Episode X: The Reckoning: Chapter Thirty-Eight

The sick feeling in Finn’s stomach didn’t fade away after his talk with Phasma. In fact, it had only intensified. Now, as he stood in the belly of Hondo’s swoop, preparing for the jump that onto the fortress, he almost felt like throwing up.

Rose never looked his way. She instead chose to ignore him, reiterating her fury at his unwillingness to get them out of this plan. Lest did she know the true nature of what was about to happen.

The former Knights seemed even grimmer than usual. Even they seemed to understand the gravity of what they were about to face down there, which wasn’t surprising. Anyone who knew anything about the Tolgans knew going against them in their own territory was a death wish.

Hondo, however, seemed as chipper as ever.

“One minute until the drop!” he announced jovially, flashing that roguish grin of his.

Finn tried to smile back but the effort made him feel worse. He turned away, taking a deep breath instead. Thirty seconds had passed when Ohnaka spoke again.

“So, wife to Najor–”

Rose threw Hondo an angry glare.

“–have you ever performed one of these here jumps?”

She seemed offended by the question. “I was a leader in the Resistance. I’ve been in many combat missions. Yes, I know how to perform ‘one of these here jumps’.”

Unperturbed by her anger, he clapped his hands. “Splendid!” He chuckled. “That would’ve complicated things.”

She shook her head with disgust.

“Ten seconds to drop,” the droid pilot called from the cockpit.

Now Finn felt positively queasy. Phasma patted his shoulder, noticing his discomfort.

“You okay?” she asked.

He nodded, forcing himself to straighten. “Always.”

The droid began to relay the countdown.

“5…”

He donned his helmet.

“4…”

He grabbed hold of his weapon.

“3…”

He took a deep breath.

“2…”

He looked at Rose, wishing he could see her face behind the helmet, wishing he could tell her how much he loved her.

“1.”

Rose was the first one out of the swoop, jumping with a clear purpose. The Knights followed, then Phasma, leaving him standing with Ohnaka.

“Here we go!” Hondo exclaimed before jumping out of the swoop.

Finn shook his head. “May the Force be with us,” he whispered to himself before following suit.

“Jumping” was an exhilarating experience that wasn’t for everyone. He’d been on plenty of missions that were nearly foiled by those who didn’t understand how to perform the dangerous maneuver vital to certain infiltrations. This was not one of those times.

They B-lined their way to the castle facefirst before turning in midair and activating the jet boosters on their boots to slow their descent. Within seconds they had each landed on the castle’s northern turret as planned.

Hondo laughed, clearly pleased with himself.

“Well, that was a success,” he declared.

Phasma didn’t waste any time. She grabbed him in a chokehold from behind and before he could decipher what was happening she twisted. There was a sickening crack as she broke his spine, instantly killing him, before tossing him over the edge.

Finn’s bile rose and he had to do everything he could not to puke. The Knights stared quietly. Rose, however, was expectedly surprised.

“What did you do?!” Rose cried, throwing off her helmet so they could each see the fury and shock on her face.

Phasma took off her own helmet, turning to Rose. “I did what I had to.”

“We could’ve done this another way,” Rose said. “You didn’t have to kill him!”

“There wasn’t another way,” Phasma said calmly as if trying to console an angry child.

Rose snarled, whirling to Finn. “Did you know about this? Did you greenlight this murder?”

Finn took off his own helmet, stepping toward her but she stepped away. “Phasma is right. This was the only way.”

Rose’s eyes became glassy. “We’re better than this. You’re better than this.” She shook her head. “How could you?”

“Rose. This isn’t the days of the Resistance anymore. This is a cruel time and that means to adapt, to frickin’ survive, you have to become just as cruel as everything else. You know this.”

“No. Everyone has a choice. You just don’t want to see any other alternative.” She laughed humorlessly. “I guess the stormtrooper inside of you never really left, did it?”

It was a harsh blow. Like a stab to the heart as she reminded him of his past. Even Phasma seemed shocked. Finn’s jaw clenched.

“Let’s just find ourselves a ship and get off this damn planet,” he said.

Phasma nodded. “Agreed.”

She took the lead, hurrying across the turret. Rose chose not to look at Finn, following after Phasma and the Knights. The pit in his stomach hardened and he was left with only shame.

He couldn’t wait to get off of this planet. Away from another killing that would haunt his dreams.

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