Poe couldn't remember the last time that he had slept. The past few days had been a whirlwind of fighting and running, and sleep had been the least of his worries. Now he felt it, the exhaustion. It wasn't just the lack of sleep, though. It was the guilt from his decisions on the Raddus. He had led a damn mutiny! All because his pride had gotten the best of him. He thought he may be better off in a starfighter than trying his hand at leadership again anytime soon.
He looked around the Falcon at what remained of the Resistance. The few handfuls of soldiers were littered around the interior of the ship. Many had simply found an empty spot on the ground to sit, trying to find their own bit of rest. General Organa was nowhere to be seen, but Poe assumed that she was in the cockpit with Chewie, plotting their next move. If it had been a day earlier, he would have been in there with them, making his opinion known. Now though, he would leave it to the General.
Glancing behind him, he saw Rey huddled on the lounge seat behind the holo board. She had her knees pulled to her chest, her arms hugged around them. Just hours earlier, he had seen her lift hundreds of boulders with just her mind, but now she looked lost, vulnerable. He walked over and slowly lowered himself into the seat beside her. She looked over at him briefly, but then her focus went back to the nothingness in front of her. Never one for long silences, Poe couldn't help but speak.
"Are you alright?"
Rey turned her head towards him again and shrugged. "I don't know," she said, frankly. "I spent my whole life on Jakku, wondering who I was, and now that I have some idea, I feel even more lost than ever."
"So who are you?" Poe asked.
"As it turns out, I'm no one," Rey laughed, though it was clear she found nothing funny about it. "I always had this vision of my parents as being these great, brave people, who loved me, but were forced to leave me behind for some noble mission. Truth is, they were no one too, and didn't care about me at all. I wasted so many years waiting for them to come back."
"You aren't no one, Rey," Poe protested. "You're a Jedi, a protector of the Republic. Who cares what your parents were, it's you who matters now, what you make of yourself. Look at Finn. The guy was raised to be a stormtrooper, but that wasn't who he was, what he was meant to be."
"I'm not sure how much difference I can make," Rey lamented. "I'm a Jedi with no training, no teacher, and no lightsaber. Luke was our last hope, and now he's gone."
"My parents fought with Luke, Han and Leia as part of the Alliance to Restore the Republic," Poe recalled proudly. "I grew up with so many stories about them, and about Luke facing down Darth Vader and the Emperor on the Death Star. Those stories made me want to fight for those who couldn't, want to be the best pilot I could be. You can be that for some other kid out there in the galaxy who's lost. Sometimes all we need is a little hope. I don't think Luke showed up on Crait so that we would wallow in defeat and give up. I think he had faith in us…faith in you."
Rey offered him a small grin. "Thanks, Poe. I wish I had as much faith in myself as you."
"Ah, the Force is with you. You just have to trust it," Poe intoned in his best professorial imitation.
"Do you know where we're going?" Rey questioned, her guarded facade now softened somewhat.
"No idea," Poe confessed. "I've hit my quota of doing stupid things in the past day, so I'm staying out of the way for the moment."
"Oh, what did you do?"
Poe shrugged. "Organized a mutiny against my commanding officer, while at the same time sending Finn on a crazy secret mission doomed for failure to sneak aboard Snoke's ship. No big deal."
Rey looked at him with her mouth agape for a moment before she regained her senses. "Well, yes, that does sound sort of crazy."
"Thanks for the pep talk," Poe huffed.
"If it makes you feel any better, I abandoned Luke Skywalker and allowed myself to be captured by the First Order so that I could try to bring Kylo Ren back from the dark side. Didn't quite work out the way I had hoped."
"Well, if it's any consolation, Snoke is dead," Poe offered.
"Somehow, I think I've unleashed something far worse," Rey frowned.
"Ren is kind of a dick," Poe chuckled. He smiled wider when he noticed that he managed to get her to crack a grin. Before they had a chance to continue talking, Leia entered the room from the cockpit, still walking with the assistance of a cane due to her injuries. She slowly walked over to where he and Rey were situated.
"Poe, Rey," Leia greeted them. "We think we've found a location where we can lay low until we gather our bearings. One of my Vurk contacts on the planet Sembla promised us a secure location where we could land."
"Sembla?" Poe pondered. "Isn't Sembla mostly ocean. The First Order finds us there, we won't have anywhere to run or hide."
"My contact promised we would be away from prying eyes," Leia noted. "I trust him, and we don't have much in the way of options at the moment. Most of our allies have gone silent on us." She looked especially perturbed by the last statement.
Poe nodded, giving up any argument before it could properly form. "Whatever you think is best General. I'm with you."
Leia patted him affectionately on the cheek before walking to talk to another officer. "You learn fast, Commander." Rey looked at their interaction with raised brows.
"Long story, but last time she slapped me. No, no, actually she shot me after that, so this was an improvement." Poe stood and looked back at her. "I'm going to go keep Chewie company. You think he'll let me fly this thing? I lost my ride and I think the controls are calling to me."
"I think he'll rip your arms off before he lets you," Rey grinned.
"Co-pilot it is then," Poe sighed, giving her a wink before heading off. He actually felt much better having had a chance to compare screw ups with someone else. The truth was he just wasn't used to it…screwing up. He walked into the cockpit and found the fearsome wookie alone, steering the Falcon. Chewbacca barely spared a glance as Poe sat in the seat beside him. "Think I could fly this for awhile?" he asked, completely ignoring Rey's warning of potential limb detachment. Chewbacca looked sideways at him and offered him a curt growl. Poe understood more droid than he did wookie, but the rejection came through loud and clear anyway. "Got ya. If your arms get tired, though, I'm right here buddy." Chewie didn't even respond that time.
They sat in silence for another hour as they sped through hyperspace. Eventually, the Falcon's navigation indicated they were approaching their destination, and Chewbacca brought them out of lightspeed, directly in front of a planet that was dominated by vibrant blue seas, with spots of brown and green earth speckled throughout. As they approached the planet, the ship's communication system indicated that they were being hailed. Not knowing whether he should make contact, Poe looked back, but soon realized that the General was practically standing over him. How long she had been there, Poe had no idea.
"Incoming message, General," Poe noted, though it was clear Leia could see that.
"Patch it through, Commander," Leia ordered.
A buzzing of static came through initially as Poe opened the correct channel, but then a heavily accented male voice carried through the cockpit. "This is Nyeb Vannis, for General Organa. We are tracking you now on our scanners."
Leia leaned forward even further over Poe, completely disregarding his personal space. "This is General Organa, Nyeb. We are receiving you."
"With your authorization, General, I will transmit our location to your navigation."
"You are authorized," Leia confirmed.
"Message being sent now," Nyeb indicated. "Follow the transmitted route, General. When you reach the destination, hold and wait for our signal."
"Transmission received," Leia stated stepping back. "We will see you shortly, Nyeb. Take us down Chewie."
Poe had just finished downloading the transmitted route, and Chewie was quick to correct their course, which they were off of, considerably. The features of the planet became clearer on their approach, but as Poe had recalled, their was little in the way of civilization. The majority of the land masses on Sembla consisted of small volcanic islands, which were fine for the native Vurks, who lived on both land and sea. Poe feared it was not the best place to rebuild a rebellion. His concern only grew as the navigation indicated that they had reached their destination. To put it plainly, they were now hovering over a large expanse of ocean, with only a small island out in the distance. Something clearly had to be wrong.
"Uh, General…" Poe began, ready to finally put voice to his reservations. Leia, however, tapped him on the shoulder and refocused his attention forward. He quickly understood why. In the middle of the swath of endless water, a large, metallic grey tube had begun to emerge from the water's surface. It ascended slowly, until it was situated at a gentle sloping angle. At first glance, the end of the tube seemed to be sealed, but then the covering suddenly retracted away, as if reading Poe's skeptical mind.
"I think that may be our signal," Poe said, impressed. Chewbacca lined up the Falcon and proceeded to pilot the ship into the tube. The tube itself was about twice the size of the Falcon in both width and height, so Chewie was able to follow the passage easily. The walls were bare, except for a string of failing lights that gradually grew brighter as the door behind them closed once again. The passage continued on for only a short ways, before it emptied into a large hanger, which only held what Poe thought were several submersibles. Chewbacca brought the Falcon down smoothly, right in the center of the hanger.
"What is this place?" Poe asked, turning back to Leia.
"The Republic used to have mining contracts with the Vurks," Leia began, "Most of the mining took place beneath the water, so the mining companies set up these underground facilities to expedite the process. There haven't been any mining crews here for decades though, so this place has been sitting abandoned. It's pretty safe to assume that the First Order likely has little to no knowledge of this."
"That's pretty brilliant, General," Poe nodded. "Even if they did track us here, I doubt their surface scanners would be able to pick us up. Still, how do we know the Vurks won't sell us out the first time a First Order ship gets within a system of this place?"
"Unlikely," Leia stated, confidently. "The Emperor had a Vurk senator executed after the fall of the Republic. Their sympathies don't exactly fall toward facist imperialism." Leia turned and started to head out of the cockpit. "I'm going to go meet our host. Would you and Chewbacca check to see what sort of supplies and equipment we have left to work with. Most of what we had we left on Crait, but who knows what Han hid away on this thing over the years. Then we'll need to set up a new command center."
Poe nodded. "Consider it done, boss."
If he had been tired before, than now he was ready to drop. It had been hours since they had arrived on Sembla, and Poe had been through every nook and cranny of the mining facility to take stock of the place. It was impossible to tell from above, but the place was actually cavernous. There were storage facilities, dining halls, living quarters and all manner of other places that needed to be inspected. Leia's contact, Nyeb, had given him a brief walkthrough, but then Poe had been left to his own devices, although he had managed to wrangle Finn into helping out as well. Which was why the two of them were currently moving a heavy table into the new command center.
"Tell me," Finn huffed, struggling under the table's immense weight. "Why didn't we grab Rey? If she can move rocks with her mind, then this thing shouldn't be a problem."
The thought had crossed Poe's mind, but he hadn't had the heart to ask after their talk. "I think she's still a little strung out. There's probably so many things going on in her head right now that we can't even understand."
Finn shrugged. "I get that. Apparently, I saw Luke Skywalker on Crait, but then he wasn't really on Crait, but then he also died because he pretended to be on Crait. I tell you Poe, this Force stuff is on a whole other level."
"That's why two normal guys like us don't get to mess around with it," Poe sighed as they finally set down the table. "Who knows what the hell we'd blow up."
"Me, maybe," Finn conceded. "I don't know about you though. Watching you fly is like nothing I've ever seen before. You sure you don't have a little Jedi in you."
"I think I would have realized by now if I had," Poe chuckled, barely giving it a second thought. "Anyway, what's with you and Rose. I noticed you were hovering pretty close on the Falcon."
"She saved me," Finn said, instantly. "I was all ready to run myself into that cannon, and then she just knocked me out of the way…then she kissed me?"
"Ah," Poe grinned. "First kiss? I'm only guessing because I'm not sure what the romantic opportunities were like for stormtroopers on Starkiller Base."
"Yes," Finn shared, "and non-existant."
"Well, good for you pal," Poe congratulated, slapping Finn on the back.
"I'm not even sure if I have those feelings for her, I think I'm just slightly shocked by it."
"Don't worry about it," Poe advised. "Chances are she won't even remember it."
"Hey, I don't think I was that bad!"
"Finn, I meant because she was just in a major collision and may have a head injury, not because of your lack of prowess," Poe clarified, shaking his head.
"Oh, good," Finn grinned, but then quickly frowned. "Not to the head injury, but to the-"
"I got ya, Finn. I think I'm going to call it a night. Not that I have any idea whether it's day or night right now from down here, but I'm wiped out."
Poe left his friend in the command center and walked past the living quarters. He took a look inside and saw that most of the bunks were full, although he couldn't really tell. He didn't feel like disturbing anyone though, so he decided he would just crash in the Falcon for the night. He had hoped to see BB-8 again, but one of the techs had taken the droid to double check all of the life support and security systems on the facility. They were a little short on droids, so BB-8 was working overtime.
The facility's hanger was empty when Poe entered, so no one disturbed him when he made his way onto the Falcon. There were two sets of bunks on the Falcon, and Poe was unsurprised to find Chewie snoring and lounging peacefully in the first set. Deciding against trying to squeeze into the bunk below or above the slumbering wookie, he continued on to the second set of bunks which were completely empty. Pulling off his jacket and blaster, he set them on the floor beneath the lowest bunk. He was just about to crawl in when something caused him to pause. He wasn't sure what it was, but he stepped out of the bunks and moved to the center of the ship. That was where he found her.
He hadn't seen Rey since they landed, but apparently she hadn't left the Falcon. Poe found her seated on the floor, knees crossed. Her eyes were closed and she seemed to be in a deep meditation. He just stood and watched her for several minutes, unable to move or look away. Poe would swear that he could almost feel an invisible presence surrounding swirling through the ship, as if it was caressing him. As time ticked by, he shook himself when he realized he was acting like a complete creep, just standing there and staring at her. Finally, he managed to drag himself away and into his claimed bunk. He sighed contentedly as he stretched his limbs. He closed his eyes, and realized he could still feel that invisible presence lingering. However, instead of distracting him, the presence lulled him into a peaceful slumber.