There is a man living on the Finalizer, watching, listening. Desperately searching for any information about HIM, the one that left him so long ago.
He moves like a shadow, unnoticed by almost everyone, the officers long ago used to ignoring the supporting staff, not paying them more attention than to an ant crawling beneath their feet.
He caught few glimpses of HIM, here and there, but HE was always masked, covering the face he did not see in decades, giving way to fantasies and rumours. Most of the crew believed HIM to be disfigured, some caricature of a man, once he even heard an officer swearing that HE looks like a bald, brown frog underneath it. The man knew that is not true, his memories are vague, more dreams than reality, but he can see those black, burning eyes, so similar to his own, so full of pain as he was ripped from his arms.
The man can sense a storm brewing, the First Order is moving forward in their quest to conquer the Galaxy. The Hosnian system is no more and the crew of Finalizer is in frenzy. HE came back with some girl who knows how to find Luke Skywalker and the man is afraid, if he could he would take and hide HIM, not allowing him to pursue HIS old demons. Luke is still strong and the man is afraid that HE won’t be able to survive the encounter with the old Jedi master.
The man is relieved when the girl escapes, despite the tantrum HE throws, the man can feel HIS distress, pain, sadness and worry etched in the hard lines of his body, all he wants to do is to go and comfort HIM, but he can’t, he is afraid to expose himself. Instead he keeps watching, he noticed the General to look at HIM too often for his liking, the ginger following HIM with his eyes anytime they are in the same room, but pretending not to look when HE almost catches him. The man hates the General.
The Starkiller base is under attack of the Resistance and the crew of the Star-destroyer is in frenzy, its leader’s mouth is almost frothing from anger. How dare the resistance cockroaches attack his perfect weapon? He barks orders left and right, organizing troops while his “co-commander” ignores all and goes for his pod.
“Ren! Where are you going!”
“Leave me alone Hux! I’m not one of your minions you can command around!”
“You know what? Go, go alone like the idiot you are and get yourself killed. Why should I care” is the sharp reply. Hux quickly turns around and strides towards the bridge, he almost trips over a technician crouched near one of their TIE-fighters. “What are you doing here? All non-military personnel should be in the shelter, the fight is starting!” the man is strangely familiar to him, even if there is nothing remarkable about him, badly dyed blond hair, big ugly glasses, maybe it is the expression in his face, the defiant glint in his eyes. He seems to realize who is he talking to and looks down. Soft “Sir, yes, Sir.” is his only reply. Hux would love to talk to him more, to try to find out what is so intriguing on some lowly technicatian, but he has an enemy to crush, so he simply leaves.
The man uses the commotion caused by the battle and quickly jumps into the fighter. He disconnected it from the network, so the bridge can’t track him and follows HIM to the surface of the Starkiller.
He is little bit late so it takes him a while to locate HIM within the massive structure.
When he finally finds HIM, HE is not alone. Han Solo is there, they are standing on a high bridge, clearly arguing. Hot rage surges within the man’s body, his hate for Han Solo clouding his mind. The man is the reason why they were separated for decades, his inability to help his own son was what caused the rift. The argument on the bridge is getting heated. He can feel HIS pain as if it was his own and then his own joy when Han Solo finally gets what he deserves. He watches his dead body fly down, pierced by his son’s lightsaber and cannot hold back the laugh bubbling from his belly.
There is a flurry of yelling and shooting and he loses HIM again. He is running now, desperate to find HIM, because he knows the time to reveal himself has finally come. The base starts trembling, something exploding deep within, but he doesn’t care, all he can think of is HE.
He can hear the sound of fighting and arguing from deep in the woods and follows it like a beacon. He can hear scraps of their conversation, how the girl tries to convince HIM to come back to the light. Stupid little scavenger, HE is not for the Light, nor for the Dark, HE is for me and me only. He will kill her for assuming she can convince HIM to go back to that place of unspeakable pain.
He gets to the clearing where they fight just in time to see her slash a lightsaber and strike HIM down. His scream of horror is loud and strangely animalistic. The time freezes and he pulls a stolen blaster. One shot and the girl is down, not dead unfortunately, but not getting up anytime soon either. It barely registers in the man’s mind, his focus entirely on the black clad body, lying face down in snow. His heart stopped beating, no breath comes out of his lungs until he can feel a weak thump of pulse beneath his fingers. He could cry with relief, but there is no time, the ground is trembling beneath his feet and deep rifts open everywhere, he must get them off this Force forsaken planet. He extends his hand and Ren’s lightsaber flies into his palm, he shoves it deep into his pocket and picks HIM up, he needs to take HIM to safety and fast. Suddenly he can hear a deep rumbling sound and a small shuttle lands near by, General Hux is the first to get out.
Hux stops, shocked at the scene before him. The scavenger girls lies in a pool of her own blood, a blaster hole in her side. There is the man, the… technician he saw in the hangar carrying the limp form of Kylo Ren. Where his look before was insolent, now it is almost threatening. He does not acknowledge Hux in any way, just stomps around him into the shuttle and sits down, the Knight still securely in his arms.
“What?” Hux starts to ask, but is sharply interrupted.
“Not now General, he needs healing NOW!” Hux obeys and closes the door, almost without a conscious thought. He is too stunned to argue, for he finally figured out who the man resembles. His eyes, the large nose, full pouty lips… it is clear when their faces are so near each other. Millions of questions run through his head, who is the man, how did he get here, why he looks like Ren… but he voices none of them, too shocked and maybe even afraid to ask.
The strange man ignores him completely, his eyes fixed o Ren’s lax face, fingers gently combing the matted dark hair. He bends down and start to murmur: “Shhh, it is okay, everything will be okay now, I have you, I will never allow anyone to hurt you again. I’m here, I’m here, I’m here…”
Kylo Ren is dreaming and it is not a pleasant dream. The pictures move in front of his eyes like a holofilm, Skywalker standing above his bed with a lightsaber in hand, the scavenger girl striking him down, the expression of Han Solo as he killed him, Snoke’s training… the images continue, showing one bad memory after another. He can feel the cold seeping from inside, filling his chest. He is dreading what will come next, dreading the worse memory of them all and oh, of course there it is:
Two small boys, maybe seven years old stand in front of a grey shuttle. They hold each other as hard as their thin arms will allow. “I don’t want you to go Benny, I love you. You will leave and never think of me again, please don’t go.” says the boy with face hidden against the other’s neck. “I don’t want to go” sniffles the other one “and I can’t forget you, you are mine, MINE! We should be always together” he is trembling almost uncontrollably. Suddenly a hand grabs each, a man and a woman, trying to pull them apart.
“Come on Ben, let him go. You must go now” says the male.
“NO! NO! NO!” the boys yell in unison, hands reaching out towards each other, but their bodies are too small, too weak, no match for the adults pulling them apart. The man is trying to get one of them into the spaceship, but he can barely hold him anymore, the boy is wriggling like an eel, desperate to escape. The ground around them starts to shake, the metal of the ship creaking ominously. It is the Force sensitive boy of course, using his untrained powers by sheer instinct, trying to escape the vice like grip of his father and run to the safety of the other’s arms.
“Luke do something!” yells Han Solo, getting frustrated with his son’s antics, he hates sentimentality and has little understanding for the boys’ feelings.
“NOOOOO!” the anguished cry of the other child echoes through the night, it makes goosebumps pop on their arms, so much anger, so much pain in someone so young. His mother is holding him firmly, he has no chance to escape.
“What do you want me to do?”
“I don’t know! Use some of those stupid Jedi mind tricks for all I care. Just stop him before he destroys the ship.” The Jedi sighs loudly, he can’t compel the boy, not when he is in this state, so he picks a rock from the ground and smashes it against his head. The child blacks out and Kylo Ren wakes up with panicked gasp.
The room around him is in total chaos, broken glass litters the floors, appliances and furniture lie in crumpled heaps on the floor, General Hux stands near the entrance with some medical staff, all looking at him with clear fear in their eyes. Hux shakes his fear off and takes a small step towards Kylo when a strange man storms into the room. He disregards the trashed room and the men standing by the door, his eyes on Kylo and Kylo alone.
He sits down on the bed and catches his face into his palms, leaning their foreheads together. He breathes just one word, like a prayer:
Battle of Crait
There are 13 ski speeders going straight for the cannon, when the Falcon appears in the sky taking out 3 of their TIE-fighters in one shot.
“Blow that piece of junk of the sky!” Kylo yells immediately, the sight of that hated ship making his blood boil.
“All fighters follow it” Hux relays the command to the officers.
“NO! I had enough! You two are horrible at this!” Matt comes from behind, tearing down the ugly glasses and unzipping the overalls. He is dressed much like his brother, all in black only his hair have lighter shade from the blond dye he had before. “Fighters I-V to follow the Falcon, others focus on taking out the ski speeders and soldiers in trenches. Why are the AT-ATs not firing?! We will obliterate the Resistance once and for all!”
Quiet, no one moves a muscle, nervous glances of the crew flitter between Hux and the brothers, luckily the TIE pilots are already following his orders.
Hux is nervous, he does not dare to oppose Ren since the choking in the throne room, but what Matt is saying makes sense. He looks at his Supreme Leader questioningly.
“Well? What are you staring at? Didn’t you hear my brother?!” yells Kylo and everyone scrambles to obey. Matt secretly smiles, proud that Kylo called him a brother in front of his crew.
They are clearly winning, the cannon almost ready to take down the gate. The only unstable variable is the Falcon. The fighters following it are either down or are circling above a maze of trenches cut into the surface of the planet. “Where is the Falcon? Where the fuck did they hide.” Matt can feel a presence at his shoulder, it is Hux, looking at the map created from the TIE fighters scans. “I think they are searching for the back door, surely the big gate is not the only entrance to the fortress. Even rebel scum wouldn’t be so stupid.”
“I think so as well” he looks back outside, the ski speeders were almost gone, only 3 remained, but even those were retreating, the soldiers in trenches are returning inside as well and the cannon is almost ready. “All the TIE fighters are to follow I-V now, their mission is to scan for a back door of that place. The scum will find the hole same as rats leaving a ship.” he is pleased that his instructions are immediately followed.
“Cannon ready in 10...9…” he steps back to the front of the ship, Hux following him. They stand there, all three of them, the future of the galaxy, watching the orange beam cut through the big metal door as if it is made from butter.
Everything is quiet now, as if the whole universe holds its breath, waiting.
Single figure steps from the clouds of dust, shrouded in a brown coat.
The brothers recognize him instantly. Skywalker.
“Fire at him with all the guns we have!” they yell in unison, their hatred clouding their minds. Rain of shots is tearing through the sky with only one goal, obliterate their enemy. Clouds of red dust spring into the sky creating impenetrable wall of red.
“Don’t you think that’s enough?” Hux quips sarcastically and immediately recognizes his error when he is thrown to the side, the brothers not even looking away from the last position of their enemy. The clouds are settling now, revealing the figure again, not a scratch on him, not even a speck of dust. They can see his smug face, smirking and clearly mocking them.
Matt can feel his brother’s rage boil over. “I’m going down! Keep the doors covered and kill anything that moves!” Matt knows he cannot stop him, Ben waited years to exact his revenge, so he just nods and claps his shoulder. It goes against his every instinct to let his brother go alone, but he knows he would not stand a chance against the old Jedi.
He watches them, but there is something nagging in the back of his mind, something is wrong. If Luke was there the whole time, why didn’t he show up sooner? He watches them dance around each other when it clicks, there are no footsteps following Skywalker, the white ground remains undisturbed.
“It is a trap!” he yells “he is not there, he is stalling so they can run! Connect me to the fighters and prepare Ren’s for me!”
The fighters continue to scan the ground behind the fortress, but still cannot find the damn Falcon. “All we see are herds of some native animals running from among the rocks” the leader of the squadron relays once Matt is in the pilot’s seat.
“Wait for me, but the moment you see the Falcon open fire!”
“Hux!” he connects to the bridge “Watch Kylo and if anything happens to my brother, you’ll all die!” He doesn’t wait for a response, but flies over to the squadron as quickly as possible. The other pilots show him the place they saw the animals and he extends his meager Force abilities, trying to locate any lightforms. There! He found them!
He steps out from the speeder, wanting to face them without any barrier, he knows Organa is there and cannot wait to see her expression once she sees his face.
He creeps closer, giving command to the pilots to wait hidden until his signal. The last of Resistance, less than 30 bodies is boarding the Falcon. He shoots, aiming at the fuel tank and gives command to the pilots at the same time.
They are surrounded, the ship unable to fly and anyone who would try to run would be taken down by the TIEs.
“Well, well, well Mother. Why are you running again?” he steps away from his cover.
She turns to him, so small, so… withered. It takes a second for her mind to process what she sees, that this is not Ben standing in front of her.
“Matt?” her voice is weak, how pathetic, full of disbelief and tentative joy.
“Oh yes Mother, are you glad to see me here?” He quickly shoots, hitting the black man’s hand and the blaster he was holding. “Lay your weapons down, come on.”
“Matt what are you doing here? What do you want?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m where I was always supposed to be. On Ben’s side.” he smirks again, her heartbroken expression giving him immense sense of satisfaction. “You never should have split us, we belong together.”
“Enough!” the scavenger steps in front of Organa, shielding her. “Let us go! You won, what more do you want?” Matt’s eyes narrow, he hates that little bitch with all his passion. Little harlot throwing himself at his brother and then hurting him.
“Hmmm, what I want… I want Organa and that short guy there” he recognizes him as the pilot who teased Hux. Hux will be so grateful if he brings him a souvenir. “Give them to me and I will show you mercy.” he says, his tone almost bored, like he couldn't care less what they decide.
“NO!” the last of Resistance shouts as one man. How pathetic, they would be rather dead than let one old woman die.
“I accept” Organa’s voice is clear above all others “Me too” the pilot adds.
“Great!” Matt resists the urge to clap his hands and gestures them closer. He pulls two small circles and hands them to the pair “come on, put them on your necks, oh and don’t forget to face your friends first, I’m sure they will appreciate the look of you two for the last time” he laughs meanly. He can see the scavenger go red, clearly ready to fight again, but both Organa and the pilot have applied the stems and froze. It is a temporary paralysis, they cannot move a muscle, only watch. It would be easier to transfer them unconscious, but he does not want them to miss the show.
“Now” he calmly states and the TIE fighters open fire. It is like catching fish in a barrel of water, almost too easy. Even the little Jedi-wannabe is killed by the blasters, she is too weak or too untrained to stop them by the Force like Ben can. The Resistance is nothing more than a bloodied pile of bodies.
Once the fire ceases he comes closer, nudging one of the prone bodies with the tip of his shoe “Behold, the Resistance is no more. Long live the new Empire.”
“Long live the new Empire” the pilots in the TIE fighters dutifully repeat, while he turns back to his prisoners. “Follow me, I think it is time for you to meet our Supreme Leader properly.”