A New Dawn
Return of the New Blood
By Michael Weyer
A New Dawn
The tranquility of Endor was shattered in the midst of lasers, explosions and fires as the war between the Ewoks and the Imperials continued. The Ewoks were using catapults to fling boulders onto Imperial positions, forcing them to run and regroup. Their superior firepower was coming to the fore, especially with their AT-AT Walkers, the massive machine firing off huge cannons to knock Ewoks away and scatter them.
Faith was kicking a trooper down when she heard the grinding of a Walker coming forward. She felt a shadow fall on her and looked up to see Chewbacca joining her. At his side were two of the Ewoks who had formed his loyal cadre, Paploo and his old friend Teebo. Faith looked to the Walker. “We need to take those things out.”
Chewbacca growled an agreement as the two Ewoks chirped at each other. They immediately moved to a nearby tree, motioning the other two to join them. Realizing what they had in mind, Chewie and Faith quickly scaled the tree, using the vines as ropes to reach a branch high above. Faith soon saw that a large system of vines had been deliberately draped about in ways to reach various trees. “Smart little fellas,” she smiled, patting Wicket on the head, the Ewok looking equal parts annoyed and touched.
Chewbacca grabbed one vine, Faith the other as the two Ewoks scrambled to hold on to the Wookie’s fur. “Always wanted to do this,” Faith smirked before she kicked off the vine, swinging through the air, the wind blowing her hair back. She couldn’t help but let out a loud Tarzan-style yell which the Ewoks copied as best they could. The group landed on the Walker, Paploo scurrying to wave in the window before the two startled pilots. “Get him off of there!” one yelled.
The co-pilot stood up to pop the hatch open. The moment he did, he was yanked right out by Chewbacca and hurled screaming to the ground below. Faith leapt inside and with a pair of hard punches, knocked the other pilot out as the two Ewoks joined her, immediately fiddling with the controls. As with a speeder bike, the Ewoks worked without understanding but plenty of enthusiasm, the Walker shaking about with Chewbacca yelling down at them. He finally got inside and moved, quickly grasping the controls. Lining the cannons up, Chewbacca let loose and destroyed another Walker nearby. He continued onward, unleashing firepower at startled stormtroopers as the Ewoks cheered and rallied behind the Walker. Inside, Chewbacca gave a smug smile as the two adoring Ewoks brushed at his fur and Faith simply rolled her eyes.
Back at the bunker, Han was working on the door. “I think I got it…I think I got it!” He put some wires together and with a spark, a second blast door slid itself over the first. Han just made an ill face as he tossed the wires down.
Leia was distracted by this and thus missed the stormtrooper drawing a bead on her to fire. She yelled as she felt it strike her left arm, falling back. Han quickly snap-aimed to take the trooper down before rushing to her. “Are you okay?” he breathed.
“It’s not bad,” she hissed. There were sounds behind them as a pair of troopers raced toward them, aiming their rifles. “Don’t move,” one hissed.
Han carefully raised his hands up, looking at Leia apologetically. She simply smiled as she reached into her coat with her good arm, revealing a small blaster concealed within. Han’s face broke into a wide smile. “I love you.”
“I know,” Leia replied. Han jumped back as Leia opened fire, cutting the two troopers down. Another group of troopers were moving in, their guns aimed and ready but a blast of fire ripped at them from behind, sending them down hard. Leia and Han looked up as into the clearing came Xander and Mara, both armed with a pair of Slayers behind them. “Kid!” Han called out.
“Hey,” Xander replied. “You guys ok?”
“She’s wounded,” Han said, nodding toward Leia. A rumbling sound got their attention and they all looked up to see a Walker march into the clearing. Mara was raising her rifle when the hatch opened and a brunette popped her head out. “Howdy, all!” Faith called out. “Need a ride somewhere?”
Han chuckled. “Yeah, we can get some help for Leia and…” He stopped suddenly and grinned to his love. “Wait. I got an idea.”
Leia rolled her eyes wondering if she might not have been better off if the bolt was a bit closer to her chest.
Angelus and Buffy both stared in disbelief as Angel hopped down from the catwalk, a long sword in his own hand. He was quite calm as he looked at his evil doppelganger, carrying himself with an aura of a man ready for a fight he’d long known was coming. “Hi, Buffy,” he said. “Look great.”
“So do you,” she stated for lack of anything better to say. “So…um…how you been?”
“Not bad. Living in L.A. still, fighting the good fight, they tried to make me join an evil law firm, turned them down.”
“Cool. So…magic thingy?”
“Faith sent the message through, I managed to hone in on your Slayer aura to get here.”
“Nice and convenient.”
“Says you, you don’t have to do it.”
Angelus was looking from one to the other before snorting. “God, I forgot just how damn dull you two were together.”
Angel looked at his double for a moment, then to Buffy. “Did my hair really look like that all the time?”
“Yeah, sorry to say, never had the heart to tell you before.”
Angelus sniffed. “Is this supposed to impress me? Newsflash, I’ve got the strength and healing, he doesn’t.”
“I make do,” Angel returned as he lifted his sword. “Buffy, get to Luke. I’ll handle this.”
She gawked at him. “Excuse me? No way! I’m the Slayer, he’s been my job to take down for years!”
“No. He’s been mine.”
“Oh, that is such a guy thing to say.”
“Buffy.” His tone was sharp and laced with meaning. “I’m not an expert on this ‘Force’ or such but I know a bit about the dark side. And I know that if you let your anger overwhelm you and kill him in rage…it’s just going to push you over the edge.”
“Yeah, Faith gave me that spiel already…”
“Believe it,” He pressed. “I know it.” He leaned to her. “Buffy…He’s been my problem for centuries. I need to do this.”
Angelus coughed loudly. “Lovely as it is seeing you both reconnecting, can we just get on with it?”
Angel moved forward, spinning his sword. “You got it.”
Seeing the blade, Angelus chuckled as he held up his lightsaber. “Once again, bringing the wrong equipment to a fight.” He lunged forward, expecting his lightsaber to easily slice through the other sword and Angel’s face. He was thus surprised when the steel blade blocked the red energy one and thrust it away. Angel’s smirk was clear. “You think I came without some preparation?”
Angelus growled as he leapt forward and the two began a battle both knew was long in coming.
“This is not going to work,” Mara stated from her place in hiding by the bushes. She stared at the Walker standing before the bunker entrance.
“It’ll work,” Xander pressed.
“You honestly believe that Solo putting on a mask and helmet is going to convince them the battle is over?” Mara demanded. “You really think the Imperial military is so incredibly stupid that…”
The blast doors opened and a squad of troopers raced out, led by a uniformed commander. They stopped in confusion as the Rebels, Slayers and Ewoks moved up from hiding to surround them. Quickly realizing they were outnumbered, the rather embarrassed Imperials lowered their weapons and held up their hands. Behind them, Han smirked with an innocent shrug.
Mara glanced to see Xander beaming widely. “I can’t believe I’m on a first-name basis with you people.”
Buffy was racing around a column when she heard a loud voice yelling “No!”
She picked up her pace, coming to the main room to see Luke attacking Vader with a ferocity she never would have expected from the young man. The two slashed and clashed hard with lightsabers but Luke was clearly wining, waves of anger pouring off him that struck Buffy hard. She watched in amazement as Vader was driven back, trying in vain to hold back Luke’s assault, falling to his knees as he blocked the savage strikes of his son.
As Buffy watched, Luke made one final strike that sliced Vader’s right hand right at the wrist, an agonizing cry coming from his helmet as the wrist, with lightsaber still attached, fell into the pit far below. Luke held his blade up to Vader’s throat, ready to make the final strike.
The Emperor’s cackling filled the room as Luke and Buffy looked up to see him slowly walking down the steps. “Good…good! Your hate has made you strong! You understand now. Now, take his life and his place at my side!”
Luke stared at him, then over at the fallen Vader. “Luke,” Buffy called out as she stepped forward. “Don’t. It’s what he wants. Don’t do it.”
She held up her gloved hand. “I know it’s easy to give in. I wanted to just now. But you can’t.”
Luke looked at her, then to Vader as he began to settle down. He slowly rose, turning his saber off and shaking his head. “Never.” He tossed his weapon away to a nearby stack of crates. “I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You’ve failed, your highness.” He stepped forward with Buffy joining him. “I am a Jedi. Like my father before me.”
Any humor had vanished from Palpatine’s face. “So be it. Jedi.”
“Move, move, move!” Han yelled as he raced out of the bunker at high speed. Everyone soon pulled away as fast as they could, diving for cover among the bushes and trees. A few seconds later, the charges went off in the generators far ahead, setting off a chain reaction. In a massive roar of fire, the dish and installation was destroyed, exploding hard in a fireball that reached over the forest. Han looked up and grinned again.
“Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?” Xander had to say.
“Now it’s up to them,” Mara intoned.
“Is Red up there?” Faith asked.
“Then they’ll do fine.”
Steel and laser clashed hard and fast as Angelus and Angel fought about. It was a strange battle, two men who looked alike and yet so far differently in attitudes and auras, Angelus raging with anger while Angel took it more calmly. Angelus shoved out a hand to send a Force blast that made Angel fly back but the other man rolled with it to block the lunging saber strike.
They clashed their blades close on, pressing on each other hard. As they did, Angelus’ nose twitched and his eyes widened. “Wait, I know that scent….Darla?!”
Angel shrugged. “You and me aren’t the only ones with ways of coming back.”
“And she’s human?” Angelus chuckled. “Halfway tempted to go back and turn her, try and get back the good times.”
Angel smashed him with a punch. “Wrong move.” He blocked a thrust as he shook his head. “Funny. I thought I’d be hating you right now. But nope. No hate. Just realizing that you’re a cancer I should have cut out a long time ago.”
“God, the talk, the brooding, I’m sick of it!” Angelus lunged forward, using his enhanced speed to knock Angel back. He smirked as he raced about to reach behind the man and strike him fast…
And grunted as he felt Angel’s sword pierce his mid-section right through. He was stock still with the pain, realizing how the blade was blessed, the agony was greater than usual. Angel slowly twisted the blade before pulling it out, seeing Angelus drop his lightsaber to the ground. “Still so predictable,” Angel noted.
Angelus gasped as he tried to keep his entrails from falling out of his stomach. Angel looked down at him with not glee but simple acceptance. “Right now should be a time for me to say something profound and such…But I never liked talking as much as you.”
With that and with one simple, powerful stroke, he swung his sword downward to bisect Angelus across the neck. The man stared out, more disbelief than pain or fear before his head fell forward, dissolving into dust before it even hit the ground with the rest of the body following.
Angel let out a long sigh as two centuries of weight was finally lifted off his shoulders. He spared himself one spit upon the pile of dust before he quickly moved off.
Vader had known Palpatine long enough to know what was about to happen next. The Emperor slowly raised his arms, his face scowling at the two Jedi. “If you will not be turned…you will be destroyed!”
Without warning, waves of white lightning erupted from his hands to strike Luke and Buffy hard. The Slayer gasped, trying to raise her lightsaber to block the attack but another bolt sent it flying away. Palpatine moved forward, no longer the weakened old man but blistering with sheer power, the Dark Side come to life around him. He fired off another blast of lightning that drove the two back, Buffy unable to hold back a gasp as she felt the agony of the bolts lashing through her.
“Young fools,” the Emperor hissed. “Only now, at the end, do you understand.” He kept right on blasting them away, Luke pushed against the railings as Buffy was driven to her knees. Vader slowly rose to his feet, limping his way to his master’s side. “Father…” Luke gasped. “Please…”
Palpatine kept the lightning up even harder, his grin wild as he reveled in showing the power of the Dark Side at his command. “Young fools…only now do you truly understand.” Another blast raked them over, Palpatine grinning wildly, his eyes lit with pure evil and exhilaration he hadn’t felt in years. Next to him, Vader just stared down, his black mask as impassive as ever. “And now, young Jedi,” Palpatine intoned between blasts. “You will die.” He then struck out and Buffy screamed as she felt the agony greater than ever before.
Vader stared at them both, at his son in pain and calling to him. His son. That boy was good. He knew that now. That boy was good and it had come from him. Which meant somewhere, there had to be good in him as well.
And something snapped.
It was the voice of a mother long gone who had always wanted the best in him and died believing him a hero. It was an elder Jedi who’d taken a chance on this slave, to give him a better life, free and able to achieve a great destiny. It was the memory of a mentor and brother who’d been the best friend he could possibly have asked for, fighting through thick and thin while teaching him about life.
Most of all, it was his beloved angel and how she had never stopped loving him despite everything.
A litany of faces and names rolled through his mind, victims, innocent and solider alike, all those he had murdered and terrorized over the last three decades. But despite all that, all that horror and evil he had partaken in…he could not simply stand by and watch his son be killed by the man who’d help turn him into this monster.
And so, after thirty-five long years, the spirit of the Jedi he was finally ripped out from the shadows to grasp the dragon of the Dark Side and wring its neck. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
Vader lunged forward and grabbed the Emperor, lifting him up high over his head. Palpatine gasped in surprise as the lightning raked out to strike the Dark Lord but Vader was undeterred. “Vader! Release me! Vader, I command you, put me down!”
Vader stalked toward the railing nearby, ignoring the agony of the lightning pouring over his cape like harsh rain. Realizing what was going to happen, Palpatine tried to struggle but even without a hand, Vader’s grip was tight upon him. “Vader! I am your master!”
“Darth Vader’s master,” the caped figure growled through his helmet. “But not Anakin Skywalker’s!”
With one final burst of his once awesome strength, Vader hurled the Emperor over the precipice and into the pit far below. Palpatine’s screams echoed throughout the chamber as he plummeted down, lightning still raking from his hands. Vader stumbled against the railing, the lightning flashing about, actually illuminating his skeleton within the armor. Somewhere far below, Palpatine’s body hit the energy reactors and exploded, a rush of powerful Dark Side energy rolling upward from the tunnels as wind. Vader was pulled by it but Luke leapt forward to yank him away. They collapsed onto the floor together, father and son, both reeling from what had just happened.
Angel came up to them, moving to help Buffy to her feet. She coughed as she glanced to him. “Angelus?”
“Back in Hell.”
“Good.” Buffy moved to help Luke carry Vader up. “Come on. Gotta be a ride to hitch somewhere.”
“We’re taking him?” Angel asked in surprise.
“Which is always the one of our lives.”
The Millennium Falcon
raced at high speed over the super structure of the Death Star as cannon fire raked the skies around them. The cannons weren’t all manned as the Imperials had counted on the shield for enough protection and were trying to catch up to the sudden attack of fighters. Behind the Falcon came a slew of Rebel fighters with Wedge and Kasen’s X-Wings in the lead. They zipped about the various towers, dodging the cannon fire as best they could before sighting their target: A large exhaust port created to allow access to the main reactor for construction crews. Nein Numb let out a grumble as Lando sighed. “Here goes nothing.”
With a spin, the Falcon
lifted up and then into the port, spiraling down the tunnels with several Rebel fighters following. A squad of intrepid TIE fighters gave pursuit, one smashing into a wall and creating a fireball. Another picked off a lagging X-Wing as the Rebels found themselves trying to handle the maze of tunnels, half-completed ladders and more. “Pull it together,” Lando declared. “We can run out of space real fast.”
Willow was in her seat, holding her head back to try and stop the bleeding of her nose. She yelped and winced with every near-miss the ships made as they flew down the tunnels. “Red Four, split the rest of the group off and head back to the surface,” Lando commanded. “And see if you can get some of those TIEs to follow you.”
“Copy, Gold Leader,”
Kasen’s voice echoed. “Willow…save me a drink.”
“Mazel Tov,” Willow returned as she saw Kasen break off to lead another X-Wing, a Y-Wing and A-Wing to a side tunnel leading back. A trio of TIEs followed but two more kept their pursuit up of Lando and Wedge. Willow was looking forward to see the tunnel before them suddenly compress. “Look out!” she yelled.
Lando managed to lower the Falcon
down so it cleared the gap but a loud wrenching sound indicated they’d lost the radar dish atop its hull. “That was too close,” he noted.
Willow groaned as she closed her eyes and wished she’d brought an air sickness bag.
On the main bridge, Admiral Ackbar watched as the tide of the battle clearly was now in the Rebellion’s favor. The addition of the Katana
ships was taking the fight to the Imperial fleet hard and one could feel the shockwave that the loss of the Death Star shield created, the Imperials more frantic in their attacks. In the distance, a combined attack of ships caused a Star Destroyer to erupt into flames for another blow to the Empire. “General Iblis, do you read me?”
the veteran returned. “What do you need?”
“We have to give those fighters more time. Concentrate fire on the Super Star Destroyer!”
Without bothering to acknowledge, Iblis fired off orders to his commanders. Two Dreadnoughts joined his own in moving into position to fire their cannons at the Executor
, leveling massive fire upon its rear and flank. A set of A-wings flew close by to launch missiles that caused one of the globe-shaped reactors at the Destroyer’s bridge to explode outward. The bridge of the vessel shook hard as a technician yelled out to Admiral Piett. “Sir! We’ve lost our bridge deflector shield!”
“Intensify the forward batteries!” Piett shouted, doing his best to not lose his cool despite the fact that a sense of dread was closing in on him. He couldn’t explain it but in the last few minutes, it was as if the Empire had lost…something. Some force, some feeling, the intensity that had driven them so hard was gone and in its place, chaos was beginning to take over. But Piett was damned if he’d let his command fall into anarchy. “I don’t want anything to get through!”
His aide was looking out the window, seeing an X-Wing eliminated by a cannon blast that sent an A-Wing spinning out of control.
“Intensify forward fire power!” Piett repeated.
The commander’s eyes opened wide in horror as he pointed out the window at the A-Wing flying toward them, close enough that he could see the pilot throwing his arms out with a defiant scream. “Too late!”
In the maneuver that would earn Green Leader Arvel Crynyd a postmothous medal as well as a citation for bravery in his name, the A-Wing smashed into the windows of the bridge, Piett and his commander instincitely leaping into the communications pit but unable to escape the massive explosion the fully armed and fueled fighter created. The explosion ripped about, engulfing the entire tower and causing it to collapse onto the rest of the ship below.
From the bridge of every Rebel cruiser, cheers went up as they saw the Super Star Destroyer slowly turn away, its bridge lost and engines unresponsive. Ackbar sat back in his chair, amazed at the weight of what he had just accomplished.
On the bridge of the Star Destroyer Chimaera
, Captain Gilad Pallaeon, until moments ago merely second-in-command of the ship, stared in horror at the sight of the flagship of the invincible Imperial fleet swinging out of control, captured in the gravity of the Death Star. It snagged ten fighters, two cruisers and another Destroyer in its wake. The entire conglomerate smashed into the station point-first, creating a massive fireball that lit up the sky better than any of the Death Star’s weapons ever could.
Staring out, Pallaeon slowly swallowed and turned to the communications area where men were trying to keep order, several computers damaged by attacks. Ignoring the body of the late admiral who had been in charge moments ago, Pallaeon spoke up. “Lieutenant!”
A young officer spun around to him. “Captain! We have damage to lateral controls and life support but crews are working fast! We can organize another wave of fighters to-------“
“Send out a message,” Pallaeon cut him off. “We’re now the command ship and we need to alert the fleet. Tell them…” He paused, forcing himself to say the words any Imperial officer utterly detested. “Tell them I am ordering a full retreat.”
That was enough to get everyone on the bridge to stop and stare at him. “Sir?” the young officer blurted.
“General retreat,” Pellaeon repeated, stronger now. “Recall all fighters and organize before the jump to light speed. Make for Anaaj to regroup.”
The officer and his fellows were still staring as the captain sighed. “We just lost every commanding and senior officer we had, Lieutenant. I’m not fighting in a burning house, not a battle we can’t win.” He turned to the window to stare at the Rebellions. “The day is theirs. We need to ensure we have a tomorrow.”
Swallowing, the officer moved to complete his captain’s orders. Pellaeon stared at the Rebel ships and did his best not to show the fear in his eyes. The fear that this day the galaxy had changed forever and not in a way that he found pleasing. Not for himself or for countless beings in the future.
The panic of the fleet was nothing compared to that on the Death Star. The sure calm of victory was gone, the loss of the Emperor felt by all, the dark heart of the Empire ripped out and what was left was a corpse that didn’t know to quit. In the main control center, Jerjerrod just stood and brooded, unable to accept how this could happen. Most of the crew had run off, trying to reach ships or just find a futile place to hide as their world came to an end or, like their commander, just brood over a futile effort. The sight of the Imperial fleet beginning to jump into hyperspace just added to the situation, the realization that the Empire as they knew it had died.
In the hanger, TIE pilots raced to their ships, no longer for battle but to escape. An officer raced ahead to lead a loyal batch of technicians and soldiers to a waiting shuttle. In the midst of the chaos, the sight of the once intimidating Darth Vader slumped in the arms of two people with a third following them was barely worth a glance as people had far more important things to worry about.
Luke gasped out as he saw the Emperor’s shuttle sitting in the middle of the bay as no one would have dared to try and steal it. He and Buffy were leading Vader to it but the Dark Lord’s legs gave out under him as he fell down to the deck. Grunting, Buffy and Angel helped Luke drag it to the ramp of the shuttle, Vader’s breathing now wheezes. “Luke…help me…get this mask off..”
Luke shook his head. “You’ll die.”
“Nothing…can stop that now,” Vader coughed. “Please…just once…let me look on you…with my own eyes.”
Luke moved to slowly undo the clasps of the helmet, a hissing of air echoing as pumps and seals were undone. Putting it aside, Luke moved to undo the lower part of the mask and slowly peeled it away to allow Anakin Skywalker to breathe fresh air for the first time in decades. The face was deathly pale from lack of sun and marked with scars of long-ago burns, the bald head also scarred as well. While surgery had undone some of the damage from his fall into lava, some marks still remained. Yet there was a kindness to the face now, the anger so long held now gone as Vader’s blue eyes stared outward.
He saw the stares of the trio, no doubt taking in his horrid appearance and a dash of his old humor came to him. “Luminous beings are we, Luke…not this crude matter.” He felt a rush of love now for his son and the woman with him. He wished he could thank his old friend Obi-Wan for ensuring their lives and the paths they took. Perhaps…he might see Obi-Wan again. And Yoda. And her. All was possible in the Force.
Vader coughed harder than ever, his voice now low and soft without the voicebox. “Now…go…my son. Leave me…”
Luke shook his head in denial. “No. No, we can get away, get you help. We can save you!”
“You already have, Luke,” his father softly pressed. “You…already have…” He looked to Buffy and managed to smile. “I loved…once…very much…Hold on to that…Never…lose it…” He leaned forward. “You…were right about me. Tell your sister…you were right.” He smiled once more as he slowly lay back. He closed his eyes as his mind allowed one final beautiful image to come to view.Padme.
“Father…” Luke said, his eyes wet. “I can’t leave you…”
But his father was now beyond words. Instead, with one great smile, Anakin Skywalker finally, at long, long last…knew peace.
finally broke through the tunnels and into the massive circular chamber holding the main reactor. It was truly awesome, needing to be built first and then the rest of the station constructed around it. “Go for the regulator on the north tower,” Lando spoke into his comlink to Wedge. “We’ve got concussion missiles, they should penetrate the reactor.”
“Already on my way out,”
Wedge stated as he flew his craft to the small tower jutting out from the reactor. He let loose with his photon torpedoes to shatter the regulator apart. The Falcon
unleashed its missiles from the bottom, streaking forward to smash through the electrical fields and detonate at the heart of the reactor. The ship spun around the chamber as a blast of energy destroyed one of the two TIEs following them. The three ships were streaking into the tunnel as the reactor collapsed on itself, creating a massive fireball that chased after them.
On the bridge of Home One, Ackbar was ordering all ships away from the Death Star. As ships fled the battle station, one more Imperial shuttle wasn’t noticed, even as it flew its way toward the fleet.
Willow closed her eyes, taking a deep breath as she whispered under her breath. “Ice, ice, cold, cold, ice, ice, cold, cold.” He was really not sure if the shimmer of cold around the Falcon
would help against the massive fireball following them but every little bit helped. Lando’s face was calmer than one would imagine as he flew his fighter like no one but Han could, dodging debris and blockades and not seeming to notice the flicker of flames coming to the edge of the viewscreen as the remaining TIE exploded behind them.
From the outside by the fleet, it appeared that a flume of flame spewed out from the reactor. Then, like a bat out of hell, the Falcon
erupted from it, flying hard and fast as Lando let out a scream of delight and Willow couldn’t help but resist a whoop of her own as she reminded herself never to get into a spaceship ever again.
In a burst of light bright as a nova, the Death Star exploded, a shockwave of energy ripping outward but lowering in strength before it could do serious damage to the Rebel fleet or the moon. It was so bright, it lit up the morning sky of Endor, catching the attention of everyone. Ewoks and Rebels cheered loudly while the various Imperial prisoners stared in disbelief as they realized the battle was lost.
Mara and Xander were helping Han bind Leia’s arm when they saw the explosion. Han laughed out loud at first before he saw Leia’s face. “Hey, I’m sure Luke wasn’t on that thing,” he tried to assure her.
Leia smiled as she looked off. “He wasn’t. I can feel it.”
Han stared at her bemused. “You love him, don’t you?”
Leia frowned. “Yes.”
Han let out a sad and tired sigh. “Okay. Fine. I’ll be the bigger man, I’ll stand aside, not get in the way…”
Leia was confused before laughing. “No, no, Han! He’s my brother.”
Han just stared in equal parts surprise, confusion and relief. Chuckling, Leia leaned in to kiss him and it took him a moment to respond to it properly.
Xander looked to Mara. “So…looks like you’re out a job.”
Mara nodded. She had felt the Emperor’s death herself, the echoes ripping through the Force as well as his last words. “He wants me…to kill Luke.”
Xander blinked at that. “Um…ok?”
Mara looked to him and smirked. “And you should know by now how well I do following orders perfectly.”
Xander coughed. “Look, Mara…you know what different lives we have and all and the odds against us…”
“Harris….for once, just listen to Solo and never tell me the odds.” With that, she kissed Xander, the man sighing out as he finally reflected on how his luck could possibly be changing.
In another time and place, the funeral of Anakin Skywalker would have been a lavish state affair with thousands in attendance. Now, it was simply Luke and Buffy, the Slayer watching as Luke brought a torch to the pile of kindling holding up the armored body. It ignited quickly, the flame leaping about to engulf the black suited figure completely and fill the night air. Luke stepped next to her and stared outward, his face drawn.
“He died…himself,” Buffy finally said. “A man, not that monster. You did that, Luke.” She put an arm around him. “In the end…he was the Hero Without Fear.”
“My father,” Luke softly whispered. He put his hand into hers and smiled. “I told you.”
“Glad to be wrong,” Buffy smiled as she tugged at him. “Come on, we can indulge our maudlin style later. Right now…it’s time to get happy.”
Luke let her lead him away as X-Wings flew through the air to set off fireworks. The forest was lit by torches as the Ewoks were welcoming their Rebel friends to a massive celebration. Every platform and home was being used for dancing and drum playing, the Ewoks happily giving food and drink to the various surviving pilots who were swapping stories of their exploits. The Rebel high command was with Chief Chirpa, Threepio translating as they gave their thanks. Mon Mothma and Bel Iblis were shaking hands, the bearded veteran happy to be back on the right side at long last.
“I want my money,” Boba Fett said as he followed Mothma onto the platform. “I did the job, I want payment.”
“And you shall have it,” Mothma stated. She paused. “Unless…you wish a bonus for helping us search the debris field.”
“I’m not in this for a revolution or forming some new government,” Fett snapped. “I want payment is all.”
“A shame,” Mothma stated. “One would think you’d have more to hope for in a new era like this.”
She moved to take her drink as Fett sighed behind his helmet. He had to get going, get some debts of his own cleared off and it was clear the changes to the galaxy meant more work coming. It was a way someone could really establish themselves as every two-bit Imperial governor would be making a play for the throne. In a way, Fett found it idiotic to waste time on that struggle when there was more to go for. Hell, in their prime, the Mandalorians…
“Mandalorians…” he muttered under his breath. “Hmmm….” He slowly walked off as his mind now mulled a possibility to break out in this new galaxy.
At one platform, Han laughed as he embraced Lando. “Told you the old girl would get you out of things!” He pulled back, his face serious. “Not a scratch, right? You promised…”
“Well, a bit of paint chipped off here and there,” Lando said as he moved to get a drink. “And of course, need to replace the radar dish.”
Han followed Lando with wide eyes. “Get back here, Lando! What about the dish?”
Willow pressed her lips against Kasen’s hard as they embraced. “So, so happy, was so afraid you’d be that last bitter casualty to give the happy ending dramatic weight!”
Kasen chuckled. “I have no idea what that means but glad to be back.” She rubbed Willow’s back down. “I…Guess we finally have to talk our future. Now that we have one.”
“Later, ok?” Willow smiled. “Right now, I need food and a drink and then get you out of that uniform.”
Kasen raised her eyebrows. “Well, well, no longer the mousy girl I once knew.”
“Nope. I’m the mouse that roared now. And I love it.”
Seated once more at his makeshift throne, Threepio looked to Artoo. “Don’t worry, Artoo, I’ll make sure that the Ewoks remember your contributions to what happened.”
At his friend’s annoyed squawk, Threepio drew back. “What do you mean, all you did? As I recall, you were the one who let yourself get blasted to near scrap!” Artoo let out several loud whistles and tweets as Chewbacca merely rolled his eyes next to them.
From a spot a bit away, Angel joined Faith, finding it better to keep out of sight in case someone with an itchy trigger finger mistook him for Angelus. “Any losses?”
“Thankfully, no,” Faith responded. “Which is good, hate to see the girls nailed by vamps, let alone some sci-fi freaks.”
Angel nodded as he watched Luke and Buffy enter the area, Leia immediately embracing both hard. “They’re not coming back.”
“They tell you that?”
“They don’t have to. I know her.” Angel smiled. “She’s still fighting the good fight, no matter what.”
Faith nodded. “She sure is.” She glanced at him. “Are we going to leave? Not sure how long this window Andrew said would still be open.”
“Soon,” he said. “You know how she hates leaving without saying goodbye.”
“Something you always had in common,” Faith had to note. She felt a tug at her leg and looked down to see Wicket chirping at her and offering a hand. Bemused, Faith took it and before she knew it, was dancing with the small Ewok with a laugh at her lips that Angel echoed.
Nearby, Luke was staring outward, his back to the festivities. He saw shimmering as a trio of forms appeared to his eyes. He recognized the ghostly outlines of Obi-Wan and Yoda. Next to them was a young man in Jedi robes with dark curly hair, a scar at his handsome face but still proud and strong. Luke knew this was his father as he had once been when he “died” in that lava, once more the great Jedi. He smiled warmly in an expression that spoke volumes of pride and happiness.
Luke felt Buffy next to him as she nodded to the trio of men. “Come on,” she whispered to him. “Han wants to have a long overdue chat with his future brother in law.” Luke chuckled as he let her take him off and to the celebration. She stood with Luke and exchanged warm smiles with Willow and Xander as her two best friends joined her in heartfelt happiness, the Scooby Gang having beaten all thrown at them with their unique style.
The fires from the night burned high and wide into the sky to speak their message to the stars. The Empire was dying. The Republic was reborn. And the Jedi…and the Slayer…had finally returned.
And so it ends.
I had no idea when I began this way back in 2006 it would take so long to finally warp up so I thank everyone who’s stuck with me through the long haul. Your comments have really helped inspire me to go on and hope the conclusion is all you wanted. I’m not sure if I’ll ever indulge in a follow-up but glad to finally get this to bed and hope you all enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you very much and here’s hoping you check out my other works as well. Thank you.