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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Poe Dameron/Finn, Luke Skywalker/Han Solo
Han Solo, Poe Dameron, Finn (Star Wars), Chewbacca, Rey (Star
Wars), R2-D2, Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren, Hux (Star Wars), Leia
Organa, BB-8, Maz Kanata, Ahsoka Tano, Fiolla, Lando Calrissian
That Postcanon fic that takes place a few months after TFA, Major
Spoilers, for all of TFA, Fix-It, Minor Character Deaths, Galactic war
after all, speculative fic, postcanon, NOTE: THIS FIC IS MOSTLY TRATED, Main pairing is Stormpilot, Skysolo is slight
Published: 2015-12-29 Completed: 2016-01-21 Chapters: 22/22
Words: 75090

by manic_intent

Shouldnt you be taking it easy?

Finn lowered his vibroblade, turning on his heel, and he grinned as Poe ambled over in his
measured flyboy swagger. Damn but Finn sometimes wished that he could walk like that,
like he could take any punches that the verse wanted to throw and still come up tops. Finn
had tried practicing once, in the room that the Resistance had given him after hed woken
up in the med-bay, but he had only managed to awkwardly trip over his own feet and had
bruised his hip against his desk.


I'm not familiar with Expanded Universe and have a really short attention span for
lore/film, so I don't actually remember much from the previous films either... as such I'll
probably be relying heavily on wiki + whenever I get around to watching the
Despecialized Edition. Therefore, this fic will most likely have lore mistakes, because I
like to make things up as I go :)
Major spoilers for TFA.

See the end of the work for more notes

Chapter 1
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

Waking up in a Bacta tank probably rated as a 3, on Han Solos 1-10 scale of Fucked Up
Awakenings, 1 being hopelessly awful and escalating upwards from there. However, since he
hadnt actually expected to even wake up at all, this ratcheted the score up to a reluctant 5.
Wouldve been a 6, if Han wasnt ass-naked. There was nothing quite like waking up from certain
death tinned in a glass tube of blue healing gel, age spots and wrinkly bits for all the world to see,
that put life so very into perspective.
Han waved the breathing tube strapped to the airmask over his nose and mouth to the side, peering
down. The Bacta fluid had done its work: the saber wound under his ribs had healed to a dull,
ridged burn scar, patched over synth-flesh. Han looked around warily. Against the curved partreflection of the glass, Han could see that he was wearing a bolted airmask over his face, his
narrowed, worn eyes blinking back at him over the black plastic, wrinkles etching in everywhere.
His beard and silver hair had grown out, feathering awkwardly around his face in the Bacta gel,
and most of what was left of his muscle tone was gone, leaving just a skinny frame that was, at
some bits, more scar tissue than flesh. Story of Han Solo, right there. Not so much a misspent
youth but a misspent everything, maybe.
He was in some sort of of shelf, holding tube after Bacta tube, lined up neatly against a
gunmetal gray wall, with filter tubes caught at the top and bottom of each tank. Against the
opposite wall were more tubes, three deep, and Han was on the second level of tubes on his side.
The lights were banked low, and but Han could see that only about half of the tubes were full,
their contents inert, dead or sleeping he couldnt quite tell. He wasnt the only human, but most of
the others were Rodians, with a scattering of other bipedal species here and there.
Propping his shoulders up against the back of the tube and his feet against the front, Han managed
to inch his way firmly up to the lid. Determined shoves only made his palms ache, and when he
kicked angrily at the smooth metal lid, Han only managed to nearly tear the breathing mask off his
face. Bracing himself as best he could with arms and shoulders, Han tried kicking at the glass
instead, frowning with the effort, and yelped into the mask as the whole tube abruptly shuddered,
then started to detach smoothly away from the wall, corkscrewing to the centre of the narrow
room before stopping abruptly in the middle of the chamber, then floating down the room to Hans
right, serving Hans head a smart whack on the glass as he lost his balance, knocked about in the
tube like a pinball. Above and below him, the filter grilles shuttered up, and there was a faint
pneumatic hiss as the tubes detached, coiling themselves up neatly against the slot in the gunmetal
shelf where Hans tube had been.
Dazed, rubbing his head gingerly, Han let himself float. Above, he could hear the hydraulic purr
of whatever machinery had a grip on his tank, and as they reached a set of blast doors at the end of
the room, Han blinked away spots from his eyes as the doors unlocked and peeled open, letting in
a bright slat of light that fell full over his eyes. Beyond the Bacta tank room was a smaller, cubelike room, clinically white, with a dotted grille for a floor and nozzles set at waist height. Han
spent only a second or so taking it all in before the world abruptly skewed sideways - he barked
his elbow against the glass with a yelp, then gasped as the airmask unwound away from his face,
and before he knew it he had been decanted unceremoniously onto the cold grille, wheezing in

surprise. The air smelled sterile, of hot water and heated plastic. Hans tank withdrew smoothly
through a large slot in the wall, carried by a mechanical arm winched to the lid, and just as Han
tried to get to his feet, he was abruptly blasted on all sides by steaming hot water and disinfectant.
Fuck! Han croaked, his voice oddly rusty - hell, how long had he been out? Sputtering and
staggering, he nearly slipped and fell flat on his face, but managed to back off instead, flattening
himself against the wall next to one of the nozzles, wide-eyed, spitting water and raising his hands
to shield his face. The nozzles dried up after a few minutes of roaring heat and steam, just as Han
was beginning to think that he would be braised into a human prune, then a door opened, to Hans
right, and he hastily ducked through, only to let out a yelp as he was ruthlessly air-dried from all
sides by cyclonic funnels.
Utterly disoriented and now more than a little shell-shocked, Han tumbled out of that particular
horror on shaky feet, into another gunmetal narrow corridor, dizzily wondering whether he was, in
fact, dead after all, and in some kinda special hell for grizzled old smugglers. As he leaned against
one of the steel walls to catch his breath, a hatch whirred open, opposite him, and a drawer slid
out. It held only a bright yellow jumpsuit and a pair of synth-leather boots, both of which fit Han
perfectly. Emblazoned on the back of the jumpsuit in blocky type was a number: 51395-0, and
sewn onto both shoulders were ID bars.
As he took another step, the light bars on the ceiling grew brighter. Good afternoon, Sector
Citizen Miles Bird, said a smoothly unemotional droid voice. Welcome to Stars Reach. I am
Sector Warden Reach, and will be overseeing your overall stay. Your med-stay comprised of
sixty-eight days five hours two seconds, a debt that has been added to your Sector Debt tally.
Stars Reach Sector Debt Han groaned, his steam-addled brain managing to cobble two
and two together. Im in the Corporate Sector? How the hell? And a Sector Citizen? A long
time ago, Han had once managed to wrangle himself a Waiver after a long series of illegal
adventures, allowing the Falcon free access to Sector space, but hed never managed to forge
Citizen-level ID.
I understand that you may be disoriented by your long Bacta stay, added Warden Reach,
unemotionally. And you may take a few minutes to reorient yourself. Please note however that
your total Sector Debt tally now stands at one hundred eighty-five days thirteen hours
Rehabilitation Labour.
Wait a minute, Han said suspiciously. Stars Reach. That a prison? Part of said illegal
adventures had involved the destruction of Stars End, a high security Sector prison, in ways that
were not entirely Hans fault.
Stars Reach is a Rehabilitation Facility, replied Warden Reach reproachfully. For Citizens
who have engaged in Unbecoming Behaviour. You have tallied two counts of Drunken
Disorderly Behaviour and one count of Cheating At Grift Cards.
Now listen here, Han began, then hastily swallowed the rest of his retort. A Rehabilitation
Facility? Sounded like a low security prison to Han. And whoever had retrieved him from
Starkiller Base and dumped him here had even gone to all the trouble to forge him a Citizen ID.
Sure, Han added quickly. Yeah. Ive uh. Copped to all that. My bad. Sorry?
Your remorse is duly noted and encouraged, Citizen Bird. Please proceed along the corridor to
your Designated Cell. We hope that you enjoy your stay in Stars Reach and become a Fully
Contributing Citizen yet again in due course.
Dont have a choice there, do I, Han growled, but the droid was silent, and he shuffled along
the gunmetal corridor, keeping an eye out. If this was a minimum security joint, slipping out

hopefully would just be a matter of memorising some guard patrols, some light splicing, and
finding a ship with a stardrive. And thenAnd then. Assuming that Chewbacca had survived, or anyone, or that theyd managed to blow up
that base on time, orHan shook off the brief uptick of panic, and breathed out, clenching his fists. No point worrying
about things that he couldnt change. First things first. He had to find a way to jet out of here.
Shouldnt you be taking it easy?
Finn lowered his vibroblade, turning on his heel, and he grinned as Poe ambled over in his
measured flyboy swagger. Damn but Finn sometimes wished that he could walk like that, like he
could take any punches that the verse wanted to throw and still come up tops. Finn had tried
practicing once, in the room that the Resistance had given him after hed woken up in the medbay, but he had only managed to awkwardly trip over his own feet and had bruised his hip against
his desk.
His desk. His room. Finn had never owned anything before - even his Stormtrooper gear had
really belonged to the First Order, to be racked up for sterilisation just before lights out. Owning
property was a surreal experience. Where did it stop? What about air? Why were some things
counted as mine but actually belonged to the Resistance, like Poes new X-Wing? Sometimes it
felt like it was possible to own things just by sitting your ass down on it and not budging. Life
outside the First Order was chaos at the best of times.
Hey, Poe had gotten close, and he looked concerned, his open, expressive face scrunched up in
a frown. Poe was out of his flightsuit today, dressed in a gray shirt over a typical spacer rig breeches with ample pockets, grav boots, blaster tucked over a hip.
Something up?
Nothing. Just checking in. Hows the back?
Synth-flesh finally did its work. Finn twisted, carefully. Still cant turn the whole way, but at
least it missed my spine and all that. Meaning, Finn added dryly, Nothings changed since
yesterday, not that much. Everyone can stop freaking out.
Poes jaw tightened, and at Finns curious stare, he sighed. I cant believe youre still taking all
that so lightly. Bit more to the right and all the synth-flesh and bacta in the galaxy wouldnt have
saved you.
People get injured in battle, Finn pointed out, having never understood why Poe had been so
relieved when Finn had woken up, and then angry when Finn hadnt been able to sit up, not at
first. Angry at the First Order, anyway. Personally, Finn thought that he was crazy lucky to have
even survived going toe to toe with a Sith Lord in the first place, in a lightsaber duel. He had
survived. Han Solo hadnt been nearly as lucky.
Thats not the point, Poe sounded a little frustrated. Maybe life was cheap in the First Order,
he said finally, as Finn said nothing, bewildered again. But thats not the case everywhere else.
Well. Not here anyway, Poe corrected.
Normally, Finn would just nod warily and clumsily change the subject when Poe got earnest like
this. After a few false starts in the early weeks, Finn had learned quickly that sometimes speaking
whatever was forefront on his mind occasionally upset non-First Order people. Learning to

recognise conversational land mines with so-called normal people had taken a great deal of trial
and error.
Today, the practice room was quiet, and Finn had been getting a little tired of the Resistance
patting themselves on the back all these months. Lifes cheap everywhere when its a war, Finn
pointed out. First Order snuffed out those New Republic planets. Killed billions. We blew up
Starkiller base. Killed millions. When you get to that kind of calculus? Millions, billions, it all
becomes one big statistic.
The New Republic planets were mostly full of civilians, Poe had taken on what Finn mentally
termed the Now-We-Are-Explaning-Things-To-The-Stormtrooper tone, which had been funny at
first, but which was starting to wear on him. Starkiller base wasnt.
It was full of people like me, you mean.
Poe grimaced. Finn-
We werent really that much different, Finn said quietly. I told you FN-2187 was my name and
you thought that was weird, sure. But I did have a name. The other troopers, those who bunked
with me, they called me Eight-Seven. There were four of us who were pretty tight, cos we were
always stuck doing simulations together. Nines, Zeroes and Slip. Phasmas legion, so I guess like
Phasma, they were all on the base when it went.
Im not saying that I wouldve done things differently, Finn added, as Poe seemed suddenly
frozen. But, you guys. Going on about how its OK to wipe out everyone in the base because
they werent civilians? I dont know. Most of us troopers, we were either cloned or taken early
from our families. Life down theres all we ever knew.
You walked away from it, Poe pointed out, uncomfortably.
Cos I had an opportunity to, Finn shot back. You saw it yourself. You never believed me
when I told you trying to save your ass was the right thing to do. You knew I did it 'cos I needed a
Im sorry about your friends.
Why? They were stormtroopers. Knew what they were in for. Or just cos they were my
friends? Finn shook his head. What about everyone else? They were people too, right? The
thing is, he added quickly, as Poe opened his mouth. I get killing people in war, all right? And
how much more messed up it is to kill civilians. I mean. Refusing to kill civilians was what caused
the, uh, break, in my conditioning. But I think you guys still dont understand why the First Order
hates all of you so much. The Resistance, the New Republic, all of it.
And whys that? Poes tone had gone quiet, with none of his usual easy humour, but loud as the
warning signs were, Finn was in a reckless mood now, and the words were on the tip of his
Cos for you guys, its us versus them, right? Us. Them. You guys are the good guys, everyone
else against you are the bad guys. Evil. And you know what? Scary as the First Order is,
sometimes, you guys here scare me just as much. Guerilla tactics here, a skirmish there, a million
here, a billion there the good guys won over the bad guys, thats how you guys swing it.
Good always wins out in the end, right? And everyone else, hell, they aint even people
Thats not how it is, Poe said tightly, And not what everyone heres fighting for.

Sometimes it seems like everyones fighting just cos thats the only thing they know how to do.
Finn waved up at the sky. Its crazy to me sometimes. Weve got stardrives. We can go
anywhere in the universe. Theres so many planets out there, so much left to see. But were all still
fighting and killing each other.
Poe glanced up at the sky, still in the pale blue of a warm afternoon, and to Finns relief, he
smiled, if ruefully. Thats right. If you look at it that way, its all crazy. He hooked his thumbs
into his gunbelt, and exhaled. Why are you still here, then? Youve been discharged from medbay for close to a week now. We do skip runs out to Moft II for supplies once a week. You could
probably catch a jump out deeper into the Outer Rim. Maybe even out to Wild Space.
Cos theres no point. Rey showed me that.
Poes smile faded in careful degrees, until he was sober all over again. Youre waiting for her to
come back.
Shell be back here eventually, Finn agreed confidently. I mean. Luke Skywalker is the
Generals brother, right? Sure theyre coming back here. After they find that temple.
All this time and you still havent given up, huh?
The General hasnt given up, Finn said, puzzled now. Got to trust high command. Most of the
time. Dont worry, he added, when Poe didnt smile. Reys pretty special.
That she is, Poe said neutrally, his jaw set, and stalked off. Finn watched him go, now
completely bewildered.
Maybe hed just stepped on another conversational land mine, but thinking back, Finn couldnt
quite for the life of him imagine what the land mine couldve been. Mentioning Luke Skywalker,
maybe? Some of the people in the Resistance clearly either thought he was dead or wouldnt come
back. After all, Luke had wandered off somewhere in search of some sort of magic temple and
hadnt come back, not even when his own sister had needed his help.
And sure. Finn was a little worried. Theyd had Lukes exact coordinates, after all. The
Millennium Falcon had a stardrive, and that patch of the Outer Rim was uninhabited space. There
shouldnt have been any trouble getting to Luke, scooping him up, and coming back. But it had
been months, with no word, as though the Millennium Falcon itself had disappeared, and all right,
so Rey had Woken Up In the Force, or whatever General Organa had called it, but space was
huge, and filled with all sorts of terrors.
Which was why Finn was training with a vibroblade, following records of lightsaber katas from
Republic records. It was the only thing he could really think of doing right now to help,
insignificant as it might be in the greater scheme of things. He hadnt risen to the top ranks of
cadet school without being competitive, and Finn didnt like being beat. If he ever had to get
down and dirty with sabers again, Finn was going to make sure that he was the one to come up
tops, rather than pass out and let everyone down. He didnt ever want to wake up convinced that
maybe everyone important to him was dead, ever again. Rey was going to come back to all of
them sometime. And if they were going to go up against the First Order again, this time, Finn
wanted to be as ready as hed ever be.

Chapter End Notes

Some reading material:

Chapter 2
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

The little spit of land that Rey and Chewbacca had found Luke Skywalker on was not the only
scattering of land mass on the unidentified planet, but it was one of the biggest. Most days, when
Rey got tired of it all, she stole Lukes speeder and kicked the old thing out in a random direction,
with nothing but ancient repulsorlifts between her and drowning.
The speeder wasnt as cobbled together and top-heavy as the one Rey had built out of parts
scavved from the Starship Graveyard, but it tended to yaw to the left despite Reys best efforts. It
had been painted white and blue, just like the Resistance X-Wings: though it was nowhere near as
stable as an X-Wing, despite how surprisingly sweetly the engine could purr. Chewbacca
disapproved, and occasionally made his disapproval known by yowling at her when she set out,
but Rey had made her own adjustments to the speeder with the few tools available off the
Millennium Falcon anyway.
Besides, if she drowned out here, or got eaten by the megapreds that she sometimes saw,
swimming as dark slithering shadows under the vastness of the blue expanse - it wasnt as though
Luke would care.
Thanks to her exposure to the actual, irascible Han Solo and Chewbacca, Rey had started to learn
to temper her expectations where childhood heroes were concerned. But still. Solo had been
heroic to the end, trying to talk down his son and dying because of it. Chewbacca had more or less
single-handedly extracted Rey and Finn off Starkiller base. And General Organa was everything
that the stories said she was, wise and fierce and larger than life.
Luke? Disappointment was the least of what Rey felt. Despair, maybe. She glared at the horizon
and revved the speeder into a cough of higher speed, skimming over the waves, jaw set. Rey
knew that she was months overdue to get back to DQar. To even send a comm message back,
even. She hadnt dared log a response to any of the encrypted comm packs that Chewbacca
skimmed. Rey couldnt begin to imagine how to break the news to the General. Sorry, but your
brother really doesnt fucking care about anything anymore, General. Chewie and I tried, hell did
we try. But theres nothing out here in this ocean planet, no magic temple, nothing, and I think the
disappointment killed what was left of him. That was the nicest way that Rey could put it.
Some Great Last Hope Luke had turned out to be.
Rey slowed for a moment as sleek dark shadows sped up under her, around her, preparing to kick
up the speeder to a higher alt if she had to. The sun was starting to sink down lower in the sky,
behind banks of thick clouds, todays winds cold enough that she was bundled up with her
thermal blanket. Daytime seemed to make the megapreds sluggish, but the ocean world was
effectively one huge cauldron of life, and the megapreds werent the only dangerous things out
The first sleek body that cleaved out of the water like a silver bullet beside her speeder made Rey
relax a fraction, grinning. The Millennium Falcons databanks had been very light on the topic of
flora and fauna, save with regards to things that were dangerous, valuable or both, but the closest
thing in the databanks to the local fauna out on the ocean planet was a log about the Naboo Ocean
about something called a colo claw fish.

As such, in the databanks, Rey had logged the leaping, playful creatures as Finnfish. They always
swam in shoals of five or six, each as long as Chewbacca was tall, their silver bodies narrow at
their toothy snout, with great wide tails, their backs striped dark, their bellies white, camouflaging
them from anything looking over from above or below. Usually they raced Rey for klicks until
they eventually got bored. There were a couple of shoals that tended to stay close to The Stair, and
over the weeks, Rey had learned how to recognise them. The one with her now was captained by
a big Finnfish with large battle scars on its tail that looked like they came from tangling with a
megapred, and Rey had named it Dosmit.
Today, instead of kicking up speed and racing them out over the waves, Rey decelerated to a stop,
with a deep sigh, and looked back over her shoulder. Shed taken the speeder out here after
arguing with Luke yet again - as much as one could argue with someone whose only responses
tended to be stares or monosyllabic grunts, anyway. In the end Rey had gotten so angry that R2D2 had intervened, whistling and clicking with alarm, and when Rey had stormed off, she noticed
that Luke had only stared after her for a heartbeat, meditatively, before turning back to his fishing.
Fishing. Rey was sick of eating fish, and so was Chewbacca. Every morning at breakfast,
chewing on salted fish, Rey swore blind that this was the day that she was going to raise ship.
Either kidnap Luke or hot off around the stars. Do something. Every night after whatever bland
stew Luke managed to rustle up, Rey promised herself that the next day would be different. And
she was still here. Damn and blast it all! Rey had come here thinking that this was the easy part.
She had imagined herself going back with Luke, Finns face, being named as a padawan before
everyone. Something. Rey had expected something. Anger, even. Rejection, if it came to that. Not
this endless silence.
Dosmit peeked out of the water at her, raising its sleek body far enough out that the translucent,
weird membrane that ringed it behind its toothy snout was raised out of the waves. Whatever that
membrane was, it held in some sort of liquid, dotted with light that sparked or dimmed in various
colours, and as far as Rey could tell, the membrane ring was the ocean planet creatures version of
eyes and ears. Rey waved at it, and Dosmit clapped the front set of its narrow fins on the waves,
as though trying to encourage her to start the race. When Rey shook her head and sighed again,
Dosmit ducked, surfacing further over the waves, flicking her with water with a dash of its large
Stop that! Rey scolded the Finnfish captain, and it glided over, raising its body out of the body
again to peer at her - or whatever passed as peering at something on this world. In a loose arc
around their Captain, the other Finnfish in the shoal also pushed their way out, copying their
leader, though Rey noted that one Finnfish stayed lower in the water, patrolling in a slow arc,
looking out for prey or megapreds.
Im not in the mood, Rey said apologetically, abruptly embarrassed by her audience.
Dosmit clapped its fins again over the waves, both the first and second sets, this time, and Rey
closed her eyes, calming her mind with a breath, imagining an ocean. Not this one, but a calmer
one, far as the eye could see, a deep green-blue, like thick, blown glass. Under it, she dived,
reaching, and there it was, six quicksilver minds, so alien, but bright, in their way. They were of
the Sky Sea. Rey was Earth Sea. Rey almost corrected them, almost, but held back just in time,
cautious. Instead, she touched their minds, and let them touch hers-and then they were gone. Rey snapped her eyes open, startled, just in time to see Dosmits
shadow as it dived, along with the rest of the shoal, shooting away underwater. Alarmed, Rey
stood up, braced against the racer, and looked about quickly, but she didnt sense any of the sealarge megapred minds, or any whisper-quick small prey minds. Shed driven them away,
frightened them, maybe. Depressed all over again, Rey sat down heavily, burying her face briefly

in her hands. Then she let out a huge sigh, and kicked the speeder into gear, chasing the horizon.
It was growing dark by the time Rey reluctantly turned the speeder around to head back. Days
were longer in the ocean world compared to Jakku, and the world wasnt nearly as warm; they
were further from the sun, just a little, and what a difference it made! To her left, as the suns
shadow rippled in a glorious golden tongue over the darkening shimmer of the sea, it seemed to
set the banks of cloud afire with streamers of purple and silver. Sunset on a glorious alien world,
and it was just her, out here, all for her. A scavenger from Jakku. Just her. For a moment, Rey
forgot her depression, laughing joyously, and raced the sunset all the way back to the Falcon.
When she was within sight of the Stair, the fire that Chewie often lit near the Falcon a faint blink
of light near the horizon, Rey whooped as the Finnfish shoal returned, Dosmit leaping up high
next to the speeder. At the next leap, however, Rey had to swerve hard, nearly falling right into
the ocean, as Dosmit came so close that it nearly smacked right into the rear stabiliser vane. As
Rey decelerated, alarmed, Dosmit poked its head out of the water, and spat something from its
mouth into Reys lap.
Hey! Rey yelped, grabbing at whatever it was out of instinct, then she nearly fumbled it into the
water out of shock. It was a little triangle of metal, as large as her palm, thick with hieroglyphic,
angular symbols. Rey glanced back at Dosmit, which smacked its frontal fins on the water again,
as though pleased with itself, and this time, Rey laughed. A present from the deep.
Thanks, Dosmit. Its really pretty. This got her a few splashes, from Dosmit and the rest of the
shoal that had bothered to surface, then the Finnfish were gone.
Back at the Stair, to Reys surprise, she found Luke poking at the portable databank that she had
cobbled out of the Falcon and hooked up to some solar cells and a battery, so as not to deplete the
Falcons fuel cells for non-essential purposes. He glanced up at her as she made landing and
hopped off the speeder, his expression as blank as before. Chewie and R2-D2 were nowhere to be
seen, though Rey heard a faint clanking from within the Falcon.
You named this planet Too Much Damned Water, Luke said quietly, more words than shed
heard out of him all week. Grizzled and unshaven, Luke was still dressed in the same clothes that
Rey had found him in, the hooded gray cloak and robes. Luke had a little modded hyperdriveequipped A-Wing hidden in the lee of the Stair, and normally, Rey would have circled around to
stow the speeder back into its tiny hullspace.
Uh, Rey blushed. I had to log something in the ships log. If theres an official name I can
change it, she added defensively.
There was a disturbance in the Force, Luke didnt seem to hear her, though he narrowed his
eyes slightly. Just a short while ago.
I didnt feel anything, Rey said self-consciously, wondering if this was a test. Her hand
clenched reflexively tight over Dosmits present, and Lukes gaze flicked down to her fingers.
Whats that?
Some fish gave me a present, Rey nearly said, but swallowed the words hurriedly. Luke might be
out of his mind from grief and despair but Rey found that she didnt want to seem like a crazy
person in front of him. Or worse: like a dumb kid. Nothing, she mumbled, but Luke held out his
synthetic hand, and in a burst of recklessness, instead of walking over to hand it to him, she tossed
it into the grass, to Lukes right.
Rey was hoping to see Luke use the Force to pull it to him, but wordlessly, he stepped over,

bending to pick it up instead. Turning his back on Rey, Luke put the triangle of metal close to the
glow from the databank screens, studying it quietly, for so long that Rey started to fidget
awkwardly, wondering if she was excused.
Finally, Luke said, just as quietly, Where did you find this?
Why do you care? Rey asked mulishly.
Its a fragment of a greater text. An older one. A script that Ive only seen parts of before, in the
Republic archives. Part of the information trove that eventually pointed me here.
Really? Rey blinked. Some fish gave it to me, she confessed, before she could help herself,
then grit her teeth as Luke turned to stare at her. Its true, Rey said defiantly.
Which fish? Luke asked, so very seriously, as though he talked to fish every day of his life.
The Finnfish, Rey said, before she remembered that she had been the one to name them, then
she added quickly, The big silver ones, as long as Chewie. They swim in groups of six.
Stumbling awkwardly over her own words, Rey explained the afternoon meeting with Dosmit and
its shoal, and what she had done, and how Dosmit had caught up with her later with the shard. At
the end of it, Luke stared up at the sky thoughtfully, until the sun had banked out of sight, and the
stars winked in, barely visible behind the clouds. And then he began to chuckle, hoarsely, in low,
uneven gasps, rubbing a palm over his face.
Of course, Luke murmured. Of course.
Um, Rey ventured cautiously, wondering if this was the start of some sort of fit, or worse.
Maybe you should sit down, uh, sir.
Head out with me tomorrow with the speeder, Luke told her distractedly. Show me these fish
of yours.
Days ago, Rey would have jumped gladly at the chance, happy for any sort of change at all, any
hint that the great Luke Skywalker was still there, in this weird old hermit. Today, however, she
was still disoriented and defiant, and so what Rey said instead was, Only if you agree to teach
Luke stared at her, as though in mild surprise, for a long moment, as though Rey hadnt been
pestering him about this all this time. Finally, he turned his face away. Im no teacher, child. Not
any longer.
Child. Rey grit her teeth. Youre the only one left who could teach me anything at all. Its either
you, or your nephew, Rey snapped, and regretted her words instantly when Luke flinched.
Sorry, Rey added quickly, gentling her tone.
No, I Luke sighed. Im not the last Jedi, he said finally. There are no more Jedi. Not even
But youve got something to teach me, Rey said stubbornly. You learned from Master Yoda.
From the best. You helped bring balance to the Force.
I got my father killed, Luke said softly. And then, at the end, I couldnt even teach my nephew.
I couldnt reach him. And so he destroyed all that I tried to build and tore the two people I loved
most apart.
Hows all of that your fault? Everyone makes their own choices. Last I saw, Kylo was damned

well old enough for that. Rey folded her arms tightly over her chest, setting her jaw. You want
to cut a deal or not?
Luke studied her again, as though in a new light, then he said, in an oddly different voice. Who
did you say were your parents again?
I didnt. I dont know who my parents are. They dumped me on Jakku and never came back.
Saying that out loud now, under the night sky in an alien world of impossible seas - somehow,
that made everything far less bitter.
Jakku Luke trailed off, then he rubbed a palm over his face again, as though trying to
remember something. After a long moment, he exhaled. All right. Ill teach you. Or try to. What
was your name again?
Rey, Rey said quickly, swallowing her instinctive exasperation. It had been two months. Do
you want your saber back? she added conscientiously. It was still in her pack.
No, Luke said thoughtfully, casting his haunted stare back over the ocean. Not yet.
Half a week into life on Stars Reach, and Han was wondering why he hadnt tried to get arrested
for minor offenses in the Corporate Sector before. Life as a minor Sector felon was cushy.
Stars Reach was a planet near the boundaries of the Corporate Sector, and as such, on the
outside, was an icy rock with a surface well below subzero, any water long frozen solid up top.
The actual prison, however, was underground, and well-heated, and but for the jumpsuits, was
probably more comfortable than most of the dives that Han was used to, whenever he was
unlucky enough to have to spend time planetside.
Replicator meals three times a day - pretty good meals too, none of that mushy protein gruel that
was the rations Han had eaten whenever hed been unlucky enough to get arrested in other
galactic jurisdictions. Light prison labour in the form of helping out, in Hans case, in the prisons
mech shop, fixing whatever needed to be fixing, for maybe a few hours after breakfast then a few
hours after lunch. He had an hour for exercise in the prison gym, and then time for clean up, have
dinner, then all the time after that was free and easy until lights out.
The other prisoners Han met were mostly humans, and all of them harmless, here for actual minor
offences. Most seemed just embarrassed about being here at all, and the atmosphere, to Hans
surprise, was actually a little convivial. Friendly, even. There werent many guards that Han could
make out, only droids, and the few Espos that he saw werent armed to the teeth like what Han
was used to, whenever hed had the bad luck to tangle with Corporate Sector Authority, and all of
them seemed old and slow. Maybe this was where they sent security officers whenever it was time
for them to be let out to pasture.
On the other hand, this also meant that all the Espos here were vets. Just not the sort of veterans
smart enough to make it into high command, maybe. Hopefully.
Stars Reach had a library available for prisoner use, but the computer banks werent helpful, even
when Han surreptitiously spliced the top-level security. He still couldnt figure out who in the
galaxy had checked him in here, and Warden Reach had been unresponsive now that Han had
been booted out into general pop. The other inmates were a fat lot of help as well, which wasnt
really their fault. As Stars Reach was underground, and the gen pop tanks were nowhere near the
hangars, nobody had seen him come in, nor did any of them know anything about the bacta tanks.

Which was the first really weird thing about this cushy prison. Why the hell were there so many
bacta tanks? Full of Rodians, at that? And what had Han been doing in there? Getting out wasnt
going to be as easy as finding the nearest hangar and raising the nearest ship with a stardrive,
either. Han wouldnt last a second up top with the subzero temps, and besides, although hed
found and memorised Stars Reachs main layout after the splice, he still hadnt figured out a plan
to bust out to the hangar. Or what sort of reception hed have to expect.
The second weird thing about the cushy prison was the huge female Trianii prisoner. How had
she gotten a Citizen ID? Didnt Trianii usually keep to themselves? Hell, they hadnt even
bothered to join the New Republic - or anyone. And she was even bigger than Atuarre, the Trianii
Han had met years upon years ago, back when hed still been young and stupid enough to mess
around the Corporate Sector. This female Trianii had thick silver fur, mottled with dark patches,
and black cone-tipped feline ears, with a flat muzzle and a jaw full of sharp teeth. She wore, rather
surprisingly, a jumpsuit, given that her kind usually preferred to just wear a utility belt at very best,
and her prehensile, furry tail uncurled out of a flap at her lower back, twitching and tipping from
side to side.
Today, at lunch, Han had been minding his own business, sitting quietly in a corner of the prison
cantina, when the female Trianii abruptly sat down at his table. Maukeen, she pointed at herself
with one of her large paw-hands, then added, in surprisingly smooth Basic, You are new.
So are you, Han shot back. Im Miles Bird.
Oh? Maukeens ears twitched forward, then back. How did you know that I am new?
The way everyone else tries to skip out of your way whenever you get close, Han said dryly.
Dont see a lot of Trianii around these parts. They havent been around you long enough to get
used to you.
Hrr, Maukeen sniffed. I hear you were asking about the Bacta tanks, she added, more quietly.
Just curious, Han noted warily, wondering now where this was going.
Tell me, Maukeen leaned forward a little. When you woke up in there. What did you see?
Lotsa Rodians, Han said, after a pause, deciding there was no harm being helpful when hed
already said as much to a couple of the others, when sniffing around. Maybe three or four
humans. Didnt get a good look, really. Kinda got knocked about my tank.
Did you see a Togruta female?
Nope. Just lots of Rodians. Mind you, Han added, when Maukeen visibly deflated. I told you I
didnt get a good look, specially not the tubes on my side of the wall. Why? You know what the
tubes are for? Maybe I could help.
Han had pushed too hard - Maukeen narrowed her slit-green eyes warily, then she sniffed again,
and got up from the table. Thank you for your help, she said curtly, and left, padding out of the
cantina without even bothering to get her lunch ration. Han watched the Trianii go, surprised, then
he ate a few hasty bites of his reconstituted sandwich and got up, swiping his mouth clean with the
back of his palm. As he snuck off quietly after Maukeen, Han told himself that he wasnt looking
for trouble, not really. He just hated mysteries. Thats all.
And besides. Cushy life or not, Han always got so bored whenever he was stuck down a gravity

Chapter End Notes

Some refs:

Chapter 3
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

Smoke rose in a thick and oily plume from the comm base on the mining moon, but with the
atmosphere thinning quickly due to the low stratosphere, the smoke dissipated quickly, fanning
out, dusting soot over the bone-white shelves of rock that rode in wide steppes down to the
burning compound.
Kylo Ren watched the orderly ranks of stormtroopers at work, sorting prisoners, establishing a
defensive perimeter around the mining station. The air was barely breathable, with some trace
element that left an acrid taste to the mouth even through his helm, and Kylo could not wait to get
off this gray rock and raise ship back to Sovereign.
He didnt bother turning when he heard a faint step behind him. A quick skim of the minds around
had already identified the man behind him anyway. General Hux, Kylo said aloud, sardonic.
Surveying the aftermath personally, I see. Kylo and the Knights of Ren had been the ones to
lead the spearhead on the station, after all, and two of his lieutenants could still be picked out from
the ranks of white-armoured stormtroopers from up here, occasionally barking commands.
Hux grimaced, folding his hands behind his back, shoulders stiffly drawn up in attention, jaw set
into a thin, angry line. Somewhere under all that malice was a handsome man, with an elegant
nose and graceful cheekbones, but ambition had long recast General Hux along crueller lines.
When he spoke, his tone was curt, pitched low. You know that the Supreme Leader is watching
us both closely. Even you. And remember the Rule of Two. Huxs mouth twitched up at the
edges, like an animal baring its teeth. Theres another Force-Sensitive child out there now.
Stronger than you.
Kylos hands twitched by his sides, but he forced his temper down, tempting as it was to forcepush Hux in a neat arc into the nearest chemical fire. As much as he didnt like it, Hux was right.
The moment Snoke had expressed an interest in meeting the scavenger girl, Kylo had sensed a
precipice yawning open, under his feet. Pedigree clearly wasnt everything.
The girl. She was only a Jakku scavver. While Kylo was descended from Darth Vader himself.
Still, despite having spent the painful past recovery months going over every possible detail of his
mistakes with a fine-toothed comb, Kylo still couldnt figure out why he had lost a saber duel
against someone totally new to the Force. Two months on, and failure still tasted so sharply bitter.
The Supreme Leader has his uses for us yet, was all Kylo said in response.
Hux nodded slowly, glancing out over at the mining station. Only four casualties, twelve injured,
mostly minor, to turret fire, he said finally. Not bad.
Surprised, Kylo was glad that his mask hid any emotion while he was silent. Had my Knights
been with me before, matters may have turned out differently.
This moon is still rich in rhydonium, and the jacks were undamaged, Hux continued. We
should be able to set up our own mining operations immediately. Once we shunt off all
independent fuel-mine stations to First Order control, we can start incursions against independent
shipyards. Even with the core New Republic worlds destroyed, it still has a larger fleet overall

than we do.
I know all this, Kylo said impatiently. What had remained of the Galactic Empire had been in a
state of bankruptcy thanks to the destruction of the extremely costly Death Stars and the heavy
losses suffered during the war; the First Order itself was not flush with creds. Without its mining
planets, the First Order would be struggling to maintain its armies and fleets.
The New Republic fleet has begun skirmishing along our borders, Hux added, his tone going
clipped. But our orders were to keep targeting these little fuel-mine planets, instead of joining the
First Orders counterattack response.
Inside his helm, Kylo sneered, ignoring the pain that sparked from twisting his face. The
Supreme Leader has several Generals.
But only one apprentice. Apparently. And you are here, not with the fleet.
Kylo glanced at Hux, but Hux narrowed his eyes, refusing to be intimidated. That was something
that was curious about the General, at least. He wasnt force-sensitive at all. But he also wasnt
afraid of Kylo. Stupidity, perhaps, or far too much self-importance. Kylo hadnt been lying when
hed pointed out that Snoke had a handful of talented Generals to choose from, some of them even
veterans from the Galactic Empire. If Kylo chose at this point to toss Hux into a fire and watch
him burn, Kylo knew that Snoke would be displeased, but the repercussions would be minor at
We are here on orders, Kylo said at last.
I think you should be careful that he isnt preparing to replace you, Commander.
Should he intend to, Kylo retorted evenly. That is his prerogative.
Hux spat out a laugh. Curious. Where is the boy who would destroy equipment whenever
matters didnt quite go his way?
Undergoing further training, Kylo shot back, though that wasnt particularly true. For all of
Supreme Leader Snokes words about completing his training, Kylo hadnt actually done very
much new training at all. Once he had been deemed fit for the field, Snoke had promptly sent him
and Hux out to annex fuel-worlds. This moon was their third.
If Supreme Leader Snoke intended to replace Kylo, though, why would he specifically instruct
Hux to save him? That made little sense. Why hadnt Kylo been set back on Luke Skywalkers
trail? The Falcon had been swept clean of ship tracers, but the First Order still knew
approximately where it had gone to: and more importantly, the Resistance knew where it was. The
Resistance had taken heavy losses attacking Starkiller base. With its diminished fleet, and with the
New Republic engaging the First Order in border skirmishes, destroying DQar would simply be a
matter of jumping a Star Destroyer into orbit, getting rid of the Resistances crippled fleet, and
dropping rocks down the gravity well. They could get rid of the Resistance and salvage their
databanks. As to his motherWere wasting time here, Hux said softly. When we could be pressing our advantage against
the Resistance.
The Resistance are pests, Kylo retorted, irked that Hux had jumped straight to the same train of
thought. And like pests, you destroy one burrow and theyll simply reappear in another. No
doubt the Supreme Leader has his reasons for his current strategy.
Hux shook his head. Im trying to tell you-

Dont overstep yourself. General. Kylo warned flatly. Not while you still have anything to
Hux clenched his hands, his jaw growing tight, again with that curious defiance, rather than fear.
When they raised ship in Kylos shuttle, heading back to the Relentless, the Imperial-III frigate that
had been transferred into Huxs command. The Finalizer had been handed to General Shyrn, and
had jumped under her command to the border skirmishes. Hux had fumed visibly when command
of the First Orders flagship had changed hands, but Kylo had said nothing. He hadnt particularly
cared. The only matter that burned in his mind was his failure.
Losing to a scav.
Aboard the bridge of the Relentless, the lieutenant left in command saluted smartly, and stepped
away from the Captains console. Captain has the bridge, the lieutenant announced briskly, and
saluted again. Lord Kylo, you have an encrypted comm from the Supreme Leader. Its been
forwarded to your cabin.
Kylo nodded, turning to head off the Bridge, and caught Huxs wary stare for a moment. He
chose to look away, ignoring it, striding briskly out, re-acclimatising to the cold, sterile constant
temperature aboard the Relentless, the faint plastic smell of its recycled air. As much as it annoyed
him sometimes to think about it, Kylo was the true son of Han Solo: aboard a starship, breathing
in cycled air, he felt at home.
The rest of his Knights had returned from planetside, and were present as Kylo entered the aft
deck quarters that they had commandeered, still dressed in their short black robes and boots. With
Ryuri and Karnaxx still planetside, Kosche and Zuren attached to General Shryn and the skirmish
fleet, that left the Vonoris twins. Rekka had his vibrocleaver slanted against a workbench,
glancing up from where he was tooling it, his unshaven jaw loosening into a sharp grin as he
recognised Kylo, helmet set aside carelessly on a chair. Like her brother Rekka, Qara had shaved
her head, tattooing it with intricate circular scar tissue, and her helmet was in her lap, her staff
across her knees, sitting cross-legged in meditation close to the aft viewport. She looked up as
Kylo headed straight for the holodeck at the centre of the shared rec chamber, but said nothing,
her gray eyes blank and incurious.
We cleaning up planetside? Rekka asked, in his Outer Rim drawl. The Vonoris Twins had
originally led the Knights of Ren until Snoke had passed command to Kylo, and although Qara
hadnt seemed to care in the least, sometimes Rekka toed the edges of insubordination.
Ryuri and Karnaxx are. Briefly, Kylo considered accessing Snokes message from his cabin,
but he quickly discarded the thought. The Knights were his personal command, and as unruly as
the Twins could be, theyd proven their worth to him over the years.
Qara rose gracefully to her feet as Kylo passed voice and DNA print to access Snokes comm
pack, narrowing her eyes slightly as Snokes hologram appeared, looming over the deck. Why
not send a tightbeam linkup for a direct chat? Rekka wondered out aloud, but fell silent when
Kylo held up a palm.
The reason became immediately obvious the moment Snoke started to speak - it wasnt Snoke at
all, but Kosche, with her exacting Coruscant accent. She spoke in a low, hurried tone, as though
whispering into handheld recpod. Lord Kylo, Kosche murmured. Apologies for the ruse I
havent much time. Supreme Leader Snoke sent through a band of coordinates to Shryn an hour
ago. Location in the Outer Rim, supposedly uninhabited. Falls within the sector of blank space
which was missing from the Skywalker coordinates. Zuren distracted Shryn while I intercepted
the chatter. Ive enclosed the coordinates for your reference. Please advise further. Kosche out.

The image of Snoke flickered and grew still, even as Kylo sucked in a soft breath, clenching his
hands over the holodeck. Before he could speak, Rekka whistled. Tightening the net over
Whats Shryn to do? Qara added quietly, if dispassionately. She cant take on a Jedi.
Could drop rocks down the gravity well, Rekka pointed out blandly.
Assuming they even find him. Theyll have to make planetfall to find out.
Could drop rocks down all planetary gravity wells in that band of coords.
This could be a test of loyalty, Kylo said out aloud. The Supreme Leader did not send us the
Or a test of resolve, Rekka said, always the one thirstier for blood. Isnt this personal for you
Careful that he isnt preparing to replace you. Kylo clenched his fists tightly. Rekka, encode a
response. Tell Kosche to release the message to Shryn - but keep us updated of Shryns response:
if any. I think it is suspicious how the coordinates did not come with further instructions to act,
Kylo added sharply, when Rekka frowned.
True, Qara decided.
Understood. Rekka said, still reluctant.
In the meantime, Kylo decided grimly, Im going to have a word with the General. Like it or
not, it seemed clear now that Snoke no longer trusted either of them. Alliances had been born out
of far less desperate straits.
Finn perked up as he sidled into High Command. Judging from the uptick of activity, something
had happened: General Organa was standing by the holodeck, speaking urgently to her
commanders. Spotting a familiar face in the crowd, Finn made a bee-line over to Poe and BB-8.
Something come up?
Poe nodded absently, still looking at the holodeck. Some of our agents managed to deflect a
tightbeam relay from Coriolis.
Coriolis! Finn hissed, automatically lowering his voice. Thats the First Orders capital planet!
You guys been tapping into their comms? They might do a trace and He trailed off
awkwardly. Well. It wasnt like the First Order didnt know where this Resistance base was.
Exactly, Poe said, with a warm, faintly amused grin. They already know that were here.
Thought you couldnt deflect tightbeam relays, Finn muttered.
You can - but its very difficult, and needs you to position something right in the line of fire, as it
were. Weve had pirate blockades standing between the First City and the Finalizer for a while,
adjusting for planetary rotation. Helps that the Finalizer hasnt budged for weeks. Caught up in a
border skirmish with the New Republic-
Poe cut himself off as the chatter around General Organa abruptly died down. All right,
everyone, the General said briskly. As some of you may already know, we intercepted a

tightbeam comm from the First City to the Finalizer. It contained a band of coordinates that
considerably narrow down the area that the First Order will have to search in order to find Luke. It
also contained a search and kill order, one that weve scrubbed. If they look closely, itll seem like
the tail end of the transmission got corrupted and auto-deleted.
Why didnt we just feed them a new set of coordinates? Finn whispered to Poe, then he
stiffened and nearly backed up a step as he realized hed accidentally caught General Organas
attention: she mustve heard him.
We couldnt amend the coordinates, the General added dryly, Because that would alert the
First Order to our pirate blockades, and because I dont want to confirm or deny that their
coordinates are correct, in case Snoke sent out the band as bait.
Ooh. The General had him there. Howd they find the coordinates? asked C3P0, worried. Oh
dear! Master Luke and R2-D2 might be in danger! And the others.
Quite likely? By tracing every ping that we sent to the Falcon and extrapolating a general field
off our encryption, Organa said wearily. Ill institute a general review of our comm strategy. But
whatever it was, were going to have to send word to Luke and Rey. And find out why theres
been such a long period of silence from the Falcon.
However, she added, Given its entirely possible that the First Order has ship traces on our
fleet, and given the necessity for stealth, we will not be using one of our fleet. Nor will the mission
be raising ship directly from DQar. Instead, I intend to send Poe Dameron to Moft II on our next
scheduled supply run, where he will charter a clean starship from a friend of the Resistance.
Ill find them, General, Poe assured her.
Of that I have no doubt. Organa smiled over at Poe, but she couldnt quite hide the worry in her
Finn was close on Poes heels when they left the debrief, though he managed to wait until they
were in a quieter corridor before rounding on him. Before you start, okay, I know this is meant to
be a Super Secret mission, but I can totally handle Super Secret missions, I was on Starkiller base
with Solo and-
Yes, you can tag along, Poe interrupted, clearly amused all over again. I need a gunner, dont
Aww hell yeah! Finn whooped. I mean. Sure you need a gunner. And thats what I am. A
great gunner. Beginners luck and everything.
Poe patted Finns shoulder, grinning at his enthusiasm. Well, weve already proved that we make
a pretty good team.
Were the best team. Well find Rey and Luke in no time.
At the mention of Rey and Luke, Poes smile faded. Finn, he said cautiously. Whatever might
have happened that made them go dark for two months-
Finn stubbornly set his jaw. Whatever, nothing. Shes fine, I know it. I mean. Rey kicked Kylos
ass. Shes got Luke Skywalker with her. And maybe you dont like me talking about him or
whatever it is-
Wait, Poe cut in, blinking. I dont like you talking about Skywalker?

Hey, everything I so much as mention him and Rey you start frowning like something just died.
Finn pointedly mimed Poes straight-backed, arms-crossed, The-Stormtrooper-Just-Put-His-FootIn-It-Again look. I just wanna say, Finn added hurriedly, as Poe stared at him in open
bemusement, That dont worry, all right? Theyre gonna be fine. Its probably just some Super
Secret Jedi Training. Theyll be back, they havent forgotten about us. Maybe they just uh, lost
track of the time.
I dont Poe trailed off, then he exhaled, and smiled a weird, strained little smile. Nevermind.
We raise ship tomorrow, same time. Were going to do the supply jump to Moft II as usual, just in
case anyone might be keeping track. So. See you aboard.
Yeah. See you there. Finn said quickly, in case Poe got into one of his strange moods or
something and decided that Finn couldnt come along after all. Poe nodded briskly and headed
quickly down the corridor, turning out of sight, and Finn only realized that BB-8 hadnt followed
when he felt a polite nudge against his leg, and heard a soft series of beeps.
What? Finn whispered down at the droid. I dont speak droid, remember?
BB-8 swerved back, tilting up, as though eyeing Finn over, trying another set of beeps. I told
you, Finn said carefully. Me. No. Speak. Droid.
This time, the beeps were a little more frustrated, with BB-8 rolling to its left, then to its right, but
when Finn shrugged, it let out a long, whistling beep, as though in resignation, and trundled off
after its master. The hell was that about?
And. Was Finn expected to pack? Should he pack a blaster? What about spare clothes? Supplies?
In the First Order, logistics had always been someone elses problem, and everyone else moved
along sharply defined linear schedules. Now, Finn was abruptly and painfully aware that he had
no idea what protocol in the Resistance was. Should he ask the General? No, she was probably
too busy for a trivial question like this. Poe? Poe seemed to be in one of his weird moods, and
Finn didnt want to risk pissing him off and getting booted out of the mission. Jess? Or would that
get him kicked off the mission by default? After all, General Organa hadnt mentioned sending
anyone else.
Finn started towards his quarters, hesitated, backtracked down the corridor in the direction of the
Resistance quartermaster, hesitated again, then he sighed, frustrated. Sometimes it felt like General
Hux was speaking the truth after all. Life outside the First Order was sheer bloody chaos.

Chapter End Notes

Rocks down gravity wells: from Coreys Leviathan Wakes - you dont really need
nukes to devastate a planet, you just need to drop really large rocks

Chapter 4
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

On hindsight, tailing a sentient species that had evolved out of its homeworlds alpha pred stock
was always going to be a bad idea.
It was clear that Maukeen had been incarcerated in Stars Reach long enough to be aware of patrol
patterns: she ducked smoothly into servo rooms, or around corners, and once even let herself
quietly into a cargo lift, confident that no one was going to access it right at that point. As to Han,
he was left scrambling for cover the moment Maukeen ducked away somewhere.
This was a good sign. Most of the patrols they encountered were droids, which clearly werent
fitted with top-of-the-line sensors. Getting around them was just a matter of avoiding them. The
few humans they encountered further out were bored old-timers, once they were past the inner
prison ring and into an outer, clinically white section that felt like an administration block.
Maukeen hadnt eaten lunch because she was using her lunch break to do her scouting. In other
words, the guards didnt bother to keep tabs on the inmates during lunch hour. Maybe dinner, too.
Talk about lax.
They were exiting the admin block into a more heavily patrolled area when Han finally lost track
of Maukeen. Somehow, for such a huge person, in between Han crawling hastily into an air vent
to let a patrol droid pass and coming out again, hed lost sight of her. Cautiously, Han peered
around the corner. He was at a service door, leading to a vent as well as into a neatly packed
storage space. To his right the windowless corridor widened out to a cargo lift and a set of
emergency stairs that led back to the admin block. To his left, the corridor seemed to stretch
unbroken, until it eventually curved out of sight. No cover.
Swallowing hard, Han looked around, then he ducked back into the storage space, grabbing a
bucket and a filter mop. He poured enough bleach-sol into the bucket for verisimilitude, then he
started walking briskly down the corridor, keeping his shoulders slumped a little, eyes fixed on the
ground. Hed made it almost to the bend of the corridor when a side door slid open with a
pneumatic hiss, and a huge paw-hand grabbed his shoulder and hauled him through.
Maukeen had her paw-hand clenched around Hans neck the moment the door closed, her
retractable claws digging lightly into his skin. This close, the teeth in her jaws, lips drawn up, were
very sharp. Talk, she growled.
Just taking a walk yeoww hey hey, Han wheezed, as Maukeen tightened her grip. Okay,
okay! I thought you might know a way out of here, all right?
Maukeen glared at him for a long moment, then, reluctantly, she let him go, allowing Han to
gingerly touch his throat, checking for blood. They were in a bathroom that also had a cleanser,
and Maukeen flicked the lock to Occupied, her tail lashing slowly back and forth. I do know a
way out of here, she said finally. But Im not here to escape. Im here to find someone.
You made that pretty obvious the first time, Han said dryly. Youre a Ranger, right? At
Maukeens bared teeth, Han hastily held up his hands. Whoah. Ive met Trianii before. And all of
you outside your slice of the galaxy have all been Rangers.

Youve met Trianii before? Maukeen looked openly disbelieving. Which?

Well uh. Its been years. But I once shipped with Atuarre-
Teacher Atuarre? Maukeen sneered. When?
Helped her and her little tyke Pakku bust her mate Keeheen outta Stars End, Han said evenly,
hands still upraised. Was a near thing, too. Got pretty hairy at the end. Probably wouldnt be here
if it wasnt for her. Hey, he added, as an afterthought. Did Pakku ever get better again? Start
talking? Pretty sad what happened to that cub.
Yes, he You? Maukeen stared at him for a long, startled moment, then she looked him
thoughtfully up and down, as if in a new light. Youre Han Solo?
What are you doing in here? Maukeen asked, surprised. On a mission for the Resistance?
Han considered lying, but maybe death had put things in perspective, and what he ended up
saying was, Not really. I got stabbed in Starkiller base and woke up here. Didnt think I would
wake up at all. Dont know who put me here, or who went to all the trouble of forging me a
Citizen ID.
Hrr. Maukeen blinked. Starkiller base was destroyed. Two months ago.
It it was? Han wasnt prepared for the rush of relief that he felt. What about - are you from
the Resistance? Have you heard-
I am not Resistance. Something else. Similar. Maukeen made a cutting, dismissive gesture, very
spacer - people used to the sky life tended to speak in part gesture, part words, accustomed to
vacuum suits and the nothingness of space. All we heard was that Starkiller base managed to
destroy the planets in the Hosnian System. The Senate has been murdered, along with the billions
of people living on those planets. In retaliation, the Resistance destroyed Starkiller base. That is
where things stand. The remaining New Republic fleet has engaged the First Order on border
systems. But the New Republic itself is in disarray. An emergency Senate has been elected from
the ashes, but it is mostly military. General Organa was asked to head it, but she refused.
Refused, huh? Han blinked. Ive never been able to figure out how or why she did things.
But at least Leia was alive. That meant hopefully everyone else too Thank you, Han
said finally. You dont know how damned hard its been to get information out of anything else
here. No news on the closed HoloNet, and the others have as much curiosity as a bloody bantha.
Maukeen visibly softened. Then I am glad we have spoken. General Organa is your mate, is she
not? It must have been difficult not having news.
Well, Han coughed. She was, I guess. Kinda. Long time back. Leia had moved on: he had
seen that much. When Ben had done what he had done, Han had run for it, for the stars. Hed
tried to simplify his life down to all that hed done before, when he was younger and hadnt been
beholden to anything. As to Leia, she had narrowed her own life down as well, but to the
Resistance - and to her hope that their son could be saved.
The Resistance had lost a lot of its already laughably tiny fleet trying to destroy Starkiller base. As
to their sonAll right, Maukeen said firmly. If you are Han Solo then I think we can help each other. I am
not a good pilot. You are. There is a hangar on Stars Reach where the Espos have several

interceptors, maybe even a quadjumper. I know how to get to the hangar. However.
Yeah. Your Togruta friend.
Not just her. Maukeen hesitated. You said you saw many Rodians. How many?
I dont know? Ten? Twenty max? Couple of Twileks? Didnt get that great a view. Like I said,
I was being knocked around.
Several months ago, Maukeen noted, frowning, Our forward base on the mining planet of
Pasir IV was attacked by the First Order. It had been mainly manned by Rodians. All of them
disappeared. We presumed that they had been killed and cremated or that they had been sold
into slavery in the First Order.
Huh. Well. If I ended up here, and if your Togruta friend is here, and assuming the Rodians are
the same what the hell, is the Corporate Sector starting up some kinda Resistance collection?
Stick us all in this cushy tank, see how we tick? Surely theyve rebuilt a place like Stars End by
now. Why arent we stuck there? Or killed outright? That didnt add up. The Espos were plenty
ruthless if they had to be.
Either way, it wasnt a good sign. Even if the Resistance was being treated humanely over here in
Stars Reach, if the creds-rich Corporate Sector had just decided to stop being independent and
ally itself with the First Order their combined fleet and resources could probably overwhelm
what was left of the New Republic.
Maukeen grunted. I do not care. The Rangers are allied with Fulcrum. That is why I am here. We
heard information that she - my Togruta friend - had been captured by the First Order, and we
traced DNA logs through encrypted chatter here. Atuarre arranged for a Citizen ID to be made
through her contacts, and for me to be processed into this facility.
Fulcrum. Han had heard that name before somewhere, vaguely. So we have to get into that tank
Tank control room, Maukeen corrected. If she is sedated in a Bacta tank then she may be
healing from some grave injury. After all, they decanted you when you woke up, did they not? So.
We check. Then we shoot.
This is really not how I like to do things, Han complained, though he grinned as he said it.
Although Dosmit had been the one to bring Rey the first shard, they ended up having more luck
with Leias shoal. Luke hadnt even batted an eye when Rey had confessed that she had named
the captain of the second Finnfish shoal after General Organa, which shouldve been an early
warning signal, right there.
Coaxing the Finnfish shoals to deposit their finds next to the deep bank to the lee of the Stair
meant that Rey didnt have to ride the speeder out over the waves to meet them, or juggle finds
from her new friends. Originally, Rey had been glad of this. More training, less fish-herding!
She shouldve known that wasnt the case at all. For the most part, instead of practicing her use of
the Force, or training her in lightsaber use, Luke simply had her meditate. Once, when Rey had
actually fallen asleep and tipped over and had only woken up afterwards, when R2-D2 had
beeped beside her in concern, Luke hadnt even noticed. Days on, this meditation training had
gone from curious to tiresome to plain exasperating.

If you dont actually want to teach me at all, Rey growled at Luke during dinner of yet more
fish stew, Then just tell me!
Luke didnt look up at her, absorbed in studying the fragments of the days find: more random
shards, one broken scroll casing, its contents long-rotted, and pieces of a computer databank,
waterlogged and useless. Trying to teach the Finnfish how to be discerning had turned out to be
considerably difficult.
I told you, Luke said absently. Im no teacher.
You set up a school once!
And look what became of it.
That wasnt your fault, Rey said, already frustrated.
But it was, Luke said softly. Ben was so young then. I should have known. The Force runs so
strongly in my family. Both the Light and the Dark. I feel the pull of both sides. As you
would, he added quietly, when Rey opened her mouth. Fear, anger, hatred envy, hunger,
despair, all these lead to the dark side. So I was once taught. But to be sentient is to know fear, to
know anger, hatred, despair, all of those things. To be sentient is to know and balance both Light
and Dark. To be the ocean, always, to eschew desire and emotion Luke shook his head
slowly, wearily. It is not possible to be the ocean.
I dont understand.
You think that you, and I, and Yoda, and the Jedi before me belonged to the Light, while
people like Ben, Vader and the Sith belonged to the Dark. The truth is, Luke said pensively. It
is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. But at the same time, the act of lighting a
candle casts a shadow.
Rey stared at Luke unhappily. On one hand, she was glad that Luke was finally starting to talk to
her. To someone. On the other hand, he was making even less sense than he was before. She
looked hopefully across the bank of sand to Chewbacca, who was pointedly tinkering with the
external databanks, but the Wookie shrugged, and let out a mournful hoot.
So youre telling me that I should give up? Rey asked, annoyed.
For those of us who are extremely Force-sensitive, Luke carefully set down one of the
fragments he was studying by the batt-powered lights, and picked up another, It is not so easy as
choosing to be a Jedi. I know that now. The Light pulls as strongly as the Dark. And by ignoring
one or the other rather than coming to terms with both that is not the way.
Then what is the way?
I dont know yet. Thats what Ive been thinking about, all this time.
General Organa is Force-sensitive too, isnt she?
Lukes mouth quirked into a wry smile. Palpatine, Maul, Vader, Ben so many of the Sith
Lords have been male. You may have a point.
That wasnt my point, Rey said, irked. I meant, your sister. She turned out great. Shes
That she is, Luke agreed softly. But she doesnt use the Force. Whether its because she

consciously chooses not to use it or something else Im not sure. But thats the other way to
balance Light and Dark, Luke added. To use neither. To walk away from it all.
And thats what youve done?
I tried to, Luke said wryly, and this time he glanced up at Rey, over his shoulder. But the past
always has a way of catching up with you.
So the meditation, Rey pointedly changed the subject. Its actually leading somewhere?
You imagine the ocean as a way of calming your mind, Luke said mildly. A Jedi would wear
that calm constantly, without even being conscious of it.
But you just said that you dont think that the Jedi way is the right way, Rey pointed out,
I dont think so any longer, Luke corrected. But its traditional, so you might as well learn the
basics before you join me in my existential crisis. Rey giggled before she swallowed her laughter,
abashed, but Luke didnt even crack a smile, going back to poking at the fragments.
Learning to deflect blaster fire with the lightsaber was fun, at least. Not that Luke had been the one
to suggest that she learn it. Chewbacca had dug up some sort of old training floater unit in the
Falcon, one that shot tiny blasts that stung instead of burning, and whenever Rey got tired of
meditating, she rigged it up higher on the Stair and trained her reflexes. It was something to do, at
Why dont we just pilot the Falcon underwater? Or your A-Wing? Rey asked one lunchtime.
Starships are airtight, right? If it works in space wont it work underwater?
Chewbacca instantly made a series of defensive yowls from his side of the campsite, occasionally
interrupted by beeps and whistles from R2-D2. Not possible, Luke said, and Chewbacca
gestured frantically at the Falcon, then back at the water, growling and snuffling.
Rey blushed, but added, But if the temples underwater, then what do we do? I guess Chewie
and I can jump the Falcon back to DQar, see if they have anything that can go down there?
Were wasting time relying on the Finnfish, arent we?
Not at all, Luke said mildly, as though surprised that she had even raised such a point, and Rey
gave up.
She wasnt sure whether to send General Organa an update, now that there was some progress.
After all, it had been months - everyone was probably plenty concerned by now, werent they? In
the end, Rey caved and sent off a quick message with Chewbaccas help, encrypted along similar
lines. Found Luke. Began training. Still investigating the Temple. All of which was technically
true: and hopefully would make the General and the others less worried about what had happened.
Next morning, to Reys surprise, she woke up on her bunk in the Falcon to find Chewbacca
moving the batteries and portable databank back aboard. He yowled and patted her back when she
stared at him, gesturing out down the ramp. Rushing outside with growing excitement, Rey
located Luke sitting cross-legged by the lee of the Stair, by his A-Wing. Pressed as close as they
could be to the shore were both shoals of Finnfish, membranes raised out of the water. The lights
within the translucent fluids brightened as Rey approached, and Luke closed his eyes, even as
Leia and its shoal dropped away. Dosmit splashed its first tier of fins at Rey, as though in greeting,
before also leaving.
Something happened? Rey asked brightly, trying not to sound too excited and probably failing.

Luke was getting slowly to his feet. On the grass, beside him, were several thin stone slabs, each
as long as Reys wrist to elbow, that slotted together roughly to form a large picture. Within it,
several humanoids of different species - some large, some small, some with strange heads, some
with multiple arms or legs - seemed to be reaching for or worshipping something that emitted light,
on a top tier. Below them, under their feet, knelt the same humanoids, reaching downwards, palms
flat. Together, their contorted shapes formed some sort of angular, squat structure that reminded
Rey uncomfortably of a simplified version of Mazs castle.
Strange picture? Rey hazarded, when Luke didnt immediately respond.
Its the temple.
Thats it? This bit of stone?
This, strangely, got a faint curl to Lukes mouth, like the ghost of humour. Look at the top left
corner of the picture.
Rey glanced down again. Above one of the shoulders of the humanoids were several indentations,
little sharp-edged shapes in the stone, some larger than others. A star pattern?
Luke nodded, very seriously. The temple wasnt here after all. Its beyond. In Wild Space. Past
even the Slice. Well salvage the fuel cells and supplies from my A-Wing for the Falcon, but
Chewbacca and R2-D2 think well still have to make a supply stop at Lentor III-
Wild Space! Rey whooped, excited all over again. This was more like it, when she had
imagined going on adventures with Luke Skywalker. The very frontier of the galaxy itself!
Luke blinked slowly at her, for a long moment, then he actually even smiled again, thin and faint.
Help me with the speeder, he said finally, turning for the A-Wing. Well raise ship once
everything is packed.

Chapter End Notes

Atuarre backstory: Han Solo Adventures Trilogy.

Apparently starships cant go underwater:

Chapter 5
This Resistance Secret Mission was already considerably less exciting than Finn had thought it
would be. He had imagined following Poe around an alien Outer Rim port, full of the weird and
wonderful and dangerous. As it was, DQar was the only Outer Rim world that Finn had ever
been to, and chaotic as life in the Resistance had turned out to be, DQar was still broadly set up
along military lines.
What had happened was that instead of disembarking onto Moft II, Finn and Poe had been packed
into separate crates with air masks and tanks and trundled heavily onto a cargolift of some sort.
Curled into his own crate, trying not to breathe too deeply into the mask, Finn tried to concentrate
on shielding his head from getting whacked against the steel sides of the crate, convinced that
anyone close by could hear how loudly his heart was beating. At least he got his own crate. Poe
was squashed into one with BB-8. Whatever Moft II was like, the spaceport was noisy, a tidal din
that was only vaguely muffled by the enclosed crate. He could hear snatches of Basic interspersed
by alien dialects that Finn found completely unfamiliar, along with the occasional background roar
of starship engines as they hotted off back to space or banked to land, broken up by the grinding,
clanking pace of labour droids shifting stock.
When Finns crate was finally unloaded somewhere, it was so unceremonious that he whacked his
elbow heavily against the crate. Cursing under his breath and massaging his arm, he lay in the
dark, glad that he wasnt claustrophobic. If he was Zeroes, he probably wouldve freaked out and
sprung the job minutes into getting packed inZeroes. And Slip. The rest. Vaguely, Finn was aware that the appropriate (Resistance) emotion
when confronted with the reality of the loss of his friends was grief. Some degree of sadness,
even. Not calm acceptance. Two-Four had died before his eyes, even. Shot down by Poe
smearing blood across the front of Finns helmet, planting the first roots of doubt and fear, and a
horror of war. But Finn didnt feel angry about that - didnt even resent Poe for the kill. Hed
always learned that death was part of life as a Stormtrooper. That the ultimate end to his life would
most likely be death in the service of the First Order. Death wasnt really what Finn feared. Life in
the First Order had simply taught him that there were worse fates.
Finn braced his feet and shoulders automatically when the crates lock was triggered, ready to kick
out if something had gone wrong, but it was Poe, a hand thrust over to help him up. Gratefully,
Finn clasped Poes hand, scrambling out of the crate. They were in a hangar of some sort, labour
droids packing supplies via a cargo crane into a quadjumper, its four huge turbine engines nestled
against its narrow cockpit and crew chambers painted in rust orange and black, squatting over the
plasteel deck on its tri-legged landing gear.
All right in there? Poe asked. He was wearing an unassuming spacer rig: charcoal jacket, pale
gray shirt, pouches and holstered blaster. Used as Finn was to Poe in civvies, he still did look a
little strange out of his orange X-Wing jumpsuit. In a good way. With that flyboy attitude,
though, Poe could probably make anything look good.
Bumpy trip, Finn discarded the air mask gratefully, looking the quadjumper over. Is this it? Its
got no guns?
She, Poe corrected. Starships are she.
The Rocis got no guns, said a familiar voice near one of the rear dorsals, But quadjumpers are

a common sight in any spaceport. You could nip in and around without anyone noticing. No ones
going to notice her taking off. And Ive made my own mods to her ion drive. Shes faster than she
Maz, Finn greeted the diminutive, orange-skinned alien with a relief he didnt need to feign.
Glad you made it out all right.
Pft, Maz waved his concern away with a flick of her delicate hands, her eyes amused behind her
huge optical goggles. Takes more than a little strafing run like that to get me down. Cantinas
being rebuilt. When its done, youre welcome back anytime. But in the meantime, old Maz isnt
behind getting her own back on the First Order in some way or other. The General mentioned she
needed a loan of a clean ship, no questions asked, eyes closed.
That we do, Poe agreed, circling the quadjumper slowly, studying her. Sturdy little ship. Quad
Yup. Very latest. Sweet little Corellian atomizer. None of those cheap fluidics. Maz trotted over
to Finn, studying him thoughtfully, glancing down at the blaster at his hip, then at the vibroblade
strapped to his back.
Im practicing with that one, Finn said, a little defensively.
Decent old thing, Maz focused her optics thoughtfully. Cortosis weave, huh? Pretty good
against lightsabers.
The General said I could have it.
Maz grinned at Finn, as though amused by the edge in his tone. Sure she did. Bringing a big
knife to a blaster fight, are we?
Got a blaster too. Finn patted his hip.
Duelling with sabers is the least of what it is to be a Force user, Dark or Light, Maz said,
though not unkindly.
Finn snuck a quick glance over at Poe, but Poe was on the other end of the ship with BB-8,
inspecting the transparisteel viewport. Uh Maz, Finn lowered his voice. I uh, wasnt really told
what else to pack, so I thought, maybe just weapons, but everything else, I wasnt sure. And Im
kinda here as a gunner so I thought the ship would have guns. So uh-
Mazs grin widened, and something seemed to soften in her eyes as she ambled over to pat Finn
on the hand. Ive got it covered. And dont worry, she winked. Im sure that one appreciates
your help. Even if the ship has no guns.
I can be useful without guns, Finn said, wondering if Maz was teasing him. He didnt usually
manage to parse sarcasm or teasing despite coaching.
Never doubted it. And Im glad that youve stopped running.
Well, Finn tried a grin of his own, Seems like I made it to the Outer Rim anyway.
Shes good, Poe had wandered back towards them. Thanks, Maz. We owe you one.
Ill remember that, Maz transferred her impish grin to Poe, and jerked a thumb at Finn. Look
after this one, Dameron. Hes new out here.

He can take care of himself, Poe slapped Finn on the shoulder, thankfully making no issue
about how he technically didnt need Finn after all, since the Roci was unarmed. Ready to raise
You bet Im ready.
Clear skies, Maz said soberly, and Poe nodded at her. Say hello to Skywalker for me. Tell him
he still owes me that drink.
BB-8 whistled in alarm as the cargo lift was used to get it aboard, and Finn climbed up the ladder
into the rear hatch behind Poe, retracting it once they were both up. Past the airlock was a small
crew area, packed with narrow crates of supplies, and a floor hatch had been left open by a sliver
to show where the rest of the supplies were. Poe battened it down, then made his way through to
the pilot seat, strapping down and starting up the turbine engines, the quadjumper waking up with
a growing thrum from both sides that escalated into a low roar, the deck and seat that Finn
strapped himself into vibrating as the spacetug woke up.
Like Maz had said, quadjumpers were a common sight in Moft II as the began a brisk burn out
skywards, the thrust from the quad engines pressing Finn down against his seat. He peered out
through the viewport eagerly anyway, as far as he could go against the straps and pressure
anyway. From what Finn could make out, Moft IIs spaceport was built on a high plateau, one of
several that dotted the planets surface, all white stone over thick, pale green cloud cover. The
spaceport was mostly made of prefab domed habs sprawling out from a central planetary transfer
yard, a teeming column of quadjumpers and cargo freighters small enough to make planetfall.
Private hangars and warehousing sprawled outward in an untidy heap of stepped roofs plated with
solar cells, and Finn could see the occasional local hopping between plateaus with little jump
Moft was a mining planet, Poe explained, as he guided the quadjumper up through the traffic
stream. One of the first worlds settled in the Outer Rim. The Rodians used to dig up salyrium
from here until they found an easier and cheaper way to make transparisteel. Nowadays its the
best place to do a supply run, no questions asked, between this part of the Outer Rim and the
Durkteel loop.
Sounds like youve been everywhere, Finn said, envious, and Poe chuckled, glancing back over
his shoulder.
Before I was assigned to the Echo of Hope, I was mostly stuck patrolling the Mirrin sector. Since
then, sure. Ive been on a few recons. Ever thought about learning to fly an X-Wing? Could use a
few more pilots.
Never thought about it, Finn said, surprised.
Poe looked away, saying nothing until they were nearly clear of the planets atmosphere. Only if
you want to, Poe said finally, a strange note of uncertainty in his voice.
Well sure, Finn said, wondering what Poe was trying to tell him now. Sounds fun. But do we
even have the ships?
Thats a matter for high command to sort out, Poe sounded slightly cheered up. If you want to
see the galaxy, doing recons the best way to do it.
Sure, Finn agreed, pleased. If youll have me.
At that, for some reason, Poe made a weird little coughing sound. Ah. Uhm yes. Course.

Ryuri smirked lazily, her dark eyes narrowing in sardonic amusement, as General Hux strode into
the Knights deck quarters. In return, Hux didnt even seem to bother favouring the petite, bronzeskinned Knight with any more than a curt nod. With all the Knights back shipside, the
commandeered deck seemed smaller than ever, which brought the change in their circumstances
all the more keenly into focus. The quarters allocated to Kylo and his Knights aboard the Finalizer
had been expansive, encompassing a rec room, training room and private mess. Even Kylos
personal cabin had been more spacious than the common room they now shared.
Your decision not to respond to the Supreme Leaders tightbeam to the Finalizer seems to have
been right after all, Hux said brusquely, as Kylo glanced up at Hux from the holodeck.
Should be a my Lord in there somewhere, Karnaxx said loudly, all harsh Seswenna
consonants through his helm, and snorted when Kylo gave him a half-shake of the head.
Undeterred, Karnaxx turned up his arms, pointedly, showing off vibroblade links along the
What news, General? Kylo asked neutrally.
Weve received tightbeam instructions from Coriolis to jump to an uninhabited planet within that
narrow band of coordinates.
Ryuri raised an eyebrow. All of a sudden? How did that happen?
The First Order has had agents watching all of the Resistances known associates for a while. I
gather from the intel that our agents on Moft II tailed the pirate Maz Kanata to a private hangar,
then later spotted Poe Dameron in a quadjumper, raising ship, and managed to paint his tail with a
tightbeam tracer before he jumped off planet. Hotted between a couple of systems before heading
to a specific planet in Outer Rim, located in that gap in our starmap. Judging from the location in
the star system, its habitable, and therefore, very likely where Luke Skywalker is located.
Bit of an assumption there, Rekka drawled. Save for Qara, who was indifferent, and Kosche,
who had come up through the ranks of the Imperial Academy with Hux before being selected for
the Knights, General Huxs irascible attitude had won him few friends among the rest.
Assumption or not, Hux said coldly, Weve been told to investigate with the Relentless. Were
leaving enough forces planetside to establish a defensive perimeter and a workable op. In two
hours well make the jump.
Funny how he didnt ask the Finalizer to do it, Rekka mused. Not like the Supreme
Commander. Hes usually a fan of overwhelming force.
Attacking an old Jedi and a couple of companions with a frigate isnt a show of overwhelming
force? Karnaxx drawled, and Rekka glowered over the holodeck at his fellow Knight. Rekka
may have led the Knights before Kylo had been assigned to them as commander, but Karnaxx
was the vet with the most experience. Sometimes old resentments burned more hotly than they
Weve faced Luke Skywalker before, Kylo pointed out flatly.
With Kosche and Zuren, all the Knights at your back. Qara murmured.
Now I have the benefit of experience. Kylo said firmly, grim once more. Maybe this was what
Snoke meant by completing his training. Being able to face Luke and the scav once more. And
this time, he would kill them both.

Hux frowned at him. This time you are not facing a lone Jedi and a handful of frightened
children. Luke Skywalker is still-
This time I am facing an old man, Kylo cut in sharply, And a girl trained by the ineffective
doctrines of the so-called Light. I am ready. Or do you doubt me?
He could see Ryuri straightening up subtly, in his peripheral vision, and likely, Hux could too, but
the General merely pressed his lips together into a thin, bloodless line. Maybe confiding in Hux
was a mistake after all. After all, one way that Hux could get back into Snokes good books was
to find some way to stab Kylo in the backNot at all, Hux said evenly. Merely cautioning you to be careful. My Lord. With that, the
General turned sharply on his heel, striding out of the Knight deck, no doubt headed for the
bridge. Once the doors closed, Ryuri whistled.
The hell crawled up his ass and died?
Nice ass though, Karnaxx grunted, and smirked when Kylo blinked at him. Cant tell me
youve never thought it, sir.
Never, Kylo said, in as wintry a tone as he could manage.
Karnaxx shrugged. Pity. You were front row for that speech he gave, werent you? I was
watching aboard the Last Answer. Thought he was either gonna bust a vein or a load.
Kylo sighed, even as Ryuri snickered and Rekka smirked. Whether we like him or not, we do
need General Hux right now.
To drive this big old tub? Ryuri slapped a hand against the hull of the ship. I could do that.
Prance around the bridge and spit orders-
Needs more nuance than that, Qara murmured.
Thats what they all say, just sos they keep their job. Give me a nice hat and a fancy title and Ill
do just fine.
Enough, Kylo growled, tiring of their bickering. As much as his Knights worked together
perfectly as a unit in combat, they could grate on his nerves during downtime. In a few hours we
may be facing a difficult battle. Concentrate on preparing for that.
General had a point, Qara said neutrally, looking over at Kylo with her blankly expressionless
face. On Starkiller base, you met that scavenger girl and lost.
Qara, Ryuri snapped.
Qaras right, Kylo said evenly. I lost then. This time round, I wont underestimate her.
And, youre not going into the fight with part of one kidney burned off, Rekka added, a little
unexpectedly: hed never really been one to come to Kylos defense. Been hit by a Wookie
bowcaster before. Nasty little fuckers. Youre lucky to be alive. Rekka patted his lower thigh
heavily, and under his boot, the prosthetic leg made a dull clanging sound on contact.
I wont be careless again, Kylo assured them. Yes. Chewbacca had much to answer for as well.
Once alone in his own cabin, Kylo removed his helm, dumping it on a magshelf, and rubbed a

palm over his face, then through his hair. He sat heavily on the bench by the hull, beside the
transparisteel cube which housed his grandfathers ruined helmet, cradled in a wall brace that Kylo
had installed personally.
Han Solo is dead, Kylo told the helmet, in a low whisper.
Hed said this before, sometimes in anger, sometimes in triumph, once, to his embarrassment, in
something like uncertainty, pressed too close to grief. Han Solo had not been a father to Kylo by
any real means of the word, engaged as he usually was in either volcanic quarrels with Leia or in
Pathfinder missions. Growing up, peace and quiet had been in short supply, and Kylo would be
embarrassed to admit that for a long time, confused, he had clung to his mother and turned from
his father. He may have grown up worshipping Han Solo the legend, like everyone else, but Han
Solo the father had been, at best, bewildered by a son, and at worst, curtly dismissive.
Still, even thinking about his father brought yet again the whisper-call at the back of Kylos mind,
the pull of the other side of the Force: self-doubt, disorientation, weakness. Kylo had already seen
how strong the Force could be, under the Supreme Leaders tutelage. How unnatural the so-called
Light was, which rejected human emotion. Self-doubt was what had ultimately caused Kylo to
lose to the scavenger girl. Now he was better than that. His bloodline was better than that.
Han Solo is dead, Kylo tried again, evenly, this time. And soon, Luke Skywalker as well. By
my hand. In your name. And all old wrongs shall be avenged.

Chapter 6
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

Han Solo was still not dead, as it were, though given tightened security in the control sector of
Stars Reach, maybe it was just gonna be a matter of time.
The little scouting trip that Han had interrupted days ago had amounted to nothing but new
alliances, but since then, Han and Maukeen had been industrious. Done, Maukeen reported
briskly, from the control deck, even as Han finished fastening an Espo blasters holster around his
waist, then a pouch of spare ammo. The two oldsters theyd knocked out in the security room
were tied up awkwardly with cables, and if Han wasnt also around their age, hed probably have
felt more bad about it.
Securicams all looping?
I said I was done, Maukeen growled. She was still young enough to be prickly over questions of
competence, though Han couldnt guess exactly how young. The Trianii tended to mostly look the
same to him, unless they were cubs or white-muzzled elders.
Just checking. Han handed over the other blaster belt and ammo pouches, which Maukeen
linked around her waist with somewhat more difficulty, tail lashing in annoyance. Now I feel
better about life, Han added more cheerfully, patting his own blaster.
Dont be. Remember what I said about investigating first, shooting later?
I remember. Han remembered this about the Trianii as well. Some galactic species didnt handle
humour so well. Well kid, this is it. Since we punched out those two oldsters, theres no going
back. We ship out or we get shipped out.
I know. I am not a cub.
You are compared to me, Han grinned, hoping that he looked ingratiating, and Maukeen sighed,
turning for the door.
Teacher Atuarre did mention this. That you were a great shot with a blaster and the best pilot she
had ever met. But other than that, a very difficult person.
Whos difficult? Han scowled, but Maukeen had used their swiped securipass to tab open the
door, and the game was on - and almost up the moment it began: Han had to hastily drag
Maukeen back into the security room as a pair of blaster-mounted spider droids trundled into
view around a tight corner. They waited, straining their ears, until the droids passed by and they
couldnt hear their multi-legged tread any longer, then they ducked out and scuttled quickly
around the corner.
According to the full infomap that theyd found a day back in the admin ring, although there was a
full bank of techs monitoring the well-being and life support of the Bacta tank inmates, emergency
decanting overrides were available only from Warden Reachs control deck. Which was hopefully
not going to be too difficult to handle. Han had met more than his fair share of droids of all
shapes and sizes, and hed only ever become reluctantly fond of a bare handful. Machinery that
talked back still sometimes threw him for a loop.

Since Maukeen hadnt managed to get access to this deck before now, let alone scout it, there
were a couple more close shaves until they finally made it to the Wardens Office, a set of black
blast doors at the end of an upper mezzanine to this deck. No guards - possibly not a good sign.
Maukeen crouched as Han input stolen access codes into the control pad, then she tensed up as the
doors slid open with a metallic hum.
There was no one within the room. Blinking, Maukeen took a cautious step inside, followed by
Han, then they both flinched violently as the door closed tightly shut between them. Not bad,
said the Wardens voice, from around them. Youve both come farther than I thought.
Where the hell are you, metalhead? Han demanded.
Everywhere, Citizen Bird. I am Stars Reach.
An AI, Maukeen hissed.
As big as a bloody colony? Han groaned. Trust the bloody Espos to do it. Maukeen had darted
over to the control deck, but the Warden said, a little smugly, That wont help you, Citizen
Keanee. Or should I say Ranger Maukeen? And as to you, Citizen Bird - you still have an
impressive number of outstanding warrants against your real name in this sector. Han Solo.
Well. Thats torn it. Maybe we could work something out? Han suggested. Dont think you
want us here. Coincidentally, we dont want to be here either. Sounds like we all got something in
I know about you and your deals, Solo- the Wardens voice abruptly cut out. Over at the control
deck, Maukeen had ripped out a handful of wires from under the deck, and the securipass had
been slotted into the deck; she was typing furiously, frowning to herself, tail swiping from side to
Shh, Maukeen hissed. Watch the door. Warden may send interference.
What are you doing?
What we came here to do. But I grew tired of all the talking. Mrr. Trojan coded into securicam
loops still working. I think the Warden only managed to find us when we entered this office. Its
still blind and I can keep it that way.
You dont say. Resigned, Han watched the door. The Wardens office was really a control
bank, no chairs or furniture to speak of - no cover, even. He had no idea why the room even
existed. If the Warden was a stationwide AI, then what was the point?
This is a maintenance override terminal, Maukeen said, arriving at the same conclusion as Han.
In case something happens to the AI. Manual overrides. Here, she tabbed up reams of records
over the holodeck behind the control panels, all icon-sized 3D imaging and bars of text. Most of
the images were of Rodians. All of the health tabs were green lit.
So if theyre all okay, Han had glanced back briefly over his shoulder, Why the hell arent they
Sedation. Maukeen tabbed briefly through the files, then abruptly crowed with relief. Yes!
Here. She flicked her fingers, and one of the files enlarged, showing a livestream holo of a
sleeping Togruta, naked and linked up by an airmask. She was older than Han Solo had imagined,

her reddish skin paler with age and mottled with wrinkles, petite and bent, her black and white
striped montrals and headtails floating in the Bacta fluid around her narrow, white patched face.
She seemed uninjured, and Maukeen let out a sigh of relief as they noted the green lit health tabs.
Briskly, Maukeen swiped the Togrutas tab from Storage to Discharge, using the Warden
override, then, as an afterthought, swiped out everyone else with health at green as well.
Should you really be doing that? Han asked warily. I mean. Putting aside how objectively
funny its gonna be for Stars Reach to be overwhelmed by a buncha naked Rodians and
friends theyre not gonna last long out there.
Youll be surprised, Maukeen said briskly. Well clear a path down to the Bacta banks, then
out to the hangar. Also, I activated supply procedures. There will be no nudity. She paused.
Most probably.
Outside, Han could hear the growing, depressing sound of security personnel approaching, boots
tramping up the corridor towards them, probably about to take a firing position. Maukeen-
Got it, Maukeen typed something else into the console, her tail puffed up with agitation, then as
the boots began to slow down, she snarled, Got it! and whirled, already drawing her blaster
from her hip.
Sometimes the brain just took over. Han drew just as the blast doors slid open, already firing into
the mass of droids and Espos starting to line up in the corridor beyond, locking his wrist, going
for centre mass. The shrills of the blaster discharging was loud in the small chamber, the smell of
burned flesh and charred metal just as familiar as it always was. With the corridor as narrow as it
was, between Maukeen and Han theyd caught the response team by surprise, and it was short,
sharp and brutal.
The blaster in his hand warmed up: bad heat sink - but Han and Maukeen were already on the
move, stopping only to scavenge a few blaster cells off the bodies. An alarm klaxon was pealing,
a deep droning wail that made Maukeen grimace even as she led them both confidently down an
emergency stair, following a separate route in her mind.
Han grinned to himself as he followed her down, and at Maukeens backward querying stare, he
said wryly, Kinda used to leave this sorta detail to my first mate. Felt like deja vu for a moment.
Chewbacca the Wookie, Maukeen nodded, continuing to head briskly down the stairs. Ive
So we got a plan? Han asked, as they descended a couple of levels, thankfully unimpeded.
And whyre all the doors open?
Because thats the last command I fed into the deck, Maukeen explained briskly. Every door in
the facility is open. Thought it might make things easier.
Good thinking, Han approved, then it got too busy for chatter - a security droid and a couple of
Espos had rolled out of the door one floor beneath them. Again, the firefight was brief and brutal.
Vets as the Espos might be, in small teams they were little match for Han and a Ranger. Han
actually even felt slightly guilty about it, rushing behind Maukeen in a brisk jog out of the
emergency well, through to a clinical sector that looked vaguely familiar-not that Han remembered this kind of devastation from before. Droids were powered down or
flung against walls, and Espos lay in groaning, semi-conscious tangles on the ground. Puzzled,
Han hesitated near the closest Espo, but at a snarled We need to catch up! from Maukeen, he

jogged back over to her side.

Your Not-Quite-Resistance Rodians must really know how to kick ass, Han said, surprised, as
they followed the occasional knot of unconscious Espos and wrecked droids. At Maukeens
irritated backward glance, Han added, defensively, I mean. Its a pretty rude awakening, but they
got their bearings real quick. Besides, they also hadta protect your elderly Togruta friend.
My- Maukeen let out a sharp, barking sound, a Trianii laugh, and turned away instead, picking
up her pace, until Han was jogging to keep up, huffing.
They darted over fallen droids, over sprawled Espos, until they finally made it to the hangar.
Panting, out of breath, Han stumbled out of the corridor behind Maukeen, just in time to stare,
wide-eyed, as an Espo spun to a stop at their feet, unconscious. Beyond, beside a landing bay with
a troop transporter, the wrinkly old Togruta in an inmate jumpsuit was straightening up,
barehanded, though she fell back into a defensive stance as they piled into the hangar, palms up,
feet set apart. Then she smiled broadly as Maukeen darted towards her, picking her up bodily and
hugging her, swinging her around as though she weighted nothing; the Rodians that were slowly
trooping into the transporter, supporting each other, paused, clapping, hooting and cheering.
Maukeen! said the Togruta, delighted, I thought it mightve been you.
Who else? Maukeen grinned broadly, showing all her teeth, setting the Togruta down gently,
gesturing at Han. This is Han Solo.
She blinked, studying Han, openly curious. There was a little mischief to her smile, though there
was an iron calm in her eyes, to the set of her shoulders, an otherworldly calm that Han found
vaguely familiar. He had seen it before, worn by people he had known, years upon years ago.
Suddenly, the downed security patrols made more sense.
I didnt know that there were still Jedi in the galaxy, lady?
There are no more Jedi, she corrected, though her smile widened slightly. Im glad to meet you
at last, Solo. Call me Snips.
Poe took the ship down low over the ocean planet, skimming a white furrow over the waves. The
surprisingly state-of-the-art onboard scanner told them that there were a few dotted land masses
over the ocean, most of which were so small not even a TIE fighter couldve landed on them.
There were maybe only a handful of land masses big enough for the Falcon, and fewer than that
bigger for the Falcon and whatever starship Skywalker mightve taken to get here, and they were
starting from the biggest and working down from there.
The spit of land they were approaching looked promising. There were bits of white stone lined
upwards, kind of like a stair. In the shadow of the grassy cliff that rose out of the sea was an AWing, sitting quiet, but as Poe spun the quadjumper around, Finn swallowed his disappointment.
No Falcon.
Guess theyre not here. Lets try the next island.
They were here, Poe corrected thoughtfully. Look at that beach at the bottom of the stair.
Those rectangular indentations on the sand are from landing treads. The Falcon was here.
So theyre gone?
Looks like it. Poe landed the quadjumper neatly on the beach, and Finn squirmed impatiently

until the turbines powered down. Once Poe disengaged the airlock, Finn was out of his seat,
fidgeting as the retractable ladder spooled out from the rear hatch to the ground below.
The air smelled like brine and grass, thickly humid, and the overall gee felt a little heavier than
Finn was used to. He looked around wildly, staring hard at the seamless horizon, blue over blue,
willing the Falcon to appear. Maybe they went on a short trip, Finn suggested, as Poe dropped
down onto the sand.
Hm, Poe toed shallow furrows on the sand that the wind hadnt yet managed to level. Looks
like they were dragging stuff to the Falcon. They jogged over to the A-Wing, and Poe pulled
himself up and ducked into the open hatch for a few minutes before coming back out again. They
took the fuel cells and any movable supplies. Cargo bays empty, and theres a cradle with catches
that was used recently, probably held a speeder.
You mean Rey and Chewie salvaged the A-Wing? Finn carefully avoided saying Lukes name.
Seems like it. Two sets of human-sized prints. Something bigger probably Chewbacca. And
these long tracks have to be R2-D2. The indentations over the grass were mostly gone, but for
R2-D2s tracks, but some of the disturbances in the sand were still there.
At least theyre off somewhere, Finn said doubtfully. Not that it helps us.
Ill get the A-Wings ship log, Poe decided, though he didnt sound too enthusiastic about the
prospects as he ducked back into the ship. Depressed all over again, Finn wandered away from
the A-Wing, circling the the tiny island. There were discarded crates, fishing rods, even a little
rack that still had drying fish-creature-things if fish had evolved not to have eyes plus several
sets of fins. There was a water purifier, abandoned in the sand, though the solar cells it had been
attached to had been taken. There was a sectioned off area with a steep incline that had probably
been used as an latrine, along with empty pails for washing.
It didnt take Finn long to end up back at the Falcon, where he found Poe waiting for him. No
temple, Finn told Poe. Unless its up top or something.
The A-Wings ship log is gone, Poe reported grimly. They thought to cover their tracks.
So what now?
Poe was holding a piece of flat rock, which he held up for Finn to inspect. It was a carving, the
images on it nearly worn flat, and seemed to be part of something bigger that Finn couldnt make
out. Art? Finn hazarded. Life in the First Order hadnt really prepared him for art, something
that Jess had taken upon herself to educate Finn on. Not entirely successfully.
Here. Poe pointed at a pattern at the corner of the rock. Thats a constellation.
And you think thats where Rey and L uh, you think thats where they went?
I was going to try listening to the ships log first, Poe said doubtfully. But since that's out of the
question now... this is the only thing on this island that seems remotely, ah, Jedi-like. I climbed up
to take a look, too. Someone went to the trouble of piecing this old thing together. Recently.
Theres some seaweed still clinging to one of the corners, and its dry, but not rotted.
Okay, Finn began, then he trailed off, turning his head. Since Jakku, whenever Finn was
planetside, he sometimes found himself scanning the horizon, now and then, and this time, his
subconscious had struck lucky. Approaching quickly, behind a cloud bank, was a string of black
specks, far too orderly to be birds.

Finn? Poe stumbled as Finn grabbed his elbow and tugged, then he looked in the direction of
Finns stare and cursed under his breath.
They scrambled aboard the quadjumper in a dead run, Poe tossing the piece of rock away onto
one of the bunks - thankfully they hadnt thought to bother unloading BB-8 - and Finn frantically
engaged the airlock even as Poe all but dived towards the cockpit. They raised ship just as the first
rank of TIE fighters swept towards them in a strafing run, and Finn had barely strapped down
when Poe engaged the hyperdrive, right off planetside.
What the hell! Finn yelped, BB-8 concurring in a high blaring whistle of alarm behind him, as
around them, the quadengines moaned and rattled, trying to shake apart from the sheer force of
turbine and ion engines roaring to life at the same time, the stars leaping into spears of light before
his eyes.
The onboard consoles began to squeal, warning alarms pealing in one by one, even as Poe
frantically flicked switches and adjusted settings, all the while murmuring desperately, Sorry girl,
Im sorry, just a bit more, just a bit more-
-and then they were out, in empty space, the stars an uneven jet blanket of pinpricks, all around
them. Poe let out a deep breath and killed the turbine engines, life support kicking in as the ion
engines powered down to low thrust, just enough for gravity.
Man, Finn let out the breath he hadnt realized that hed been holding in. Youre crazy. Han
Solo crazy.
Thanks, I think, Poe was grimacing at the control deck, unstrapping himself from his seat.
Quadjumpers arent made for that kind of punishment. Im going to have to do a check, maybe
make some repairs.
Ill help, Finn offered quickly. Behind him, BB-8 made a series of disbelieving beeps that made
Poe grin. Ill try to help, Finn corrected sourly.
Just keep an eye on the radar, Poe waved Finn towards the pilots seat, And call me if theres a
Sure. I can do that. A little relieved that he wasnt yet again called over to do mechanical assist,
Finn settled down in the pilots seat. Damn that First Order intel. They mustve had eyes on Moft
Not surprising, Poe was clanking around in the crew quarters. We resupply at Moft. But I
thought Maz had taken the right precautions. This is a clean ship. No way they couldve traced us
to that planet that quickly.
Couldve tagged us on the way out, Finn said gloomily.
What do you mean?
Tightbeam tag, single frequency. Paint and pray. Everyone had to practice with those rifles. Pain
in the ass to target anything smaller than the side of a barn- Finn flinched as he realized Poe had
scrambled back over to his shoulder, and was frowning at him. What?
I think, Poe said carefully, You had better explain that all over to me again.

Chapter End Notes

I'm not that familiar with Star Wars Cartoon canon, so Ahsoka Tano will not be that
similar to the cartoons... but then again, she's far older now, and hopefully wiser ;)

Chapter 7
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

Llanic was a lush planet that sat on the intersection of the Llanic Spice Route and the Triellus
Trade Route. It reminded Rey of Takodana - not that Rey really did have that much experience
with other planets. Like the planet she had found Luke on, Llanic was mostly ocean, though,
unlike that planet, it was spotted with a number of small continents.
Unsurprisingly, Chewbacca seemed to have come to Llanic before, and Luke was content to let
him set the coordinates. Rey played co-pilot, and tried not to make her excitement too obvious.
Two months spent isolated on that ocean planet was two months far too long. She may have
grown up on Jakku, with mostly smugglers and scavengers for company, but she still had
company. As Chewbacca took the Falcon down at a quiet, empty berth, Rey found that she was
bursting with impatience to get planetside. Food! New sights! Other people!
Maybe Chewbacca noticed - he woofed at her, then gestured towards the cockpit access tunnel
behind them as the fuel drive powered down into a low background thrum. Tucked behind her
seat, R2-D2 translated in a quick beeps. You sure you want to stay on board? Rey asked
doubtfully. If we lock the ship down, people cant break in.
To that, Chewbacca made a disparaging growl, summing up his opinion of Llanic and the
integrity of smuggler ports in general, and Rey shrugged, unbuckling and getting up. Ill um, go
get some supplies with Luke then. Though I dont have creds, and I didnt think to borrow
anything from the General Chewbacca sniffed, and yowled mournfully. Youre broke too?
But you and Han are famous- Rey swallowed her words as Chewbacca turned away from her,
snuffling. Chewie? Im sorry. I shouldve thought. Im- A dismissive, sharp wave cut her off,
but as Rey tried to clamber closer, Chewbacca gently but firmly pushed her towards the access
tunnel by her shoulder.
Rey slunk off, ashamed of herself. She ran into Luke coming out of the crews communal space.
He had changed out of his robes into an old spacer rig that had clearly seen better days - maybe
better decades, the vest loose at his shoulders, the blaster holster worn awkwardly against his hip.
Luke was used to different weapons now. The abstract blankness in his face was gone, at least,
replaced by a tired focus that was slightly better. Maybe. Luke looked like an old wanderer, lost,
still slowly crawling for a distant home: he wore hopelessness and his weariness like an old coat
and drew a colourless breed of jaded cynicism about him like a second shadow.
We need to replenish our food supplies. Fuel as well. Someone stripped the Falcon to its bones.
The galleys empty, the vacuum suits are gone, the water recycling units probably on its last legs,
theres no escape pod any longer, someone damaged the quad laser cannon and the concussion
missile banks are dry.
She changed hands a few times. Stolen, Rey explained, guiltily deciding not to talk about the
quad cannon.
Ah. Something relaxed a little in Lukes face. Yes. Han wouldnt have let it deteriorate to such
a state otherwise. He loves this ship.
Luke, Rey said uncomfortably. I um. Told you before. But Han is I told you what

happened. On Starkiller base. Chewies still grieving, I think.

Luke stared at her, as though she was speaking gibberish, his expression worn and bemused, as
though uncomprehending. Finally, he said, Chewbacca owes Han a life debt. Its something that
Wookies take very seriously. They both dont like being separated.
Han died, Luke, Rey persisted, as gently as she could. I was there.
Again that bemused stare, though this time, Rey thought she saw a flicker of something, in
Lukes tired eyes. But then it was gone, and Luke turned away as the airlock disengaged. Keep
close by while were at Lurta Port. And watch your belongings.
Sounds just like home already, Rey gave up. Maybe this was Lukes way of dealing with grief.
Hopefully. She really, really hoped that the so-called Last Hope of the Galaxy was still sane. We
have another problem. No creds.
Not a problem.
Youre going to use the Force?
This got her a faintly amused look. Thats not what the Force is for. I have an expense account.
Its been collecting interest for quite a while, so it should be enough for our purposes.
Outside the Falcon waited a Rodian, some sort of port official, though docking seemed informal:
Luke spoke quietly to the Rodian for a while, then creds seemed to change hands, and the Rodian
backed off, even offering them a little wave. Rey was too busy gawking. Shed thought that
DQar was crowded, with its thousands of Resistance personnel. But it had nothing on Lurta.
DQars Resistance base and Niima Outpost couldve fit comfortably into half of Lurta City,
though it didnt so much as build upwards as sprawl outwards. When theyd taxied in for a
landing, Rey had seen that Lurta City took up most of its little continent save for a green band that
banked it away from the beach and ocean. On the ground, the green band seemed to be made up
of huge palms that towered over even the lone tower rising out of the spaceport, strung together
with thin walkways. Most of the habs were blocky things, cobbled together out of grounded old
ships or prefabs, the streets all of uneven widths and with no apparent signage or order. And the
people! Rey had never seen so many different species together all at once.
Dont stare, Luke murmured, though not unkindly.
Youve been here before? Rey asked, following at Lukes heels as he started walking, but he
didnt answer: it was R2-D2 that beeped a quick response. A dogfight above the planet!
It was a long time ago, Luke said distractedly. Calm yourself, keep an eye out. Based on what
youve told me of the First Order, they clearly have agents everywhere.
Luke didnt sound as though he really cared either way, but Rey fell silent, abashed. They ducked
through a weaving webwork of streets until Rey was thoroughly lost and had almost been
trampled twice, once by a bantha, of all things, dusty and docile but incurious about anything in its
path, and once by some multi-legged, scaly beast, high-backed, saddled by a Rodian that shook
his fist at her as Rey hastily scrambled out of the way. The thoroughfares were thick with traffic
and smelled unpleasantly of animal waste and sewage, and Rey took in grateful breaths when
Luke finally took them down a network of narrowing side streets, until he finally came up to what
looked like an old Imperial Transport, beached on its side, its belly modified, with a door at the aft
and a chimney built up into its hull up top that belched greasy smoke. Something smelled
delicious, and Reys mouth was watering as Luke circled around to the front of the transport.

It was a diner of sorts, with large crates and small crates for tables and chairs, all mismatching,
some rusting gently in the humid heat. A Rodian was frying orange hunks of something on a grill,
while occasionally stirring a large waist-high vat of thick bluish soup to his right. Luke sat down at
a spare crate, looking briefly behind him at the front of tall palms, then looking back as Rey sat
down before him.
Theyre like really big Naboo palms, Rey said, when Luke was silent. I spent a lot of the last
two months reading the databanks.
Almost the same shape, yes. But not quite the same. Notice there arent any leaves or branches
dropping. The Hands of the Maker are all highly complex single cells. Allows them to change and
adapt to the weather. Theyre big now, in the summer, but theyll grow small and dome-like in the
winter. And nothing goes to waste. Since they dont seem to deteriorate, theyre effectively
Oh. Rey looked at the palms with a new light. Thats strange.
This planet was originally colonised as a scientific outpost.
And then?
Luke shrugged. The outpost was still around when I was last here. But the planets in a great
location, trade wise, and its unrestricted, so its full of useful people.
Glad to see thats what you think I am, said a dry voice behind Rey.
Turning, Rey looked up - and up - into the calm countenance of a female Sluissi, with light
brown, fine-scaled skin and intelligent round black eyes. With a great fold of skin behind her
narrow head, and her torso clad in a mechanics grease-stained overalls and utility pouches, the
Sluissi, like all her kind as described by the Falcons databanks, looked vaguely like what would
happen if someone attached the top half of a human to the bottom half of some huge sand-snake.
Her rattle-tipped tail was coiled neatly beside her, and she swayed briefly as she slithered up to
settle by their table.
Long time, added the Sluissi, as Rey tried not to stare.
Hello Cassa, Luke greeted her. Glad to see youre still around.
Cheeky, Cassas forked tongue flicked out briefly, tasting the air. Just because your species
tends to kick around for a decade or so longer than we do. Well, what do you want? Funny story,
she added, before Luke could speak. First Orders put out a bounty on whoever has info on a
man, a girl, an R2 astromech droid, a Wookie, and a modded YT-1300. Could say the bountys
the life-changing, retire-quietly-somewhere-cushy sort of bounty.
Rey stiffened, but Luke merely smiled thinly. Not surprised. I need supplies. I also need a ship
deep-scanned and cleaned up. Maybe even restored, though well have to consult its current pilot
for that.
About that bounty, Rey tried, in a low voice, but Luke didnt glance at her.
My creds probably still good, Luke added evenly, Or you probably wouldnt have bothered
talking to me.
Cassa sighed. I bothered talking to you because my species owes that ship and its owner a great
debt. Your cred accounts tagged to hell and back. The First Orders got eyes everywhere: the
moment you make a withdrawal, theyd know where, and who, and why. And chances are,

theyre already on their way here. Shouldve hid the Wookie amidships and docked just with your
friend here. Definitely shouldnt have disembarked with the astromech.
Then we should go, Rey decided, worried. First Order doesnt care about collateral damage.
Shes right. Cassa agreed grimly.
I need supplies, Luke repeated calmly, as though he hadnt heard, and fixed Cassa with his
weary stare. Can you help me? If you cant, Ill talk to someone else. Corlo, or-
Corlos dead. Got between an Abyssin and a tall drink. Boms gone as well, got sick with
something he caught over at Naboo. And Dorkas shipped offworld. People took their place, sure,
but theyll sooner sell you to the First Order than take your creds. Or maybe theyll take your
creds and sell you. Few more creds never hurts.
Can you help me? Luke said again, narrowing his eyes, and Cassa stared back at him,
unblinkingly, before she abruptly looked away.
Damn you, walker! Ill help you. But you have to be ready to raise ship, all right? Most of the
people here have got nothing to do with your war. If you lure the First Order here, youll have
blood on your hands.
Thank you, Luke nodded absently, and rose to his feet, walking away. Rey stared at his back,
feeling betrayed - shed really wanted to try whatever the Rodian was grilling, or the soup. As she
got up reluctantly, she flinched as Cassa gently touched her elbow.
Something happened? Cassa asked, her tone gentle.
Rey frowned at her. Hes um, preoccupied right now.
You cant be a real Sluissi without having a feel for broken things, Cassa murmured. Be
careful, girl. When people like that one go wrong its bad for everyone.
He wont, Rey said defensively, but Cassa had already turned away, slithering back towards the
At her feet, R2-D2 whistled sympathetically, but Rey shook her head at it and jogged off hurriedly
after Luke. Luke wasnt going to the Dark Side. Rey was sure of it. There wasnt any of the
roiling tempest to his mind that Rey had felt, the angry seething burn that had been all but bleeding
off Kylo Ren. What Luke had gone to was perhaps worse, in a way; worse than choosing to go
dark. Luke had turned to the counsel of despair, Rey could see that now, and although he was
going through the motions, there was no hope left in him.
They had to find the First Temple. That would help. Rey had to believe that. Wait up!
Maz had thoughtfully packed a vacuum suit and rig. Only one set, though: and Finn had never
liked working in space. It wasnt as though he was afraid of it, or that hed never done it - training
in the weightless nothingness of space in both freezing cold and boiling hot temps was per normal
for stormtroopers. It was just sobering to think that all that stood between him and death was a
breach of the inch-thick Epstein weaving in his suit. Also, it was hella uncomfortable at the best of
Poe had offered to be the one to skip out in the suit, but there wasnt any point to that. After all, it
wasnt like hed know what to look for.

Finns grav boots attached with low clunks that he heard through the hermetic environment in his
suit, and he clanked slowly out from the airlock, careful of his step. Mazs rig had a little jetpack
and an oxygen tank, but it was compact - the reading on Finns armdeck indicated an EVA dura
of two hours from green. Hed have to work fast and pray that the First Order had decided to keep
scanning the ocean planet instead of tracing the Roci.
Wherever they were, they were far enough from the closest star that on the shadow side of the
Roci, Finn could only feel a bone-deep chill, even through the Epstein weave. Chances were, the
sunward side was going to cook him anyway if he stayed out here too long, but for now, Finn
silently thanked Maz for the decent rig and got to work, checking over the first quad engine.
All right out there? Poe asked over the comms.
Not my first time, Finn repeated confidently, though that was a lie. This was his first time, out of
training, anyway, and hed never had to do something like remove a tracer from a ship. Usually, it
was the other way around.
Youre pretty amazing, Poe said lightly. Youre a great shot youre learning the vibroblade,
navigating Starkiller base getting me out of the Finalizer
Finn paused in the middle of clambering up with grav gloves and boots to the upper stabiliser
vane. Was Poe teasing him? Finn hadnt really gotten the hang of humour, either. Finally, he
opted to just keep on doing his job. All in a days work.
If the other stormtroopers are like you, Im surprised we even got this far.
Playful. That was it. That was the strange note in Poes voice. Finn liked it, if only because it
meant that Poe was in a good mood; and besides, it made Finn smile, even in his fishbowl helmet,
stuck on the ass end of a quadjumper in the middle of nowhere. If the others were like me, the
Finalizer wouldve been pretty empty. Nobody else seemed to get too fazed by what happened in
that village.
Finn had said something wrong - Poe sobered right up. You talked to the others?
Nope Captain Phasma didnt appreciate unnecessary chatter on a job. But I could tell. Flying
back to the Finalizer had just been like flying to that poor village. Everyone ramrod straight, eyes
forward. Or had the others minded? It wasnt as though Finn had stuck around to really find out.
I think.
Im still glad that you got me out of there.
You should be, Finn shuddered, as he checked under the vane, then clambered back down to
the quad engine. I heard stories about what they do to prisoners. Usually people dont survive
interrogations by any of the Knights, let alone Lor uh, Kylo Ren.
I mean, Im glad that you got me out.
Hadnt Poe just said that? Confused, Finn said cautiously, Youre welcome?
Poe let out what sounded like a frustrated sigh, that scattered into low, rueful chuckling.
Sometimes I think I say one thing and you hear something totally different.
No I didnt, Finn disagreed, puzzled. You said youre glad that I got you out of the Finalizer.
Well, Im glad too. Youre an awesome pilot.

I mean I maybe this isnt the best time to say it but I really like you, Finn. Poe had gone
earnest, almost nervous, even, like he was confessing some kind of secret.
Thanks? Finn was even more bewildered now. All of you warmed up to me quick. And I
like you too. And Jess. And the others.
There. Youre doing it again, Poe said wryly, then he paused. Wait. How old are you?
Finn fought the urge to clap a grav glove over his helmet. Whyd you ask?
Humour me.
Im not really sure, Finn confessed. First Order doesnt really keep track of that.
Born after the Battle of Endor?
Um, yeah. Quite a bit.
Poe exhaled loudly, but before Finn could ask, he added, And in the First Order. You said you
had friends among the other stormtroopers. If you dont mind me asking, were you more than
friends? With any of them?
Had a commanding officer, Finn wondered what Poe was getting at now. Chewbacca stuffed
her in a trash compactor in Starkiller base. You probably wouldnt have liked her.
Shouldve known I was handling all this ass backwards after all, Poe murmured, but before
Finn could think of what to ask, he added, in a more normal tone, Hows that tracer search
Still looking. Finn was hauling himself to the belly of the quadjumper. Hows repairs?
Think the Roci maybe has one more jump in her, but I dont want to chance it. Breaking apart in
hyperspace wont be fun.
So were going to cut it real close anyway. Story of Finns life. Post-First Order, anyway.
Only if you dont find the bug stuck to our ass before we get company.
Im working on it.

Chapter End Notes

How cold is space?

Age table: Ahsoka wld be 70 years old

Chapter 8
You guys have a frigate? Han demanded, as the transport docked aboard the battleship that had
winked in out of hyperspace the moment they had made it clear out of Stars Reach.
Maukeen grinned toothily at Han, even as Snips shrugged modestly. Friends in high places.
How the hell did you get captured and stashed in a Bacta tank then, lady?
Wasnt conscious at the time, Snips muttered, her grip on the handholds flanking the hull of the
transporter tightening as Han initiated landing gear, setting the transporter down neatly in the
hangar. The moment they touched down, Han felt the brief sensation of lightness that told him that
the frigate had jumped back into hyperspace, and he disengaged the airlock, lowering the ramp.
You didnt need a pilot to fly this old tug, Han told Maukeen accusingly. Anyone who knows
their flightstick from a landing lock couldve done it.
Did not know about the others. Thought I was just on Stars Reach for Snips. Also thought we
would have to snatch an A-Wing and run for it. Maukeen said, clearly unfazed that backup had
arrived in such spectacular fashion. Life had to be good in the Rangers.
I contacted General Calrissian with the transports comms and he decided to chance the
blockade, Snips explained.
Wait a minute. Calrissian? As in, Lando Calrissian? Han demanded suspiciously, just as the
ramp deployed fully.
As I live an breathe. That you, Solo? You old scoundrel! Lando called up from the outside.
Han squeezed past the Rodians and the people piling up to help them, striding off the ramp and
grinning as he saw Lando standing to a side, in a pale blue tunic under a brown vest, high boots,
and a cap set jauntily on his head. Damn. Look at the two of us. We got old, Han.
Youre only ever as old as you feel, Han shook Landos hand warmly. The years had treated
Lando no better than Han: he was thinner, his hair etched silver, and wrinkles crowded his skin
and the edges of his broad, friendly smile. His grip was as firm as ever, though, and the mischief
was still there, for all that theyd clearly walked such different paths. Still a General?
Well, whatever they wanna call me. But we all know whos really boss and it aint me. Lando
winked as Snips ambled over to shake his hand. Nice to see you still in one piece, Tano.
Havent gone senile yet, Calrissian? Im shocked. Thanks for coming to get us.
If I didnt, whos going to hover over my shoulder on the bridge and backseat drive the Farthest
Sky? Landon chuckled. Hey, Maukeen. Knew youd make it.
General, Maukeen nodded a polite greeting. Didnt think you would make it through the Sector
Probably wouldnt have, Lando agreed, If I didnt have help. At Snips curious glance, he
added, Best if I show you. Eyes only. Han can come too, hes got history.
Catch up later, Maukeen said, tail twitching as she turned to go, though if from disappointment

or irritation Han couldnt tell. Nice working with you, Solo.

The Farthest Sky wasnt well-stocked by any means, with only a couple of X-Wings and an AWing docked into cradles, and on closer inspection, the ship was growing long in the tooth, if not
quite as run-down as the Eravana had been. There had been some attempts to keep it shipshape,
but it was nowhere as spick and span as a military ship should be.
So what are you guys? Han asked, as Lando led them out of the frigates hangar. Cant keep
thinking of you as the Not-Resistance.
Call us Fulcrum, Snips suggested lightly. Used to be just me, but Ive branched out. A few
friends here, a base there, a frigate here
Never heard of you guys, Han confessed.
Not surprised, Lando said wryly. You fell right back into the old life, and we werent working
in those circles.
Lando hadnt meant any criticism by that, Han knew it, but he felt stung anyway. This, in a way,
was how life couldve worked out. Lando and Han had started off more or less in the same place.
But where Lando had determinedly worked upwards, found a purpose, kept on fighting, Han had
run downwards, away from everything, and hed just kept right on running. For an unwelcome,
unfamiliar moment, Han actually felt a little ashamed of himself.
Deciding to change the subject, Han turned to Snips. Were you in the Order before? You seem
like you were trained.
A long time ago, Snips said carefully. And yes. I was trained. By the best.
Any reason why you guys didnt join up with the Resistance? Lando, you dropped off the radar
after the Alliance kinda turned into the New Republic.
Had my reasons, Snips didnt look like she was intent on explaining.
Wasnt my thing, Lando confessed. And I kinda thought it was fine to just hot off. I mean, I
thought our job was done. Wed downed the big bad, had the celebrations, medals all round.
When shit just started all over again I didnt want anything to do with it for a while. But Snips dug
me out of the Outer Rim, so here I am.
Happy endings are just endings that havent gone on long enough, Han grunted.
And damn but Im sorry, Han, Lando added uncomfortably. I remember when Ben was just
a little kid. Running around, pretending he was a spaceship. What hes become what he did to
Had too much Vader in him after all, Han said quietly, an excuse within an excuse. The way
Ben had turned out it wasnt as though Han himself was blameless. Or Leia, even. Theyd been
so caught up in their new lives Han had never really been cut out for fatherhood and theyd
expected so much of their quiet son the moment Luke had said that Ben had been born forcesensitive
And Luke Skywalkers still missing, Snips added, to Hans relief.
Ah, about that. Hes on the move. The last I heard, he was IDd in Lurta City.
Lurta? What the hell was he doing there?

Not just him, Lando grinned. From the tightbeam chatter we tapped into? Seems like there was
also a girl, an R2 astromech, and a banged up old YT-1300 with a Wookie in the cockpit.
For a long moment, the only sound Han could make was a shaky laugh. Relief was so
overwhelming that he had to look away, his breaths unsteady, all of the climb up a few decks into
what was clearly Landos personal chambers. It was compact, with a cleanser to one side and a
bunk to the other, and mag-shelving where Lando kept a blaster rifle and some odds and ends.
Most of the room was taken up by a holodeck, which Lando activated by pressing his palm to the
There was nothing for a long moment, then a flicker, and the blur refocused into a woman, from
the shoulders up, dressed some sort of dark blue uniform, tagged over the heart with the CSAs
symbol. She was at least well into middle age, silver just starting to pepper her shoulder-length
hair, but there were laugh lines at her mouth, and her rich brown eyes were just as warm and
intelligent as ever.
Ill be damned, Han Solo breathed. That you, Fiolla?
Han, Fiolla smiled. Journeys end, and all that.
Apparently I have you to thank for letting Lando here pull my ass out of the fire.
Far more than that, Fiolla said blandly. I had agents quietly investigating Starkiller base, and
they happened to be prepping for evac when you fell past in front of their eyes. Lucky one of
them had a jetpack. You were hurt pretty badly, but they managed to stabilize you until they got
you to Stars Reach, where they checked you in along with Tano there and all the people we
rescued off Fulcrums bases.
Beside Han, Snips frowned at Fiolla. Not that Im not glad for the rescue, but who are you?
Im Auditor-General Hart-and-Parn Gorra-Fiolla of Lorrd, Fiolla made a playful little bow from
where she was seated. CEO of Hart and Parn Starships. Weve gone from a little landspeeder
business into something bigger.
Now theres an understatement, Lando whistled. Heard you guys cornered the market in the
Corporate Sector for repairs and sales of anything below frigate-class.
Well then, Snips blinked. My thanks, again. Auditor-General.
Youre welcome. Ive done well for myself, Fiolla said modestly. And I dont forget my debts.
If Han never helped me break up that slave ring on Bonadan Id never have gotten that leg up
with Odumin. Everything fell in place after that. Chewbaccas alive, by the way, she added
gently. I think you might like to know that.
Thanks, but what gives? Han asked, curious. Why go to all the trouble of making me a Citizen
ID and checking me - and Tano - into Stars Reach? And those Rodians? I thought the CSA was
staying out of the Resistance-First Order throwdown.
Were independent, yes. But Fiolla hesitated for a moment, then she sighed, and said, in a far
more sober voice, The First Order murdered five entire worlds, Han. Not even the CSA can
ignore that. Even if we didnt have existing trade relationships with Hosnian Prime we lost
close to a million of our own Citizens. People who were visiting, or on business, or settled there.
So whats stopping you? Go to war. Join up with the New Republic.

I wish it were that simple, Fiolla said uncomfortably. Ive been fighting the First Orders
influence in the CSA for the last half a decade. They have the creds now, especially since theyve
annexed so many independent mining worlds. And theyre ruthless. In a way, worse than the
Empire ever was. Theyve infiltrated the CSA, everywhere that matters.
You guys are running scared, Han guessed. So you want to stay independent while you clean
Thats what the official story is, Fiolla agreed grimly. But how many more will die if we keep
arguing among ourselves? Weve already lost a million of our own. Billions of people. But the
CSAs never come up against an enemy this implacable. I understand why they dont want to pick
a side. But I dont want to wait until its too late either. So this is my compromise.
I appreciate the save, I guess, Han said doubtfully.
Fiolla laughed. Oh Han. Its been more than twenty years, and you still think youre the centre of
Hes never gonna kick that habit, Lando agreed, and smirked as Han glowered over at him.
Saving Tano here was the point. Making it seem like she was dead. You? That was a matter of
luck. Your luck - just as strong as ever, dropping you in the right place at the right time, literally.
But this isnt all the help that Im willing to give. Ive sent you new ship tags, Captain Lando, as
well as a Waiver for CSA space. Come by Lorrd. Id like to meet you in person, Tano. And Han?
Itll be good to see you again.
Consider me intrigued, Auditor-General, Snips smiled.
Seems my ship was spotted in Llanic, Han said reluctantly. Lorrds out of my way.
Your ship was in Llanic. Theyve already raised ship, and one of my ground agents managed to
stop a First Order operative from painting her tail with a tracer. Still, I dont doubt the First Order
will be investigating Lurta soon, in force, so all youre going to find there is trouble. And until
Luke Skywalker pops up somewhere else again, you dont know where he mightve gone, do
"A scan-"
Fiolla shook her head. "The Resistance cleaned it up. Replaced its codes. You can't find the
Falcon on a scanner now, even a military one. And I've tried.
True. Lorrd it is.
The so-called Hands of the Maker burned, and Kylo watched them. The fire that fed on them had
plumed itself a strange, pale blue, and it was voracious: most of the Hands had already burned
down to their trunks, where instead of spreading to the nearest habs, the fire tended to sputter and
flick away to embers. It didnt matter. Lurta was burning anyway. From where Kylo stood, by the
fallen spire of the spaceport, the air smelled of burned flesh and voided guts and the copper-bright
taste of blood. Blaster fire still cut through the thick smoke in staccato bursts, as the Vonoris twins
led their detachments of stormtroopers, hunting down the few pockets of resistance that remained.
Kylo had already sated his tempers murderous thirst, and his grip on his saber was loose, its
plasma blade and crossguard spitting and hissing. His boots and robes were stained dark to his
ankles. Instead of satisfaction, however, Kylo felt only an uneasy sense of impatience, a predator

springing after prey that only seemed to get further and further away.
He glanced up as he felt someone approach. It was Ryuri, accompanied by their Lurta agent,
frogmarching a Sluissi female before them. The Sluissis eyes were dilated with fear, and her fine
green scales had paled all down her mottled flank, sooty with sash. Kylo felt his lip curl under his
helm with disgust.
Who is our guest? Kylo asked curtly.
Name of Cassa, said their agent, a slim, thin-boned bald man, dressed in a hunters rig, armour
and slung pouches and all, no helmet. She runs a small repairs and broker business on Lurta.
Spotted her talking friendly-like to the man and the girl and their R2.
Ah-h-h, Kylo drawled. So you know Luke Skywalker.
To the Sluissis credit, frightened as she was, she said nothing, even as Kylo curled his free hand
into a claw, dragging her inches towards him by the neck. The Force seemed to feed keenly into
him, fed by the Sluissis fear, by - yes - that kernel of hate that Kylo could see, buried under it all.
Fear and anger and hate. That was the key.
Maybe we should start slicing, Ryuri suggested, a vibroblade dagger humming in her hand.
Start with that pretty little rattle at the end of her tail and keep going up until we get what we
need. Its all bone and flesh down at the end anyway.
Cassa whimpered, and abruptly, Kylo grew tired of this. He concentrated, forcing into her mind,
sorting roughly through her recent memories, pulling, and even as she screamed, Kylo finally saw
it. His uncles face, disconcertingly blank, strangely tired. There was none of the fierce vitality that
Kylo remembered, no gentleness. Luke Skywalker had already been defeated.
Dead man walking, Kylo said aloud, and smiled within his mask as Cassa flinched. Thats
what you thought. But the girl now, the girl you liked. You saw something in her that reminded
you of the old Skywalker. The one you met twenty years ago, when hed still been chasing a
Yes. The scavenger was the real threat. Kylo loosed his grip on Cassas throat, and she gasped for
air, bent at the waist. Flicking off his saber and fastening it to his hip, Kylo waved distractedly at
Ryuri. Do what you want to her. You. With me, he added, beckoning to the agent, who scurried
to his side, blanching as the screaming behind them began.
Oroni was meant to paint the Falcons tail, the agent said nervously. But she I found her
dead. Tucked into a fuel bin.
Kylo nodded slowly, annoyed. Somehow, although the First Orders agents had managed to ID
Luke Skywalker and send Coriolis a message, theyd also failed to tag his ship, which made
matters difficult, given that the Resistance had gone to the trouble to scramble the Falcon's ID and
codes two months ago. And the tag on Poe Dameron had just gone dark. Did you find who did
I the agent cringed. My Lord, Im still pursuing my inquiries.
Kylo swung his stare towards the agent, fingers curling. It was tempting to kill him. It would take
only a heartbeat. He was growing angry again, and the agents deserved it: failure was not to be
tolerated. But even as his grip tightened on his saber, he heard a brisk, Lord Kylo, to his right,
and reluctantly, carefully, Kylo relaxed.
Keep pursing them, then, Kylo said dismissively, and the agent scuttled away, radiating relief.

Coward. General Hux. Again with the hands-on approach. I could get used to this.
Hux scowled. Soot from the fires had marred his pristine uniform, and dusted ash across one pale
cheek. He was accompanied by a pair of stormtroopers, and his hands were pressed behind his
back. Two more pockets of resistance remain. We expect to have control of Lurta City by
Good. Kylo wondered why Hux was deferring to him all of a sudden, suspicious. Should we
spare a garrison?
The trade route is advantageous - for smugglers. For the First Order, it means a strategic foothold
in the Trailing Sectors, close to both the Slice and Wild Space. A non-answer.
Skywalker may return, wherever he is. Leave a garrison here. Have forces investigate the outpost
to the west. Perhaps the Supreme Leader may find whatever theyre researching amusing.
Yes, my Lord. Hux said tightly. And what of Skywalker? Twice now weve lost his trail.
Ah. Here it was. The dagger, aimed too quickly. Quite so. Its unfortunate that your squadron
deployed too late to catch Dameron.
Hux stiffened. I did not speak with the intent to criticise.
Then I suggest you watch your words more carefully, General, Kylo shot back bitingly. The
Generals eyes flashed: temper again, always that hot temper, and something else, strangely close
to black avarice, but under Kylos stare, it was Hux who looked away.
My apologies.
No matter, Kylo decided. I do think perhaps that you were right from the start, General. At
Huxs blink of surprise, Kylo added. We are wasting our time. Suppressing mining worlds
and now, chasing Skywalkers tail, running and running in circles. Instead, we should make our
enemy come to us.
Resentment, anger, fear, the wellspring of the dark; Kylo could feel it humming under his skin,
guiding his way. Perhaps this was what Snoke had meant about completing his training. It had
never been something that Snoke could tell Kylo to do. It was something that had to happen something that Kylo had to realize, all by himself. A pang constricted his throat, aching, but he
swallowed the pain, burned it away. He was not yet fully unbound from his past. But with this with this he could be.
How do we do that?
Why, General, Kylo smiled sharply to himself. Theres still one more Skywalker. And we
know exactly where she is.

Chapter 9
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

If Wild Space is unexplored, howd you know that the star pattern matched up somewhere
there? Rey asked, when theyd dropped out of hyperspace into a bleak, dark emptiness.
Chewbacca left the Falcon on a low thrust, enough for grav, and it was on autopilot as they
gathered at the crew quarters for some food.
I didnt. R2 made the calculations based on fragments of old star map records that Id found over
the years, logged into my A-Wings data banks. R2 was also the one that triangulated what I
thought was the First Temple from the data that I found before. Without an astromech, it wouldnt
be possible. Luke was poking distractedly through his rations with his synthetic hand, not
bothering to eat. Cassa had packed them a crate of dried fruit(?) of some sort and Rey
chewed briefly on a strip of something alarmingly bright yellow and leathery before eating more
of it, delighted. Despite appearances, it was lusciously sweet.
Chewbacca yowled, shaking his head. I know, Luke added. The star patterns imprecise, and
space is damned big. We could be out here for a while. He didnt sound fazed by the issue at all.
We could be out here for years, Rey said, aghast.
Quite likely. Theres a reason why Wild Space is largely unexplored. Its vast.
Couldnt we scan for planets? Rey asked Chewbacca, who shrugged heavily and gestured,
growling as he did so.
Its a question of astrometry, Luke said indifferently. We can see where the closest star is from
the Falcons readouts. If we stay where we are, and observe the movements of the spectral lines-
Thatll take years, Rey cut in. What would happen to the Resistance? We could we could
head back to DQar first, she suggested, as inspiration struck. Get some sort of gear fitout, for
deep space explorations, or something. We could use the Force? she added hopefully. When
Luke started to frown, Rey added quickly, This is the First Temple of the Jedi right? So it must
be really special. Maybe the Force could help.
Ill have R2 link up with the Falcons scanners, Luke patted the astromech on its domed top.
But in the meantime. Perhaps there is something to your suggestion.
To Reys relief, after dinner, Luke motioned for her to sit on the deck of the crew quarters, even as
Chewbacca and R2 headed back to the cockpit. He sat in front of her, cross-legged. Centreing
your being, Luke said, without preamble. Thats what I was trying to teach you before. I
thought it might be harmless enough.
The Light, the Dark the Force itself Luke exhaled. Power corrupts, so very easily.
Particularly the young. People as young as you are still feel everything so keenly. To ask you to
set entire parts of yourselves aside to live an ascetic life
I can do it, Rey assured Luke stubbornly. You did it.

When I was as young as you are? Luke smiled wryly. Hardly. I failed as well, test after test.
Padawans are impulsive. Thats why they have mentors. But the system is flawed. Easier to make
a planet rotate in the opposite direction than to expect the young not to learn what it is to love.
Sometimes it worked out, sometimes people walked away. Sometimes Luke trailed off, and
You think the Force is dangerous, Rey concluded, astonished. Thats why you didnt want to
teach me.
So much has been forgotten. But the Jedi - and the Sith - were dangerous. Far more dangerous in
the years before. There were records of Force abilities that could coordinate entire armadas. That
could call storms into being, tear people apart, take over minds completely. All that my
nephew knows to do is the basics. To move things with your mind, to read the minds of others.
There is so much more. And you are so much stronger than he is, Luke said absently, seemingly
oblivious to the way Reys jaw dropped. You could be far more dangerous than Ben could ever
He seemed plenty dangerous to me.
But you bested him in a lightsaber duel, despite having no kata training, Luke pointed out. So
he had been listening after all, the past two months. You instinctively grasped how to centre your
being, during the heat of battle. Giving yourself over to instinct, allowing the Force to guide you
as you emptied your mind the fact that you bested Ben tells me that you are far more Forcesensitive than he is.
I dont-
The Force manifests itself in different ways. My father was very Force-sensitive. Myself, and
Leia as well, in varying degrees. My teacher Obi-Wan was strong in the Force. Ben Ben was
Force-sensitive, but he was one of the weakest of all my new padawans. Not that it mattered. One
does not need to be strong in the Force to be a great Jedi - a great person. But it weighed on his
mind, I think. There was so much pride in him. He wanted to be stronger. He was convinced that I
was somehow holding him back.
And so Snoke got to him. Rey concluded, reeling. She was stronger than Kylo Ren? Pulled
him over to the Dark side.
Somehow. Yes. For the Jedi, Force powers must never be used to kill. Not directly, anyway, or
so I was taught. But what is the difference, one would ask? Using Force-enhanced speed to jump
oneself closer to an enemy or to evade blaster fire before taking his head off with a lightsaber?
Directly, indirectly, death is still the end result. What is the difference between Light and Dark,
Rey felt overwhelmed all over again, blinking. I she swallowed. Maybe theres no real
difference, she said impulsively. Maybe what matters is the person. Whether theyre using it for
right or wrong.
Right, wrong, Luke smiled humourlessly, tiredly. Morality is a consequence of upbringing and
a byproduct of general opinion. It takes a particular breed of arrogance for anyone to believe
himself or herself the arbiter of all that is right and wrong in the universe. Consider this. In the
Outer Rim there is a sentient species. Over thousands of years, on its own homeworld, it was
considered right for it to eat its own young: those born imperfect whether they were crippled,
or born diseased in some way, or even slightly malformed. To that species, which had many
young, that was the kinder path. To it, our way, to raise our young no matter what, is the evil

path. Who is right? Who is wrong? Should they be exterminated? Should we?
I dont know, Rey confessed. But cant we all find a way to get along?
Light, Dark, what you speak of is the gray in between. A separate path. Tolerance. Luke said
dispassionately. Consider something else. There was a great war, a galactic war. Death and
murder on both sides. One more than the other. At the end, victorious, one side imposed a treaty
on the other for reparations, one that forced them to disarm utterly, leaving them helplessly to
defend their own Core worlds from the predations of pirates. One whose strictures for repayments
were so great that the losing side was forced to institute crippling taxes on its citizens, empty its
treasuries, stop all but critical government spending. Infrastructure crumbled. Companies closed. A
recession began. Unemployment was rife, particularly amongst the young. The local law
enforcement all but collapsed, painfully underfunded. Resentment grew. Suffering into hatred.
More and more found a way to run, to a movement that gave them power again, and purpose.
Both sides were wrong? Rey hazarded a guess. There should have been a reconciliation.
Could there? Empire Citizens everywhere else were viewed with suspicion. Treated with
contempt. In some worlds, with violence. Hatred to hatred. By demonising an entire people,
restricting their travel, refusing to aid them, even when their economies were destroyed by
treating them with a blanket of suspicion rather than compassion, by seeing the Empire as evil
with so many disillusioned youth so it comes again. The wheel turns. A society built upon the
back of a military needs an enemy to retain order and cohesion. And weve given them that
So what do we do? Rey demanded. Just give in?
Ive been thinking about everything. How to break the wheel. But I dont think its possible after
all. Not in my lifetime. Luke closed his eyes briefly. Just be mindful as you grow into your own.
Not to view the world in black and white.
I wont, Rey promised Luke, bewildered again. She didnt know what else to say. Luke,
however, seemed satisfied with that, nodding gently.
Now. Imagine the ocean, as great as the universe: before it, within it, you are nothing. Sink
yourself completely into it. Rest.
Whatever the star configuration was, it wasnt on any of BB-8s databanks, so instead, theyd
opted to jump straight for the Falcon, given that BB-8 had the Falcons new codes. Always a
tricky business, jumping to a ship, Poe had noted cheerfully as he prepped the hyperdrive. Ships
move. And sometimes, we might end up coming out of hyperspace right onto a planet, if theyre
orbiting something.
This didnt inspire confidence by any means.
Nor, unfortunately, had the sudden explosion in one of the quad engines during their hyperspace
jump that had knocked them clean out into real space, spinning wildly until Poe managed to get
them stabilised. BB-8 whistled in alarm as another explosion shook the ship, this time to Finns
right, and Poe whispered No, no, no- as he frantically shut off the engines and routed
emergency sealants. The cockpit dimmed, running off power reserves, and Poe unbuckled himself
from the seat, darting towards the crew quarters.
They still had grav and air, and nothing seemed broken - not from the inside, anyway. I could

take the vacuum suit and head out, Finn suggested.

Poe shook his head. You wouldnt know where to start with repairs. Hell, its beyond fixing with
the supplies that weve got. Weve blown the hyperdrive units, damaged all but two of the turbine
engines. Life supports still good but He trailed off, uncomfortably. BB-8, where are we?
BB-8 linked itself briefly to a port in the side of the quadjumper, then let out a set of querying
beeps. Just our luck, Poe said grimly. Wild space.
Wild space? Finn yelped. Isnt that uninhabited space? Were nowhere near anything then!
He headed back to the cockpit, peering out of it. Nothing but the empty dark, dotted with distant
stars. Could we set a distress beacon? Or call the base? Get them to send someone here to get
Poe started to speak, but there was another explosion, this one thumping them violently into the
wall, sending the ship into another spin. Poe grabbed wildly for the wall even as the artificial grav
cut off, and BB-8 shrilled in alarm, fastening itself hastily to the walls with grapples. Poe had
reoriented himself, grabbing struts on the wall of the quadjumper, hauling himself over to the
controls of the ship, getting his hand on the flightstick. There was an uncomfortable, coughing
thrum, under Finns feet, and the ship stabilised, the stars through the viewport now longer
whirling madly.
Uhh. Gravs out, Finn said, still floating. And. Thats not good, he added, as the light in the
crew space dimmed to a dull red. Red means emergency reserves, right?
BB-8 gave him another alarmed whistle, but Poe didnt answer, working frantically at the console
until he finally swore something in a language Finn couldnt understand, and slammed his fist
against the transparisteel viewport, loud enough that Finn flinched and nearly lost his grip.
Everythings out, Poe said, in a flat voice. Weve got the water recycler and life support, but
thats running off emergency reserves. Even the airlocks bust. Could try the manual release, but I
dont know what good I could do out there and itll be venting air we cant afford to lose.
I shouldnt have chanced a jump. I thought Id had everything fixed but it was a rush job. Now
Ive killed the both of us and-
Hey, hey, Finn kicked off the wall, cautiously. Hed done zero-grav training, but hed done it in
stormtrooper armour, and forgetting to compensate for no armour nearly overshot him straight into
the transparisteel. Steadying himself hastily by grabbing the back of the co-pilot seat, Finn clapped
a hand on Poes shoulder. Look. If wed stayed, we wouldve died. First Order wouldve caught
up with us. And it wouldnt have been pretty. Well well figure this out.
Figure what out? Im a pilot. Im not a starship mech I know just enough to make emergency
repairs. On an X-Wing. This is the first time Im piloting a quadjumper, let alone having to repair
it, we dont have a toolkit and-
Hey. Calm down. Finn dragged Poe over, until they were face to face. Seeing the despair on
Poes face, usually so self-assured, was entirely unsettling. Hey. I said. Well. Figure. It out. Way
I see it. Weve got life support still running. So. Go out in that vacuum suit and see what you can
do, right? If we can just get the comm running. If were going to die anyway, I dont wanna go
quietly. Maybe BB-8 could go with you. Hes an astromech droid. They got databanks.
BB-8 whistled, though whether it was encouragingly or in disagreement Finn couldnt tell. Poe,
however, closed his eyes. Youre right. Well go.

They filled the vacuum suits tanks by siphoning off the reserves, and Poe was silent as they
manually hauled open the inner airlock, letting Poe and BB-8 through before sealing it. Poe
flinched at the decompression as he disengaged the outer lock, then he and BB-8 were through,
the droid fastening itself to the hull by grapples then magnetically attaching itself to the side. The
moment they were out, Finn rummaged in the supply boxes until he found what he was looking
for, then he pocketed it and hauled himself over to the cockpit. Every possible reading was red,
and most of the console had been shut off to conserve power.
Poe? Finn pressed the internal comms.
Well, at least thats working. Poes voice sounded only a little shaky now.
See. Nothing to it, Finn said out aloud, as reassuringly as he could.
Youre not afraid at all, Poe said, wonderingly. Thats amazing.
Maybe I dont have the imagination.
This got a laugh, though Poe sobered up quickly. Somehow I dont think thats the case.
Maybe I nearly died so much over that First Order showdown that it got old. Being in fear of my
life, that is.
Another laugh. Finn grinned to himself. He was getting the hang of humour after all. Pity it was
coming a little late to do anyone else any good. I guess this is a bit anticlimatic after youve
already faced off against a Dark Lord.
Thats right. This? This is nothing. Through the ship, Finn could hear distant, hollow clanking
as Poe made his way to the first damaged quadengine.
Fuck, Poe whispered. Its pretty bad. Whole engines mostly gone. Turbines exposed, even.
All the wiring and the hyperdrive are in bits. Its ripped through the bottom engine as well.
Okay, what about the other side?
The clanking sounded through the top of the quadjumper, then Poe sighed. Its not as bad. But
its not salvageable, either. Not by me. Damn it.
Okay, not the engines then, but can we do something about the comms?
There was a long pause, then Poe said, in a more subdued voice, BB-8 wants to try.
Well, try it, then. Cmon. You cant give up. Youre Poe Dameron. Best pilot in the Resistance.
And were on a dead ship. There was something in the way Poe said that something that
reminded Finn of himself, only two months and a bit before, when he had even mentioned the
First Order.
Were not dead yet. Tell him, BB-8.
BB-8 beeped, having routed itself directly to the internal comms. For the next hour, Finn sat in the
pilots chair, listening to Poe and BB-8 talking to each other, working on the circuitry. It was, he
decided, even a little restful. Death like this held no fear for Finn. His only real regret was that he
wouldnt live to see Rey become a Jedi. How cool would that be? Or getting to learn how to fly
an X-Wing with Poe. Meeting Luke Skywalker. But none of these really burned him. If this was
the end, Finn would face it with one of the two people who meant most to him in the verse.

Finn as nearly dozing off when Poe said, quietly, Finn?

The damages Poe trailed off. BB-8s going to keep working on it.
How long had it been by now? Uh, shouldnt you be getting back in here now? That tanks only
good for two hours.
Thats what I meant, Poe said quietly. Life support in theres running off emergency. I dont
know how much longer itll run, but its going to last far longer recycling air for just one person.
BB-8 beeped in alarm. I messed up, jumping us out here. So-
So nothing, Finn snapped. Get back in here. Ill get the airlock. Its going to be fine, Poe.
You think Im afraid of dying. Thats not it at all. I dont want you to die.
And what good will it do if it stretches out an hour or a day more? Im still out here with no
hyperdrive and no comms.
BB-8 might be able to fix-
Poe, if you dont come back in here, Im going out to get you.
You cant do that. You dont have a vacuum suit.
Ill hold my breath.
Thats not a viable Youll get hypoxia! And your blood will boil and youll die in-
Then you probably should come back in, right? Finn growled. I mean it. Im coming out.
Damn it, Finn!
BB-8, tell Poe hes being an idiot. Obligingly, the astromech beeped loudly. See. BB-8 agrees
with me. Youre outvoted. Now are you coming back, or do I have to go out there?
Poe was silent for a long while, then he exhaled, irritated, and Finn heard him clanking along the
flank of the ship. By the time Poe was back inside, and Finn had engaged the internal air lock, he
was pulling off the vacuum suits helmet, red-faced with anger. Finn anchored himself by hooking
an arm against a grip on the hull, refusing to back down. Finally-
Growling, Poe hauled himself over by grabbing the collar of the jacket that hed given Finn, and
even as Finn froze up, willing combat-trained reflexes not to kick in, Poe kissed him hard on the
Wha Finn sputtered, when Poe let up. Poe-
You drive me crazy sometimes, Poe snarled.
Wait wait is this what you meant when you said you liked me?
You couldve elaborated!
I tried!

Okay. Okay. Getting upset is just going to work the air recyclers harder.
Im not upset, Poe scowled, clearly lying. Im just I know you like Rey. But if we were both
going to die out here, I didnt want to die without-
All right, Finn interrupted. Firstly. Rey and I are friends. Just friends, okay? Secondly, Im
pretty sure Jedi dont do the dating thing. Thats in all the stories, right? Otherwise bad shit and
death happens or whatever. Finn wasnt really clear about that. All hed learned about the Jedi
was the stuff hed skimmed off the databanks that General Organa had given him access to.
A smile twitched up in the corner of Poes mouth, rueful. So all this time
Thirdly. Lets talk about this when you wake up, okay?
Wake up? Poe began, then stiffened as Finn palmed the hypnocane from his pocket and jabbed
it into the side of Poes neck. Finn-
If one of us sleeps, were not using up as much air, and the recyclers will last longer, Finn told
him, holding Poe close against him. See you on the other side, Poe.
Finn waited, until Poes breathing had evened out, then he hauled them both back to the cockpit,
and strapped Poe down into the closest passenger chair with some manoeuvring and cursing. In
the comms, BB-8 beeped curiously, as Finn strapped himself into the pilots seat. Dont worry
about it, BB-8. Hell just be out for a while. If we do get to call for help and it comes, Ill carry
him out of here.
Besides, if they were going to die like this, there were harder ways to go than never waking up.
Job done, Finn settled back, and waited calmly for rescue or death.

Chapter End Notes

how do we know planets exist:

exposed squishy human in space:
alien morality: the book that opened my mind to this, ironically, given the author (I
read it before googling him and reading his cray opinions), is Orson Scott Cards
Speaker for the Dead. Enders Game and Speaker are incredible books.

Chapter 10
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

Qatamer rose gracefully out of the bleak desert sea of Kinyov like the pale elegant fingers of a
sleeping goddess, reaching gently upwards towards the sun, clasped around a giant pearl - the
fully enclosed transparent solar cell-plated biosphere that kept Qatamer at a constant colder
temperature and humidity, allowing lush plants to grow. Like many pre-Imperial era Lorrdian
cities, it seemed to have been made with no function but to be beautiful. Han had been to Lorrd
City, once, to deliver a package quietly to its university, but hed never gone to any of the other
major cities on the Lorrdian homeworld. Technically, the Lorrdian spaceport was in Lorrd City,
but unsurprisingly, as the home of Hart and Parn Starships, Qatamer had a private spaceport all to
They landed in the stolen Stars Reach transport, because keeping it was probably more trouble
than it was worth, and as they disembarked onto the delicate lip of one of the leaf-like landing
pads at the main funnel of the spaceyard, they found themselves hustled quickly indoors by
security, while a pilot ducked into the transport, probably to get rid of it. Han had vaguely
expected to be taken to some large CEOs office, on the topmost part of the spire, maybe, but they
were taken to a jaunt lift, instead, and swept downwards. Maukeen glanced at Han, her eyes
slightly narrowed, but Lando and Snips seemed calm.
Been to Lorrd before? Han asked Lando, when the four security troopers with them stayed
silent. No one was pointing any guns, and Han and the others had been allowed to keep their
weapons, but then - or because of that - this many weapons in an enclosed space made Han
Lorrd City, yeah. Not out here.
On a job for the university?
Yeah. You?
Same. Asked me for a Bothan Sky Dragon egg. Han grimaced. Acquiring that hadnt been fun.
They asked me for a juvenile Zahtjav.
Han whistled. You found one of those?
Not wild, no. Stole it off King Pranas zoo. Lando paused. Wonder if he ever stopped being
pissed off.
Its a wonder that the two of you are still alive, Snips said dryly, even as the jaunt lift shuddered
to a stop, the doors whispering open.
Han had been all over the galaxy, but he gawked as they walked out into an enclosed glass
mezzanine, overlooking a massive factory; the chamber was so big that he couldnt make out the
far end. Bits and pieces of starships were being manufactured: here an assembly line creating parts
of a hyperdrive, there a long queue of robotic arms, delicately plating part upon part to what
looked like a holodeck. Lando also seemed suitably awed, though Snips and Maukeen gave the
huge enterprise barely a glance as they were politely but firmly hurried along.

The mezzanine corridor led to a door that they were taken through, though security didnt follow
them through. Within it was some sort of foremans office, empty for now, with a bench that held
an array of control decks to the left, against the view of the massive manufacturing floor, and a
large, long holodeck to the right. Fiolla turned from the holodeck, severe in a dark blue CSA
uniform, straight-backed, her hands folded behind her, and she smiled warmly at them, her face
lighting up.
Han. Its good to see you.
Fiolla, Han grinned. Youre more beautiful than ever.
Fiolla merely chuckled. Welcome as well, General Lando Calrissian Ranger Maukeen. And
Ahsoka Tano.
Youre well-informed, Snips said neutrally.
Hart and Parn has agents in every major space trade hub, Fiolla smiled. Consequence of doing
business. Were based out of Qatamer, but weve got a few space yards in orbit across the galaxy.
Locked down some nice contracts with a few big players. So I do hear things now and then. Like
how there are actually two Resistances. One that everyone knows about, led by the famous
Princess Leia Organa. And one thats been kicking quietly around since the Empire that hardly
anyones heard of, working along the edges.
Where I like it, Snips nodded. Had enough of bureaucracy and councils for a lifetime.
So I hear. Fiolla said softly. Not many people walk away from the Jedi Order without also
walking towards the Dark Side.
Han stared at Snips, startled, but Snips smiled tiredly. That was a long time ago, AuditorGeneral. Light and Dark - theyre not the only choices out there.
Really? Han asked sardonically. Like what other choices? Shades of Gray? Turquoise, maybe?
Theres using the Force for good, and theres the other guys who love wearing black and using
red sabers. Thats how the stories tend to go.
Stories are convenient ideas that people repeat for their purposes, Snips smile widened. People
have walked away from the Order before. Her smile faded. But yes. Sometimes the
consequences of that I do have regrets. Sometimes, I wonder if things couldve worked out
differently if I had stayed. But theres no use mourning the past.
Still, Fiolla continued mildly. Given who your master was-
You are well-informed. My master? Snips let out a humourless laugh. The man I knew is long
gone. Long before he took on another name. But he remembered himself at the end. And what do
you know, the prophecy was true after all. He did balance the Force - for a time.
Wait, Han said slowly. Your master. Was. Darth Vader?
He was Anakin Skywalker, Snips corrected, frowning at Han. And he was still part of the Jedi
when I chose to walk away. He tried to get me to stay. But I knew the Jedi are right about a lot
of things. But theyre also blind, in some ways. I needed to walk my own path. So. Here we are.
Here we are, Fiolla echoed, and this time, her smile was friendly. I just wanted to hear that
from you. So I say again: welcome to Lorrd, Ahsoka Tano. Snips inclined her head. Now.
Captain Calrissian-

Since you saved my boss ass, Lando cut in, You can call me Lando.
Lando, then. How many pilots do you have in Fulcrum?
Uhh, we dont have the ships after that mess over near the Slice, but twenty-one? Give or take.
Half of those still in training.
Ill have my assistant show you the registry. Youre after X-Wings, I presume. We make some
variants here, quite similar, better firepower. You can have your pick. A corvette may also be
available. Lando stared, speechless, and Fiolla sighed. I know its not that much help, given
how large Hart and Parn is. But anything bigger than a corvette will be difficult to quietly write off
the books.
What about the Resistance? Han asked hopefully. If youre full up on X-Wings, we lost a lot
of those fighting Starkiller base.
Unfortunately, the Resistance is very closely watched, Fiolla said heavily. Thats why I had
my eye on Fulcrum, instead. Thanks to Tano here, its far harder for First Order agents to infiltrate
her forces.
Bloody Force-users. Right, Han said, disappointed.
However, I can still help here and there, Fiolla added briskly. Hart and Parn has skip tracer
probes everywhere. And we make a great number of even run-of-the-mill freighters and tugs
around the galaxy. Like quadjumpers, for example. And we make it a point to help our own,
where we can. At Hans blank look, Fiolla explained, While you were transiting from the
Farthest Sky, my agents picked up a distress beacon out in Wild Space. Just in time. The air
recyclers had cut out.
A beacon? Han asked, still puzzled.
Cobbled together from circuitry and an internal comms unit by a BB-8 unit, quite ingeniously.
One of a kind, I believe it is. Fiolla grinned. I think you might be acquainted with its owner.
Finn woke up in a soft bed that smelled nice, of soft powder and fresh laundry, and as he opened
his eyes, blinking sleep away, he found himself staring blankly. Just off the bed, slouched into a
chair with his boots propped up on a side table was Han-fucking-Solo, talking quietly with Poe
over some sort of portable infodeck slate in his hands, with BB-8 tucked against the chair.
No wait. This did kinda make sense.
So. Were dead? Finn asked, and Poe flinched violently. Damn. Well, we tried. Afterlife seems
nice. Smells nice. Very clean. Someone had even bothered to give them all clean new clothes.
Not bad.
Nice to see you too, kid, Solo said dryly.
So whats next? Ooh do we get to haunt people? I know some people whose ass could
really use a good haunting. Certain assholes with red lightsabers, for one.
Dont get too excited, Solo smirked.
Finn. Were not dead, Poe said patiently. BB-8 managed to build a distress beacon. Short
range, but we still got picked up by uh. Solos friend. Who apparently owns Hart and Parn, of all

What can I say, Solo drawled. Live long enough and youll make all sorts of interesting
friends. My lifes not just one long series of bad deals. Sides. She saved my ass too. Had agents
in Starkiller base. So were two-zip Kid? Solo asked cautiously as Finn sat up, wide-eyed.
Everything all right there?
Youre alive! Finn whooped, pouncing, hugging Solo tightly, ignoring his yelp of shock and the
chair tilting alarmingly over the tiles. Oh man. Wait till the General hears about this! Or did you
tell her already?
Not yet all still hush-hush with the comm taps will you get off, Solo pushed ineffectively at
Finns shoulders. Finn let go, a little abashed, but Solo patted his shoulder and got up. Right.
Theres some people the two of you should meet.
Well catch up, Poe said, his eyes intent on Finns face. Solo raised an eyebrow, then he sniffed.
Kids. Well. Dont take too long. Yknow what they say about keeping women waiting. Solo
clapped Poe on the arm, and ambled out of the small guest chamber, infodeck still in hand. BB-8
peered up at Poe, then at Finn, then, surprisingly, it trundled off hastily after Solo.
Before you start, Finn got to his feet, as Poe advanced, I hypnod you in the neck cos you
were freaking out and using more air. No hard feelings, right?
Shouldve used it on yourself.
Sure, like I could trust you not to vent yourself right after or something equally stupid.
Stupid, was it?
You heard me, Finn growled, taking the last step, right up against Poe, tugging him over with
palms clasped over his cheeks. They bumped noses awkwardly before Poe groaned and tilted his
head, then they fit perfectly, and now things slotted into place: Poes strange moods, Finns own
thoughts, like hero worship, but not quite. Poe licked against Finns mouth, and Finn let him in,
and this was better, wet and messy as it felt, loud in the small room, Poes hand stroking up over
Finns arms, nervously, then settling over his hips, then gliding downwards, hungry, to knead his
ass. Whoa.
Too fast? Poe asked, when Finn jerked his head back for air, lip caught in his teeth, and Finn
kissed him again to answer him, squeezing his eyes shut. Wow. He was kissing Poe Dameron.
Few weeks back, Finn would never have believed it. Poe kissed like a starving man afraid that
that crumbs hed found would be stolen away at any moment, his groans choked up and fractured
against Finns mouth, every unsteady breath snatched between their lips like a grateful prayer. The
world around them both no longer seemed to matter; his own blood felt hot under his skin.
If I had more time, Poe panted against his mouth, Id go down on my knees, right now. He
kissed Finn hard on the lips. Get you in my mouth.
It took Finn a long moment to parse that. You mean my Isnt that kinda uh. Unhygienic?
Strangely, Poe laughed, husky and deep, his stare intense with naked reverence. Lust. The things
I could show you-
Hey kids, Solos voice cut in over the comms, very dryly. When I said Dont take too long I
actually meant it.

Poe scowled, and Finn couldnt help it - he started grinning. Cmon. Lets go see what the old
man wants.
Outside, a security guard led them briskly through the neat, elegantly decorated corridors of what
was clearly some sort of guestroom complex, and into a jaunt lift, heading upwards. They
emerged into a domed, high-ceilinged room, with five arched exits leading out to landing pads.
Solo was slouched into a divan at the centre, BB-8 behind him, and strangers were seated more
primly on chairs and other divans around him: a dark skinned, silver-haired old man to Solos left,
and a wrinkled Togruta female to his right. Behind her loomed a huge silver and black Trianii
female, probably a Ranger, given the blaster at her hip and the rifle at her back, and opposite Solo
was a dark haired human female, middle-aged at best, wearing a CSA uniform, rising as Finn and
Poe were escorted into the room.
The famous Poe Dameron, said the CSA woman, smiling in welcome.
You must be Auditor-General Hart-and-Parn Gorra-Fiolla. Poe greeted her. Thanks for the
Just Fiolla will do.
This is Finn, also of the Resistance, Poe introduced Finn.
Fiollas face clouded briefly. Ah yes. Apologies about the sedation, Finn. We needed you both
under while we checked out the ship logs and the situation. Weve had pirates string out our own
ships as bait before. So we usually hypno-gas a ship with no comm response before boarding.
Standard procedure.
No harm done, lady. Thanks for the save, I owe you one.
Poe nodded. Solo tried to bring me up to speed. Far as I can tell theres a second Resistance
called, uh, Fulcrum, a bigger one, led by um, Ahsoka Tano here, who used to be a Jedi-
What? Finn blinked at the wrinkled little lady, who smirked at him with elegant amusement.
-and General Lando Calrissian over there and youre going to give them squadrons of
starfighters and maybe a corvette, but youre not going to give the actual Resistance anything?
Told you he wasnt gonna hold back, Solo chuckled.
Im going to return them their best pilot, Fiolla raised her eyebrows. Besides. As matters stand,
I do believe its in the best interests of the galaxy for General Organa to get over her
disillusionment with galactic politics, and return to whats left of the New Republic. Were she to
suddenly have her own armada again, what well have is three factions, all with their own
Someone telling Leia what to do? Thatll be the day, Solo muttered.
Also, you own Hart and Parn Starships. I know you guys build cruisers and frigates. Poe
added sharply. You build generation ships, even. Ive heard about the massive one you built for
some of the Church of the Force. The one they rode out of this galaxy on, heading for the Silver
River. So youve definitely got the capacity to build star destroyers.
I like this guy, Lando stage-whispered to Solo. Someone drops a gift-bantha in our lap and he
asks for it to be gold-plated.
I have agents and probes everywhere but deep in First Order territory, Fiolla retorted evenly.

Starkiller base may not be the only galactic weapon that they possess-
Speaking of that, Tano said thoughtfully. What in the name of the Force is wrong with these
people? Whats with all these round superweapons that have a single flaw that can be exploited by
a single starship? And whats the point of going to all the expense of Starkiller base anyway?
Once theyve drained their star, isnt that it? Arent they stuck with a dormant ice ball of a base?
Dont ask me maam, Finn said awkwardly, into the silence, wondering if the question was
directed at him. Never really thought about it.
The word on the vine is that the Supreme Leader wasnt even entirely concerned about Starkiller
base being destroyed, Fiolla said grimly.
Too much to hope that he just doesnt know that hes been beat, then, Lando said gloomily.
Technically he hasnt, Maukeen said gruffly. I am not surprised that Supreme Leader was not
concerned. Starkiller base did what it was made to do. It destroyed Hosnian Prime and its ancillary
planets without incurring any First Order casualties. And it destroyed part of the New Republics
fleet. Now the First Order has the greatest Navy and army in the galaxy. Even if Hart and Parn
openly commit all their ships to the war. It was an opening salvo. The rise of a new Empire.
Trust a Ranger to go straight for the throat, Fiolla said soberly. But yes, thats where we stand.
Even without Starkiller base, should the First Order choose to invade in full force, the Corporate
Sector could make the war costly, but ultimately, we would lose. Especially against enemies
ruthless enough to disregard the cost of civilian life. Thats why we cant openly arm the
Resistance. But a second Resistance, one that no ones heard of? Thats easier.
Im disappointed, Poe said bluntly. But I see your point.
However, I do want to return you to the Resistance. And while I cant give the Resistance a fleet,
I can give you a ship. Fiolla beckoned, and they all followed her out to the archway to her right,
over a landing pad that sat over the wide banks of clouds, a pale silver under the early afternoon
light, a gentle sea that stretched thinly around them, the biosphere dome of the city below their
feet. The air was chilly and thin.
At the end of the landing pad was a ship like nothing Finn had ever seen. Lengthwise, it was at
least as long as the Falcon, but angular at the edges, like the flat diamond-shaped head of a viper.
Two great knife-life ventral fins sat to either side of a globular transparisteel cockpit, and against
its flanks were two extended sets of missile banks, like banked wings, with a quad laser turret at its
belly under a gunner cradle. Its smooth, radar-deflecting flanks were painted a deep charcoal
black, and it sat low against the launchpad, like a hunched predator. This was a ship built for a
very specific sort of war.
Minimum crew, one pilot, Fiolla said briskly, into the stunned silence. Total passengers, eight.
Astromech slots in behind the cockpit. State-of-the-art sensory arrays, fully functional med bay,
crew quarters for eight, workshop, cargo space or training room. Quad laser on the belly, missile
payload includes standard concussive and starbolt missiles. And a cloaking device, powered by
stygium crystal. Military-grade shields. Clean ship codes. And a Waiver for CSA space, of
Its a really modified Imperial Transport? Poe breathed. Impressive.
Nothing like any transport Ive ever been on, Finn disagreed.
We didnt build her. Thats why Im giving her to you. She cant be traced to us, Fiolla

conceded. We found her, actually. Hart and Parn called in a lot of bad debts after the Empire
collapsed, and this was in one of the tranches. We upgraded parts of her, fixed the rest, and here
she is. According to her shipboard log, she was once called the Rogue Shadow. I was going to
give her to Solo, she added, amused. But he refused.
Flashy thing, that one, Solo smirked. What would I do with a ship like that? Besides, Ive got a
ship already. Still, he added, to Poe, If your droid has the new codes to my ship, maybe you
could drop me off with the Falcon before hotting back to the Resistance.
Rogue Shadow, huh? I like that, Poe said, grinning fiercely. I think well get along just fine.

Chapter End Notes

I actually did enjoy the Force Unleashed game the first one, anyway, because sheer
destructive Dark Side power, fiddly controls aside. So I thought Id like to have (my)
ship in this verse. Even if Im not going to have any of the other characters in the
story. ^^
For those who arent familiar with the games Star Wars games actually have better
trailers (IMO) than even the films. Like so:
v=rPdJdEFilaU The Old Republic. And KOTOR 1 and 2 are great games. :) Even if
I think theyre no longer considered canon either.

Chapter 11
Chapter Notes

This is a two chapter update :) so head to the next part when you're done!

See the end of the chapter for more notes

The Rogue Shadow was definitely one of the sweetest ships Han had ever been on, and if hed
been younger, shipless, and less worried about his co-pilot and friends, hed probably have given
his left nut to own her. Hell, to even just take her out for a spin among the stars.
Now, however, Han was content to sit by the crews table and deal a hand of sabacc cards. Poe
had invited Han to the co-pilots seat, but one glance at the cockpit had told Han that the Rogue
Shadow didnt actually need a co-pilot unless the missile bank controls needed to be farmed out,
given there was an astromech slot, so hed told Poe to knock himself out and had retired to the
crews quarters.
Maukeen had opted to come with them, for reasons Han still wasnt too sure of. Hed been hoping
that Snips would come - the more Jedi the better - but shed smiled mysteriously and said
something about having nothing to prove. Togruta ex-Jedi or not, Han knew that he was never
ever going to understand women. As to the big Trianii, Maukeen was taking up most of her side
of the curved crew seats, tail flicking on the ground, drawing her hand of sabacc cards close to her
furry chest.
I still dont get the rules, Finn said doubtfully, as he picked up his own hand.
Kid, Ive explained the rules to you three times. Han said patiently.
And I still dont get it. Whats the point of cards that change their value each time a new game
Means you cannot cheat, Maukeen growled, By marking a deck beforehand.
There were ways to cheat anyway, but Han kept those to himself. Its just a game, kid. Play a
few rounds, youll get the hang of it.
They were probably going to play quite a few rounds, by the looks of it. The Rogue Shadows
onboard scanners had placed the Falcons new shipcodes somewhere in Wild Space, but dropping
out of hyperspace hadnt actually put them anywhere near the Falcon, or anywhere at all.
Thankfully, onboard scanners had indicated a planet a few days burn away, so they were heading
towards it on a comfortable thrust.
Han didnt really mind, impatient as the kids were. The Rogue Shadow was equipped with the
latest in Hart and Parn replicators, which meant that shipboard rations could be pretty much
anything that Han wanted, even coffee. Also, it wasnt as though getting there any quicker was
going to help, if Chewbacca and Rey had been on their own for this long. And besides, they had
Luke. A Jedi Grandmaster. What could go wrong?

Days later, when they landed planetside, Han was pretty sure that hed jinxed it all.
The Rogue Shadow had found the Falcon by tracking heat signatures, and had set down close to
it, on the bank of a high plateau, next to a grayish sea. The beach far below was a strange, glassy
black, like crushed obsidian, and the grass below their feet was oddly springy, and a strange
pinkish blue. Behind them was a vast forest of gnarled plant-life, all white trunks and glorious
crimson and gold leaves, a sweeping blanket of colour that ran riot all the way to distant pale
Life support aboard the Falcon was still running, which was how theyd found it, but the ship was
totally empty. What. The fuck.
Han sat down heavily at the crews bench, exhausted, as they gathered back in the crew quarters
of the Falcon. Theyd spent an hour going through all the hidden crawlspaces and smugglers
holds aboard the Falcon, and checked the ships log. Nothing. No Wookie, no astromech, no pair
of Jedi. Maukeen ambled up to him, her tail lashing, nervous. Life-scents are old, she said
And the ramp was down, left wide open. Han muttered. If theyd all gone out exploring,
Chewie would have locked the ship down.
Droid tracks lead out south. Into the red forested sea. I can follow them.
Right. Han shook off the dull fear that had settled over him. Lets get armed to the fucking
teeth and go looking for our friends.
Im coming with you, Finn added quickly.
Nope. You and Dameron are going back into that fancy ship, and youre going to run some
recon for us. See if you cant sniff out what the problem is. Dameron probably knows the drill.
Roger that. Poe said uncomfortably. A pilot to the bone, the empty ship clearly spooked him.
Ive run my share of recons.
Course, Han added, If anything crops up that the Rogue Shadow cant handle, skip offworld.
Dont worry about us, okay? Weve still got the Falcon, and the Resistance needs that shiny
stealth ship more than us. Dont be a hero.
You could fly the Falcon Poe suggested. Maukeen here can be your gunner. We can both
sweep and search from the air.
Forest covers too thick and we might lose the tracks that way. Better if the two of us work the
ground. Wont be my first rodeo. Bet it aint Maukeens, either.
Maukeen grinned, baring sharp canines. Worry about yourself, old man.
All right, Solo. Poe looked even more unhappy. Now he wasnt just a pilot in a ghost ship, he
was going to leave a fellow pilot grounded on a ghost world. Well see what we can do.
Clear skies, Han told Poe, in the traditional pilots farewell, and Poe nodded tightly, heading
down the ramp with Finn at his heels.
The Rogue Shadow raised ship just as Han and Maukeen armed themselves with as much as they
could carry from the Falcons stores, and as they headed out, the black ship was still rising up,
towards the clouds. After a pause, the stealth generator kicked in, and Han actually had to squint,
eyes watering, to pick out the ships outline against the pale orange sky. Good. Whatever mightve

gotten to Chewie and the others planetside, if they were hostile - they were just about to get a
nasty surprise.
Kinda wish your bosslady came with us now, Han said, when they got to the tree line.
Maukeen grunted. Preparing to fight galactic war, more important than finding one retired Jedi
and one maybe-padawan.
If you put it that way.
Hear General Organa pins great hope on finding her brother. Maukeen shrugged. Why? One
Jedi does not change much in the scheme of things. This is not a holofilm. Better to build
diplomatic ties. Raise big fleet. What can one retired Jedi do?
Criticising the General to her face when shes hellbent on an idea never works.
Maukeen let out a chuffing laugh. She is your mate.
Was. Was. And you could say that gave me a front-row seat to the way she is. Whyd you come
along, then, if you think this is a waste of time?
Diplomatic attache. Maukeen grinned toothily at Han when he stared up at her. Looks like we
are all going to be happy allies. So I am here as a representative.
You mean you know youre gonna be bored back there while Snips and Lando and Fiolla
negotiate terms and handover and whatever, Han said dryly. I know Fiolla. She might be
speaking all high and mighty now about giving you guys the ships, but shell want some kind of
agreement in writing, tons of terms and conditions.
Maukeen shrugged her huge, furry shoulders, and grinned again. Maybe yes. Thought I might be
bored. Besides. First Jedi Temple. Sounds interesting.
I was hoping it would be boring, Han said sadly. That wed come here and find Chewie, Luke
and the others having a campfire on some old ruin. Drinks all around.
You? You are Han Solo. Survivor of hundreds of adventures.
Yeah, well, I never start off wanting to have an adventure, Han grunted. Thats the best way to
get yourself killed, fuzzball. He toggled the comm link in his ear. Hows things up there,
Weve got nothing, Poe reported over the comms. Scanners show some sort of structure along
the way youre headed. Cant tell what it is, though. Seems like its mostly underground. Theres
some sort of interference. Same kind that scattered the Falcons signal.
All right. Keep looking. And keep this channel on.
Static crackled briefly over the headset. -opy that, S-
Han glanced up, glaring at the mottled specks of sunlight that managed to get past the thick
crimson canopy. Within the forest there was little light, odd given that all was shielding them from
the sun was just leaves. They were picking their way over thick, ropy pale gray roots, each as
thick as one of Maukeens thighs, and the world was lit in a dim twilight that smelled weirdly
sweet, like burning sugar.
Once, Maukeen said, as she hopped lightly over a root, I saw Ahsoka take out a squad of

stormtroopers by herself. They were raiding one of our resupply allies. Didnt know about us, of
course. Just happened that we were there.
Really? Whatd she do?
She lifted their transport with a gesture and threw it right at them. It crushed them all.
That little old lady? Han blinked. Well. I guess I could believe that. The things I saw back in
the day, with the Rebel Alliance Also, Luke had this teacher, called him Yoda apparently he
lifted Lukes X-Wing out of a swamp.
Yes. The famous Master Yoda. Maukeens tail swished. I wonder. Jedi are very powerful,
yes? You have seen it. I have seen it.
Uh, yeah. Well. Your boss doesnt think shes a Jedi anymore, though. Not that I thought it was
something you could quit doing. Then again, wasnt that what Luke effectively did? At least
Snips had started her own version of the Resistance. As far as Han knew, Luke had gone off to sit
in a quiet planet for at least a decade.
Maukeen waved a paw-hand dismissively. And this First Temple, it is abandoned?
Assuming this is the First Temple. Seems like it. We didnt see any structures coming in, or any
heat signatures that looked like cities or settlements.
So if the Jedi are so powerful, and this was their temple, Maukeens ears twitched back and
forth, What could have chased them away?
Thanks, Maukeen, Han said dryly. If I wasnt already worried, I would be now.
Youre welcome.
Midday in Jakku was always blisteringly hot. Sweating in her rags, Rey crouched under the scavs
tarp and scrubbed her daily find with her brush, blinking sweat out of her eyes as she did so.
Shed been in luck today: found part of a hyperdrives valve interconnector that was still intact.
Itd give her at least two portions, for sure.
Glancing up at the snorting sound of some distant load beast, Rey looked right into the blank,
liberally wrinkled face of Marsa Col, one of the oldest human scavs in Niima Outpost, her sparse
hair bound back by a dark headscarf. As always, Marsa stared right back at Rey, neither friendly
nor unfriendly, and said nothing. Rey ducked her head, not wanting to draw attention, and
scrubbed harder.
Then, to her surprise, Marsa murmured, Rey.
Rey looked around, concerned, but Platts mech boys were prowling around the outer fringes of
the scrub zone, oblivious. Marsa?
Look deeper, Rey, Marsa whispered. This isnt your now. Come back.
Rey stared at the old woman with surprise, even as an uneasy stir of vertigo swept her, making her
blink and rub at her eyes with the back of her palm. What did you say? Rey hissed, but Marsa
merely blinked at her again, blankly, and went back to scrubbing.
The queue for Platts booth wasnt that long today, which was a good sign. Platts prices tended to

turn arbitrary if he had to deal with a crowd, particularly if anyone in front sold the same thing. By
the time a Rodian left, clutching a couple of portions to his chest, Rey was feeling slightly hopeful
about having two portions, though she didnt smile as she unloaded her scrubbed finds on Platts
counter. Platt glanced at her, narrow-eyed, then at the scrap, then he snorted and swept it off into
interior storage.
Youve become unstuck, Rey, Platt said quietly, with more gentleness in his usually curt tone
than Rey had ever heard. Come back.
What? Rey blinked, and Platt stared at her in annoyed surprise.
I said, one and a half portions, Platt growled. Got a problem with that?
No. Quickly, Rey gathered the metal slabs, and scurried off, squirrelling her payment within her
As she left Platts store, she stumbled for a moment, startled and horrified. Niima outpost was in
flames. Charred bodies lay scattered on the dust, tents and habs had been blown up or were on
fire. People ran around in blind panic, screaming. She blinked rapidly, ready to backpedal into the
store, and then, abruptly, it was all gone. Same old Niima Outpost, scavs trundling tiredly back
and forth, trying to avoid the burning heat of the sun.
Getting home was a relief. As Rey unloaded her gear gratefully and put the pot on boil, she sat
back against the hull, breathing out, scrubbing a hand over her face. Heat stroke, maybe. That was
probably it. The Jedi-robed doll on her shelf seemed to agree, its tiny stick-like body propped
precariously against the wall. Then, to Reys dull horror, the little doll turned its head towards her.
Rey, said a weary male voice in her head. The Force is reacting to your mind, Rey. Calm yourself.
Look inwardGo away! Rey shrieked, scrambling up to her feet, then she yelped at the sudden rush of
vertigo, the ground spinning, and she fell heavily onto her rump onto the sand, gasping. Her voice
seemed lighter, thinner, and as she looked up - and up - Unkor Platt seemed far, far bigger than
she remembered and- her face was wet with tearsSomethings changing, Platt murmured, face tilted upwards, frowning as the freighter in the sky
banked, turning around. This isnt what you remember.
Theyre theyre coming back! Rey gasped in delight. Theyre coming back for me!
Rey, Platt said gravely, but Rey wasnt listening. She was running forward over the sand,
waving her little hands, whooping, screaming. Her heart felt like it would burst with relief and joy,
her eyes streaming with tears. They were coming back! They. Who were they? Did she care? Did
it matter?
Rey! Platt called, behind her, in an oddly different voice, a more human one. Your friends
need you, Rey.
She turned, but Platt was throwing up his hands with a gruff grunt, stamping back towards Niima
Outpost in disgust. The deal, whatever it was, was obviously off. Rey wasnt going to be left
behind after all. The freighter was banking down, initiating landing procedures, settling down on
the sand, venting steam. Rey darted over, excited, as the landing ramp lowered then she
stumbled to a halt, wide-eyed, as a black-robed figure strode out of it, in a black helmet, a sword
of red light in his hand (a lightsaber, whispered a voice at the back of her mind) that spat and
hissed in his grip.

He strode menacingly forward, towards her, and as Rey backpedaled, she nearly tripped on a
corpse behind her. The sky had gone dark, rain lashing the ground, and she was in a deep forest
all of a sudden, the grass wet with rain and blood and littered with corpses, she wasRey, whispered the corpse at her feet. First the Light, then the Dark. Centre yourself.
Remember the ocean. Now.
The ocean? Rey turned and ran, towards the tree line, gasping, stumbling. Stay away from me!
The oceanShe fell face-first into water on the next step, and coughing, sputtering, nearly went under.
Splashing wildly, trying to keep her head above water like Chewie had shown her, Rey blinked
water out of her stinging eyes, gasping in shock. She was surrounded by water, as far as the eye
could see. And below her feet, swirling idly, was a deep shadow, sinuous and thick. Panicking,
Rey tried to paddle forward, coughing, spitting water, and flinched as a silver-scaled fish surfaced
up out of the water (a Finnfish, murmured her mind), right beside her.
You have to control yourself, murmured the Finnfish, somehow. Its now or never.
Theres a megapred down there! Rey splashed towards the Finnfish. We have to go, Dosmit!
No there isnt. Only a shadow of your mind. Fear given flesh through the Force. Calm yourself.
Centre yourself.
Calm. How could Rey be calm? She was on the verge of drowning. Or getting eaten, maybe. But
the Finnfish popped up around her, poking their heads out of the water, none of them below,
scanning for preds. Watching her. Reluctantly, gritting her teeth, Rey closed her eyes. She was in
the ocean. She was the ocean. There were no silver alien minds beside her, or even the deep,
hungry mind of a megapred, not really: only the impression of them, like afterimages. But there
were other minds, out there. Chewie. Luke. A stranger. And Han Solo? He was alive?
Yes. Luke sounded amused in Reys mind. Han does have a knack of defying the odds, doesnt
he? Pull them to you. Then come to me.
Pull them Rey opened her eyes, breathing out, and she concentrated, breathing deep. One
moment she was still splashing awkwardly, the next she was a Finnfish, a large one, her eyesight
lined up everywhere, in all directions, disorienting at first until she knew. She spun in a tight,
joyous circle, glorying in her new speed, then she floated in the sea, concentrating again. A bulky
brown fish, twice her length, its scales fine like tiny furs, spun into being beside her, thrashing
awkwardly for a moment before it righted itself, and it sang to her, churring and low. Then a
sleeker, sharp-nosed fish, silver with black spots, built like a predator, all teeth, darting wildly
beneath them in the waves before it noticed them, gliding up curiously, wary, but not friendly.
And finally a small gray fish with long narrow fins, built for speed, that froze in the water beside
the Chewiefish until it calmed down.
What the hell? The Solofish demanded. Wow, fuck. Ive done some benders over the years but this
is a fucking trip and then some.
I do not like being a fish, said the sharp-nosed Maukeenfish, that was its name. This is
unnatural. The Chewiefish growled.
Come, Rey told them, diving for the deeps. The mind she shared knew where she was meant to
go. Dosmit had been there before, many times, to take presents for the EarthSkyFish, the kind one,
and the empty one.

Why am I so tiny compared to you guys? The Solofish complained. Do I even have teeth? This is
so depressing. It kept close to the Chewiefish, which huffed a deep laugh. Wheres Luke?
Come, Rey ignored the questions, diving faster. During the descent, the Maukeenfish crowded
protectively closer to her as the shadows of megapreds swept past in the distance, hunting, the
great hunger of their afterimage-minds never sated, but Rey ignored them all, searching. Here, the
ocean floor was sand, with a few crustaceons scuttling slowly across, sharp claws waving in
warning as they passed.
Nice to see you too, you big lug, the Solofish was saying, as the Chewiefish bumped repeatedly
and affectionately into its flank. But fish hugs are not fun when youre tiny. Stop it. Later, all
They were closing in on some sort of underground structure, once part of a column of land that
had been broken away up top or weathered down. It wasnt as large as Rey thought it would be,
the Second Temple: it was maybe only slightly larger in circumference than the Millennium
Falcon. The First Children had fled here, but there had been nowhere really to flee to. There was
only a different kind of drowning.
Part of the roof was gone, and allowing them to swim inside. Most of the temple seemed to be the
wrecked shells of narrow rooms, personal effects scattered where they lay: here a painted cup,
chipped with age, there a coral-overgrown toy. The Solofish was nosing over the broken conical
model of what looked like some kind of ancient starship, as big as it was. Huh. I think I saw a
painting of that in the Lorrdian University. Remember, Chewie? Way back when there wasnt
such a thing as a hyperdrive. The Chewiefish nodded.
Why are we here? asked the Maukeenfish, but Rey ignored it, swimming deeper into the building,
looking for a way down. She found the shattered mouth to the vault within one of the rubblestrewn rooms, and dived in, the others coming in behind her, reluctant. It was pitch dark in the
vault, and Rey concentrated, until the bioluminescence in her translucent eye-membranes lit up,
painting the room in very faint shades of multi-coloured light.
Luke was standing beside one of the vault walls, reading the strange hieroglyphs carved onto the
rock, faded by time. He turned to look at them as Rey approached, and although his hair was
floating around his face, he moved with his feet on the ground as though he was on the surface,
and no bubbles rose from his mouth as he spoke. Good work.
How come you get to be human? The Solofish darted over, right up into Lukes face. Damn. You
look old, Luke.
Luke smiled, the first warm smile that Rey had seen from him. Han. Its good to see you. Im
glad youre not dead.
Yeah well, this better dont mean that Im a fucking fish forever, the Solofish shot back. Im never
eating fish again as it is.
Do you have what you came for? Rey asked, for immersed in raw Force, like this, within the
churning wellspring of the First Temple, was to know everything, the vastness of everything, from
something as infinitesimal as Lukes motives, to the eternal whispered songs of the stars. She
would not remember much of this when she was awake, she knew, and for that she was already
I do. Luke pressed a palm to the wall, as though in regret, then he set his jaw, and the blank
weariness in his eyes was gone. Now. Wake up.

Chapter End Notes

on to the next chapter~~

Chapter 12
Chapter Notes

WARNING: References to minor offscreen character deaths

See the end of the chapter for more notes

Wake up.
The command shook the ocean, sudden currents shoving Han up, and up, ignoring the futile flaps
of his tail, and then suddenly he was on land, flopping on rock, gasping, he couldnt breathe
and wait.
Hands! Han crowed. Feet and hands!
He coughed and laughed, trying to get up, only to find himself scooped to his feet and crushed
into a hug, Chewie roaring deep, joyous bellows against him. Han thumped the Wookies back,
his eyes stinging with tears, then he yelped as he got a mouthful of Wookie fur, the ground
heaving under their feet and knocking them both sprawling.
Its an earthquake! Maukeen was also on her feet, hauling a groggy-looking Rey to hers. They
were in a small stone chamber, the walls polished smooth, the shape egg-like, with no windows,
and only one exit outwards, in a narrow stair. Luke had rolled onto his back, groaning and
rubbing his eyes, and even as Han tried to get to his feet again, there was a deep, tearing moan,
from within the earth, and the distant sound of torrential water.
I have a bad feeling about this, Han muttered, crabbing over to Lukes side and dragging him
up, motioning to Chewie as Luke stumbled heavily against him. Chewbacca growled, pulling
Lukes arm up, making as though to support him, but Luke staggered away, gasping, blinking
Whatever it is, lets get to the Falcon! Rey was already darting towards the stairs, Maukeen
behind her. Luke blinked owlishly for a moment more before following, and relieved, Han kept
close. R2-D2 beeped and shook at them anxiously at the top of the stair, turning awkwardly as
they raced past, then it let out a shrill whistle of alarm as, with a gesture, Luke lifted the droid up
into the air and floated it up beside them. They piled out of the stairs, breathless, the ground
cracking and heaving around them, deep fissures opening in the gray twilight of the strange forest,
swallowing entire trees. Chewbacca bellowed urgently as they ran, stumbling, sometimes knocked
clean off their feet as the cliff tilted, heaving, like an animal shaking itself awake.
Praying that the Falcon was still perched where she was, Han dragged Luke back up and they
kept stumbling, struggling on. Rey and Maukeen were faring better, light-footed, pulling in front,
and as the air felt like it was burning in Hans lungs, he heard Poes voice crackle in over the
Better run faster, Poe said anxiously. The grounds breaking up. Waters pouring out of some
sort of old ruin in the rock.

Thanks for the advice Han grit out, as he jumped over a root, Like I couldnt tell that I
was meant to be fucking running!
The Falcons still fine, Poe sounded a little hurt. But only barely. The Shadow doesnt have a
tractor beam, or Id try to hold her steady. Shes wobbling, though.
Just shut up, Dameron!
They broke through the tree line, Rey and Maukeen already scrambling up the ramp, and the
Falcon shuddered again as the ground heaved, teetering close to the edge. They were so close.
Han felt his heart drop to his stomach as the Falcon started to tilt, her nose tipping up, then her
engines kicked in, a bank of blue fire grinning from her drive exhaust, steadying up. Chewie
scrambled aboard, still bellowing, with Luke and Han on his heels, R2 whistling again in alarm as
it shot past in the air and into the ship, and not a moment too soon: the ground was toppling away,
sinking, water gushing out in gigantic waves, rolling out under them and into the sea in a rumbling
roar of white foam. As the landing ramp pulled up right behind him, Han thought that he saw a
gigantic shadow of some huge fish, bigger than the Falcon, dragged helplessly under.
Han all but threw himself into the pilots seat. Lets get the hell out of here! Rey nodded tightly,
not even arguing, strapped into the co-pilot seat as they took the Falcon up, arcing through the
clouds, the Rogue Shadow on their heels, slowing down to a low thrust only when they were in
Wow, Rey breathed. Look at that.
Behind them, visible through the transparisteel, the wide arc of the planets blue surface was
slowly swallowing the blot of land that theyd just left, reddish and gray from orbit, then a foamy
white, then blue.
Holy hell, Finns voice cut in through the comms. Did you see that?
Finn! Rey patched the two ships into a closed link. Are you in that other ship? Wow! What
kind of ship is that?
Me an Poe are, Finn said, sounding relieved. Youre all right? Hows did you find Luke? Is
Chewie there? Solos alive, how crazy is that?
Steady on, Han said dryly. Yes, Lukes here, Chewies fine, Im alive. We all up to speed
So were heading back to DQar, right? Poe asked, sounding a little unsteady. All that water
eating up that bit of land was that the Force? Clearly unspoken was, if Luke Skywalker
doesnt want to go to DQar, can we make him?
Lets all set course to DQar, Han decided. He was going drag Luke back to Leia if he had to
do it himself. See you guys on the other side.
Once they had engaged the hyperdrive, Han pushed himself up from the pilots seat, nodding to
Rey and heading out - or he tried to. Rey had also unstrapped herself from her seat, grinning
hugely, hugging Han tightly as he flinched. Glad youre okay, she told him, and settled back in
the co-pilots chair.
No ones more glad of that than me, Han told her, then he yelped as Chewbacca strode out of
the access tunnel, bellowing as he hugged Han tightly enough that Hans ribs ached. I cant
breathe you walking carpet let me up glad to see you too, Han added, as Chewbacca
let go of him. Glad to see all of you.

Luke was waiting in the crews quarters, Maukeen perched on one of the benches, and he smiled
as Han walked up to him. He was so much older, worn, even, grizzled and gray, but there was
something of the mischief that Han remembered from before, the fierceness. Han.
Hey kid, Han hugged Luke to him tightly, breathing in, that spicy, faint male musk of him.
Been a long time since anyone called me that, Luke murmured.
Whyd you go sit on a rock for so long? Han patted Lukes back and pulled off. Worried the
hell out of your sister.
Im glad to see that youre back, Luke said, instead of answering. Rey told me she found you
and Chewie on some trawler, transporting dangerous animals.
Han snorted, though he couldnt keep from grinning, almost giddy with happiness. Luke hadnt
seemed to have changed - not much anyway. For a brief moment, it felt as though the clock had
turned back, when they were younger and reckless and more naive, to that transcendent moment
of euphoria after theyd destroyed the first Death Star. Looking back then, with Luke and Chewie
by his side, cheered by the world, Han knew that had probably been the happiest hed been. Time
had such a way of eroding away happy endings.
Yeah, got bored of all that, Han said finally. Im back. What about you?
Luke nodded, his expression growing briefly abstracted. I found what I was looking for.
What, in that hallucinogenic temple thing? Han asked suspiciously, then he flinched as Rey
popped up by his arm. The hell was all that business about fish?
I asked Rey here to remember the ocean. I didnt actually mean it viscerally, Luke said dryly.
Rey blushed.
Im sorry! I didnt mean to destroy everything!
Or turn us into fish? Maukeen growled, from the table.
Everything! Rey confessed. I didnt mean to sink the temple!
That wasnt your doing. Luke paused. Well, not entirely. The First Temple is a concentrated
well of the Force possibly the original seed from which the Force began. Meshing our minds
into it has had unforeseen effects.
Could say that again. Han said sourly. Never had a planet try to drown me before.
And you say you do not look for adventures, Maukeen grinned.
Did you see it? Rey asked Luke earnestly. The right path? How to break the wheel?
Luke glanced at her, then to Han, his expression sober again. I did. I told you once that Master
Yoda could see the future, he added, when Han frowned at him. Fragments of it. Ive had
visions as well. Its how I knew to come to Cloud City.
Han pulled a face. Cloud City had given him too close an experience with carbonite for one
lifetime. I remember.
I wanted to find the First Temple so that I could find the strength to see further, Luke said
quietly. To tap into the well of raw Force itself, and use that to pierce the veil. I wanted to know

what could be done. What should be done. To stop the cycle.

Funny, Han blinked. I thought you went to the First Temple to right the balance or
something. Uh. Shift it all to the Light. No one had been clear about that, come to think of it, not
even Leia.
Shifting it all to the Light would not be balance, Han, Luke said patiently. Balancing the
Force requires both Light and Dark to exist. Finding the Temple would not have been necessary
for that. And destroying the balance, by shifting to Light, or to Dark - even were that possible would be destructive. Light and Dark are not expressions of the Force but of character. Of self.
So you have seen the future, Maukeen said quietly.
Many futures. Luke looked over to Rey. Did you see?
No, Rey rubbed at her temple. Maybe. There was so much. I couldnt understand it all. Not
With time and meditation, some of it will come back to you, Luke assured her, and pressed his
lips into a thin line. We are heading to DQar?
Yes? Han said belligerently. Like I said. Youre going to go see your sister.
Leias not on DQar, Luke said absently, and looked grim. But shes still alive. We have time.
The Resistance base on DQar had been flattened by orbital strikes, the great blackened craters
still smoking quietly. The First Order was long gone: they hadnt even bothered to loot the base.
Hell, they hadnt even spared the planet. The lush forests around the base had also been levelled the whole continent had been bombed.
Poe set the Rogue Shadow gently down the lip of one of the large craters, and after the ship
assured them that the radiation levels outside were only barely above normal, Poe let the ramp
down. Outside, the ground was still hot underfoot, the air ashy and thick, the smoke scratching at
Finns throat. He stared at the devastation in a hollow sort of dull awe, even as Poe numbly
skidded around the crater, toeing some of the ash aside to reveal the asphalt of the X-Wing
launchpad. There werent any X-Wings on the ground among the burned corpses. DQar had tried
to put up a fight. A wrecked TIE fighter had been flattened, close to Finns left. And beyond, the
shield generator belched smoke to the sky.
Holy hell. Solo breathed. The Falcon had set down close by, then. Beyond, Poes hands were
clenched tightly into fists.
They attacked with TIE fighters. Downed the shields. Kylo landed, over there, with the ground
force, Luke gestured to his right. Killed their way into the command centre. Grabbed Leia. The
moment they pulled back into orbit, the Relentless glassed this part of the planet with orbital
strikes. Luke closed his eyes, frowning for a moment. No survivors.
Jess, Poe said, dazed. Admiral Ackbar Major Kalonia everyone-
You saw all that? In the temple? Solo demanded fiercely. How long ago was this? Hell, if
wed headed back here first instead of going to get you-
Then you would have died. Not just you. Finn and Poe Dameron as well. You would have done
the Relentless quite some damage. But ultimately the ventral cannons would have scored a hit.

And one hit was all they needed. Luke shuddered, blinking, and rubbed his eyes, as though
chasing away a vision. And they would still have Leia.
I cant believe Solo muttered. His own mother.
So where now? Rey asked, subdued. We have to go after the General.
I do, Luke said quietly. With Han and Chewie. You, Poe, Finn and Maukeen must return to
Lorrd. Fulcrum is preparing for war, and all of you must join the muster. Rey, you must also
convince Ahsoka Tano to become your Master.
Who's that? And why not you? Rey demanded. Youre the Grandmaster. Youre Luke
It would not be the right path for any of us. Luke grasped Reys hand, then he straightened up
as she hugged him tightly. Thank you. For coming to get me.
Rey said nothing for a long moment, stifling a sob. Then she leaned back, smiling through watery
eyes. You were a terrible Master, she said, with a wan smile.
I know. Luke kissed her forehead. Better luck with the next one.
I guess youll be wanting your lightsaber back. Rey started to reach behind her for her pack, but
Luke gently pressed a hand on her wrist to stop her.
Keep it. May the Force be with you, Rey.
And with you. Rey hugged Luke tightly again, then she stepped back.
Where are the three of you going? Finn asked tensely. You cant take on the Relentless by
yourself. Its a frigate. If you guys want to get aboard or something, stage some kinda crazy
rescue the Rogue Shadow is the one with a stealth generator.
Luke shook his head. That is not the best path. He turned, walking away, heading for the
landing ramp of the Falcon, and Chewbacca looked between Luke and Finn, then he stamped
over to Rey, huffing as he patted her heavily on the shoulder. She hugged him too, for a long
moment, then Chewbacca whuffed and pulled away, following Luke towards the Falcon.
Guess this is where we part ways, Solo said wryly, clasping Finns hand, then Reys,
Maukeens, then finally, Poes. You kids be good now.
Clear skies, Solo, Poe said quietly. He looked tired now, haunted.
Clear skies, Dameron. Solo patted Poes arm, then he walked off, back towards the Falcon.
They watched silently as the ramp pulled up, and the drives burned blue, then, eventually,
followed the airstream behind the Millennium Falcon as it struck skyward, darting up and up, until
it was out of sight. Maukeen sniffed, her tail twitching, then she turned, padding back to the
Shadow. Rey watched her go, then looked back up at the empty sky again before letting out a sigh
and following, leaving Finn and Poe standing together on the ashes.
Poe was silent, and Finn didnt know what to say, other than an uncomfortable, Im sorry, Poe.
We shouldnt have gone, Poe said harshly. Why did we go? We werent even really needed.
All that happened was that I got the both of us nearly killed in that quadjumper. We couldve been
home. Defending the base.

We were told to go, remember?

Poe shook his head angrily. We shouldnt have gone. Or. We should have headed back to
DQar. The moment we had the Rogue Shadow.
You heard Luke Skywalker. That wouldnt have worked out. He saw the future.
But we couldve been here! Poe spun away from Finn. We couldve been here.
Look. All this? Finn swept a hand out at the base. It was gonna happen sooner or later. We
shouldve evacuated right after we destroyed Starkiller base. Hopped to another remote Outer Rim
planet and rebuilt. Theres a reason why the Rebel Alliance used to jump around remote planets. I
told the General to evacuate. Getting rid of Starkiller base was just one thing. The armada was still
out there.
She thought that itd have its hands full engaging the New Republic.
Yeah. She thought wrong. Taking DQar mustve been costly for the Relentless. Its only a
frigate. Probably burned up at least half of its TIEs just from the anti air artillery. But this isnt
logical for Kylo Ren, you know that. Its personal. And it was for her, too. Deep down, I bet
General Organa didnt want to believe that Kylo would go after his own mother.
Poe shuddered, and sucked in a strangled breath, wracked with grief. Finn hugged him from
behind, pressing his cheek against Poes shoulder, waiting it out, the sorrow, the pain. For years
this had been all the life that Poe had known: all the family he had needed. Finn couldnt really
relate. He had lived here for two months, made some friends. He was sad that they were gone.
Angry, maybe. But he had not really known them, and for that Finn was sorry.
Eventually, Poe leaned back against him, his hands curling over Finns wrist as Finn tightened his
grip. We should go after Skywalker, he said, subdued. Its suicide, just them against a frigate.
Theyll figure something out. Finn said confidently. I mean. Between Luke and Rey, they
accidentally flooded bits of a planet. A frigates gonna be nothing. Or so he hoped.
They Poe trailed off, then he sighed. They were right. We can do more joining up with
Fulcrums fleet. And Ive heard of General Calrissian. He was with the Rebel Alliance.
There you go, Finn said gently. Itll be fine. Well take the fight back to the First Order.
Poe twisted around in Finns arms. His eyes were reddened, but his expression was sober as he
clasped Finn to him, burying his mouth in Finns neck, breathing deeply, slowly. He let Finn tip
his chin up for a kiss that was soft, closemouthed and chaste. This was also Poe mourning, Finn
sensed, this quiet intimacy between them, surrounded by ash and the shattered bones of Poes
home. This was Poe finding the strength to turn away from mere hatred, reaching for some other
breed of purpose. They pressed their foreheads together in the ashy air, eyes closed, hands curled
over each others hips. Then, together, they started to walk back to their ship.

Chapter End Notes


I was thinking about whether to split this fic up into two, and decided against it.

Basically Part One - Chapter 1 to 12 - is pretty much what I personally

imagine/would like Episode VIII to be. The rest of this story, from 13 onwards,
would be what I would like Episode IX to be. Therell be a bit of a timeskip, and I
may also take a short break.
RE: Lukes lightsaber: Upon finally rewatching RoTJ I realized Luke actually is
using a custom green lightsaber now (the blue one, Anakins, he lost in ESB). But I
felt it was kinda lame to wait all the way until now to reveal that he actually still has a
2nd lightsaber so he will just happen to be armed in the next Part. As to Rey, I
feel theyre probably setting her up to use a double bladed bo-stick-like saber, but it
doesnt feel right to me for her to mod Anakins so well see.
Im going to change the POV characters, so as to keep myself interested in this fic
well, most of them anyway. :) I do love Han Solo, he is my favourite.
Also: I dont write major character death. However, minor characters are fair game to
me, and I think of minor characters as any character who is not part of the OTP. I
never decide what to do in a story in advance, but its inevitable in Star Wars that
characters die. So. You have been warned.
Thanks for reading so far!

Chapter 13
Chapter Notes

Note: This chapter changes the rating of this fic to E. However, most of the fic will
still be T overall. :)

Poe Dameron had not grown up wealthy, but his family had been comfortable, and his home on
Yavin IV had been a house of warmth and laughter. Since then, hed lived on cramped bases and
in space-conscious cabins the galaxy over, and once wrapped up high in a tree in Kashyyk, for
reasons best left forgotten. As such, although Poe did think of himself as well-travelled and worn,
the Hart and Parn guestchambers on Qatamer were still a total shock to the system.
A small army of service staff and droids seemed to be dedicated to what they called the comfort
and well-being of our guests. Poe preferred to think of it as the well-intentioned destruction of the
soul. After another week living the life of a guest of the unimaginably rich and hed probably
forget how to do up his own shirt, let alone fly. Finn said that Poe was being dramatic, but Poe
knew better. The person spooked the most by the constant stream of Would sir like to have
refreshments and Would sir prefer us to draw sir a bath was Finn, after all. Poe had seen Finn
actually hide in one of the voluminous antique closets just to get away from a persistent servitor.
Admittedly, the closets did have a certain charm, in the right company. Finn had just dragged Poe
into the walk-in wardrobe, pulling the doors shut behind them and hiding them among the clothes
that Fiolla had helpfully provided in their size, along with several polite but pointed remarks
about no longer needing to look like spaceport flotsam. Poe thought the jackets, breeches and
knee-high boots were fine, but he drew the line at the gold capes.
Seriously. Gold capes. He could feel his soul eroding a little just standing this close to them.
Think theyre gone? Finn whispered, trying in vain to stare out of one of the elegant slats of the
wardrobe door.
Poe hid his grin, probably badly. Of course theyre not gone. Theyre everywhere.
Finn grimaced, and even that little scowl was adorable, somehow. Poe could even feel his
heartbeat quickening, pressed against Finn like this, with Finn against the wooden flank of the
wardrobe and Poes back to the stupid capes. Man, why are we here? Cant we bunk over in the
barracks with the other soldiers?
Because of Rey, remember? Reys eyes had gone wide and pleading when Finn had first raised
the point, and Fiolla had graciously allocated them chambers on the guest floor. Two, at first,
then one, when Finn pointedly more or less moved into Poes after a week. Which, all right,
aggressively helpful servitor staff aside, still gave Poe a warm little glow each time he even
thought about it.
You should tell Lando that we want up. Like, up onto the Farthest Sky. We can dock the Rogue

Shadow there and sleep shipside. Rey can come too, Finn added generously.
Shes doing some secret Jedi training right now, Poe said vaguely.
He wasnt sure what the point of it was, but all that Rey seemed to be doing lately was hunting
Maukeen around the vast premises of Hart and Parn HQ, in some sort of weirdly complicated
game of tag. Lando, Tano and Fiolla were still embroiled in what they called Final Stage
Negotiations' and what Poe thought of as Just Give Us The Fucking Ships Already, but hed
never been much of a politician.
Finn was grumbling darkly to himself, something about Jedis and giant cats, and Poe took the
opportunity to cozy up and kiss Finn on the jaw, then his neck, worrying teeth over the worn
leather collar of the jacket that had once been Poe's. Despite Fiollas comments, Finn had blithely
decided to keep the jacket, though hed conceded on the rest, and possessiveness aside, Poe did
look better in the old thing, with his shoulders stretching the leather. When Poe drew up for a kiss,
Finn was smirking at him, and Poe liked that too, liked how a life spent under a Stormtrooper
helmet meant that Finn had never really learned how to school his expressions.
You can thank me later, Finn told him, drawing Poe close with a hand pressed lightly over the
back of Poes neck.
Scoping out someplace nice and dark and private. I swear, I dont know how the Lorrdians have
kids, what with somebody poking their head in every few minute to ask if they want a bath.
I doubt that the vast majority of the Lorrdians live like this, Poe said dryly, and kissed Finn
obligingly, helplessly, working his hands up under the fine, soft material of Finns shirt. Under it,
Finn was all solid soldiers muscle, hard and lean; just like Reys new tag partner, that giant
Trianii, there seemed nothing on Finn that went to waste - he was not bulky like an athlete, or
thickset for vanity. It was a soldiers body that Poe mapped slowly with feather-light caresses, that
shook under Poes mouth as he flicked open the catches of Finns shirt with his teeth and tongue,
all warm and indulgent mirth.
Finn sucked in a slow breath as Poe dropped to his knees, silent on the thick carpeting underfoot,
then he let it out in a shaky laugh as Poe grinned slyly up at him and pressed playful kisses over
the growing swell in Finns breeches. Whatever material rich Lorrdians liked to make their clothes
out of, it was silky and thin and stretched nicely, especially when Poe mouthed over it, then
pressed his cheek to the bulge. He could feel the heat of Finns body just beneath, the strength in
the thighs pressed to Poes shoulders.
Stop that, Finn said, laughter in his voice; at this very moment, Poe wouldve fought an entire
squadron of TIEs just to keep that laughter there, to hear it again, today, tomorrow, the next. He
kissed Finns hip, to stifle the unsteady worship on the tip of his tongue, then fumbled for Finns
belt, to hide the earnest tremble of his fingers. Nothing could hide the wonder threaded thick in his
next breath, as Finn curled fingers lightly into Poes hair, or the avarice in the groan he made
when he managed to navigate thin under clothes, drawing out Finns thick and heavy cock. Poe
wrapped fingers nervous with anticipation around it as he tasted the tip, already greedy, always
greedy. The galaxy might be burning down around their ears, but at this moment Poe couldnt
care less.
Poe, Finn groaned, and unlike all the lovers Poe had fallen into bed with over the years, Finn
never pushed; fingers petted Poes hair awkwardly but didnt tug.
There was an uncertain shyness to Finn still where this was concerned, as though Finn was

struggling to learn a language of which he had little context, and Poe smiled in the dark and licked
harder, got his tongue under the foreskin, chuckled, low and rough, as Finns thighs twitched
against him and one of Finns hands jerked up to stifle another groan. Given time, and a lack of
helpful servitors, Poe wouldve teased Finn like this, licked just the tip, nosed the root, kissed
lower, to heavy balls, taken Finn apart. But they hadnt the time: just outside, in their shared
bedrooms, there was a shuffle of droid treads: despite BB-8s efforts, one of the service droids
had clearly trundled in to check that everything was pristine/that no one needed a bath.
This time, it was laughter that shook Finn silently against Poe, not lust, and Poe grinned again,
waiting for the droid to leave before spitting on his palm and stroking Finn more earnestly,
clenching fingers tight from root up to tip. Good choice of a hiding spot, Poe whispered.
I know, right? Ive been keeping an eye out.
An excellent use of your downtime, Poe approved, and took Finn into his mouth, urgent now,
relaxing his jaw. The first time theyd done this, Finn had flinched away in shock, although Poe
had all but telegraphed what he was going to do; now, however, Finn let out a low and rumbling
sigh, fingers stroking down to the back of Poes skull. Poe drank down all that unfurling, catlike
anticipation, the masculine taste, the heavy musk of him, relishing the weight on his tongue, the
stretch of his mouth, the unforgiving push down his throat as Poe took as much as he could and
then half an inch more just to make it count. He wanted to feel this in an hour; tomorrow, if he
could. Poe had never really believed in half-measures.
Damn, Finn gasped, as Poe got him wetter, began to suck, then to move, tugging his grip up
and down Finns cock as he did, I damn- With any other lover Poe would have laughed. It
didnt take much for Finn to stutter into incredulity, but where Poe would normally have found it
amusing, with Finn it was only another reminder of the gift that Poe had been given, the trust.
This was Finn learning tenderness, another language that had never been taught to him until now.
At Finns hushed, Youre amazing, Poe was fumbling at his own breeches, pulling at his own
cock, moaning, muffled and loud and no longer caring if they were going to attract an audience.
Finn hissed, Poe, were gonna be- and the rest of his warning was towed into a stifled cry, hips
twitching up, out of control now, and Poe rode it, let Finn use him, swallowing what he was given
and then later, gasping wetly, licking after spent flesh for more. His own hand felt sticky between
his legs, his own satiation an afterthought. Against him, Finn was struggling to catch his breath,
trembling, and then he started to laugh. Poe smiled, cheek resting high against Finns thigh.
This was a great idea, Finn whispered.
So it was. Poe staggered to his feet, still grinning as Finn dragged him over for a messy, sticky
Pity we didnt ruin those stupid capes, Finn added thoughtfully, as they parted.
Thats what round two is for.
Cross-legged on a bench in the bright warm solar that was part of her chambers, Ahsoka closed
her eyes, straightened her back, and sank outward.
A protocol droid dusted busily around her, sensing her but not seeing her, and Ahsoka ignored it,
feeling outwards, a small little fish, navigating the wide sea, and there. Ahsoka felt-learned rather
than saw-heard as the strange girl-child Rey stole across a corridor on silent feet, her bo-stick
clenched tight, held low, her gray robes trailing after soft boots. She was grinning, her mind

wound tight with concentration and play-joy. None of the resentment and frustration that had
soured her mind bitter, still seething only a week ago. Acceptance. That was good. Ahsoka
Rey darted around pillars, avoiding servitors. There were fewer on the quality control level, and
Rey was quietly navigating the admin block, having long already lost the little watchers that the
Auditor-General stuck on any of her guests tail. Strange one, that woman. A life spent trying to
purge her government of corruption had made her cautious, and suspicious of strangers she did not
understand. And so today, Ahsoka had allowed Lando to represent herself and Fulcrum in the
negotiations, claiming she needed to meditate and re-check Hart and Parn for First Order
Technically, she was. Rey was past the third security check now, occasionally squirrelling herself
into a quiet corner to close her eyes and check on her prey. She was closing in. At the last security
door, Rey used a gentle touch of the Force - gentler today than half a week before, certainly - to
get an administrator to open the door to Warehouse 85-FN-B. Inside, the lights were banked low,
on energy saving, and the little fish that was Ahsoka could now sense Maukeen beyond,
prowling, but not on the ground. Higher. Her mind-sense was ebbed low, almost unnoticeable:
Trianii Rangers honed this form of play-war from cubhood, training against Force-sensitive
predator-fauna from their homeworld. Their memories ran deep. Force-wielders would never gain
a toehold on their territories again without significant bloodshed.
Rey was coming closer to where Maukeen had hidden herself, high on the industrosteel shelving
where crates as big as Ahsoka was tall sat, each holding thousands upon thousands of the delicate
wiring and component parts that would eventually make up a stardrive. Rey had done well to
come this far, but she clearly couldnt quite pinpoint Maukeen yet, talented as she was. Dangerous
as she was. Luke was right to have chosen not to teach her, in a way. But Ahsoka understood
those who were brash and young and female far more than Luke Skywalker ever would, for once
she had been like Rey, far too Force-sensitive for her own good. If they turned from her, where
else would Rey go but towards the Dark?
Fear. That was what Ahsoka felt, as she watched-learned the way Rey paused, centreing herself
again, with the quiescent calm of a student with years of experience under her belt, not someone
whod only first come into her own barely months ago. The same uncomfortable wariness-fear
that Ahsoka herself had sensed, sometimes, when other Jedi had looked upon the man who had
once been her Master. When he had still been a man, of course. And not part machine, part
monster. That was the problem with power. It made monsters of even the kindly, sometimes.
Above Rey, Maukeen leaped.
Watching like this, Ahsoka could not know what betrayed the Ranger. Her furred paws would not
have made a sound, even against the harsh steel. Air, perhaps, displaced? Whatever it was, Rey
rolled, under one of the low shelves, scrambling upright beyond, grinning. Maukeen pretended to
lash her tail in frustration, baring her teeth, but Ahsoka knew better. In Maukeens mind, she was
but playing the play-hunt with a cub, for all that this cub had no fur or tail, and was far more
dangerous than the Ranger could ever become.
Rey attacked, in the abrupt explosive way of a Trianii, unconsciously using a touch of the Force to
spur her into the burst of speed that a Trianiis powerful hindquarters would give them, her staff
swinging out in an arc. Maukeen avoided the first blow and deflected the next, then caught the
staff and pulled hard, dragging Rey within range of her paw-hands, claws retracted. Rey let go
quickly and darted back, then kicked for Maukeens knee, yelping when Maukeen simply used
Reys own staff to hook up her thigh and tip her off-balance, sending her sprawling.
To her credit, Rey recovered quickly, scrambling out of the way as Maukeen followed that up

with a sweeping blow, yelping as the staff caught her a glancing smack on her hip. Instead of
backing off again, Rey darted back in, grabbing her staff as it swung again towards her, gritting
her teeth, hanging on, and extending one hand, palm up, The Force welled outwards from Rey
like a slap, bowling Maukeen back across the floor, fetching the Ranger up against one of the
thick columns that shored up the heavy shelves. Maukeen was already on her feet by the time she
stopped rolling, shoving off against the column in the agile, acrobatic nature of her kind, tossing a
little sphere palmed from her belt over to Reys feet. Rey stumbled back in surprise, then yelped as
white smoke spewed out, making her cough. Maukeen was grinning again as she climbed, then
pounced again, into the smoke.
By the time the smoke cleared, Rey was on her back, grumpily smacking at the furred arm holding
her down, Maukeens paw-hand pressed gently around Reys neck. Im never going to beat
you, Rey complained, as Maukeen let up and backed off. Ahsokas never going to agree to
teach me.
Maukeen let out the low purring sound that was the laughter of her kind. Trianii worlds have
been invaded before. By the Sith, a long time ago recently, by the CSA, and after that, even by
a small strike force of the Empire. We learn how to repel all comers.
Mnot surprised you people are still independent, Rey dusted herself off, sighing.
Also, Maukeen added, Ahsoka did not tell you that you had to beat me for her to teach you.
She is already teaching you. You are already learning. If you want to be her padawan, Maukeen
corrected, grinning toothily, Then you have to beat me.
Thats what I meant!
No? That Force push, where did you learn it? To walk quietly, where did you learn that?
From Luke lifting R2, and you, Rey shot back.
Maukeen shrugged. And I am one of her tools. In this case, a learning tool. She grinned again,
clearly still amused. Someday, little cub.
Rey sighed. Luke didnt want to teach me. He thought I was dangerous. I think thats why
Ahsoka doesnt want to be my Master either.
You are dangerous. Maukeen said bluntly. But so am I. So are your friends upstairs, the
warrior and the pilot.
I dont think thats what Luke meant.
Maybe you are more dangerous than most, Maukeen allowed. Or you have the potential to be.
But if Ahsoka truly did not want to teach you, then she would have sent you away. Masters keep
their padawans close by.
Rey sighed again, scowling, then she walked over to pick up her staff. Okay. Lets reset. I want
to try again.
Mrr, Maukeens ears twitched forward, then back. We try something different, I think. Now I
hunt you. Same rules otherwise. You have half an hour. I will stay here. She folded her arms and
leaned a furry shoulder against a shelf. Rey grinned hugely, as innocently joyous as a cub - or so
Maukeen seemed to think - then she darted off, heading back out to the administrative block.
Once alone, Maukeen said aloud, She is not so bad.

I know, Ahsoka whispered, into Maukeens mind, and her old friend chuckled and swished her
tail. Then Ahsoka withdrew, and came back to herself, startling the protocol droid into stumbling
Oh my, Lady Tano! I did not see you there, somehow! My sensors must not be working well
It is not a problem, Ahsoka said mildly, and the protocol droid froze for a problem, then turned
woodenly, resuming its careful arrangement of the flowers in the vase by the writing desk.
Breathing deeply, Ahsoka got up creakily from the bench. It was probably time to check in quietly
on the negotiations anyway.

Chapter 14
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

Han had tried to be patient, he really had. But DQar had been weeks ago, and as far as Han could
see, all that theyd gone and done so far was bounce around a few strange planets, talking to
strange people in random locations. A Twilek sitting by a noodle shop in Bestine. A Rodian
tourist taking vidsnaps of a red crystal carving in Calius saj Leeloo. A Zabrak spacer in a bar in
Hanna. Or rather, Luke had talked, Han had tagged along, increasingly mystified, and Chewie
and R2 had stayed aboard the Falcon, in case they were IDd by First Order sympathisers. With a
glove on Lukes synth hand, two old coots poking around quietly werent that remarkable.
And now this.
Fucking Korriban.
As the reddish world grew larger and larger through the transparisteel, Chewie made a mournful
howl, echoing Hans discomfort. I know. Bad feelings all round, Han muttered. Wish Id
listened to Luke the first time round and purged the coordinates off my girl. But no. Han had
been twenty years younger, cocky, and too damned arrogant to listen to Lukes galactic mandate.
Galactic mandates could kiss his smugglers ass, thats what hed thought then.
Chewie made another mournful sound, and Han sighed. Take over the controls, then. I will try
one more time, okay? Chewie nodded, snuffling, and Han unstrapped himself from the pilots
seat, swinging over into the access tunnels.
In the communal space, Luke was studying a projected datastream from R2, seated at the dejarik
table. The datastream shut off as Han approached, and Han forced on a friendly smile as Luke
glanced up at him, his expression distantly thoughtful, as though studying a series of calculations
that Han could not see. Some days, Han wished hed taken an hour or so on DQar to get the full
rundown from Rey about how Luke had been over the couple of months shed spent in his
company. Chewie had tried, but Shyriiwook didnt have a lot of words for this kinda thing,
compared to having over 150 different words for wood, and the Thykarann dialect wasnt any
better. As far as Han could tell, in Chewies opinion, Luke needed his head unsquashed.
Youre going to try and talk me out of landing on Korriban, Luke said briskly, which was by far
the worst habit that Luke seemed to have picked up off the temple. It creeped Han the fuck out.
Wow, how do I go? Han asked sarcastically, then he started to frown. Hey, didnt you ask Rey
to keep your saber? Whered that one come from?
Luke patted the lightsaber strapped to his hip. I made this one after Cloud City. The one that Rey
has belonged to my father. Lost it when I was fighting him there. Lukes expression clouded, but
only for a heartbeat. As to your other question. Sometimes you win, but that never ends well.
Han let out a deep sigh. Look, kid. I know you saw crazy shit in that temple, back while Chewie
and I and the rest were busy pretending to be fish or whatever. That was a memory best left
forgotten, in Hans opinion. But its been weeks. The First Order still has Leia.
And shes still alive, Luke said patiently. They havent broken out the brass tacks, if thats
what youre worried about.

what youre worried about.

Really? Han blinked. Somehow, he hadnt really known what to expect. But then again, the
First Order had been suspiciously quiet about its abduction of the famous General Organa, though
it had crowed about its victory over DQar in the public HoloNet. Whatre they doing to her,
Trying to convince her to go over to the Dark Side, Luke noted absently.
Shes Force-sensitive.
Well I knew that, but shed never Weve still got to help her! Wait. Youve been talking
to her then? Han asked hopefully. All this while? Through, uh, the Force?
No I havent. But yes, Leias been resisting it. And yes, we do need a plan if were to extract her
off Coriolis. I dont think dressing up as stormtroopers will work this time. Luke cracked a grin.
And there it was, sometimes. The old Luke. Han wavered between uncertainty and frustration and
his instinctive, lizard-brain need to trust an old friend, and rubbed a palm slowly over his face.
So. Coming to Korriban. Its all part of your plan?
Because, correct me if Im wrong, but when you asked the New Republic and everybody out
there to scrub Korribans coordinates from their databanks, you kinda said it was because it was
the evil death homeworld of the Sith species, nutballs who, ah, interbred with dark Jedi from
way, way back, and it was full of tombs with Dark Lord Ghosts.
Good and evil are a point of view-
Fine, those were not quite my words, but yes, those are approximately the reasons I gave at the
And. Were going there. Right now.
I am. If youre concerned, you can stay aboard the ship. Lift off back to orbit even, if youd like.
Ill hail you when Im done. Luke said serenely, as though single-handedly exploring an evil
planet full of evil Sith ghosts was something he did everyday after breakfast.
Youre not thinking about going to the Dark Side or something, are you?
For the first time in weeks, Lukes face actually scrunched up slightly into a gentle expression of
exasperation. Somehow, this was more reassuring than it should be. No, Han.
And if Chewie and I come with you, does that help your chances or bomb them?
No matter what I say right now, Luke noted thoughtfully, The two of you would come along
with me anyway.
You got that right, Han said feelingly. And Luke? We talked about this, remember?
This got him a quick, impish grin. The old Luke. About how I really should pretend that I
havent seen the future, because it creeps you out?

Yes, exactly. That.

R2 made a rude series of beeps, but Luke ignored it. All right, Ill try to remember. Theres an
old spaceport in the western canyons. Set us down there. Well leave R2 aboard the ship.
Chewie made an accusing growl when Han strapped himself back into the chair. Yeah, yeah, Im
a fucking pushover, laugh it up. You give it a shot, if you think youd do any better. That was
part of the problem, really. Whenever Han thought hed had life figured out, Luke had always had
this gravity-warping way of screwing everything up, even Hans fundamental grasp of rational
Korribans spaceport had stopped being functional centuries ago, and it showed. The landing pads
were ancient, and partly corroded, and the connecting hangars were ruined, blast doors sealed
shut. Han took the Falcon gently down on one of the few landing pads that connected up through
narrow stone stairs to a higher plateau, and disengaged the airlock, muttering all the while about
crazy Jedi and their crazy ideas under his breath. By the time he got armed and met Chewie and
Luke by the landing ramp, Han was in a bad mood all over again.
Once outside, Han could sourly sense why Korriban had spawned a species that had ended up
interbreeding with evil Jedi and then building tombs to the ghosts of said evil Jedi. It was a barren
world as far as Han could see, a bleak sandblasted red of craggy rock and dirt. Even the few
vegetation that Han could see were gnarled, blackened things, clinging fearfully to the cliffsides.
Let me guess, Han said thoughtfully. This place also has evil giant monsters?
Morality doesnt really apply to non-sentient creat-
Thats a question with a yes or no answer, Luke.
Another quick grin. There are aggressive rancor-like giant creatures, dragons, large flesh-eating
bat creature flocks, huge intelligent hounds-
All right, forget I asked. Han cut in unhappily. Chewie made a growl of agreement. So. What
exactly are we here to do? Because Im incredibly tense right now, and youd better tell me, or Im
probably going to shoot the first thing that moves.
Luke turned his serene smile onto Han. Were here to stop the current Mandalor from breaking
into one of the tombs.
Great. The day was just getting better. Any chance we could stop him or her with the
Falcons quad cannon? Given that the Mandalorians are a batshit-crazy death cult of war-hungry
assholes? Any boss of the Mandalorians was probably going to be a hundred fucking times
worse than the few bloodthirsty mercs Han had met over his lifetime.
Were just going to talk to him. Itll be fine. Luke paused. Most of the time.
Im beginning to wish we just attacked Coriolis single-handedly, Han said gloomily.
Weeks into her enforced stay in Coriolis, Leia found herself expecting a rescue less and less.
Besides, shed never particularly been someone to sit quietly and wait for help: the Deathstar had
more or less been a special case.
Decades ago, when she had been younger and hadnt yet learned to control her temper, Leia
would have spit and snarled at the First Order guards, shouted down her son, and hurled all

manner of imprecations at the strange, wizened pale thing that was the so-called Supreme
Leader. Two decades as a politician in the high-stakes world of galactic politics had taught Leia
the benefits of keeping calm and smiling mysteriously - if anything, it kept everyone else guessing.
Especially when she was holding the worst cards.
Being a model prisoner had meant being moved out of the dungeons and into a comfortable set of
rooms with a view of a lake. Leia had no illusions that this was merely a more comfortable cell, of
course: there were bars over the windows and an strangely configured, but heavily armed bipedal
droid at the door. But it did mean she could recline in an armchair and look carefully bored as her
son prowled around in a rage, seething. The other armchairs had been smashed back against the
walls in a petulant display of Force powers, though nothing had broken. The First Order built
well, at least.
Finished? Leia asked dryly, when Ben stopped, breathing heavily behind his ridiculous helmet.
Probably a new one: this duckbill helmet had a heavier brow.
Ben glared at her. I see that the reality of your reduced circumstances continues to escape you,
And I see a man who should have outgrown throwing tantrums at least two decades ago, Leia
retorted mildly.
Careful, Ben grated out, with the helmets metallic modulator. Ive already killed my father. I
might be inclined to complete the set.
Leia kept her smile bland, refusing to show Ben how much that statement still hurt: she closed her
guilt and grief away, deep within, beside the grief and anger she already wore, from the death
meted onto DQar. She had known before Han had left for Starkiller base, that her words might
just have sent Han to his death. And yet she had not been able to help speaking them anyway.
Then why havent you? Because you want to lure Luke here? He hasnt quite taken the bait, has
He will, Ben said, the sneer sharp in his voice, the poison of it. Leia might not have had the
same power that Luke wielded, but she had felt it: the moment that Ben had murdered Han. The
sudden tremor in an already turbulent Force - Bens step further into the Dark.
Did you come here to gloat? Its been weeks, Ben. Either find something else to talk to me about
or send me a holo recording. Itll have the same effect.
Ben is not my name, Ben snapped. Ive told you before. Ben is dead.
Leia sighed, pinching at the bridge of her nose. I gave birth to you, boy. Trust me to know my
own son. Youve changed your clothes and taken on a few titles, but-
But what? Ben cut in mockingly. Im still your son?
You cant choose your parents, Leia said wryly. Or your children, in a way. Youve done
unforgivable things-
Unforgivable things? Ben repeated, contemptuous. Yes, do tell me about unforgivable things.
About how my uncle murdered my grandfather by stabbing him in the back and then lied to the
galaxy about it.
This again? Leia leaned heavily against her rising temper, and kept it out of her face. Here was
part of the problem, in truth. Temper had always run hot in her. Her, and Han. Of course it would
also have run hot in their children. Force-sensitive children. Ive told you time and again, Ben.

My father sacrificed himself to save Luke. He turned away from the Dark Side at the end. Dont
listen to Snoke.
You only have Lukes account of the story. Why would Grandfather turn away? He and the
Emperor were on the verge of destroying the Rebel fleet. They were close to what they wanted:
order in the Galaxy. True Galactic peace.
Its the true account of the story, Ben. Dont listen to the lies. Peace installed through brute force
is not peace.
Through history, thats often the only sort of peace thats mattered.
You cant rule through fear.
Ben chuckled harshly. Between being loved and being feared, I have always believed in fear. If
nobody is afraid of me, then Im meaningless.
Leia couldnt help it - she scowled. Thats a childish way of looking at things.
No, its a practical one. The First Order wants to complete the Empires mission - to bring order
not just to a handful of Core worlds, but to the galaxy itself. The Supreme Leader understands
people. As a whole, people are ungrateful, fickle and cowardly: if you are strong, they are yours theyd offer you their blood, property, life and children but if youre weak, theyd turn against
you. Love is irrational. Fear preserves a galactic government by dread of punishment.
Look at what happened after the Galactic war, Ben added, when Leia said nothing. The Senate
collapsed into infighting for years. It was still petty when you quit to create your so-called
Resistance. Disorder spread. The Outer Rim is still not pacified. Even in many Mid Rim worlds,
one cannot walk into a city without fear of crime. That is not the case in First Order territories.
And thats what you think people want out of life?
Ben shrugged. Run a poll. Ask anyone what they want out of life. Is it the freedom to say what
they like, write what they like, set forth and become terrorists, raiding depots, bombing ships?
Most sane people just want homes, medicines, jobs and schools. Tell me, mother. What good has
your Resistance done?
Weve not killed billions for a gesture, you misguided child, Leia snarled, all attempt at keeping
calm forgotten. You say you prefer to be feared? Theres a difference between the fear that you
speak of and inspiring hatred, Ben. Because thats what your First Order has done. The
Independent Sectors? By murdering Hosnian Prime, youll force them to choose sides.
And you think theyll side against us? Ben laughed, the sound hollow and inhuman through his
mask. You have a better opinion of the CSA, the Hutts, the Trianii and all of those Sectors than
you should. Most have stayed silent. Those who have not have sent us ambassadors. You see,
mother. Fear.
Leia sat back, swallowing her temper, her growing despair. She narrowed her eyes instead,
looking for a weakness. For something. And thats why youve come to talk, have you? You
wanted to boast? Make me admit that I was wrong? Spare me.
Im just curious why the Supreme Leader finds you interesting, Ben said evenly, and Leia
blinked, surprised. This was the first that shed heard of it. I wanted to have you kept aboard the
Relentless in the brig, but he instructed me to bring you to Coriolis. You had that brief meeting
with him. And then he had you installed in this room.

Ah-h. That made sense, bitter as the revelation was. Somehow, Leia had thought that it was Ben some shadow of the child she had once loved and told grand adventures to by the bed - who had
moved her into better quarters. Well, if he wants to talk to me again, Im here. Ben stiffened in
surprise, and Leia smiled sharply, now sensing an opening. Years as a politician had at least given
her a nose for blood. After all, its not as though I have anything better to do.
We will see, Ben said coldly.
Or are you concerned? Leia asked thoughtfully. Afraid, perhaps? That youll be replaced? Rey
said that you offered to teach her. The Dark Side has the so-called Rule of Two, does it not? You
think that Snoke might be looking to get rid of you. So youre making preparations.
Not at all, Ben snapped. Afraid? Of you replacing me? Hah!
My father is Anakin Skywalker and my brother is Luke Skywalker, Leia shot back. Just
because Ive never used the Force doesnt mean that I cant.
Leia was getting through, she could tell, from how Bens hand twitched and curled beside his
lightsaber holster. She was unsettling him, prying open his armour. Planting doubt, the way she
wouldve, on the Senate floor, faced with any dictates that she didnt agree with. Sometimes a
word and a gesture had far wider consequences than a well-wielded lightsaber. It was something
that Luke had never really been able to grasp.
Thats not why the Supreme Leader is curious about you, Ben said at last.
You dont sound certain. Why dont you ask him? And while youre at it, tell him that we should
negotiate. Him and I.
Negotiate? What have you to negotiate with?
Leia managed a smirk, wary as she was now, and a little afraid of the gambit that she had just
pushed forward. Now she was playing with no cards at all, and she faced a dealer with the
greatest navy in the galaxy. But then again, she was no wilting Princess, no delicate flower. She
was General Leia Organa.
Thats for Snoke to find out.

Chapter End Notes

Star Wars cities and towns:
Yes, Kylo (and Leia) are quoting Machiavelli (and an IRL world leader). The Prince
is a really interesting book for anyone who likes to think about governance.

Chapter 15
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

As part of their Very Special Guest privileges, there was an ultra hi-def holodeck locked in to
entertainment channels from across the galaxy. In Poes defense, he and Finn were bored, and as
such had been curled together on the expansive divan in the guest chambers deck room, flicking
through a string of documentaries to depressing news coverages to strange arthouse films. They
hadnt foreseen Rey walking in on them watching interspecies porn.
My eyes! Rey yelped, and hid behind the divan.
Next time, you knock, Poe told her, though he switched off the holodeck with his foot.
I didnt know Hutts could do that with their tongues, Finn said, his expression caught
somewhere between sheer fascination and sheer horror.
Why are the two of you watching Hutt porn? Rey demanded, still hidden.
Were channel surfing, Poe corrected. Why did you walk in during the Hutt porn? Five
minutes back and youd just have walked in during a NewRep press conference.
No really, Finn added, blinking, clearly still struck by the feed. I mean. Those tongues. Theyre
like huge slabs of rubber. And, uh. That lady. She kinda looked like she was enjoying it? How
many creds did they pay her to do that?
Poe patted Finns wrist comfortingly. Best not to think about it. You can come out now, Rey.
Rey peered up suspiciously from behind the back of the divan. From this angle, she looked upside
down, flushed with embarrassment. Lets never talk about this again, she suggested.
Something came up? Poe asked hopefully. You couldve paged us through the deck.
My uh that is, Ahsoka wants to speak to all three of us. Privately. Didnt want to route it
through the gen comm.
Really? Finn actually perked up. Maybe this is it. Shes gonna take you on as a padawan. You
finally whacked that big cat? Knew you could do it!
Rey pulled a face. No. Thats why I dont know what this is about. Have either of you talked to
her before? Recently?
No, Poe thought back over the weeks. Other than when I was first introduced to her. Then
when you were introduced to her. Finn also shook his head.
Okay. Rey briefly chewed on her lower lip. Lets just go and see her, then. This is the first time
shes talked to me in over a week. I think she doesnt like me, Rey confessed nervously, as Poe
and Finn got up from the divan. Im messing up, arent I? You both heard Luke. Ive got to get
her to take me on as a padawan. Otherwise the future that Luke saw might get screwed up.
Didnt you see the future as well? Poe asked, as he followed Rey out of the deck room.

Not really. Only a little bit. And none of its really coming back to me. Ive tried meditating about
it. Besides, even if it did, I dont even know what sort of future Luke might have decided on.
Been weeks, Finn said quietly. Aint got no word from them. Dont even know if theyve
managed to save the General.
Thats the other thing, Rey said, frustrated. While were still here, we cant really contact the
Falcon. Not without risking the tightbeam getting traced back to Lorrd. But I know Lukes still
out there. Maybe thats the problem. Maybe until we finish up on everything hes told us to do
here, hes not going to get back to us with more instructions.
Well, Finn suggested, When Ahsoka said you had to beat Maukeen, she didnt say you
couldnt have help, right? I could help. Poe too.
Dont make me fight a Trianii Ranger on the ground, Poe said dryly. Maybe Rey did have a
point. Luke had been bluntly clear in what hed wanted them to do. Join up with Fulcrum.
Persuade Ahsoka to become Reys Master. Were they holding up the schedule or something? That
would be awkward.
Im telling you, Finn said earnestly, as they dodged servitors, letting themselves out of the
chambers, Poe and I can jump Maukeen and then-
And then what? Maukeen asked dryly, from behind them. Do tell.
Whoah! Finn flinched, surprise flashing into guilt then embarrassment on his open face. Didnt
uh, didnt see you there, Maukeen. We, ah, we were just thinking out aloud! Thats what we were
doing. Thinking. Aloud.
Maukeen made her purring laugh, even as Rey stifled a giggle. Hurry on. Dont keep Ahsoka
Tano was standing in the balcony of her chambers, overlooking the vast sandsea beyond the
borders of Qatamer. The air above the great dunes wavered and danced in the afternoon heat, but
like all of Hart and Parn HQ, even the balcony was kept cool by discreetly placed life support
filters. Tano smiled warmly as they approached, still dressed in sober gray robes, the hems
sweeping the floor. There you are.
Something wrong? Poe asked, when Finn and Rey said nothing, both of them forever overawed
in Tanos presence: Poe had the benefit of nearly a decades worth more of cynicism there, at
least. Is it the negotiations?
The negotiations have concluded, Tano said mildly. Ive just heard word from Lando. Hell be
handling the discreet transfer of the starfighters and the corvette aboard Kol Station - hes already
on the next shuttle out.
All right, Finn whooped. About time.
Dameron, Lando suggested that as a very experienced and talented pilot, you might be best used
for now in training the new pilots, Tano added, glancing at Poe. But I think that might be a
Im happy to help out wherevers needed. Poe shrugged. Thats always been the case.
Whatever you need. He tried not to think over the squadrons in DQar, but it wasnt possible: a
pang constricted his chest, made him breathe out shallowly. All his friendsGood. Now. This is why I wanted to speak to all of you personally. Its best that none of this

goes out over the comm. A day or so ago, one of Fiollas agents picked up unusual activity over
on Rochor II. Thats a First Order-controlled agricultural moon: they use it to supply a couple of
their Outer Rim mining bases. A ship limped in, probably hit by pirates. It had a very unusual
shipment: prisoners, apparently. But it wasnt tagged as a convict transport, just as a gas hauler.
The agent pinged Fiolla once she was able. Thats where we come in.
Rey looked confused. Prisoners? Like criminals?
You guys found a black site, Finn breathed. At Poes querying glance, Finn explained, All of
us knew about things like that. Word comes down even to the grunts. Bout how if you failed one
too many re-educations, or if you flapped your mouth wrong, sometimes you dont get shot. You
just disappear. Ive done a rotation as a door jockey uh - security guard post - on a First Order
prison. The vets there liked to speculate about things.
The First Orders skirmishes with whats left of the New Republic is a distraction, Tano said
grimly. Theyre going to consolidate power. Over not just their own core worlds, but the original
ones. Coruscant. Corulag. The others. Theyve moved from mining planet acquisition to
recovering Imperial shipyards.
Theyve got shipyards already, Finn said uncomfortably. Navys still bigger than the armada
that the New Republic has left.
Thats why we want the black site, Tano said briskly. It wont just house important prisoners.
Itll likely also have confidential military information. Ship codes, for example. And the locations
of all their current shipyards. All their current mining worlds, their supply routes. I need the Rogue
Shadow to fly me to Rochor II. Rey and I will meet this agent quietly and verify her information.
If the informations good, thats when life might get more interesting for the rest of us.
Invade a black site? Just the bunch of us? I like your idea of interesting, Finn blinked. Thats
crazy, not interesting.
Well see, was all Tano said, her expression gentle and mildly incurious.
Where else can we get info like that? Rey asked.
I dont know? Finn said helplessly. I never got further than being a grunt.
Rey pulled a face. I think giving this black site a shot is a good idea, then. Besides, we might be
able to save some lives.
Good, Poe decided. I was dying slowly of boredom here.
Well meet this agent? Rey asked Tano, excited now. Just us?
Maukeen will be very noticeable in a First Order affiliated spaceport, Tano said mildly, even as
Poe thought steady on, girl, dont push. Thankfully, all Rey did was grin hugely, darting off to
pack when Tano dismissed them, telling them to meet back at the Rogue Shadows berth within
the hour. Dameron, a word?
Poe paused on the way out. At Finns curious look, he shook his head, and Finn frowned slightly,
but reluctantly headed out of Tanos chambers. Poe turned back, trying not to fall into parade rest.
As old and serene as Ahsoka Tano looked, something about her tranquility seemed to
unconsciously command respect - just like Luke Skywalker. The Luke Skywalker that Poe
remembered, anyway, from years upon years ago, growing up on Yavin IV.
Lady Tano.

Your friend Finn was a Stormtrooper.

Poe blinked at her. Yes he was. But he left that behind. Saved me from-
Ive heard about that, Tano interrupted quietly. Hell be a liability on a recon mission like this.
Poe couldnt help it - he bristled. Hes a great shot with a blaster and he helped with Starkiller
And with subterfuge?
Finns nervousness, walking them out to the hangar in the Finalizer. The openness of his face.
He can learn. Besides, hes my gunner. At most, if youre going to leave Maukeen aboard, Finn
can stay aboard as well. And isnt it just you and Rey heading out on that planet?
Tano kept her gentle, inscrutable smile until Poe trailed off, then she nodded. Thats all I wanted
to know. One hour, Dameron.
Copy that, Poe said quickly, now confused. I just Lady Tano. You can trust Finn. Hes left
the First Order behind him.
And this would still only be his third mission, ever? Tano said mildly. It isnt a question of
trust, Dameron. Let me try and put matters in a way you might understand. Were about to try and
penetrate a First Order black site with two green recruits.
Ill keep an eye on the both of them, Poe promised, frowning. He waited, but Tano had already
turned away, towards the balcony, and after a moments hesitation, Poe retreated quickly.
Tano had this in common with the Skywalker that Poe remembered, too. He couldnt ever seem to
read them.
Ahsoka didnt like being aboard the Rogue Shadow. There was something about the ship beyond
even its predatory design: a sense of cruelty in its bones, an old gradation of death worn into its
skin. Within it, Ahsoka felt as though shed just been swallowed by a great beast, one that hadnt
yet cared to kill her. Exploring it, Ahsoka quickly understood why: one fin of the ship was more
or less a large training room, with a mat and racks that Fiolla had replaced, along with a meditation
chamber that had been turned into storage for crates of perishables, since not even Hart and Parn
had known what it was for.
Sometime long ago, this ship had belonged to the Sith.
As Ahsoka poked quietly through the chamber, pretending to inspect the crates, she sensed
Maukeen coming up behind her. Any reason why Damerons been looking so spooked? she
Ahsoka closed her eyes briefly. Rey and Finn were still on the launch pad, helping to load up
supplies, while Poe was in the cockpit, doing a final check of the systems. Hes a delicate soul
under all that flyboy swagger? Ahsoka suggested, with a faint grin.
Something I should know?
The questions didnt matter. I just wanted to put him off-balance. Get a sense of him. Ahsoka
turned, sober. Am I making a mistake, Maukeen? If we do this Finn and Rey are so young, so

new to war. And Dameron? His heart sits heavy in him. He still feels the loss of DQar very
sorely. I may be asking too much of them so soon.
Maukeens ears flicked forward. Grief is natural, she said finally. And other than Rey, the
other two are soldiers.
You like them. All of them.
As much as I can be said to like anyone, Maukeen chuckled. This is your problem, Ahsoka.
You always worry.
I should! Ahsoka growled. Damn those Skywalkers. Jammed his thumb into the wellspring of
the Force just to see the future, did he? Wants me to take on that child as a padawan? I want to
know why. I want to know what sort of future hes trying to steer us into.
Maukeen tilted her head. Luke Skywalker is the Grandmaster. He ended the previous Galactic
And see how that turned out, Ahsoka groused. Hes also a Skywalker, and theyve tended to
walk rather closely to the wrong side of the Force. His father and his nephew fell right over. And
the destruction they then wreak I talked to Rey about the months she spent with Luke. Shes
protective and defensive.
So something is wrong.
Exactly. Something is wrong. Ahsoka blew out a sigh. Rey does need a Master. But until Im
certain of Skywalker and his motives Im not so sure that any of his instructions should be
The Rogue Shadow would never be mistaken for any breed of merchant ship the galaxy over, and
as such Hart and Parn had built a blocky little shell around it, with an ingenious quick release that
would blow the shell apart from an internal comm signal if need be. Now that it looked like some
sort of cobbled-together Outer Rim freighter, lifting through the atmosphere actually took more
thrust than usual, and everyone was relieved once they were clear of Lorrd and could make the
jump to hyperspace.
Rey and Maukeen spent their time in hyperspace sparring. Ahsoka spent it sitting on her bunk,
meditating. As the Rogue Shadow had been built as a military ship, other than its cleanser facilities
it had no privacy: the bunks were open to each other, and no doors closed off the cockpit to the
crew quarters or the training room. For the first day, Finn and Poe all but tiptoed around her,
clearly unnerved by how motionless she was. On the second day, Finns almost childlike curiosity
clearly got the better of him. He was ostensibly cleaning out his blaster rifle, but now and then,
Ahsoka could feel him watching her.
No, Ahsoka said dryly, when she finally tired of it, though she didnt open her eyes. Im not
Finn dropped something. Ahsoka glanced over, and saw him rooting sheepishly under the crew
table. Come over here, she invited. Sit with me.
Uh, sure. Um. Maam. Finn quickly reassembled his rifle, wiped off his hands and set it in its
magnetic rack against the hull. Then he ducked in to the crews quarters, looking for all the world
like a child caught with his hand in a candy jar. He looked around for a moment, then sat down on
Maukeens bunk, directly facing Ahsoka, straight-backed and attentive. Something, um,
something I can do? For you?

What was it like being a Stormtrooper?

Visibly, Finn relaxed. Hed clearly been asked this question enough times over the past two
months or so that hed gotten used to answering. Pretty orderly. Wake up, train, eat, train some
more, eat, wash, lights out. Or if were assigned to something, then replace all the training with
work. Think alot of us actually never see any action.
And youre all taken from your parents? From young? Ahsoka still couldnt quite place the
enormity of that. The number of legionsWell, not all of us. The newest legions, sure. Families enroll a second or a third kid into the
program, usually. Otherwise theres not enough work out there for everyone.
And you never get to see them again?
Finn shrugged. Doubt they wanted me that much to begin with.
Ive heard, Ahsoka said carefully, That some children are stolen. Snatched from families
living in the annexed worlds. Or in the First Order territories.
What, all of us? Finn asked, and his mind felt amused, not annoyed. There was no real guile to
Finn, and an honest breed of openness that Ahsoka decided that she liked. It was refreshing, at
least. All this time? Thats a hella lot of angry parents out there. Two for every Stormtrooper or
so, yeah? Nobody busted down the Order Gates in Coriolis? Nobody flooded out of the Core
And training children to become soldiers the ways of war
I know, right? Finn laughed, misunderstanding Ahsokas hesitation. Its so much like the Jedi.
What? Ahsoka blinked, surprised.
I mean. You guys used to have Initiates, right? Starting from babies, if you could. To about three
years old? Being sorted into clans, learning the Force and the lightsaber-
Its not the same, Ahsoka said, and only realized shed spoken sharply when Finn visibly
flinched. My apologies, she added quickly. Yes, we have Initiates. I was discovered as Forcesensitive by Jedi Master Plo Koon, when I was three years old. I was taken away to be raised in
the Jedi Temple at Coruscant.
Did you ever want to see your parents again?
I was told I was abandoned. Ahsoka smiled faintly, wryly, finally seeing the irony of it. Pointed
out by an ex-Stormtrooper, of all people. And I never thought to investigate the matter further.
If it helps, Finn was also grinning, We were also told that you guys were baby-snatchers. But
seems to me like the Jedi arent so bad.
Im not a Jedi any longer.
Yeah? Seems to me like youre one of the good guys, maam.
Ahsoka chuckled, amused by Finns earnestness. Not all Jedi were the good guys. Nothing
mortal is perfect. Sometimes the imperfections matter - especially when you are young.
I guess it dont matter what you call yourself. Finn decided. But seriously, maybe you should

go easy on Rey. Shes pretty good already. She kicked Kylo Rens ass.
Then she shouldnt have any problems against Maukeen.
Well, um, that, Finn objected quickly, Thats different.
I suppose Im just cautious, Ahsoka said thoughtfully. About Luke Skywalker and his chosen
Dont worry about that maam, Finn said confidently. Im sure its all going to work out. Reys
seen it too. They want to stop the war.
Darth Vader had also wanted to stop the war. Eventually. For a moment, Ahsoka envied Finns
fiercely held faith. Then she smiled faintly, and closed her eyes again. I hope so.

Chapter End Notes

Ah it seems hyperspace actually isnt instantaneous XD;;; Im probably going to

have to check back through the fic to see if Ive made any visible errors, but its
probably a good thing Ive just been quite fuzzy about it (I think).
Also, my vacation time is over - back to work today! So updates may not be as
regular as before.

Chapter 16
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

As Han followed Luke through the remains of the ancient spaceport, he wondered why an entire
species of people would decide that interbreeding with Dark Jedi was the trendy thing to do. Were
Dark Jedi different in those days? Didnt using the Dark Side turn out to be really bad for
someones complexion and all that? Maybe the original Sith had a thing for psychotic, wrinkled
pale white raisin creatures with a tendency to zap the hell out of you if they got ticked off?
Dont judge, Luke murmured, and although his back was turned, Han could hear the grin in his
voice. Youve seen worse.
Not that much worse, Han muttered, before he could stop himself. Luke.
Luke hadnt sounded particularly remorseful. Han exchanged a pointed glance behind Lukes
back with Chewie, who shrugged his hairy shoulders philosophically. Who was a pushover again?
In any case, it didnt look like the original Sith people and their sexual preferences had done much
for their species or civilisation. The planet looked as dead as the eye could see: the spaceport they
were going through had been stripped to the bones of anything remotely useful for scrap. The stuff
that couldnt have been stripped off looked vaguely familiar, though, run along similar lines. Here
was a workbench, part polished rock, part rusted steel, there the too-rusted hulk of something that
could have once been a droid. Further out from the spaceport, passing the occasional rusted shell
of an ancient, beached starship, the evidence grew only clearer.
How long ago were the Sith here? Han asked, as Luke took them southwards.
The Sith as a species apparently became extinct after the Great Hyperspace war. Over five
thousand years ago or so, Luke clarified. Though Korriban has been settled on and off since.
Huh. Han stared at the ship as they passed it by. It was a Corellian freighter, though he couldnt
really tell what model it was with most of it long sanded away by the weather. Chewie and I saw
this little model of a pre-hyperdrive spaceship. In that weird fish world. Five thousand years ago,
did they have hyperdrives?
Technology levels were quite similar, actually. Maybe better. It depends on what youre looking
at. Outer Rim worlds, or Core worlds.
So we havent actually moved very much in thousands of years? Han blinked. Hed never
actually thought about it.
In a way, we have. Starkiller base sounded quite advanced. Rey described it to me.
We havent moved, except by way of Doomsday weaponry? Han corrected himself dryly,
and this got him a quick backward grin from Luke.
Technological advancements do tend to be driven by war. And after a war, theyre also often
regressed by the winning side. The galactic war between versions of the Sith and versions of the

Republic has been raging on and off for most of Galactic history. In the lull times, the winner
destroys the tech of the loser. And so it goes. Over and over. We stagnate, because weve never
learned how not to go to war.
this is putting me in a great mood to go Mandalor hunting.
Glad to help, Luke deadpanned.
Theyd brought supplies, but it was still a freezing cold night huddled together in a wrecked old
hab, chewing on ship rations. Han had complained - couldnt they have set down closer to the
target? Luke, however, had merely shrugged and curled up to go to sleep, which earned Han
another earnestly mournful look from Chewie. Annoyed, they drew lots for the first watch, and
Han lost, which meant a cold, lonely three hours ahead to be spent jumping at shadows on a
haunted planet. Han managed about half an hour by the small fire that theyd built before he got
twitchy, and headed out of the hab, breath puffing into the air, hand close to his blaster. He
walked a slow, tight circle around the hab, squinting out into the rolling dark beyond, lit only by
stars. Even at night, Korriban was ugly.
Han walked circles until his feet ached, then he settled for sitting on rocks now and then to rest his
legs, wishing that he hadnt gotten so old. Cold as the night was, his joints got creaky, he tended
to get grumpy with low sleep, and his hands got stiff easily.
Im too old for this, Han told Korriban glumly.
Youre not so bad.
Han nearly fell off the rock in shock. Luke had snuck up on him, easy as you please. Seemingly
oblivious to Hans surprise, Luke sat down beside him on the rock, almost close enough to touch,
his expression sober under that awful beard. With only the light from the stars, Han could barely
make out Lukes features, and he squirmed as Luke seemed content to say nothing at all. Decades
ago, this would have been simpler. The occasional jags they took through hyperspace were easy
things, laughter, some jibes, companionable silences: Luke trained or meditated, Han and Chewie
saw to the ship. But when Han had run from everyone now it felt like hed run the furthest from
Luke. This Luke felt like a near-forgotten stranger. Only sometimes did the man Han knew
surface for air.
So uh. I havent really asked but. Howre you holding up, kid?
Better than before, Luke said evenly.
We uh. We never actually talked. About things. Han muttered uncomfortably. Yet again, he
wished Leia was here. Fiery as her temper was, shed always seemed to know instinctively what
to do: especially where her brother was concerned. Han? Han could only muddle through and
hope that he didnt break something.
You? Luke smiled faintly. Talking?
Hey, I talk things out. Dont listen to Chewie.
I guess I missed this, Luke said, a non-sequitur if Han had ever heard one. Going on crazy
adventures with you.
You got that right, Han scowled at the reminder. Did we really have to visit Korriban for the
reunion tour? Chewie and I missed you, kid. But we coulda caught up somewhere less haunted
by Sith ghosts. I dont like ghosts.

Theyre not so bad.

Didnt you use to see them? Ben- Han stumbled briefly over the name. Ben Kenobis?
His, and others. But not for a while. I dont know why.
Well, if its between checking out the rest of the universe or haunting one skinny Jedi
Grandmasters ass, I know what Id choose, Han drawled.
Luke didnt laugh, staring at his hands instead, rubbing a thumb over the metal forefinger of his
synthetic hand, poking a nail into the joints. I missed you the most out of everyone, he
murmured, so softly that Han nearly didnt catch it.
Thanks kid. Flattered. But dont tell that to your sister.
I used to envy Leia, Luke said wanly. I sometimes used to think Our father had twins, and
the Jedi hid both of us. One they gave to a Senator and a Queen, to learn matters of State, that she
may perhaps someday help to guide the Republic. One they gave to a pair of moisture farmers,
and that one they trained to kill.
Some people need killing, Han said unthinkingly, then he grimaced. Luke-
He turned away from the Dark Side in the end. But before that, all the choices he made, they
were still his choices. Luke glanced up at Han this time, unflinching. Just as Bens choices are
his choices. He killed children that day, he and the other Knights. We - and Leia - may blame
ourselves Leia blames Snoke, I know. But the hand that dealt death that day was not Snokes. I
see that. I wish things were different. That I had done something to turn him away from that path.
But the past is past, and we have no time for regrets. Its the future that we need to change.
Im not going to try and talk him out of things again, Han agreed, wondering where Luke was
going with this.
The First Order must face their crimes, Luke said pensively. The wound they inflicted when
they murdered those five planets. I felt it, even where I was. All those lives. One final shout of
pain and fear. But in this life, its possible to cross the galaxy in a matter of days, with a
hyperdrive. Its possible for some people, like me, to read minds, to lift things with a thought. In
an age of easy wonders, a solution without perpetrating brutality shouldnt be impossible. To say
that it is impossible is a failure of imagination.
Good luck with that, Han grunted. Luke had always been the idealist. Han preferred just to be
told where to point his blaster.
This has all been very interesting, rumbled a hoarse, male voice behind them. But who the hell
are the two of you jokers? ands up. And no funny moves, or Ill shoot.
Ah, Luke smiled, without turning around. Right on time. The Mandalor.
Rochor II was mostly underground, save for fields upon fields of solar cells seeded over its
radioactive surface, feeding energy down to vast hydroponics fields that thrived under banks of
artificial light. Ahsoka had been here once, when she was younger, chasing a lead that had petered
out to nothing, and the public spaceport had changed little. Traffic was subdued: most non-First
Order affiliated spacers would usually risk a further jump to a neutral port if they could afford it.
Like the rest of the ships that had docked in the public port, the Rogue Shadow was here

ostensibly to trade. With its new temporary ships codes, it was currently named the Razorback,
and Fiolla had obligingly forged a cargo manifest and given them a trading store of surplus fuel
cells. Unlike many neutral ports, First Order ports tended to be organised, sober, and corruptionfree: Ahsoka paid the harbourmaster a standard cred fee, was allowed to berth, and her manifest
examined and approved. Since the trade price for fuel cells was also standardised, Ahsoka traded
up through the harbourmaster and before heading into the port, with Rey on her heels.
So far so good, Poe patched in to the both of them, his voice quiet, calm. This was something he
had done before, Ahsoka sensed, though most of the time, Poe was probably the one sauntering
deeper into the spaceport.
No ones tried to board yet, Finns voice was more earnest. Im watching the door.
You do that, Maukeen sounded amused. Wake me if theres anything. Im taking a nap.
Rey grinned, but sobered up quickly as Ahsoka glanced at her. Be calm. You should be calm at
all times, she murmured.
Im trying, Rey whispered back. Back on Takodana, we were recognised quickly by
sympathisers. Here isnt almost everyone a sympathiser?
Ahsoka had heard the story. On Takodana they no doubt recognised the unique BB-8 unit.
Rey fell silent, until they had made their way past the harbour staff and the scattered crew of the
three other freighters that had come to trade, and were alone in the jaunt lift that would take them
up to the cantina floor. People were looking at you, she said finally, But then they looked away
again. You were turning away their minds?
So you noticed. Ahsoka could not help the faint hint of approval in her voice. When people see
things that they do not expect to see, often there is a spark of disjunction. Disbelief. With a light
touch, its possible to briefly heighten this spark - at least against the untrained or weak-minded.
Particularly if they arent actively looking for you.
There isnt that much security here so far at least. There had been a pair of Stormtroopers by the
jaunt lifts, but they had been clearly bored, waving them past without a second glance.
And why would there be? By all reports, the First Order has concentrated its efforts on battling
the New Republics armada.
If Rey hesitated, then she blurted out, If something happens to Luke Skywalker is that the
end? Of everything? General Organa seemed to think so, she added defensively, when Ahsoka
glanced at her in surprise.
Oh, child, Ahsoka chuckled. Empires and civilisations and ages have come and go without the
influence of Luke Skywalker. Or the Jedi. Centuries into the future, everything that we do now
will likely be of little consequence.
So it doesnt matter what we do now?
Of course it does. All the time between now and that very distant future - there is more than
ample time for cruelty. Its cruelty that I cannot abide, Ahsoka added. This is my third war, and
hopefully the last in my lifetime. What Ive learned is no one really wins in a war. Everyone just
loses in different degrees.
Really? Rey asked, sceptical but clearly not wanting to seem rude. Um. I mean-

Just speak your mind, Ahsoka told her, and leavened the interruption with a wry smile. I know
I did that often, when I was your age. Still havent outgrown the habit.
Rey opened her mouth, but the lift deposited them out onto the cantina floor. It was sober,
particularly for this time of day: there was no band performing, nor did there seem to be a space
set aside for a band. Instead, there was a long bar, attended to by a tired-looking old female
Twilek, her dull green lekka limp over bent shoulders. There were no First Order personnel in
sight: everyone else drinking either at the bar or at the quiet alcoves were obviously freighter crew.
Ahsoka chose an alcove behind the bar and ordered tea for the both of them, which arrived as a
pot of hot water and a tiny bowl of gray leaves. Just two leaves per cup, Ahsoka advised, as
Rey looked a little confused. And dont eat the leaves. Theyre very bitter. Rey was cautious at
first, taking only a little sip, then instantly pulling a face. Ahsoka chuckled, despite herself,
humour untwisting from her careful calm. Its an acquired taste.
If the leaves are bitter, why is the tea sour?
It reacts with hot water, Ahsoka explained, and was in the middle of discussing the finer
medicinal qualities of rva leaf usage when their contact arrived: a skinny, surprisingly young
woman, smiling at them both with perfectly practiced familiarity. She was dressed in the slightly
grubby gray and blue station uniform of a biology engineer, and she smelled not unpleasantly of
crushed leaves.
Hello, cousin, said the woman to Rey. Its good to see you again.
Rey froze for only a fraction of a second before she knew to play along. And you as well! Since
we were passing by.
Cant beat a standard price, Ahsoka agreed, even as she quietly felt outwards, gently touching
minds, learning, listening. Didnt feel like getting cheated over on Etrac. Nothing. No one was
paying attention to them any longer. She nodded, very slightly, and the agents face didnt even
change as she lowered her voice.
No names. Its not safe. As it is, Im going to take a block of leave and ship out in a couple of
days. Until Im sure its all safe.
Youre a biology tech. How did you see the ship? Ahsoka murmured.
The agent chuckled. The things you learn when you sleep with the harbourmaster. At Reys
blink, the agent shrugged. Hes not a bad sort. Yes, he mentioned an anomaly at the port.
Transport got in, was holed through the cargo, clean through. Lucky their brig was separated from
the cargo proper, eh? Whatever shot at them also damaged the hyperspace drive, but the delayed
malfunction dropped them close to us rather than in the middle of nowhere - or in a star. They still
had to burn for two weeks to get to us.
How did you know about the prisoners? Ahsoka asked.
There was a ghoulish laugh. Because the ships crew fed themselves first and the prisoners after,
so by the time they actually got here, four of the prisoners had to be unpacked in body bags. The
harbourmaster recognised one of them. Mara Fel.
Rey looked puzzled, but Ahsoka narrowed her eyes. Major Fel?
The same.
Where is this ship now?

They transferred their cargo into another working hauler and skipped out. But I have the other
ships codes. The agent passed over an infochip. Ive been on that ship myself, prepping live
cargo for export. Good luck.
Ahsoka said not a word until they were back aboard the Rogue Shadow. The information seems
legitimate, she said, tossing the chip to Poe, as her crew gathered in the crews quarters for the
debrief. But just to be safe, jump somewhere else first, blow the freighter shell, check the ship
over for a tracer, then we jump close to the codes.
Copy that, Poe nodded briskly.
Who was Major Fel? Rey asked curiously.
The First Orders a military organisation, which means its very much a giant bureaucracy,
Ahsoka explained. Massive enough to span several worlds. As such, a great bulk of the worlds
day-to-day civil administration and sector governance is left to various delegates. Some of them
are fanatical, like the Knights, some are more moderate.
Biggest fanatics usually ended up in the armada, Finn agreed.
Major Fel was one of the moderates: she was also behind the institution of a more objective
judicial system on the First Order planets, I believe. Before, particularly before Snoke settled on
Coriolis as a capital world, they tolerated the non-fanatics. Itd be a bloodbath otherwise, and they
had better things to do. Hide from the greater New Republic fleet, for example.
But now the First Order has the great fleet, and theyve settled on Coriolis, Maukeen deduced
quietly. And the bloodbath has begun.
I hope not, Ahsoka said tiredly. But we will see. Either way, the Rogue Shadow is too small
for a large scale rescue mission. If we can help the prisoners, we will. But we need to find this
black site for information.
Lifes interesting around Jedi, at least, Finn quipped, and Rey laughed, before hastily stifling her
giggles with her palm. Even Poe grinned. Ahsoka shook her head, pretending to sigh in
disapproval, and it only occurred to her afterwards, meditating in hyperspace, that shed forgotten
her habitual correction.

Chapter End Notes

Star Wars tech plateau theories:
Okay I guess this chapter kinda counts as sufficient Han/Luke for me to add a pairing
tag? Or not yet? The main pairing will still be stormpilot. Skysolo will be very
sideline if only because Im a terribly lazy person where writing smut is concerned.

Chapter 17
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

Turn around. Slowly.
Han and Luke got off the rock, palms up in the air, and turned around. The current Mandalor was
tall, his skin turned leathery and brown from different suns, his hair a murky, spiky ginger, buzzed
short. Cold gray eyes stared out at them from a strong-jawed face peppered with three days
stubble growth, crows feet etched against his eyes and mouth, his discoloured white long-sleeved
shirt, earth-brown breeches and boots dusty at the hems. A stealth field generator around his waist
told Han how the Mandalor had come upon them from the back without Han noticing, and he
had a blaster trained on them both. Han could not quite place his age. Younger than Han, older
than Dameron, maybe.
Hopes for a rescue from Chewie were quickly shattered - there was a bellow of outrage from
within the old hab, and soon, Chewie was marched out, hands on his hairy head, behind him a
female human and a Rodian, armed with rifles. Chewie barked a rebuke at Han, who shrugged
apologetically and pulled a face.
A Wookie, a geezer dressed like a gunrunner, and a YT freighter out over at the old spaceport,
the Mandalor drawled. Could be I know the answer to this riddle.
Whos a geezer? Han scowled. Chewie made a whuffling sound, and Han glowered at him.
Dont you start.
King Pranas paying top creds for your hide, Solo, the Mandalor added, with a sharp smile,
stepping briefly closer to take Hans blaster from his holster. Something about his collection still
being incomplete.
Yeah, well, his new pets are still available for pickup aboard the Eravana, Han said flatly. And
Prana technically never specified a deadline.
You know what Kings are like, the Mandalor said, already clearly growing disinterested,
looking curiously at Luke instead. And who are you?
New crew member. Second mate, Han said hastily. Doesnt talk much. He eyeballed Luke,
trying to get Luke to let Han handle the situation.
Luke, however, merely looked at Han with a faint smile. It never ends well when you try.
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Han muttered.
Mandalor Krieger, Luke glanced over to the Mandalor. I am Luke Skywalker.
Skywalker! Krieger let out a low whistle. Now theres a bounty thats even bigger than Solo
and his furry friends. Must be my lucky day.
And it would have been, Luke added softly, If you actually did like the First Order.
If I had to like everyone I did business with, Id be a poor man.

Hosnian Prime and the other planets. There were close to a thousand Mandalorians there, were
there not? All of them dying an inglorious death. No war, just pain. Sudden and impossible and
unavoidable. Like warriors they lived. Like animals they died.
Han tensed as Krieger stiffened up and bared his teeth: anger sparked briefly in those cold gray
eyes before it was burned away, back to ice. Careful.
The First Order is a dangerous enemy to make. But you and those who follow the Mandalorian
creed specialise in dealing with dangerous enemies. Or at least, Luke continued dispassionately.
You used to. Its not Hosnian Prime that has you running scared. After all, you know that
Starkiller Base is gone. Scattered as the Mandalorians are, being a creed, not really a people, it
wont matter if they destroy your homeworld. Not that much. Mandalorians wont go extinct. But
you are afraid. And thats a dangerous emotion to have on Korriban.
Krieger growled, striding forward and hauling Luke over by twisting a fist in the front of Lukes
robes. Han started forward, but stopped hurriedly when, behind him, he heard the pointed metallic
click of a blasters safety being thumbed off.
Hey, everybody calm down, Han tried hastily instead.
He was ignored. Im not afraid, Krieger sneered.
If youre not then youd be foolish. Im afraid, Luke said mildly. I saw the Dark Sides effects
firsthand. With my father. With my nephew, when he murdered children before my eyes. Within
myself. Once, a long time ago, when I gave in briefly to rage and despair.
Jedi arent meant to fear anything. Krieger was clearly thrown by Lukes words: his grip had
Luke smiled faintly. Thats what wed like you to think. Fear is normal. Without fear, how can
you show courage? But you wont find what you seek on Korriban.
And what do you think I seek?
What do all Mandalorians seek? An honourable death on the battlefield. There are relics in the
tombs here, of course, particularly in the one you seek to break into. But the price youd pay for
any one of those trinkets or weapons will be too much for you.
Krieger stared at Luke, incredulous. And how do you know all that?
Ive seen the future, Luke said blithely, as though that was a totally normal thing to say to a
Mandalorian when held at gunpoint, and Han closed his eyes. This was how it was all going to
go wrong, he could sense it. He waited for the Mandalor to sneer and snap orders, for the blasters
to warm up - or for all of them to be marched forthwith into some ships brig. Maybe if he fell left,
gave Chewie a signal, they could bust looseKrieger let out a harsh, barking sound, and Han opened his eyes cautiously. The Mandalor was
laughing. He shoved Luke a step back, and the strength in his grip actually nearly pushed Luke
off balance. Fucking Jedi, he said gruffly. Never met one before. Heard of you lot, of course.
Old stories. Myths. About how you could read minds, move things with a gesture. See the future.
And more, Luke agreed.
That why you came down here? To find me? Ask me nicely not to break into a tomb? Krieger
bared his teeth again, in his lupine, mirthless smile.

Im here to make a bargain, actually, Luke said mildly. Youve been quietly gathering your
people. You even have an armada - a small one, but still impressive. You know that a storms
coming. Your people are hungry for something greater than just another mercenary contract.
War is part of who we are, Krieger said flatly. But it doesnt mean were out to commit suicide.
Theres nothing glorious in that.
Suicide isnt what Id be asking from you. I told you there would be a price to pay, to open a
tomb - particularly by forcing it open. Ill help you open a tomb without having to blow in the
door: Ive been on Korriban before. The weapon youre looking for, I know where it is. And Ill
pay the price on your behalf.
Luke, Han said, aghast, and even Chewie growled an objection, nearly stepping forward before
the human woman waved him back. Krieger glanced at Han, narrow-eyed, then at Chewie, and
chuckled again, low and harsh.
Your friends dont approve.
Thats been the way its been for the past couple of decades.
Ha! Heard you disappeared somewhere. All sorts of theories. Someday Id like to know.
Krieger decided. Say you help me find what I want. And pay the price, whatever that is. What
do you want in return?
Ill tell you after you get what you want. After all, if you find it objectionable at that point, you
still do have us at gunpoint.
Kid, Han said wearily, This is really not how you cut a deal. Havent you learned anything
from me? Chewie growled. What dyou mean, I dont know how to cut a deal either? Youre
not helping, you furry lunk!
Youre starting to amuse me, Jedi, Krieger smirked, and slowly lowered his blaster. All right.
At most, well all have a good laugh, and I might even cash in on both your bounties afterwards.
Now. Move.
They hopped a day out from Rochor II into empty space to blow their camoflage, then they were
back on track. Hopefully. Jumping into unknown space was a gamble in itself, let alone unknown
space that was also First Order territory. The coordinates from the ships codes didnt measure up
to any charted space in the Rogue Shadows databanks, and so Poe activated the stealth array in
hyperspace and tweaked the coordinates so that theyd (hopefully) drop out into empty space a
cautious three days or so burn to the possible prison location.
Despite the stakes - or perhaps because of them - Poe was feeling good about life. Hed always
dreamed about flying X-Wings, even as a child, but sometimes, hed also thought about having his
own ship. Something larger, a ship that he could name: a ship like the Millennium Falcon,
something unique that could go down in history along with its captain. Flying the Rogue Shadow
was like dreaming all over again. The monster of a sublight engine that Hart and Parn had
installed was only part of it: she was as sweet on the controls as anything Poe had ever flown,
even that brief stint on the TIE fighter over Jakku, and she had the teeth for it. Technically, Poe
didnt even need a gunner: the quad cannon could be leashed to the missile targeting.
And he certainly didnt need a co-pilot.
Im fine here, Poe told Rey, as she popped her head into the cockpit. Dont you have to train?

Dont you have to eat? Rey retorted, though she grinned as she said it. Come on. Give her up
to me for a bit. Were already in hyperspace, we wont break anything.
Only weeks ago, Poe had offered co-pilot control to Solo without a thought. Mere days ago, hed
even left the Rogue Shadow on auto as hed napped on the jump to Rochor II. Now, with his hand
on the flightstick, Poe felt a pang of resentment that actually surprised him into blinking. Sure, the
Shadow was a sweet ship: but Poe had never been particularly possessive before. She was just a
All right there? Rey asked curiously, and Poe very nearly flinched back into his pilots chair.
Yeah. Im fine. Have a turn. Poe unstrapped and got up, and Rey stared at him thoughtfully for
a moment before she brushed past and sat down.
Again, palm curled against the archway to the cockpit, Poe felt another pang, then he grit his teeth
and headed out towards the crews quarters. He ate from their perishable stores, quickly and
quietly - some of the rest of them had probably already eaten a short while ago, judging from the
number of cups in the auto-cleanser, and Poe was slouched against the curved, cushioned back of
the sarlacc tables bench, drinking coffee when Finn walked in from the training chamber,
grinning when he saw Poe. The residual resentment faded.
Finn was dressed in a shirt that stuck to his shoulders from sweat, and he had a mark on his cheek
that would probably bruise up. At Poes arched eyebrow, Finn pointed at his cheek. This? This
was me tripping on my feet and landing on my face. Maukeen laughed.
Its not wise to spar with a Trianii Ranger, Poe said, and wrinkled his nose as Finn crowded
over, leaning down for a kiss. Shower, Finn.
Finn grinned at him instead of backing off. I think Ive probably got bruises in all kinds of other
places, he said, in a low voice.
Was Finn actually? Showers not that big, Poe whispered back, though he couldnt help the
slow smile that snuck up on him, the fragile lightheaded warmth that cored through him whenever
he was this close, breathing some of Finns air. If youre asking what I think youre asking.
Ive been waiting to say that to you for an hour, Finn pulled a little face. It kind of worked
better in my head.
Oh, it worked, Poe assured him, stealing a quick peck on the mouth. Worth a shot anyway.
Scandalise the crew.
Thankfully, Tano wasnt anywhere to be seen - Poe probably couldve handled getting caught by
anyone but the wrinkled old (ex?) Jedi. The sonic shower was already a narrow fit for one, given
that the Shadow was a military ship; with two people it was like getting jammed into a crawl
space. No one who loved hopping between the stars was claustrophobic, of course - almost all
starships were tightly space-conscious - but Poe hadnt been too sure about Finn. He neednt have
worried - Finn merely laughed as they struggled to get their clothes into the laundry hatch, buckles
and straps getting caught against each other, and finally, naked, Finn was the one who pushed Poe
up against the hull to kiss him.
Poe relaxed, closing his eyes, one palm curled up against Finns neck, the other splayed against
the warm, humming metal behind him, thrumming with the constant background heartbeat of his
ship. The air smelled of recyclers and the sweat slicked up between them and Poe was breathing
even that in, greedily, glad for stolen moments. Finns hands were stealing lower, thumbs stroking

Poes hips in descending circles before fingers wandered down to his ass, kneading, tentative still.
Groping against the wall until he found the sensor for the shower, Poe grinned as Finn jerked
against him with a yelp, the ultrasonic vibrations efficiently working to get them both clean, far
more quickly than a water shower would. Not that Poe had anything against hot showers, but with
Finn crowding close again, teeth worrying at Poes neck, the clinical efficiency of sonics had their
Please tell me you brought some sort of oil, Poe gasped, as he pushed against Finns mouth, and
felt Finns answering laugh shake against him, an intimacy of shared mirth made joyous by
sentiment. Thankfully, Finn had thought of oil, stolen from the galley, probably, though theyd
had to fumble open the laundry hatch to get it from Finns pockets.
Getting good at this, Poe said approvingly, and Finn laughed again, the first slick finger pressing
teasingly against the furled opening of Poes hole.
Soldiers are always prepared. Especially for a planned op.
Mm, Poe groaned as the finger pressed inside, his hands climbing up to Finns shoulders,
kneading all that hard and moulded muscle approvingly, all that strength.
Maukeen had landed a couple of other bruises on Finn, one high on his left bicep, and Finn
gasped as Poe kissed the reddened mark, licking after it. He was working a kiss carefully over
another, just under Finns collar bone, when Finn cursed and twisted carefully against him,
hitching up one of Poes thighs and encouraging Poe to curl that around Finns hip, stretching him
open. Poe could feel Finns heavy cock pressed between them, his own flesh already curved
against his belly, leaking, the air recyclers whirring a little louder at their musk.
Another kiss, biting now, both of them no longer caring about marks, as Finn got in a second
finger, careful and slow, always so slow. Sometimes Poe remembered to remind Finn that he
wasnt glass, to go faster, harder, but for too long violence had been part of Finns world,
perhaps, and all that Finn would touch Poe with was gentleness and more gentleness. Three
fingers. Poe wasnt sure how long it had been since theyd squeezed into the shower. He didnt
care. Rey could fly them the whole way to their destination and he wouldnt care. Finns mouth
was on his now, sloppy, slipping briefly down to nuzzle his throat, hitch words Poe couldnt make
out against his pulse, then notching up again as Poe whined for another kiss, blindly begging to be
They kissed as Finn finally pushed into him, holding him up against the wall with that effortless
assured strength of his, needing barely a shift of his footing against the shower deck. Poe groaned
against Finns mouth, a high and desperate animal sound of lust and visceral relief, and Finn
returned hunger for hunger, sliding deeper, his arms tense around the small of Poes back and
against Poes knee, trembling with impatience. Balls deep. Maybe it was Poe who sighed, shaky
with ecstasy. Maybe it was Finn. Their breaths and groans broke and fractured between them,
their lips feverish against each other.
Cmon, Poe gasped, then, Move, Finn, Im ready, just- and he was groaning again as Finn
obeyed, rolling his hips with a steady, inexorable pace that Poe knew from experience now that it
could not be pushed, that he could beg and bite and threaten and all that Finn would do is laugh.
Once, Finn even slowed down. Poe begged anyway, then cursed, pinned between Finn and the
wall. Tano could be right outside and he didnt care.
He wanted more, full as he was, as hot as it was to hear the satisfied strangled grunt Finn made
whenever he ground himself all the way in, twisting until each thrust also tempered pleasure into
Poes blood and whimpers onto his tongue. He didnt want this to end. He was desperate to come.

Finn had buried his mouth against Poes neck, his breathing going shallow, fingertips stroking the
stretched muscle of Poes hole, pulled open around Finns cock. Please, Poe gasped. Harder,
Finn, damnyou-fuck, harder- Finn kissed him, swallowing the rest, and each plea after that, each
curse. Satiation was a slow-building trigger, burning into a sweltering rush of euphoria, ruthlessly
shared, transcendent.
Afterwards they stumbled out of the shower, re-cleansed and half-dressed, and Maukeen sniffed,
curled in her bunk, as Finn grinned at her, not even remotely remorseful. At the cockpit, Rey was
a little red-faced, fleeing and mumbling something under her breath when Poe told her he was
taking over, and as he strapped down, Finn snickered, draped against the back of the pilots seat.
Maybe you were too loud. Again.
Not my fault. Poe winced a little at the ache, shifting to get more comfortable. Finn rested a
palm over Poes shoulder, then wreathed their fingers together, squeezing, as Poe reached up for
him. Beyond the transparisteel, light sped past, describing thin white spears, sleeting around them,
like stellar rain.

Chapter End Notes

yes star wars also has sonic showers

Chapter 18
Chapter Notes
See the end of the chapter for notes

Strangely enough, once the Mandalorians had established that Han and the others were their
prisoners, they became oddly relaxed about it. Han had been arrested by various people
throughout the galaxy, and although they hadnt been allowed to keep their weapons, no one was
shoving them about or kicking him in the gut. To an uninformed spectator Han, Luke and Chewie
wouldve looked like tourists, out with a large escort.
Chewie was still considerably grouchy about the situation, and was pointedly ignoring him, which
meant having to keep pace with Luke and the Mandalor. How did you find out about the map?
Krieger asked Luke.
A broker in Bestine.
And my interest in it?
I keep an eye on the galaxy.
Krieger sniffed. And this favour that youd want out of me, what is it exactly?
I want you to help me deliver a package.
Oh? Krieger glanced at Han, who probably hadnt hidden his own surprise in time. Youre
friends with one of the galaxys most notorious smugglers, Skywalker.
Its not a matter suitable for his skillset. Luke shot Han an apologetic smile that didnt help in the
You really saw the future? Krieger asked, skeptical.
I saw many futures, Luke corrected. It was interesting. Sobering, actually. This galaxy is so
mired in chaos any chance of peace balances on a thin line.
Peace, Krieger spat in the dirt to his right. Is that what youre aiming for?
A semblance of it. One where galactic powers arent engaged in all-out war, in any case.
Thats not peace, Krieger said disdainfully. Thats merely a de-escalation. You want peace?
You let the First Order win. Theyll flatten everyone out, burn those that dont want to listen to the
ground. If they get their way, the world galaxy will be dancing to Snokes say-so. No more war.
Everyone marches in step. Thats peace for you.
Absolute order isnt peace, either, not when its enforced by cruelty and underwritten by hatred.
Luke smiled thinly, however. Besides. A Mandalorian isnt interested in peace.
Depends on what youre talking about, Krieger disagreed gruffly. What happened on Hosnian
Prime even if my own people werent killed yeah. Its not right.
A merc with standards, Han said dryly, and got a glare for his efforts. More soberly, Han added,

I had friends on Hosnian Prime too. Old ones. And I saw it happen. I was on Takodana.
Heard they hit Takodana as well, Krieger added. Maz do all right?
Shes fine, last I heard. Han assured him. Shes done all right for over a thousand years, eh?
Cant break the habit of a lifetime.
Krieger nodded. Shes a funny one. Building a temple and a statue of herself the hell was that
all about?
They were still trading gossip by the time they made it to the Mandalorian camp, where they were
shoved into a tent and told to rest up until the morning. Left unsaid was what would happen to
them if they tried to escape, but it was obvious enough. The Mandalor had brought down a
sizeable squad to handle Korriban: at least twelve armed people, all of whom looked like seasoned
mercs. The patrols around the camp perimeter were tight, and most gave Chewie curious glances,
but said nothing. Pros.
In the morning, they were even fed. The camp was folded down, then they set off, this time with
Luke in the front, along with Krieger. Han hung back, keeping close to Chewie: being around this
much exposed weaponry was making them both jittery. It was a hot day, and an hour into the trek,
Chewie was letting out the occasional mournful honk, while Han had stripped off his vest, his
shirt sticking to his frame: even the Mandalorians were starting to look miserable. Only Luke
seemed utterly oblivious to the heat, leading them on over rocky terrain that eventually led out into
a vast network of canyons, red craggy rock dipping in and up over snaking sand rivers. There was
water on this harsh planet: Han had seen it flying in, smudges of blue against the red sphere - but
here, on the ground, it was hard to believe that any part of Korriban could be remotely hospitable.
By the time they stopped for the night, Han ate, relieved himself in the freshly dug latrines outside
the camp, and promptly went to sleep, too tired to even think about escaping, lying against
Chewies flank as the nights temperatures dropped back down to freezing. They found what
Luke was looking for late into the second day, an unassuming cave mouth up one of the narrow
dry tributaries, sandy, its high ceiling tipped with sharp-pointed rock. Light flares brought out by
Krieger and the others painted sharp daggers of shadow in the natural cave, from the widening
mouth to the columns of rock and scree. Further in, unnoticed until they came closer, a square
door as tall as Chewie, made of black obsidian, had been set into the wall of the cave, unadorned
but for some jagged writing in red-veined crystal.
Here lieth a God of War, the Destroyer, Asagashedim, Krieger translated out aloud, and
clapped Luke heavily on the shoulder. I confess I doubted you for a while. Not bad. We couldve
searched the Valley for years and never found this.
This is one of them haunted tombs? Han stared at the door, blinking. Huh. Somehow, hed
expected something more. More grandiose, at least. At least a frightening statue or two. What
happened, did they run out of creds? Decide to go minimal?
All of those tombs with grand monuments are much further in, Luke said distractedly.
So can you open it? Han asked doubtfully.
Yes. But before I do. Luke turned to look Krieger in the eye. Tell your men they must put
away their weapons if they are to enter the crypt. They must kill nothing in there. Understand? Or
you wont get what you seek.
Kid gloves then. Krieger nodded curtly at his men. Why? Whats in there?

Some things that can be reasoned with and some that cant. Dont take anything more than the
The map again. Were really here for a map? Han demanded, incredulous. A map to where?
A M-A-P, Krieger corrected. Mobile Assault Purifier.
Doesnt tell me anything.
And so it shouldnt, Krieger growled, with a hard stare at Luke. Its Rakata tech. Ancient.
MAPs all I want, Skywalker. Hear that, boys and girls? No looting.
Chewie made a worried rumble as Luke pressed his palm to the obsidian stone. So uh, Han
said, sharing his First Mates misgivings, Whats this uh, price, then?
Luke ignored him. Mandalor Krieger, I need to borrow a dagger. Krieger only hesitated for a
moment, passing Luke a small boot knife. Luke cut his palm open, handing the dagger back, hilt
first, then, even as Han started towards him, he pressed his palm back onto the red stone, closing
his eyes.
Luke- Han began, then yelped, Luke! when Luke took in a convulsive breath, staggered back,
and collapsed, shaking, his lips moving, writhing on the sand. As Han watched in horror, blue and
purple veins began to stand out, slowly, branching upwards from his fingertips, stark against
paling skin. Luke, your hand-
Get something in his mouth or hell bite his tongue, Krieger said sharply, as Han grabbed
futilely at Lukes shoulders, getting whacked across the ribs by Lukes synth hand. Just as Chewie
and one of Kriegers minions crowded close with a wadded rag, Luke stilled, his breathing
slowing down, eyelashes fluttering, his lips still moving, as though speaking soundlessly to
someone. Something. Tentatively, Han tried shaking Luke by the shoulders.
Stop that, Luke whispered in his mind, and by the way Krieger jerked back with an oath, Han
knew he hadnt been the only one who heard it. The doors opening now. Stand by.
Your hand, Luke-
Ill be fine. Stand by.
There was a creaking, groaning sound, like metal trying to shake off centuries of neglect, then the
obsidian door ground backwards, and slid with an angry moan into a wall recess, revealing a dark
mouth that seemed to lead away infinitely into deep shadow. Leave me here. Go. Kill nothing.
Take nothing but the MAP. Han, you and Chewie have to go with Krieger.
What? Why us? Han objected. Chewie agreed, gesturing eloquently and rudely at Krieger and
growling. As far as they were concerned, Han and Chewie were quite happy to stay outside the
dark tomb. Especially if it was haunted.
Better do as the Jedi says, Krieger looked visibly spooked, his blaster drawn, though his grip
was still steady. Jenna, Kars, Rissa, you lot stay here with Skywalker, keep an eye out. Make
sure he doesnt bite his tongue. The rest of you, with me.
Everyone got a glow stick, even Han and Chewie, although Krieger smirked and shook his head
when Han made some hopeful noises about getting their weapons back. Whatd you need a
blaster for? Your friend Skywalker said we wont be doing any killing in here.
Killing, no, Han muttered, But if anything jumps out at me, he didnt say nothin about hurting

Krieger was unmoved, and soon, too distracted to talk further. Whoever the God of War had
really been in life, his tomb was thankfully not a) a maze or b) full of horrible traps: the tunnel they
were in opened out into a rectangular, high-ceilinged stone chamber, vast: they couldve fit Hans
Falcon in here, edge to edge, and the long end of the chamber petered off into darkness. Slender
columns branched up from the ground to the roof, all smooth black stone lined with the strange
red text, and Krieger paused at the closest one, bringing his glow stick close.
Whats it say? Han whispered nervously.
Story about his deeds. People hed killed, and so on, kingdoms he razed.
Krieger shot Han a sharp-edged grin, then he suddenly tensed up, looking beyond Hans shoulder.
Han spun on his heel, his hand jumping for his empty holster, just in time to see something flash
back at him from just out of the edge of their light, two red glowing points, before retreating. They
werent alone in here.
Keep a look out, Krieger warned. But dont get jittery. They havent come at us yet.
The big animal stink of the chamber worsened as they got deeper in. Spread out, Krieger
ordered. Tuy and Rso, by the door. Find me another exit- the rest of his words froze up into a
stifled hiss as a faint red-limmed figure stepped out of the dark, translucent, like a holodeck
projection. Whatever it was, it was bipedal, and was Hans height, if stooped, face covered in a
black steel ovoid with no hint of eyes or mouth. The rest of its body was swathed in black robes,
along with a heavy hood, and its hands were unnaturally long, spindly.
Everyone armed had drawn and raised their weapons. Chewie let out an alarmed yowl, and Han
snapped, Nobody shoot!
Reluctantly, Krieger lowered his blaster. Weapons cold, everyone. Back off. Aint here for us.
The apparition was ignoring them, turning to a side. Skywalker, you say, it whispered, the voice
from everywhere - the ground, the walls, dry like crackling old paper, whispery, vaguely male. I
knew a Skywalker Ah. Your father. Yes. This was the wraith of the tomb, then, talking to
Luke. Krieger motioned urgently, and they gave the ghost a wide berth, following the smooth
walls. Asagashedim, if that was his name, didnt seem to notice them go. There was a tomb built
for him, did you know? Blood of the Sky. Oh yes. You did come to the Valley.
Asagashedims whispery voice followed them in a dull echo as they found the first opening in the
wall. Krieger didnt move to head in - instead he made a full circuit of the large chamber. Four
openings in total, not including the exit. He split his team, leaving Han and Chewie to follow him
down the last archway, the only one built tall enough for Chewie.
It didnt take long for things to go wrong. All of them froze as, behind them, someone started to
scream, then two, then three. Krieger swore. Whirs team. He started to head back, but Han
grabbed his elbow tightly.
Wait. Whatever youre here for. We move in, grab it, get out. At Kriegers furious glare, Han
added, I bet you didnt pick this corridor by mistake. Its the only one as tall as the exit, but that
ghost guys bout my height. When Krieger wavered, Han added impatiently, Give me and
Chewie back our weapons and well go get whatever it is. You can go help your guys. I dont

want to be in here any longer than I have to.

Krieger nodded curtly at the female Mandalorian Twilek behind them, and she reluctantly handed
back Hans blaster, even as the tall male human beside her gave Chewie back his bowcaster. Go
assist Whir, he told them both. Solo and the Wookie will come with me.
But sir, said the Twilek, uncomfortably.
Think were a little beyond shooting each other in the back in a fucking haunted tomb, Han said
Go, Lena. Krieger insisted, and the Mandalorians turned, jogging briskly back towards the main
corridor. To the screams, and the all-too-brief sounds of blaster fire. Kriegers expression
tightened. Wed better hurry.
After having gone to all the trouble of landing on an Evil Death Sith planet and then being
dragged over said planet by hostile Mandalorians, then being taken to a Secret Cave of a War God
or whatever this was, the room at the end of the high corridor was a bit of a disappointment. It was
another high-ceilinged room, circular, and dominated by a black glass-like disc, upon which a
large metal cubical thing sat, with strange seams and cracks in its shell, half as long as
Krieger was tall. A dead human lay curled against the wall, so desiccated that Han couldnt quite
tell whether the human had once been male or female.
This is it? Han asked doubtfully, staring at the box, as Krieger eagerly stepped closer. Funny. I
kinda thought it was going to be a a sword. Or a gun, or a big missile.
This is it, Krieger said, circling around until he found what he was looking for, pressing
something in the flank of the box. There was a whirring, grinding sound, metal on metal, then the
box seemed to unpack outwards, pieces unfolding, refitting together, winding upwards, a
mechanical, precise decompression that took only a matter of minutes. Yes. Yes. It still works!
What Krieger and Luke had called a MAP was a silver machine, as tall as Chewie, with a part
transparisteel pilots pod cradled between twin shoulder missile banks and armoured flanks. Servo
arms had inbuilt quad turrets slung over their lengths, and its heavily armoured shoulders and legs
had handholds, possibly for passengers. Krieger clambered into the pod as the glass hissed open,
and it closed behind him, the MAP shaking and stepping back heavily as Krieger gave the
controls a whirl.
All right, Krieger said, his voice tinny from behind the pod, savagely gleeful. Solo, hang on to
the side. Chewbacca, keep behind me. Lets see whats killing my people.
Pretty sure we should be getting out of here, Han protested, though he clambered up, clinging
on for dear life as Krieger took a cautious step forward. Hooking an arm against the bar, Han left
his blaster hand free, blaster safety off. Behind them, Chewie kept pace, occasionally growling in
protest, shooting nervous glances behind his shoulder.
Outside, all of Kriegers men had already joined the firefight, blaster fire and screams echoing
cacophonously off the walls. They were fighting huge beasts, each as tall at the shoulder as a
human, flanks covered with tiny blue scales, massive jaws filled with triple rows of teeth, huge
claws tipping their four heavy paws and three sloping, sharp-tipped horns behind their vulpine
muzzles, spikes running down their spines to a long and prehensile lizard-like tail. There were
three of them, and some of Kriegers men were already dead, ripped apart: the air stank of gore
and vomit and blood and burned flesh.
Fall back! Krieger snapped, turning to face the monsters, and abruptly, the ghost whirled

around, as though seeing them for the first time, staring right at the MAP, straightening up, as
though in anticipation.
Dont fire! Han slapped at one of the missile banks. Lets just get the hell out of here! Dont
Krieger hesitated, and Asagashedim snarled, so loudly that Han nearly let go to clap his hands
over his head. The beasts backed off a step, hissing and slavering, then one leaped forward,
snapping off Lenas head in a single bite, the twitching corpse of the Twilek falling to the ground.
Dont! Han yelped, knowing, somehow: if Krieger opened up with the MAP - Han knew they
were all going to die. Hearing the panic in Hans voice, Krieger took an uneasy step back.
Then the Mandalor turned, shouting, Fall back! Fall back! and everyone fled for the exit,
Chewie howling behind them, Asagashedim starting to shriek, in an unholy ululating battle cry
that echoed grotesquely around the stone, feeding back at them from everywhere. Behind, to
Hans horror, some of the bodies were starting to get up, headless, armless, puppet-like, jerking up
in harsh degrees, starting after them, faster than they should be. The beasts bowled over the
corpses, lunging for the survivors, one crushing a Rodians spine, one tearing a chunk off a
Zabraks neck, their jaws so close, not even bothering to stop and worry the bodies-and then they were out, stampeding, and for a moment Han froze, thinking that theyd trampled
over Luke, when he realized that Luke was standing up, behind them now, hands up, the bloody
hand and the synth hand. The closest beast crouched, ready to pounce, and Luke snapped
something at it, in a strange, glottal tongue, and it hesitated, tilting its head to a side. Luke spoke
again, more gently this time, and the beast behind the first whined, the last snarling, then shaking
its head and letting out a grunt. A final word from Luke, and the two beasts in the back turned,
padding away, returning into the shadows, and the snarls of rage from Asagashedim abruptly cut
off, growing silent.
The last creature stayed, however, its head tilting from left to right, licking its bloodied jowls,
watching them, but not making a move, its red eyes unsettlingly bright in its narrow face, its flanks
blackened with blaster fire, wounds that it ignored. Han chanced a quick look around. Theyd lost
half of the Mandalorians: other than the three whod been left outside, there were three remaining,
one of whom had been badly mauled, claw marks raked bloody over his back. Krieger hesitated,
then he disengaged from the MAP, slipping out and coming cautiously up to Lukes side.
All right, Skywalker, Krieger said quietly. Close it up. Were done here.
Our bargain?
Krieger let out a startled, uncertain laugh, glancing over at the beast, not that it bothered to look at
anyone but Luke. Sure. I I guess I do owe you. What do you want, then? Whats this package
of yours?
Youre looking at it, Luke said mildly.
That? Krieger asked, incredulous. Those things ate half my men! The large beast hissed, tail
swiping back and forth behind it.
Your people shot first, Mandalor. The tukata wont attack you or your people further - if it isnt
interfered with. Muzzle it, if you have to.
Krieger shot the creature a dubious look. I hell. Fine. Deals a deal. Where do I get that to? Or

Coriolis. General Leia Organa.

Chapter End Notes

the tortured history of the Darth title, or, why I ended up being too lazy to try and fit it
in continuity wise:

Chapter 19
The habits of a lifetime were had to break, and besides, Poe had never flown a stealth ship before.
They were flying dark out of hyperspace, and even though theyd spent a whole day with the
black site within view without being challenged, Poe still couldnt shake the feeling that they
would be spotted at any moment.
A frigate sat quiescent beside the First Order prison: a satellite built onto a large asteroid. Steel
domes and bulbous projections broke out of the pitted surface of the asteroid at uneven intervals,
and on the whole, it looked like some sort of brown, diseased fruit, part-eaten by some steelcoloured cancer. The asteroid was rotating gently: probably enough for one gee of gravity, though
Poe couldnt see what was making something so large go. The same ancient tech that had
supposedly powered Starkiller base, perhaps.
Tano was in the cockpit with him: Finn and Rey were teaming up against Maukeen, a fight that
was probably not going too well for the pair - now and then, Poe could hear the occasional loud
exclamation of dismay from Finn, or laughter from the big Trianii. We have to be giving off
heat, Tano said thoughtfully, eyeing the spec of grey that was all that the frigate looked like from
this distance.
We are, but shes built to hide it. Poe patted the side of one of his data panels affectionately.
Whoever made her tried to think of everything.
The Empire made her.
She cant help that, Poe said defensively, narrowing his eyes as he glanced up at Tano.
Tano returned a faint smile. You and Rey should take shifts. Or I could fly, she added. Im a
fair pilot myself, though of course not of your caliber.
Im fine. This is my ship. Poe felt irritated now. Let me do my job. Thats why you wanted me
along anyway, didnt you?
I wanted a great pilot along. I didnt want someone who might burn himself out with low sleep
and then pass out when I need him most, Tano said evenly, studying Poe thoughtfully. Hm. Did
you know. That small storage chamber, where Fiolla put all the fruits thats actually a
meditation chamber, for the Force-sensitive.
Oh, um, Poe blinked, a little thrown by the sudden change in topic. Finn and I could move the
boxes into the cargo hold, if you or Rey want to use it.
My point is, Tano said mildly, This is an Empire ship. And it was made with a meditation
chamber. Do you see where Im coming from, now?
Ah. Maybe it was Vaders ship. Or a Sith ship, Poe said, defensive again. So what? Shell
serve us fine. Previous owners nowhere to be seen, and shes got new ship codes. New
everything under the hood, if you believe Fiolla.
I took a look in the copy of the Rogue Shadows databanks, back on Lorrd, Tano added quietly.
She wasnt Vaders ship. But she was a Sith ship. And she was usually crewed by a roster of
eight pilots.

Thats weird. Why would a ship need eight pilots? Especially this ship?
Ive been watching you, Dameron, Tanos tone was gentle now. Youve been getting more
short tempered lately, havent you? Think about it.
What are you trying to say? Poe asked stiffly.
Merely suggesting that you watch yourself. Sometimes, the Force affects the world in unexpected
ways. The Jedi Order studied it for centuries, but a great deal of what we know about the Force is
still quite uncertain.
Before Poe could say anything else, though, Tano nodded at him, and turned to head back
towards the crew quarters. Bemused, Poe watched her go, then he looked back over at the frigate
standing guard over the rotating prison station. Whatever Tano was trying to tell him, in her
typically Mysterious Older Jedi way, it couldnt have been more important than the immediate
problem ahead. How the hell were they meant to land on the black site unobserved?
He raised the question at dinner, when the ship was sitting on auto. The sarlacc table was
projecting a holo of the black site and its frigate escort, along with its slow rotation. Rey, Finn and
Poe were sitting on the bench, having stew from the replicator, Maukeen had pulled up a magchair, and Tano was on a crate, eating some of the last reserves of their dried Lorrdian fruit.
Way I see it, Finn said doubtfully, If the shieldings the same as Starkiller base - and it
probably is - then were gonna have to approach at light speed. Except that on something as small
as that asteroid, well definitely crash into something.
Were certainly not doing that, Poe decided quickly. Or we wont have a ride off that rock.
Dont they have to drop the shield sooner or later? If transports come and go? Rey asked.
When they do, we could land quickly here, she pointed at a section which was mostly the
asteroids surface, And get in through a service door on one of the domes.
That could mean us sitting here for weeks. Or longer. Maukeen grunted. Run the risk of
getting discovered sooner or later.
First Order radar doesnt always track things smaller than a TIE fighter, Tano observed from her
corner. And shielding that isnt from a planetary generator - which the asteroid is too small to
hold - isnt that impermeable. Getting in isnt the problem. We have vacuum suits aboard this ship,
with jetpacks. If Dameron takes us as close as he can to the shielding, we should be able to jet
through and make planetfall.
Rey blinked. Youd think that theyd thought of that.
No, thats right, Finn agreed, grinning now. Radar kinda assumes any enemies will come in on
a ship. And if they do, thats what the frigates there for: normal ships get picked up, easy. No one
expects people to just make a long drop by themselves with no ship - after all, its impossible to
make a hyperspace jump without a starship. If we go in just on a vacuum suit, well be under the
radar. And well get through most shields, cos we wont register as missiles. Aint that fastmoving, nor would we have guidance codes or the high heat sigs thatd show up on radar.
Getting out is the problem, Tano nodded. Well have to check the black site for information,
possibly help prisoners, and disable the shielding so that Dameron can come by for a pickup.
Depending on the number of prisoners, well either have to hijack another ship or squeeze them
into the Rogue Shadow. But the moment we drop the shielding, that frigates going to notice.
The Rogue Shadow should be able to outmanoeuvre it, Poe said confidently. If it cant get a

lock on us on the radar, its going to have to do it manually, and well be hard to pick out even on
a visual.
Navigating the prisons going to be a problem, Maukeen said quietly. Well be going in blind.
And the longer were in there, the higher the chance well be found - and overwhelmed.
Ive been thinking about that, Tano agreed grimly. And I have a solution, probably. If we clear
the boxes out of the meditation chamber, I should be able to use it to coordinate all of you through
the black site. Dameron and I will stay in orbit. Maukeen, youll have to lead Finn and Rey to the
control banks, and download it into a data chip. After that well do what we can.
If we have to skip out on another ship for any reason, dont jump straight back to Lorrd, Finn
told Maukeen, who nodded. First Order tracks all its ships.
Any other questions? Comments? Good. Get armed and suited. Dameron, let us know when
everyones in position. Tano put her empty bowl away, and started for the chamber, presumably
to clear it out - Rey scurried quickly after her. Maukeen glanced over at Poe, then at Finn, flicked
her tail, and ambled off towards the cargo space.
Finn blinked as Poe nudged closer, pressing his mouth against the slow pulse at Finns neck,
feeling it kick up. An arm curled around Poes waist, and they listened to each other breathe for a
while, above the background hum of the air recyclers. Finally, Poe murmured, Come back to me,
all right?
You know I will. Finn kissed Poe on his head, then on the mouth, as Poe tipped up his chin.
Letting go was always the hardest part.
Using the meditation chamber was disorienting at first, like shouting into a room with a strong
echo, and Ahsoka wished that shed had the time to practice. That shed gotten over her distrust of
the ship earlier. Trying to get the hang of the amplification in the chamber now was a bit like
trying to fly by the seat of her pants while having people depending on her. Feeling a little like a
fraud, Ahsoka closed her eyes, breathing in slowly, and out, distantly listening to the sound of the
outer air lock disengaging.
For a moment, Ahsoka thought there was something wrong. Something felt different around her,
and she felt around the edges of that sensation, probing carefully at it. It wasnt until she heard Poe
say, as though from a distance, Theyre clear, that Ahsoka finally understood. Here, within the
meditation chamber, she felt fully focused again, clear-minded, as though she was breathing fresh
air. The faint sense of oppressiveness was gone.
She reached further, centering herself, stretching the net wider - but she didnt have far to look.
That sense of strangeness, of something other, was right there, in the rest of the ship. And it grew
stronger near Poe Dameron. It wasnt malevolent, not exactly. Possessive, was more accurate.
Impossible as it was. But as Ahsoka herself had told Poe, the Force wasnt something that even
the Order had fully understood, and besides, even droids were fairly self-aware. And what was a
starship as advanced as the Rogue Shadow but a highly complex hyperdrive-capable computer?
Shields letting them through, Poe reported briskly. Theyre on tangent for planetfall.
The frigate? Ahsoka asked out aloud.
Were in the shadow of the asteroid. Frigate hasnt moved.
Lets hope it stays that way. Ahsoka breathed in, and out. Her mind was a little fish, leaping

Beyond Maukeens eyes were the stars, growing further and further away, as the asteroid loomed
large, the pitted surface becoming great craters. In Maukeens vacuum suit, all Maukeen could
hear was her own breathing, even, not even a tick higher, as though she was taking a stroll on her
homeworld instead of making a long drop onto enemy territory. Rey and Finn, in comparison,
were excited, though Finn had the training to keep it under wraps: in contrast Rey was
exhilarated. Battle euphoria. Ahsoka let it pass - if it was a problem planetside, Maukeen would
let Rey know.
Maukeen and Finn landed lightly, while Rey stumbled, nearly floating off before Finn steadied her
quickly and she shut off her jetpack. They didnt need magboots, with the stations rotational
gravity, but there wasnt any breathable atmosphere. From Maukeens view, Ahsoka could make
out two large steel domes, before her and to her right, rising out over the lip of the crater they had
landed in. Ahsoka reached further, feeling out, testing, then whispered right into Maukeens mind.
We go right, Maukeen said briskly, into the closed comm loop. While were in there, keep any
chatter to a minimum. Dont talk unless you have something important to point out.
Affirmative. Finns voice had slipped into a crisp military tone, all business now. His grip on his
blaster rifle was loose and easy, and his mind was calm: the First Order trained their stormtroopers
Sure, Rey said, still a little breathless with excitement. She had calmed down a little by the time
they found the service door in the side of the dome, though she was still sneaking peeks around
the asteroid, as though awed by the scale, the small space station bordered only by empty space,
the vast bowl of the universe all around her. Maukeen was splicing the airlock door, her hands
clumsy in the thick gloves of the vacuum suit, and she was cursing under her breath in Trianii.
Theyre in, Ahsoka said out aloud, when Maukeen got the airlock open. The inner airlock
didnt need security: decompression was efficient and quick. They stripped out of their vacuum
suits beyond the inner airlock, in a small chamber of cleaning equipment and sensor gear, with
lockers holding other vacuum suits. This chamber hadnt been used for a while - dust floated lazily
in the air as they stacked their gear onto a bench.
Clear, Ahsoka murmured into Maukeens mind, as they moved to the other exit in the chamber. It
opened into a maintenance shaft, the metal grille of the floor cold under Maukeens paws.
Head down there, Ahsoka added, as they came to the first floor hatch. Beyond, the tunnel
stretched out, hugging the edge of the steel dome. Noiselessly, Maukeen and Finn hauled up the
hatch, peering down - this shaft led straight down to another walkway, the wall lined with metal
rungs. Maukeen was the first down, sniffing at the air. The scents were thicker here. She gestured
at Rey and Finn curtly, and they all flattened themselves up against the cold steel: beyond, a small
service droid was rolling past. In the meditation chamber, Ahsoka grimaced. Shed missed that.
They encountered their first stormtrooper patrol minutes in, ducking into a side tunnel just in time
after Ahsokas warning. Gleaning information off the patrol was difficult: even with the
meditation chamber, with the distance in between it was too much of a delicate job. Ahsoka had
only images, impressions.
Okay, Finn whispered, before Ahsoka had to admit that she wouldnt be of much further help,
First Order orbital bases are all built along the same kind of logic. Im pretty sure were currently
in one of the maintenance silos. Where they put the big solar batteries and the air recyclers and the
sewage facilities. Base like this, theres probably at least two of these silos.

Where do you think the databank we need might be? Maukeen whispered back.
Theres usually a a central computer core. Itll be in a silo of its own, near a silo like this.
Needs a lot of power. And itll be big, because itll be running life support, admin, flight
coordination, security, shields, a private HoloNet, comms, and rotation for one gee. Everything.
Rey looked/felt impressed. Nothing like insider information.
Finn looked slightly embarrassed. I didnt get it because I was higher up or anything, just that
Ive scrubbed my fair share of silos-
Talk later, Maukeen said curtly. Finn, try and ID the way to the computer silo. Now move.
It took a few false turns, but Finn finally located another service tunnel leading outwards from the
maintenance silo. His step was growing confident: all this felt familiar to Finn. Listening quietly to
Finns surface thoughts mapping out routes, Ahsoka didnt realize she was being spoken to until a
hand tentatively touched her shoulder.
She nearly flinched awake, and only held on through sheer discipline. Frowning to herself,
concentrating, she withdrew enough to place Poe, crouched beside her, radiating concern. Im
fine, Dameron, Ahsoka muttered. Go away.
You didnt respond to a comm question so I got worried. Poe was backing off. Everything all
Theyre fine. Watch the ship. Dont interrupt me again, please.
All right. Sorry. Poe was nervous, she could feel it. He was an experienced operative, but sitting
up here in relative safety while everyone else was planetside was starting to wear on his nerves.
Distantly, Ahsoka could hear BB-8 beeping comfortingly, but she shut it all off, divedMaukeen was splicing into a blast door. Quickly, Ahsoka reached in, searching, a small fish,
looking for others. She didnt have far to look. Three inside, she murmured to them all, and
felt/saw Finn stiffen, surprised. Techs.
Civilians? Rey whispered.
Not exactly, Ahsoka replied, even as Finn murmured, No one on a base like this is a civvie. But
theyre probably noncoms. Non-combatants, he elaborated, as Rey blinked in confusion.
So, she said uncertainly, Were just going to kill them?
Finn stared at her. Problem?
I, well, I mean, maybe we could knock them out, or-
Rey, Finn said patiently, On Starkiller base, there were probably close to half a million
noncoms. Nobody seems to have lost any sleep over that. Whats three more?
Whats three more? Rey repeated, in an incredulous whisper. Were going to be shooting
unarmed people in the head?
When you shoot someone you should actually aim for centre mass-
Finn looked/felt increasingly bewildered by Reys anger. Firstly, weve got an objective to take.

Finn looked/felt increasingly bewildered by Reys anger. Firstly, weve got an objective to take.
Secondly, we dont know if theyre unarmed-
Quiet, Maukeen cut in, growling. Follow my lead.
Ahsoka almost didnt want to watch what happened next. Maukeen was the first into the next
room, some sort of central switchboard room of a sort, comm equipment everywhere, the main
deck in a U-shape with the bend facing the outer door. The three techs were behind it, rising out
of their seat in shock, but Maukeen was already on top of the first one, in a huge leap, coming
down with her weight on his shoulders, and he went down on the deck, the floor knocking him
unconscious. She didnt even wait to check: her paw-hand was around the neck of the next,
swinging him roughly around, whacking his skull against a flat section of the deck with
momentum behind her. The last tech fumbled up her blaster, mouth open in a little o of shock,
but she froze as Finn prodded her briefly in the back with the muzzle of his rifle.
Drop it, Finn snapped curtly. The techs grip on her blaster trembled, but eventually, she
lowered the gun. Maukeen disarmed her, briskly, then jabbed out with the flat of her palm, getting
in just under the techs jaw, knocking her out. Catching the tech before she fell, Maukeen shuffled
the bodies to a side, and glanced at the comm deck, then back up at Finn.
This decks just comms, Finn shook his head. By the way, when those three wake up, theyre
gonna raise the alarm.
The door closed behind Rey as she stepped into the room, a little shaky. Theyre unconscious.
We cant just-
I wasnt saying that. There should be a first aid kit around here somewhere, with emergency
sedatives. Standard issue, military-grade. We give them all a shot, they should be out for three
hours, tops. Main databanks are through there, Finn gestured at a translucent black glass panel
that looked through into rows upon rows of dark cases, each taller than Maukeen. Should have a
central server deck somewhere. Usually for installing updates, but you can link up to the banks
from there.
Maukeen nodded, padding up to the panel, which slid aside for her to pass. Finn and Rey for a
while searched for the kit, locating it finally next to the air filters. Finn, Rey said uncertainly.
Sorry. He didnt look at her. I keep forgetting most of the rest of you. Most of you grew up
different. I shouldnt have said anything. This is Maukeens op.
You you wouldnt have felt bad? If we killed them?
Did you feel bad when everyone in Starkiller base died? Finns voice wasnt even accusing - it
was genuinely curious.
Of course! Rey hissed. I hate that they had to die. Why did it have to be us or them? Theres
already so much death and suffering in the galaxy. You were First Order. There mightve been
others down there just like you. Who just didnt have the opportunity to get free. You you
probably had friends in the First Order, didnt you? Maybe even on the base? Im sorry.
Whoah, Finn stared at her in surprise, even as, startled, Ahsoka felt a sudden rush of warmth
and pride. You know. Nobody over on DQar felt bad about it at all. They were all glad,
actually. When I was recovering. Nobody really cared if I knew anyone else down there. Or what
I thought about it. Well Poe asked, kind of. But I think my answer pissed him off. Thing is,
Finn added, as they administered the sedatives, I also think its a sad thing, that weve got to
fight. But its unavoidable. So while were on an op like this, its best not to second guess
yourself. Or youll get hurt.

I wish I asked Ahsoka what she thought about all this, Rey said unhappily.
Could ask her now. Finn tapped at his head. Isnt she listening in?
Shes probably with Maukeen. Ive told you. Ahsoka doesnt like me, Rey observed glumly,
and Ahsoka guiltily retreated, picking up on Maukeen instead. The Trianii Ranger had bypassed
security, downloading data into her datachip, and she was watching the progress bar on the
Ahsoka? Maukeen murmured.
I took a quick look in the databanks, Maukeen added. The prisoner logs, in particular.
And? Ahsoka felt a stir of interest. The prisoner logsGeneral Organa wasnt the only prisoner taken off DQar. Maukeen paused, confused. Theres
also a protocol droid?

Chapter 20
Decades in politics has taught Leia patience, but that patience was growing increasingly tested
lately. Snoke hadnt responded to her requests for an audience, but thankfully, Ben had also
finally gotten bored of coming by everyday to gloat. And so Leia spent her days in peace,
watching the state-run First Order media channels with amusement and distaste. Whoever was
behind the First Orders media offerings should be given a raise: they were cleverly weaving fact
with fiction, turning an actual famine in Coruscant into some sort of New Republic conspiracy, all
the while tossing jabs at the so-called liberal media. If hate-filled kriff like this was all that people
in the First Order watched all day, small wonder they were donating children to the Stormtrooper
She was watching a surprisingly decent documentary about a silicon-based life-form discovered
by First Order scientists on a new moon in Unknown Space when the door opened. It was Ben,
fully helmed, striding in: there was a stiff anger to his step, and Leia swallowed a sigh. If youre
going to throw a tantrum, she suggested distractedly, Dont break the holodeck.
Ben clenched his fists, and instead of starting on one of his tirades, he grit out, Supreme Leader
Snoke wants to see you. Now.
Finally. Leia was careful not to look surprised. Ill get changed, then.
You can see him as you are.
Leia sighed. Ben. If Im going to meet the leader of the First Order, then I want to appear
presentable. She swept off to the bathroom without a further word, closed the door, and waited.
As shed hoped, Ben only spat out a curse, but stayed where he was. Leia smirked. Now she was
beginning to play a dangerous game, but that was the nature of politics.
She made very little effort to actually tidy up, though she did bang around the bathroom, keeping
an ear out. It was only when Leia could sense that Bens impatience was on the verge of tipping
over did she sweep out, without an apology, and as they headed out of her cell, she kept her
expression impassive.
I know what youre doing, Ben growled, as he kept pace beside her. Its petty.
For a moment, Leia nearly laughed, or said something sardonic about pots and kettles, but
somehow, she managed to smile serenely at Ben instead. I dont know what youre talking
This kept him quiet, if fuming, all the way through the vast cathedral hallways of the First Orders
High Temple - a nicely hubristic name: shed chuckled to herself when she had first heard it so
named. Security was tight - Leia lost count of hte number of patrols they passed on their way to
the jaunt lifts that took them to the highest floor.
Snokes audience chamber.
It wasnt the first time Leia had been in Snokes presence, and the creature still unnerved her.
Snoke was of no species that Leia had ever seen before: spindly, taller than a human, but painfully
thin, as though compressed in his frame, the flesh squeezed up into a bulbous head. His skin was a
strange pale pink, stretched thin over fine bones, and his startlingly blue eyes were large and

pitiless in his solemn face, the left eye lower in his stretched, scarred flesh than the right, perched
over a badly reset nose. Black robes draped the steel throne that he sat in, spidery fingers curled
over the arm rests.
They werent alone. To Leias surprise, there was a man standing before Snoke, a stranger,
certainly no First Order operative, by his gear, a spacers rig: old white shirt, dusty breeches and
boots, slung belts over narrow hips. But the stranger wasnt the oddest newcomer - that dubious
honour belonged squarely to the massive beast behind him, that stood as tall at the shoulder as the
man, four-legged, with a spiked spine and a long, lizard-like tale, its scaly hide blackened across
the ribs, as though healing from blaster fire. Its huge toothy jaw was muzzled shut with heavy
leather straps, though judging from the surprisingly intelligent look that the creature threw at them
as they approached, and its huge, clawed feet, Leia guessed that the muzzle was at best a
formality, if the creature decided to grow violent.
The man brightened up when she approached, and - a second surprise - actually executed a
courtly, Corellian-style bow. Princess Leia.
Princess. Leia swallowed her usual retort, managing a smile instead. You have the advantage of
me, sir-?
This is the current Mandalor, Snoke said, in his rasping voice. Krieger Ordo.
Clan Ordo? Now thats an ancient name. Im honoured to meet you, Mandalor Krieger. Leia
said, unable to hide her curiosity and dismay. Small as the Mandalorian forces were in the scale
of matters, by last report, they were ferocious fighters, particularly since they held no real fear of
death. If they joined with the First OrderAs am I. Krieger was studying her with open curiosity, which puzzled Leia. She had been told
that she was beautiful in her youth, but time had a way of eroding physical beauty, and it had not
been something that she had cared to maintain. But no, there was nothing sexual in Kriegers
stare. The curiosity was something else. Im here to deliver a present, Krieger added, finally,
and jerked his chin at the huge beast behind him. Fresh out of Korriban.
Korriban! Ben sucked in a sharp breath, and even Leia stiffened. Luke had ordered all
coordinates of that cursed planet wiped from New Republic databanks.
And what were you doing on Korriban, Mandalor? Snoke inquired.
What do people do on Korriban? Visit the tombs, of course, Krieger said cavalierly. Ran into
one Skywalker there, communing with a Sith Lord ghost, and he told me to deliver one of these to
the other Skywalker. The great beast hissed, as though in agreement. Damnedest thing. It ate a
few of my men before Skywalker told it to stop. If you dont mind me saying, Princess, Krieger
added, Your brother can be a bit of an asshole.
On Korriban talking to the Sith? Snoke mused, his hairless brow creasing.
Impossible, Ben growled. This man is a liar.
And yet that is a true tukata. A Sith Hound, Snoke said quietly, and then he smiled, with
malicious amusement. Well, well. You Skywalkers did always walk quite closely to the Dark.
Impossible. It was impossible. Not her Luke. Not her brother. Leia nearly snarled something, a
denial, but something in Kriegers face stopped the fury at the tip of her tongue. He was watching
her with the same careful curiosity as before. Waiting for a reaction. A test. Was this a test? Leia
stared at the creature that Snoke had called a tukata, and clenched her hands, her palms feeling

suddenly clammy, as it stared straight back at her, unblinkingly. She could feel it, somehow, the
dim edges of it, the knife-sharp predatory edges of its mind. And it knew her. Someone - Luke had told it of her.
This was a test. Luke was asking her to have faith.
Leia took in a slow breath, then she beckoned curtly to it. The tukata shook itself, rattling its
spines, its ears flicking forward, then back. It shifted its weight from paw to paw, as though
indecisive, then it padded over, snorting loudly, hell, the animal stink of it, those eyes. It stopped
before her, within striking range, and Leia shoved down her instinctive fear, her distrust. She
reached out, patting its narrow nose, with as much confidence as she could muster. It sniffed her
hand, its breath like great, hot bellows, then it rubbed its muzzle gently against her fingers. She
could feel its mind now, sharper, somehow, the way she had once felt Lukes. Distant.
There are two more, Leia said, concentrating. Where are they?
Kriegers eyebrows raised a fraction. Back on Korriban, Princess. There was an odd note of
respect in his voice now. Guess you really are Vaders daughter. It took all of Leias selfcontrol not to flinch. Interested in a private army? Me and the boys, were not up to much else
right now.
Hold on, Ben growled. If you choose to serve Leia, you choose war against the First Order.
And well cut you down right here.
Big words, kid, Krieger drawled. Know what the Mandalorians were famous for, back in the
day? Jedi killing. Whether youve got a red sword or a blue one, wont matter fuck to me. Want to
give it a shot?
Ben clenched his hands tightly, taking a step forward, and Leia said, as flatly as she could,
Serving me does not necessarily mean war against the First Order.
Oh? Snoke inquired. You are a General of a defeated army. Once you led the Rebellion that
toppled the Empire. What are you now?
As the Mandalor said. I am Vaders daughter. And Luke Skywalkers sister. If hes on speaking
terms with the Dark Lords on Korriban Im curious to know why. I think you are, as well.
Vaders daughter, Vaders grandson, Snoke mused out aloud. Both of you are Force-sensitive.
One stronger than the other. One untrained. He smiled thinly, suddenly, cruelly. Although the
First Order is not Sith the Rule of Two set down by the late Darth Bane has a logic to it that I
cannot deny. There can only be one master, and one apprentice. Here I see before me two of the
blood of Vader. He steepled his long, spindly fingers together before him, and leaned forward
slightly. Help me choose.
Leia had been prepared for this day, deep down, but when Ben took a step back, and plucked his
saber from his belt, she still felt betrayed, all over again.
Betrayed, and furious.
What is it with you people and droids? Finn exclaimed, when Maukeen explained why they
were going to the prison ward after all.
Rey glowered at him. How could you say that? Droids are some of the nicest-

Theyre robots-
Theyre people.
We are not going to discuss philosophy now, Maukeen growled, as they headed briskly down
another service hatch and into a filter maintenance tunnel. Ahsoka wants this droid, so, Ahsoka
will have this droid. Also there are other prisoners, remember?
Its your op, Finn said meekly. Ahsoka coasted with them for a while, trying to concentrate, but
finally a nagging sense of something needing her attention got to her, and she pulled away, almost
Now what? Ahsoka growled.
Sorry about the interruption, Poe said, sounding strained - hed probably tried to hail her over
the comms a few times. But the frigates on the move.
Ah hell. Coming over here?
Moving closer to the station, actually. But its also beginning to feed out TIE fighters. I know
were good on radar, but if any of those get too close
Thats all? Ahsoka asked, relieved. TIE fighters only? Space was damned big, and a visual
match was going to be difficult: they could stay put unless a fighter was about to run right into
Pretty sure that larger blip heading planetside is a transport.
So it was all going to hell after all. Ahsoka nibbled on her lower lip, thinking quickly. If Maukeen
and the others came back now, itd be a race between them coming back aboard and the TIE
fighters spotting them jumping off planet, and it would be a race they would lose. But if the Rogue
Shadow landed planetside, against the rock it was probably going to be spotted more easily.
UnlessIf we keep the asteroid between ourselves and the frigates ventral cannons, how much mischief
can we make?
I wouldnt worry about ventral cannons with this girl from this distance, Poe said confidently.
They cant lock on to what they cant see. And hell, we can make a lot of mischief.
Do you need a gunner?
I think the others probably need your guidance more than I need a gunner.
All right. Ahsoka breathed in, harshly, then let it out. Destroy that transport if you can: the
fewer reinforcements getting planetside, the better. Other than that, fire at will. Im going to go
back to the others. And try not to get us blown up.
Poe laughed, but Ahsoka could hear the nervousness in his voice. Copy that.
The alarms been raised, Ahsoka reported to the three of them, when she found them again: it was
difficult, concentrating, now that Poe was on the move. The distance was stretching out between
them: she could barely keep tabs on their minds, let alone look further. You may soon be on your

Ive seen the map to the hangar, Maukeen assured her briskly, and with some concentration,
Ahsoka noted that they were already in a guardroom, the guards sedated, Finn working busily at
the closest security deck. Beyond the guard room, stasis fields closed off a long channel of sterile
white cubical cells, most of which contained humans. The droids in there, Maukeen added.
But the rest seem to be inconvenient prisoners, judging from what I picked out of their files.
Political prisoners, Finn agreed. Looks like theres at least a couple of dozen of them. Do we
get them all out? Theres probably a supply freighter in the hangar that can make light speed.
Get them all out, Ahsoka decided. Well try and keep the frigate distracted for as long as we can.
Head for the Dagobah system if you can - well regroup there and contact Fiolla for more ship
codes. But watch your back with them, I cant take my measure of them this far away.
Got it, Rey sounded nervous. Good luck.
Dont worry about her, shes with the best pilot in the Resistance, Finn said, though it felt like
forced cheer: he was just as nervous, and Ahsoka could feel it, thrumming at the surface of his
The prisoners were mostly bewildered to be let go, though they helped the less mobile of their
members onto trolleys at Maukeens curt direction, but before Ahsoka could concentrate and get
one of them to look closely at the droid, her mind seemed jarred away, and she realized in a
moment of nausea and disorientation that shed fallen heavily against the hull.
-all right there? Poe asked anxiously through the comms, as Ahsoka gasped and tried to
swallow bile. Got hit. Shields held. BB-8 whistled its alarm.
Im fine, Ahsoka grit out, rubbing at her temple. She curled up on the deck instead, deciding to
forgo dignity for now, and closed her eyes again. How are you holding up?
Got the transport, but now Ive got TIEs on my tail. Playing hide and seek with them around the
asteroid. The quad cannons autotargeting isnt the best, but itll do. BB-8s trying to help, but
droids arent really programmed for this.
Were going to have to keep it up. Theyve just freed the prisoners. Theyll be on their way to the
hangars. Ahsoka frowned, then she pushed herself unsteadily up to her feet. Ill be your gunner
for a while. See if we cant get rid of some of those TIEs. They had to stop any other transports
from landing, at the least.
The gunner cradle was disorientingly free-wheeling, a full-circle cradle that could turn the quad
cannon in any direction. For a moment, nausea threatened to swamp Ahsoka, but she forced
herself to breathe deep, to bring her mind into focus, and then she studied the controls,
dispassionate again. X and Y axis controls, acceleration stirrups, firing triggers fitting under her
thumbs. The targeting system was radar overlaid by a visual feed: disengaging the targeting
computer, a crosshair and HUD painted itself over the feed, with bright red reticles tracking her
targets. The first TIE had gotten too close. Ahsoka twitched her left hand a fraction, bringing the
crosshair neatly into place, pulling the trigger, and the small starfighter disappeared abruptly into a
burst of shrapnel and fire.
With vacuum all around her, all Ahsoka heard of that was the quiet beep from her deck,
confirming the kill, but she ignored it, already tracking the next, angling to get it in her sights as
Poe took the Shadow in a sharp dive that skimmed one of the steel domes. As the TIE fighter
arched down to follow, she swung along, stitching a sharp line of cannon fire that caught the TIE

fighter across one of its solar panels, igniting one of its reactors and sending it spinning wildly,
smashing through one of the domes.
Careful! Poe snapped through the comms. Finn and the rest are still in there!
Then lets fight somewhere where the collateral damage wont matter!
Theres no other cover except for that frigate!
The ventral cannons are under the ship, Ahsoka growled, And if you close fast enough on the
quad cannons up top we can take them out.
Maybe after you take out our TIE escort, Poe conceded, lifting the nose of the Shadow out of its
skim, speeding clear of the asteroid, abruptly cutting into a wild loop, winging belly up to bring
the missile banks in line with another TIE fighter, blasting it to fragments, arcing around the
debris, surging for the next, blowing it into a cloud of fire. Poe whooped over the comms, and
Ahsoka laughed, startled.
I see why they call you the best pilot in the Resistance.
This little ladys pulling her weight, Poe said, a little modestly. Their system targetings not
locking on to us and Im trying to keep us out of a manual lock- A tremor rocked the ship, and
Poe swore. Son of a! Dont touch my ship, asshole. Shields at fifty-
Thankfully, after they destroyed three more TIEs, the rest backed off, burning back to the frigate.
Think theyre going to call in reinforcements, maybe, Poe suggested worriedly, as they hid back
in the shadow of the asteroid. Better check on the rest. See how theyre going. Ill handle it from
Hows the ship?
Nothing too broken. Cargos in vacuum - one of the TIEs got lucky, but the shot went clean
through, and the emergency air seals kicked in.
Good work. Ahsoka clambered hurriedly out of the gunners cradle.
It took Ahsoka some time to find the others - she picked up on Rey first, on a small uptick of
Force-use from Rey, knocking a pair of stormtroopers into a wall. A pair of prisoners picked up
the stormtroopers rifles, even as Maukeen spliced the door, unlocking it. They were at the hangar
now, finally, exchanging fire with hangar bay security, crabbing towards a freighter. Rey was still
shaky with her blaster, but Maukeen and Finn made up for it, briskly picking off the handful of
stormtroopers who had tried to dig in behind a low wall of supply crates. Dimly, through Reys
ears, Ahsoka could make out the loud grinding din of the stations klaxon alarm.
Something something dangerous was coming. Down the corridor towards the hangar, minds
steeped thickly with murder, hot enough with bloodlust that even Ahsoka could feel it, tentative as
her presence was. Ahsoka touched Maukeens mind in alarm, even as Rey headed over to the
harbour controls, starting to override the onboard lockdown of the freighter as Finn hustled the
prisoners closer to the landing ramp. Maukeen snorted, and snapped, Stay here, heading back
towards the blast doors - just as two black robed people turned the corner, one tall, armed with a
vibrocleaver, one slighter in build with a staff in a hand, both masked in jet-dark metal. Ahsoka
felt/heard Rey suck in a tight, horrified breath, even as Finn gasped, Its the Knights of Ren!
Vonoris twins, Maukeen growled, to herself, and turned, tossing the data chip to Finn.

Lady Tano, Maukeen said formally, as she stepped out of the hangar, and slapped a paw-hand
against the door controls, locking the blast door behind her, Its been an honour to serve you.
Maukeen! Her mind was a silver fish, and it was being pushed aside, as Maukeen slid into a
predatory, smooth hunters calm, a Trianii Rangers discipline against the Force-sensitive. Ahsoka
was being shut out. Wildly, Ahsoka found herself tipped onto Finns mind instead, the next
closest, and he was trying to override the door controls from the other side, cursing under his
Almost there! Rey exhaled tightly as the landing ramp disengaged, the airlock cycling. As the
prisoners started to move aboard, Rey added urgently, Finn can we get through? We have to
help her!
Shes locked it from that side go get the ship warmed up, Finn said tensely. Ill keep trying.
Rey hesitated, indecisively, and then bit her lip and darted up the ship. Moments later, the onboard
systems roared to life, the sublight drive starting to hum, and Rey squeezed past the cargo hold of
prisoners, scrambling back down the ramp, and- Ahsoka felt it, pain, helpless shock, a prayerMOVE BACK FROM THE DOOR, Ahsoka projected as firmly as she could into Finns mind,
and he backpedaled so quickly that he nearly tripped on himself. Dimly, Ahsoka was aware that
her face was wet, that she was breathing in gasping sobs, that Poe was saying something over the
comms, anxious and concerned. Get on the ship, the both of you!
The hangar doors opened with a pneumatic hiss. One of the black-robed Knights was down, the
slighter one, pinned still and unmoving under Maukeens body, the Trianii Rangers head nearly
severed all the way at the neck from some brutal blow, blood dark and slick across the white tiles.
The bigger Knight, though mauled down one arm, was still walking, his tread grim, belligerent.
Around one wrist was wound part of Maukeens tail, bloodied, and he was laughing, laughingRey screamed.
The surge in the Force nearly tipped Ahsoka all the way back to herself, and she was dizzy again,
groping to stay close, to watch with Finn, anchored to his shock: Reys cry turned from despair
into a roar of absolute rage, and even as Ahsoka tried to warn her, calm her, she raised her hands,
back arched, teeth bared. It was raw Force that Rey channeled outward, the way Ahsoka had seen
but once before, so very long ago, by Yoda himself, that burned and crackled in the air like
lightning, earthing itself in the Knight. Then he was screaming as well, falling on one knee, then
writhing on the floor, convulsing, Reys fury twisting into a certain savage glee, the touch of the
Dark side, coming so close, its poisonThere was a single shot, and the Knight was dead. Finn dropped his rifle onto the hangar deck
even as Rey jerked, blinking, energy spitting and hissing still at her fingertips. Unafraid, Finn
walked right up to her, pulling her fiercely close, tucking her head under his chin, hugging her
tight. Rey twisted in his arms, snarling, blinking dumbly, and then she took in a long, shaky
breath, and turned her face into his shoulder, great shuddering sobs welling out of her, helpless.
Finn patted her back, even as Ahsoka began to relax. Thats all right, Finn whispered. Come
on. Lets get out of here. Youre all right. Lets get out of here.
Ahsoka pulled away, still blinking away tears, just in time to catch Poes -re they all right?
Something just happened. The TIE fighters are withdrawing into the frigate. Think we just caught
a lucky break.

Lucky wasnt how Ahsoka would put it. Rey and the others will be jumping to light speed
soon, Ahsoka said, and rubbed her eyes, swallowing her grief, forcing calm. Once they do,
head for the Dagobah system.

Chapter 21
Chapter Notes

two chapter update... :)

See the end of the chapter for more notes

Not very honourable, is it? Krieger drawled. Fighting an unarmed old lady?
Ben let out a harsh, metallic laugh. Are you offering to be her champion, Mandalor? he asked
Not in the least, Krieger said urbanely, as Leias heart sank. As far as Im concerned, my jobs
Didnt you just offer me an army a few minutes ago? Leia shot back, trying not to stare at the
crackling, hissing lightsaber.
When I was under the impression that you were part of the First Order, certainly. There was a
strange edge of amusement in Kriegers voice: it was tight with something. Anticipation, maybe.
Curiosity. I was told that General Organa has never needed others to fight her battles. But theres
no honour in cutting down an unarmed opponent.
Honour, Ben spat out. I dont bare my saber for primitive notions of battle.
Just for murder, I see, Krieger noted, sardonic now. Very impressive. What are you afraid of,
kid? Scared of your mother, after all?
Enough. Knight Karnaxx, Snoke cut in quietly. Present General Organa with your
Silently, the black-masked man by the large throne room door strode over, his boots ringing on the
gray slate, and he drew the vibroblade longsword at his hip, handing it over to Leia hilt-first, with
an ironic flourish. She accepted it with a sharp smile and an ironic bow of her own, hiding her
fear. The blade was well-balanced, if a touch too heavy for her, but stillBen stiffened in surprise as Leia spun the blade in a tight cradle of steel before her, awkwardly at
first, then with more confidence. The weaponsmaster that her mother had sought for her, decades so many decades ago - had been right, after all. It was like learning a landspeeder. The body
always remembered. She brought the blade up into a guard position, and set her feet as she had
been taught: decades - so many decades ago. Before all this grief and regret. It seemed strange that
some of her most joyous memories of her youth were now all that would stand between her and
her death.
Youre full of surprises, Princess, Krieger said, chuckling.
Thats General to you, Leia snapped. Whats the matter, Ben, surprised? Growing up in the

palace in Alderaan I learned literature and history, statecraft and philosophy but I also learned
how to shoot a blaster. How to use a vibroblade.
Ben snarled a curse and came at her, with a high arcing blow. Leia spun, a little clumsily,
parrying, careful not to take the brunt of the weight of the blow, turning the force of it aside,
instead, trying not to flinch as the saber hissed and sparked against the vibroblades weave. She
wished for one insane moment that she hadnt given her own blade to Finn, but it wouldve been
confiscated after her capture anyway. She spun again, to whet the weight of Bens upswing
against her blade, then twisted, parrying a lunge, watching her footwork. Objectively, she knew
that she would tire quickly, if only because this blade was too heavy for her; Leia knew that one
mistake could be her end, given how lethal lightsabers were.
The saber spat sparks at her, hissed its impotent rage as each of its wild swings met parry after
parry, and Leia - despite everything, Leia was beginning to enjoy this. She remembered this, this
beatific delicious calm, one of the few great joys of a childhood bent under the weight of her
parents expectations. She let Ben push her in tight circuits over the slate floor, and even as he
snarled at her through the monstrous warp of his helmet, growing more and more frustrated, Leia
remembered instead dancing with the weaponsmaster, back and forth over the courtyard of the
palace, giving no quarter. Life had been so much simpler.
And then Leia was calm again, her rage and sense of hurt betrayal fully behind her. Ben, Leia
urged. Listen to me. We dont have to fight.
Im going to kill you, Ben hissed in return. Just as I killed Han.
This doesnt have to end in more bloodshed. I know youre in pain, Ben, I can hear it. Havent
you realized? You feel pain because of your conscience. This - this isnt who you are and you
know it. Thats whats been tearing you up inside.
This will end in bloodshed, Ben growled, pressing the attack, driving her back, Yours. He
feinted, and she brought her parry up too slowly: the tip of his lightsaber glanced high against her
thigh, making her cry out in startled pain, scrambling back. Chancing a look down, Leia saw the
blackened bar that the lightsaber had writ over her breeches, smelled the charred stench of her
burned flesh.
Ben laughed at her shock, ghoulish and metallic, circling slowly as Leia gulped her agony down,
heartsick all over again. Where had it all gone wrong? It seemed only yesterday that she had held
a swaddled warm weight in her arms, exhausted, smiling at Han, at their son. She would have
given the world, her life for either of them then. Now Han was gone and this was all that was left
of their child. Grief was too shallow a word for the entirety of Leias sorrow.
This time she didnt just defend. As Ben attacked again, in another one of his wild swinging
swipes, Leia turned the blow aside, pivoting, and drove her blade at his ribs. Dimly, she could
hear Krieger suck in a sharp gasp, a million miles away, but Leia turned her blade, at the last
moment, fetched Ben a gash over his flank instead, tearing his robes. He stumbled back, slapping
a hand over the wound, spitting out a curse as his gloves came away wet.
Youll regret wasting that chance, Ben predicted, circling her again.
I dont want to fight you, Leia said tiredly. Ive loved you all of your life.
Even now? Ben taunted, twirling the saber in his grip, spinning a hungry, menacing flourish of
Ill always love you. That was a mothers burden - and Leia was making her peace with it,

finally. She mourned the child she had brought into the world, the boy she had cherished, even the
man whom he had become. Leia had never believed in turning tail and running from her mistakes.
She was too stubborn for that, too prideful to do anything but look her regrets straight in the eye.
As she did now.
And so Leia met Ben, blade for blade, as he came at her again with a roar, vibroblade glancing
sparks off his saber, hissing as his crossguard dug a gouge against her arm, catching another gash
close to Bens elbow. Now they were bloodying each other, and Leia was slowing down: tired,
she was so tired. Leia slipped once, on the slate, catching herself on a flailing palm with a jarring
weight that made her cry out with pain, but she rolled quickly out of the way as Bens saber
gashed a molten line on the slate. But her fear was gone, and so was her anger. At the end of it all,
despite all her pain, Leia was calm.
Ben, Leia gasped, as their blades locked, the spitting, crackling edge of the saber inches away
from her face. Im older than you but I also had a better teacher than you. Stop this.
Youre tiring fast, mother, Ben shot back instead, growling. And my name is Kylo.
I cant kill you, Leia confessed. I know I cant youre my son.
I know, Ben grated out, and Leia could hear the sneer in his voice. Youre weak. While I am
not poisoned by sentiment.
You were poisoned by something worse, Leia whispered, as the blade came closer yet. And I
wasnt there to save you from it. For that I am sorry. But for the rest you dug your own grave a
long time ago, Ben. And I cant save you from that. I know that now.
She looked past Bens shoulder, towards the tukata, for now she understood what Lukes test had
been. Luke had known all along that Leia would never have been able to mete the killing blow.
The moment she met its eyes, the creatures jaws yawned wide, the muzzle - fake after all stripping away from pre-loosened clasps, and it lunged, silent, quick as a viper. Three rows of
teeth snapped shut over Bens helmet and twisted sharply, breaking his neck.
Leia staggered back, fighting bile, as the tukata growled, hunched over the twitching body of its
prey, worrying at the corpse. She took in a shaky breath, then another, and forced General
Organa to the fore, and Leia the mother away. She could grieve all over again later. Instead, Leia
limped over to the crouched frame of the Sith hound, and pressed her palm to its shoulder. It
dropped Bens - Kylos - body, hissing in triumph.
You- Karnaxx breathed in, incredulous, even as the tukata growled warningly, and then he
froze. Leia turned, just in time to see Krieger draw and cock his blaster, aiming it at Snokes head.
Stop, Leia said, her voice cracking like a whip, and shakily, she turned to Snoke, whose blue
eyes were slightly widened, his long fingers in his lap. So. Is your decision made?
Snoke stared at her, for a long moment, then finally he said, You are indeed full of surprises.
General Organa.
Seems to me like itd be easier if I just took his head off, Krieger agreed, and now the grin he
levelled at Leia was savage. The Mandalor and his people were hers now, hell take the
consequences - she knew that if she wanted to, she could command Krieger to fight their way out
of here; he would die if he had to, to get her offworld.
Because killing the people in charge, gutting an economy and leaving a system of worlds without
a viable government absolutely works for galactic peace in the long run, Leia shot back

sardonically. Rather than breeding a new generation of fanatics.

Krieger shrugged, though he reluctantly lowered his pistol. Lots of people died on Hosnian
Prime. Some of them were my people.
And more death would bring them back?
Some would call it justice.
Id call it frontier justice, which usually isnt good politics. Leia dropped the vibroblade, wiped
a hand over her face, shakily, then steadied herself again, glancing at Snoke. Is it, Supreme
I stole your son from you, Snoke said softly, narrowing his eyes. And you will let me live?
You stole my son from me, and for that I will never forgive you. But politics for me has never
been personal. Leia said coldly. Stand your men down.
I still have the greater Navy, General Organa, Snoke retorted calmly. The New Republic has
been pushed into retreat. Once they are overwhelmed, the fleet will return here. Where will your
friends be, then? He leaned forward, steepling his fingers again. Stalemate.
Ah, Krieger checked something on his hand terminal, then he smirked. About that.
From the Dagobah system it would be a short jump to the frontlines. Fiolla had come through very
quickly with help, a medical ship making the jump from the Dagobah systems Hart and Parn
shipyard, and Finn and a shaky, silent Rey had come back aboard. No Maukeen. Poe had known
what that meant.
He set the ship on autopilot the moment they made light speed, with some reluctance. The data
chip had been uploaded, the signal boosted via the medical frigate-class ship, and Fiolla had
assured them that her best agents would get through the encryption by the time they were back in
normal space. Heading out of the cockpit, Poe found Finn sitting by himself at the sarlacc table,
quietly disassembling and cleaning his blaster rifle. Finn glanced up at Poes approach, his
expression sober.
Rey and Tano are over in the training room.
Howre you holding up? Poe sat down beside Finn, and let Finn pull him closer. Finn kissed
him, by way of an answer, slow and gentle; they kissed with the unhurried graceless languor of
lovers on a slow afternoon, rather than two people jumping headlong into yet another frontline
Im all right, Finn said quietly. Rey isnt. She really looked up to Maukeen. But thats not
really why Maukeen died trying to buy us time. Against two of the Knights of Ren. Not that it
really worked. But when Rey saw that shed died that one of the Knights whod killed her had
taken a trophy? Man. Ive never seen anything like that. She shot lightning at him. Wouldve
killed him, too.
Lightning? Poe blinked. Hed heard the stories, of course. But Isnt that a Dark side
Finn shuddered. Thats why I killed the Knight myself. Calmed her down, brought her back. The
Force isnt meant to be used like that, I think. Stands to reason, he added defensively, as Poe

stared at him. The stories I heard were all about how only the Sith Lords could make lightning.
Wasnt something that the Jedi could do. Or maybe - its not something that they should do.
And you were right. Tano was walking quietly out of the training room. Reys asleep, she
added. In the meditation chamber. She just needs some quiet inside her head for a while. Tano
looked bone-weary herself, her reddish skin pale with grief. The Force isnt meant to be used to
kill. Not directly.
Im sorry about Maukeen, Poe offered gently, and Tano nodded at him, tired, before turning
back to Finn.
Rey slipped briefly into the Dark, Tano said quietly. But you brought her back.
Shed have made it back herself, Finn said quickly. She was just the circumstances-
You dont need to defend her, Tano cut in, if gentler now. I saw it too. And Ive told her. If
Rey still wants a Master, this time I will take her on. Shes done more than enough. And I think
Im beginning to understand Luke Skywalkers motives.
Really? Poe asked, curious. Youve seen a a vision too? The same vision?
No, Tano flashed Poe a brief smile. But I-
She was interrupted by a shuffling sound, and Poe turned to see a familiar figure amble out of the
training room. Incarceration hadnt seemed to have changed C3PO very much at all: the golden
droid even still had its red arm. I am pleased to report that Master Rey is fast asleep, C3PO said
proudly. And I must say, it is such a pleasure to be out of that dreadful little cell. Hello again,
Master Dameron, and Master Finn.
Tanos smile was warmer this time, as she turned to C3PO. Hi, Threepio. Guess its been one too
many wipes since weve met. Im Snips.
Master Snips, C3PO agreed brightly. I see that I have all of you to thank for my rescue and
BB-8 too, he added, as he heard BB-8s faint beeping from the cockpit.
What I dont get is why they went to all the trouble of imprisoning a droid, Finn noted.
Excuse me, C3PO objected. I happen to have a highly advanced linguistics upgrade, among
other valuable matrices.
Protocol droids are programmed to be very helpful, Tano said dryly. Threepio probably told
anyone and everyone all that it knew. About anything it mightve heard from the other prisoners,
as well.
You say that like being helpful is a bad thing, Master Snips, C3PO said reproachfully.
But most likely, Kylo Ren put Threepio in there out of sentiment. After all, his grandfather made
this. Tano patted C3POs golden shoulder playfully.
Vader made? Poe blinked at the protocol droid. Death stars and other doomsday weapons,
sure. But this bumbling, too-helpful droid?
Anakin Skywalker did, Tano corrected soberly. My Master. For a time.
Your! Finn gasped.

It was a long time ago. Before he turned away from everything that was decent in his world, out
of fear. Tano patted C3POs shoulder again, wryly. And now I feel older than I should. Im
going to bed. Try not to get shot up again when were out.
Why do you ask people to call you Snips? Poe asked, as Tano turned to go. Does it even
work? It felt strange to call a Jedi - even an ex-Jedi - by a nickname so irreverent.
Usually, no, Tano agreed, and there was a brief flare of melancholy in her sober face before she
turned away from them. Its just a reminder of another life.
C3PO excused itself, shuffling over to the cockpits astromech slot to talk to BB-8, and Poe curled
against Finns solid warmth, closing his eyes. Fingers squeezed Poes hip, then petted his thigh,
stroking absently, up and down. Im glad that youre here, Poe nearly said, but then there was no
point; in the shared cradle of their mingling breaths, they needed no words.
The warning beep from the autopilot telling Poe that they were about to drop out of hyperspace
came too soon. Poe got reluctantly to his feet, and grinned as Finn tugged him down, to kiss him
hard on the mouth. I probably do need a gunner for this, Poe told him, breathless, and Finn
grinned at him, and kissed Poe again instead of answering. Back in the cockpit, Poe had just
strapped himself down when he got a comm ping from Fiolla.
Poe routed it through. Auditor-General.
Dameron, that datachip was invaluable. Fiollas voice was tight with excitement. It didnt just
have ship codes. It had missile codes. For the ventral cannons of the Finalizer.
Oh, hell yes, Poe could hear Finn whoop over the comms, as well as a startled laugh from Tano.
Does that mean what I think it means? Poe asked, grinning savagely, leaning forward in his
pilots cradle. They were almost out of hyperspace.
Mean what? Rey asked, sounding sleepy and puzzled. Whats going on?
They dropped out of hyperspace, neatly into position behind a Hart and Parn corvette, flanking the
New Republic fleet and Lando Calrissians frigate. A pitched battle was still taking place, Poe
banking the Rogue Shadow hastily to avoid cannon fire, even as the frigates quad cannons took
out the TIE fighter that had shot at him. The TIEs were fighting a desperate battle: in the centre of
the great armada of First Order ships beyond, the Finalizer was burning, great holes blown into its
hull from redirected ventral cannon fire. As Poe watched, awed yet again by the size of the star
destroyer, even from this distance, the fire spread, and eventually no doubt caught its reactor: the
vast ship exploded, the force and radius of the blast swallowing hapless smaller ships in its wake.
Wow, Finn breathed. Everyone see that?
Poe accepted an incoming comm request. It was Calrissian, fierce laughter in his voice. Damn.
That you over there, Dameron? Tano with you?
Not dead yet, Calrissian? Tano spoke up.
I see we almost missed all the fun, Poe stared at the wreck of the star destroyer for a moment
more, a little dazed, even, but the devastation, before his training took over. Awaiting orders,
Admiral Ira over in the New Republics Intrepid thinks that the First Orders got to surrender
any time now, Calrissian reported. But until then, get these TIEs off my ass.

Copy that, sir, Poe drawled, even as he heard Finn laugh. The universe still needed a little more
saving after all.

Chapter End Notes

click on to the next chapter!

Chapter 22
The wake was a quiet affair. Leia had arbitrarily selected a small park within the First Orders
High Temple and had ordered Kylos ashes interred under a large tree. No one seemed to mind: as
far as Han could tell, even the other black-robed black-masked assholes seemed a little afraid of
her. Or her giant toothy new pet, now forever padding along devotedly at her heels.
The new Master of the Knights of Ren hadnt bothered with black robes. She wore a sober gray
dress over high charcoal boots, her hair still coiled tightly behind her skull. As she stood beneath
the spreading boughs of the tree, Leia seemed diminished, somehow. Paler. She was leaning
against Luke, whose arm was around her shoulders. Chewie was further back, with R2 and the
Mandalor, and, surprisingly, there was one other at the wake, a tall, ginger-haired young man in
the severe black uniform of a First Order General, who had nodded stiffly to them all and hadnt
bothered to introduce himself.
Han ambled over, and the young man stared at him, openly unfriendly. Solo.
Whats your name then, kid?
You uh, were a friend of?
Thrown, Han blinked owlishly. Well uh, thanks for coming?
Hux eyed Han with some surprise. Didnt Kylo try to kill you?
Well, Han said quietly, Im still here, aint I, while hes in the ground. Han still wasnt sure
what he felt about that. Grief? He didnt seem to feel the pain that was writ so clearly into Leia:
under her stern Generals mask, Han could see her grief - a mothers consuming anguish at the
loss of a child. Han hell, it was true. Han had never been much of a father.
So he is, Hux said soberly, his lip curling sharply for a moment. He strode over to Leia, who
glanced up at him. Just as stiffly as before, Hux murmured something to her, then he saluted with
robotic precision, and marched off. Once he was out of sight, Chewie made a little growl that
made Krieger smirk and Han shake his head slowly. Stick up his ass indeed.
Instead of making a quip, Han sidled back over to Leia. She was red-eyed, staring at the freshly
packed dirt. Over her shoulder, Luke glanced at Han, his expression carefully blank. Technically,
as Public Enemy Number One in the First Order, allowing Luke to set foot on Coriolis was a bit
of an awkward exercise in public relations. In reality, after Snokes private unconditional
surrender to Leia following the destruction of his flagship and the crippling of his fleet, it was a
gesture of goodwill. Diplomacy by symbolism. Han hated it all.
So what now? Han asked gruffly, wishing that he didnt feel like he was intruding on his own
sons funeral.
Now? Leia echoed, pulling away from Luke. She hugged Han, briefly, like a friend seeking

comfort, an embattled ally. Itd been so long since they were more to each other, and as Leia
stepped back, her smile wan, Han knew those days were over as well. What theyd had between
them hadnt survived what their son had become. Im glad you made it, Han.
Youve said that three times now. Flippancy made it easier to hear.
But youre leaving again?
Well, you know me, Han said, unable to keep the unease out of his tone. Big military cultist
temples, not really my thing. But if you want to hitch a ride out, sure, the Falcons got room, and
Chewie missed you.
Thanks, but no, Leia said wryly, as Han knew she would. Snokes remaining as a figurehead
for a while, but I think Im going to have my hands full coordinating a reconciliation with whats
left of the New Republic and negotiating mutual disarmament.
Good luck with that, Han said dubiously. I mean. Youre going to be alone here. Or are you
staying? he asked Luke.
Only for a short time. R2 whistled from behind him, and Luke chuckled softly. Yes, R2. It will
be short. Leia doesnt really need my help, and my presence is probably only going to complicate
things. Most of the First Orders citizens were brought up believing that I caused the fall of the
Empire, after all.
Yeah, like you did anything but hog the credit, Han teased, though he didnt manage much
humour. Death and loss still sat soberly on Leias shoulders.
Where are you going after this? Leia asked Luke. Wasnt Rey with you?
She has another teacher now. Youll meet them both soon, when Lando comes to the peace talks
with Admiral Ira.
Lando! Leias smile was a little warmer. Ill look forward to that, then. Will you be there?
Ill attend the talks. Luke nodded.
And after that? Leia asked.
I havent decided, Luke conceded, honestly. But I dont think that Im up for starting another
school. I might check on a few old friends. But after the First Jedi didnt just leave that one
Temple out in Wild Space. And seeing the Temple, its made me curious about where they might
have gone.
Youre going to sit on another rock for twenty years? Han asked, skeptical. This got him an
identical grin from both the twins.
No, Han, Luke said dryly.
Hed better not, Leia quipped, at the same time.
The futures I saw worked better the less I meddled in them, Luke added. Its up to you, Leia.
The end to the cycle of war - its in your hands.
No pressure, huh, Han raised his eyebrows. Chewie let out a growl, and the tukata hissed, as
though in agreement.

I like a challenge. Leia stared for a moment more, at the freshly packed dirt. Then she rubbed
her eyes, jerkily, and turned away. Back to work. Krieger, go and dig up the Knights.
Another show of force? Krieger looked a little pleased about that.
The ambassador from Coruscant should be arriving any time now, and Ive never trusted him.
Together under the tree, Han watched them go, the tukata on their heels. R2 trundled over,
beeping softly, and Luke patted the droid on its head. Dont worry, R2. Shell do fine. Mostly.
So it all turns out all right now? Han asked. It was all worth it?
Nothings worth a war particularly not on the scale of what weve seen, twice over, Luke
corrected. But Ive done as much as I can to steer matters in the right direction. My work is done.
Hers is just beginning.
Thats disappointing. I was kinda hoping for a Yes, Han, everything is gonna be peaceful and
happy now. The End.
Happy endings are just endings that havent gone on for long enough, Luke quipped, and
smirked as Han rolled his eyes.
The peace talks were going on forever, Finn complained - or at least, he dared to do so only when
they were out of earshot of the delegation gathered at Mazs Temple, which was still being rebuilt.
Somehow, everyone had agreed on Mazs as neutral ground. Poe hadnt really cared. He liked
Takodana, the war seemed to be over, and no one else was dying; as far as Poe was concerned his
sole purpose right now seemed to have been to ferry Ahsoka Tano to the peace talks. Nice and
simple. They were heading back to where theyd left the Rogue Shadow, skirting the lake, Finns
arm around Poes waist.
Thats politics for you, Poe told Finn confidently. Itll probably go on for a week.
A week!
Or longer. Possibly longer. Poe had overheard Ahsoka complaining to Rey about the interim
new Senate wanting to send representatives. Takodanas not that bad.
I guess. And Im glad that the Generals all right.
Poe wasnt so sure about that. Leia Organa was a living legend - probably more so now that shed
apparently defeated Kylo Ren in single combat but now she was Master of the Knights?
Second in command to Snoke? What was that about? She seems to be.
You think shes working for Snoke? Finn grinned at him. Whoah. You are.
I cant say the situation looks good, since shes negotiating on behalf of the First Order.
And you think Snoke would negotiate if he was still calling the shots?
We did destroy his Navy.
Just part of it. And we had our own losses. If the First Order wanted to, they couldve just pulled
the Navy back. Moved the capital to another world out in Unknown Space. Rebuilt and come
back in five years, ten, with more ships. More war. Thats what Snoke wouldve done, if he had a

I guess well just have to see. Poe was glad that he wasnt the one whod have to make that
judgement call.
Whats next? Finn asked then, playfully. For the best pilot in the Resistance?
Theres always something to be done. I dont think Ill be retiring anytime soon. Me, or my
gunner. Poe kissed Finns jaw, then grinned as Finn leaned down for a proper kiss, one to make
Poes heart beat faster, one to make his blood simmer. They stumbled back to the ship, distracted
by each other, with the sweet intoxication of new lovers, and as such, nearly stumbled right on top
of Rey.
Sorry! Sorry! Rey skipped out of the way as Poe and Finn disentangled. I just wanted to show
Chewie some of the fruit from the stores! Behind her, Chewbacca nodded heavily and let out a
grunt, toting a small crate under one hairy arm. Rey was bright red with embarrassment, a roll of
cloth under one arm and another small crate under the other, staring at her feet, and Poe grinned,
even as Finn sighed.
Arent you meant to be at the talks? Being a Jedi and all?
Im just a padawan. Rey fingered the braid in her hair proudly, though. So Ahsoka said I didnt
have to be there. I was going to have a picnic instead and catch up with Chewie and BB-8, she
said, apologetic again, even as the droid in question peeked out from behind Chewie, then
trundled over happily to Poe. And uh, Han said hed come along soon. Update us on what
theyve been up to.
So much for getting some privacy. Want some more company? Poe asked wryly. Ill go get the
rest of the stores. There was only one more crate of perishables. And proper, non-replicator
alcohol. Finn, why dont you go help them get set up?
Finn eyed him curiously, but said, Sure, and took the roll from Rey. Poe watched them head
back towards the shoreline, then he smiled to himself as BB-8 whistled at him.
No, Im not. Having a partys good. Catching up. Go find R2 and Threepio. Theyll only be
getting underfoot in the talks. BB-8 beeped again, but rolled away quickly, making a bee-line
through the trees.
Alone, Poe walked back to the ship. He unlocked it remotely, and strolled up the ramp, fingers
hooked into his belt, breathing in the recycled air a little greedily. That would always be the smell
of home to him - the air aboard a ship. He had been meaning to head towards the cargo, but found
himself in the cockpit instead, a hand pressed over the pilots cradle, looking out from the
transparisteel over the raised clearing that overlooked the lake. He blinked slowly, disoriented,
then sighed out aloud.
Ahsoka had been right after all.
Ship, Poe said quietly, as he patted the back of the pilots seat. Youd have scared the hell out
of any normal, sane pilot with what you just pulled. Hell, Poe knew that he should be scared.
Whatever the Sith had done that had infected the ship? Poe knew the objectively, a ship that
could influence a pilot, like this - should be scrapped. With extreme prejudice.
Was it his ears, or did the background hum of the air recyclers just kick up a notch?
I know youre worried, Poe added gently. Wars over. And you havent had a pilot for a long
time. You mustve spent decades rotting away in some dark hangar, just gathering dust. You

thought youd just be a planetbound piece of junk then, yeah? Thought youd never fly again.
Thing is, Poe continued, as the hum softened, growing nearly inaudible, Thats my worst
nightmare too. Stuck planetside somewhere. Never flying again. As long as Im able, Ill always
be chasing the stars. And Ill always need a ship. He patted the back of the chair again. So if
you want a pilot, Ill always be there. But youre going to have to trust me to take care of you.
And Ive got to be able to trust you not to mess with me. Or the crew.
Poe waited, as the background hum kicked back up a notch, then it went quiescent again, to a
normal purring range. He felt a little lighter, as though a pressing weight had just been lifted,
leaving something warm and maybe even faintly apologetic behind. Poe turned, finally heading
for the cargo hold. A part of him, the part that had flown and loved X-Wings for most of his
career, thought that he was being crazy. This was a Sith ship, and one that seemed at the very
least haunted, somehow. But Poe knew that all the ship wanted - if it could be said to want
anything - was to fly, and that was a sentiment that Poe could understand with all his heart.
Im going now, Luke said to her, on the last day, and Leia knew that it would be forever.
They had always understood each other far more easily than they had understood anyone else,
instinctively. Once, Leia had thought that it was love. She had been right and wrong. Now
Luke sat with her on an austere stone bench in a balcony that looked over a narrow gorge that a
river had cut into stone, the water boiling in onrushing froth far below their feet. Behind them, the
Temple rose in monoliths of prefab steel and stone, an ugly monument to new power. Somewhere
beyond that was the Falcon, and far too many ghosts of her past.
Do you have to? Leia asked, but it was said wryly, not desperately. Luke squeezed her hand
with his normal palm, his grip dry and warm, his eyes serious - always so solemn, now.
Sometimes, in the silence of her soul, Leia wished the Jedi Order hadnt taken away the Luke she
had met, irrepressible, always quick with a smile, sweetly boyish - and replaced him with this
calm, serious stranger.
Theres no need for me to stay. Ive lingered long enough as it is.
So you did, Leia agreed gently, and her smile widened, knowingly. Luke, there are some
things in the galaxy that you cant fix. Not even by seeing the future. I may have loved Han once,
and he loved me. But thats over, now. And it wasnt your fault.
I Luke looked away, uncomfortable now, the first chink in his Jedi calm. I still feel
Guilty, you mean. Leia squeezed Lukes hand back. You think that I never saw it? The way
you were around Han? Youre my twin. Luke stared at her now, wide-eyed. Please. Whats that
again that Han likes to say? Women always figure it out.
He still chose you, Luke pointed out. And he did love you.
That was before. Some loves last a lifetime. Others Leia bit down on a sigh. What happened
with Ben but even before that, she said quietly. It wasnt going to work. We fought almost all
the time. When we werent fighting, usually it was because we were apart. It wasnt healthy. Not
for us. Not for Ben.
So if you have to go go. With Han. And Chewie. Leia hugged Luke this time, pulling him

close. Ill be here. Taking care of things. Again. She tried a little humour, though it sounded flat
to her ears. Her eyes were beginning to sting, even though Leia had told herself before that she
wouldnt cry, when this day inevitably came. Luke laughed anyway, noiselessly, shaking against
her, hugging her back.
Ever since leaving Tatooine for the first time Ive met amazing people from all over the galaxy.
Grandmaster Yoda Han and Chewie Obi-Wan everyone. But the one Im glad of meeting
the most - the one Im most glad of leaving Tatooine for - is you. Luke pulled away, and in his
gentle smile there was something of the honest warmth of the boy Leia remembered. Take care
of yourself, Leia.
Was this where it was all meant to go? With me on Coriolis, the First Order bowed but not
defeated the New Republic still in disarray Ahsoka Tano establishing some new Jedi Order,
backed by her own armada?
This isnt the end, Luke corrected. Its a beginning. And believe me, its one of the better ones.
As to where everyone goes from here? Youre going to decide that. Most of it. And I have no
doubt that youll get there in the end.
Youll know it when you see it. Luke squeezed Leias hand, one last time, and got to his feet.
She didnt turn to watch him go, staring out over the gorge, instead, even as the tukata nudged its
huge muzzle over her knee, snorting loudly until Leia tickled it absently behind its first set of
horns. She sat quietly, listening to the water, petting the hound until it began to doze.
The fledgling civilian arm of the First Orders new government was due to hold its first meeting
within the hour, its cabinet populated mostly by refugees and ex-political prisoners. Leia closed
her eyes, marshalling her thoughts, then she rose from the bench, creakily, steadying herself
against the tukatas massive shoulders. As she circled around the bench, she saw the Falcon dart
past, far beyond, rising up in a steep, sweeping vertical into the sky, chasing the stars.
The ruin of Mazs temple was still a tent city, but at least all the rubble had been cleared now, all
the bodies cremated and interred, deeper in the forest. Prefabs were getting flown in soon,
courtesy of Hart and Parn, but for now, walking by the lake and peeking over the blasterblackened walls, the tiny settlement looked like something out of a historical epic, some pre-space
age township lit up with glow lamps and cooking fires. A little walk into the woods would dispel
that notion quickly, of course: the Falcon was close by, as well as Mazs own customised AIAT/i
gunship. Maukeen Maukeen would have thought the contrasts amusing.
Further in the ruins somewhere, Rey giggled, followed by Chewbacca letting out a gruff rumbling
laugh, Solos voice rising briefly in feigned outrage. Beside Ahsoka, Luke Skywalker smiled as
he heard it, his grim face softening briefly.
You could stay, Ahsoka offered. Build this new academy with me. Help me teach those who
will come. Im older than you are and probably not that much longer for the world.
You dont want me to stay, Luke corrected, though there was no judgment in this tone, only a
blunt statement of fact.
Ahsoka swallowed her grimace. Talking to Luke had turned out to be even more challenging
than she had expected, even after what she had gleaned from Rey. Whatever Luke had done in the
First Temple had changed him - or perhaps it was the effect of twenty years worth of solitude. To

Luke, social niceties now seemed like a waste of time: he seemed but precariously rooted to the
but I appreciate the thought, Luke added absently.
No you dont, Ahsoka said dryly, and Luke flashed a faint smile at her before looking away,
back at the ruins.
I did like being a teacher. For a time. But I do still have more to do.
Finding the First Jedi? Ahsoka asked sceptically. Why is it so important, looking for some old
I dont know yet, Luke admitted. But it feels like it is. Besides. You dont need me here.
Dont I? Ahsoka lowered her voice, though a quick look around told her that they were still
alone. Luke. About Rey. Her parents do you know who they are?
Luke stared at Ahsoka, his expression carefully blank, then he looked back over to the temple.
You didnt see it? When you looked into the When you were at the First Temple?
No. I was looking at the future, not at the past.
But your lightsaber. It called to her. Thats what Maz tells me.
Luke shrugged. That wasnt my lightsaber. Mine is here. The one I built, customised for my use.
he patted the saber at his hip. The one she has was Anakins lightsaber.
Ahsoka pulled a face. She hadnt really wanted to follow that train of thought very far. I was
Anakins padawan. He was I know what he became. But dont ever doubt he loved your
mother. Very much.
So I have been told. Luke said dispassionately. I dont think blood is the reason why that
saber called to her, if thats what you want to hear. And no, I dont know who her parents are.
Nor do I think that it matters.
Dont you? Shes very strong in the Force, Luke. Stronger than me. Maybe even you.
I know that. Luke offered her a wan smile. But I also know that youre the best equipped of
the two of us to help her deal with it. And not just you. She has friends.
I dont even know if what Im doing now is the right thing. I walked away from the Order once.
I still dont fully agree with what it used to stand for.
Then dont. Make a new Order. Do what you think is right.
And you? Youre really going to spend the rest of your life wandering? Out there?
Luke didnt answer her for a long time, until they walked along the lake till the temple was out of
sight. Then he spoke distantly, as though quoting something that he had seen - or perhaps
something that he would someday see. Weve all lingered for so long on the shore. But at last, I
am ready for the stars.

Rey kept the blue lightsaber at her belt, Lukes saber, but now that they had the resources to craft
their own sabers, shed made her own, a staff bladed on both ends, with green crystals. Shed
offered to lend Finch the blue saber, but he stuck to his vibroblade as they sparred, in a playful
back-and-forth over the courtyard, ignoring the other initiates who whooped and cheered at a safe
distance. The school for the new Jedi Order had been rebuilt over the ruins of Mazs temple, and if
Rey concentrated, she could hear Maz somewhere closer to the lake, berating some poor soul for
mishandling a shipment.
They eventually stopped for a break on the outer stone wall, feet dangling out over the grass. A
year had gone by, and Takodanas beauty still took Reys breath away: the sun was just starting to
sink lower in the sky, and the great lake beyond the castle had begun to dress itself in robes of
orange and silver. Poe came over, leaning against the wall with his elbows beside Finns hips,
Finns hand resting casually on Poes shoulder. No bits got cut off? Poe asked, grinning up at
Nothing important.
Did you win?
This isnt about winning, Finn said patiently, and shot Rey an exaggerated, Do-You-BelieveThis eyeroll that made her laugh. Finished up with Ahsoka?
Shiny new lightsaber crystal shipment all delivered - assuming they didnt break anything
offloading it from the Shadow.
Heard you ran into some pirates, Rey said cautiously. Is the ship all right?
You get the latest in Hart and Parn gossip, I bet. Nothing we couldnt handle. Though we did
have to limp over to one of their shipyards for a quick patch up. Poe shuddered. Ive been
stranded in Wild Space once from a hyperdrive crit malfunction. Never again. Finn squeezed
Poes shoulder lightly, as though in reassurance, and Poe absently patted his splayed hand. For a
moment, Rey was a little envious of their easy intimacy, the way they seemed anchored in each
other, like they were the centre of each others worlds.
How long are you guys going to stay? Rey asked instead.
Not long. Weve got some messages to carry over to the General in Coriolis, Poe related. And
then we have to get her reply over to the Senate. Leia was technically no longer a General, but to
Poe, she would always be General Organa.
What happened to using a comm link?
The messages are actually bribes, Finn shrugged.
Its called diplomatic gifts, Finn, Poe said, though he smirked.
Whatever it is, they arent going to work. I told Lando and Ira but they only laughed.
They know its not going to work, Poe agreed. But they also know that Leia knows. So if she
accepts them anyway, it means one thing. If she throws it back in our face, it means another
Rey and Finn puzzled this over for a while. Rey frowned. What?
I hate politics, Finn added feelingly.

Its a job. Hows your job? Poe asked Rey. That braid comes off eventually, right?
When Im ready. A full Knight, Rey elaborated, when Finn looked a little confused. Ahsoka
will decide. Its only been a year.
And all these other kiddies? Finn jerked a thumb behind them.
Theyre Initiates. Some of them brought their families everyones been a great help,
rebuilding. Especially with the cooking. With families coming in from across the galaxy, Rey had
been lucky enough to try Dantooine-styled roasts, Corellian stews even Kashyyk-style salads.
And the people! Shed never lived with people like these, friendly people, from all over
everywhere. Rey rather liked it.
Brought their families Ahsokas still experimenting with new rules, then. Poe observed.
Rey nodded. I dont think she expected to actually get any more students so soon. But the word
got out. Some of the families actually thought theyd get here and see Luke Skywalker, she
added wryly.
Luke ever drop by again? Finn asked.
Only that one time. We do get other random visitors now and then, though. Just got a visit from a
New Republic ambassador. He wanted Ahsoka to restore the Jedi Order to what it used to be, and
so on, and serve the New Republic like it used to-
Really? Poe laughed.
Rey grinned wickedly. I know!
Oh man. I wish I was there. Finn shook his head. What did Ahsoka say?
That I wasnt interested into becoming part of anyones private military ever again, Ahsoka said
dryly, behind them. Dameron, Finn, Lando wants a word, I believe.
Uh, good to see you again, um, maam, Finn said quickly, even as Poe threw Ahsoka a playful
salute, but they soon hurried away, back towards the main school block.
Rey looked curiously at Ahsoka. Is there something you need, Master?
No, Ahsoka leaned creakily against the wall. She looked a little tired, but her smile was quick
enough in her creased face. You could go with them, Ahsoka suggested. Take a break. The
schools coming along nicely, and I have Maz and Lando. Go on a round trip to Coriolis and
A break? Rey repeated, startled.
Youve been working hard for a year.
Im happy here, Rey tried, uncertain.
I know that you are. But Ahsoka paused for a while, glancing out over the lake. Maz told
me. When you first encountered Lukes lightsaber. It reacted to you?
I saw visions. Reys hand went briefly to the hilt of the blue lightsaber at her hip. Heard voices.
Talking to me.
May I? Ahsoka held out her hand. Without hesitating, Rey unhooked the lightsaber from her

May I? Ahsoka held out her hand. Without hesitating, Rey unhooked the lightsaber from her
belt, handing it over. Ahsoka turned it carefully over in her hands, frowning to herself, then she
handed it back. Nothing. Its not for me, at least. Have you ever thought about going out
there? To find your family?
Not for a while. Rey blinked. It would mean going back to Jakku, to talk to Plutt, this time with
credits. It would mean the impossible. The galaxy was so large it had been so long. Im happy
here, she repeated, more quietly. And Im fairly sure Im not not Lukes daughter, or Leias
long-lost daughter, or whatever youre thinking, she added defensively, because that would have
been too easy. Too much like wish-fulfilment. To be a Skywalker! That would have been
But it wasnt something that she needed. Or wanted. Not anymore.
I dont think you are, Ahsoka said gently. But its not a bad thing, to know where you come
I dont know, Rey said honestly. Whoever my parents were, they clearly didnt want me. They
left me with Plutt.
Its up to you. But if you go, Ahsoka patted Reys palm, Therell always be a place for you
back here.
Poe put the Rogue Shadow on auto the moment they were in hyperspace, jumping from Takodana
to Lorrd. They played a quick three way game of sarlacc over dinner, with BB-8, and although
Poe didnt say anything, Finn knew that he was relieved that theyd dropped Rey off. Besides.
Rey was a great friend and all, but Finn kinda missed having Poe all to himself. Well. Himself and
BB-8, anyway.
They kissed in the shower, and were still kissing as they stumbled out after, haphazardly clad BB-8 made itself scarce as Poe and Finn ended up sprawled on the training mat, Finn pulling Poe
on top of him, Poes hands drawing lazy circles over his hips, his thighs. Under his back, the
ships engines purred in a constant low rumble as they kissed each other with the luxury of time,
with the indulgence of privacy. It was going to take a few days in hyperspace to get to Lorrd, and
right now it felt like all the time in the world.
Finn tried to roll them around, but Poe moaned deep in his throat, staying put, and then it became
some sort of wrestling, tickling match, with Poe yelping and writhing and warm in his arms,
impossible to pin down. They ended up with Poe fetched up against the hull, Finn between his
legs, mouths hungry against each other, Poes against Finns shoulder, Finns teeth grazing Poes
neck, the cadence of their breaths picking up, entwined with lust. Urgency made their fingers
shaky on the clasps of their clothes, boots pulled and kicked off onto the mat behind them, Poes
skin flushing nicely under Finns touch; Poe moaned and arched when Finn got his teeth on a
nipple, then his tongue - laughed and kicked out playfully as Finn kissed down to his navel.
Finn, Poe gasped, as Finn settled himself on his elbows, deftly undoing buckles and zips,
nosing against the bulge in Poes breeches, breathing in the heavy, musky scent. Oh hell-
Poes voice broke into a hoarse cry as Finn swallowed down, greedily taking as much thickening
flesh as he could, weighing it on his tongue, getting it all sloppy and wet. He breathed heavily out
through his nose and gripped Poes hips with his hands, whining deep in his throat as he tried to
choke down another inch, then another, squeezing his eyes shut. Shaky fingers curled over Finns
head, stroking reverently, palms hot and sticky as under him, against him, Poe trembled and dug
his heels into the training mat and wailed as Finn hollowed his cheeks and hummed. This was

always the fun part.

Not that it usually lasted. Whether it was Poe really, really liking having a mouth on his cock or
having Finn between his legs, Finn wasnt still too sure, but it never took long for Poe to start
bucking carefully against him, then trembling, then finally he always ended up pushing
desperately at Finns shoulders, moaning his name. Finn always ignored Poe at that point. He
liked drinking it all down and licking up the rest, despite how it tasted - he loved how Poe always
looked at the end of all that, awed and wrecked.
Finn loved how they kissed, after, so deeply, Poe chasing salt and bitter spend in Finns mouth,
even as Finn rode Poes thigh slowly, his own cock still hard in his breeches, pressing moans and
whispers against lips and fingertips. They had time, and Finn knew the steps to this dance now,
though not all of them, not yet - but it didnt matter. Theyd spend today, tomorrow, and all the
years to come learning the rest of it together.
Han found Luke under the overhang facing the sea, quietly grilling fish over a fire. R2 beeped a
greeting, and Han sat down on the flat rock beside Luke, grimacing. Age was catching up with all
of them, slowly but surely: for all that Han still had his swagger and his quick trigger finger, the
strikingly handsome man Luke had first met an age ago in Mos Eisley was long subsumed.
When Chewie and I told you not to move the fuckin campsite you werent listening, were you?
I was following the hieroglyphs downstream, Luke said meekly. As Han rolled his eyes, Luke
added, You took a while.
Yeah, got sidetracked. Ran into those three kids over at Karn, of all people. Rey, Finn and
Dameron. They were on some kind of Super Secret Mission for your sister. Naturally, it quickly
went to hell.
Luke sat back against the stone, listening to Han give a gruff account of a surprisingly unlikely
misadventure involving Hutt gangsters, King Prana and a bantha, and smiled to himself. When
Han finished, he eyed Luke suspiciously. Something funny?
Han let out a deep sigh. Is this gonna happen every time Chewie and I head out for a supply run?
R2, I told you to make sure Luke fall right back into his hermit-on-a-rock habits. R2 beeped
indignantly and defensively, subsiding only when Luke patted its flank.
Do you have news of Leia?
Her? Shes doing great. Yknow, she used to tell me, democracys a fuckin mess, but its the
least fucked up of all the other forms of government.
Not in those words, I should think.
Nah. Han grinned slyly at Luke, always with that infectious mischief of his, that time had failed
again and again to wear down, and now, as before, it always made Lukes heart beat a little faster.
He looked away, suddenly reckless.
Han. Remember when on Hoth, when you saved me from freezing out on the snow?
How could I forget? Han grunted. That poor tauntaun-

When I woke up afterwards in that bunk, and you and Chewie came by
Han wrinkled his nose. I think the only thing I remember about that bit was your sister kissing
you. On the mouth. Never gonna scrub that from the old memory banks, for sure.
We didnt know about each other at the time, and she was trying to make a point.
Yeah, I know all that, and I married your sister, remember?
Yes. You did. Luke said reflectively, the recklessness fading a slow death. He twisted his
fingers together, and nearly flinched when Han leaned pointedly and heavily against him.
So. Wanna tell me what this is about? Or is this gonna be some sort of long philosophical talk,
because if it is, Im going to go talk to Chewie instead.
No philosophy. Just regrets.
What, Han said incredulously, About finding out about Leia?
No! Not that, Luke said sharply, and realized he had been baited when Han let out a loud laugh:
even R2 beeped, rocking briefly from side to side in amusement. Nevermind.
Luke. Were both old farts now. Me, older than most, even. If you dont clear out the air, chances
are, we might not have much more time for it. So. Whats the problem?
Ive really valued your friendship, all this time-
Ooh, this is going to be good. Han straightened up, peering at him. What did you do now?
Just that for a moment there, when you came into that room to see me while we were
talking I thought you were going to kiss me. It was just a thought, Luke added, when Han
blinked slowly and owlishly at him. But then Leia burst in and that was it, so. It was a stupid
But one youve been thinking about all this while?
I used to be jealous of Leia, Luke confessed. He couldnt look up at Han. Even though I was
also happy that the two of you got married and everything else. For a time.
It was always gonna be for a time, Han said reflectively. Leias great. One of the strongest,
smartest people Ive ever met. But she and I, weve never gotten along. The only reason the
marriage lasted as long as it did was we had Ben, and then He sighed, and leaned
comfortably back against Luke again. But you said you used to be.
Cant be jealous any more, Luke said wryly, a little breathlessly. After all. Youre now here
with me.
Han was silent for a while, breathing in a slow, even cadence, tilting his chin up slightly, so that
he was looking up at the stars. Yeah, he murmured, when the cooking fire had burned to
embers, the fish forgotten on the spit, wreathed with smoke. Youre stuck with me, kid. For
whatever thats worth. Han turned his head, and Luke caught that sly and perfect smile again, in
the corner of his eyes, framed against the dark and the endless skies.

End Notes


Oh man. I think this is the first time I've tried to write a longfic for a fandom not out of my
great love for a ship, but out of a love for a fandom itself (particularly KOTOR era...), and
it was far harder than I thought it would be to get myself over the finish line. Which is
probably why this story turned out the way it did... ^^;;; with so many sections that had
nothing to do with the ship at all. Hope everyone enjoyed it!

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