Fulfilling the Escape Plan
Rey knew things weren’t going according to plan–she could feel it–so she turned her speeder bike in a nosedive toward the city, evading the blaster fire from the TIEs that screamed by overhead.
She needed to find Ben Solo.
When Ben exited the cell he found over two dozen stormtroopers barring his path forward with their blasters trained directly on him. For most, the next most logical action would be to surrender but Ben Solo wasn’t an average man.
He didn’t even hesitate. He charged the troopers, cutting through them with relative ease as he danced among their puny ranks. Leia followed close behind, Force pushing troopers out of the way.
It wasn’t long before they had cleared through the troopers, leaving behind a trail of death in their wake. Leia looked at Ben with wide eyes.
“Your methods are frightening to witness,” she said. “I’m glad you’re not my enemy today.”
She suddenly felt emotional.
“Han would be proud.”
That stopped Ben in his tracks. He looked back at her, a small smile on his face.
The mother and son held hands for a brief moment before continuing on their way. When they exited the shuttle Ben was dismayed to see that his speeder bike had been destroyed. He had wanted to leave the shuttle as quickly as possible to avoid this outcome but he had become…distracted.
Leia looked at what was left of the burning speeder bike before turning to Ben.
“You’re just like your father,” she said with an amused expression. “He too didn’t have the greatest escape plan in mind.”
Ben was frustrated. “I do have a plan. It’s just not going the way I envisioned.”
Just as he said that the undeniable whine of TIE fighter engines resounded through the air. He looked toward the source of the commotion and found Rey zooming toward them at top speed with three TIEs following close behind. The TIEs shot at her, missed, and roared by.
“Rey?” Leia asked.
Rey stopped in front of them and urgently yelled, “Climb on!”
Leia didn’t need to be told twice. She hurried forward, climbing aboard the speeder bike behind Rey with Ben following close behind. The bike clearly wasn’t meant to carry three people but they would have to make it worse.
With Leia and Ben holding on for dear life Rey sent the speeder forward with strong acceleration just as patrol troopers appeared around the corner to apprehend them.
Rey sent the speeder blazing through the traffic, continuing to narrowly avoid the other speeders in an effort to prevent from being caught by the First Order. It also provided much cover from the TIEs overhead, for they weren’t allowed to fire into traffic.
“I’m hoping you have an end to this plan,” Leia said. “Otherwise we’re prolonging our capture.”
“Yes, I do,” Rey said.
She tapped her comlink. “We’re ready,” she said.
Rey suddenly pushed the speeder upward, moving away from the traffic on the streets and through the airway traffic. Now the TIEs were able to attack. They bore down on their speeder bike within seconds, barraging them with a flurry of lasers but Rey was a great driver. She managed to evade the attack but they came close to being nothing more than a memory several times.
The TIEs roared by and Leia released a long breath of relief.
“We’re not going to be lucky again,” she said.
“I agree,” Rey said. She smiled. “But we’ve got back up.”
The TIEs turned around for another go at them and just as they began to shoot two of the TIEs were suddenly reduced to nothing more than fireballs. A second later, the Millennium Falcon appeared from the clouds flying straight toward them.
Leia’s eyes widened. “Luke,” she whispered to herself, for she could feel his presence emanating from the vessel.
As the Falcon pulled alongside them the ship’s ramp opened, revealing none other than Luke Skywalker standing with his metal hand stretched toward them. The harsh gusts of wind sent his light brown cloak and greying brown hair swirling about him but a smile rested on his face.
“Leia,” he called, “take my hand!”
Rey moved the speeder bike as close to the ramp as she could.
“You’re going to have to jump,” Rey told her.
Leia’s head whipped toward Rey. “Are you out of your mind?!”
Ben placed a hand on his mother’s shoulder. “It’s the only way.”
Leia looked at her son, saw his reassuring expression, and nodded.
“Okay, I’ll trust you.”
She carefully moved sideways on the speeder bike, her robe billowing about her as they flew through the sky. She looked down at the city floor which sat thousands of feet beneath her. One wrong move and she would be gone for good.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“You better hurry because I’m spotting a dozen TIEs closing on our position,” Rey announced.
Leia opened her eyes to look into Luke’s green-blue ones.
“I’ll catch you,” he assured her. “All you have to do is trust me.”
And she did. She trusted her brother more than anyone in the world. If she jumped he would catch her. There was no reason to fear. So, she jumped. For a split second, she was flying through the air, the skyscrapers below seemingly reaching toward her like hands wishing to grab her and pull her into an abyss, and then her outstretched hand grasped Luke’s rough one and she was hauled onto the ramp to safety.
She collapsed in her brother’s arms with pure relief.
“Luke,” she said, holding him tightly.
“Leia,” he responded quietly.
For so many years they had been apart but now they were finally back together and Leia didn’t want to ever lose this feeling again.
Next, it was Ben’s turn to jump.
He stood as best he could on the side of the bike, gripping Rey’s shoulder as he strived for balance. He could see the TIEs coming and knew he had to jump soon before both he and Rey were shot from the sky.
With ease, he jumped onto the ramp before whirling to look at Rey. His heart pounded in his chest as he watched her about to attempt the most dangerous sky jump of them all, for she had to keep the speeder bike level with the ramp until the very last second before jumping to be caught. And the danger was accentuated with the impending threat of the TIE fighters bearing down on them.
As he gazed at her he found himself more worried than ever. So many things could go wrong and if there was even so much as a small mistake Rey would be gone forever. He didn’t know if he would be able to handle that.
He held onto the ramp, watching breathlessly as she turned sideways on the bike, still holding onto the handlebars of the vehicle.
Rey locked eyes with Ben and there was an unspoken moment between them that sealed the fact that he was going to catch her no matter what.
As she let go of the handlebars a TIE appeared from beneath them and shot the bike right out from under Rey just as she jumped.
“Rey!” Ben yelled, reaching toward her.
Rey screamed as she felt herself falling for a split second and then suddenly she was suspended in midair. She looked and found Ben’s hand outstretched to hers, his face straining with concentration.
He used the Force to pull her toward him and as their hands touched he pulled her onto the ramp which Leia quickly closed as she realized Rey was okay.
Ben and Rey stood still for a small moment as they held each other in the dark space. For a split moment, the worst had almost happened and the relief that they felt left them immobile. That is until Luke tapped Ben’s shoulder.
“We’re not out of this yet,” he told them.
Rey quickly ended the embrace, hurriedly moving past Luke to run to the cockpit where she found Chewbacca steering the Falcon away from the onslaught of TIEs approaching them. She jumped into the seat alongside him, immediately transferring maximum power to the rear shields.
Chewbacca growled and Rey nodded.
“Yeah, we need to get out of here fast,” she said.
Ben, Luke, and Leia joined them in the cockpit. Rey looked back at them.
“Master Skywalker, Ben, I need you at the gunners,” she said.
They nodded, immediately heading off to follow her orders. Leia stared out of the window before them as the clouds surrounding them were lit with intermittent green bursts as TIE fighters shot at them.
“How did you get through the shield?” Leia asked in bewilderment.
“Ben’s learned a few tricks from Han Solo,” Rey said. “Obviously if you time it correctly you can come out of hyperspace into a planet, surpassing the shields.”
Leia shook her head. ‘That definitely sounds like something Han would do.”
Chewbacca agreed with a nod and a quiet growl. They moved through the clouds towards the planet’s hemisphere. Leia noticed with joy as she watched the TIEs chasing them efficiently destroyed as Ben and Luke picked them off one by one.
She sat back into a chair, gazing at the sky with relief, for at that moment she truly felt a feeling of safety, a luxury she hadn’t been afforded since the Rebellion’s victory in the Battle of Endor.
Rey spoke, snapping her out of her daydream. “Preparing for hyperspace in three, two, one.”
Rey pushed the lever forward and they zoomed into hyperspace. As Leia gazed at the blue streaks racing by her eyes closed and she found herself at such peace she fell asleep.
Supreme Leader Hux and Captain Phasma stood in a conference room with several senators that were either promoted by the First Order or pledged to the faction’s rule.
Phasma stood silently like a chrome warrior, emanating power just from her stance. General Hux, however, was arguing vehemently with a representative from Coruscant who didn’t want the planet to become a shipyard for the First Order’s crafts.
“Coruscant has thrived for years as an essential place of power in the galaxy,” the representative–a young red-haired woman wrapped in dark blue robes bedazzled with shimmering jewels–continued. “It was home to the Republic, the Jedi Order, and the Empire. I will not have its legacy defouled by your tyrannic ambitions!”
Supreme Leader Hux, who looked rather dapper in his perfectly tailored black suit adorned with a simple red and black insignia of the First Order, regarded her with a dissatisfied snarl. “The First Order will help your world. If you defy us you will suffer.” He leaned against the table. “I shouldn’t have to remind you what happened to Naboo.”
The Coruscant representative blanched at the threat, for Naboo had been reduced to a mere shell of itself, performing as a planetwide prison for the First Order.
“You will not scare me into accepting your plan,” she said quietly.
“Then we’re done here,” Hux said, nodding at a guard who then escorted the woman out of the room.
Phasma looked at Hux with disgust. If it had been her call she would’ve had the woman killed right where she stood. It would have scared everyone in the room into submission and Coruscant would be under First Order rule within the hour. But Hux was weaker than she would ever be, meaning she would have to deal with his feeble ways as a leader.
She turned to a tall dark-skinned man who stood like a graceful warrior, clothed in the native green and brown armor of his planet, Maris Sutorn, and wielding a spear tipped with wooden beads. His name was Prime Minister Gwarzan Zinobu.
“The province of Maris Sutorn is proud to be under First Order rule and we are thankful for your protection from the Black Sun syndicate,” he said, his voice heavily-accented.
Phasma was about to speak when a courier ran into the room, stopping before Phasma and Hux breathlessly.
“Speak,” Phasma ordered sternly.
The courier, a teenage boy with fair hair and skin, gasped, “General Leia Organa has escaped her imprisonment.”
Hux slammed his hand on the table. “What?!”
Phasma’s jaw clenched. She knew they should’ve ended the Resistance general’s life a long time ago but Hux wanted to gloat in the fact that he had the general in his possession. Now she was gone.
“It’s been reported Kylo Ren helped the general escape captivity,” the courier continued.
“Traitor,” Phasma muttered under her breath.
“There’s more,” the courier said.
Hux sighed. “Don’t tell me it’s worse news.”
The teenager nodded. “There’s been an uprising on Maris Sutorn.”
Phasma’s head whipped to the dark-skinned man. She pulled her blaster on him, causing a shocked ripple to reverberate through the room. “Is this your plan? To sweet talk us in person while your warriors claim war on our armies?”
The dark-skinned man pointed his spear at her. “Do not accuse me of treachery,” he said. “I have no recollection of a disturbance within my people.”
“It is not the warriors of Maris Sutorn that are causing the ruckus,” the courier interjected. “The stormtroopers have started this rebellion.”
Hux and Phasma looked at each other. There was only one person who could cause dissent within the First Order’s ranks.
In unison, they uttered a single name, “FN-2187.”