The Force was life, a fundamental principle of the universe. It bound all living creatures together and optimized conditions so they, and it, could grow. It lent its power to its anchor-points to help with this process. It did not particularly care what form life took so long as it flourished. What the Force was not, however unfortunately, was particularly intelligent. Recently, most of its anchor-points had been destroyed leaving the Force somewhat disconnected from its ability to work in a way it hadn’t been for millennia. And to make matters worse, life was not thriving the way it had been, planets were being stripped of resources and deserted, people were killed. However, the Force had a plan for dealing with that and things would soon return to normal. New anchor-points would develop and the Force could begin to fix things.
Then It happened. An acute pain, an entire world just gone throwing any number of other factors out of balance. The Force had. Had. Enough. It gathered its considerable strength and threw the offending object back to when there were anchor-points who could and would deal with the problem. Ripples of the destruction and subsequent displeasure of the Force reverberated through the galaxy for a few months growing steadily weaker. Finally, the Force returned to its usual placid state. Or as placid as the fore of life could ever be, content that the anchor-points would deal with the problem. Or returned to its indifference. Or perhaps it was distracted by some other goings-on in the galaxy. One was never quite sure with the Force. If the Force felt particularly smug for the next few decades, no one took any particular notice.
Leia watched in shock as Tarkin ordered Alderaan destroyed even though she had cooperated. Well, told them about an old base anyway, she wasn’t stupid. Still, she had pretended to cooperate, the least they could do was pretend to cooperate with her. Destroying Alderaan was a politically untenable move and she could not believe they would go through with it. A final, weak protest slipped from her lips. Vader’s armor dug into her back as he held her, whether to stop her from interfering or collapsing she wasn’t quite sure herself. She watched uncomprehendingly as technicians pushed buttons and flipped levers. It seemed like an eternity and no time at all from the moment Tarkin gave the order to fire and when the deck hummed beneath her feet as a beam lanced into space and destroyed her home planet, her people, her family. Distantly she heard, but couldn’t process, Tarkin give the order to send out the TIE fighters to destroy any ships in the vicinity attempting to escape. She stood, rooted to the floor, numb. Slowly, so slowly it took her some time to notice, a storm of emotions rose within her, growing each moment, until she felt stretched and small and powerful and insignificant and she had a moment of realization that the maelstrom wasn’t just from her before everything went black.
Tarkin watched the Princess collapse after the destruction of the planet. He would have done something about it if, at the same time, the deck hadn’t started heaving. Everyone tumbled to the floor, systems shorted, sparks flew.
“Status report,” he demanded once things had settled enough for him to regain some dignity and systems would have a status to report instead of wildly fluctuating. Or, at least that was what he hoped, though the flickering lights and occasional sparks did not support that hope. He glanced over to where the princess lay at Vader’s feet. Vader seemed to be, miraculously, still standing though he had yet to say anything. “Get her out of here.” Two troopers came forward to deal with her and he refocused on the reports from the technicians around him. Most systems seemed to be semi-functional at best though easily repaired.
“Basic external sensors are back, though they’ll take some time to reach full capacity. There seems to be a battle going on just beyond the debris field, sir,” one technician reported.
“Who are the combatants?”
“Unclear, sir. The ships are not familiar.”
“Sir, the nav computer is back online.” Another technician broke in hesitantly.
“Yes?” Tarkin prompted. “And why do I care about the nav computer right now?” he added after no further information seemed to be forthcoming.
“Um . . . well, it says we’re just outside of the Imperial Center star system. Sir”
“Are you certain?”
“Yes, sir. I ran a diagnostic on the computer and ran the computations twice. Imperial Center is under attack.”
Tarkin looked over to Darth Vader who remained unresponsive. Well, he thought as he stared at the blank viewscreen, if the Emperor’s hound had nothing to say, it was up to him. “Scramble the remaining TIE fighters and recall the first wave. We need to defend the system.” He busied himself giving orders and planning how best to join the battle.
Anakin soared through the battle, Obi-Wan at his side, staying close to larger ships for cover and dodging anything that came too close when something rang through the Force. It felt strange and had an air of satisfaction and finality to it. Everything and nothing changed in that instant and he really wasn’t sure how that was possible.
“What the kriff?!” He fought to keep his fighter steady as his concentration wavered. Fortunately, R2 was there to make up for what he missed. Unfortunately, his distraction meant that he was reacting to the battle instead of planning ahead. “Did you feel that, Obi-wan?” he asked swerving around a missile aimed for a Star Destroyer.
“Yes, Anakin. However, our mission remains the same. If the situation changes, we will be informed.”
Anakin’s fighter traced an intricate pattern through an open space in the battle to avoid enemy fire and try to get back into formation with Obi-wan as Obi-wan called for a squadron of clone fighters to back them up.
“Unknown fighters approaching. They are unresponsive to all attempted communication. Proceed with mission but watch your backs,” a voice informed him over his comm. Obi-wan swore and make adjustments to their flight formation to take into account the unknown fighters. Moments later the voice continued, “Unknown fighters are engaging the Separist fleet. Do not engage unless forced to.”
The Sepratist fleet moved to face the new threat moving their target further away. The new fighters were fast and made traversing the space between them and the Seppies even more hazardous than before. Anakin really wanted to get his hands on one of those. Oh, the things he could do with a ship like that. However, he had more pressing concerns right that second, namely rescuing the chancellor, and so annoyance warred with curiosity at the appearance of the strange fighters. Between the surprise attack, the overwhelming numbers, and the advanced technology, the Separatists were having a hard time regrouping and were starting to move away from the gravity well of Coruscant. It looked like they were trying to get away so they could jump into hyperspace.
“These guys may be friendlies, but they sure aren’t making our job any easier, are they R2.”
“Talking to your droid,” came Obi-wan’s amused response. R2 whistled what was probably an insult.
“He’s the best person to talk to,” R2 trilled happily, “seeing as you ought to be using your silver tongue to convince those flies to let us rescue the chancellor before they blow him up or the Seppies run off with him and everyone else has enough to keep the busy.” Anakin banked hard to avoid one of the new fighters and Obi-wan swerved the other way around it while the clone squadron behind them adjusted positions. One of the clones collided with the fighter destroying them both in a double explosion.
“Anakin, you know my silver tongue only works if I can actually speak to someone and those “flies” are not responding to hails. We’ll just have to overcome the challenge and rescue the chancellor anyway. Have you found Grevious’ ship yet?” Obi-wan’s fighter closed in on Anakin’s and they dodged weapons fire together, the remaining clones forming up around them.
“It’s the one moving towards the edge of the battle the fastest swarming with vulture droids.” The vulture droids were swarming around the ship trying to protect it from the newcomers. Unfortunately, this just drew more of their attention. “Where did all of these fighters come from? How are there so many? It doesn’t make sense.”
“I don’t know, but with the attention that ship is drawing we need to act quickly.” The two Jedi and their clone compliment sped across the battle field dodging what fire they could. The newcomers ensured that the small group remained almost entirely unchallenged so they could proceed directly to their target but the clones were still slowly picked off until only two remained.
“Almost there . . .” Anakin muttered as they approached the now crippled vessel where the chancellor was being held. Blaster marks marred the hull and it was venting atmosphere but it remained largely intact. Hopefully, the chancellor was the same. Using the Force to supplement his reflexes to land his fighter, he was not prepared when it suddenly screamed at him. He flung his fighter away from the ship and saw the ship with the chancellor of the Republic on it go up in a truly spectacular explosion. Kriff. Something hit him and his ship spun wildly. He felt nauseous and the squalling systems and R2’s screams really did not help. He tried to reach for the controls but-kriff-he couldn’t quite-kriffing kriff-the chancellor-he couldn’t-he failed- . . .