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Nev's Episode IX Reimagined

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In light of the fairly pitiful Rise of Skywalker and the interesting but flawed Duel of the Fates script that has leaked online, I thought it would be fun to have another look at how this trilogy could have been resolved. I’ve pulled ideas from both scripts but much of the story is quite different. For the sake of brevity it is presented in summary form with specific dialogue only in critical scenes.

Enjoy!

STAR WARS EPISODE IX

ACT I

Trash floats through the vacuum of space into the distance. The outline of a giant hatchway comes into view, outlined against the starfield. A small, ugly craft appears suddenly as if from thin air, then creeps into the hatchway as it begins to close, and as it snaps shut the stars turn into starlines as the Star Destroyer jumps to hyperspace.

The small ship lands in the grimy interior of the garbage bay and a hatch slides open. BB-8 rolls out, disguised as a First Order tactical droid, followed by Finn in Stormtrooper armor and Rose in a rough and ready First Order uniform. After quipping about the existence and danger of Dianogas they get to work, BB-8 and Finn heading for the crew and bridge sections, Rose descending into the engine bays with a variety of small electronic devices connected to binary beacons. Arriving at the intersection between the bridge and crew quarters, Finn and BB-8 split up, Finn to crew, BB-8 to the bridge. As he marches down the hallway, a unit of Stormtroopers pass headed by a glowering Kylo Ren. Finn quickly turns the corner out of sight, but Kylo whirls around and glares behind him, the troopers stumbling to a stop. Gathering himself, he marches on to the bridge. As the captain rises to greet him, he throws the hapless soul into the window and begins ranting about his lack of support in the battle. The captain sputters about ship malfunctions and crew morale, but Kylo doesn’t want to hear it. What peeves him most is the fact that the Resistance seems to be able to predict his every move. The officers mutter behind his back of rumors that Kylo believes Luke is orchestrating these failures from beyond the grave.

Finn and BB-8 return to the garbage dump. Finn has updated the trooper’s information and procedure manuals with some choice history of the Galactic Empire and the Jedi, and BB-8 has gathered from the computers the fleet’s next destination. Finn sends this info down the line to the Resistance. Sabotaging Kylo’s ship was the most dangerous of their missions, which is why it was their last, but they seem to have pulled it off. The last Resistance hyperspace relay is placed on the floor of the garbage dump, awaiting its ejection at the site of the next place of unrest in the galaxy. Rose is still unaccounted for, however. Finn’s communicator crackles, telling him that there’s a problem. They leave for the engine rooms.

On Coruscant, Hux reviews the losses and Kylo’s final report. Thrawn stands behind him. He denigrates Kylo’s tactics as unbecoming of a Supreme Leader, bemoaning the state of the First Order with an unbalanced Skywalker at its helm. Thrawn comments on the frivolous waste of chasing down the Resistance as he has singlehandedly won the core worlds for the First Order.

They walk the halls of the First Order palace, coming to a room off-limits to anyone but Kylo. Thrawn nevertheless has the codes, and they enter Kylo’s sanctuary. Here are his artifacts, his broken mask which has been welded together, Vader’s mask, broken lightsabers and old Kyber crystals, Sith paraphernalia. Thrawn approaches Kylo’s mask. He remarks upon how Kylo himself broke the mask and had it remade, and how curious it was that one so eager to destroy finds it difficult to actually take action. He claims that Kylo is in fact governed by his legacy to such an extent that he is unable to move beyond it. He tells Hux that the First Order knows very well where Leia is hiding, directing all these uprisings, but Kylo refuses to destroy her because of his conflicted soul. He urges Hux to take action, to do that which he has wanted to do since the beginning, that someone fighting on the front lines is susceptible to…accidents. With Kylo out of the way, Thrawn would be under Hux’s control, and would gladly end this insurrection. It is Leia who keeps the legend of Luke alive, Thrawn says, and to kill her is to kill the Resistance. Hux asks of the girl who is so important to Kylo, and what threat she poses. Thrawn pauses beside a collection of curious artifacts – the helmet of a Rebel pilot, a small potted flower clinging to life, a stuffed Rebel fighter doll – and says that she is nobody, capable of inspiring no armies, no resistance to their will, Force or not. For the Force is a distraction from real power, the power to rule galaxies.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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Thrawn! Wasn’t expecting him. Honestly when they introduced Allegiant General Pryde I felt Thrawn would’ve fit his role well. It is a really nice touch to have Thrawn go through Kylo’s collection and psychoanalyze him.

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Thanks! I feel like the First Order has been in desperate need of a cool-headed villain from the beginning, and Thrawn seems to fit well.

Updated the first scene btw.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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 (Edited)

Updated the first scenes slightly. Now to continue:

Early morning sunlight casts a slight glow on the cavernous floor of the great stone hall. On its marble steps, C-3PO sits, on his lap a tome of Jedi learning. Rey lies against him in sleep. Threepio finishes translating the final chapter and closes the book, then turns to Rey and realizes that she’s been asleep for some time. Chewie walks down the empty room and roars a greeting. Rey awakens and tells Threepio not to worry, she’ll have him read the final chapter to her again later.

Rey and company move through the old tunnels of the Yavin base, stirrings of activity around them. A dozen ships from the latest sortie against Kylo’s fleet have returned at dawn, and techs rush to refuel and recharge them. Rey meets up with Poe, who is parsing information from multiple channels. They talk progress. Poe is pleased that they are forming a hypernetwork of sympathetic worlds, but their strategy is fragile. They are having to send practically all their forces to combat the next First Order repression each time one springs up, and all at a moment’s notice. They have been able to drive off the First Order only through the skin of their teeth in each battle, and a single defeat could be their end. But they are making progress. Soon they will have enough free worlds to challenge the First Order on even terms. Rey worries about this inevitable confrontation. She says to Poe that without a dramatic return of the Jedi to the galaxy another vast civil war is inevitable, and she cannot do it alone. Poe says that he always deferred to Leia on that front, that she believed that hope would get them through. Poe is not so optimistic.

Rey goes to Leia with the texts, Threepio in tow, and tells her that she still feels unworthy and has no faith that the Jedi can triumph. She holds the books out to the general, but Leia doesn’t turn from where she is, standing on the stone roof of the temple overlooking the jungle. Rey makes as if to go, but then Leia sweeps her into an embrace, telling her not to be ashamed of who she is. Rey leaves Threepio with Leia but takes the books back. On her way back to the command center the klaxons blare, and she leaves the books in Leia’s quarters.

They have the location of the next First Order attack, a large assault which Leia says must be met with the Resistance’s full force. Everyone who can be of use in battle boards a fighter. The Resistance is a well-oiled machine, with new pilots stepping in to refresh those who just returned. Poe uses R2 in his X-wing in leu of BB-8. Threepio arrives on the Falcon, saying that Leia sent him to narrate the final chapter of the Jedi texts to her on the way. As the ships fly away, Leia looks from a deserted temple at the departing vessels, a collection of blockade runners and small fighters.

Kylo stands on the bridge gazing out at the curve of the planet before him. The captain updates him with relevant information and asks how he will aid the beleaguered First Order forces on the ground, whether he will go himself or allow his officers to assist. Kylo decides that he will settle for evacuating their ground forces and immediately leave the planet. He does not trust his ships or his crew and tells them to set a course for the nearest shipyard, then to open a channel to the leader of this insurrection to bargain for the release of his troops.

In the engine room, Rose sees the linakges move from sublight drive to Hyperdrive and she shouts to Finn about their ship in the garbage bay. She orders him and BB-8 to head for it and abandon her. Finn shouts that she’s being suicidal, and this is an enemy ship after all. She will not abandon her task, though most of the explosives are deactivated, so Finn clambers up, throwing away his armor, and pulls her bodily onto him. She demands he put her down, and he just mutters something about saving what he loves and takes off to their ship. However, they are too late. The engines explode. On the ground below, Resistance fighters cheer as the lead Destroyer spouts explosions and debris from its port engine block.

On the bridge, all is chaos. The ship lists drunkenly as the power fails and the curve of the planet fills the windows of the bridge. Only Kylo keeps his footing, holding onto mystical energy in the empty air. There are shouts that the ship is doomed, and officers stumble towards escape pods. Kylo makes no move to escape, but instead mutters ‘Luke’. He places his hand before him, as if to push the colossal mass of the ship away from the planet with Force alone. There is no effect.

Captains of the other vessels try to establish tractor locks on the lead destroyer, but the ship is too large and already falling too fast. At this moment the Resistance fleet appears out of hyperspace.

Rose, Finn, and BB-8 dash to the hangar for hope of a flyable ship, but they quickly realize that they will have no time to reach the hangars before the ship crashes. Their only hope lies in the small bay behind the bridge with the Captain’s shuttles and escape pods.

Poe leads the fighter attack on the Star Destroyers, R2 beeping to him about the disabled Destroyer. Poe says that he sees it and figures that the Resistance on the ground must have gotten a lucky shot with some powerful artillery. He orders the fleet to target a single Destroyer and activates Rose’s own sabotage devices. Their plan is to disable at least one of the ships.
In the Falcon, Rey senses that Kylo and their friends are all aboard the crashing ship, and to get there as fast as they can. Chewie roars and Threepio translates that it’s impossible to get there in time, and even worse, the odds of survival are too small to measure.

On the bridge, Kylo remains immovable as the ship careens through the atmosphere, flames licking along the great surface of its arrowhead prow. Behind him in the hallways, the three friends rush to the hangar to see the ships smashed against the walls and one another. The ship rocks like a wild thing, and all are flung across the floor. They fly down the hallways into the bridge, coming to a stop against the main viewscreens. Kylo sees them, understands. He throws them back against the far wall with the Force, one hand extended to them, the other still facing forward at the oncoming planet. The windows shatter with the heat, which licks at Kylo’s clothes and burns away his cloak. Mountain ranges emerge from the clouds and still Kylo stands, and then the impact. The forward section of the Destroyer crumples against the mountains, pieces shorn off by jagged peaks. The noise is absolute, a rending and tearing and still Kylo stands, slowing their descent and holding them in place until the last moment when everything gives way and falls into darkness.

Leia stares out at the sky above the temple, doom above her in the form of Thrawn’s personal fleet. She readies herself for this fate she has long foreseen.

Kylo blinks in the brightness. Over him stands Finn, battered and bruised but otherwise uninjured. Kylo looks down at where he is laying. He is on the scorched outer hull of the Destroyer, the crumpled bridge far above and behind him. A streak of blood shows his journey out of the broken windows of the bridge and he sees that he is missing several limbs. The left ones, to be specific. Blood gushes from his wounds. He looks again at Finn, and sees he is holding his own red saber. ‘Go ahead, do it.’ He says to the traitor. He lacks the strength to lift a finger, much less a hand to stop him.

An officer salutes the red-eyed alien at the helm of the Destroyer, giving him confirmation of the successful sabotage. Hux’s hologram comes on the viewscreen, giving him permission as Supreme Leader to commence the attack. A single green bolt of energy strikes down at the temple.

Finn smiles grimly, activating the saber, and strikes true.

As the Falcon emerges from the clouds above the wreck Rey screams, clutching her head, and falls unconscious upon the controls.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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Haha, I love the imagery of Rey falling asleep while listening to 3PO read the Jedi texts. Also like Kylo holding steady while the other officers slide across the bridge. This scene makes me think of Anakin trying to pilot the Invisible Hand to the surface of Coruscant.

I will say the image of Kylo missing both his left arm and left leg feels pretty dark! I guess Anakin losing three limbs at once was pretty dark too, but those wounds were cauterized at least.

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Kylo must suffer, and suffer greatly, if he is to be eventually redeemed in the eyes of the audience. And he isn’t done suffering, not in my version. 😉

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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Cool, I like what you’ve written so far! Looking forward to where it goes next!

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 (Edited)

I decided to slow this part down and actually write the dialogue, since it seems important:

The squawk of the jeweled plume dragons outside his window pulls Kylo from sleep. He feels…fine. Better than fine in fact. Kylo stretches his arms and sits up, looking out the window of his old house on Aquilae. The Falcon sits on the flagstones in front of the house, and just beyond the edge of the window he can see the nose of an X-wing with a distinctive paint job. ‘Uncle…?’ he says to himself, remembering the day he left for Luke’s academy. Sounds of laughter drift up from downstairs. Kylo eases out of bed and stands. This is his room, just as he remembers it. Color holograms of famous Jedi festoon the walls, Sleek model ships overflow from a cargo container in the corner, and a furred Garbol rolls about in its terrarium beside his bed. He investigates the Garbol. It’s just as he remembers, but then, his Garbol died years ago. He leaves the room and descends the stairs to the living quarters, as slowly and as quietly as possible. He knows who it will be before he reaches the room, the mixing of Han’s low murmur and his uncle’s high-pitched laughter forming an audial contrapposto ingrained in his deepest memories. It has been a long time since he has heard that easy laugh from his uncle.

At the foot of the stairs he stops, as does the conversation. Han’s expression is unreadable, but Luke seems bemused. ‘Ben? What are you doing here?’ It’s Kylo’s turn to be confused. ‘You don’t know?’ Luke shrugs noncommittally. ‘So I haven’t gotten around to checking up yet. Time just flies…’ He motions to his surroundings, Han, the entire universe. A shriek of happiness erupts from something outside the house. Kylo glances up. ‘Is that Aki?’ Han nods. ‘Sure seems happy to see someone.’ Luke looks between father and son. ‘I’ll go see who it is.’ He leaves in a swoosh of Jedi robes and beard. Kylo stares at his father. ‘You’re really here.’ Han nods. ‘I think Luke was as surprised as anyone when he got here. I’ve been telling him to go back and check up on everyone, it’s the only way I get any news.’ Kylo looks down, shame and regret threatening to overwhelm him. ‘Hey, kid.’ Han places a hand on his shoulder. ‘It’s slag in the incinerator.’ Kylo turns away, trying to blot out this place and its memories. Han pulls him back to face his father. ‘Ben. We all have regrets. People we weren’t there for, people we loved. But…it’s something Luke said…maybe if that Force is strong enough…we might have another chance.’

From across the house a door opens. ‘Hey Han, guess who’s here to visit?’ Han gets up from his seat ‘Leia…’ Kylo turns. There she is, arm around Luke, then running to embrace Han, Aki’s six legs scrabbling against the floor around them. Luke allows them their moment, walking over to Kylo, who is unable to process or accept her presence here. Luke sits beside Kylo, clapping him on the shoulder. ‘I think I will take your advice, Ben, maybe see what’s going on over there.’ He gestures vaguely with his thumb and disappears from Kylo’s side. Kylo shakes himself, turning back to Han and Leia still in the midst of their reunion.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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I have updated the scenes prior to the afterlife slightly. To continue:
Kylo awakens in a First Order medical bay. Surrounding him are, from left to right, Rose, Poe, Finn, Rey, Threepio, and Chewie. Poe says ‘I still think we should kill him again.’ Finn raises Kylo’s saber. Rose and Chewie voice immediate dissent and Rey asks for the saber, which Finn hands over.
They tell Kylo that he’s been nearly dead for several days, and at one point they really thought he was, but during this time Hux has declared himself Supreme Leader and destroyed Leia on Yavin 4. The Resistance managed to disable and commandeer one of Kylo’s ships, at which point the rest of the fleet evacuated. This meant leaving the First Order soldiers on the ground to be taken prisoner. Now every prisoner is being held in the main hangar of the destroyer, and this is the reason our friends need Kylo Ren. They know that Kylo has been forced out of the First Order and his troops are wavering, their loyalty to the Order sorely tested by this attempt on their life. All his soldiers know is that Kylo has put his life on the line for them in every battle, and they will follow him to the death. Rey hands the saber to Kylo, asking him to lead his forces alongside their own. Kylo nods assent. They fit him with a prosthetic arm and leg, and he dresses for the occasion.
On the balcony overlooking the assembled officers and soldiers, Kylo announces that the First Order has betrayed them and is their enemy as well as his. He names Hux and Thrawn specifically as leaders who will suppress all religions of the Force under their fist and in so doing bring disorder to the galaxy. But, he says, the Force is true. As one who was dead and returned to life he has seen the reality of the Force present in all people, not just those of noble blood. Thus he sees that he is not any more worthy of command than another. He bequeaths his saber to Finn, the man who slew Kylo Ren. Henceforth, he wishes to be known only as Ben. Finn takes the saber and the soldiers salute him. He motions this down. His first order to them is to remove their helmets and see their fellows for who they truly are. They fight for the First Order no longer!
END OF ACT I

JEDIT: Obsolete

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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 (Edited)

ACT II. In a cavernous hold on the Star Destroyer lies the Millennium Falcon. Ben sits in the darkened Falcon on the floor beside the game table, hands cradling his head. A Porglet hops out of the nest built in the wiring and waddles over to his side. He makes to push it away with the Force, extending a robotic hand, but the Porglet doesn’t move. He stares at the hand in shock, then tries with his right. There is no response. He struggles with all his might to move a piece of debris on the floor before him, but his efforts are in vain. He lets his hands fall, one with a resounding clunk, and breaks down in tears. The Porglet waddles to his good side and nuzzles him for warmth.
Rey comes onboard and goes past him without noticing him. She rummages through her things and pulls out the broken pieces of Luke’s lightsaber. The shattered halves have been repaired to fit like interlocking puzzle pieces picked out in intricate brass amidst the burnished chrome. Still, the interior of the device fails to connect to itself and she sits in increasing concentration attempting to knit the two halves of the crystal back together. Her frustration boils over, and she roughly tosses the pieces away. One rolls to where Ben sits watching her. She starts, walking opposite him in the curving hallway and retrieving the other piece. She says she didn’t notice him there. Ben motions to her piece and asks what she’s trying to do. When she says that she’s been trying to mend the saber for months, Ben shakes his head. He says that mending a crystal was beyond even Luke’s skill in the Force, and that she should just start over with a new one. She refuses to believe this, but Ben insists that some things just can’t be mended so easily. Picking up on this, she asks what’s wrong, he doesn’t answer, just picks up the Porglet and cups it in his right hand, stroking its feathers with the metal fingers of his left.
Rey asks what the speech was about, the dying and the worth of all people. Ben asks what Rey thinks of this being, indicating the Porglet, and whether it might be as connected to the Force as any person. She thought that was what Luke was trying to teach her when he told about the balance between all things. Ben replies that he heard the same lesson from Luke many times, but realized that he had never really understood until now the meaning underneath. She asks if Ben had seen Luke, and he shoos the Porglet away and replies that he has, and that Han and Leia say Hi as well. Rey’s eyes widen. This wasn’t in the Jedi Texts or any teaching she has heard of. She holds out her broken half of the saber, saying that perhaps together they can mend it. Ben responds that Rey didn’t notice him on her way in. She is confused for a moment, then understands. She didn’t notice him or sense his presence in the Force at all!

JEDIT: Obsolete

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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I loved the “netherworld” scene with Luke, Han and Leia. This, or a flashback, would’ve been a great way to have all three actors on screen together one last time, even if they needed to do a little digital trickery for Leia.

I also like the idea of Kylo/Ben losing his connection to the Force. His might be permanent here, but it would be a great way to bring down Kylo a few notches in order to grow a little more and maybe become more empathetic. It also can keep the good guys from being too over-powered in a way. Rey and Ben are obviously the most powerful force users, but having Ben have to help in ways that don’t involve the Force makes things a bit more interesting.

Right now I’m picturing your story so far a lot more like a novel than a screenplay, which isn’t a bad thing.

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Glad you like it! Yes the netherworld was the big nostalgiafest that everyone wanted, but after I got to thinking about it, the scene had a lot of potential to drive the story forward as well as fill out Ben’s backstory.

Kylo losing his power definitely started out as an idea to quickly nerf his level to keep our heroes from becoming overpowered in relation to the villains, but again it feels right as a reaction to such an extreme alignment shift. I don’t think it will be permanent, but his regaining power must be for very good reasons…

As for it being more booklike, that’s just how I’m comfortable writing. Screenplays always feel awkward to read compared to novels and if there’s no chance of it getting made, why go through the trouble?

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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 (Edited)

I’ve moved the Thrawn scene to the end of my current place in the script, since I don’t want too much time to pass between him convening the Knights of Ren and it actually happening. The story continues:
Rey walks the hallways back to the bridge, passing groups of helmetless Stormtroopers and officers in the halls, talking and lounging in ready rooms to either side.
She enters the bridge, where the gathered leadership of the Resistance is discussing strategy. Finn greets her warmly, gushing about the changes he plans to make with this crew, which he says have taken to calling themselves the Rebels since they think ‘Resistance’ is too wordy. As he gushes there’s a disturbance by a far terminal, and a Rebel officer reports that a TIE Intercepter has just launched. They all look out the window at the swirling clouds of their nebula refuge and see a small fighter silhouetted against the soft pink and blue of the gas. Poe turns to Rey, asking if that is Ben. She responds that she can’t tell, and it might be one of their newly minted Rebels gone traitor. Poe reassures everyone that a ship that size won’t get far, but Rose rejoins that it wouldn’t take long for it to be within transmitting distance of the nearest First Order base. The Rebel commander reminds them of the tractor beam, but by the time they get it online the ship is already disappearing through the clouds of gas. Poe orders a launching of TIEs to track it down while Finn simultaneously orders the Destroyer to follow the TIE at full speed. The Rebel and Resistance bridge crew looks at them in confusion. Finn looks at Poe. ‘Sorry…Admiral.’ Poe responds ‘No, go ahead…Captain. The bridge is yours.’ Finn nods, and orders the Destroyer to follow the TIE into the nebula.
In the nebula all is murky and distorted. Finn orders a sensor overlay be pulled up in front of the window to track the ship. Sensors can just make it out at the edge of range, pulling them further into the cloud. Suddenly a much larger shape begins to resolve itself in front of the fighter and the TIE’s signal is obscured by the massive object in front of them. The Rebel commander shouts at Finn that it is another Destroyer, and it’s launching TIE Intercepters of its own. Finn yells that it’s a trap, Poe curses ‘Thrawn!’ Finn orders evasive maneuvers and a TIE launch and after an interminable delay they finally launch towards the wave of enemy fighters still only visible on the sensor screen. Finn orders the shields up, double front. Even as their TIEs streak through the nebula at the enemy fighters, there comes a new set of signals, this time from behind. TIE bombers emerge from the cloud at close range, unleashing a wave of missiles streaking towards the exposed engines. There is no time to alter shields, and everyone braces for impact.
A second passes, then another. Rose dares to open her eyes, which had been shut tight in anticipation of disaster. Poe realizes that Finn has taken his hand in panic. They disengage with an embarrassed shifting of eyes and clearing of throats. Suddenly the bridge is rattled by the passage of a single TIE Intercepter sweeping its wings inches from the windows. The radio crackles to life. Ben’s voice appears on the com, dryly stating that their ship has been blown to atoms. Poe stares in confusion and starts to ask how Ben could have controlled that simulation from a TIE, but then sees Rey in the corner of the room nonchalantly leaning against a console. R2 retracts his data arm and trundles past Threepio, chirping innocently. Rey airily informs Poe that she trained on one of these things a lot on Jakku, though it wasn’t in nearly as good condition. Ben continues flying circles around the Destroyer’s bridge, giving them a good dressing-down. This is Thrawn’s modus operandi, he says, drilling and testing his crews every spare minute of the day, and it’s what the Resistance will need to do if it wants to survive even a minute against him.

Thrawn gazes down upon the Destroyers of Kylo’s fleet as they float in dock on the orbital shipyards of Corellia. Hux breaks off his conversation with a gaggle of technicians and officials and dismisses them. After they file out of the conference room he joins Thrawn at the expansive window overlooking the sweep of the docking ring as it disappears behind the curve of the planet to their right. Hux asks Thrawn if he believes that Kylo is still alive, and Thrawn nods. Hux informs Thrawn of the Resistance sabotage devices, and snidely remarks that they were more effective than Thrawn’s methods. Thrawn disagrees, believing that the only reason they would have failed is if they were deactivated by the Resistance. He lets this sink in, then says it is for this reason that he believes that the Resistance hasn’t killed Kylo and indeed would try to recruit him. Hux nods. He sneers of the softness of the Resistance that they aren’t capable of destroying their enemies, but Thrawn cautions Hux over assuming that this is mere weakness. He believes it is a governing philosophy and more than that a viable strategy which has won them a ship with its commander and crew, but they can use this to their advantage. They have crews quarantined on board these ships, crews tainted by Resistance propaganda and shaken by the possible return of their old Supreme Leader.
As for how to deal with the crews, Thrawn lays out two possibilities. The first is to play the Resistance game better than they do, to allow these fine soldiers and officers to go free and return them to their families in an unprecedented act of kindness. Hux shakes his head, knowing full well the damage that even a single tainted soldier can cause. Thrawn nods in agreement. He suggests that it would be a waste to destroy these fine ships however, and asks that after the technicians finish repairs that they call the crews to the main hangars and let the ships air out for a while in the vacuum of space. Hux replies that they will need new crews for the ships, and will need to increase the harvest of children from somewhere. Thrawn says that there is a way to kill two Mynoks with one blaster, and ends by saying that it is time to convene the Knights of Ren.

JEDIT: Obsolete

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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 (Edited)

Two Star Destroyers fall out of Hyperspace, their signatures clearly visible through the nebula. Finn barks out orders: ‘Raise shields! Red Squadron, Black Squadron, launch!’ A collection of TIE fighters and Resistance ships pours out of the main hangar bay, collecting into two distinct groups on the underside of the Destroyer. Rose stands to the side of the bridge with Threepio, asks him his projected time. Threepio responds that they will probably last at least 30 seconds longer this time against the simulation. Finn commands his squadrons, ordering them to flank the Destroyers just below their equatorial turbolasers and come about to attack them from the rear. In this way the squadrons will avoid most of the Destroyer’s field of fire. The holographic forms of the ships appear on out of the nebula, and Ben leads Red Squadron towards the leftmost Destroyer. Poe in his X-wing goes to the right, a motley collection of Resistance ships close behind. Rey flies formation with Poe in a battered A-wing. Poe hits the intercom, telling everyone to get in attack formation and orient themselves down in the direction of the projected enemy fighter launch. Both squadrons fly upside-down, headed toward the simulated Destroyers. Finn flashes a grin at Rose. Her expression is skeptical.
The two Destroyers gun their engines, quickly picking up speed as they rush to close distance, angling nearer to themselves as well. Rey asks why they haven’t launched fighters yet, and to scan for fighters around them in the cloud. Poe answers that scanners pick up nothing, and to keep going. Just as the squadrons converge with the prows of the enemy Destroyers the huge vessels begin spinning against their long axis. The sudden spin seems too fast to be possible, and Poe’s X-wing bobs drunkenly with his disorientation. Both formations waver as batteries of ventral cannons and turbolasers come into view directly in front of the squadrons and open fire.
On the bridge of the real Destroyer, Finn stares openmouthed as the two simulations roll opposite each other in space, every gun on their equators and upper decks now trained on him. With a single burst of holographic light the battle is over. Ben spins his fighter in a playful arc, the only pilot to avoid a simulated destruction. He asks why Thrawn didn’t have to even launch a single fighter, and Poe shouts that the simulation was unfair, that no Destroyer can rotate that fast. Finn’s voice comes on the line, saying that Poe is wrong. The simulations, he says, used their tractor beams on each other in addition to their maneuvering engines, and this gave them the speed to pull off this rout. Finn gives the order to return to the ship. Rey pipes up, saying that there’s still one ship left to destroy. She guns her engines and goes after Ben’s fighter. Ben smiles, warming to the friendly contest, and he cuts across the surface of Finn’s vessel before looping under the bridge and disappearing into the nebula. Rey follows, matching his movements perfectly. Finn sighs. Rose tells him it’s no wonder he has trouble keeping order with them around.

JEDIT: Obsolete

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
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A TIE Interceptor and a battered A-wing settle onto the docking bay floor, Rey leaping lightly from her cockpit and waiting as muffled curses emanate from the TIE interior. Rey spies BB-8, R2, and Threepio huddled in conversation near Poe’s X-wing. BB-8 looks up at the TIE and rolls over, followed by the two other droids. Threepio asks Master Solo if he needs a hand, and a metal appendage flies out of the upper hatch to strike him on the chestplate. Rey sweeps up the prosthetic hand and joins the droids by the TIE fighter, asking where the others are. Threepio responds that they are in the mess hall. Rey leaves the bay holding the hand, followed by BB-8.
There is a clatter from the TIE fighter and Threepio rushes over to Ben, who has collapsed in a heap in front of the ship. He asks Master Solo if he is all right, to which Ben responds with a withering stare, staggering up and following Rey to the mess hall. R2 beeps derisively at Threepio, who turns away with something approaching wounded pride. ‘What could I do? I’ll have you know that among my other talents I’m now the galaxy’s foremost authority on the Jedi religion.’ R2 beeps sassily. Threepio turns to him. ‘And what would you know about something like that?’

The mess hall is a scene of barely contained chaos. Tables and chairs have been pulled from their brackets and now form clusters throughout the hall. Helmetless troopers chatter and shout, their armor decorated with bright paint and duct tape. Red squadron sits across from the bridge officers, their flight suits festooned with splashes of red paint. In the center of the room, alongside several tables of Resistance soldiers, sits Finn, Rose, Poe, and Chewie. Rose is going over all the mistakes made during the day’s exercises. She laments that they don’t have more ships since they have crews and pilots for almost two Destroyer compliments.
Rey walks up to the table, a tray of First Order rations in her hand, sitting in the open space between Poe and Finn and setting Ben’s hand beside her tray. Finn asks her if she had a nice flight. She gives him side eye, and he mutters to her that any other Captain would have thrown her in the brig for what she did. Poe overhears, speaks up in Rey’s defense, that it’s normal to need to blow off some steam after a defeat. Rose remarks that it’s nice to see Finn and Poe talking directly to each other. Chewie nods. Rey throws down her fork. She admits that Finn is right, and that it’s selfish to act as if she’s the only one so affected by Leia’s death. Silence falls at the table. Rey continues that she wishes she didn’t have the sole responsibility of returning the Jedi to the galaxy, and Poe looks confused, asking if Ben won’t help her.
Before she can respond Ben arrives in the mess hall. A quiet descends on the hall, but Red Squadron stands proud. Their spokesman shouts ‘Let’s hear it for the leader of Red Squadron, Master of the Knights of Ren, Heir to the Empire…Ben Solo!’ Three cheers go up from Red Squadron and a strong showing from the rest of the assembled soldiers. Poe looks at Rey, gesturing to Ben as if that said it all. Rey gives him a ‘really?’ face but then she turns back to Ben as if re-evaluating him.
Ben sits at the table across from Rey, his expression unreadable. He asks for his hand back. She asks him about the Knights of Ren. He asks why she wants to know, and she responds that they need people strong in the Force if they are to rebuild the Jedi Order. Ben shakes his head, saying that he believes it to be a fool’s errand. Poe wonders why this is the first he’s hearing about these Knights, and Rose answers. She says that the Knights were once students of Luke’s Jedi school but they chose to join with Kylo and now each rules over a planet largely independent of the First Order. Ben clarifies that these students originally joined Luke’s school to protect their home planets as the Jedi of old had done before the Republic, and that when it became clear that they were to join or die Kylo Ren, they chose to join in return for control over their planets. Now their planets are off-limits to the First Order and their child-harvesting, and these knights care only about protecting these worlds. He says they will not join an unlikely cause. Rey argues that since Ben is the one who made this deal, Thrawn and Hux have no reason to continue to honor it. Ben clearly hasn’t considered that.
Rey comes to a decision. She will seek out these knights and gain them as allies in their fight, and Ben will come along to help. Ben seems reluctant. The planet they must travel to in order to convene the knights is in Hutt space, he says, and will not be easy to approach. Chewie roars, Rey translating that he and Han once had friends among the pirates there and Chewie will come as well.
Rey reaches to give Ben his hand. He takes it but Rey doesn’t let go, instead saying that they will do this for the Jedi and the memory of Leia. Finn places his hand on the metal hand as well, saying ‘For Leia.’ Poe follows suit. ‘For the General.’ Rose says ‘For our Leader.’ Ben says something as well, but it’s inaudible to the assembled team. Chewie places his paw on top of the pile and roars. Rey translates ‘For the Princess’. Ben asks if he could please have his hand back. He pulls it away from the group and as they all get up from the table to make preparations, he reattaches it to his arm, clenching it into a fist and looking to the departing crew with new resolve.

JEDIT: Obsolete

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
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Note: I realized after stripping Ben of his Force power that I really missed a trick. Rey and Kylo are so linked that what happens to one must affect the other. Snoke says in TLJ that Kylo’s rise in power instigated Rey’s awakening in the Force to oppose him. Now it could be debated how accurate this is, but I think it’s undeniable that their link is incredibly important, so I will be revising everything after the Netherworld scene to incorporate Rey being suddenly and entirely bereft of the Force. I think this will give much greater impetus to her journey and desire to recruit Force users, and keep Ben as an antagonistic figure despite and because of this devastating occurrence. It also strikes at the heart of Rey’s insecurities. Having found a family in the Resistance for her obvious significance as a powerful Force user, being reduced to merely another person would really turn the knife that is her feeling of being nobody.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
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I’ve deleted quite a bit and had to start over from the Netherworld scene. I’m very pleased at the new direction, however:

The medical lifter winds its way through the sterile white halls of the Resistance Blockade Runner Tantive IX. Finn, Rose, Rey, and Chewie hurry alongside as Resistance troops rush hither and thither. Threepio rushes belatedly after them. The stumps of Kylo’s arm and leg, hastily cauterized by Finn on the destroyer, still leak blood onto the lifter.

Kylo is set down in the operating suite of the Tantive IX, more of an alcove than a full room with a glass partition opposite the trio of beds. Doctor Harter Kalonia takes over operations as Finn and Chewie exit to the insistence of the Tantive captain, who needs the Falcon to commence operations to rescue and take prisoner the crew that escaped Kylo’s Destroyer. Chewie roars at Rey, and Finn adds his voice in demanding that Rey come with them and help round up the prisoners. Rose goes over to Rey and says that Kalonia is doing all she can. Rey nevertheless feels that she should stay. Threepio finally arrives at the medical suite just as everyone rushes off, and he is visibly flustered and dismayed. He sees Rey standing all alone and deciding that he will probably just get in the other’s way, he traipses over to Rey’s side. They both stare through the glass partition at Kylo and the doctor.

Time passes. Threepio asks if Rey would like to hear the rest of the final chapter of the Jedi Texts, and Rey agrees. He speaks of the impending demise of the first great sage of the Force, and her student’s attempts to reckon with her death. One student vows to save her through a Force technique alluded to previously in the texts, but another student cautions against this.

Before Threepio can continue the tale, Kalonia exits the suite. Rey moves to intercept her. At her query, Kalonia responds that if she had a full Bacta tank she could do more, but with their facilities she gives Kylo even odds of survival. Rey asks if that’s really all that can be done, and Kalonia responds that with galactic medicine, yes, and it’s up to Kylo himself to find the strength to pull through. After Kalonia leaves, Rey moves into the room proper and sits beside Kylo’s bed. Threepio, clearly not programmed for such a scenario, waits timidly outside.

Rey stares across at Kylo for a while, wrestling internally with what to do. Finally she speaks. ‘Kylo…’ Her look softens. ‘…Ben. I don’t know why I’m here. I know you probably can’t hear me, but if you can I want you to know that…’ She looks away, changing her mind. ‘I could really use some help right now.’ She looks over at Threepio as if in judgement. ‘I don’t know how to rebuild the Jedi, not really. Luke is gone, I don’t know where. And now Leia…she was counting on me, Ben.’ Her voice cracks. ‘As crazy as it sounds, you might be the only one who could have understood.’ From her side comes a new voice. ‘Sorry, Rey. I should have come sooner.’ Rey whirls around. Luke sits on the side of the bed beside Kylo’s. She asks why he took so long, he responds that family matters kept him away, and gestures to Kylo. She realizes that Kylo is closer to death than anyone thought, and Luke says that this is the will of the Force. Rey responds that it is too easy, that she refuses to let him escape the full consequences of his actions. Luke gives her his third lesson. He tells her that in using the Force she must accept the consequences of her own actions, lest her balance be broken. A Jedi, he says, understands that some things are beyond their power to peacefully achieve, and when that happens they must be willing to accept the power of the greater Force. Rey nods, and Luke vanishes. Rey turns to Kylo, who’s vital signs are dwindling to nothing.

In the netherworld, Kylo sits outside watching the sunset with Han and Leia. Luke appears before him. Kylo feels himself go cold, his left side going numb, becoming insubstantial. He looks fearfully at Luke. ‘Looks like someone really wants you back, kiddo.’ Han shakes him on the shoulder ‘Say Hi to Chewie and Rey for me, alright? Tell ‘em to take good care of the old girl!’ Leia gives her son a long look, nodding to him as if in acceptance of everything. Kylo vanishes.

Rey collapses beside Ben’s bed, her whole body bathed in sweat and trembling from exertion. Ben’s vitals are stable, his breathing deep and regular. He opens his eyes to see her gripping his remaining hand, her other hand on his chest. He opens his mouth. ‘Why?’ She gasps, short of breath. ‘Because the galaxy isn’t through with you yet, Ben.’ She collapses on the floor, asleep before Ben can utter another word. Threepio trundles in, deciding that he should at least greet his old friend. Ben looks at the droid as if with new eyes. ‘Hi Goldenrod’.

ACT II

The Resistance fleet, now bolstered by the presence of a First Order Star Destroyer, jumps into hyperspace en route to a nebula where they can coordinate their next moves. Finn has transferred back to the Tantive IX to inquire as to Kylo’s condition, but Kalonia informs him that both Rey and Kylo are resting, Kylo seeming to have made a full recovery. Finn hopes that Kylo’s awake when the fleet reaches the nebula, because they will need both Kylo and Rey’s help to convert the crew of their captured destroyer to the Resistance. They head to the bridge.

Rey awakens to a spirited conversation between Ben and Threepio. The droid is recounting the events which have transpired from his point of view since Ben left to train with Luke those years ago. He’s gotten to the part where he has translated the entire body of the Jedi Texts. Rey complains that she feels drained, and Ben echoes this sentiment. Rey remarks that this is reasonable since he basically died, but then realizes that her feelings portend something far more serious than simple tiredness. She tries to lift a medical instrument and fails. She tries again with the smallest object she can find, and still fails. Ben grabs her and holds her against himself as she begins to hyperventilate. Ben tells her to breathe, just breathe. Rey is calmed somewhat by this echo of Luke’s teaching, and he asks her where she learned of bringing people back from death. Threepio announces that it’s from the Jedi Texts, and he excitedly explains that he was just about to finish the story of the resurrection of the great sage by her student. Ben asks for him to finish the story, and Threepio recounts how the student is successful in reviving the sage but that both of them lose their abilities in the Force. Ben tries to lift an object with the Force at this revelation and predictably cannot. Threepio continues, saying that this event triggers a great schism within the students on the island. Most of them vow never to use this practice again, and these become the Jedi. However, a single student believes that this is but a step on the path to immortality, and is branded Sith by the others, meaning selfishness. With these final words, silence falls. The silence of a tomb.

TThrawn’s fleet appears out of Hyperspace over Bacrana and hovers over the capital city Amma. Reconnaissance flights discover the crashed destroyer and Thrawn orders a close scan for survivors. His commanders inform him that the Resistance managed to capture a Destroyer and took prisoners of all the First Order troops on the destroyer and the survivors from Kylo’s ship, but that some of their troops remain prisoners in the city. He reports that they have a trajectory on the Resistance fleet. Thrawn says that he will wait for word before he follows the Resistance fleet. As if in response, an officer alerts Thrawn that Hux’s office has received an urgent communique from the Knights of Ren. They are requesting the presence of Supreme Leader Ren. Thrawn considers this, finding it deeply interesting and indeed pleasing. He concludes that they have some time and need not follow immediately. He orders all ships to fire on the city. The commander is taken aback, saying that their men are still down there, But Thrawn says that they are doubtless contaminated by Resistance propaganda, which was why this planet was able to revolt in the first place. The turbolasers lance through the sky, the images captured by the small hyperspace relay floating in the garbage above the planet.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
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When I read your idea about Kylo losing his connection with the Force, I thought that was a pretty clever way to have Kylo atone as well as not making the hero team to overpowered by having the last two force users on the same team. But I had not even considered how that would effect his force bond with Rey, and if it would effect her abilities. At first I thought it might enhance Rey’s abilities to the point where she can barely control it, but I also like the idea that they both have lost their connection to the Force. The backstory in the Jedi Texts is pretty interesting, and it sets up an interesting dilemma for both Rey and Ben now that they must try to work together to reestablish that connection, possibly.

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Yep, it feels right to me for them both to be cut off from the Force, for the reasons above and more. The biggest reason for doing this, however, was so that the story could come back around to Rey. Every scene in the previous version was centering on Kylo and it was becoming the Kylo movie instead of Rey’s movie. Now she’s making a decision and suffering the consequences, and precisely when she should before the start of a new act. Now that both are ‘normal’ people there’s the possibility that Force Ghosts won’t be able to communicate with them, and it becomes much more important that they seek out the Knights of Ren as the last remaining known Force users in the galaxy in a desperate bid to turn them back to the light and restart the Jedi Order.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
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When will you do more?

The unfortunate reality of the Star Wars prequel and Disney trilogies is that they will always be around. Forever. They will never go away. It can never be undone.

I also prefer to be referred to as “TNT”, not “Freezing”.

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Updated the previous scene of Thrawn slightly. To continue:

The Resistance fleet falls out of Hyperspace inside a dusty pink and blue nebula, Tantive ships and carriers surrounding their captured Destroyer like minnows. The Falcon undocks from the Tantive IX and shuttles over to the Destroyer.

Ben, Finn, Kalonia, and much of the Tantive crew march down the halls where Resistance fighters are escorting First Order troops into the main hangar bay. Ben sports a new prosthetic leg and arm, his saber at his side. In an anteroom, Poe and Rose voice their concern for this stage of the mission. The Resistance is barely able to contain this many prisoners and Poe doesn’t trust that Ben has had a change of heart. Poe jokingly says that they might have to just open the hangar to space. Rose looks at him in a ‘don’t even joke about that’ way. Finn tells Poe that Rey believes he has changed, and Finn trusts her. Poe asks where Rey is, anyway. Finn evasively says that she is still recuperating from her ordeal. Poe finally decides to trust Finn and Rey on this, so he lets Finn and Ben through to a balcony overlooking the hangar.

On the balcony overlooking the assembled officers and soldiers, Ben arrives to a holo broadcast of Hux declaring himself the new supreme leader. Ben cuts off the video and announces that the First Order has betrayed them and is their enemy as well as his. The soldiers cry out at this, but Rose pulls up the video of Thrawn destroying the city of Amma, telling them that their fellow soldiers were betrayed and murdered in this cold, calculating blood. The soldiers quiet down. Ben continues. He says that as one who was dead and returned to life, he has seen the reality of the Force present in all people, not just those of noble blood. He is no more worthy of command than another. He bequeaths his saber to Finn, the man who slew Kylo Ren. Henceforth, he wishes to be known only as Ben. Finn takes the saber and the soldiers salute him. He motions this down. His first order to them is to remove their helmets and see their fellows for who they truly are. They fight for the First Order no longer!

Ben wanders through the secondary hangar of the Destroyer, inspecting the TIE fighters in their racks and his own modified TIE racked close to the Falcon on the deck. From that ship he hears cries and sounds of banging metal. He turns to the Falcon and enters its darkened interior. Crates and tools are strewn everywhere. He sees half of Luke’s lightsaber lying amid the scattered trash and he picks it up. Rey sits cradling the other half in the middle of the cargo bay, shaking. Ben tries to console her, saying that even Luke couldn’t heal a broken crystal with all his powers. Rey says that she must heal the crystal, that she must resurrect the Jedi Order, that she must make Leia proud. Ben tries to tell her that perhaps their powers might not return, that the texts could be right. Rey says that Ben is clearly wrong, for the Force is always with a person. It is inconceivable that it would simply betray her. Ben disagrees, but admits that he is no expert on the mysteries of the Force. There were others at Luke’s school, he says, that were far more knowledgeable.

A Porglett wanders over from its nest, roused by the commotion. Ben picks it up with his good hand and gives it to Rey. He says that all life is connected by the Force, and that she is no more or less important than any other, and to gracefully accept these changes as the will of the Force. Luke tried to teach him that, but he wouldn’t listen. He feels that Luke was right that the Jedi should end, and he was right that the Sith would never again return. He sees how the galaxy is now controlled by those entirely without the Force, and that perhaps this is its will as well. Rey recognizes that Ben’s near death experience has changed him, but she says bitterly that it has made him give up. She leaves the Falcon for the Destroyer bridge and her friends, the ones who will still fight.

The bridge is a hive of activity. The former captain of the vessel and his officers are showing many Resistance officers the controls. The captain is in conversation with Finn and Poe when he is drawn away by the insistence of an officer. They go to a corner to converse quietly together. Finn and Poe survey the crews in the pit and look out at the blue and pink clouds surrounding them.

Suddenly a shout goes up in the pit, and an officer points out the viewscreen at a TIE fighter flying off into the clouds. Finn whirls and asks which soldier had gone rogue. An officer replies that they’re checking the registry now. Rey walks onto the bridge and replies that it’s Ben. Poe asks if he’s running away, and Rey says it wouldn’t surprise her. Finn turns to Poe, asking what he as Admiral will do about this. Poe replies that he leaves this to Finn as captain of this vessel. Finn orders the launching of the TIE interceptors to go after Kylo. Officers scramble to alert the crews, who are not at all ready for this test. The former captain and the officer are unperturbed by this event and start manipulating the controls of a computer terminal in the darkened corner of the bridge.

Another shout goes up, this time about two unknown objects approaching them from behind in the nebula. Finn pulls up an overlay on the viewscreen to visualize the new threat and orders the ship to turn about. Poe barks orders for his Resistance ships to follow suit and go into a delta formation on either side of the arrow-headed Destroyer. The shapes resolve themselves as Destroyers, and Finn and Poe both shout ‘Thrawn!’ in unison. Finn orders shields up, double front. The Destroyers continue to close distance as Poe scrambles Resistance fighters into action. These launch and begin to fan out in front of their fleet just as Finn’s TIEs finally begin to launch and fall in behind them. Poe barks that one of these Destroyers will have a Hyperspace tracker, and to prepare the droid controlled transport for a Holdo Maneuver.

Suddenly a new group of signals appears from behind their fleet, coming from the direction of Ben’s escape. The shapes resolve as TIE bombers, and before Poe or Finn can react they launch a blistering array of missiles directly toward the unshielded aft end of the Destroyer. There is no time to alter shields, and everyone braces for impact. A second passes, then another. Rose dares to open her eyes, which had been shut tight in anticipation of disaster. Poe realizes that Finn has taken his hand in panic. They disengage with an embarrassed shifting of eyes and clearing of throats. Suddenly the bridge is rattled by the passage of Ben’s TIE fighter sweeping its wings inches from the windows. The radio crackles to life. Ben’s voice appears on the com, dryly stating that their ship has been blown to atoms. Poe stares in confusion and starts to ask how Ben could have controlled that simulation from a TIE, but then sees the former captain and his officer nonchalantly leaning against a console in the corner. The former captain adds that their Holdo Maneuver wouldn’t have worked either, since the First Order fleet has officially phased out such active trackers after their weakness became apparent. They give a salute to Ben, who continues flying circles around the Destroyer’s bridge giving the Resistance a good dressing-down. This is Thrawn’s modus operandi, Ben says, drilling and testing his crews every spare minute of the day, and it’s what the Resistance will need to do if it wants to survive even a minute against him.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
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Thunder echoes through the empty halls of the darkened compound. As Thrawn passes a shuttered window, a lightning flash illuminates his path toward a door at the end of the hall. Behind him, at a respectful distance, a Noghri bodyguard follows silently. He reaches the door and after a moment it slides open, a small cloud of dust rising from the unused surfaces. He enters. Inside is a stately, if spartan, office. Accolades in frames festoon one wall, while behind a modestly decorated desk leans a painting of a large, severe man in Imperial uniform. From beneath a black commander’s hat fall several strands of red hair. Thrawn inspects this painting for a moment, then turns his attention to the desk. He disturbs the dust of the drawers, opening each in methodical fashion. Finally he sees something that catches his interest. Thunder crashes and lightning flashes from the hall. A beep sounds, and Thrawn answers the communicator. The officer on the other line says that Hux is approaching the station, and Thrawn responds that he will be there shortly. Outside the compound, sheets of rain lash the platform. The Noghri rushes to start Thrawn’s shuttle, the Grand Admiral himself walking at his own pace. The shuttle takes off, quickly flying above the clouds and into a clear star-studded sky marred only by the traceries of an orbital shipyard far above the planet Arkanis.

From the panoptic window of a spacious, expensive-looking office, Hux surveys the remnants of Kylo’s fleet, suspended in the traceries of metal and swarming with repair craft. Thrawn enters the room, dismissing his Noghri bodyguard and coming to stand next to Hux. The Supreme Leader asks why Thrawn has requested his presence here, and that it is interrupting a mission of some urgency. Thrawn asks about this mission, and Hux responds that it’s none of Thrawn’s business. The Grand Admiral is amused by this air of mystery and responds by noting that Hux has brought quite a military force of his own to accompany him on this mission, a curious thing given that few places in the galaxy would require such protection. In fact, he says, only the pirate-infested territory of Hutt space remains outside the iron grip of the First Order. But, he says, there is no reason to go into that territory since none of these worlds have been considered worth invading, all except one: Gramelon. By Hux’s expression Thrawn knows that he has guessed right. Thrawn notes that Kylo’s fleet, arrayed below them, is being repaired but that their crews are no doubt contaminated by Resistance propaganda and will need to be reconditioned or terminated. He says that by going to Gramelon, Hux has indicated that he will opt to terminate the crews and replace them with new recruits. Again he has guessed right. But, Thrawn continues, this is not the primary reason for going to Gramelon. Commander Brendol Hux, he says, once attempted to cultivate an Order of dark Force users for the Emperor, an attempt which failed. Hux turns on Thrawn, bristling at the very mention of his father. He grinds out that though Thrawn says that the Force is a distraction from power, he knows that Thrawn was once defeated by a mere whelp of a Force user, and that such a force could end the Resistance once and for all. Hux believes that beneath Thrawn’s calm exterior is a black hatred for their kind, dark or light, as a piece that doesn’t fit into his delicate calculations of power. Thrawn reaches into the fold of his coat for something, and Hux goes for his blaster. A duo of Death Troopers leap out of the shadows and pin Thrawn’s arms to his side. Hux warns Thrawn that he is still the Supreme Leader and Thrawn merely his servant. Thrawn agrees, calmly saying that his only wish is to serve the First Order. The Death Trooper pulls the coat open to reveal a lightsaber at Thrawn’s side. Hux takes it, igniting the yellow blade. Thrawn states that Hux should consider it a gift from the late Brendol Hux to his son, to aid him in gaining the fealty of the Knights of Ren. He only asks that Hux refrain from terminating those on Kylo’s Destroyers until he has gained them as allies. Hux agrees, releasing his Grand Admiral and ordering him to use all his resources in discovering the location of the Resistance. He leaves. Thrawn remains at the window, joined again by his bodyguard. The Noghri says that he didn’t tell Hux of the probable survival of Kylo Ren, and Thrawn replies that there is no reason to worry the Supreme Leader unduly. Besides, he adds, now they can easily predict where the Resistance will inevitably go.

Thunder echoes through the empty halls of the darkened compound. As Thrawn passes a shuttered window, a lightning flash illuminates his path toward a door at the end of the hall. Behind him, at a respectful distance, a Noghri bodyguard follows silently. He reaches the door and after a moment it slides open, a small cloud of dust rising from the unused surfaces. He enters. Inside is a stately, if spartan, office. Accolades in frames festoon one wall, while behind a modestly decorated desk leans a painting of a large, severe man in Imperial uniform. From beneath a black commander’s hat fall several strands of red hair. Thrawn inspects this painting for a moment, then turns his attention to the desk. He disturbs the dust of the drawers, opening each in methodical fashion. Finally he sees something that catches his interest. Thunder crashes and lightning flashes from the hall. A beep sounds, and Thrawn answers the communicator.

Outside the compound, sheets of rain lash the platform. The Noghri rushes to start Thrawn’s shuttle, the Grand Admiral himself walking at his own pace. The shuttle takes off, quickly flying above the clouds and into a clear star-studded sky marred only by the traceries of an orbital shipyard far above the planet Arkanis.

The First Order high command sits on one side of a long table which has been positioned next to a large observation window overlooking Kylo’s fleet. The ships sit in drydock around the planet Arkanis like a necklace of dark gems. Among the assembled officers sit also captains of galactic industry, most attired in severe dark suits save for one man in white with a red Plom bloom on his lapel. Thrawn’s captains sit as models of Imperial calm in stark contrast to the standard First Order officers who are lounging and bickering among themselves. Hux paces along the empty side of the table, expounding on the new division of power under his command. He awards the ships of Kylo’s fleet to Thrawn and several captains express dissention, not trusting this alien who seems to be already calling the shots in this Empire. One general expresses disdain and says he would never have been employed under the Emperor and another, general Pryde, retorts that Thrawn was employed under the Emperor. Angry barbs are exchanged, and into the chaos Thrawn arrives.

He announces that he has no need of these ships and furthermore they will take quite some time to be crewed by new officers so no immediate decision need be reached. Hux tells Thrawn that the crews are being reconditioned as they speak and so he will not need new bodies. However, the First Order will need many more ships to ensure order in the newly conquered galaxy, so quotas of harvesting must be increased. Many look uncomfortable at this, most of all the man in white. Hux says that if they are not able to accomplish this, the First Order will find men who will.

Hux also announces that he is taking temporary command of Thrawns fleet in order to go to Gramelon and accept the fealty of the Knights of Ren. Thrawn’s captains sit straighter in their chairs. Thrawn narrows his eyes at this, saying that he knights are of little consequence. Hux disagrees, saying that the backing of Force users is necessary for retaining power in the galaxy. The assembled officials and businesspeople are split on this, with the First Order officers mostly disagreeing and a majority of the businesspeople nodding in agreement. Notably, one older businesswoman claps her hands. The man in white, who sits next to her, adopts an inscrutable expression. Thrawn says that regardless of their importance, he himself should remain in command of his fleet and recruit the Knights. Hux is adamant that he alone be in command, ordering Thrawn to remain on Arkanis and oversee the operation of refitting Kylo’s fleet.

After the officers and financiers have left the office, Hux whirls on Thrawn. He accuses the Grand Admiral of undermining his authority, coming dangerously close to insubordination. Thrawn responds with a comment about Brendol Hux, Armitage’s father. Hux is taken aback, unsure where this is going. Thrawn continues that Brendol once tried to create an order of Darkside users to ensure the survival of the Empire, and Thrawn says that it’s only natural that his son would wish to do what his father could not. Thrawn maintains, however, that the Force is a distraction and he will show the galaxy how it has no true power.

Thrawn reaches for something on his belt, and two Death Troopers emerge from the shadows and drag him to his knees. Hux takes the object from Thrawn’s belt, and with a snap-hiss he activates a brilliant white lightsaber. Thrawn says that he is merely delivering to Hux his birthright, with a warning that it could be his undoing. Hux demands a test of Thrawn’s loyalty, and tells him to bring forth his hand. Thrawn does so, pulling his sleeve to the elbow. Hux raises the blade to strike off the hand and swings in a blur of motion, stopping the blade expertly a hairsbreadth from the alien skin. Thrawn doesn’t flinch. Hux says that he knows something of Thrawn’s hatred for the Jedi and the Force, having investigated Thrawn’s long disappearance, and knows that it is strong. But now he knows that his loyalty is just as strong. Thrawn asks if he will reconsider his decision about leading the fleet. Hux smiles quixotically.

Two Star Destroyers fall out of Hyperspace, their signatures clearly visible through the nebula. Finn barks out orders: ‘Raise shields! Red Squadron, Black Squadron, launch!’ A collection of TIE fighters and Resistance ships pours out of the main hangar bay, collecting into two distinct groups on the underside of the Destroyer. Rose stands to the side of the bridge with Threepio, asks him his projected time. Threepio responds that they will probably last at least 30 seconds longer this time against the simulation. Finn commands his squadrons, ordering them to flank the Destroyers just below their equatorial turbolasers and come about to attack them from the rear. In this way the squadrons will avoid most of the Destroyer’s field of fire. The holographic forms of the ships appear on out of the nebula, and Ben leads Red Squadron towards the leftmost Destroyer. Poe in his X-wing goes to the right, a motley collection of Resistance ships close behind. Rey flies formation with Poe in a battered A-wing. Poe hits the intercom, telling everyone to get in attack formation and orient themselves down in the direction of the projected enemy fighter launch. Both squadrons fly upside-down, headed toward the simulated Destroyers. Finn flashes a grin at Rose. Her expression is skeptical.

The two Destroyers gun their engines, quickly picking up speed as they rush to close distance, angling nearer to themselves as well. Rey asks why they haven’t launched fighters yet, and to scan for fighters around them in the cloud. Poe answers that scanners pick up nothing, and to keep going. Just as the squadrons converge with the prows of the enemy Destroyers the huge vessels begin spinning against their long axis. The sudden spin seems too fast to be possible, and Poe’s X-wing bobs drunkenly with his disorientation. Both formations waver as batteries of ventral cannons and turbolasers come into view directly in front of the squadrons and open fire.

On the bridge of the real Destroyer, Finn stares openmouthed as the two simulations roll opposite each other in space, every gun on their equators and upper decks now trained on him. With a single burst of holographic light the battle is over. Ben spins his fighter in a playful arc, the only pilot to avoid a simulated destruction. He asks why Thrawn didn’t have to even launch a single fighter, and Poe shouts that the simulation was unfair, that no Destroyer can rotate that fast. Finn’s voice comes on the line, saying that Poe is wrong. The simulations, he says, used their tractor beams on each other in addition to their maneuvering engines, and this gave them the speed to pull off this rout. Finn gives the order to return to the ship. Rey continues flying, saying that there’s still one ship left to destroy. She guns her engines and goes after Ben’s fighter. Ben smiles, warming to the contest, and he cuts across the surface of Finn’s vessel before looping under the bridge and disappearing into the nebula. Rey follows, matching his movements. Finn sighs. Rose tells him it’s no wonder he has trouble keeping order with them around.

Kylo’s TIE fighter and a battered A-wing settle onto the docking bay floor, Rey leaping from her cockpit and waiting as muffled curses emanate from the TIE interior. Rey spies BB-8, R2, and Threepio huddled in conversation near Poe’s X-wing. BB-8 looks up at the TIE and rolls over, followed by the two other droids. Threepio asks Master Solo if he needs a hand, and a metal appendage flies out of the upper hatch to strike him on the chestplate. Rey sweeps up the prosthetic hand and joins the droids by the TIE fighter, asking where the others are. Threepio responds that they are in the mess hall. Rey leaves the bay holding the hand, followed by BB-8.

There is a clatter from the TIE fighter and Threepio rushes over to Ben, who has collapsed in a heap in front of the ship. He asks Master Solo if he is all right, to which Ben responds with a withering stare, staggering up and following Rey to the mess hall. R2 beeps derisively at Threepio, who turns away with something approaching wounded pride. ‘What could I do? I’ll have you know that among my other talents I’m now the galaxy’s foremost authority on the Jedi religion.’ R2 beeps sassily. Threepio turns to him. ‘And what would you know about something like that?’

The mess hall is a scene of barely contained chaos. Tables and chairs have been pulled from their brackets and now form clusters throughout the hall. Helmetless troopers chatter and shout, their armor decorated with bright paint and duct tape. Red squadron sits across from the bridge officers, their flight suits festooned with splashes of red paint. In the center of the room, alongside several tables of Resistance soldiers, sits Finn, Rose, Poe, and Chewie. Rose is going over all the mistakes made during the day’s exercises. She laments that they don’t have more ships since they have crews and pilots for almost two Destroyer compliments.

Rey walks up to the table, a tray of First Order rations in her hand, sitting in the open space between Poe and Finn and setting Ben’s hand beside her tray. Finn asks her if she had a nice flight. She gives him a black look, and he mutters to her that any other Captain would have thrown her in the brig for what she did. Poe overhears, speaks up in Rey’s defense, that it’s normal to need to blow off some steam after a defeat, and that everyone is on edge right now. Finn responds that ever since Kylo has returned as Ben, Rey has been acting strangely. Rose remarks that it’s nice to see Finn and Poe talking directly to each other. Chewie nods. Rey throws down her fork. She admits that Finn is right. Silence falls at the table. She seems ready to admit her secret weakness, and everyone looks at her expectantly.

Before she can say anything Ben arrives in the mess hall. A quiet descends on the hall, but a shout goes up from Red Squadron. Their spokesman shouts ‘Let’s hear it for the leader of Red Squadron, Master of the Knights of Ren, Heir to the Empire…Ben Solo!’ Three cheers go up from the pilots and the rest of the soldiers join in. Everyone at the table turns back to Rey in expectation, but she is now staring at Ben as if seizing on a lifeline.

He sits at the table across from Rey, his expression unreadable. He asks for his hand back. She has put two and two together and realized that these Knights are comprised of Luke’s students, and asks if any of them were knowledgeable of the mysteries of the Force. He says that one was, and slyly asks why she wants to know. She responds evasively that they need people strong in the Force if they are to rebuild the Jedi Order. Ben shakes his head, saying that he believes it to be a fool’s errand. Poe wonders why this is the first he’s hearing about these Knights, and Rose answers. She says that the Knights were once students of Luke’s Jedi school but they chose to join with Kylo and now each rules over a planet largely independent of the First Order. Ben clarifies that these students originally joined Luke’s school to protect their home planets as the Jedi of old had done before the Republic, and that when it became clear that they were to join or die Kylo Ren, they chose to join in return for control over their planets. Now their planets are off-limits to the First Order and their child-harvesting, and these knights care only about protecting these worlds. He says they will not join an unlikely cause, and in fact may already have pledged fealty to the Supreme Leader. Rey says that this is all the more reason to act quickly and try to gain their help or their fight will already be doomed.

Those at the table look in confusion. Finn asks why this should be since they have among them the two greatest Force-users in the galaxy. Before Ben can answer Rey comes to a decision. She announces that she will seek out these knights and gain them as allies in their fight, and Ben will come along to help. Ben seems reluctant. The planet they must travel to in order to convene the knights is in Hutt space, he says, and will not be easy to approach. Chewie roars, Rey translating that he and Han once had friends among the pirates there and Chewie will come as well. Rey reaches to give Ben his hand. He takes it but Rey doesn’t let go, instead saying that they will do this for the Jedi and the memory of Leia. Finn places his hand on the metal hand as well, saying ‘For Leia.’ Poe follows suit. ‘For the General.’ Rose says ‘For our Leader.’ Ben says something as well, but it’s inaudible to the assembled team. Chewie places his paw on top of the pile and roars. Rey translates ‘For the Princess’. Ben asks if he could please have his hand back. He pulls it away from the group and as they all get up from the table to make preparations, he reattaches it to his arm, clenching it into a fist and looking to the departing crew with new resolve.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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Time
 (Edited)

In the forward hangar, the former captain, Lieutenant Connix, and Ben are engaged in conversation. The former captain asks Ben if he’s sure he doesn’t want to take the captain’s Yacht. Ben says that he’d rather take his chances with the ship that blew up two Death Stars. The former captain is sure that this can’t be right, but Connix says that it is somewhat true. Besides, Ben says, they need the fastest ship in the fleet if they are to quickly recruit the Knights of Ren. The new Red Squadron leader shouts from across the deck that he will be missed.

Rey and Finn stand under the Falcon. Rey tells Finn that there’s something he needs to know, but Finn says that he was wrong to pry before. He tells her that she’s the most capable, talented, and powerful woman he has ever met and she doesn’t need to tell him, he trusts her no matter what. Ben wanders over, a crate slung over his shoulder. Finn pulls Rey closer and says that if Ben tries anything she has Finn’s permission to beat the hell out of him for the fourth time. Chewie brushes past on the ramp carrying three crates, knocking the crate off Ben’s shoulder and roaring at him to hurry up. Ben scoops it back up and follows Chewie. Threepio and R2 arrive, Threepio trying to dissuade his mechanic friend from his decision. R2 beeps resolutely. Threepio maintains that he will remain on the destroyer, as this mission seems too dangerous for the preeminent authority on the Jedi Texts. He must have thought for his safety after all. R2 says something unmentionable and rolls up the ramp along with Rey. ‘May the Force be with you.’ Finn says, from the depths of his being. Rey smiles, but looks like she’s about to cry.

In the cockpit, Chewie is already in the copilot’s seat starting engines. Ben takes the pilot’s seat. Chewie stares. Rey comes up and asks him what he thinks he’s doing, Ben replies that he knows more about the ship than anyone other than Chewie. Rey begs to differ, and Chewie roars in agreement. Ben acquiesces and moves behind Rey.

On the bridge of the destroyer, Poe and Finn stand together watching as the Falcon disappears into the clouds. Poe voices his unease at the situation, wondering what issue Rey was working through. Finn exudes calm confidence in her. A meaningful look passes between them. Finn shouts to Rose to pull up simulation 421. The crew groans as the lights dim to battle-ready status.

Breaking out of the nebula, the Falcon’s crew is greeted by the vast sea of stars. The stars turn to starlines.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

Author
Time
 (Edited)

I’ve changed the Thrawn shipyard scene yet again, this time bringing in the financiers of the galaxy and reintroducing the Master Codebreaker from TLJ, so it’s worth rereading. I’ve also seeded some talk of a Knight of Ren being knowledgeable about ancient Jedi lore, to give Rey a more specific goal in solving her existential crisis. Below, the story continues:

Xindo, still in white attire and wearing his distinctive red Plom bloom, paces restlessly in his quarters. The old woman lounges on a couch. Xindo asks how she can accept this child harvesting, and she answers that he needs to grow up and accept that this is how the galaxy has always been. She chides him, saying that if they don’t profit from the First Order then someone else would. He looks away angrily. She tells him firmly that their little game has ended and that his mother has won. They both bet heavily on opposite sides, but though hers was the greater risk the dice came up on her side in the end. He should now focus on getting serious about his own life and giving her some grandchildren, asking where that pretty girl went that he was involved with. He says that this game hasn’t ended, not while he still has chips to play. She looks at him quizzically, asking if he might be planning to foolishly contact the Resistance. She reminds him that this would be exceptionally foolish because it would put in jeopardy their family’s fortune and safety. He makes to leave, and she asks where. He says that he is going to get some air. He leaves. The mother takes a small furry creature out of her purse and tells it to keep an eye on her wayward son. It purrs and slinks after him at an unobtrusive distance.

The turbolift doors open onto the bar and lounge area of the station, and Xindo sees the businesspeople mingling and laughing with the First Order brass. He waits for the doors to close, sighing in disgust. He punches the number for the maintenance level. The doors open onto a more grimy hallway. He exits, the small creature slithering its way after him silently. He walks the halls, the hulking mass of a docked destroyer visible through the windows on his left. Technicians of various species, covered in oil and grime, hurry to and fro with equipment out of an adjoining maintenance tube. They give him troubled looks, and he moves past them. He sees the primary docking tube entrance and makes towards it, only to be blocked by hazard signs and a flimsy barrier strung across the hall. He steps past this as well, finally coming to the door to the tube. It is locked and bears a bright yellow and red quarantine sign. Xindo glances around, then slips a slicer key into the lock. It hisses open and he enters. From across the hall, the small creature chitters to itself as if seeking direction, then scampers back the way it came.

Rey sits in the hold of the Falcon, attempting once again to piece together the broken hilts of the lightsaber. R2 rolls up, beeping helpfully. Rey shoos him away, telling him that she doesn’t need his help. He beeps again, and Rey smiles. ‘No, I don’t need another one’ she says, telling him that she’ll soon find answers to her problems and be able to reforge the sword of legend.

In the cockpit, Ben and Chewie sit alone. Ben asks Chewie why he wanted to come on this mission. Chewie growls and Ben says that he doesn’t buy that Chewie has friends in Hutt space. Chewie looks uncomfortable, and growls two syllables. ‘Life debt?!’ Ben says incredulously, reminding Chewie that he did in fact shoot him. Chewie growls an apology, and Ben says that the debt was paid long ago by his father, and many times over. Chewie growls dissension, to which Ben has no response. A warning light blinks on the control board and Chewie roars for Rey to come to the cockpit.

The Falcon exits hyperspace above the forested planet of Gramelon. Rey studies the scopes and notes that there doesn’t seem to be any First Order presence yet. Ben seems relieved. Rey asks where on the planet the Knights of Ren will be gathered, and Ben says that it’s a castle in the sacred forest where no spacefaring vessel may enter. Rey looks worried, asking if there’s any way they could bypass this, when a voice crackles on the radio alerting them to their position over the planet. The voice asks them to divert to the city coordinates before the ship is vaporized by their defensive weapons. Ben says that they should probably do what the voice suggests. Rey sighs, diverting the Falcon and landing in a busy, colorful city a continent away from the forest and castle.

What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
A New Hope Technicolor Recreation (Released!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)