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Rules of obedience

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Troopers are hardly ever asked to speak, but listening is in the nature of the job.

You are told that stormtroopers like you are the pins and nails that hold together the First Order, that colossal machine driven by the glorious will of the Supreme Leader, the weight of his purpose upheld by three pillars within. 

One of them is General Hux, and you never communicate with him directly. That is the duty of Captain Phasma, who is cold like the chromium plating on her armor, unnerving. Under her command there are so many rules and codes of conduct that, to function properly, troopers must learn them not in their brains, but under their very skin. There is no room for confusion under Phasma's appraising eye. Her orders are always clear, sure as clockwork, sharp as a knife. Once you heard someone say, “there’s no winning with Phasma, but the rules are on the table for all to see, and you can at least avoid losing if you learn them well.”

None of that can be said of Kylo Ren. 

That is his name and his honorific. Not a captain, not a general; no one knows  where exactly he fits in the hierarchy, except that it is somewhere at the very top, so you are all instructed to call him “sir” - a compromise of sorts. 

His rank is not the end of it: everything about him is chaos. The orders change. His voice might sound calm from inside the helmet as he strangles an officer to death in front of the troops, and then - just a minute later - he is the storm itself, screaming and breaking the walls and equipment, disappearing before he remembers to punish anyone besides himself. Then his orders change again. Kylo Ren is a bomb that keeps exploding, and that’s why none of you are ever happy to be assigned duty under his command.

When you hear that you will serve under him on your  first mission, you are very anxious. Everyone is, and that is a problem. You don’t know what’s going to happen out there. A rebel might kill you as dead as Kylo Ren himself, if you break one of the rules that only exist in his head and that are known only to him. 

Your brain surprises you by thinking that he is lonely. You shake that thought off immediately: everyone knows he is not even properly human. He commands the Force, and he is beyond any of you. More like a monster. More like a god.

You really wish you didn’t have to go. When no one is looking, your friend gives you a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, but you know he does it more for his own benefit than yours.

Then you shake all thoughts off, and concentrate on the mission ahead, mentally reviewing the debriefing. You don’t need to remember the rules of obedience, at the very least. You can feel them under your skin.