• Published 3rd Dec 2017
  • 3,911 Views, 130 Comments

Heart of the Force - fluttershyfan17

In the midst of Order 66, Jedi Knight Kaleb Taymar is transported to Equestria. Starting a new life, he becomes friends with the Main 6. However, the Force has awakened in Equestra, and their lives will never be the same.

  • ...

Chapter 9: A Light in the Darkness

Author's Note:


Hey everyone. I just wanted to let you know that simular to the last chapter, there are some dark moments which include wartime violence of a graphic nature. Also, there are a few times that suicide is mentioned in this chapter. It is never shown on the page, but it is referenced a few times.

There is a reason that suicide is mentioned along with many other things in this chapter. When I started to write this story, I wanted to explore how padawans who went through the Clone Wars were affected in terms of emotional trauma, and how they would react to that pain. What Kaleb is going through is real for many people. PTSD is a serious psychological disorder that affects many people, including combat veterans. I have tried to take great care in writing this so that it is portrayed accurately and without stigma, including doing extensive research.

Along with this author's note, I'm going to include some links to a few websites that have information on PTSD, including the VA. Also, since there is mention of suicide in this story, I am providing the phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. I know that it seems like a small thing to do, but it can help readers who are at risk and in many cases save lives. As always, may the Force be with you. Edited by Menace of the Mines

National Institue of Mental Health

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

The cold winds of winter came earlier than expected, rattling the windows of the library and covering all of Ponyville in a blanket of snow. It was the first major blizzard of the season, and the cold crept into every corner and crevice until the fireplaces and stoves came to life. However, the structure of the library did not allow for the heat to creep up into the second floor, forcing the inhabitants who lived there to layer on clothing and blankets, still shivering from the cold. There was one room where the door had been closed, one where the cold reflected the emptiness of the soul.

Kaleb was up late on this night, deep in his meditation. It had been over two weeks since Discord had stolen the Elements of Harmony, having been stopped by the Mane Six with the help of Kaleb and Spike. Two weeks since darkness returned to Equestria, and although the shadow did not kill him, the scars of the past were brought to the surface, forcing him to let go of all attachments so that those around him would no longer be in danger.

He barely left his room for these two weeks, only going downstairs for meals, which were eaten quickly and in silence. Afterwards, Kaleb would go back upstairs, locking his door and continuing to meditate for long periods of time or often just laying down in silence. The reactions to this drastic change were varied. Twilight, Spike, Applejack, and Rarity knew whatever he had encountered in the Everfree forest changed him, and decided it was best to give him time, although they kept a close eye on him. However, many times Pinkie or Rainbow Dash would try to make him laugh or threaten to kick the door down, it remained shut. They had visited a few times over the first week, but were shooed away by Twilight, making them promise to give him time.

Fluttershy was the one pony who visited often, trying to talk to Kaleb about the animals that she was taking care of or trying to get him to talk about what happened but with no avail. Over the past few days, there was an edge of frustrations and anger in her voice as she tried to get any response from him. Her emotions boiled up in the last encounter a few days ago, resulting in words that echoed through his mind which were accompanied by sobs as she ran away, slamming the downstairs door behind her.

“I know that whatever you’re going through is rough right now, but don’t you have any consideration for how worried we are about you? Just say something for Faust sakes! You’re not the only one who was affected by what we saw. I don’t even know who you are anymore. Goodbye, Kaleb.”

He could feel her emotions of frustration and anger, but there was also a sense of fear that occupied her mind most of all. As she ran away, Kaleb felt tears in his eyes as his emotions burned and the senses of terror began to take over. Although he had tried to empty himself of all emotions, it had been extremely difficult to let go, for his mind was trapped in a circle of hell that would not let go.

The panic attacks had become more persistent, happening on a daily basis and becoming more severe by the day. Along with this anxiety, there was a paranoia that took hold that changed his habits. Kaleb found himself checking the locks on the doors and windows every few minutes and looking out of the windows, staring out at the snow. A few times a day, he would have flashbacks that would take him back to the war, either having the image play in front of him or in dreams where he would wake up in a fright, having that same feeling of panic or even shouting out, reaching for his lightsaber. Soon, the hallucinations came, both auditory and visual. He saw those who he watched die, those he killed, and those who suffered while he did nothing. They asked him why he did not save them or why did he kill them. While some spoke to him softly, others screamed out in anger and pain, their voices multiplying, forcing him to lay on the floor and wait for them to stop. Despite all of this, he tried to bury these emotions, doing his best to embrace the Jedi Code.

In his meditation, Kaleb could feel the Force, the stream of consciousness echoing all throughout the area, with each living creature having a heartbeat. As the meditation continued, Kaleb felt it calling out to him, the first time this had happened since the two weeks had passed. Reaching out to meet it, Kaleb felt the chill being multiplied and the winds picking up around him.

Opening his eyes, Kaleb found himself in the middle of the Everfree Forest, the darkness of the night surrounding the tall trees. Jumping to his feet, he looked around, immediately reaching for his lightsaber to find that it was not there. There was no panic that reached his mind, but instead felt a familiar presence in the darkness, watching him. Kaleb looked around before hearing a voice that brought recognition.

“Kaleb, you must go to the Everfree Forest, to a cave where the cold winds cannot reach. Follow the light which have guided so many. May the Force be with you.”

“Master Johanna?!” he exclaimed, not knowing where to look. “I don’t know what you mean. Where are you?”

“You must go….” The voice echoed, and the vision began to fade in darkness.

“MASTER!” Kaleb yelled as he awoke from his meditation, jumping up from the bed and reaching out to the Force for his lightsaber. He ignited the blade and stood in the darkness for a few seconds, panting and looking around wildly. Eventually, he turned it off and looked around before collapsing onto a nearby wall, trying to regain his thoughts as they raced through his mind.

That was real, I felt the Force reaching out to me, that was Master Johanna, Kaleb thought as he caught his breath. That couldn’t have been a hallucination, they don’t have the Force within them. But I don’t understand, why me? Why at this time, and how was this possible if she’s dead?”

Feeling the nearby bookcase for support, he made his way to the bed before sitting on it and sighing. “Even though I felt the Force, there are many unanswered questions. It could be a trap but I did not feel the dark side. If it is truly Master Johanna, then I must go. There has to be a reason.”

Pondering his decision for a few more moments, Kaleb got up and put on his cloak, which was hanging from a hook on the wall. He hooked his lightsaber to his belt, securing it in its leather case before grabbing a flashlight from his nightstand, which was made to look like a lamp. Unlocking the door, he slowly crept out of the room, closing it behind him as he made his way down the stairs. Once in the library, he turned on the lantern to find the library empty and as quiet as he could, crept to the door. Reaching his hand out, he silenced the bell that usually rang when someone entered the library and opened the door. The winds howled as he quickly stepped out of the library and closed the door before walking off into the night.

The snow was falling at a steady pace as Kaleb walked through the village. It crunched beneath his feet with each step and landed on his hair. Putting the hood over his head, he held the lantern even higher as the winds began to pick up, the howling reaching a moderate volume. It was slow going, but he eventually made it into the center of Ponyville, pausing for a moment to catch his breath as he leaned up against one of the posts in the town square. Setting the lantern down, he shivered as the coldness crept into his hands, bundling them in the robe. I should have brought gloves with me, maybe I should turn back, Kaleb thought as he brought his arms in close to him. In the distance, he could make out a shadow approaching the center, moving slowly towards him.

“Who’s there?” Kaleb called out squinting into the storm. “Reveal yourself.” His heart began to beat out of its chest as the paranoia began to set in. Moving closer under the building, he began to reach for his lightsaber. The shadow began to run, moving at a great pace, as a voice in Kaleb’s mind began to scream at him. Grabbing the lantern, Kaleb began to sprint away from the town center, moving in whatever direction he could, just away from the shadow. He ran for what was several minutes for anyone else but hours for him. Not being able to see where he was going, he moved his hands in front of him wildly, trying to feel any obstacles in front of him. Tripping over a stone covered with ice, he landed on the ground, the lantern flying out of his hand and skidding on the ground to a location several feet away. Kaleb looked around wildly but found that there was no one there.

Getting up slowly, he moved his way to the lantern, where it continued to glow like a beating heart in a sea of death. Fluttershy’s cottage was in view as he moved it around, realizing that the stone that he had tripped over was where the otters would sunbathe as they took a break from the water. He brought the lantern upward, gazing into one of the windows for a solid minute before looking back into the direction of the Everfree. Sighing, he began to walk at a moderate pace, keeping his eyes ahead but his senses alert for any signs of danger. He reached the tree line and entered the forest.

He walked for what felt like hours, not sure of where to go or how to get there, only relying on his senses and lantern to guide the way. The crunch of the snow soon began to fade away as his footsteps became silent. Kaleb held his head up high as he made his way through the forest, shooting glances around him to make sure he wasn’t being followed. There was still a sense of dread and foreboding that plagued him, as if something bad was going to happen. The enemies that chased him could still be still be out there, lurking in the shadows. His mind began to flash back to the fight with the shadow, hearing its snarls echoed in the wind that made its way through the trees. There was no trace of the dark side, only his mind and the labyrinth of his memories.

The trees stood like sentries in a silent night, obscuring the view of the sky except for the pale light of the moon that would light the way. It found its way in the forest just as everyone else did, creeping onto the ground and peeking out through the branches. It created a dappled effect on the ground, but it appeared to be restricted to only a portion of the ground.

Kaleb paused as he began to think. Follow the light which has guided so many. Maybe she was referring to the moon, it looks like it has formed a path, a small one but still a path, Kaleb thought, looking down at the ground. I must trust the Force.

Readjusting his direction slightly, he began to follow the path that the moonlight created. The twists and turns it created reflected in the ice on the ground, creating a sparkling affect. Time began to pass more quickly along with his pace and he found that the forest had begun to space out, the trees being wider apart than usual. Within a matter of what he thought was half an hour, he stumbled upon a clearing where the moonlight fully encapsulated the ground, and a mouth of a small cave stood. It still remained in darkness, but there was light that paved the way.

Kaleb walked slowly towards the entrance of the cave, where he brought up his lantern and entered the mouth. It was smaller than he had expected, more similar to an alcove than an intricate system of tunnels going beneath the ground. There where a few rocks on the ground, along with a small log. Kaleb stood for a few minutes, looking around, unsure of what to do.

“I am here, as the Force has willed me,” he began, looking around. A small sense of resentment began to stir within him, brining an edge of it into his voice. “Why have you brought me here if you’re just going to waste my time? I should have never some here.” He whipped around furiously, beginning to walk away.

“Patience can be difficult to master, but what you find is its own reward.”

Kaleb whipped around as he heard the familiar voice. Illuminating the darkness of the cave, Master Johanna stood, her face containing the same wrinkles of wisdom and humor that he had known for years. Clothed in her Jedi robes, she appeared to be untouched by age or injury. There was a blue sheen that surrounded her, emitting a glow that slightly illuminated the cave.

“Master Johanna...” Kaleb pondered, his voice trailing off. His legs began to wobble, and he fell to his knees, his face still in an expression of shock. “But how, I don’t understand…”

“You may rise, Kaleb. Please, sit down.” Johanna implored, moving her hands toward the log. Slowly, Kaleb found his way toward the log, sitting down as she sat next to him, facing him slightly. “It is through the Cosmic Force which I am able to manifest myself, using a technique passed down from Master Yoda. It is a journey which you will go on someday, I am sure.”

Kaleb looked at her, and simply felt the emotion pour into his mind and voice. “I’m sorry Master, I’ve failed you.” Tears began to well up into his eyes. “I failed you, the Jedi Order, the Force, and so many others who I cannot remember…”

Johanna interrupted him in a voice of authority but also reaping with compassion. “You did not fail me, Kaleb, nor did you fail the Jedi or the Force. It is I who have failed you.” She indicated for Kaleb to hold out his right hand, and he did. “You have changed in some ways, but you still remain the same.”

“The Dark side of the Force, I fought against it but there was something inside of me that awakened,” Kaleb explained. “It brought out the emotions of the Dark side but made me vulnerable to it. I nearly died along with those who I have met along the way. The attachments made me weak, they caused me to fail.”

“Your attachments do not make you weak, they make you stronger than you know,” Johanna stated, looking into his eyes. “Do you know what exactly you fought in this forest?” Kaleb shook his head. “The shadow represents the Dark side, but also the darkness within us. No matter how far you run from it, it still is there. The friends you have made here made the light within you strong, Kaleb. You nearly sacrificed yourself to save them. The shadow lies within our subconscious, where the mind cannot reach. It is a part of the Dark side, and as Master Yoda put it, fear leads to anger, which leads to hate, and suffering. Your experiences and trauma has been hidden from your mind until now.”

Kaleb sat in silence finally speaking with an edge of anger in his voice. “Well, that's what happens when you send a child into a warzone.” As Johanna began to speak, he interrupted and jumped to his feet to face her. “NO! YOU DON’T GET TO SPEAK ABOUT THIS, not MY experience. I was fifteen, just a few days from turning sixteen when this war started. I was still a child, but instead of having a normal birthday, I was sent into battle. You may have called it training, but it was a living hell for me. Through all of my missions with you and other Jedi, including these undercover missions, do you know the amount of people that I had to watch die, that I had to kill myself. Or how about the times when I had to hide myself, only to hear innocents being tortured and killed. But did you know what I did with all of that emotional trauma? I buried it, just like you and all of the other Jedi told me to. Just like the Code told me.”

Johanna sat in silence, taking in Kaleb’s words, finally speaking as her face was filled with regret. “The Jedi Code was flawed, even though it tried to be perfect. Do you know why I was never on the council? There were some parts of it that I did not believe. You should not suppress your emotions, even the ones that tempt the Dark side, because it would be even more harmful to you. They build up and can explode all at once. I’m truly sorry, Kaleb, that I did not see nor hear your emotions. My mind was clouded in the movement of the war, and not in your emotion well-being. I did not realize it until it was too late. If I had survived after the mission on Lothal, after your Trials I was going to take you out of all combat and take you somewhere that would have been able to help you.”

“I still think about that mission along with many others. About how many I could have saved,” Kaleb lamented, the emotion draining form his face until a paleness remained. “I saw you die in front of me, stabbed by your own blade in the hands of a murderer. I could have saved you, but something was holding me back. I couldn’t even scream aloud, it was just silence.”

Johanna shifted her position slightly, thinking about her words carefully. “I was the one who restrained you in those bushes with the Force. Whatever happened, I could not let you die under my protection. It was my time to go on, and even though I was fearful, knowing that you would live to see the many years of your life to come gave me strength.”

Kaleb moved closer to the log, not sitting down. “Did you ever think that maybe I wasn’t ready for you to die? I thought that we would have so many other experiences together for the years to come. Side by side, as Jedi Knights.” He paused, thinking for a moment before indicating to his back. “I still have the scars, you know. From that place. All of their faces are blurred, but the tortures that I endured still haunt me to this day, along with hundreds of other memories. Every time I think that it is the end, another memory comes back and its more pain to bear. Every time I look around, I feel that I’m going to be attacked or that someone is watching me in the distance. The visions and voices of the people whose deaths I am responsible are always there, speaking to me. They blame me for their demise. This burden is too much to bear.” Kaleb began to walk away to the mouth of the cave, intent upon giving into the darkness.

“Ending your life will not take your pain away, Kaleb,” Johanna called out, her words stopping him in his tracks. “It will only cause more pain for you and those who have known you. Think of your friends, and the grief that they will endure. Even in death, your trauma will still be there.”

“I just want this pain to end, I just want it to go away,” Kaleb sighed, moving back to the log and sitting down. “This burden is one that I bear alone. The future of the Jedi, all falls on me since they are dead. I am the last Jedi.”

Johanna immediately talked. “You are not the last Jedi. There are many who are went into hiding, and they are still alive and well, ready to train the next generation. This burden is not yours to bear alone but shared by many. Including your friends. Think about what you have shared with them: joy, laughter, generosity, loyalty, honesty, and kindness. They care for you, and they can help you. Also, you have shared one of the most powerful things: love.”

Kaleb raised his eyebrows and spoke quickly. “I don’t know what you’re talking about there. Since when did you take up an interest in the romance of others? Besides, it is against the code.”

“Many have broken the code because they loved someone, it is simply a part of life, including myself. There was someone who I loved, and we carried out in secret for many years. It was almost discovered, and we had to stop it because it was a forbidden love, where we could not express it freely. I would have left the Jedi Order in a heartbeat for her if I could, but I was torn. My point is that love, along with these other emotions, are normal and should not be buried for the sake of finding inner peace in the Force. You must find that your own way, even some parts of the Jedi Code must be broken. As long as you carry out the values of peace and harmony, of course.”

Kaleb and Johanna sat in silence for a while as he took in her words. “I don’t know what to do now. I feel as lost as a leaf in the wind. Without you here, I feel that I may never get back to where I was. Things have been changed forever.”

Johanna thought for a few seconds before speaking. “Things may never go back to being as they were, but that does not mean that you cannot continue to live your life. It will be difficult for you, you path has always been. But the scars do not define you. They are a part of you and although they remain, they can be healed slightly. Ever since you came to this place, the Force has awakened, not only the Dark side but the light. There will be those who will need guidance when the Force has awakened within them, and they will need a teacher. Although I am uncertain of the challenges you will face, I know that you succeed because you are strong and I am proud of what you have become.” She paused as she pointed in the direction to Ponyville. “Your friends will help you get through this, Kaleb. Trust them, and you will never go wrong.”

Kaleb stood up, wiping the tears away from his eyes. “How will I know you’ll still be there? What if I am in need of your guidance?”

Johanna smiled and began to laugh softly before moving closer to him. “Trust me, Kaleb. I will always be with you. Just look up to the stars.” She embraced him in a hug, and he held on as he felt her form disappear into thin air. Kaleb stood alone in the cave, with the only light emanating from the lamp. Taking the lamp, he walked out of the cave and away from the clearing.

Although he was unsure of his direction, he walked back towards Ponyville, with his head spinning from what he just experienced. It was ten minutes later when he felt the presence of creatures stalking him, the Force alerting him to their presence. Turning around, he looked around wildly in all directions, trying to see what was stalking him but to no avail. As the moonlight shone, he saw what was moving towards him and his mind filled with fear.

A large pack of Timberwolves had come out into the moonlight, revealing their large bodies which stood ten feet high. The wood that made up their bodies was scarred from battle with other predators, and the green eyes glowed menacingly as they growled. Kaleb began to back up slowly, reaching for his lightsaber. “Stay back! I’m warning you!” he shouted loudly, trying to not let the fear creep in. He tried to ignite his lightsaber but found that the tremors in his hand prevented it. It dropped to the ground.

Collapsing against a tree trunk, Kaleb felt the surge of panic flow through him as the Timberwolves moved closer, their jaws snapping. The light from the lantern began to flutter as he saw only them only through the strobe light effect. They began to charge, moving with a ferocious speed. Kaleb began to hear the voices of his torturers and he screamed as if a hot iron was being forced onto his back.

It was in that moment where he could nearly smell the breath on them that they suddenly stopped, their eyes focused on something up ahead in the treetops. They slowly began to back away as figure in a cloak that covered its body and face began to fly forward towards them. The figure continued to advance and soon after what appeared to be a few harsh words that he could not hear, they ran away. The figure flew towards Kaleb and landed right in front of him, gasping with shock. All Kaleb saw was the gasp coming from a pony with a pink mane and turquoise cloak before he felt the fear being turned into a physical coldness and going unconscious.

Kaleb stirred as he found himself in somewhere warm, feeling a heat source coming from somewhere. Opening his eyes, he found himself staring up at the ceiling and with a turn of his head found himself near a fire. The layers of blankets that were on him kept him covered, and he discovered that his robe had been removed, leaving him with his long-sleeved shirt and pants. The boots were also gone, along with his socks. He sat himself up on the multiple pillows to look at his surroundings.

He was in a room which he did not recognize at first but would soon. He was on a cot nearby the fire, in a room filled with spools of yarn, which reflected in the light of the fire, the shadows dancing on them. Among the piles lay various knitting needles and tables filled with papers that had designs on them. A small clock on the wall showed the time, which was around four in the morning. The only light that emanated from the room was from the fire.

Kaleb heard soft hoof steps coming down just as he tried to sit up, and then heard a soft voice. “Try to stay down, please, in the blankets. I need to take your temperature.”

A hoof forced him to lie back down on the bed as he saw Fluttershy come up him and put a thermometer in his mouth. She took it out a few seconds later and looked at the results. “Ninety-five degrees. Thank Faust, it’s only mild. Are you feeling drowsy or out of breath?”

“No, but I’m shivering a lot.” She let out a sigh of relief, muttering to herself that it was a good sign that he was shivering as well as being able to talk without slurring.

“You were the one who saved me? Back in the forest against the Timberwolves?” Kaleb asked hesitantly, not knowing how to greet her.

Fluttershy nodded. “Angel woke me up, saying that he saw a figure walking into the Forest. A lot of time had passed, and I was out there about an hour and a half later in my cloak. I saw the flickering of your lantern and flew towards it. By the time they ran away, I flew towards you and you fell unconscious. Angel and I carried you back here.” She paused, looking at the clock before continuing. “You should probably try sitting up. Tell me if there’s any numbness in your hands or toes. Tingling is also a good normal.”

Kaleb sat up on the pillows, going into a sitting position, but still careful to recline a little. He felt a little numbness in his hands and toes along with tingling. “There’s a little numbness and tingling.” Sighing, he continued. “I’m sorry, Fluttershy. I know that you’re angry at me, and you have every right to be. I was a horrible friend, and I shut you out along with everyone else.”

Fluttershy moved towards him. “Maybe I am a little angry at you, but I’m also scared. You wouldn’t talk to anypony for two weeks. I felt so useless and afraid when I spoke through your door because I got no response. Those words I said when I blew up at you were only because I felt frustrated and afriad. I saw that thing too. We all did before we went to find Discord. Can you tell me why you were out in the middle of the Everfree Forest tonight?”

Kaleb nodded, thinking in silence. Maybe I should tell her, but I don’t know how she will react to it, or any of the ponies. If I don’t, this is only going to get worse. Pondering on this for a moment, he made up his mind, praying to Faust to give him strength.

“It’s a long story, a very long story,” Kaleb began, feeling his heart rate speed up slightly. “What I saw in the forest two weeks ago brought back a lot that I had forgotten, where they were buried deep away where I would never able to think about again. I’m not sure if you want to hear this.”

“I do, Kaleb. Please, I hate being in the dark,” Fluttershy said, grabbing a chair from nearby and sitting down to face him. Her voice softened with a hint of compassion. “I know that this may be difficult for you to talk about, but I’ll be here to support you.”

Kaleb nodded. “Okay. Just hang on.” He gathered his thoughts and uttered a quick prayer before proceeding. “As you know, I was raised by the Jedi Temple since my parents died and I had a connection with the Force. I began my training with Master Yoda at a very young age, before being introduced to Master Johanna, who became my master when I was a Padawan. She was the closest thing I had to a mother, we trained together for years. But things changed when I became older. I was only fifteen, close to turning sixteen when it began.” Kaleb paused, blinking heavily for a second.

Fluttershy gave a nod of encouragement, moving her chair a little bit closer. “What changed then?”

He thought before continuing. “At the time, there were tensions between some of the systems in the Outer Rim against the Republic. To summarize, the systems formed together, partnering with the remnants of the Trade Confederation. A Jedi by the name of Sifo-Dyas had ordered the creation of a clone army, the reasons why were unknown. Several of the Jedi were captured by these systems and taken to a planet called Geonosis and were nearly killed. The Jedi along with the clone army stormed the planet and a battle began. I was a few days away from turning sixteen when the Clone Wars began, and training moved to a battlefield.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened in shock and horror. “Oh Faust,” she exclaimed quietly, one of her hooves going to her mouth.

Kaleb caught himself tensing and tried to relax his muscles. “Three years. That was how long it lasted. As a Padawan, I went on various missions with Master Johanna, who became a general, and some of the other Jedi. As the war became more taxing, it was clear that they needed more help. I began to take on undercover missions, abandoning my lightsaber for a staff, which wouldn’t give my identity away. I trained with the Temple Guards for weeks before going, “ he paused, closing his eyes as he felt the panic go through him. “Those missions changed me, in so many ways.”

He coughed, shivering, but it was not from the cold. Fluttershy hesitated, but he nodded. She grabbed his hand, and Kaleb followed her breathing, trying to calm himself down.

“There were hundreds of missions. On Mandalore, there was a family trapped in a building. I ran trying to catch the assailants, but the building exploded. I heard the children screaming as their parents were dead. I sprinted to reach their cell but the floor collapsed. They were screaming until the cell hit the ground, I saw the red on the walls.” Kaleb spoke faster and faster, trying to get through the memories as he held Fluttershy’s hoof. Her eyes were streaming with tears as she listened silently, but her expression was one of horror and sadness. “Once, I had to hide and wait for orders, but it was near a place where families were sold into slavery. There were children screaming as they were torn apart from their families. One of the family members tried to escape with her children. I heard the sounds of the struggle but I also heard the sounds of the sniper rifle being shot. The children were taken away as they screamed…”

Kaleb could no longer hold back the panic and felt the tremors taking over. Fluttershy embraced him in a tight hug, as the tears flowed down his face. The tremors went on for a minute before calming down “You don’t have to do this, Kaleb. If it’s too much…”

“No, I need to do this,” Kaleb emphasized in a quiet voice. “I’ve never told this before. I just need somepony to listen. But, damn, it’s painful.”

“I’m here, and I’m not leaving. I can listen, no matter how long it takes or how difficult it is for the both of us.”

He nodded. “Sometimes, I made friends with the clones. There was Rogue, who had so much talent and determination. Whenever Master Johanna would take me on missions, he would always be there. We were close, often sharing food or stories, but our main bond was music. He was also my informant on undercover missions. We were like brothers, and with Master Johanna, it was like we were a family. For the time it lasted.”

“What happened between you two?” Fluttershy asked, her eyes red but with encouragement.

“I will never forget what happened. We were on Geonosis, on a patrol with a convoy. There were Separatist bombers flying overhead, and they spotted our convoy. They hit the speeders in front of us, leaving only him and I. We tried to avoid the speeders, but it flipped us over, with us being sent in the same direction. Rogue had a piece of metal in his leg, and there were no communications for a medical pickup. He told me that the pain was unbearable, that he wanted me to be the one…” Kaleb paused as fresh tears streamed down his face and Fluttershy took his hand. “I ignited my lightsaber and put him out of his misery. He coughed up blood and he stopped breathing. There was no time for a burial, only a pyre.”

Kaleb sniffled as she handed him a tissue. “Jedi are taught that they must bury their emotions to become one with the Force. I did this because I thought it was the right thing, it was in the Jedi Code. These missions continued, and I was silent. Later in the war, battles raged in the Outer Rim, and sometimes we would guard the Temple or the various Senators. Master Johanna had recently been injured and I was at guard duty alone at a party. I got a message from her saying that she was in the lobby. As it turns out, there was an emergency transmission from Lothal, one of the villages had been attacked. At the time, I was in the middle of my Jedi Trials, or tests for becoming a Jedi Knight. I wouldn’t have been allowed to go on the missions but the war had changed that.” He paused, coughing with force.

Fluttershy was hesitant to ask. “What happened on Lothal?”

“We had a small flight crew who took us in a freighter and dropped us off. They were going off to patrol for Separatist bombers. Master Johanna and I split up because of her plan. She went into the village while I went to contact the Loth-Wolves who would take the remaining villagers to safety. I found twenty of them hidden, who managed to escape. Eight of them were being held hostage in the village. I got the villagers to ride on the wolves and got them to safety. But then, our ship was blasted out of the sky and I was ambushed. The rain managed to damage the droids, but I ran to the village to find the hostages dead and Master Johanna captured. A Separatist leader came, one who I can’t remember at the moment.”

Fluttershy held his hand as he felt the tremors and the tears roll fresh. “I was frozen and I couldn’t move or scream. He took her weapon and said that the master should die at the hands of their blade first. He stabbed her, first with her blade and then with his other lightsabers that he took from the Jedi he killed. As soon as he was gone, I could move and ran towards her. I stayed with her for several hours.”

Fluttershy cried with Kaleb and held him in a tight embrace. “The Jedi Council decided that I passed the trials and I became a Jedi Knight. The only thing left of her is the Holocron which they allowed for me to keep. But that was not the end.”

Fluttershy wiped the tears from her eyes. “Is this about how you crashed here?”

Kaleb nodded. “Please, I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Keep holding on.” Fluttershy held on tight.

“Several months after Lothal, there was an attack on Coruscant where the Chancellor was kidnapped, and a battle raged in the sky. I did not participate in that battle, but I guarded the Senators. It was only a few days afterwards, or it could have been weeks. I can’t remember. I was on patrol in Coruscant and heading back to the Jedi Temple when I heard an explosion. The Temple was in flames. I immediately ran into the entrance and found a sight that I will never forget.” Fluttershy’s grip tightened on Kaleb’s hand. “It was a massacre. There were hundreds of dead Jedi, not even the children were spared.”

Fresh tears rolled down his face as he recalled the moment. “I knew that whatever had killed them all would come for me. I ran and found a group of clones. They turned their guns on me and said the phrase Execute Order 66. I ran, as fast as I could, grabbing a bag that contained the Holocron, offline library, and map reader. I jumped out of the open window and took the nearest Jedi Starfighter I could. When I was flying through the atmosphere, I had to fire on troops who I fought with for three years. Every time I fired on them, I thought of Rogue. As soon as I was in open space, I issued a distress call but they fired on my ship, forcing my head and neck into the control panel. Before I knew what was happening, a portal opened up and sucked me in, causing the electronics to shut down. I blacked out as I was falling through the atmosphere. The next thing I knew, I was in the infirmary in Canterlot Castle.”

Fluttershy was wiping away tears from her eyes as she chocked back muffled sobs. Kaleb moved around and sat on the edge of the bed. “Fluttershy, for three years, I was in a warzone. How many people do you think I had to watch die? How many did I have to kill, and how many suffered because I did nothing? This pain, it doesn’t go away, it stays with you, it haunts you.” Kaleb began to take off his shirt, starting slowly at first as if he was in pain but brought it up over his head and set it down on the bed. Fluttershy gasped as she saw his back. There were various scars, places where the muscles had been damaged and torn, and burn marks all over. It was only in a whisper that he said that word. “Torture.”

“I still hear them and see them, the people who I interacted with in the war. The voices, the shadows are unbearable, torturous to live with day and night. I went out to the Everfree Forest this night because the Force called me there, and I answered.” Kaleb hesitated, deciding not to tell her about Master Johanna. “If it wasn’t for that call, I would have gone into that forest for a different reason. To the gorge by the Castle of the Two Sisters, and I…” Kaleb cut himself off. “I just wanted the pain to end. They’re all dead, and it’s my fault.”

Fluttershy was staring at him, her tears wiped away. She was not crying, but still had an expression of sadness on her face. She moved towards him with a blank expression at first, then spoke in a quiet tone filled with kindness. “It’s not your fault.”

Kaleb looked confused. “What do you mean?”

She repeated it again, choosing her words carefully. “It’s not your fault that they died. You’re not alone, Kaleb. I’m here.”

With that final statement, Kaleb felt the full force of the emotions go through. Kaleb fully began to cry, his sobs coming in at full force. His body began to tremble and shake with the force, and Fluttershy jumped out her chair to hug him. Her wings wrapped around his body, and they stayed that way as she embraced him. She held on tight, listening to every sob, and feeling every tear. She began to cry as well and he held her tighter. They stayed that way for what seemed like hours, with Fluttershy whispering comforting words into his ears. The two were inseparable for that time, and they seemed to share every emotion, every tremor, every tear, and every heartbeat. After what seemed eternity, Kaleb let go, with Fluttershy holding his hand, and she spoke.

“You matter to me and to everypony else. No matter what you are going through, I will still be here for you.” She paused and hesitated before asking. “Does anypony besides me know the full extent?”

Kaleb shook his head, but then hesitated. “Dr. Bluejay took me aside at the Gala when I first had the repressed memory revealed. He told me what they were, but at the time I wasn’t ready to talk about. So, technically, you’re the only one who knows at the moment. Please don’t tell the others, at least not until I’m ready.”

Fluttershy nodded. “You have my word, on a Pinkie Promise.” She repeated the promise, doing the hoof motions along with it. “Kaleb, if he knows what you’re experiencing, then maybe he could help you.”

Kaleb thought for a second before replying. “That’s a good idea. I saw one of his business cards, and along with being a former field medic, he also has training in psychiatry. I think I need to go to Canterlot. If I stay here any longer, the symptoms are going to get worst. But, I would be away from you.”

“I’ll be fine, Kaleb,” Fluttershy said, her eyes showing encouragement. “I’ll take care of myself so your pain won’t affect me. I will be there every step of the way. The only thing is I’m not sure what I am going to tell the others.”

“Tell them that what I faced in the forest brought back some emotional trauma that I had to deal with. That should give them enough without the entire truth. I’m not sure if there are even trains going there today.”

Fluttershy thought for a second, then her eyes lit up with recognition. “There’s an eight o’clock train that goes to Canterlot in the mornings. You should be able to make it. Can you walk, or…?”

“I can walk, I think. Just keep close.” Kaleb stood up, and after putting on his shirt and boots, began to walk with Fluttershy by his side. She held his hand as she went up the stairs up into the living room. Kaleb looked around and grabbed his robe, which had been hanging on a coatrack and moved towards the door. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and they walked out into the winter, with Fluttershy closing it behind her and locking it. They went slowly over the bridge and began the walk to the train station on the other side of town.

It was a mildly slow walk, with Fluttershy taking great care to make sure that no one would spot them as they went through town. They took the scenic route, admiring the view as Kaleb mostly stayed silent. Each step led them closer to the train station, and time moved slowly until they finally reached their destination. The train station was quiet this morning, with only a few other ponies who paid no attention to either of them all reading a newspaper.

Kaleb reached into his robe to see if he had any bits, but Fluttershy shook her head, promptly paying for the ticket. Together, they sat on a bench and waited for the train to arrive, looking at the scenery with her pointing out the winter birds that come here in the season. The minutes passed by slowly until the familiar sound of the train arrived, still at a distance.

“When I get to Dr. Bluejay, I’ll send a letter to you and send it through the express mail,” Kaleb said as they watched the train move slowly into the station. “He may want to write it, but it will let you know that I’m alright.”

Fluttershy nodded. “Thank you. Also, I’ll send a trunk full of your clothes and possessions to the return address. Along with anything else you might need.”

The train stopped and the doors began to open as the other passengers began to file out. Kaleb and Fluttershy stood up as they waited for the doors to clear. As soon as they were, they faced each other and hugged tightly, remaining that way for a few moments before separating.

“Thank you, Fluttershy, for your kindness and support. I don’t know what else to say.”

Fluttershy held onto his arms as she looked into his eyes. “Kaleb, I’ll give you all my compassion even though I don’t know the full scope of what you’re going through. I will never leave or abandon you. You matter, and no matter how long it takes I’ll still be here and so will you.”

The conductor began to alert the station that the train was leaving, as the whistle began to blow. Quickly hugging again, Fluttershy let go of his arms, and Kaleb began to walk to the railway car, as she began to say something but the whistle obscured her voice. The doors closed quickly, and with the huff of a whistle, the train began to move. It soon picked up speed and made its way out of the station before moving towards the mountains that led to Canterlot. Fluttershy stared at the train and repeated what she said in a quiet, warmhearted voice that was close to a whisper.

“I love you.”

Dr. Bluejay’s office was small but still offered a nice view of the gardens, even though it was situated on the first floor. Kaleb had gotten through to the Castle okay, stating that he needed to see him right away. Standing in front of the door, he looked through the crack and saw a view of the office and of Dr. Bluejay writing something down on a piece of parchment. Letting out a breath, Kaleb knocked on the door.

“Come in.”

Kaleb walked in silently, closing the door behind him. The pegasus looked up from his parchment, looking surprised. “Kaleb! Please come in, sit down. Wait…why do you need to see me?”

He sat down into the chair, sighing before replying. “It’s a long story. I don’t know where to start.”

“It’s okay, I have plenty of time,” Dr. Bluejay said, looking at him with curiosity. His eyes switched to concern and worry as he saw how pale Kaleb’s skin had become noticing how his eyes darted around the room. “You don’t need to speak now, but just nod or shake your head. I will need you to be completely honest with me.”

Kaleb nodded. Dr. Bluejay cleared his throat and began. “Did you have other memories that came back? In the form of flashbacks, nightmares, hallucinations?” Kaleb nodded. “Did you isolate yourself from others, keeping to yourself from long periods of time?” He nodded.

Dr. Bluejay took down a few markings on a sheet of paper and looked back up at him. “You’re doing good, Kaleb. There’s just one more thing I need to ask you. It is crucial that you must answer this one honestly.” He cleared his throat before he began to speak. “Have you had any suicidal tendencies or thoughts, or have had plans or made any attempts?”

Kaleb paused, finally nodding quickly. Dr. Bluejay took down the markings before putting his legs on his desk and leaning forward slightly, staring at him. “You’re going to be okay, Kaleb. Nothing here is going to try to hurt you in any way. I’m going to do everything I can to help you, along with a few other ponies. You’re not alone in this. I just need you to cooperate to your fullest extent. Is that okay?”

“Yes, thank you,” Kaleb croaked, realizing how parched his throat was. “I think I’m able to talk about it. I just don’t know where to begin.”

“Begin when and where you feel most comfortable,” Dr. Bluejay responded, and Kaleb began to speak.