, certainly.

But Kanan had an asset others in his position rarely possessed. He had the Force.

He shivered again. The cabin still felt a little too cold. Maybe now’s a good time for an exercise, he thought suddenly.

Reaching out with the Force, Kanan searched for and found the barometer for his cabin. He located the switch easily thereafter and, counting quietly under his breath, turned the temperature up three degrees. It should warm him up without making him – or the cabin – uncomfortable.

As the temperature rose, the chill abated and faded away. Kanan released his hold on his legs and even let one dangle over the side of his bed, though he didn’t put his foot down on the floor. He chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip, pondering his options. If Hera was willing, and if they could find an asteroid belt where the Empire wasn’t likely to discover them, maybe he could get in some target practice on the gun turrets….

It would be tricky. The asteroids weren’t going to shoot back. Still, Kanan had no intention of becoming a passenger aboard the Ghost. He couldn’t afford to do that. The others still needed him; the Rebellion needed him. And to give up now would be to grant Maul victory.

Kanan’s hand balled into a fist without his conscious will. Maul had intended to kill him on Malachor, but Ahsoka had stopped him. Failing that initial attempt, the former Sith Lord would be quite happy to see Kanan a broken and defeated man.

Which meant that Kanan had to keep himself in one piece. So he was blind. That was just battle damage. “Okay, it’s rather significant battle damage,” he admitted aloud. And it was going to make fighting for the Rebellion hard. But if he gave up now, he would never be able to pull himself back together. If that happened, then Maul could waltz in at his leisure and finish him off, leaving Ezra in even worse straits.

Ezra.

He swallowed, his mouth having suddenly gone dry. Kanan had no idea why Maul had chosen Ezra as his Dark Side apprentice. The fact that the boy was convenient at the time was a deciding factor, of course. None of them knew how long Maul had been on Malachor, but it seemed that until landing on the desolate planet, the former Sith had not realized he needed – or wanted – an apprentice.

That wasn’t the case anymore.

There had been a darkness hovering over Ezra ever since they had left the dead world. Part of it was the fact that they had lost Ahsoka. Kanan wasn’t as sure now as he had been that she was dead. She wasn’t a Jedi anymore, but neither was she of the Dark Side. He wasn’t certain that her light had gone out, exactly…. But if she was alive, Kanan knew she had her reasons for staying away from the Rebellion. From all accounts, Vader wanted her captured pretty badly. If the Inquisitors had been able to track him and Ezra, Vader might have had a similar method that allowed him to follow Ahsoka. Of course, she might also be staying away to pull Vader’s attention from the two of them.

He brought his fist up and pressed it against his forehead, trying to think against the ache which was building behind his eyes. Whether Ahsoka was alive or dead, Ezra had been treading perilously close to the Dark Side since they returned to Atollan. Although he did his best to keep the boy from noticing his recurring nightmares, Kanan knew the youth should still have been able to pick up on them at least vaguely. If he had, he hadn’t mentioned it. Not to Kanan, anyway.

This was what worried Kanan most, along with his apprentice’s renewed, almost single-minded dedication to his training in the Force.  It had been bleeding over into his desire to fight on behalf of the Rebellion, too, and that was becoming cause for concern.

Ezra had lost his lightsaber on Malachor and was currently building a new one. But aside from the few lessons he had been able to squeeze into their time together, Ezra had been working on his Force abilities alone. And when Kanan did manage to get a session in with him, he could sense anger in his apprentice. Anger the youth was doing little to hide – or to control.

Kanan figured that was due to a combination of things: Maul’s influence, his own blindness, and Ahsoka’s apparent death. Unlike Kanan, Ezra was convinced that Ahsoka was dead. Though he had not yet managed to corral the teenager long enough to quiz him, Kanan was beginning to wonder if the former street thief would listen to any questions he asked – whether they were for directions, or simply to make him think about his position.

Try to fight, and you will die, the vision Sentinel in the Lothal Temple had said. The Rebellion will fail, and your apprentice will become a servant of evil.

I will not let that happen. Kanan frowned at the memory, transferring his fist from his forehead to the top of his knee. He had admitted that he couldn’t protect Ezra from everything during that vision, including his own folly or choices. But he had fought on Malachor, hadn’t he? And he had lost at least his eyes. What if he had also lost the Rebellion – and Ezra?

He had tried meditating on the matter. So far, he had had no luck in finding an answer. Probably because the very thought was more frightening than the idea of being useless to the Rebellion. It was too hard to meditate while swimming in his own fear.

Kanan hit his mattress with his other hand. He had lost so much already!! His master, the Jedi Order, the Republic – and now, his eyes… He might yet be able to survive being blind, but if he lost Ezra to the Dark Side, he would break. Down in the deepest recesses of his being, Kanan knew that was true.

I can’t lose him. I can’t! The thought had been a constant refrain since he had come to understand the full implications of Ezra’s danger. It never banished the fear, only heightened it. If he fought to protect Ezra and keep him as his apprentice, he might just lose him – and the Rebellion as well.

Before meeting Ezra, he had been a shadow. He had known it, but only in a vague way. It was during his time training him that Kanan had learned just how much he had been denying about himself. He was a Rebel, a space ranger, and Hera’s… copilot. That was true.

But he was, primarily, a Jedi. And up until Ezra had dropped into his lap on Lothal, he had been rejecting that fact out of fear. Without Ezra, he would still be living less than a half-life, because he would not have been living the truth. He would have been living a fear-filled lie.

Shaking his head, Kanan realized he had just torn down his Jedi calm for the second time since waking up. With a heavy sigh, he began the process of releasing his fears again.

He had just managed that feat when he sensed her headed down the hall. She was being quiet. Since the others were all supposed to be asleep, that made sense. Letting his feet fall quietly to the floor, he reached out to the door controls with the Force. He already had this technique down pat. It had been one of the first things he had practiced. And at this hour, it was better that he let her in without making her ask permission to enter.

As soon as she was in front of the door, he opened it. “Kanan?” Sabine whispered tentatively.

He gestured slightly and she stepped inside. “You’re up late,” he admonished mildly, shutting the door as he spoke.

“I was finishing up a project,” she said softly as she sat in the chair across from his bed.

Without thinking, Kanan raised one eyebrow. It pulled the skin above his eyes, which was uncomfortable. He could sense that was part of why Sabine was here – and whatever the project was, it had something to do with him. Otherwise, she would have countered with the obvious fact that, despite the late hour, he was also awake.

But there was something else in the back of her mind, too. An uneasiness she didn’t want to share with anyone else. Or which she felt she couldn’t share with anyone else. “What’s so important you couldn’t do it in the morning?” he asked quietly. “Did you paint your armor again?”

The giggle and the flash of mirth happened at the same time, and he nearly missed the first for the force of the latter. Kanan allowed a small smile to show itself. Getting a giggle out of Sabine was always a triumph, especially since they had returned from Malachor. She hadn’t quite been avoiding him, but she had been keeping him at arm’s length. Kanan supposed it was because she was absolutely determined not to pity or patronize him. If they were alone together for too long these days, she started to get nervous and ran out of things to say in minutes.

That was the case now. “I’m going to repaint it soon,” she answered. She paused awkwardly for a few seconds. “And my hair. I haven’t decided on a color yet.”

“As long as it’s not Imperial gray, I think we’ll survive the change.”

That got another giggle out of her. Then she again fell silent.

Kanan waited. Sabine would tell him what she had come for when she was ready. That was the way she always did things like this.

After a few moments’ silence, there was the slightest rustle of movement. She was too well trained to let her armor make contact with itself and raise a clatter. “I made you these,” she said.

Without thinking, Kanan put his hands out. Some sort of material landed in his outstretched hands and he fingered it. It didn’t take him long to figure out what it was. “Gloves?” he asked, frowning. There was something different about these; they weren’t smooth, but seemed to have some sort of raised material attached to the palms and the underside of the fingers.

“Here.” Sabine took them back and carefully put them over each of his hands. Kanan flexed one hand, then the other.   There was a tingle along his palms and fingers as he moved.

“I didn’t want to interfere with your Jedi senses, or…retraining,” Sabine began. He could tell she had prepared this speech in her head for a bit, and that she was trying not to rush through it.

Mandalorians, he thought, stifling an exasperated sigh. They placed high esteem on strength, courage, and honor, which was admirable. But they weren’t that comfortable with open displays of kindness or charity in circumstances like his. To them, it seemed too much like pity. And to the warriors of Mandalore, pity was a weakness.

“But I added some sensors in the palms and fingers of the gloves,” she continued. “And I covered them with a thicker material that would help you grip things. Like you lightsaber, or a drinking glass, or even the controls for the gun turrets. Once you’re used to – to how you have to do things now,” he felt mild embarrassment emanate from her, “you can take them off, because they’ll have helped you build up muscle memory you can use instead.”

Kanan smiled. “They’re great, Sabine. Thanks. You know, I was just thinking about asking Hera to find us a nice, quiet asteroid field where I could get in some target practice.”

“Why do that? I can reprogram some remotes, let them out of the Ghost, and give you a more realistic workout that way.”

“That’s an idea,” he conceded. It was good to hear the excitement in her voice. “Still, if we end up in an asteroid field someday, I may be needed on the turbolasers. So both practices would be useful. How soon can you have the remotes ready – tomorrow?” he added. Sabine was already up late. He didn’t need her awake for the rest of the night.

She caught the warning, and the command, in his tone. “If we’re not too busy, I should have them done before lunch,” she replied.

“That’d be great.” He cocked his head at her. Between the position of her voice and her sense, he didn’t need sight to make sure that his face was to her. And according to Hera, he could still level an imposing, daunting gaze, even with a bandage over what was left of his eyes. “So what else is bothering you?”

He had to wait longer for her to respond to that question. “I’m worried about the kid,” she muttered.

Ezra? He thought. “Why?”

“He hasn’t been the same since you came back,” she said slowly. “It’s like – I don’t know, he won’t let us get close anymore. I think he was more friendly when we first picked him on Lothal than he is now, in some ways.”

“And then there’s Maul.”

Kanan frowned. He had had to tell Hera, Sabine, and Zeb what had occurred on Malachor after Ezra had refused to do so. He hadn’t wanted to tell Sabine about Maul at first, considering the former Sith’s involvement with Mandalore’s past. The last thing they needed was a repeat of Sabine’s performance on Concord Dawn. She had proven her capabilities in that fracas, but Maul was far more powerful than she would ever be.

And Sabine knew it. Despite the anger he could sense in her, Kanan also sensed fear, caution borne of what she knew Maul was powerful enough to do. “I don’t see how we can fight him, Kanan. I don’t think he’ll just let us go.”

“Not likely,” Kanan agreed. “We’ll be seeing him again, sooner or later.”

“I wish I could just…shoot him,” she growled.

He couldn’t suppress a smile. “Maul’s survived too much for a blaster bolt to take care of him, I’m afraid.”

“He still has to pay,” she replied fiercely. “For Mandalore, for Ahsoka, for Ezra, and – ”

She cut herself off, deep shame coloring her sense. Kanan guessed she was blushing. It felt like the kind of embarrassment that would make someone blush. Either way, it was definitely a rare emotion for Sabine Wren, daughter of a Death Watch warrior from Mandalore, to exhibit so deeply – under any circumstances.

“Nice to know I make the top four.” Unconsciously, Kanan leaned back and crossed his arms. “Maul will die one way or another, Sabine. Even if Ezra or I don’t best him, he’s not likely to last long.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“Vader,” he replied quietly. “Maul’s stronger in the Dark Side than any of the Inquisitors ever were. He’s stronger, at least at the moment, than Ezra or I. Only Ahsoka was able to hold him at bay in a duel.”

“You beat him.”

Kanan shrugged. “Not soon enough. The thing is that Maul had an Inquisitor hunting him, too. As long as Maul’s alive, he’s a direct threat to Vader’s position. While you can have a thousand Jedi and more Padawans than they know what to do with, you can only have two Sith.”

“Why?”

“Because those who use the Dark Side are always vying with each other for more power,” he explained. “Jedi don’t seek power for itself. The Force is our ally, not our servant. The Sith desire to be all-powerful. That’s why there can only be two Sith at a time; one master, one apprentice. Eventually, the apprentice kills the master and takes his place. Maul doesn’t fit into that equation. Not anymore, anyway.”

Sabine muttered something under her breath in Mandalorian. Kanan wasn’t sure if it was a prayer or a curse. Considering the tone it was uttered in, it could have been the former. But that didn’t guarantee it. “Sounds like a very strict type of politics.”

“It does, now that you mention it.”

They were silent again. “Is that why Ezra won’t talk about him?”

“I don’t know,” Kanan admitted. “I hope so.”

He felt apprehension touch her emotions. “You hope so?”

Kanan sighed. “Ezra’s going through a rough time right now.”

“So are you.”

He huffed out something like a chuckle. “It’s not the same, Sabine. Not for the most part. My training was more thorough than Ezra’s ever will be, even if he were to be trained by a Master. And the temptation to join the Dark Side is something we all have to face, Jedi and non-Jedi alike.” He sighed. “Ezra has to find his own way through this. I can guide him, and stay close … But he has to make his own choice.”

“About joining Maul?”

“About choosing to be a Jedi,” Kanan replied softly, “Or choosing the Dark Side. At this point, Maul hasn’t got much to do with it. Unless as the catalyst for Ezra’s journey into the light… or fall into the Dark.”

Sabine was very quiet for the next few minutes. In that hush, Kanan realized that for the moment, he was at peace. He wasn’t going to try to fight Ezra or Maul to prevent his apprentice’s fall to the Dark Side. But that didn’t mean he had to abandon the boy, either. He was never going to do that.

“Have you told Hera?” Sabine asked at last.

“We’ve talked about it, off and on.” Kanan sighed. “But you know how many supply runs we’ve had to do this week. We haven’t had time to really sit down and think it through together.”

“Hmm.”

Stillness descended on them again. Then Sabine stood up. “Is there anything I can do?”

Kanan thought about it. “Just stay his friend,” he said at last. Then, with a small smile, he added, “And if you’re up to it, how ‘bout we try out these gloves, see how well they work on the gun controls?”

Sabine laughed lightly. “Mind stopping at the galley on the way? I could use a drink.”

“Works for me,” Kanan answered, standing up and using the Force to open the cabin door. They left the cabin together. Just to see if he could, Kanan reached out and slapped at the barometer’s controls on the way out. If he had done it right, then the temperature should drop back to its previous level while he was gone.

Sabine had noticed his movement and watched him slap the controls. He sensed surprise from her as the door closed behind him. “You hit it right on the mark,” she said, sounding impressed. “How..?”

“Jedi hunch,” Kanan replied with a mock-serious shrug.

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, I did hit it. Somehow.”

She giggled. “I guess it’s as good an answer as any!”

Kanan chuckled, putting his arm over her shoulders and giving her a half hug. “Galley, gun turret, then sleep.”

“Deal,” she replied.

THE END

First look–A Rebel goes undercover with the Empire in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

WOW!!!

The first trailer for Star Wars: Rogue One is out, fellow Jedi! It looks VERY interesting! Borg.com has more details on the upcoming film, so by all means, read on!!

But still… No Mara Jade…? (Hangs head and moans in disappointment.)

borg.com

Rogue One gif image

In Return of the Jedi, Mon Mothma told us many Bothans died to deliver information on the weaknesses of the second Death Star.  In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a former stormtrooper figured out how to take out the third galactic Navarone-inspired superfortress in a matter of minutes.  But how did the Rebellion find the plans to the original Death Star–the plans Princess Leia handed off to R2-D2 in Star Wars: A New Hope, which she later recovered thanks to a rescue by Luke, Han, Chewie, Ben, and C-3PO?

In the first trailer released today for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the global fan base is introduced to Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones), following in the steps of Daisy Ridley’s young female lead Rey from Star Wars: A Force Awakens last year.  With scenes that remind us of recent Star Wars MMPORGs (that’s massively multiplayer online role-playing game for those not in the know)…

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