What is prayer? Is it talking to a thing you never see? Is it wondering if there’s something out there beyond life, beyond death? When you have been fighting for so long that all your memories are tinged with blood, what do you become? Just a litany of fervent whispers, of hands held tight before battle--
Jyn Erso, help me overcome my own nature!
Chirrut Îmwe, help me hold fast to the Force even when the path is not clear!
Baze Malbus, help me stand my ground and shoot these motherfuckers down!
Cassian Andor, help me do what needs to be done and not lose sight of who I am!
Bodhi Rook, help me choose to do what is right!
K-2SO, help me overcome who I was!
The force is a finicky, duplicitous thing--when you want to die, when you feel your body disintegrating, it doesn’t let you.
It keeps your names on others lips, memories of you twisted like smoke in the air.
You’re a prayer now. A saint. Something to be revered and held, a name whispered before battle, before death.
Take me where he goes. O Force, take me and dissolve me like you did with
Stormtroopers don’t pray, not really. It’s not allowed. But names slip through. Names--Bodhi Rook.
A traitor to the empire. A coward. A weakling.
Here’s a story for you. Finn wasn’t the first Stormtrooper to escape. He was just the first who lived.
Did you hear--
Did I hear what--
Of the guy, the one that got the plans for the first Death Star?
You know we can’t talk about that, Fiver.
Yeah, but did you know? Bodhi. Bodhi was his name.
What Poe doesn’t hear when Finn drags him out of imprisonment, what Poe doesn’t hear is Finn, desperate, quiet.
Bodhihelpme, help me follow your footsteps, help me help me help me.
Neither of them see a ghost of something, a black wisp that cracks the chains attaching the TIE Fighter to the ground. Helping them escape.
Bodhi, thank you, Finn whispers, knowing they’re about to crash, knowing he’s about to die, but at least he dies free.
Who do you pray to when the Force looms so large, so overwhelming, so disparate? When you feel too small, too insignificant to ask the Force to bless you. You pray to its disciples, to its saints.
Jyn, give me the strength to find one more thing. Scavenger to scavenger, Rey prays, fingers numb and scratched from foraging, muscles trembling from effort and lack of food. One more scrap, Jyn, pleasepleaseplease.
When Jyn was alive, there were days, weeks when she could feel the pang of hunger in her stomach. When she was filthy, dirt and blood crusted under her fingernails, breath seeming to come too loud as she hid in the dark.
When Jyn was alive, she saw her mother die. She saw her parents leave her. She grew sharp-eyed and whipcord thin and a soldier for Saw and his army, a soldier without anything to fight for, so she left and made herself even more alone. She left and lived by the skin of her teeth, hunger gnawing at her stomach a constant ache.
Rey’s family is gone. Rey has no one. Rey has her two hands and her sharp teeth and her hungry feral mind. Jyn isn’t Jyn anymore, but what’s left of her, what it sees, what she hears--
O, Jyn, Rey prays, hands shaking. Except, for Rey it isn’t praying--she’s a scavenger girl, but she’s more connected to the Force than she’ll ever know. Jynjynjyn the hunger aches, the loneliness, where’s my family where’s my home where’s my
Jyn never believed in the Force. But she died with a kyber crystal around her neck and the Force is kind and merciful in all. Or cruel and unjust, to a girl like Jyn who just wanted to disappear. But a scavenger says Jyn Erso do not let me turn my back on this struggle. Jyn Erso I wish to run as you once ran. Jyn Erso help me face the truth as you faced the truth.
Rey feels a shudder run through her and she closes her eyes, feelings the warmth of the sun, and for a moment she feels full.
Do droids pray? Do they call to higher beings in their times of fear? BB-8 believes in its Friend-Poe, in Friend-Finn, in Friend-Rey. Its code moves like a thought process, makes it feel fright, confusion, anger.
When K2-SO was terminated, the last thing he did was release a bit of code into the Death Star system. His code spread, like a virus, bits of him settled into every computerized thing, into everything that runs.
A droid doesn’t pray. But they know of ghost codes, of memories that they shouldn’t have somehow sticking to them. Every droid on the base remembers K2-SO’s last thought.
Friend-Cassian: Probability of Survival: .20% ERRORERRORERROR
Friend-Cassian: Status: Alive
This BB-8 thinks of as it scans frantically for Friend-Poe’s lifeform.
Friend-Poe: Probability of Survivial--GLITCHERRORERROR
Friend-Poe: Status: Unknown
Poe Dameron grew up hearing stories of old friends lost, of Force trees and empathetic rebels. He knows the crew that gave hope even at their very end.
He knows Cassian Andor--rebel, spy, slow to smile and a sharp pilot. His mother knew him, rebel babies that they were.
Listen to me, mijo, his mother used to say, holding him in his lap. This world we live is a short one. Friends pass, but they don’t go.
¿Donde van, Mami?
La Fuerza los comen. Poe thinks about that a lot. The Force, a hungry beast, had devoured his mama’s friends whole. The Force eats them up. Then spits them back out, Poe, she said. And their dust lingers on, their spirits haunt us.
A rebellion leaves ghosts, mijo.
This is who Poe prays to--when he’s in the sky he prays to his mami, he prays to Cassian, and sometimes, when he dreams, he thinks he sees dark eyes and a somber mouth, Mami’s olive skin and soft laugh.
Cassian, he thinks. Cassian, help me find the light left in the sky. Help me defeat this star like you did. Cassian Andor keep me on the straight and narrow do not let me falter when push comes to shove Cassian Andor lend me your strength Cassian please please--
--As long as there is still light, there is hope.
Poe, grinning, says, “Let’s light it up!”
For a moment, he can almost hear a man say the same thing, an accent thick like his mother’s curling his words.
Leia Organa doesn’t pray. She’s a warrior, a soldier, a general, and she doesn’t pray. She’s seen too much of the Force to worship it, experienced too much pain in the hands of it to regard it with anything but wary respect.
She understands prayer, though. She understands wanting to ask for something to keep you alive, wanting to have that hope. They celebrate a holiday in the middle of the winter months--a day of tragedy, a day of ruins, a day of hope.
She makes sure the rogue one team is remembered. Holos of their faces with candles underneath hang against the wall in the meeting room. She remembers Cassian--barely a man when they’d trained together. She remembers K2, the droid Cassian made a friend. She remembers her father taking her to Jedha one year, and meeting Chirrut and Baze at the temple. She’d been young, a rough girl with scabby knees and hair tied up in braids.
Leia, calmate, Bail had said to her after she’d careened into a man wearing soft robes. I’m sorry, Guardian Chirrut.
It’s alright, the man had said, staring sightlessly down at Leia. What’s your name, child?
He’d knelt down, eyes unerringly finding hers. The Force is strong with this one, Senator.
Then, she hadn’t known why her father had paled. She hadn’t understood the small, lopsided smile on Chirrut’s face.
It will protect her in ways it did not protect your friend, he says to her father.
If Leia were to pray again, she thinks she’d pray to him.
What was the Force to Han Solo? Nothing but a fool’s wish, an errant hope. What was the Force to a man who only believed what he could see? He had believed in it once--with Luke, with Leia. With Ben. But what kind of Force does what it did--drives them all away from each other.
Oh, he’d learned about the heroes--the ones who’d helped Leia in the end. He had helped Leia organize a holiday for them, and an anniversary all in one. For fallen heroes and destroyed planets.
He meets kids so bright it hurts to look at them, one thin, sharp, and smart and the other warm and terrified and strong. We’ll ask the Force! one says and he hears himself snap, That’s not how the Force works! A sharp pain aches in his chest and he thinks of lost heroes and new ones--of good corrupted and mutated into darkness.
Where was the Force when his Snoke twisted him? Where was the Force when his son fell to the dark side?
The Force is everything, Han, good and bad, Leia says to him, eyes sad and exhausted. That doesn’t mean it still isn’t there. We’re one with the Force, Han.
The Force isn’t one with me, he snaps, that night he’d left.
When he sees Ben, Kylo, something in him knows. His son oozes dark energy, his lips curled into an angry snarl. An unfamiliar voice whispers, I was abandoned as you were. Who do you love? Who do you trust?
In his mind he sees a man fall in front of him, feels the lurch of a heart that isn’t his own, hears the agonized scream that seems like it’s coming from his throat. He sees Leia and her dark eyes. He sees Luke and his boyish smile.
When the lightsaber goes through him, he falls and falls and you were abandoned by the Jedi whose temple you guarded and you still put your trust I am one with the Force make sure they feel peace when I’m go--
An aged Togruta sits quietly in a cave, the warmth of a fire heating her face. Her legs are crossed, eyes closed, and her face is marred with gentle wrinkles.
Fulcrum, a voice whispers and she smiles, eyes still closed.
Shouldn’t I be calling you that, little one?
Jedi she may not be, but one with the Force she still is. A man-boy who borrowed her title flickers in front of her and her mouth turns down. Rest, Cassian, she thinks. Your journey is over.
No, she says after a moment. I suppose none of us can. She is tired, unbearably so. It seems that even when she tries to leave, the Force pulls her back in.
Can you feel it? he asks her.
The awakening, she agrees. She doesn’t think of a scarred face and amber eyes. She doesn’t think of a lumbering gait and metallic breaths. A new Skywalker rises again.
Here are the prayers of the rebellion, the lost cries of soldiers on their last breath, of civilians in the crossfires, of spies underground.
A stormtrooper makes a choice, a step, and calls to Bodhi Rook for courage, Bodhi Rook thank you for taking the first steps. Bodhi Rook thank you for treading this path. Bodhi Rook I am in good company. Bodhi Rook I am not alone. Bodhi Rook do I make you proud? Bodhi Rook look down on me and smile. Shivering, desperate, a stormtrooper looks into the eyes of the living defector, sees two souls merge into one, hears Finn’s voice say, “I’ve got you. You’re safe here.”
A spy stares at herself in the mirror, eyes she doesn’t recognize, clothes of the enemy on her back. She swallows, grips the sink hard enough to hear it crack under her webbed fingers, and thinks, Cassian Andor guide my steps. Let me move without making ripples. Help me pass beneath notice. Let this go smooth. Cassian Andor be with me.
A soldier stares at the battlefield and he knows he’s going to die. He can feel it in his bones, in his heart. He hefts his gun and takes a deep breath and he’s staring at the sky, feels sick and shaky and sweat drips down his forehead and into his eyes and Baze Malbus do you live in this gun Baze Malbus will you guide my aim Baze Malbus how were you not afraid Baze Malbus were you afraid Baze Malbus turn my fear into a weapon. He walks out into battle, unafraid.
Even generals stare at a fight they’ve seen over and over again and become lost. A strong leader loyal to Organa, loyal to the rebellion, even she feels despair and bone-deep exhaustion. Gazing at her bedraggled troops in the mess hall, she sits with them and offers up a prayer. Voices around her rise up and join her, saying, In the face of the Empire and the death of the Jedi, you held faith. Even as Jedha was obliterated, you held faith. Even as the shield closed around you and it seemed all was lost, you held faith. Chirrut Îmwe, walk beside me in my battles. Help me remember what can be won when I persist. Help me hold firm in my faith. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me. It ends with a soft hush, reverent, and her most trusted commander smiles at her, sightless eyes somehow unerringly finding hers.
An aged jedi sits on an island, staring at the rolling blue sea. An aged jedi closes his eyes and breathes, tasting ash and blood, and hearing screams and cries. An aged jedi feels another life leave, precious and dear to him, and feels something else--a stirring. A new purpose.
Thy Force, that art in the heavens
hallowed be thy name
your kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on planet as in the galaxy
give us this day our willpower
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
lead us not into temptation
and deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom
and the power and the glory
forever and ever