Sunday, April 10, 2011

K.I.B.A. Honorary Member #9 - Kevin Flynn (TRON, TRON: Legacy)

Honorary Member #9 – Kevin Flynn (TRON, TRON: Legacy)
*info for this profile is gathered from the two Disney films & the Tron: Evolution video game. **SPOILER ALERT**  - This profile contains spoilers from TRON and TRON: Legacy.  If you haven’t seen either movie, I urge you to not read this profile if you wish to have no knowledge of the events in either film.

“Greetings programs!”

When we first see Kevin Flynn, he appears to be a regular Joe, running an arcade and living in a loft upstairs.  This impression, however is quickly pushed aside as we learn the truth: that Flynn is in fact a brilliant computer programmer who has suffered an unfortunate run of bad luck.  As he tells his friends Alan Bradley and Lora Baines, back when Flynn was employed by ENCOM, he began developing video games in secret, when fellow programmer Ed Dillinger (who Flynn describes as being not too bright, but very, very sneaky) learned of Flynn’s project and stole his ideas.  Three months later, Dillinger revealed ‘his’ games to the company (without even bothering to change the names), thus beginning his rise to Senior Executive VP.  Flynn was fired when he tried to protest, and in 1981, he opened “Flynn’s Arcade”, seeing it as the only way to profit from the games he created.  Between that time and the time of Alan and Lora’s visit, he made several attempts to hack into the ENCOM mainframe and locate information that would prove he was the creator of the games that Dillinger took credit for.

After learning from Lora that Dillinger had cut off everyone with a Group-7 access out of the system, Flynn suggests they break into ENCOM, where he will be able to forge them a Group-6 access and get into the system.  The three return to ENCOM, where Lora sets Flynn up at her terminal in the digitization lab, then joins Alan at his station.

Flynn accesses the terminal and is almost immediately detected by the MCP, who causes the digitization laser to fire at Flynn, transporting him into the digital world.

[Author’s Insight]

I want to take a moment and try to think of what has been going through Kevin Flynn’s mind up to this point.  He put a lot of work into creating a series of video games, which went on to become pretty popular.  Unfortunately, he got screwed over by someone who stole Flynn’s ideas and later presented them as his own.  Flynn protested, and was fired.

I try to imagine myself in Flynn’s position: having a wonderful creation stolen, and losing my job when I try to take back what is rightfully mine.  I would be angry.  While I don’t know what Flynn did in between that time and the time when he opened the arcade, I would imagine that he did everything possible to right the wrong that was done to him.  I know I would do everything I could to reclaim what was rightfully mine.

And if I were presented with a chance, as Flynn was, to finally find what I was looking for – I’d more than likely take it, even if it meant breaking into a place of former employment, as Flynn did.

[End of line.]

When Flynn arrived, the MCP notified Commander Sark of a ‘new recruit’ that he wanted put into the games “until he dies playing.”  As he waited in his cell, Flynn befriended a program named Ram who told him about the Master Control’s rules, and learned that programs captured by the MCP were forced to play in the games.  Flynn, thinking that this was all just a dream, was not aware of the dangerous position he was in until he refused to kill another program in a ring game.  Flynn was then transported to the Game Grid where he met Alan’s program Tron.  Flynn and Tron, along with Ram, were forced to play a light cycle game against three of Sark’s soldiers.  Flynn used his knowledge of the game from the real world and forced one of his opponents to crash into the Game Grid’s wall and open an escape route.

Once out of the Grid, Flynn, Tron and Ram decided to make their way to a nearby I/O tower, where Tron would be able to communicate with his user Alan and acquire the information he needed to destroy the MCP.  En route, they came under fire from Sark’s forces.  Tron escaped, but Flynn and Ram were hit.  Flynn survived the attack, but Ram was not so lucky, and derezzed soon afterwards.

Flynn slowly but surely made his way to the I/O tower and met up with Tron and Yori on a captured solar sailer.  As they traveled to the center of the system, they encountered a power surge that slowed the sailer’s progress, enabling the pursuing Recognizers to gain on them.  Flynn, in a burst of inspiration, used his powers as a User to create a junction for the sailer to move out of the power surge’s path and onto a nearby beam.  Flynn was not unaffected by this, however.  The effort of creating the junction exhausted Flynn, and would have fallen off of the sailer if Tron hadn’t pulled him back at the last second.

“Did we make it?”
“Hooray for our side.”

Their brief enjoyment is short lived, as Sark’s Carrier later collides with the sailer, resulting in the capture of Flynn and Yori.  The carrier reaches the system core, where the MCP is located, at which point Sark departed the ship, causing it to slowly derezz.  Flynn used his powers as a User to save Yori and himself from derezzing along with the ship.  As the remains of the carrier floated over the MCP, Flynn jumped off of the carrier and into the MCP, distracting it long enough for Tron (who was battling MCP/Sark) to throw his disc into the MCP and destroy it.

This returned Flynn to the real world, where he was finally able to access the information (and justice) he sought for so long.  Dillinger was exposed and Flynn was promoted to CEO of ENCOM, which enabled him to promote both Alan and Lora to the board of directors.

[Author’s Insight]

I wonder if Flynn could feel victory/success within his grasp, as he explored his powers as a User.  I wonder if he felt like it was so close, he could taste it.  And then, after a long and difficult road, achieving what he set out to do.  Can you imagine the joy he must have felt as he read that printout for the first time?  I really can’t.  Oh sure, I’ve had similar instances, like finding a lost possession, but for Flynn – this changed everything.  His bad luck changed; his whole life was turned around and things finally started looking better.

I keep thinking about that last part of the battle with the MCP, where Flynn jumps off of Sark’s carrier.  I know there are a lot of people out there who find it easy to do things like B.A.S.E. jumping, sky diving or bungee jumping, but they all had that first jump, and like I wonder with Flynn, I wonder not so much the ‘what’, but the ‘how’.  How does someone muster the courage to take such a huge leap?  (Seriously.  Take a look at [A] how small Flynn is compared to the MCP, and [B] the distance from the carrier where Flynn jumps, to the base/face of the MCP, where he lands.  Go ahead and put the movie in just so you can see for yourself.)  Flynn had no parachute, didn’t know what was going to happen…but he jumped anyway.

Holy crap.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that those last scenes go as thus:

Flynn returns to the real world.  He gets a printout proving that Dillinger stole his ideas.  He leaves the digitization lab.

Dillinger walks into his office and activates his desk/computer.  On the display, he sees the same information that is on Flynn’s printout.  He sinks into his chair.

(This last scene occurs an unknown amount of time later.) Alan and Lora are on the roof of ENCOM.  Flynn arrives in a helicopter, gives instructions to be picked up in an hour, joins his two friends, and they go inside.

Have you ever wondered how much time elapsed between those two final scenes?  I’m more interested in what happened during the first 24 hours after Flynn returned to the real world: how they got rid of Dillinger, what sort of plans they made for ENCOM’s future, etc.  All I can say right now is that Flynn must have been on cloud 9.  And rightly so.

[End of line.]

Sometime after the events of TRON, Kevin Flynn created a digital frontier he called the “Grid,” housed on a private server he kept hidden in the basement of his old arcade.  As he experimented with this new digital world, the Grid slowly got more complex and started to take on a life of its own as it housed programs of all sorts.  Flynn also set up the digitizing laser used to send him into the Grid.  Prior to each visit, Flynn would conduct a sanity check and update his will.

In an effort to help keep the Grid safe, Flynn took the Tron program from ENCOM’s grid and installed it on his own.  However, he soon realized that he couldn’t be in two places at once, so he recreated his old hacking program CLU to serve as system administrator in Flynn’s absence.

With the passing of his wife in 1985, Flynn slowly became distant from things in the real world as he spent more and more time working on the Grid, frequently leaving his young son Sam in the care of his parents.  Flynn started to promote what he called a “digital frontier to reshape the human condition.”  He was obsessed with the connection between the physical and digital worlds, even going so far that he gave away ENCOM software, such as the operating system he named after himself.

“In there is a new world.  In there is the future.  In there is our destiny.”  Flynn’s words from a speech given before a large crowd.  And then, in 1988, something amazing happened.  A new form of life appeared on the Grid, which Flynn named “Isomorphic Algorithms.”  It was his belief that the existence of the ISO’s would drastically change the real world.  Flynn shared this discovery with his close friend Alan Bradley, saying that he was about to change everything – science, medicine, religion.

But some time afterwards, in 1989, Flynn vanished under what was considered mysterious circumstances.  In his absence, Alan Bradley took over as CEO of ENCOM, but was forced to step down when the company’s profits fell.  The new leadership of ENCOM veered away from Flynn’s open source philosophies, which did not sit well with Alan, who firmly believed that Flynn was researching his ideas for the digital world and would return one day.

Alan was partially right.  Flynn had become trapped in the Grid, following a coup d’etat by Clu, who came to believe that the ISO’s were an imperfection within the system and needed to be eradicated.  He seized control of the Grid and began to eliminate the ISO’s.  Tron was able to hold off Clu’s attack long enough for Flynn to escape, but Flynn was not able to make it back to the portal before it closed.  Since the portal could only be opened from the outside, Flynn was trapped in cyberspace.

Now in exile in his own creation, Flynn attempted to lead a rebellion against Clu, but since the two were so connected, his resistance only provided Clu with more power, and it soon became apparent that the only way to defeat Clu was to reintegrate him, an act that would not only destroy Clu, but Flynn as well.

Clu continued his genocide of the ISO’s until only one, named Quorra, remained.  One of Flynn’s last surviving (and loyal) monitor programs sacrificed himself to ensure that Flynn would be able to rescue her.  Accepting that he could not defeat Clu, Flynn remained in exile, training Quorra while simultaneously pursuing inner peace in order to come to terms with what he considered to be his personal failure in allowing Clu to gain control of the Grid and ruin his dream of creating the perfect system.

Twenty years passed.  Flynn was interrupted out of his meditations to find that Quorra had brought him a visitor – his now-adult son, Sam, who had been lured into the system, captured by Clu and rescued by Quorra.  During their reunion, Flynn told Sam the story of Clu’s betrayal, and how Sam’s arrival had opened the portal for a millicycle (approximately 8 hours).  When Sam suggested they make a run for the portal, Flynn disagreed, saying that their best bet was to remain in hiding.

When Flynn awoke the next morning, Sam had gone, heading back to Tron City on Flynn’s old lightcycle.  Flynn had no choice but to follow his son.  By the time he and Quorra caught up with Sam at the End of Line nightclub, Sam was fighting for his life in a pitched battle with Clu’s Black Guards.  Flynn and Quorra intervened, but in the ensuing fight, Quorra was severely injured and Flynn’s identity disc was stolen off his back as they made their escape.

[Author’s Insight]

What would you do, if you were put in a similar situation?  Your child, or spouse/loved one is in danger, and the only way to save them is to put yourself in danger; to throw yourself in front of them and into the path of oncoming harm.  Would you do it?  Would you do everything you can to save them?

I think that Flynn, having missed the last 20 years of his son’s life, was not about to let anything happen to him.  The rescue was not without risk – even though Sam was rescued, it came at the cost of losing Flynn’s identity disc.  While the loss of his disc was unsettling, Flynn probably would rather have lost that, then lose his son.

[End of line.]

Deciding that their best option now was to race for the portal, Flynn and Sam stowed away on a Solar Sailer that was headed in the portal’s direction.  Once they were on board, Flynn set about repairing the damage done to Quorra’s code, while talking about the complexity of the code, explaining Quorra’s status as the last remaining ISO, and exchanged stories of the years he had missed out on with his son.

The journey to the portal was cut short when the Solar Sailer docked with a huge carrier ship that had appeared unexpectedly.  As they hid and watched, hundreds of programs were loaded onto the colossal craft and it soon became apparent that Clu was massing an invasion force.

Before the trio could do anything, they spotted Clu’s right hand man, Rinzler, moving in their direction.  Handing her disc to Flynn, Quorra broke from cover in an attempt to distract Rinzler long enough for Flynn and Sam to move on.  Flynn quickly recognized Rinzler as his old friend Tron, reprogrammed into serving Clu.  Unable to help Quorra, Flynn and Sam formulated a new plan – while Flynn procured a Light Jet fast enough to escape in, Sam would retrieve his father’s identity disc.  When they rendezvoused at the Light Jet, Flynn was pleased to see that not only had Sam retrieved the disc, he had also rescued Quorra along the way.

They were making good progress towards the portal when they found themselves being pursued by Clu, Rinzler and four Black Guards in their own personal Light Jets.  In the ensuing dogfight, the Black Guards were derezzed until only Clu and Rinzler remained.  Flynn and Rinzler caught sight of each other at close range, which ignited a spark of recognition in Rinzler, causing him to remember his previous identity (and mission) as Tron.  Tron soon shook himself free of Clu’s reprogramming and turned his attack on Clu, saying his iconic line “I fight for the users.”  While Sam watched Clu and Rinzler battle, Flynn secretly switched identity discs with Quorra.

They reached the portal, only to find that Clu had survived Tron’s attack and arrived first.  Flynn and Clu argued, with Flynn trying to explain that he had been wrong about creating the perfect system, and Clu still in favor of system-wide perfection.  Clu attacked, sparking a brief battle.  With Sam and Quorra near the portal, and Clu standing in Flynn’s way, Clu turned to retrieve Flynn’s disc (which would unlock the path to the real world), only to realize that Flynn possessed Quorra’s disc.  Clu ran to the portal to stop the pair from escaping.  Though Sam tried to go back and help his father, Flynn insisted that he escape with Quorra, hopeful that her existence would help change the world.

And with that, Flynn tapped into his power and began to pull back Clu by force of will.  In his final act, Flynn reintegrated Clu and sacrificed himself so that Sam and Quorra would be saved.  The reintegration caused a huge explosion that consumed the portal and destroyed Clu’s carrier ship.

* * * * *

[Author’s Final Insight]

In a way, a father’s love defeated Clu.  Flynn loved his son so much that he was willing to accept the consequences of reintegrating Clu, even though it meant destroying himself as well.

Sometimes I wish that I could relate more to Flynn.  I like to think that if I were put in situations similar to what he went through, I would have the strength and courage to do as he did – never give up, do the right thing, and, if necessary, be willing to sacrifice myself for the one I love.  His determination, courage, boldness – I can’t help but admire Flynn for those traits, and more.  Dedication, bravery, charisma…I could go on, naming all the traits of a Knight in Battered Armor.  Simply put, Flynn is an excellent example of the kind of traits and qualities I look for.

His armor has been dented, battered, and even broken, but he did not let that weigh him down.  He took hits (such as Dillinger stealing his ideas and later firing him), but he got right back up and kept moving forward.  He created a program to help run the Grid, only to have that same program later turn against him and assume control of the system.  For a time, he seemed to have given up – “The only way to win is to not play.” – but soon realized that there was a glimmer of hope; there was a way to win, but that win would come at a terrible price.

Have you ever wondered what has gone through the mind of someone who has resigned themselves to the fact that their next decision/action would cost them their life?  Do you wonder how long Flynn had thought about reintegrating Clu?  I’m sure that Flynn was aware that doing so would kill the both, but I’d like to know at what point Flynn made that decision; at what point he chose, or resigned himself, to reintegrate Clu so that Sam and Quorra could escape.  Was it near the end, at the portal, or was it perhaps earlier, during the dogfight with Clu, Rinzler and the Black Guards?

And what about the lead up to that decision?  How long did Flynn go over the situation/scenario in his mind?  This is where I find myself unable to relate to Flynn.  I talk about wanting to be able to relate to him more, but in a real life-or-death situation, what would any of us do?  Honestly, I don’t know how to answer that question.  Part of me hopes I never have to answer that question, but the other part of me hopes that I would have the courage to do what was/is right, if there is a right answer in a situation like that.

Kevin Flynn, from the time we first meet him at the beginning of TRON, to his death at the end of TRON: Legacy, exhibits many of the traits and qualities a Knight in Battered Armor should have: bravery, determination, courage and honor.  While Flynn may have felt responsible for allowing Clu to gain control of the Grid and commit genocide against the ISOs, I would argue that back when Flynn created Clu, no one could have predicted that this would happen.  Flynn was able to rescue Quorra, the last ISO, from Clu’s genocide.  He came out of hiding after his son arrived in system and went into Clu’s domain alone.  And at the portal, with his son and Quorra on the verge of escaping into the real world, he reintegrated Clu into himself, destroying them both and allowing Sam and Quorra to escape.

Kevin Flynn has had his share of victories and defeats.  He has been beaten down, but each time has gotten right back up, dusted himself off, and continued on.  He is an excellent example of a Knight in Battered Armor, and I am proud to include him on the list of Honorary Members.

Welcome to K.I.B.A., Flynn.

[End of line.]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

K.I.B.A. Honorary Member #8, March 2011 - Tron

*info for this profile is gathered from the films TRON and TRON: Legacy.
**SPOILER ALERT**  -This profile contains spoilers for the two aforementioned films.  If you have not seen one or either movie, I strongly urge you not to read this profile until you've had a chance to see the films.  If you don't mind spoilers, or if you have no plans to see either film anytime soon, then read on.

"I fight for the users."

Tron is a self-monitoring security program originally created in 1980 by ENCOM programmer Alan Bradley.  Work continued into 1982, culminating in the program's completion.  As described by his creator, Tron is "...a security program itself, actually.  It monitors all contacts between our systems and other systems.  If it finds anything that's not scheduled, it shuts it down."  Tron operated apart from the Master Control Program of the ENCOM systems, as part of its/his programming was to 'watchdog' the MCP.

Shortly into the events of the first TRON film, we learn that Tron is a prisoner of the MCP, forced to compete in gladiator games.  After Kevin Flynn is digitized into the same computer world, Tron, along with Flynn and another program named Ram, is put into a lightcycle battle, during which he and his fellow combatants escape the arena through a crack in the wall.

After Tron, Flynn and Ram escape the pursuing forces of the MCP, Tron reveals that in order for the MCP to be taken down and the system restored, he needs special information encoded onto his identity disc - information that can only be provided by communicating with his user Alan-One (Bradley) via an I/O tower.  However, communication with users via the I/O towers has been strictly forbidden by the MCP.

The trio start towards the nearest tower, however, they are soon spotted by a patrolling tank, which fires upon them.  Tron escapes the attack, but Flynn and Ram's lightcycles are hit.  With no lifesigns and no responses to his call, Tron continues on alone to the I/O tower.

He enlists the help of his 'girlfriend' Yori and together, they convince the tower guardian Dumont to allow Tron access in order to communicate with his user.  After receiving the information from Alan-One, Tron and Yori escape on a solar sailer and fly it towards the heart of the ENCOM system, where the MCP is located.  En route, he is reunited with Flynn, and learns of the death of Ram.

When the solar sailer is ambushed, Tron apparently falls to his death, while Yori and Flynn are captured by the MCP's primary enforcer Sark.  Tron, however, survived the ambush and clung to the outside of Sark's carrier.  Making his way to an escape pod, he hung on as Sark boarded the pod and made his way to the vast mesa when the MCP was located.

When the MCP told Sark that he felt a 'presence' on the mesa, Sark immediately turned and saw Tron making his way to the MCP.  In the ensuing disc battle, Tron defeats Sark by throwing his disc with such force that it breaks through Sark's disc and splits Sark's head open.  The MCP noticed this, however, and transferred all his functions to Sark, which not only revived Sark, but increased his size and made him immune to disc attacks.

Despite seeing a hole in the MCP's shield, Tron is unable to throw his disc into the center and destroy the MCP.  It is not until Flynn jumps into the MCP itself and distracts it that Tron is able to throw his disc past the shield and into the MCP, destroying both it and Sark as well.

Shortly thereafter, Tron reunited with Yori and Dumont, and together they watched as all of the I/O towers began lighting up.
[Author's Insight]
I know that up to this point in the TRON timeline, that Tron himself has exhibited many honorable qualities, but none that would immediately qualify him as having 'battered armor.'  In fact, going by the events in the first film alone, one could argue that Tron does not fit the description of a knight in battered armor, and I would agree with them.  In the first film, Tron is selfless, ready to fight for his fellow programs, and for the users.  He does not shirk from his programming, even after the apparent death of Flynn and Ram.  How many of us, when put in a similar situation, would be able to go on after witnessing two friends fall to enemy fire?  Would you let it drive you, or consume you?

Tron lets it drive him further, if not harder.  Even to the point of the final confrontation, battling it out with Sark, and then the MCP-upgraded Sark.  Granted, Tron is a computer program, but I sometimes wonder if Tron felt any fear or apprehension on the doorstep of the MCP, as he prepared to battle Sark and the MCP.

Whatever went on in Tron's mind in those final moments, he did what he was programmed to do, and with Flynn's assistance, defeated the MCP and freed the system.
[end insight]

Over the next few years, Tron was upgraded and moved onto Flynn's personal server in order to help protect the Grid.  In 1989, when a peace ceremony between the ISO's and the Basics was interrupted by a virus program named Abraxas, Tron decided that it was too dangerous for Flynn to remain in the system.  Along the way to the portal, Tron and Flynn were attacked by Clu 2.0 and his elite Black Guard.  During this conflict, Tron took possession of a guard's identity disc, using it in conjuction with his own disc.  After defeating the Black Guard, he turned to Flynn, who had fallen under attack from Clu.  Tron threw himself into the path of Clu's attacks, buying time for Flynn to escape, but ultimately falling to a strike from Clu's identity disc.

[Author's Insight]
Once again we see evidence of Tron's selflessness and dedication to his friends and the users.  Fighting for others, even when his own survival was in jeopardy, took extraordinary courage and bravery.  Was there any doubt, any hesitation, in Tron's mind as he and Flynn were ambushed?  Possibly, but I want to say there was not.  How else would you explain Tron leaping into the fight, first against the Black Guard, then against Clu himself?  No second-guessing, no time to consider the different possibilities or outcomes.  There was the situation: five adversaries between Tron, Flynn and the portal.  There was the objective: protect Flynn.  Therefore, there was only one choice for Tron to make: fight.

In this day and age, there isn't often a call for defense such as that.  Granted, there are times when violence is inevitable.  I'm not advocating violence as a way to constantly defend your friends and family.  Defending them could involve speaking up when they don't know what to say, or possibly taking their side in an argument or discussion.  The point I'm trying to make here is that Tron did what was necessary in order to protect Flynn from Clu, and that he did so without taking time to think about repercussions, damage to his ego or reputation, or worrying about something trivial.  There was no question in his mind as to what he needed to do; no doubt what the right thing to do was.  Was fear present in his mind?  Maybe, maybe not.  If it was, it didn't affect the decision he made.
[end insight]

Fast forward one more time, to 2010.  Flynn long believed that Tron was de-rezzed when he was struck by Clu's identity disc.  However, it is later revealed that Tron was repurposed to serve Clu under the identity "Rinzler."  As Rinzler, Tron served as Clu's primary enforcer and right-hand man.  His former identity as Tron is first recognized by Flynn, when he (Rinzler/Tron) captures the ISO Quorra.  Later, as the heroes are flying towards the system portal, Rinzler begins to overcome Clu's reprogramming.  During the light jet dogfight, Clu orders Rinzler to fire upon the heroes aircraft.  This is perhaps the most crucial point for Rinzler.  In an act of defiance, Rinzler, having regained his identity as Tron, turns on Clu and makes a partially successful attack on his former master, leaving the two in freefall with the Sea of Simulation below.  As Rinzler/Tron was about to activate a second light jet with his spare baton, Clu collided with him, stole the baton and used it to escape, leaving Rinzler/Tron to fall into the Sea of Simulation.  As he sank beneath the surface, Rinzler/Tron's orange circuitry flickered out and returned to its original white, showing that he was fully able to overcome all of Clu's reprogramming.  However, Tron's final fate is unknown, and we can only guess and what has become of our hero within the system.

[Author's Final Thoughts]
When I first thought about featuring Tron as an Honorary Member for the Knights In Battered Armor, I wondered what people would say, thinking that they would point out that Tron doesn't screw up, or do something that is detrimental to other people.  I could point out that he was reprogrammed as Rinzler to serve Clu.  Brainwashed, essentially.  Amnesia?  Split personalities?  You can call it whatever you want, but it doesn't change the fact that this character did what he did under the Rinzler identity.  For you Star Wars fans out there, you should be aware of the time Luke Skywalker went over to the dark side.  Yes, in the end, Luke returned to the light, as did Tron.  Whether intentional, with or without personal knowledge of the effects of his actions, there were things that Tron did that caused harm to those he had previously been sworn to protect.

There are things in Tron's personality and traits that I wish were more present, more evident, in my own life.  As stated by the Tron Wiki page (

"Tron's personality is that of a determined warrior, willing to do anything for the users and for the freedom of his fellow programs. He is usually serious and objective focused and has a deep reverence towards users, especially his user, Alan-One. Tron displays a particularly high loyalty to Kevin Flynn, who is both his friend and a user. Tron bravely stood his ground against a superior number of soldiers, and Clu, to protect Flynn."

How many of us have friends we care about so much that we would willingly go to the lengths that Tron did in order to keep them from harm?  One friend?  Two?  Ten?  The exact number is not important.  For my part, I am willing to do everything I can to be there for my friends, in whatever capacity they need.  Shoulder to cry on; an ear to hear their worries, fears, thoughts, etc; someone to hold them in troubling times...I want to be there when they need someone.  And I don't think about what I could get in return.  Being there for them, being the best friend I can possibly be - I do my best to put others first, and most of the time I'm successful.  There are times when I'm not, but I don't let that get me down.  If I've wronged someone, I apologize for it and try to do better next time.

Tron's universe is obviously different from our own.  Real world vs digital world.  Different friends with different needs, and different ways of standing up for and defending those we care deeply about.  But that doesn't mean there isn't anything to learn from his example.  Yes, Tron is a warrior, and the majority of us aren't trained in any kind of combat.  We can take note of other traits of his.

Start putting the needs of others first, before your own.  Stand up for your friend or loved one, especially when they are not able to defend themselves.  Forget about your ego or your reputation, your fears and worries - to the world you may just be one person, but to one person, you could be the world.  Fight for them.

Welcome to the ranks of K.I.B.A. Tron.

[end of line]

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Take A Look Through My Eyes

You once asked me to do something for you,
but little did I know that it was easier said than done.
True to my word, I give it my best.
My words sound better in my head than out in the open,
thus I usually come across as a silent person;
speaking little and seeing much.
If you were to ask me what it is I see,
I would not be able to answer right away.
I feel my answers more easily than I say them.
If it were possible, I would tell you to take a look through my eyes,
and see the things I see.

I see strength and resilience,
hidden beneath a smile that is eager to be seen.
I see a desire to brighten a person's day;
Laughter and joy shared among friends.
I see someone who enjoys the brighter side of life.
I see someone who can bring out the best in others,
even, and most especially, when that person
cannot see it within themselves.
I also see a person willing to stand up for their beliefs.
I cannot see the things you fear;
the things you dread may come to pass.
That tells me you are courageous and brave.

All these things - these traits, these qualities -
They are all admirable.
I do not know what sort of things life will throw your way,
or how you will deal with the,
but I do know that it will be a tale worth telling.
Hold fast to who you are,
and remember what it was like to look through my eyes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

K.I.B.A. Honorary Member, December 2010 - Obi-Wan 'Ben' Kenobi

*this profile is based off of information gathered from the Star Wars films only.

Obi Wan Kenobi began his Jedi career as a Padawan Learner apprenticed to Qui-Gon Jinn. Both were accomplished warriors when they were summoned by Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum to investigate a trade dispute on Naboo. The planet was under an orbital siege by the Trade Federation in an attempt to force acceptance of new taxation policies.

Kenobi and Jinn travelled on the Republic starship Radiant VII to the Naboo system, where they established communication with Trade Federation leader Nute Gunray. The Jedis’ diplomatic party requested permission to land on Gunray’s battleship for a discussion of negotiations regarding the taxation dispute. Gunray invited them on board, but then treacherously ordered an attack on both the ship and the Jedi waiting to see him. The Radiant VII was destroyed by a laser blast but Kenobi and his master were able to escape and elude detection aboard the massive battleship.

Shortly after the termination of the diplomatic mission, the Trade Federation prepared its forces for a ground assault of Naboo to accelerate the submission of the planet. Bewildered by this move but aware of the need to warn Naboo leadership, Kenobi and Jinn stowed away on landing craft to the planet surface.
Upon landing they encountered a native of the swampy region named Jar Jar Binks. Qui Gon Jinn had helped Jar Jar escape the recently deployed Trade Federation war machines, and consequently the creature insisted upon repaying him for saving his life. The Jedi accepted his offer and asked Jar Jar for direction to the secret underwater Gungan cities. Here they hoped to find transportation to Theed, the planet capitol, in time to warn the Naboo queen of the invasion.

Jar Jar guided them to the city where Qui Gon pleaded his case to the Gungan ruler Boss Nass. Kenobi supported his master in the discussion that ensued. Even at a young age he possessed great wisdom and understanding. However, the Gungan monarch bluntly refused any assistance and furthermore ordered the arrest of Jar Jar for returning to the city when he had a life-sentence of banishment. Qui Gon was able to tactfully avert an ill fate for the trio by using a Jedi mind-trick and an understanding of Gungan culture to secure both a transport and Jar Jar’s life. Knowing that speed was urgent to warn the Queen, the two Jedi a very grateful Gungan quickly departed for Theed in a Bongo transport.

Theed was finally reached after some considerable difficulty in navigating the small vessel through the planet core. But despite their efforts, the Jedi Knights were too late to warn the capitol. The city had already fallen with little resistance to the Trade Federation’s surprise attack.

Kenobi and Jinn were able to rescue the captive queen and several members of her party before escaping off world in a royal cruiser. The situation was now beyond their control so they planned on returning to Courescant to discuss the alarming developments with the Senate. This plan was foiled when the cruiser received heavy damage while running the Trade Federation blockade. Only the repair skills of the droid R2-D2 saved the ship, but the vessel’s hyper-drive was leaking and an emergency landing was required. Upon the suggestion of Kenobi, the ship escaped to Tatooine for an assessment of damages.

Kenobi stayed onboard the ship while Qui Gon went to look for a replacement hyper-drive in a nearby settlement. Through a series of gambling adventures, the maverick Jedi Master brought back not only the needed hyperdrive but also a liberated local slave boy named Anakin Skywalker. Qui Gon saw potential in this boy to become a great Jedi Knight and a powerful Force-user. Obi Wan and Anakin were introduced onboard the Queen’s cruiser, but there was little time for socializing as the urgency of their mission had not decreased. The attack of a light-saber wielding warrior shortly before take-off added to the stress and mystery of the situation.

The repaired Naboo cruiser finally arrived on Courescant and its passengers received a welcoming from Chancellor Valorum himself. The Queen entered the sphere of politics to plead her planet’s case while the two Jedi returned to their order’s temple with Anakin Skywalker. Here the boy was tested by the Jedi Council to determine if he would be trained, but failed to pass the test because of his fear.

Obi Wan was in agreement with the Council’s decision, but Qui Gon stubbornly insisted that the boy should be trained. The obdurate Jedi Master was convinced that Anakin was the “Chosen One” referred to in an ancient prophecy. When the Council still refused to provide a master to train the boy, Qui Gon said he would take on the responsibility himself. He asserted that Obi Wan was ready for graduation from apprenticeship, and that he would make Anakin his new apprentice. Obi Wan originally resented Qui Gon’s defiance of the Council and argued with his master on the subject, but later he apologized for his rudeness and said he was grateful to be considered worthy of knighthood. Obi Wan’s deep respect for his elders’ authority was a manifestation of the humility and maturity he displayed throughout his entire life.

A new development of the Naboo crisis postponed the settlement of the Anakin debate; Queen Amidala had become frustrated by the corruptness of politics and had resolved to fight for the liberation of her homeworld on its own turf. Kenobi and Jinn were ordered to escort the Queen back to the planet and protect her in the inevitable conflict. The two also hoped to discover the identity of the dark warrior who attacked Qui Gon on Tatooine. Anakin Skywalker accompanied the Jedi.

Upon arriving back on her native planet, the Queen quickly went to work. She rallied local resistance groups and even the Gungan kingdom to form a sizable liberation army. It was then that the Queen disclosed her true identity as a mere decoy, and her handmaid Padme Amidala revealed that she was actually the true Queen of Naboo. She then formulated a plan to capture Trade Federation leader Nute Gunray and force him to stop his occupation.

Kenobi and Jinn stayed by the side of the Queen as she and her guerilla band fought their way back into Theed. The Jedi used their lightsabers to shield the attack force from the laser fire of Trade Federation battle droids. The small group forced its way into the royal palace, where they were once again confronted by the mysterious dark warrior. Kenobi and Jinn engaged this new adversary while the Queen and her forces continued on to find Gunray. They eventually succeeded in capturing him.

The dark warrior proved to be more than a match for the two Jedi, and eventually Obi Wan was separated from his master. Watching from behind a laser-wall security system, Kenobi witnessed his master finally struck down by the double-bladed light saber of his assailant.  Filled with rage, Kenobi charged at the killer as soon as the laser-wall deactivated. After an intense duel, Kenobi managed to disarm one of his opponent’s blades but was himself kicked down a massive energy pit. He was able to catch hold of a protruding nozzle, but his lightsaber fell to the depths below.

 It was then that Kenobi realized he could not overcome his opponent with sheer power and hatred. That was not the Jedi way. Instead, he calmed his mind and reached out to the living Force. Then, utilizing a massive energy flow from the Force, he leapt out of the pit and simultaneously summoned Qui Gon’s lightsaber using telekinesis. Airborne and armed, he flipped over the dark warrior and sliced him through the waist. The two severed halves of Qui Gon’s murderer tumbled down the energy pit and out of sight.
Kenobi rushed to the side of his master, but the old man was beyond help. His dying request was that Kenobi train Anakin Skywalker to be a Jedi Knight. Although Kenobi still had personal misgivings about the boy’s training, he promised his fading master that he would take Anakin on as an apprentice.

When Kenobi announced his intentions to the Jedi Council, it finally yielded out of respect for the deceased Qui Gon and gave Kenobi authorization to train Anakin. Immediately afterwards, Kenobi was bestowed the title of Jedi Knight. He then took on Anakin as his apprentice and began the long process of training the boy in the ways of the Jedi.

Kenobi and Anakin undertook many missions in service to the Republic during the following years, and developed a strong if sometimes trying friendship. Kenobi’s style of patience and prudence often frustrated Anakin’s proclivity for action and adventure. Nevertheless, the duo worked quite well together as Anakin grew in prowess and skill.

Ten years after the Battle of Naboo, Kenobi and Anakin met an old friend when they were once again tasked with protecting Padme Amidala, now a Galactic Senator. Several assassination attempts had been made against her because of her political stance on a recent galaxy-wide cessation crisis.

Soon after her new Jedi bodyguards arrived, another attempt was made against her life. This time, Kenobi and Anakin were able to track down the assassin after an intense speeder chase. They cornered her in a bar on the lower levels of Courscant and disarmed her blaster. But before they could gather any information from her, she became a victim herself to the poisoned dart of an armored bounty hunter. The mysterious figure then fled the scene before Kenobi could give pursuit.

Left with only the killing dart as a clue to the assassination mystery, Kenobi took the projectile to his knowledgeable friend Dexter Jettster. Dexter was a veteran of extensive travels and was familiar with many different planetary cultures. He was able to correctly identify the dart as being Kaminoan in origin.

Kenobi then attempted to find the Kamino system using the Jedi archive computers, but Dexter’s galactic coordinates pointed to a field of empty space on the map. Puzzled, Kenobi consulted the wise master Yoda on the matter. The sage old Jedi told him that the data for Kamino must have been erased from the archive memory banks. This was a very disturbing prospect, as only a Jedi could perform the deletion.

Yoda said he would contemplate the matter while Kenobi travelled to the location of Dexter’s coordinates in an attempt to find the mysterious Kamino. In the mean time, Anakin would take charge of protecting Amidala by taking her into hiding on Naboo. This was Anakin’s first solo assignment. Kenobi was worried about the great responsibility bestowed on his Padawan, but he soon found more worries of his own.

He arrived at the Kamino system with little difficulty using Dexter’s coordinates, and strangely found that he was expected by the inhabitants. The planet natives ran a massive cloning industry and were finishing the first installment of a clone army allegedly ordered by the Jedi nearly ten years ago. Kenobi was the Jedi expected by the Kaminoans to come and check on the army’s progress. Kenobi was taken slightly off-guard by the false assumptions surrounding his arrival, but decided to act the part. Once he gained a grasp of the situation, he posed as an inspector coming to monitor the final stages of the army’s training.

What Kenobi saw deeply impressed him, and he asked to have an audience with the clone template. This man was a bounty hunter named Jango Fett who resided on Kamino. Kenobi and Fett had a brief and tense discussion, through which Kenobi determined that this was indeed the armored bounty hunter he had seen on Courescant. After leaving Fett’s residence, Kenobi contacted the Jedi Temple for further orders. Master Mace Windu ordered Kenobi to bring Fett back to Courescant for questioning by the Jedi.

Fett, however, anticipated this move and was preparing to flee off world with his clone son Boba. Kenobi attempted to intercept the duo before their departure but failed after a brief showdown with Fett. The bounty hunter’s ship, Slave I was departing from the landing bay when Kenobi managed to throw a homing beacon onto the vessel’s hull. Using this for guidance, he followed Fett at a distance to see where he was headed.

Kenobi followed his quarry all the way to the planet Geonosis. There his target became aware of the pursuit and engaged Kenobi’s ship in the Geonosian planetary rings. Slave I inflicted heavy damage on the Jedi starfighter and forced it into hiding. Presuming Kenobi to be dead, Fett continued on down to the planet’s surface. Kenobi waited for some time before once again following at a safe distance.

When he finally reached the planet surface, he found yet another army in the making. This one was comprised of battle droids. The operation was being overseen by a group of separatist leaders, headed by the ex-Jedi Count Dooku. These individuals were spearheading the galactic cessation movement so adamantly opposed by Padme, and were forging an army to advance their cause by force.

This was an alarming chain of events. Kenobi attempted to contact Coruscant to warn them, but found that his long-range transmitter had been destroyed during the dogfight with Fett. Instead, he relayed the communications single through Anakin’s ship. During the process, Kenobi discovered that Anakin was not on Naboo but Tatooine. This angered and perplexed him considerably, but he proceeded to relay his message to the Senate building on Coruscant.

He managed to summarize the situation on Geonosis before being interrupted by an attack of droidekas. The numerically superior force succeeded in taking him prisoner. In his cell he was visited by the mysterious Count Dooku, who attempted to seduce Obi Wan to the dark side. The staunch Jedi refused to be turned and remained defiant to Dooku’s persuasion.

An attempt to free Obi Wan was made by Anakin and Padme, who had received his transmission onboard their ship. However, they too were caught and all three were sentenced to death in the Geonosian arena. The execution was made a public spectacle, with a bitter Nute Gunray and heartless Dooku in attendance.
The Jedi and Padme were able to fend off the gladiatorial beasts meant to devour them, but were eventually encircled by droidekas. A timely intervention by Mace Windu and a strike team of 200 Jedi saved them. Dooku expected this move and unleashed his fully prepared droid army to engage the Jedi. What followed was the battle of Geonosis, the first conflict in what would come to be known as the Clone Wars.

Reinforcements of clone troopers fresh from Kamino helped to turn the tide of the battle, and Dooku was forced to flee on a speeder bike. Obi Wan and Anakin gave pursuit in a Republic gunship. The two chased him down to a hanger bay some distance from the arena.

Anakin impetuously charged Dooku against his master’s orders, and was knocked unconscious by a potent blast of Force lightning. Kenobi was left to face Dooku alone. While he possessed great skills as a swordsman, Kenobi was no match for his experienced opponent. Within the first few minutes of fighting Dooku struck Kenobi down wish flesh wounds to the arm and knee. He was about to finish him off when Anakin suddenly reappeared in the scene, having recovered from the blast of Force lightning. Anakin put up a good fight but was also bested by his skilled adversary.

Dooku would have killed them both, but Yoda came to their rescue and finally succeeded in driving the villain away. Kenobi and Anakin staggered to their feet as Padme and a squad of clone troopers arrived at the scene.

Back on Courescant, the Jedi contemplated the chaotic turn of events. They were now faced with a galactic civil war, being fought by clone soldiers and droids. Kenobi originally thought that the Battle of Geonosis would dispel the rebellious separatist faction, but Yoda foresaw a darker future to come; “Just begun, the Clone Wars has.”

And indeed, the Clone Wars dragged on for another four years. Kenobi and Anakin were kept constantly busy leading the Republic armies and countering agents of the enemy. Somewhere during this time Anakin graduated from apprenticeship to the rank of Jedi Knight, but continued to serve side by side with his former master. Together they endured years of harsh war, which would be the beginning of the end for the Republic and the Jedi order itself.

The Republic fought a primarily defensive war, and during the fourth year of the conflict the Separatists made a surprise attack on Courescant itself. Their droid infantry succeeded in capturing Chancellor Palpatine and imprisoned him on the flagship Invisible Hand.

Kenobi and Anakin made a sortie in starfighers to board the ship and rescue the Chancellor. Navigating through a heated space battle, they landed in one of the ship’s ports and fought their way through the droids onboard. They reached the Chancellor with little difficulty, but were then confronted by Dooku. Once again the old foes clashed, this time with Obi Wan and Anakin attacking in unison. Dooku was still able to knock Obi Wan unconscious, and for a short time gained the upper hand. But he could not long withstand the sheer power of Anakin’s assault, and eventually succumbed to the vigor of a much younger opponent. Anakin disarmed him, and then, against his better judgment, killed him.

Anakin then freed the chancellor and carried the unconscious Kenobi on his back as they made their way out of the ship. Kenobi reawakened shortly. Before the trio could escape, however, they were captured by the infamous cyborg general Grevious. He disarmed and taunted his Jedi prisoners, but Obi Wan remained unshaken. At the right moment he seized his lightsaber from Grevious’s cape using telekinesis and cut his bonds. Anakin did the same. The two Jedi quickly overcame Grevious’s guards as the cowardly cyborg fled. They then steered the battered ship down to the planet below and delivered Chancellor Palpatine back to his security. The Battle of Courescant ended in a Republic victory.

Despite this, Kenobi was worried. The Chancellor had been growing in power, using the urgency of the war as an excuse to take drastic measures on his own authority. The Jedi Council noted this too, and appointed Anakin to spy on the Chancellor. Anakin resented this immensely and began fostering animosity towards Kenobi for his role in the Council. These tensions would later explode.

But before Kenobi could become too deeply embroiled in politics, he was sent to the planet Utapau to hunt down Grevious. Clone intelligence has spotted him in that sector. Kenobi arrived on Utapau and found the planet occupied by the Separatists. He had little difficulty in locating Grevious, whom he promptly engaged. The cyborg’s battle record had made him overconfident and he insisted that he engage Kenobi alone, unaided by his troops. This was his undoing as the skilled Jedi quickly sliced off two of Grevious’s six hands. Knowing he was bested, Grevious fled the scene as the 212th Clone Attack Battalion arrived to back up Kenobi. In an intense chase, Kenobi lost his lightsaber but managed to corner Grevious and engage him in melee combat.

Grevious was much stronger than Kenobi and initially gained the upper hand. Kenobi faced near death but saved himself by using the Force to grab a blaster and then shooting the cyborg into flaming pieces. He later commented that he deemed the use of such tactics to be “so uncivilized.”

While the battle was raging on Utapau, the Chancellor Palpatine was preparing for the final stages of his secret conspiracy to seize control of the Republic. To this effect, he ordered the clone troopers to treacherously murder all Jedi knights. Upon receiving this order Commander Cody of the 212th opened fire on Kenobi with an AT-TE. The blast knocked Kenobi off his varactyl mount and sent him plummeting to the depths of a sinkhole. He was presumed dead.

Kenobi in fact survived the fall by landing in a deep pool of water. Confused and distrustful, he fled the planet in Grevious’s starship. He met with master Yoda aboard the Sundered Heart and the two Jedi grimly discussed the future of their order, and the Republic. Everywhere the clones were turning on the Jedi, taking them by surprise and slaying them in masses. The two survivors decided that they must return to their temple and issue a warning to all Jedi through the communications beacon.

When they arrived at the temple they found it occupied by the treacherous clones. Many elite troops were stationed there, but they all fell to the onslaught of the powerful Jedi Knights. Kenobi reset the communications beacon, warning all Jedi to stay away. He also looked at the security camera footage during the attack, and was shocked by what he saw. Anakin Skywalker, his own former apprentice and brother knight, had led the attack on the temple. Subsequent footage showed him kneeling before Palpatine, his new Sith master. This came as an overwhelming blow to Kenobi. His close friend had betrayed the Republic, the Jedi, and his now heartbroken former master.

Knowing what must be done, the two Jedi split up to find and destroy the Sith. Kenobi at first couldn’t bring himself to fight his old Padawan, but eventually he realized that Anakin Skywalker was already dead. He had been consumed by his Sith alter ego, dubbed Darth Vader. This monster must be destroyed.

Kenobi first went so see Padme, Anakin’s secret wife. Here he revealed to her that Anakin had fallen to the dark side of the Force. She initially refused to believe him or offer any help in finding him. It was then that Kenobi noticed Padme was heavily pregnant, and began to piece the whole situation together. He realized that Anakin was the father of her child. Kenobi then briefly apologized for what he knew he must do, and exited the room.

He rightly anticipated that Padme would go to find her husband, and quickly stowed away on the Senator’s cruiser. Sure enough, Padme soon boarded the ship and set a course for Anakin’s last known location, the Mustafar system. Anakin had just finished killing the remnant of Separatist leadership there.

When the cruiser arrived, Kenobi witnessed the couple’s exchange. Padme was devastated by her husband’s betrayal of the Republic. He in turn became angry. When he saw Kenobi, the disillusioned Sith accused Padme of bringing the Jedi there to kill him. He rendered Padme unconscious with a Force choke, and then began berating Kenobi. The Jedi tried to reason with the newly christened Darth Vader, but found only hate in the heart of his former friend. The two then ignited their sabers and clashed.

The duel was prolonged and fierce. Both men were skilled warriors, and they fought all throughout a volcanic facility. Eventually the fight moved onto floating platforms in a lava stream. They fought ferociously until Kenobi leapt onto a nearby bank of volcanic rock. Now possessing the upper ground, he told Vader that the battle was over. The Sith refused to believe this and made a brash jump attack at Kenobi. While still in the air, he lost three of his limbs from a single slash of Kenobi’s saber.

Vader tumbled to the ground, cursing his former master. Kenobi looked at his old friend with deep sadness in his eyes. He considered slaying Vader right then and there, but decided against it. He would not murder in cold blood. Leaving the Force to decide Vader’s fate, he took one last look and then slowly turned away. He took Vader’s blue lightsaber with him.

Palpatine found Vader shortly afterwards. The charred remnants of the body were immolated but still contained life. Vader was not dead. And this would not be the last time he’d see Kenobi.

Meanwhile, Yoda had failed in his attempt to subdue Palpatine and had narrowly escaped death himself. He then met with Senator Bail Organa who took him to Polis Massa for a rendezvous with Kenobi. Obi Wan had brought Padme Amidala to the medical facility for her childbirth. Here it was discovered that she was carrying twins. The medical droids found that Padme was dying from unknown causes and quickly operated to save the twins. Before she died, Padme named them Luke and Leia. Then, having lost the will to live without her husband, she breathed her last.

Bail Organa adopted Leia, while Kenobi entrusted Luke to the care of his relatives on Tatooine. Yoda went into exile on Dagobah. And the Republic itself crumbled as Palpatine proclaimed himself Emperor of the galaxy. Together with his scarred cyborg apprentice Darth Vader, they crushed democracy.

Kenobi settled in the remote hill country of Tatooine a short distance from the Lars homestead where Luke was to be raised. Here he remained in hiding from the Empire, silently looking after the young boy. He lived the life of a quiet hermit for the next nineteen years. He aged considerably during this time, as the harsh desert climate took a heavy toll on his health. He also changed his name to “Ben” Kenobi to avoid being recognized by his enemies.

Then, 32 years after the Battle of Naboo, Ben Kenobi met Luke Skywalker face to face in the Tatooine desert. Luke had been tracking a runaway R2-D2 who was, in fact, looking for Kenobi. R2’s memory banks contained a message from a captured Leia who was begging the legendary Jedi for help. When Kenobi saw this message, he knew the time had come for him to emerge from hiding and help Luke fulfill his destiny as a Jedi knight like his father.

He invited Luke into his hut, where the two had a long talk about galactic history and Luke’s father. Kenobi told Luke that his father had been betrayed and murdered by a man called Darth Vader. This was metaphorically true; when the monster Darth Vader arose in Anakin’s heart, it killed the good man in him, leaving only a Sith lord where a Jedi once was. The real reason Kenobi told Luke about his father in this way is because the old Jedi knew that Luke could not yet accept the truth. He also didn’t tell Luke that Leia was actually his sister. Instead, he told Luke that he should accompany him to Alderaan to fight the Empire and rescue the captive Leia.

Luke was reluctant to leave his homeplanet, but offered to drive Kenobi to Anchorhead where he could get a flight off world. Kenobi agreed. On the way, they discovered a ransacked Jawa sandcrawler. Kenobi deduced that the vehicle had been attacked by Imperial troops looking for R2 D2, who carried Leia’s message and other important files in his memory banks. Luke then realized that the enemy troops could’ve tracked R2 and his counterpart C-3PO back to his homestead. Kenobi warned against going back, but Luke jumped in his land speeder and raced back home. He returned shortly afterwards, crushed and in a state of shock. His home had been burned by Imperial stormtroopers. Both his aunt and uncle were dead. Now, having no past and only hopes for the future, Luke agreed to join Obi Wan in a crusade against the Empire.

The duo and the two droids then travelled to the Mos Eisely spaceport where they arranged for transportation to Alderaan. The man they hired was a smuggler by the name of Han Solo, who piloted the ship Millennium Falcon with his Wookie friend Chewbacca.

Shortly before takeoff, Luke was harassed by several criminals in a cantina. Kenobi warned the hooligans to back down, but one of them drew a blaster and fired on the old man. Kenobi, though now elderly, had not lost his skill. He quickly drew his lightsaber, deflected the laser bolt, and then hewed off his attacker’s arm. This attracted unwanted attention, and the group left soon afterwards. The take-off was a close call and they were almost grounded by a brigade of Stormtroopers, but Han managed to fend off the Imperial attack until the Falcon was airborne. They then set a course for Alderaan.  During the voyage Kenobi began instructing Luke in the ways of the force. Luke accomplished much for so short a time of training. He was clearly his father’s son.

When they arrived at the Alderaanian coordinates, the planet was nowhere in sight. I massive asteroid field was in its place. Kenobi began to realize that the planet had been entirely destroyed. He had felt its destruction earlier as a great disturbance in the Force. There was little time for mourning, however, as an Imperial TIE fighter soon flew into view. Han decided to destroy the small craft and followed it in close pursuit.

Unbeknownst to him, this was the bait for a trap. The fighter led them straight to the Death Star, an Imperial superweapon. This was the battle station that had destroyed Alderaan. The massive installation quickly seized the Falcon in a tractor beam and pulled the ship into one of its hangers. Kenobi and the crew hid in the smuggling holds to elude search parties, and then ambushed a scanning team sent onboard. They quickly took the armor of the crewmen and disguised themselves in the Imperial uniforms. Emerging from the Falcon, they overpowered security in the hanger.

Kenobi then went to deactivate the tractor beam generator so that the Falcon could escape. Luke and Han eventually went to rescue Leia. Both parties were successful in their missions.  Darth Vader, however, was not oblivious to what was happening. He sensed Kenobi’s presence onboard the Death Star, and he set out to find his former master. He encountered Kenobi en route back to the Falcon. The two once again ignited their sabers and engaged in battle. As the battle progressed, Vader taunted Kenobi because of his age. Kenobi replied with a cryptic warning: “You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."

Then, Luke reappeared on the scene, retreating with Han and Leia to the freed Falcon. Kenobi knew that his friends would never escape with Vader present. It was here that he made a choice to surrender his life to the living Force. Smiling, he held his lightsaber before him and stood defiantly before lord Vader. The Sith then swung his saber at Kenobi, but the blade never hit him. The saber passed through Kenobi’s empty garments as his body dissipated and became one with the Force. This bought enough time for Luke and his comrades to escape. Luke would soon return to the Death Star, sending the entire battle-station to its doom.

Though Kenobi was physically dead, he continued to guide and council Luke as a Force ghost. He eventually directed Luke to Dagobah, where he received further Jedi training from an exiled Yoda. It was on this planet that Kenobi revealed to Luke the true story of his father. And finally, Kenobi was present in spirit after the Second Battle of Yavin when Death Star II was destroyed.

Obi Wan Kenobi is an interesting type of knight in battered armor. Most of his battering seems to have come from the outside world rather than his own personal flaws. Granted, he did have his shortcomings, but the real testimony to his knighthood comes from the overwhelming amount of evil he faced in his lifetime, and the courage with which he faced it.

At a young age, Kenobi witnessed his master’s death. Immediately afterwards he was faced with the task of training a brash and impetuous student, leaving him little time for grief. Ten years later the Clone Wars began, tearing apart the galaxy and claiming the lives of many of his friends. The horrors he witnesses and the trials he underwent during this time must have been significant. And when peace was finally in sight near the end of the war, the clone army he had fought with for four years betrayed him in cold blood. His order was annihilated and the temple, his home, was ransacked. The Republic had fallen. And this was all done by the hand of Anakin, his fellow knight and friend. Kenobi was forced to fight Anakin himself and confront the monster his former Padawan had become. Finally, he left his old friend in an inferno of flames to live or die as the Force willed. Nineteen years of solitude and exile followed.

Yet through all of this, Kenobi never lost hope. He was battered to the core by betrayal, death and sorrow. Still he would not break. He followed the path of the light side to the very end, even to his death at the hands of Darth Vader. Kenobi is an outstanding example of how we should handle hard times in our lives that just seem to batter us beyond hope. We’re proud to have him as an honorary member. Obi-Wan 'Ben' Kenobi, welcome to KIBA.

K.I.B.A. Honorary Member, November 2010 - Samwise Gamgee

*info for this profile is gathered from both the books and the films, but where there is conflict the books are considered canon

At first glance, Samwise Gamgee seems like an ordinary hobbit.  A gardener by trade, Sam is a hobbit of simple speech, however, he is set apart from other hobbits by his love of the elves, gift for poetry and belief that there are greater wonders in the world that hobbits are aware of.  It should come as no surprise that all of those qualities were nurtured by another hobbit set apart from the rest – Bilbo Baggins.  Sam, alongside his father Hamfast Gamgee, also known as the Gaffer, tend the gardens at Bag End and are on good terms with Bilbo and Frodo.

It was not until 14 years after the disappearance of Bilbo that Sam really comes into the story.  As Gandalf and Frodo sat inside Bag End discussing the Ring, how it came to Bilbo (and later Frodo), Sam was outside tending the garden, and listening to the conversation inside.  It was not Frodo made the decision to leave the Shire that Sam’s presence (and silence, for he had long since stopped working) was discovered by Gandalf.  To punish Sam for eavesdropping, Gandalf decides to send Sam along with Frodo on his journey.  Sam, however, is overcome with joy rather than despair.  In his own words (from Chapter 2 of FOTR): “Me go and see the Elves and all!  Hooray!”

As part of Frodo’s cover story for leaving the Shire, it was announced that Sam would be moving to Buckland “to do for Mr. Frodo and his bit of garden.” (Ch. 3)  Frodo and Sam, along with their friend Pippin, traveled to Buckland.  It was on this leg of the journey that the group first encountered and hid from a black rider, and also encountered the elf Gildor and two of his companions.  The hobbits stayed briefly with Farmer Maggot and his family, and then continued on.

They did not stay long at Frodo’s home in Crickhollow.  Shunning the main road, the four hobbits (as Merry Brandybuck had now joined the party) made their way through the Old Forest.  It was here they met Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, and got captured by the Barrow-Wights and Old Man Willow (and rescued from both by Tom Bombadil). The hobbits eventually made it out of the Old Forest and came to the village of Bree, where they sought lodging at The Prancing Pony.

Sam’s roles thus far in the story is largely subdued, or at least, unremarkable, save for one part that I believe stands out more than any other: “If you don’t come back, sir, then I shan’t, that’s certain,” said Sam. ‘Don’t you leave him! they said to me.  ‘Leave him! I said.  I never mean to.  I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon; and if any of those Black Riders try to stop him, they’ll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with, I said.  They laughed.” (Ch. 4)  Already Sam is showing extreme devotion and loyalty to Frodo, even though he is unaware just how dangerous their journey is going to get.

The group’s journey from Bree was marred by the wounding of Frodo by the Witch King of Angmar on Weathertop.  Sam continually worries about Frodo, but is unable to do much more than take part of Frodo’s share of supplies and assist Aragorn when he has need.  They continue to journey to Rivendell and along the way meet Glorfindel the elf.  Danger came upon the group when they were overtaken by Black Riders.  Sam was forced to watch as his master sped away on Glorfindel’s horse, followed closely back the Black Riders.

They made it successfully to Rivendell, and once Frodo had been tended to, Sam hardly left his side – which must have been difficult to do, considering how badly Sam has wanted to see the elves.  Sam accompanied Frodo around the many rooms and halls of Rivendell, even when Frodo found the one individual he desire most to see – his uncle Bilbo.  Sam even accompanies them to the Council of Elrond, though he remains silent throughout the meeting, except at the very end.  When Frodo announces his choice to take the ring to Mordor, Sam jumps up in exclamation:

“But you won’t send him off alone surely, Master?” cried Sam, unable to contain himself any longer, and jumping up from the corner where he had been quietly sitting on the floor.  “No indeed!” said Elrond, turning towards him with a smile.  You at least shall go with him.  It is hardly possible to separate you from him, even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not.”  Sam sat down, blushing and muttering,  “A fine pickle we have landed ourselves in, Mr. Frodo.” he said, shaking his head. (Book II, Ch. 2)

After this, Sam’s prominence in the story takes a step back.  Only when the Fellowship reaches the gate of Moria do we return our focus to Sam, who is forced to leave his beloved pony Bill behind, as the group prepared to enter the Mines of Moria.  When Frodo is caught by the Watcher in the water, Sam is quick to leap to his master’s aide, slashing at the tentacle that has hold of Frodo.  The Fellowship quickly enters the Mines, and slowly makes their way through the dark depths.

From the halls of Moria to the woods of Lothlorien, Sam begins to show more bravery and courage, as evidenced by the brief battle in Balin’s tomb.  Another example comes when Sam is invited to look in the Mirror of Galadriel.  The things that Sam sees in the mirror provoke a strong desire within him to return to the Shire and right the wrongs he saw being done, but after some words from Galadriel and sitting a moment to collect his thoughts, Sam says that he’ll “go home by the long road with Mr. Frodo or not at all.” (Book 2, Ch. 7)

And a long road it turns out to be.  It is on the slopes of Amon Hen that Sam, guessing his master’s mind after Boromir revealed he tried to take the Ring, caught Frodo as he tried to sneak off and make the rest of the journey alone.  Frodo is at first disappointed in being found out, but is soon glad to have Sam accompany him.

“It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam,” said Frodo, “and I could not have borne that.”“Not as certain as being left behind,” said Sam.“But I am going to Mordor.”“I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo.  Of course you are.  And I’m coming with you,”(Book 2, Chap. 10)

That right there is one of the finest examples of bravery, courage, loyalty and devotion I’ve ever read in any book.  Faced with certain danger, possibly death, and yet Sam is so devoted to being with Frodo that he is willing to put himself into the same danger that Frodo is walking into.

The two hobbits slowly make their way towards Mordor, but without guidance, they quickly find themselves lost among the barren slopes of Emyn Muil.  It’s only after they encounter Gollum, and get him to swear by the Ring that he will obey Frodo, that they are able to make their way out of the rocky maze and closer to Mordor.

Sam is very suspicious of Gollum, only giving way at times on Frodo’s insistence.  He rarely speaks to Gollum, but keeps a close eye on the creature throughout their journey.  Out of Emyn Muil, through the Dead Marshes – all the way to the Black Gate itself.  It is here that we get more insight into Sam’s suspicions and thoughts.  When Gollum speaks of a way into Mordor besides the Black Gate, and begins to describe it, warning bells start going off in Sam’s head.  He begins to think that Gollum may be in communication with Sauron, or fraternizing with Orcs, in order to know so much about how to get in and what sort of things guard the way.

Sam and Frodo get separated from Gollum in the glades of Ithilien, when a group of Rangers from Gondor discover them and take them to Henneth Annuin (The Window of the Sunset).  In the midst of all these trials and dangers on the road, Sam receives an unexpected surprise – along the way, they come across a group of Southrons…and an Oliphaunt, something Sam (to this point) had only dreamed of seeing.

Here the quest comes perilously close to falling into ruin.  Sam lets slip that Boromir tried to take the Ring from Frodo,  and Faramir believes this his chance to show his quality...but does the honorable thing and resists the temptation to claim the Ring.

“Good night Captain, my lord,” he said.  You took the chance, sir.”“Did I so?” said Faramir.“Yes sir, and showed your quality: the very highest.”Faramir smiled.  “A pert servant, Master Samwise.  But nay: the praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards.  Yet there was naught in this to praise.  I had no lure or desire to do other than I had done.”“Ah well, sir,” said Sam, “you said my master had an elvish air; and that was good and true.  But I can say this: you have an air too, sir, that reminds me of, of – well, of Gandalf, of wizards.”

From the time when they leave Ithilien to when they arrive at the foot of the stairs leading to Cirith Ungol, little happens to speak of.  Neither of the hobbits gets much sleep and Gollum frequently wanders off when they do manage to sleep.

It’s at the threshold of Minas Morgul that a rarity occurs – Sam actually agrees with Gollum on something.  Frodo, at some unseen will or bidding, begins to make his way towards the bridge leading to the gate, despite the cries of Gollum.  Sam manages to catch hold of Frodo and pull him back, and the three begin to make their way towards the stairs leading to Cirith Ungol.  Unfortunately, their presence had not gone unnoticed – blue flames spring up from the tower at Minas Morgul into the clouds, accompanied by a long, piercing screech.  The hobbits and Gollum manage to evade further detection; slowly but surely, they make their way up the long, winding staircase.

When the hobbits stop to rest, Sam wonders about their quest and if they’ll ever make it through:

“And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started.  But I suppose it’s often that way.  The brave things in the old songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them.  I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say.  But that’s not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind.  Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it.  But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.  And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten.  We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end.  You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo.”

“…And then we can have some rest and some sleep,” said Sam.  He laughed grimly.  “And I mean just that, Mr. Frodo.  I mean plain, ordinary rest, and sleep, and waking up to a morning’s work in the garden.  I’m afraid that’s all I’m hoping for all the time.”

Sam goes on to wonder if they’ll ever be put into a story or song, and Frodo reminds him about one of the chief characters – himself.

“…And Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam, would he, dad?”“Now, Mr. Frodo,” said Sam, “you shouldn’t make fun.  I was serious.”“So was I,” said Frodo, “and so I am.”

The hobbits reach the entrance to Shelob’s Lair without further incident.  The slowly make they way through the dark passages, but when Sam trips and falls, they are forced to abandon stealth and make their way as quickly as possible.  But things go wrong rather quickly: Frodo is confronted by Shelob, and Sam is attacked by Gollum.  By the time Sam is able to fend off Gollum and get away, both Frodo and Shelob are nowhere to be seen.

When Sam finds Frodo, he is inert on the ground, bound in cords and being dragged away by Shelob.  Without pausing to think about what needed to be done, Sam takes up Frodo’s sword at attacks the giant spider.  After Sam seriously wounds Shelob and she retreats into her lair, Sam returns to Frodo only to see that he was not moving and his face was very pale, as if dead.  And indeed, Sam believes that Frodo is dead.  He begins to fall into despair, and wonder what’s to be done next.  He realizes that there is only one thing left to do: finish the quest alone.  So he removes the Ring from Frodo, and, already having the Phial and Sting in his possession, continues on.

This had to have been one of the most difficult choices for Sam to make.  Being so devoted to Frodo, yet having to tear himself away lest the quest fail and the world fall into ruin…one can only imagine the anguish and pain Sam must be feeling at this point.

It isn’t long before Sam hears approaching orcs, and in order to not be discovered, he puts on the Ring.  The orcs pass him by, and he gets ready to go on, but quickly changes his mind when he overhears their discovery of Frodo.  Quickly, Sam pursues the orcs, but is too late to prevent Frodo from being taken into a guard tower; the double doors clang shut just as Sam hurls himself forward at them.

When Sam comes to, he is unaware how much time has passed.  Unable to go further, he retraces his steps to where Frodo had been discovered, and starts to look for the main entrance to the tower.  Sam soon crosses over into Mordor and sees Mount Doom for the first time.  Here, he is tempted to take the Ring for his own, but it is a combination of his love for Frodo and good old hobbit-sense that enables him to resist.  Continuing on, he soon reaches the main gate of the tower where Frodo is held.

Fortunately for Sam, once he gets inside, nearly every single orc inside is dead.  He encounters a live one on the stairs, but it quickly retreats up the stairs, leaving Sam behind.  He follows, and soon hears the voice of a second orc.  The two get into a scuffle, which ends when one runs off into another passage.  Sam keeps making his way upwards, searching for Frodo.

Sam finds Frodo in the topmost chamber, being whipped by the orc he had previously encountered on the stairs.  Sam attacks, and in the struggle, the orc trips and falls through an open trap door in the middle of the floor.  Sam unties Frodo and the two have a somewhat joyful, albeit brief, reunion.  After returning the Ring to Frodo, Sam collects some clothing and other gear for the two of them (to help keep them from being discovered), and after a very brief meal (for Frodo), the two escape the dark emptiness of the tower, setting off an alarm which attracts the attention of a Nazgul.

They manage to get out of sight before the Nazgul arrives, slowly making their way across the wastes of Mordor.  At one point, they are ‘drafted’ into a passing company of orcs, but manage to escape when a company of Uruk-Hai picks a fight with the orcs.  They continue to make slow progress towards Mount Doom, shedding their orc-gear along the way.

Near the foot of Mount Doom, Frodo collapses, unable to continue.  Sam, once again showing strength, courage and resolve, takes Frodo upon his back and begins to climb the rocky slopes, stopping a little more than halfway up.  The two crawl for a short while, and then Sam once again takes up his master upon his back, but it isn’t long before they are set upon by Gollum.  Sam watches as Frodo shakes off his attacker and goes into the mountain.  Sam warns off Gollum and then follows Frodo, finding him standing at the brink of the chasm within; the very Crack of Doom.  Sam has no chance to cry out, as Gollum has followed them both and attacks Sam from behind, causing him to fall and briefly black out.

When he comes to, Sam sees Gollum fighting with the invisible Frodo.  He watches as Gollum bites off Frodos finger and take the Ring.  But almost immediately he falls over the brink and into the fires below.

Sam and Frodo make their way back out onto the rocky slopes, onto a small ashen hill and there they stop, as Mount Doom spews out fire, ash and lava.  Even with the Ring destroyed and the quest fulfilled, Sam continues to be a strong, devoted companion.

“I am glad that you are here with me,” said Frodo.  “Here, at the end of all things, Sam.”“Yes, I am with you master,” said Sam, laying Frodo’s wounded hand gently to his breast.  “And you’re with me.  And the journey’s finished.  But after coming all that way I don’t want to give up yet.  It’s not like me, somehow, if you understand.”

Oh, how I understand.  Sometimes I feel like I understand him all too well.  There are times when I wonder how other people would function in the same role, without any kind of foreknowledge of the events ahead; if any of us would or could find, or even have, the devotion, courage, fortitude and determination to do the things Sam has done throughout the course of his journey.

It’s not until the hobbits return to the Shire that Sam gets irked to the point of action.  Almost immediately upon their return, the hobbits discover that things are drastically different from the way things were before they left.  Once they’ve had enough of the new “rules” (which happens quickly) and decide to raise the Shire (gather everyone who hates the way things are), Sam goes to Cotton’s farm to help get things started (and check on Rosie).  The biggest blow to Sam during this time is when he finds that the Party Tree, the place where Bilbo had made his farewell speech, is lying lopped and dead in the field – it proves to be too much to handle, and he bursts into tears.

After the Shire has been reclaimed, Sam takes on the task of helping restore much of the damage done to Hobbiton, with some focus on special trees that had been cut or torn down.  He visits many spots, and spreads a little bit of earth from Galadriel’s box at each one.  The nut that remains, he plants at the spot where the Party Tree once stood.  He later helps direct the cleaning up and restoration of Bag End.

There is not much more to tell about Sam.  He later marries Rosie Cotton, and they move into Bag End with Frodo.  He accompanies Frodo to the Grey Havens, where the Ring-Bearers depart Middle Earth.  If you have read the appendices after the end of the story, you will know that Sam also departs from the Grey Havens after the death of his wife Rosie.

* * * *

To date, and I know that we’ve not done very many Honorary Member profiles, I would have to say that Sam is one of my favorite characters.  If I had to choose someone to be (go through their experiences as they did, with all the worries and wondering and everything), I would pick Sam.

Sam shows incredible devotion to Frodo, even when he knows the road ahead is extremely dangerous.  He shows all the qualities of a knight in battered armor: strength, courage, bravery, loyalty, devotion…I have all these words at my disposal, yet I feel like I cannot do justice to the intensity of each quality that Sam exhibits.  Imagine caring so much about someone that you were willing to go through absolutely anything to keep being with them.  That’s Sam.  Maybe some of you will be able to describe his qualities better than I, and that’s fine.  Things like that have happened before.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that even though Sam hasn’t messed up drastically or done something terrible (i.e. Boromir, and how he tried to take the Ring), he is willing, without question, mind you, or needing to be asked, to go with Frodo through thick and thin, into any amount or kind of yet-unknown danger, and do that which needs to be done and is worth doing – the hard and difficult quest of destroying the One Ring.

I’ve said numerous times, used it as a quote in writing, and I’ll use it again here: wherever you go, whatever you do – return with honor.  Throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I firmly believe that Sam does precisely that.

Welcome to the ranks of KIBA, Sam.

K.I.B.A. Honorary Member, October 2010 - Frodo Baggins

*info for this profile is gathered from both the books and the films, but where there is conflict the books are considered canon

Frodo Baggins, a hobbit of great reputation in his native land as well as ours, had humble beginnings in the colony of Buckland. He was raised there by his parents until they both drowned in an unfortunate boating accident on the nearby Brandywine River. Frodo, only twelve at the time, was adopted by his uncle Bilbo Baggins and brought to his residence at Bag End in Hobbiton. There Frodo and his uncle became very close and Frodo recovered from his tragic loss.

The following years were very peaceful for Frodo as he and his fellow hobbits lived in a world sheltered from the growing evils of the outside. Life was good in the Shire, and the merry old town of Hobbiton was at its heart. Frodo’s good fortune grew when he become the inheritor of Bag End and all the ostensible treasure within its vast tunnels. Bilbo bestowed this magnanimous gift on his nephew on the day of their shared birthday, September 22nd. Bilbo was now one hundred and eleven and Frodo was thirty three. After a grand celebration of the event, Bilbo departed for the Elven town of Rivendell to live in serene retirement. But before he left he also gave Frodo a small trinket; a peculiar ring picked up on faraway travels. Bilbo was originally hesitant about giving Frodo the ring and at one point aggressively declared he would keep it. His wizard friend Gandalf the Grey became worried about Bilbo’s possessiveness and suspected the ring had magical powers which were seducing him. Finally, after a long talk, Gandalf convinced Bilbo to give up the ring. Frodo graciously accepted both gifts of real estate and jewelry, but little did he know how the former would change his life.

Frodo continued to live in Bag End for seventeen years after he inherited the grand hobbit-hole, keeping the ring safely stowed away inside its vast tunnels. This was done upon the advice of Gandalf, who for some time had been suspicious about the insidious ring. Gandalf’s convictions led him to search out the libraries at Minas Tirth to learn more about this mysterious ring. It was there that made a terrifying discovery; Frodo’s ring might be the One Ring forged by the evil lord Sauron years ago. If so, the ring and Frodo himself were no longer safe. Agents of the dark lord would be seeking him. Gandalf rode back in haste to the Shire and was relieved to find that Frodo was well and unharmed. It was then that the wizard and the hobbit had a long talk over tea concerning the history of Middle Earth.

Gandalf told of how the evil lord Sauron had once forged a powerful ring that gave him dominion over all life. With this terrible weapon, Sauraon had mustered an army in the land of Mordor and waged war against the free kingdoms of elves and men. Many fell before his wrath, but they would not surrender. They forged an alliance to counter the might of the dark lord and marched upon the very gates of Mordor. In the bitter fighting, Sauron himself joined the battle. As long as he wore his ring, he prevailed. Then, Prince Isildur cut the ring off Sauron’s finger, vanquishing his body and banishing his evil spirit. Thus ended the reign of Sauron, though his spirit lived on in exile. Soon Isildur lost the ring and it passed out of memory for ages. It was eventually found by a hobbit named Deagol, who was murdered by his friend Smeagol over its ownership. Smeagol was slowly driven to insanity by the dark powers of the evil ring, and he fled to under the mountains where he lived in slime and darkness for hundreds of years. The ring had given him unusually long life. But he would not possess it forever. He too finally lost the ring, which passed to Bilbo and then to Frodo. The ring had now had six owners, but the original one wanted it back. Sauron’s spirit had taken form in the fiery shape of an eye, raised an army of foul Orcs, and was now bent on taking back his ring to complete his dominance over Middle Earth. He knew of the ring’s location after his minions captured Smeagol and forced him to reveal it. Already his chief servants, the Nazgul, were on the hunt.

Frodo fled Hobbiton and embarked on a journey to reach the town of Bree. There he would wait for Gandalf who in the mean time would go to the wise wizard Saruman for counsel. Sam Gamgee accompanied Frodo on this journey. Sam was the chief gardener at Bag End and good friends with Frodo. The duo soon discovered that they were being trailed by black horsemen. These were actually the Nazgul, servants of Mordor. Frodo was able to glean some information about them from the local Farmer Maggot, but he didn’t find out their true identity until much later.

When Frodo and Sam arrived at Buckland, two fellow hobbits entered their companionship. Pippin Took and Merridoc Brandybuck, close friends to Frodo, had discovered the purpose of his quest and were determined to join him. Frodo agreed and the foursome set out through the bordering Old Forest. Here they were attacked by a malevolent willow whose animosity stemmed from a rotten heart. A magical inhabitant of the forest, an old man named Tom Bombadil, saved them from the animated tree and housed them for the night. The next morning the hobbits ran into more trouble at the Barrow-downs when ancient spirits emerged from the barrows and took them captive. Again, Bombadil’s timely appearance saved them from certain death.

Frodo and his companions were relieved to finally escape from the eerie forest and haunted barrows, but when they arrived at Bree they found more trouble. Gandalf was not there as he promised and they knew the riders were still on the hunt. The band of hobbits decided to lodge at the Inn of the Prancing Pony for the night and wait until morning before making their next move. However, this sage plan ran amiss when Pippin began talking loudly about the Baggins family and their strange tendencies, which would be easily recognizable to Sauron’s agents as being caused by the ring. Alarmed, Frodo began dancing on a table to divert attention away from Pippin’s imprudent babbling. This made things worse when Frodo tripped and jammed his finger into the ring, tapping into its magical power and turning him invisible. This of course caused quite a stir and destroyed the hobbit’s hope of secrecy on their quest.

Frodo’s stupid stunt was witnessed by an undercover friend of Gandalf, a Dunedain Ranger called Strider. After the hobbits retired to their room he introduced himself and convinced them of his good intentions. He furthermore offered to guide the hobbits to Rivendell, and also advised them to be a little more inconspicuous. That night the Nazgul attacked the inn, but Strider was able to hide the hobbits until the intruders left.

The next morning, Strider led the group into the wild, hoping to shake the Nazgul off their trail. The band made for the ancient watchtower of Weathertop in hopes of spotting Gandalf. They found the fresh runes “G III” carved into an ancient rock, but other than that they could find no trace of the wizard. Instead, they were attacked by the Nazgul at night and Frodo was wounded in the shoulder. The situation had now grown desperate, as Frodo’s wound would kill him unless he could be brought to Rivendell for healing. The elven city was still six days away. They headed towards the city as quickly as they could, with the Nazgul in close pursuit. They were aided by the elf lord Glorfindel who was sent by Lord Elrond of Rivendell to find them. In a race against time as Frodo continued to fade, the elf, man and hobbits made it to the border river Asfaloth. There the pursuing Nazgul were destroyed by a surging flood conjured by Elrond. Frodo then fainted from his wound but was promptly brought to Elrond for healing.

After Frodo recovered, he was surprised and overjoyed to find Gandalf at Rivendell. The wizard had been betrayed by the head of his order, Saruman, and held prisoner at the citadel of Orthanc. Thus he was unable to meet Frodo at Bree. The wise and cunning Gandalf was not a prisoner for long though, and escaped the clutches of Saruman after some time. He then made his way to Rivendell where he was reunited with his friend Strider, whose real name was Aragorn, and Frodo the ring-bearer.

Elrond soon called a Council to decide the fate of the ring, and Frodo was invited to attend. After much debate, it was decided that the ring should be taken to the Cracks of Doom deep in the heart of Mordor. This was the only place in Middle Earth where the ring could be destroyed. Elrond raised a call for a volunteer to accomplish the task, and Frodo bravely committed himself to the quest. Gandalf the Grey, Aragorn the Ranger, Boromir of Gondor, Legolas Greenleaf, Gimli son of Gloin, Samwise Gamgee, Pippin Took, and Merridoc Brandybuck all vowed to aid Frodo in this noble quest. Thus was forged the Fellowship of the Ring.

The nine companions set out from Rivendell in the winter of that year. Their destination was Mordor, the land of the enemy himself. The first obstacle on their road was the formidable chain of the Misty Mountains. The Fellowship first attempted to go over the mountains through the Pass of Caradhras, but their efforts were repulsed by the fierce winter storms.

Retreating back down the mountains, they decided to instead travel beneath them through the Mines of Moria. They fended off a vicious attack of Wargs en route to Moria’s gate, and eventually arrived under the cover of nightfall. Entering Moria they saw no signs of the Dwarven inhabitants and assumed the worst; goblins were said to wander the ancient mineshafts. Their fears were soon realized when they discovered the tomb of Balin. The legendary dwarf had been head of the Moria colony and a good friend of both Bilbo and Gimli. By his tomb Gandalf found a manuscript documenting the colony’s progress and recounting its ultimate demise at the hands of goblin hordes. The last passages proved prophetic as the fellowship itself was quickly attacked by a small army of goblins. The assailants were slaughtered, but Frodo took another wound in his side at the hands of a huge orc chieftain. Only a coat of mithril mail saved his life.

The Fellowship fled the orc-infested mines to the Bridge of Khazad-dum, where Gandalf faced off against a Balrog. He held back the ancient demon of the underworld while his companions fled across the bridge and out of the mines. Gandalf gave his life fighting the monster, as the hulking beast pulled Gandalf down into the abyss of Khazad-dum with his blazing whip. Both the ancient warriors tumbled out of sight down into the void.

Grieving the loss of their leader, Frodo and the Fellowship continued on to the forests of Lothlorien where they took shelter with the Elves. The Lady Galadriel showed them great hospitality during their stay while they prepared for the next stage of their journey. While he was there, Frodo was invited by Lady Galadriel to look into her magical mirror of water, where he saw what would come to pass if he failed in his quest. Frodo then almost despaired and in a moment of weakness offered to surrender the ring to Lady Galadriel. The Elven queen was tempted and almost seized the ring for her own, but the goodness in her prevailed and she refused. Frodo too acknowledged that the ring must be taken to Mordor, and soon he embarked with his companions on the next part of his journey.

They left Lothlorien by boat and drifted down the river Anduin southwards to Amon Hen. It was there that Boromir, a member of the fellowship (and KIBA too), attempted to seize the ring from Frodo by force. Boromir was seduced by the treacherous ring and believed he could wield its dark energy against the enemy. The ring was corrupting him. Frodo realized this and fled. He also realized that the ring would continue to corrupt everyone in the fellowship, slowly destroying the good in them and devouring their minds. In a moment of heroic courage, Frodo decided to continue on his journey alone. He would not let his friends be destroyed by the evil power of the ring.

While all this was going through Frodo’s mind, the Fellowship was attacked by an army of Uruk-Hai orcs from Saruman’s lair in Isengard. Saruman had allied himself with Sauron and joined in the hunt for the ring. Frodo fled in the chaos while the other members of the Fellowship battled off the orcs. Boromir repented of his crime and gave his life defending Merry and Pippin. Once he was slain by three arrows, the orcs seized the two hobbits and carried them off as prisoners. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli drove off the remainder of the attackers and then came upon Boromir’s body. They gave it the proper honors and sent it in a boat down the river Anduin. Aragorn realized why Frodo had left, and agreed with his companions that it was best for him to continue on alone.

But Frodo soon found that he was not alone; when he rowed across the Anduin in one of the boats, Sam jumped into the river after him. Sam couldn’t swim, but Frodo rowed over and rescued him before the young hobbit drowned. Frodo then joyfully agreed to let Sam accompany him, and the two set off for Mordor. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli tracked the orcs that had taken Merry and Pippin. Thus, the Fellowship was divided.

Neither Frodo nor Sam were experienced travelers, and they soon found many hardships that awaited them. Their first challenge was navigating the rocky hills of the Emyn Muil beyond the Anduin River. They lost themselves in the maze of jagged rocks and cliffs, until they found the most unlikely of guides. Smeagol himself, having escaped the dungeons of Mordor, had had been tracking Frodo out of his lust for the ring. He finally found Frodo trapped in the Emyn Muil, and attempted to attack the hobbit at night. However, this plan backfired when Frodo and Sam overpowered the gangly creature and held him at sword point. When Frodo saw the miserable creature the ring had turned Smeagol into, he took pity and decided not to slay him. Instead, he forced Smeagol to swear an oath of servitude to the master of the ring, or “precious” as Smeagol called it. Having sworn on the precious itself, the cunning Smeagol led Frodo and Sam out of the Emyn Muil.

Smeagol proved to be an invaluable guide and led the two hobbits through a maze of marshes and on to the black gate of Mordor itself. But when Frodo saw the gate, he realized that it was impenetrable and far too heavily guarded to infiltrate. Smeagol then suggested an alternate route through a secret pass which he had discovered during his time in Mordor. Having no other option, Frodo reluctantly agreed to try this passageway.

The trio was intercepted en route to the pass of Minas Morgul by a guerrilla force of Southern Rangers led by Faramir. Frodo and Sam were taken captive by these men who initially took them for enemy spies, though Smeagol was able to escape. Faramir questioned Frodo extensively concerning his business and subsequently decided that the hobbits were of no immediate threat. However, they were still held at the Ranger’s central base as a precaution until Faramir decided exactly what to do with them. It was here that Faramir revealed he was Boromir’s brother. This caused some sense of mistrust in Frodo, who still remembered Boromir’s lust for the ring and feared that his brother may be of the same mind. His fears became reality when Sam foolishly misspoke and revealed that Frodo was bearing the ring to Mordor. Faramir faced the overwhelming temptation to seize the ring for himself, but unlike his brother he passed the test and guaranteed Frodo his safety.

New complications arose for Frodo when Smeagol entered the Forbidden Pool adjacent to the Ranger hideout of Henneth Annun. The penalty for entering this hidden entrance to Henneth Annun was death. Frodo pleaded for Smeagol’s life, and Faramir agreed to spare the creature. However, Smeagol was still taken prisoner and thoroughly interrogated before his release. The pitiful creature viewed this as an act of betrayal, and began harboring resentment against the Master of the Precious. His capture at the hands of the frightening Rangers undid most of the trust the two had developed in each other, even after Smeagol had saved Frodo from drowning in the Dead Marshes. This rift would continue to grow and ultimately lead to Smeagol’s treachery.

After leaving Henneth Annun with food and provisions, Frodo and his companions continued on their way to the pass of Minas Morgul. Their journey lead them over the mountains of Mordor by way of a mountainside staircase, and then through a dark tunnel at the top. Here Smeagol deserted Frodo and Sam. His bitterness over the Henneth Annun incident had reached its climax, and he sought revenge by alerting the guardian of Minas Morgul to the presence of the hobbit intruders. This lurker of the tunnel was a giant spider called Shelob. She was accustomed to a diet of foul orcs and very eager for some variety in her prey.

Being abandoned by their guide and wholly unfamiliar with the terrain, Frodo and Sam walked cautiously through the tunnel. They found that the exit was barred by thick entanglements of webs, but Frodo cut through them all with his powerful elven sword. They were almost free of the ghastly corridor when Shelob attacked. Frodo was able to repulse the hideous arachnid before retreating from the tunnel. Thinking they were free, the duo of hobbits let down their guard and ran. But the cunning Shelob outmaneuvered them by coming out of a side-tunnel and attacking from above. Frodo was paralyzed by the spider’s sting and fell to the ground. Sam refused to yield the body of his master and engaged Shelob in single combat. Using swordsmanship and the Phial of Galadriel which Frodo had been given at Lothlorien, Sam wounded Shelob and drove her back into the mountain.

Sam grieved the apparent death of his friend but was unable to stay for long. He heard orc voices nearby and, taking the ring itself, fled to a nearby spot to hide. Soon afterwards the orc patrol came across Frodo’s paralyzed body. Sam overheard the orcs saying that Frodo was not actually dead, but only paralyzed by the spider’s toxic sting. Curious as to the presence of a hobbit in Mordor, the orcs bore him away to Cirith Ungol for interrogation. Sam followed at a distance.

The orcs brought their prisoner to the top of the citadel of Cirith Ungol. There he was searched, and his valuable mithril mail shirt was discovered. The orcs fought over the priceless armor and succeeded in killing themselves off until only a few remained. Sam then made his move and stormed the citadel itself. He slew the handful of orcs who remained and freed Frodo. The duo then escaped the dark tower and made their way to Mount Doom, to throw the ring back into the fiery chasm where it was forged.

Incredible hardships faced the two companions on the last part of their journey. Food and water were scarce, though thankfully most of the orcs were on the other side of Mordor to counter a mustering of Gondor and Rohan. This allowed the two hobbits to move through the open plains nearly undetected. Once they were mistaken for orcs by a company on the march and pressed into service, but they were soon able to escape and continue on their way. Frodo was now growing weak both from fatigue and the power of the ring battering his very mind. On the last stage of the journey up the very slopes of Mount Doom, Sam had to carry the ring-bearer on his back. Here Smeagol reappeared and attacked the two, but Sam delivered a slash to the creature’s stomach and temporarily refuted the assault.

Frodo and Sam then came to the Cracks of Doom, overlooking the blazing volcanic chasm where the ring was forged centuries ago. Frodo now had the chance to fulfill his quest and destroy the ring. But here, where the power of the ring was strongest, it drove Frodo to madness. He succumbed to the constant battering of his will. Abandoning his quest, he proclaimed the rings to be his own and slipped it on his finger. He immediately turned invisible, much to the bewilderment and distress of Sam. But before he could intervene Sam was rendered unconscious by another attack from Smeagol. The creature then attacked Frodo and bit off his ring finger. Frodo screamed in pain and dropped to the ground. Smeagol, now in possession of the ring for the first time in years, danced for joy. But that was his undoing. Taking one wrong step, he tripped and fell into the volcano below. He and the ring together were instantly incinerated. Thus the ring was destroyed, Sauron’s spirit was finally killed, and the orc armies were thrown into terror and confusion. Frodo and Sam staggered down the volcano and were there rescued by a resurrected Gandalf, who bore them away on a great eagle he rode. Thus ended the reign of Sauron in Middle Earth.

Frodo and Sam were brought to the city of Minas Tirth where they were both given a hero’s welcome. The Fellowship was again reunited, and Aragorn was crowned King of Gondor. The four hobbits who had first set out on the quest, Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry, now recovered from their many adventures in the great city.

Now it was time for Frodo to return to his native land. He departed from Minas Tirth with Gandalf and his three friends from the Shire. They travelled across Middle Earth and had several other wonderful adventures, but eventually arrived on the borders of the Shire. Here Gandalf went his separate way to visit his old friend Tom Bombadil, while the hobbits continued onward to their home. They found the place overrun by tyrannical men who had enslaved the defenseless inhabitants. The hardened hobbits incited a revolt among their kinsmen and led an army to defeat the overlords and their minions. The hobbits emerged victorious in the Battle of Bywater, thus freeing their homeland and restoring peace to the Shire. Hobbiton and its colonies were rebuilt to their former splendor.

As much as he loved the Shire, Frodo found he could not stay there. The wounds from his quest were still deep and unhealed. He could not find peace even in the green valleys of the Shire. Thus, on his 52nd birthday, he joined a voyage to the Undying Lands in the Grey Havens across the majestic sea. He fondly said good bye to his friends, especially to Sam who had always been there for him. Sam would later voyage to the Undying Lands himself. And so Frodo departed from Middle Earth.

Frodo is an exemplary of the Knight in Battered Armor. He took many wounds with bravery and courage upon a quest that in itself would be a challenge to even the greatest of warriors. And Frodo was far from great or perfect. He blundered at Bree with his foolish display of the ring, was willing to surrender the ring to Galadriel at Lothlorien, nearly killed himself by stupidly attempting to enter Mordor’s black gate, and even claimed the ring for himself on the slopes of Mount Doom. And yet, despite his many failings, Frodo never gave up. He admitted to his faults, accepted help from his friends, and ever strove on towards the end of his quest. No one can ask more than that. Frodo Baggins, welcome to KIBA.

**this profile was written by my co-writer Andrew Lamansky...