Title: The Spark of Hope Author: val solo Timeframe: post- The Last Jedi Characters: Rey, Kylo/ Ben, Leia, Finn, Rose, Hux... pretty much all of them! Genre: Drama; Romance; Adventure Keywords: Redemption; Reylo Notes: It’s been a long while since I had the inspiration to write! This is just my own brain’s imaginings of what episode 9 could be. I hope you enjoy! *12/30/19* So, I started this right after TLJ, but abandoned it thinking JJ would surely give me a satisfying conclusion to this story and these characters I have loved since childhood. However, not so much. So I am going to try and make myself happy. Join me if you like! The more, the merrier!!! _________________________________________________________ Star Wars: The Spark of Hope The Resistance is on the run. The survivors of the First Order’s attack on the rebel base at Crait have gone deep into hiding, trying to regroup and reinforce their decimated ranks. The First Order, led by Kylo Ren, works to maintain control over the galaxy and bring a complete end to the rebellion. But the tale of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker’s unbelievable sacrifice on Crait is finding its way from planet to planet, quietly inspiring the oppressed, urging them to make a move and take a stand. The spark of hope is spreading. ———————————————————————————- Chapter 1– Alone So many stars. So many worlds. So many people. And he was still alone. Kylo Ren, Supreme Leader of the First Order, largest power in the entire galaxy, controlled it all, could make or break whole systems with just a few words. Everyone lived in fear of him, knowing he held their life in his fingertips should he be displeased. He could possess whatever he so desired. No one would dare deny him. Well, almost no one. He forced that all-too-frequent thought out of his mind. He would not think of her today. In fact, he determined this would most certainly be the day he did not even bring her face to memory. ‘Ben...don’t go this way.’ Too late. He slammed his fist into the closest wall and stoked the anger inside to rise and smother out the other, weaker emotions— regret, guilt, sadness. But it could not snuff out the loneliness that had been his constant companion ever since the last time he saw her face as the door of the Millennium Falcon closed and she was truly gone. It made no sense. Why was he not satisfied? Content with his current unlimited, ultimate power? Long ago he had stopped feeling the need for pointless things like family and friends. He had been fine with reveling alone in his accomplishments. Snoke had periodically meted out words of praise that, at the time, left Kylo feeling proud. Knowing he was hurting his family by doing the very opposite of what they would ever want left him strangely sated. But not now. Kylo knew Snoke had only used him for his own ends, manipulated his apprentice’s feelings to serve his own purpose—- just like his father had warned him. He had been foolish then. However, Kylo was still alive. Snoke was not, and Kylo felt absolutely no remorse for slicing his former master in half, using Snoke’s own overconfidence to catch him off guard. Once again, her face appeared unbidden in his mind. For a moment, he had seen the look of fear in her eyes as she wondered whether he would end her as Snoke commanded. Then the deed was done. Snoke lay in pieces, and Rey joined him in fighting the Praetorian guards. Never had he been so in sync with another. They fought as if they’d been training together for years, and in those few, brief moments he felt...complete. Reaching out his hand to her, he offered her everything— the power to make the galaxy whatever they wanted it to be. She would never again be just a nobody scavenger living hand to mouth, but have every comfort, every desire fulfilled. And he offered himself. Felt no hesitation in the act. Yet she rejected him— rejected all he offered for the sake of some antiquated ideal, the same ideal his own family had neglected him for years ago. The rage returned so he picked up a nearby data pad with the Force and flung it across the room to smash into hundreds of pieces when it hit the wall. “Problems with your data pad… Supreme Leader?” Kylo spun around to see his intruder— General Armitage Hux, once his rival for Snoke’s approval, and now an unfortunately bothersome necessity. His knowledge and efficiency with running the First Order’s military operations made it necessary to keep him around. If not for Hux’s skills, however, Kylo would have rid himself of the power-hungry zealot months ago. Kylo stood tall and straightened his black tunic. “No. No problem,” he stated calmly. Hux tried to hide his surprise at this unexpected reaction. He seemed always to be walking a thin line of insubordination. “What is it?” Kylo asked. “You said you wanted a report as soon as our intelligence team returned to the ship.” A flash of excitement had Kylo listening intently. Had he found them? Found her? Could this be the chance to finally finish off the Resistance once and for all? Hux was taking too long. “Well?” “They found evidence the rebels had been on the planet, but have been gone for some time now. We got the information from a local space dock worker who apparently helped them get supplies and leave the planet undetected,” he explained. “Needless to say, we killed him once he gave us what we wanted.” He looked pointedly at Kylo. “No place in the galaxy for traitors.” For a split second Kylo thought Hux might be referring to a traitor other than the rebel, but there was no way he could possibly know the truth about Snoke’s death. Kylo had taken care to craft a believable story, and Hux was at least intelligent enough not to question him openly. It had taken a few Force chokes here and there, but the man had eventually learned his place in this new hierarchy. What had Snoke said about keeping a rabid cur around? Hux might be a nuisance, but he had his uses. Kylo took his time, choosing not to respond to Hux’s goad. “Very well, then. Prepare the ship to leave and go to the next system. I want the remainder of the Resistance found and destroyed as soon as possible. I’m tired of waiting.” General Hux knew he was being dismissed, so he bowed and left. ____________________________________________________________________ “Yes...Supreme Leader,” General Armitage Hux practically had to force the words out through gritted teeth as he left the room. He worked hard to keep his true thoughts deep inside— at least until he was well away from Kylo Ren. He had no desire to be force-choked or flung against a wall today. When he finally reached the bridge, he let his breath out in relief. The hatred churned in his gut as he contemplated this last meeting with Kylo Ren— or rather, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren. His lip curled in disgust. The man had no idea how to run a military operation or how to rule a galaxy either. The Resistance was dead, apart from a handful who had survived Crait. They had no fight left in them, having months ago fled underground to hide like the sniveling cowards they were. And yet Ren was practically obsessed with finding the ragtag remnants, convinced it was no victory until they were all gone. So more resources were being used to track down any hint or rumor of the Resistance’s whereabouts. A complete waste of time in Hux’s mind. But, alas, he was not in charge. Oh, how he despised Kylo Ren! It was almost impossible to believe how Ren had come to power. Hard to believe some nobody girl had killed Supreme Leader Snoke, eight Praetorian guards, and rendered Ren unconscious. If only he had been quicker to pull his blaster in that throne room and get rid of Ren right then and there, things would be very different. Hux still wasn’t convinced Ren had told the whole truth. It was something about that girl. She had somehow escaped from Ren three times now— twice on Starkiller base and now from the Supremacy. She had some kind of hold on the fool whether the man realized it or not. And so these doubts had kept Hux questioning it all in his mind...caused him to secretly commission his most trusted underlings to search through the wreckage and data remains of the Supremacy looking for any evidence to support his suspicions. If he could find just one little bit of proof to dispute Ren’s story, it might be the beginning of the end for the ‘Supreme Leader.’ Hux smiled. How sweet it would be to bring Ren down. How sweet, indeed. __________________________________________________________________ “That’s twenty more— seven of them pilots,” Commander Poe Dameron beamed. General Leia Organa smiled at his enthusiasm. He was turning into quite the leader, working hard to make up for his mistake at D’Qar. They had nearly been eliminated. In fact, she had nearly lost hope that any of them would make it out of the doomed rebel base on Crait. Until Luke had shown up. Luke. She thought of him and smiled. What a showboat! Leave it to him to wait until the last possible second to make his move— just like the Death Star—- just like Bespin—- just like Jabba’s sail barge. She chuckled to herself. She could laugh now, but at the time of each of those incidents, there was nothing to laugh about. Except maybe strangling Jabba with that blasted chain! That was quite amusing and oh, so satisfying. But now he was gone, just like Han and her son. And she was alone. She didn’t want to let on that it bothered her. Too many people were looking to her to be the ever-optimistic leader who never gave up hope. But hope was getting harder and harder to hold onto. She’d been fighting this fight for a long time—- too long, in truth—- and it seemed all for nothing. The evil she had fought against as a young woman was still around. It had only slumbered for a time before making its return, bigger and badder than ever. And worst of all, it had her son in its vile grip and wouldn’t let go. She looked around their small briefing room— or at least what was serving as a briefing room on their current hideout location. Ever since Crait they had been hopping from planet to planet trying to outrun the First Order who seemed more intent than ever on finding them. Intelligence reports, what they could get anyway, said that Kylo Ren was in charge now. When she first found out, she spent the night in her private quarters weeping—- weeping for her son and what he might have been— weeping for her precious Han whom she never stopped loving— weeping for her failures as a mother and a leader—- and weeping for the people who depended on her to keep them going. It was all quite the mess. Rey caught her eye from across the table and smiled. Leia smiled back. The girl was a wonder. Leia knew it was the Force that had brought her into their lives. No mere coincidence that she was the one to find BB-8 on Jakku, just as it was no coincidence when Luke found R2-D2 on Tatooine. The Force was strong and always in motion. She had to believe there was a purpose, a reason for all she had been through, all the galaxy had been through. Surely, it couldn’t be for nothing— all the heartache and pain. She was so tired and knew she couldn’t keep fighting forever. The next generation needed to take up the banner and continue the efforts until peace and freedom were a reality for everyone, everywhere. Unfortunately, the time she had to train them was running out. (Her creaky joints reminded her of that when she got out of bed every morning.) Poe, Rey, Finn and the other brave young rebels needed to keep hope alive. Now, if only she could do the same.