General Leia Organa gazed at the hologram before her, at the dwindling numbers of the Resistance and the Zipher clan, of the First Order’s growing might and hunger for bloodshed, and her gaze fell. They had lost.
As soon as the cannons were destroyed Leia knew the battle was over and that the First Order had won. But the fight wasn’t completely finished yet. She needed to get as many members of the Resistance away from the fight as possible.
She pressed a button on the console in front of her.
“Resistance fighters, pull back. I repeat pull back. Retreat to the cruisers and prepare for evacuation.”
Everyone in the room looked at her in shock.
“But General,” Admiral Ackbar began.
Leia stopped him with a sharp look. “I have made my decision Admiral. I must think of the Resistance’s safety before my ambition. The First Order has won. Now we must do whatever we can to survive.”
Lieutenant Connix looked down solemnly. Admiral Ackbar’s lips set in a grim line. The Zipher officers stared at her with resolute gazes. Warden Yartuda, however, wore an expression of determination.
“General Leia is right,” she spoke. “Today we may not hold our heads high in victory but sometimes it’s more important to live to tell the tale.”
Leia nodded before turning her gaze back to the hologram. Her eyes focused on the cruisers and the Resistance fighters heeding her command. She only hoped nothing else would happen.
Poe Dameron heard Leia’s message and even though he wanted to continue fighting against the First Order he knew she was making the right call, for the sky was filled with TIE fighters and Resistance pilots were dropping faster than he could count.
“Squadrons,” he said as he performed a fancy maneuver that sent two TIEs careening into each other, “fall back to the cruisers. Now!”
“Yes sir,” his remaining pilots responded in unison.
He turned his X-Wing in the direction of the tarmac, his gaze scanning the city. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Buildings were burning, stormtroopers were flooding the streets, and both Resistance and Xeeter warriors were falling at the hands of the First Order. Poe’s expression saddened.
And then his gaze caught the cannons which were alight in flames. He had seen the moment when the cannons were attacked and immediately Admiral Sterk’s wellbeing had come to mind. She had assigned herself to defend the cannons. It was one of the riskiest roles to play in this battle but she had taken it willingly.
No one tried to dissuade her, but Poe was afraid things could turn for the worse. And now, it seemed that his fears were being realized.
He turned the X-Wing toward the cannons. BB-8 whistled.
“Yes, BB-8, we’re landing.”
BB-8 whistled sharply.
“I know it’s a bad idea buddy but I have to see if Admiral Sterk is okay. She may have gotten clear of the cannons before they were destroyed.”
BB-8 beeped in agreement.
Poe angled his X-Wing toward the ground, pulling the trigger and demolishing a squadron of troopers who were moving through an alleyway. And then he gasped as he noticed Finn in the middle of one of the streets holding someone in his arms.
Poe immediately set his X-Wing down, hurrying out of the cockpit and running over to Finn who he found cradling Rose with tears streaming down his face. When Finn saw him approaching his expression grew slightly brighter.
“Poe,” he exclaimed.
“Finn,” Poe joined his side, placing a hand on Rose’s forehead, “what happened?”
“She was stabbed by Captain Phasma,” Finn said. “I-I don’t know what to do.”
Poe placed a hand on Finn’s shoulder. “There’s only one thing you can do. Leia gave the order to get to the cruisers. We have been given the order to retreat.”
Finn’s eyes widened. “Retreat? But the First Order–”
“Will win this fight,” Poe finished for him. “I know. But those are her orders. I’ll help you get Rose to the cruiser. That ensures her chances of survival.”
Finn’s jaw clenched as he nodded. Finn stood, holding Rose in his arms while Poe led the way forward, his blaster in his hands.
“BB-8!” Poe called.
“Take the ship to one of the cruisers and defend any Resistance soldiers that you can.”
BB-8 beeped cheerily in response before taking the X-Wing and leaving them. Poe turned to Finn.
“Let’s go,” he said.
Admiral Sterk felt an incredible heat all around her. Her eyes opened and all she saw was darkness. Something very heavy and stinking of burning metal lay atop her. Suddenly everything was coming back to her.
The Grenade. Being thrust into a cannon due to the grenade’s explosion. And finally, a heavy piece of metal falling on top of her.
She grunted, pushing the metal off of her. She began to cough as black smoke entered her lungs from the burning cannons around her. Choking, she pushed herself to her feet, scrambling off of the platform to the street below.
She gasped for breath, surveying the battlefield around her. The fight had clearly gone in the First Order’s favor, for TIE fighters filled the air with their screaming engines, shooting at anything in sight. More Walkers were tramping through the city, an ominous sight in the heat of the battle.
Sterk noticed a blaster laying on the ground beside a stormtrooper and hurriedly picked it up. She began to run from the platform, turning into an alley and hoping that she wouldn’t run into any stormtroopers.
She exited the alley into a street and collided full speed into someone. She yelped, falling on top of the person. She hurriedly pushed herself off of the person, holding her blaster in preparation to shoot, and noticed at the end of the barrel was none other than Poe Dameron.
She laughed. “Poe,” she exclaimed.
Poe’s face lit up. “Pamela, you’re okay.”
She held his face in her hands with relief. She was so relieved, in fact, that she almost felt like kissing him…until she noticed that they weren’t alone. She looked to her left and found Finn staring down at them with an unconscious woman in his arms. Sterk immediately pushed herself off of Poe, grabbing her blaster and regaining her composure.
Finn nodded at her, a look of subtle amusement on his face. “Admiral.”
She inclined her head to him. “Finn.”
Poe stood. “We need to get to the cruisers as quickly as possible.”
“Why?” Sterk asked. “What’s happened?”
“General Leia has ordered everyone to retreat.”
Admiral Sterk was disheartened to hear the news but she wasn’t surprised. With the cannons destroyed the means of defeating the First Order were eradicated.
With her grip tightening on her blaster she said, “Well, let’s go. We’ve got a cruiser to catch.”
A stormtrooper with a suit of black armor and a sweeping black cloak named Captain Taulin walked through the battlefield, a squadron of troopers behind him. His red visor scanned the streets for any remaining members of the Resistance and then he found something he did not expect.
Captain Phasma was lying in the middle of the street, completely unconscious. Or at least he believed it was Captain Phasma. She was clearly wearing the armor Phasma wore but with her helmet off Taulin was able to see her face and she was unlike anything he could’ve expected.
He knelt by her, stroking a strand of blond hair from her face.
“Troopers, find her helmet and take her back to the Finalizer.”
A few troopers went scrambling to find her helmet. Taulin simply remained by her side, gazing at her.
“Oh, what a pretty face you have,” he mused. “Do not worry.” He smiled beneath his helmet. “Your secret is safe with me.”
General Leia saw that her members of the Resistance were successfully retreating to the cruisers. Maybe things would turn out slightly on the brighter side after all.
“Officers, get to your cruisers and help get them prepared for takeoff,” Leia ordered.
Everyone in the room looked at her.
“But General, what about you?” Lieutenant Connix asked.
“I will get in a cruiser once everyone is safe,” she said.
Admiral shook his head. “No Leia, I will not you let you do this. Anything could happen while you wait here making sure everyone gets where they need to be.”
Leia turned to Admiral Ackbar. “I understand your concern but I will always do whatever is necessary to make sure the people who risk their lives for the betterment of this galaxy are safe.”
Ackbar shook his head with admiration. “You’ve never changed.”
She smiled. “And I never will.” She looked at everyone in the room. “Now go.”
Lieutenant Connix grabbed her hand before exiting the room with the other Resistance and Zipher officers. The only people remaining was Admiral Ackbar and Warden Yartuda.
“Both of you should leave too.”
Warden Yartuda placed a hand on her shoulder. “You are the most inspiring woman I have ever met. I will stand alongside you for as long as our people need us.”
Admiral Ackbar nodded in agreement.
Leia smiled, gazing at them with a deep fondness. “Thank you.”
General Hux stood on the bridge of the Finalizer, his hands clasped behind his back and a smug expression on his face. A woman approached him with a datapad in her hands.
“Sir.” He inclined his head slightly to the right in acknowledgment of the woman.
“It seems that our forces have sent the Resistance into retreat. What should we do now?”
General Hux’s lips spread in a wicked smile. “Destroy them.”
Finn ran as fast as his legs could take him across the tarmac to the cruiser that sat before him. X-Wings were flying by overhead, keeping the TIES at bay. Rose’s eyes slightly opened and when she saw him she smiled.
“Help is coming, Rose,” Finn told her.
“I know,” she said weakly before falling back into unconsciousness.
They hurried into the nearest cruiser and Finn was relieved to find medics standing near the entrance as if waiting for him.
“Can you help me?” he asked, laying her down on the ground. The medics rushed over. “She’s lost a lot of blood.”
“We’ll get to work on her right away,” one of the medics told him.
Just before they carried her off Rose grabbed his hand.
“Thank you, Finn.”
He squeezed her hand, smiling fondly at her. “Always.”
With that, the medics took her away and Finn stared after her, hoping that she would, indeed, be okay.
Poe hurried with Admiral Sterk to the bridge where several other officers were hurriedly activating the shields in preparation for the First Order’s imminent attack. Admiral Sterk rushed to one of the consoles. Poe immediately noticed the darkening of her expression.
“What is it?” he asked.
“The First Order is preparing for a massive assault with their Star Destroyers.” She looked at him. ‘We need to get out of here…fast.”
Poe’s jaw clenched. The fight wasn’t over yet.
The Millennium Falcon launched out of hyperspace right in front of a massive Star Destroyer. Rey yelped as she yanked the controls, barely avoiding running headlong into the ship’s roaring engine.
The ship angled downward and under the belly of the vessel before twirling back into free space. She could only gape at the chilling sight before her; nine Star Destroyers sitting in the orbit of the planet Tól.
“Oh no,” she gasped.
Luke Skywalker entered the cockpit and his eyes widened as he took in the spectacle. “Contact Leia,” he said.
Rey pressed a button on the console before her to contact the Resistance.
Leia noticed a transmission coming from somewhere in orbit. She pressed the button and was overjoyed to hear Luke’s voice.
“Leia, what’s going on?” he asked.
“Oh, I’m glad you’re here. We need all the help we can get. I’ve ordered the Resistance to retreat.”
“Retreat? What has happened?”
Leia’s expression saddened. “A lot, Luke.”
“General, there’s been a development,” Admiral Ackbar said.
Leia nodded. “I wish I could talk but right now we don’t have time for words. I’m sending you coordinates for the rendezvous.”
“Okay,” Luke replied.
As the transmission ended she turned to Ackbar. “What is it?”
“The First Order is preparing to launch a fierce attack on the cruisers. And…” Ackbar looked at her with a strange expression she had never seen before. It was a look of imminent doom. “A command shuttle is coming to the palace.”
Leia’s temples knotted. “Then we will do whatever we can before they arrive.”
Finn ran onto the bridge just as Poe was running off of the bridge.
“Where are you going?” Finn asked.
“To my X-Wing!” Poe called.
Finn watched him run off and for some reason, he had a terrible feeling.
A First Order officer looked up from his console to General Hux.
“The weapons are ready, sir.”
General Hux’s expression fiercened. “Fire!”
Leia watched in horror as all nine Star Destroyers fired upon the cruisers with full force. She could only hope the cruisers’ shields would hold up.
Poe sprinted to his X-Wing as quickly as his legs could take him. BB-8 whistled at him.
“Fire it up!” he called.
He hurriedly climbed into the cockpit, put on his helmet, and sent the ship flying out of the hangar to join his fellow pilots where he found a barrage of lasers falling upon the cruisers.
“Squadrons, we need to slow these cruisers down,” he said.
“How?” Captain Timara asked, swooping by.
“We take down the shields with proton torpedoes and give the First Order something to think about.”
“Well, you better hurry,” said a woman from another transmission, “because those cruisers aren’t going to be able to hold on much longer.”
Poe’s eyes widened. “Rey, is that you?”
“Yes, it is. I’m here to help.”
Poe whooped excitedly. “We’ve got some hope fellas. Come on, let’s go!”
Together he and the remaining pilots soared into space to take on the Destroyers.
When Finn heard Rey’s voice his face became bright with unadulterated joy. Chewbacca, who was standing alongside him after having just come onto the bridge, roared excitedly, raising his hairy arms into the air.
“Whoo, I knew Rey would come back!” Finn exclaimed.
Admiral Sterk grinned. “There is hope after all.”
Leia’s expression was grim as she saw the First Order command shuttle approaching.
“Cruisers, prepare for takeoff. I repeat, prepare for takeoff and jump for hyperspace to these coordinates.”
She tapped a button, sending each cruiser a specific set of coordinates.
Luke heard the transmission and his eyebrows furrowed. “Wait a minute, Leia. What about you? Are you on a cruiser?”
“Don’t worry about me, Luke,” Leia said. “I’ll be fine.”
Luke stayed quiet but he knew, from the tone of her voice, that she was lying. His head fell and his eyes closed. Rey looked over at him.
“Master Skywalker, what’s wrong?”
He opened his eyes, turning to look at her. “Nothing. Nothing’s wrong.”
With that, he left the cockpit.
Poe heard Leia’s transmission and knew something was wrong as soon as he heard her voice. But he couldn’t worry about that. He was trying to make sure he stayed alive.
He had to fly better than he ever had in his entire life to evade the TIEs and the barrage of laser fire from the Star Destroyers, all while protecting the cruisers as best he could.
The cruisers lifted from the tarmac, hurriedly soaring through the gaseous green sky to the hemisphere with lasers raining upon the vessels’ shields.
“One Destroyer down,” a pilot announced.
Poe nodded, twirling his X-Wing in a pirouetting maneuver and taking down two TIE fighter.
“Good job,” he said. “Keep it going.”
The Millennium Falcon zoomed past and Poe cheered. It was a heartwarming sight.
“We’ve lost a Star Destroyer,” a young officer said to General Hux.
His temples knotted and his nostrils flare. He would not let the Resistance escape his grasp. Not this time. Not this time.
“Use the Obliteratus,” he ordered.
The officer looked at him. “Are you sure sir?”
General Hux looked at the officer, his lip curling into a snarl. “Do it.”
Admiral Sterk’s gaze remained on the shield’s integrity, watching as it grew closer and closer to faltering with every second that passed.
She closed her eyes. Please hold shields, she thought to herself. Please hold.
BB-8 beeped and when Poe looked at the console he saw the coordinates Leia had given the Resistance.
“Prepare for hyperspace,” he told everyone.
And then suddenly he noticed one of the Star Destroyers revealing two massive guns that sat on its sides in an intimidating fashion.
“What the–” Poe said before the Star Destroyers sent forth a barrage of red energy that meandered toward the cruisers, demolishing everything in its path.
One of the cruisers and the Millennium Falcon shot into hyperspace just before the energy collided with it but the other two Resistance vessels weren’t so lucky. Poe Dameron watched in dismay as the red energy destroyed everything in its path, Resistance and First Order vessels alike.
Poe yanked the controls in a dive to evade the powerful assault and with a grunt pushed his X-Wing into hyperspace.
General Leia, Admiral Ackbar, and Warden Yartuda gazed solemnly at the destruction that was the Resistance as a dozen stormtroopers walked into the room, training their blasters upon them.
A stormtrooper in black armor and a black cape entered shortly thereafter, walking toward the three Resistance leaders.
General Leia kept her expression resolute and unbothered even though she was practically trembling inside.
The stormtrooper stopped before Leia. “By decree of the First Order, you all are under arrest for conspiring against peace in the galaxy.”
“There will never be peace as long as the First Order exists,” General Leia responded.
The stormtrooper stared at her. “Pointless words from a failed leader. Take them away.”
The stormtroopers placed handcuffs on the three Resistance affiliates before taking him out of the palace and into the command shuttle where an uncertain fate awaited them.
General Hux couldn’t believe it. Just when he thought he had finally won, that the Resistance would be demolished by his hand, a cruiser and a few Resistance X-Wings managed to get away to an unknown destination.
He trembled as he clutched the windowsill before him, his mind roiling with emotions.
“No!!!” he hollered.
He breathed heavily, using the windowsill for support.
“No,” he said quietly.
He whirled, ready to give whoever was bothering him a piece of his mind. A young officer with blond hair greased back was gazing back at him.
“There’s been an update,” the officer said. “We have General Leia in our custody.”
Hux’s eyes widened, his heart skipped a beat, and his mouth slightly gaped. And then his lips spread in a mischievous grin.
Clasping his hands behind his back he moved past the officer, speaking quietly to himself, “Today is a good day.”