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Reap the Whirlwind

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Poe sees the whole thing from where he wheels above the battle in his X-Wing, though by the time everything goes wrong, the Resistance forces and their First Order enemies are so intermingled that he doesn’t dare fire into the melee, lest he hit his own comrades.

But he sees, and though his heart is in his throat he watches the whole thing, because whatever happens, someone needs to bear witness.


He sees Finn leading the squad of commandos he’s been training with deep into enemy territory, cutting through the lines of blank-masked Stormtroopers towards the stage on which General Hux rants and fumes and urges his soldiers forward.

He sees the blaster bolt from a TIE fighter - the First Order pilots have no qualms about friendly fire, unfortunately - which takes out half of Finn’s squad and throws Finn himself backwards, drops him limp and half-conscious to the ground.

He sees General Hux point at Finn, hears the man’s amplified voice cry, “The traitor! Bring him to me - I will kill him myself!” He sees the Stormtroopers swarm around Finn, seize him, and begin dragging him through the battle lines to General Hux’s platform. Finn fights, but he’s clearly dazed, and though he takes down several of his captors, there are always more to step into their place, armored hands grasping at Finn’s arms and dragging him forward.

Poe wants to dare the gauntlet of ground-mounted turbolasers that protect General Hux’s command station, wants to destroy Hux before Finn can be brought before him, but there’s no gap - enough of the X-Wings have been taken down by the merciless ground fire that General Organa has ordered them to stay back and cease attempting it. Poe wants to blow every single one of the Stormtroopers who dare lay hands on Finn into smithereens, but he does not dare fire: Finn, unarmored and struggling weakly, is his captors’ shield against such attacks.

Poe watches the scene with his heart in his throat and wants more than anything to be on the ground, where he could do some good -

And Rey hits the Stormtrooper lines like a green bolt of lightning, her double-bladed lightsaber flashing as it spins and crackles through the air. She’s screaming, Poe thinks, staring down at her as she cuts her way through her enemies, but not in fear - in pure and elemental rage. It doesn’t matter what weapons the Stormtroopers between her and Finn are holding, doesn’t matter whether they try to fight or get out of the way: she goes through them like a rathtar through a crowd of unarmed hikers, their blaster bolts ricocheting from her lightsaber’s blades and clearing her way before her. She dances over the bodies of her fallen enemies and never puts a foot wrong, and it almost seems to Poe that the Stormtroopers are lying down before her to make a carpet of white armor on the bloody ground.

Finn’s captors are nearly to General Hux, who is red-faced with rage and bellowing orders half-heard over the din of battle, but Rey is coming faster than they can retreat, arrowing straight as a blaster bolt across the field to her captured friend. Poe sees her bisect a Stormtrooper who fails to leap out of her way fast enough, one blow of her lightsaber cleaving armor and flesh and bone as though they were made of rags. She reaches the little knot of Stormtroopers surrounding Finn with a whirling, impossible leap that plants her right beside her friend, and her lightsaber hisses and snarls as she sends her enemies flying, white armor stained indelible red littering the ground around her.

Hux bellows again, and Poe tears his eyes from the sight of Rey dancing like a goddess of death in the center of the battlefield to see that Hux has ordered two of the enormous shipkiller turbolasers reoriented, that they are pointing down onto the battlefield to Rey and Finn in their widening circle of dead and dying Stormtroopers, and Poe flips his X-Wing around, BB-8 bleeping anxiety, thinking that with that gap he might actually be able to get through the gauntlet and fire on Hux -

The turbolasers fire.

Rey catches the blast, as Kylo Ren caught Poe’s own blaster bolt so many months ago, stands for one blinding, glorious moment with the crackling fury of her enemy’s attack poised in her own raised hand, and Poe thinks he may never forget the image, that it is burned into his memory: Rey, glowing with protective rage, holding the very fire of the sun in her hand, and Finn kneeling beside her with a blaster in his hands, looking up at her with the same awe writ upon his face that Poe knows is etched upon his own -

And Rey flings the turbolaser blasts back the way they came, sends them screaming through the hush that has fallen over the battle, above the heads of ranks of suddenly petrified Stormtroopers like so many statues, straight back unerring and terrible to the platform where Hux has stood untouchable above the battle -

Poe has to shield his eyes as the blasts hit, wiping General Hux and his entire command staff, the platform and the turbolaser mounts and all, from the universe forever.

When the green dots clear from Poe’s eyes and he can see again, he looks down to find that every Stormtrooper on the battlefield has thrown down his or her weapon and is kneeling in the bloody mud, staring - as well they should be staring - at Rey and Finn. Rey has deactivated her lightsaber - it hangs again at her belt, looking deceptively innocuous - and has wrapped Finn up in her arms, clinging to him desperately. Finn clings back, just as hard. They stand there in the middle of death, uncaring for anything but each other, and Poe wants to point to them and shout, “Look! There is our hope; there is our victory! We fight in the name of light and love; look at what love can overcome!”

He doesn’t, because there’s a limit to the number of cheesy speeches the other pilots will let him get away with and he’s already reached his quota this month, but when he hears the Resistance fighters cheering over his comm, he can’t help joining in, his voice echoing off the X-Wing’s canopy. This is only a battle, and not the war, but they have won - Rey has won - they have won.

Poe is going to bake Rey a cake all her own, and hug the stuffing out of Finn, he resolves as he turns his X-Wing towards D’Qar and home. Well - he’ll hug the stuffing out of Finn once Rey lets go of him. Poe is not going to challenge Rey for hugging rights. He likes all his limbs to remain firmly attached.

Come to think of it, there will probably be fewer people calling Rey ‘the baby Jedi’ after today. Poe’s thinking that ‘terrifying goddess of war’ might be a better title.

Maybe he’ll write it on the cake.