beatrice_otter: Finn holding a blue lightsaber (Finn)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter

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Chapter 1 on Dreamwidth
Chapter 2 on Dreamwidth
Chapter 3 on Dreamwidth
Chapter 4 on Dreamwidth

Finn sat down heavily. Dimly he realized he'd knocked over the table they'd been playing sabaac on. "But, you can still send me home, right?" he asked, desperate, hoping he'd misheard.

"I'm afraid that's quite impossible," said the old woman. "This device was the only time travel device ever recorded in the Jedi archives, and those are the most complete archives in the galaxy. If it is not recorded there, it was never recorded anywhere."

"And even if we could figure out how to get it working again, it would take years—maybe decades—of study," the Jedi with his skin tone said. Windu. Mace Windu. "That in itself would change the course of history, so that you might find yourself in a completely different timeline anyway. I am sorry for you, but there is no way to return you to your proper time."

"But can they fix it? From their end?" Finn couldn't believe he'd never be able to see Poe and Rey again. They'd never stop looking for him; Shuttle the droid could tell them where he'd been when he disappeared, they could find the device in the ruins, and then maybe they could bring him home. Rey was ace with anything mechanical. She could fix it. And Master Skywalker was a Jedi.

"Are you from our future, or our past?" the woman asked. Nu, that was her name. Master Nu.

"Your future," Finn said. He glanced around—at the clone troopers, at the five Jedi standing in front of him. "This is my past."

"Then I'm afraid they will have even less luck than we would," Nu said. "If the device is broken now, it will still be broken then … and the echoes in the Force face quickly. To determine what happened, they would have to be in the system at least when it went off—I don't suppose there were any Jedi close enough, to your knowledge?"

Finn shook his head. No. There were only two Jedi in the galaxy, and neither of them were anywhere close to Ch'tagra.

"Then it will have been dead and useless before they could examine it and determine even that the device had been active, much less what it had done." She paused, frowning. "I suppose it's possible that we could leave a message in the archives, telling someone to be there to give them the information?"

"That … wouldn't work." Finn shook his head. "That really wouldn't work."

"Oh?" Nu said.

"Don't tell us why," Master Kenobi said. "In any case, even if it would work, that wouldn't solve the problem. They'd still have the problem of fixing it, and it's probably not possible even with all the time and resources and information in the world. I am afraid that you are stuck here."

Finn swallowed hard, feeling a faint ringing in his ears. It was starting to sink in, now. Poe, and Rey, and BB-8, the first friends he'd ever had. Gone. Forever. Just as surely as if they were dead. They'd never even know what happened to him.

He was as alone as he'd felt watching the TIE sink into Jakku's sands. Except that time, he'd only thought Poe was dead, because he hadn't understood how TIE escape pods worked.

This time, Poe hadn't even been born yet. And nobody knew how time travel worked.

Someone handed him a glass of water—Jesse?—and he took a cautious sip. There was a faint tang to it; they'd added something. He didn't take another.

What was he going to do now? He'd tried not to think of his options, while they'd waited for the experts to arrive, but it had been hard not to, with no one to really talk to.

Finn was a survivor. He was good at surviving. He'd survived the First Order, and escaped. He'd survived on Jakku, and found Rey and Han Solo and the Resistance and real friends for the first time in his life. He'd survived confronting Captain Phasma; he'd even survived Kylo Ren. Survived, and built a new life, his own life.

He could do it again, if he had to.

But oh, he wished he didn't have to.

Rey had promised to show him a few new lightsaber moves the next time he saw her. He brushed tears from his eyes. They were talking about him, he realized, deciding his fate. He could cry later.

Ahsoka listened as the adults debated the merits of worlds she'd, by and large, never heard of. The idea was to give Finn a new life on a planet so insignificant that he couldn't change anything galactic-wide even if he wanted to. Maybe even send him out to the Unknown Regions, so he couldn't do anything to affect the Republic. Ahsoka's knowledge of planets was limited to ones that were politically or militarily significant.

In peacetime, Jedi were expected to make occasional sweeps through random parts of the galaxy just to be seen and make sure nothing weird was happening. But Ahsoka was too young to remember anything but the war and the tensions leading up to it. Even Senator Organa had contributed a few suggestions, but Ahsoka had nothing to add.

Finn was crying. Ahsoka didn't blame him. The thought of never seeing her Master or Rex or any of her crechemates ever again … that would be devastating. Jedi weren't supposed to be attached, but … maybe she should meditate on this, tonight.

"… I still think the Unknown Regions would be best," Master Windu said. "There are some Human settlements out there, they can always use another set of willing hands. And it should be far enough that no matter what he lets slip about the future, nobody will care enough about the Core Worlds to send word."

"No," Finn said, wiping tears away. "I'm not going to the Unkown Regions. Of all the places in the galaxy, not the Unknown Regions. I grew up there, as a matter of fact. And I know what's going to happen, and I am not going to live through it twice. I'm staying here, and I'm telling you everything I know, and we're going to make sure none of it happens this time around."

"Finn, I know you're upset, but think about what you are saying," Master Obi-Wan said. "You miss your friends—you could prevent their even being born! You could prevent yourself from being born. I doubt you'd care to take that risk."

"You know nothing," Finn said. "Nothing of what's going to happen, you have no idea what I'm trying to prevent. My friends would all die to stop the evil that's coming, and if they found out I had a chance to chop it off at the root and didn't, because I was worried about them? They'd be furious."

"You may be able to make that choice for them, Finn," Master Windu said, "but can you make that choice for the rest of the galaxy? For all the trillions of sentient beings out there who could be affected by this?"

"Yes," said Finn, standing up. "Yes, I can. Because none of them—not one of them—are safe. There is a threat hanging over each and every one of them, and I can stop it now. Trillions? Well, I know there are billions I can save by speaking up. Maybe this is why the Force brought me here. Maybe I'm supposed to change things, did you ever think of that?"

"You were brought here by the last malfunction of a broken and deeply flawed piece of equipment," Master Nu said.

"Yeah," Finn said, "a piece of equipment designed and built by Jedi that runs off the Force. And in all the time it's been sitting here abandoned, the only time it fires up is to bring me here? Someone who knows what's coming, to a time when it might be nipped in the bud? And you think that's a coincidence? I don't. I don't think this was an accident at all. I think the Force brought me here to do this."

"He could be right," Master Anakin said. "Master Windu, you said yourself this whole place was a shatterpoint—maybe it's supposed to shatter."

"This is an interesting philosophical discussion," Master Nu said, "but I would rather not risk the fate of the galaxy on theory."

"Not on theory, on the will of the Force," said Ahsoka. "Isn't that supposed to be what we're listening to?"

"Yes," said Master Obi-Wan. "In theory. But it's … rarely that clear. In this case, I have had no Force-visions or premonitions about our guest—have you?"

"No," Ahsoka said, "but I feel that he is telling the truth now. He's the only one who knows. If he thinks it's important, we should listen."

"I'd like some harder evidence before any firm decisions are made," Senator Organa said, shaking his head. "It seems to me that this is a very unique circumstance, and rushing through when tempers are heated won't result in good decisions—from anyone. If we hear him out, we can't un-hear his information. Some time to think and reflect before we make any decisions would be … beneficial."

"Alderaan will be destroyed."

"What?" Senator Organa reared back. "Is that some sort of a threat, Finn? Or a bad metaphor?" Ahsoka had never heard him sound so threatening.

"Neither, Senator, just a cold, hard, fact," Finn said. "Some of those billions of lives I'd like to save? They're Alderaanian. About twenty, twenty-five years from now—I don't know the date you'd use, since nobody's used Republic dating systems in about fifty years—the Empire is going to send the first Death Star to Alderaan. That's a station the size of a moon, with a superlaser capable of turning whole planets to rubble with a single blast. And they're going to test it on Alderaan, to show the galaxy what happens to anyone who doesn't support the Empire enthusiastically enough. And, sure, the Rebels will destroy the Death Star soon after … but that's not much consolation to the people of Alderaan. And that? That is only one of the horrors that I want to prevent. You really sure, Alderaanian, that you don't want to listen?"

"You're lying," Organa said. "Nobody could construct a weapon like that. It would be impossible. And not even the Separatists would dare to use something that evil. The whole galaxy would turn on them."

"The Empire believed it would make the galaxy cower in fear," Finn said. "And I'm telling the truth. You've got five Jedi here, ask them."

"He believes what he's saying," Master Obi-Wan said. "I can't tell if he's delusional—he doesn't feel delusional, but one can't always tell—but he absolutely believes, without a shred of a doubt, that he is telling the truth."

It was Senator Organa's turn to sag and fall into a chair, hand covering his face. Ahsoka exchanged concerned glances with her Master. What should they do? What could they do? Still, that settled it, Ahsoka thought. Either Finn was crazy, or the Force had brought him here. The destruction of an entire planet could not be the will of the Force.

Organa drew in a deep, ragged breath, and turned to Finn. "All right," he said. "You will tell us everything you know. Start from the beginning."

"Senator—" Master Nu began.

Organa cut her off with a glare. "Master Nu. Are you going to try to tell a Senator of the Galactic Republic that he cannot hear information vital to the survival of his very planet?"

"No," Nu said. "But I would caution you, Senator, not to let your emotions blind you to the very real dangers we face. The destruction of Alderaan should be avoided if at all possible, but time travel is … difficult to predict, at best. Our actions to save it might set in motion the very events that cause the destruction, if we are in a time loop of some sort."

"I would caution you, Master Jedi, not to let your detachment blind you to the very real lives at stake," Senator Organa said. "We will be cautious. But that caution must not prevent effective action." He turned to Finn. "From the beginning."

"Well," Finn said, "it all started as the Clone Wars were ending. Palpatine sent the clonetroopers with Darth Vader to kill all the Jedi and destroy the Jedi Temple, and he claimed that they had tried to stage some sort of uprising against him to justify it. And he proclaimed himself Emperor, and the Senate approved it."

"He's delusional," Sergeant Kano said. "The clones would never do that."

"The Senate would never do that," Organa said.

"And Palpatine would never do any of that!" Master Anakin said.

"Wanna bet?" Finn said.

Chapter 6


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