Welp, I haven’t touched this in many months. For anyone first reading this post, this is my attempt to rewrite the sequel trilogy (and this idea began before TLJ came out, though I will admit that the controversy surrounding it has helped me to push forward with the story). Anyway, I’ve managed to write some more chapters and I’ll see if I can post more later on. For now, let me know what you think of chapter 1. I hope it’s at least interesting (in a good way).
“Fear is like a double-edged sword,” Rey remembered her master say in his deep and commanding voice. “Fear can drive people to paranoia, creating distrust and chaos. To let it win over you proves that you are weak. To survive, you must conquer your fear and make it your weapon. By proving you can face it, by inflicting it on your enemies, will you gain true power.”
“Like that’s helpful here,” Rey said sarcastically while she floated down what used to be the corridor of an Imperial Star Destroyer.
The comfort of her white spacesuit protected Rey from the harsh vacuum, not from everything else. An empty Star Destroyer was the last place anyone would want be in, save for a smuggler hiding from local authorities or a scavenger scouring for spare parts. It had no gravity, no power whatsoever, not to mention the lingering bodies and debris. It was, in every sense of the word, dead.
Rey breathed more the glass of her helmet. Floating all over were the bodies of officers and Stormtroopers from the waning days of the Empire. Their bodies were maimed by old blaster marks, some torn to pieces, others bent in unnatural ways.
‘There’s nothing to fear. They’re dead. They won’t harm you,’ Rey told herself, trying not to make eye contact with the corpses’ ghastly faces. She had to keep calm, she had to focus.
So, Rey closed her eyes and stretched out. She heard the quiet air once filled with marching boots and felt the buzz of electrical currents in old machinery. Rey searched through the old corridors, brushing up against the cold corpses and the slight sting of heated ozone against the walls.
Following her senses, Rey propelled her feet off the wall and floated forwards. Making great care not to disturb the dead, she reached the end of the corridor and made a left into another. She continued onwards until she finally saw it. A simple doorway, rectangular in shape and with what used to a number of locks that would open up. In its center was a gaping hole that Rey squeezed herself through.
“The Empire certainly loved their ships,” she commented upon entering the bridge.
As Rey went past the bridge’s lone communications console, she saw the walkway leading up to the shattered window where the ship’s commanding officer would wait and observe a battle. Down below were small pits where the lower ranking officers would relay commands from their terminals. It was a simple, utilitarian design that preferred efficiency and an establishment of command. No wonder the First Order adapted the design into their own ships.
Another push off the floor, and Rey gently glided over the bridge’s scorched walkway. It felt dead here as it did everywhere else. Any corpses were likely sucked out into space, or the rest ran from the bridge before succumbing to their inevitable fate.
There was something else, though. Rey put a hand to the bridge and stopped herself. Her eyes darted around for anything out of place.
Then, something came up from behind. A pair of arms wrapped around Rey, squeezing her into a tight lock before she could slip away. “I got her!” her attacker shouted through the communication systems.
Struggling in her captor’s arms, Rey saw two more figures in white plasteel armor coming out of hiding. First Order Stormtroopers, and so was her captor, Rey guessed. The two in front stared with their black lenses and tear-like lines that ran down their helmets. “Huh, this was too easy,” one, a woman, said.
“Careful, you know what she is,” cautioned the other, a taller, male trooper. “Who knows what she can pull on us.”
The trooper holding Rey said, “Uh, sir. I can’t hold her for much longer.”
“I have this,” the male Stormtrooper in front said.
Rey’s eyes widen when the trooper raised his chrome and white blaster rifle. Time slowed as the trooper slowly pulled his finger on the trigger. Rey closed her eyes, falling into the Force for something, anything that could help. What she received was her master’s voice scolding her.
“What are you waiting for? Attack!”
Rey swung her head back into the face of the Stormtrooper holding her. He cried out in pain as he let go. Freeing herself, Rey kicked off the Stormtrooper with both feet and flew to the two in front.
“She’s loose!” the female trooper shouted.
The other one aimed. Flying forward, Rey kicked the rifle out of the trooper’s hands and grabbed it. The man was knocked out by a stun blast, having no time to even make a sound. The female Stormtrooper quickly drew her rifle. Rey was quicker, and two of her would-be captors were unconscious.
Rey whirled around at the final Stormtrooper, the one who tried to grab her. “Don’t shoot!” begged the last man, who raised his arms in surrender.
For a full second, Rey froze. She felt a wave of fear from the Stormtrooper and pondered on her choices. The trooper had assaulted her, but at her mercy, he was nothing more than a sniveling coward. Not even worth the effort.
A second later, Rey started to lower the blaster.
A warning flared in the Force, and Rey saw it. The trooper reached for his blaster. He fired-
-and Rey ducked and fired back in righteous anger. The last Stormtrooper, too late to realize his mistake, floated aimlessly with his comrades.
Slowly rising to her full height, Rey could not help but notice how everything was oddly quiet. Through her dulled senses, she only felt a slight shiver of running down her back.
Then, the comm in her helmet chimed, and a voice came through it. “Apprentice, report,” it said.
Pressing the button oh her helm, Rey answered it. “Training complete, master. All Stormtroopers incapacitated.”
There was a short pause on the other end, and the voice said, “Return to base, at once. We will discuss your performance when you come back.”
Rey frowned. She knew that tone well enough to know what it meant: she had not passed. At least, not her master’s expectations, and that meant she was in for quite the lecture, or worse. Conceding to her fate, Rey gave a meager reply. “… Yes, master.”
Starkiller Base looked beautiful and frightening at the same time. Instead of a base built on a planet, the planet itself was practically sculpted into a base. From orbit, it still retained its swirling clouds and green land masses, but the most disbursing thing was giant man-made indent, with a large ring in the center that glowed like an erupting volcano. On the planet itself, it was always winter, the terrain covered in snow-capped mountains and forests, and little sunlight that made it past the clouds.
After the shuttle had landed, Rey quickly stepped off the boarding ramp and planted her two feet on the pristine floor with a satisfying thud. She welcomed the cold draft coming inside the landing bay, closing her eyes and letting it brisk through her braided brown hair. Unlike the hard and uncaring vacuum of space, the cold on Starkiller Base was smooth and calm.
It was cut short when Rey heard, “Ma’am.” It was another Stormtrooper, who walked onto the pad. “Knight Ren is awaiting you in the main communications chamber.”
Rey eyed the giant man-made chasm in front of her. She tried not to sigh, moreso when she saw a pair of medics carrying out each of the three Stormtroopers Rey had knocked out. Reminded of her impending doom, Rey nodded to the trooper in front, and her boots left hollow echoes on her way to her master.
After leaving the hangar bay, Rey found herself in a crisscross of corridors and halls. They were part of Starkiller Base that went deep into the planet and made it more suitable for harboring soldiers, weapons, and so on. It was easy to get lost without memorizing the necessary pathways, which Rey had done so often in the past. She did not want to ask for directions, not when she already displeased her superiors.
Still, Rey, wearing a black and sleeveless tunic, easily stood out from the white-clad Stormtroopers. To say she received some stares was an understatement. Rey wanted snap at those troopers eying her and remind them of their place, but only superior officers and Knights of Ren could do that.
‘You’re not there yet,’ Rey reminded herself just as she arrived at her destination.
The door in front of Rey was larger than most doors, even if it had the same box-like arch as most did. A cold shiver ran through Rey’s body from the presences she felt. She continued on anyway, and the door slid open.
Darkness first greeted Rey. Her own footsteps echoed off the transparisteel floor while her eyes adjusted to her surroundings. The only source of light came from the ceiling and shone on a lone spot, where Rey’s audience stood in wait. Entering the chamber, Rey could hear voices. They were distant, and almost electronic, but the subject of their conversation was all too obvious.
“… too hesitant, too…”
“… weak in the Force…”
“… lacks any real strength…”
With a restrained frown, Rey continued through the darkness. The closer she came, the more noticeable were figures in the light, they in black uniforms and round helmets designating them as Knights of Ren. Their figures shifted slightly, like ghosts, but their voices were clear.
“Against a real foe, she would…”
“… why train her anymore?”
A voice cut through them all, and it belonged to the only person not shifting in place. “You underestimate her potential.”
Rey, still in the shadows, stopped and eyed her master. Xa-re Ren, dressed in a long tunic, clasped his armored gloves behind his back. His helmet, black and round like all the others’, turned to his fellow knights. “She can be capable of great things,” Xa-re continued. “And yet you put these setbacks upon her. She had passed her test and defeat all the Stormtroopers, correct?”
“But she failed to sense those troopers, and those were just three,” said another Knight, Delray Ren, who clasped his staff. “She is weak, Xa-re!”
“Perhaps, but you forget, Lord Vader started out weak.”
“And you forget Lord Vader’s power was unlike anything the old Jedi had seen!” argued another, a large figure with a machete-like blade, whose name escaped Rey.
Before another argument broke out, a gloved hand rose and the entire group fell silent. That raised hand belonged to Kalra Ren, acting master of the Knights of Ren. At the head of the circle, she stood like a dark monolith on Coruscant, clothed in long, black robes. Her voice was a melodious as the hum of a lightsaber and just as threatening.
“Everyone, you all bring many good points. But this discussion only delays our plans, and we need more members. Xa-re may continue to train his student…” Kalra said, her face visor on Xa-re, “… for now.”
“Thank you,” Xa-re said with a bow to Kalra Ren.
“Until the next time, you all know what to do,” Kalra said to everyone. “May the spirit of Lord Vader guide us.”
“May the spirit of Lord Vader guide us,” the others repeated in unison.
Then, the connection ended, and one by one, the Knights of Ren’s holograms disappeared from the holopad. All but Xa-re, who sighed and stood there for a long second. “You should have spoken up while they were still here, Rey,” Xa-re called out as he turned to face his pupil.
Rey almost gulped when Xa-re’s slit-like visor stared straight at her. “Come forward,” he commanded.
For a moment, Rey did not move. When she did, her steps were slow and awkward. A part of her wanted to keep still and avoid what punishment her master had in mind, a part Rey tried to silence. ‘Come on, you’re not a little girl anymore!’ she chided herself.
After a bit of deliberation, she forced herself into the light. Xa-re took a couple steps forward until he stood over Rey, casting a small shadow over her. “It’s difficult defending you in front of the others,” he said with a tinge of impatience. “I’m sure I don’t have to repeat what many of them said.”
“I’m sorry, master,” Rey said quietly, trying to avoid eye contact.
“Do you know why I did so?” Rey shook her head and awaited her mentor’s berating. “Because your failure wasn’t your strength, or your inability to sense your enemy. Given the circumstances, you did well enough.”
Now, Rey looked at her mentor. “I did?”
“Yes, save for the end. Do you know what happened?” Xa-re said. Rey said or did nothing, so he continued, “You hesitated. You had a chance to shoot that man, but you didn’t.”
Rey opened her mouth to say something. She closed it, trying to think of an answer. But what could she say?
Any words froze as Rey stared at the black emitter of a lightsaber. The light dangerously gleamed off the cylindrical frame and trailed down to the end. Grasping the saber, Xa-re spoke again.
“I can push the switch if I choose so.” To prove his point, he gently placed his thumb atop the activator switch and coldly asked, “If I deemed you a threat to the First Order, what would I do?”
“You… you would push the switch,” Rey managed to say with baited breath.
Xa-re lowered his unlit saber, to Rey’s relief. “Very good. At least, you have learned that much.”
A look of shame crept up Rey’s face. Every time she had failed a lesson, which she tried to limit, Rey had that same expression. Xa-re, seeing it, continued, “Rey, understand that why you hesitated isn’t important. The fact is that you did. You cannot afford to make that mistake again, otherwise it will cost you.”
Rey remained quiet as she took in this new information. Xa-re stood there, his emotionless mask staring down at her for a long moment. Then, he said, “Head to your quarters, and rest for an hour. Then, we’ll be going…”
Before Rey knew it, her master already left her in the light. Watching him leave, Rey echoed, “‘Going?’”
“For a hike,” Xa-re answered, and Rey immediately regretted asking.
A hike, by Xa-re Ren’s standards, was not as pleasant as anyone would think. It was a training exercise involving a long walk on top the mountains on Starkiller Base’s surface, and this particular mountain barely had any trees on its many rocky paths. Rey, instructed to wear her dark tunic, shivered from the cold. She rubbed her hands on her bare arms and kept her legs moving on the mountain path, so they would not grow stiff.
Through the howl of the wind, Rey heard, “I’m waiting!”
Rey looked up. Xa-re Ren stood at the mountaintop, his own long tunic flapping into the wind. He was unmoving, and while he wore a mask, Rey knew he glaring at her with impatience. She hurried as fast as she could and trudged through patches of ice and the wind nipping at her skin.
By the time Rey reached the top, she let herself collapse on her knees. Her master was still standing there, glaring down at her. “Get up,” Xa-re commanded, his voice strangely calm.
“I-i-is t-there m-more w-w-walking?” Rey asked through chattering teeth.
“No, but you’d probably feel better next to the fire than here,” he explained coyly as he gestured toward a small campfire. No doubt, Xa-re made it while he was waiting.
Rey wasted no time and crawled to the fire on her knees. She held out her hands to the flames and took in their soothing warmth. The snow Rey had gathered began to melt away. The way the fire sizzled and popped sounded so calm against the harsh winds, but they could not drown out her master’s footsteps.
Rey glanced to Xa-re standing across the fire. “You’re fortunate the other Knights did not expel you right then and there,” Xa-re spoke with a small gruffness, which made Rey look back at the flames, the shame of before still fresh. “There is no one else here, Rey. You may speak your mind,” he assured.
Rey hesitated for a moment, then she said, “I understand what I did wrong, but…”
“… I don’t know why it is such a big mistake. The man had surrendered.”
“Only to trick you,” Xa-re retorted stoically. “Take this fire here. Comfortable, yes?”
Rey nodded, and Xa-re’s boot kicked at the burning wood. The flames were doused and extinguished by the snow. As her hopes for warmth faded away in the smoky trails, Rey tried not to glare at her mentor.
“One the many lessons you’ll learn,” Xa-re told her. “In this galaxy, there are only people who will take from you and never give back… Think of that trooper you spared. Imagine if he was a criminal or a rebel. He would have done anything to ensure his own survival. That includes killing you.”
“Perhaps, the others think that’s for the best,” Rey thought bitterly on the Knights of Ren’s words. She soon realized, and regretted, what she said out loud.
“You underestimate your importance,” Xa-re said as he looked up. “Tell me what do you see.”
Rey obeyed and looked at the night sky above. “Stars,” her mouth said, but her mind had the true answer: freedom. She barely left Starkiller Base in years and even when she did, it was not very far from its orbit. She wanted to see the other worlds out there, explore them for the First Order to take, but that was only in her dreams…
“Yes,” Xa-re agreed mirthfully, however muffled it sounded. “Once, we were an empire that ruled all those stars. It spread across the galaxy with a fleet no one could challenge.”
“That was before the rebellion,” Rey interjected as she wondered why she was being told this. She already read it all from the old Imperial archives.
Xa-re looked back down, his visor seemingly dull. “Yes. Now, the rebellion calls itself a republic, a democracy for all to enjoy,” he went on with an over amount of sarcasm, something Rey rarely heard. “But the reality is that nothing has changed. There has been no drop in crime, no end to the carnage. Nothing… It would be funny if it wasn’t tragic.”
“… I still don’t understand,” Rey murmured. “What does this have to do with me?”
Xa-re said nothing. He gestured Rey to come closer, and she did. She stood by her master’s side for several seconds. There were only snow and mountains. Just as barren as the cold.
Then, Rey saw it. For a second, she thought her mind was playing games. That thought was proven false as rays of light came over the horizon.
On Starkiller Base, the thick clouds allowed little sunlight to come through. However, there were few moments where enough light could make the whole planet shine, or so Rey had heard. Now, as twilight approached, right before Rey’s eyes, a great glow fell upon Starkiller Base’s white-clad surface, turning sludgy patches into shining white snow and barren mountains into vast valleys.
That was not all. The great chasm of Starkiller Base’s trench stretched across the white plains, dividing the land in two. Instead of birds or flying critters, TIE fighters and other vessels came to and from the various hangars and platforms embedded into the mountains. From where Rey stood, the life essence of everyone on the planet flooded her mind. She only returned to reality when Xa-re spoke again.
“That right there is what is left. It may be small, but one day, it will cover star systems.” Xa-re faced Rey, his hands behind his back like always. “The First Order is the heir to the Empire. It is meant to return stability to the galaxy, but there will be those who will try to stop that from happening. If they find this place, years of hard work could be ruined in mere moments.”
“But what of the Knights of Ren? They can hide this place, even from the Jedi, right?” Rey inquired.
“Yes, but that’s not all who we are. We were formed to lead the First Order, to make sure those with the Force can deliver order and peace with a just hand. And all of that down there is our responsibility,” Xa-re said, pointing a hand at the First Order installations.
Xa-re paused and put a hand on Rey’s shoulder, surprising the young woman. “If you wish to become one of us, you must be willing to do whatever’s necessary for the First Order… through any means or sacrifice, no matter how questionable it may be. Do you understand?”
Rey met Xa’re’s visor. For an instant, behind the mask that once scared her as a child, the tint of gray eyes gently gleamed with certainty. In those eyes, Rey saw calm and understanding. Slowly and truthfully, she answered, “I… I understand, Master Xa-re.”
“Very good.” Pleased, Xa-re put his hand behind his back. “Now, prepare your things. You will need to be ready for your first mission.”
Rey could not believe it. Her first mission, already? “All the information you need will be sent to your datapad,” Xa-re continued. “You’re to depart immediately after packing your things.”
“Yes, my master,” Rey nodded her head before she turned to leave.
Turning back around, Rey caught something that Xa-re tossed to her. Her hands carefully traced the object, and her widened eyes went back to her master. “Use it well,” was all he said.
Again, Rey nodded. With her new gift in hand, she went back down the mountain, feeling she could take on the whole galaxy.