anghraine: leia as rosie the riveter; text: we can do it (leia [riveter])
[personal profile] anghraine
...continues!

title: per ardua ad astra (2/?)
verse: Death Star
characters: Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, Bodhi Rook; OCs—a nameless lieutenant, a nameless medic, a nameless ensign, and Quartermaster Brakas
stuff that happens: Jyn tries to survive talking to people, in the most literal sense possible
previous chapters: one

Bastards, she still thought. Cassian had better be grateful.

Then she felt sick, mind alight with the memory of his blood on her hands, on his mouth. She hadn’t forgotten. But just for a moment, Cassian had meant the cool-headed spy, somewhere out there glowering at the unworthy, not the man who carved up his own body getting to her.

Soon, she promised herself. He’d be himself again, preaching about the cause, and she, well, she’d figure out what she was. Maybe a Rebel. Definitely free.


Jyn couldn’t make out what their audience said. But she heard the voices rise from a murmur to something sharper and sterner, a stolid wall against Bodhi’s babbling. After what couldn’t be more than a few sentences, heavy steps clunked up the ramp.

She tried to count the number of newcomers, but the precision of their march muddled her hearing. At least two, probably more.

Waiting a beat, she let Chirrut’s mantra cycle through her thoughts. Her parents had worshipped no gods, nothing but the Force. It was as good as anything.

Then, sinking into this role as she had sunk into so many others, she banished all superstition from her mind. Imperial soldiers did not cling to such things. Not if they wanted anything like a career.

“Raka, hurry!” Jyn shouted. Her voice cracked. “We need a medic. He hasn’t got much time!”

She twisted her head to look back at the ramp, careful not to change the pressure on Cassian’s wound. A single officer strode towards her, flanked by four stormtroopers. Bodhi, looking even filthier against the white armour and pristine grey uniform, trailed after.

“Your pilot said something about a man down,” the officer said, as he stepped on board the shuttle. It brought him within direct sight of Cassian, and he started. She glanced at his rank plaques.

“I beg your pardon, Lieutenant,” Jyn said, thankful for her mother’s accent as she’d never been before. “I’d get up, but—”

Cassian moaned. It sounded entirely genuine. In his condition, it might even be genuine.

But probably not.

The lieutenant switched on the com at his wrist and held it to his mouth. “We need another medic in Hangar B! We’ve got an officer here in critical condition. I repeat, a medic in Hangar B, urgent.

Jyn breathed. As he switched the com back off, she said,

“Thank you, sir. My commander would thank you, too, if not for …”

“Indeed,” said the lieutenant. “Who is he? Name and rank?”

She could nearly have screamed. Somehow, she hadn’t thought that far. Names—of course they’d need to have names! And just hope no one checked them. He had to have counterfeit identities, probably more than she did, but she didn’t know any of them. It wasn’t like they had talked about it. It wasn’t like they had talked that much, period.

You’re no better than a stormtrooper.

Suddenly the Rebellion is real for you? Some of us live it.


“He’s a captain,” she said.

“Captain,” Cassian mumbled. The lieutenant’s attention snapped back to him. “Captain Cass …” His voice trailed off, slurring the end of his name into mush.

Horror squeezed Jyn’s heart, tightened an invisible hand about her throat. Even like this, she never once imagined that he might be the one to give them away. He couldn’t be that out of it already, could he? She squeezed his hand as painfully as she could.

“Cass … ein Wil … lix,” he said.

“Captain Willix,” said the lieutenant. He returned his gaze to Jyn, eyeing her haphazard gear. Hopefully eyeing her gear. “And you are?”

Hallik was too similar. And too wanted in five systems. But after a life spent under dozens of pseudonyms, her mind fell blank of anything but reality. Jyn Erso of Rogue One, daughter of Lyra and Galen Erso.

“Lyr,” she said. “Sergeant Lyr. I’m aide-de-camp to Captain Willix.”

“I see,” said the lieutenant, his neutral voice unreadable.

There was nothing to do but brazen it out. “We were posted on Scarif, sir. Rebels infiltrated the facility and attacked the base.”

“So I’ve heard,” he said grimly. “The three of you are lucky to be alive.”

Cassian coughed up more blood.

Letting her face go blank, Jyn said, “Yes, sir.”

The lieutenant looked nearly abashed. He crouched down to consider Cassian.

“What happened to him?”

“I’m not entirely sure.” Not daring complacency, she ran a reel of her greatest embarrassments through her mind until she felt blood rise to her cheeks. “The Rebels knocked me out and stripped me.”

“Ah,” said the lieutenant, with another glance at her body. “That explains it.”

Jyn repressed her instinctive response. “I couldn’t have been out for more than a few minutes. When I woke up, I … I found what clothing I could and went looking for the captain. I discovered Captain Willix collapsed in the archive itself. As far as I could guess, he actually climbed up to try and hold off the Rebels. Alone, since his droid had been blown to pieces.” She inclined her head towards Kaytoo’s skull.

With only the briefest glance at the decapitated droid, he said, “A brave man.”

Her throat felt tight again. “Yes. Very brave.” Where were the damn medics? “He’d been shot. And fallen, a long way. I don’t know how many bones he broke, but definitely his ribs. By then, the Rebels had got away. When I found him, he climbed the wall of the archive until he got to the point where I could help him.”

The lieutenant whistled. “Not a soldier we want to lose.” Turning back towards the ramp, he muttered, “Where are those damn medics? Ah!”

Despite everything, hope rose in her chest. Jyn followed his glance, and almost cringed. Three Imperials in white, just like … but no. Their uniforms had none of Krennic’s obsessive neatness, hanging on them like bags and covered in stains and mended strips. Each carried some sort of analysis device, sticking out of a long-pocketed belt—so long it nearly approached an apron. With them, they wheeled a far more technical-looking cot than this one, its assorted apparatus squeaking and clinking.

“Finally,” the lieutenant called down. “Did you stop in the mess hall on the way here?”

The medic who appeared to be chief, a spare, middle-aged woman with fly-away hair, only shook her head. “I take that to mean that this is our man.”

All three of them rushed up the ramp. After one glance at Cassian, the chief medic snapped, “Out of my way, all of you.”

Cassian had stopped his periodic groaning and gasps, and lay quietly enough, blinking like a sleepy child. No doubt he was sleepy, but Jyn had seen too many quiet deaths to grant that. Every time he closed his eyes, she dug her nails into his wrist until he winced, the slow beat of his pulse continuing under her fingers. If felt as if her own life somehow sustained his, spilled from skin to skin. Like he would die if she lifted her hand from that terrible wound, even for a moment.

“I said all of you.”

Reluctantly, Jyn squeezed his limp fingers one last time and stepped back. There, she could do nothing but stand there, rinsing Cassian’s blood off her skin while the medics transferred him to the medical cot. Helpless, she picked up Kaytoo’s head, ignoring the others’ puzzled expressions.

“Careful, now,” warned the woman, while the two male medics hoisted up the furthest end of the gurney to keep Cassian even as they went down the ramp. Jyn hurried with them, the lieutenant keeping pace with her while Bodhi and the troopers trailed after. At least it looked less like open insubordination this way.

Jyn barely paused to look around the hangar. They weren’t the only ones arriving in bad shape; she saw at least a dozen other men being carried in stretchers, some protesting and others no better than corpses. Cassian, to her horror, much more closely resembled the latter. Otherwise the hangar was large, the usual bleak grey, and filled with Imperial ships and Imperial soldiers. She didn’t need to know more than that.

Not yet.

She almost had to run to keep up with the medics, one running some beeping remote over Cassian’s body even as they rushed him to med bay. They chattered at each other in near-incomprehensible medical babble, only a few familiar words popping up here and there. Contusion and punctured and compound fracture.

The lieutenant, easily keeping pace, said, “You managed to escape the facility with him like … this?” He gestured ahead of them.

“Barely. It was madness,” replied Jyn. “He was in better shape before we had to jump into the shuttle. This pilot came looking for survivors and found us.”

“Laudable,” said the lieutenant, apparently allergic to full sentences. “I had been under the impression that Captain Willix was his commander?”

Jyn allowed a note of disdain to touch her voice. “He’s a cargo pilot. He thinks all officers are his commanders.”

The lieutenant snorted. “Rightly so.” He cast a brief look at the stormtroopers and Bodhi, and gave a sniff.

“Thank you for your service, Raka,” said Jyn. “Now clean yourself up and report for duty.”

“Uh,” Bodhi said. “But the captain—”

The lieutenant’s brows drew together. Jyn, glancing back, said sharply,

“That was not a request.” She dared not apologize, even silently, but she thought one as fiercely as she could.

“Right—of course—I beg your pardon, sir. Ma’am.” He saluted and jogged away, back to the hangar. Hopefully, the uniformity of Imperial architecture would provide some direction. He could make it, as long as he didn’t get recognized, or reveal anything, or lose his nerve, or fall into any of the disasters that her ready imagination provided.

May the Force be with you.

“How long have you been assigned to Captain Willix?” the lieutenant asked.

“Six years,” said Jyn. Six years ago, she’d been waiting for Saw. But she always passed for older. “He more or less inherited me, to be truthful. My father was one of his father’s engineers, and …” Everyone knew that Imperial Starfleet ran on personal favours and obligations mixed in with nepotism. Whether he disapproved, participated, or anything else, it would be likely enough. And maybe she wouldn’t have to manufacture an easily questioned narrative this way.

“Ah,” he said. “Then I commend you, Sergeant. You might have saved yourself with none any the wiser. Not everyone shows as much loyalty and discipline in the midst of disaster.”

Jyn held her head high. “He is my captain, sir.”

In the hall, dozens of officers, troopers, and droids made their way in both directions. All gave the medics a wide berth, paying little attention to Jyn beyond the occasional bemused glance. Still, she knew she passed her death with every single one of them, hers and Cassian’s both. By the time they reached the med-bay, Jyn felt like she’d never been so exhausted or neurotic in her life.

Their three medics rushed him through. A fourth, posted at the door, peered over his spectacles at them and lifted his datapad.

“Patient?”

“He’s a Captain Willix,” said the lieutenant. “Another one out of Scarif.”

The medic’s lip curled. “This fucking planet. I never want to see it again.”

Who knew? She could agree with the Imperials about something.

“No one’s going to disagree with you there. This is his aide, Sergeant Lyr,” the lieutenant went on. “She’ll tell you everything you need to know. I have to get back to the hangar.”

“Thank you for your assistance, Lieutenant,” said Jyn, saluting him.

The lieutenant gave a quick nod, then turned on his heel and strode away with his troopers.

And that was that.

Before she could relish her survival of the first obstacle, though, she had a new nameless Imperial to deal with. He tapped his datapad. “Captain, he said?”

“Yes,” said Jyn.

“Full name?”

“Cassein Willix.” She could only hope it wasn’t some nonsense that he’d come up with in the moment. The bloody, barely conscious moment.

“Height?”

“A hundred and seventy-eight centimeters,” she said, grateful that she’d looked him up in the Alliance databank. There wasn’t much there, of course, but Jyn didn’t follow dangerous blaster-toting men into warzones without digging up everything she could find about them. Even if follow might be putting it strongly. And if she’d paid more attention to the none under spouse and children than his weight and birthdate.

She didn’t dare provide the latter. If Cassein had developed any real identity, it wouldn’t be identical to Cassian’s. Though with that awful name, who knew?

“I’m not sure,” she told the medic. “His age has a way of changing every time he gives it. I think he’s about thirty-five.”

Almost ten years younger, in fact. She wasn’t the only one to wear herself older than her age. And she’d have known it even without the databank. I’ve been in this fight since—

It was only two decades ago that disaffected senators started whispering and plotting together. Two decades ago that the Republic tottered on its last legs. Two decades ago that Cassian Andor was six years old, and chose his path.

Definitely better that they didn’t have the details.

The medic snorted. “One of those. Well, it should be good enough. Let’s see. ” He glanced over his shoulder at the bay.

To Jyn, it wasn’t much different than the usual grey expanse, touched by gleaming white, and interrupted by curtains and the occasional glass wall. Medics and their assistants rushed this way and that, while droids drifted about, their toneless voices cutting through the hubbub.

“Quadrant G Northeast,” the medic muttered to himself, tapping. “Not E, G. Seventh floor. Bed …” He checked again. “Thirty-one. Good, all linked up in the system.”

Her throat felt raw. “Will he live?”

“Preliminary diagnostics should be coming in. Yes, there they are.”

A good Imperial would stay dispassionate, show nothing but dutiful concern. After she’d come this far, she couldn’t afford to fall apart now. But she’d never pulled anything on this scale before, and she wasn’t a spy, and somehow she couldn’t unclench her fists or breathe quite right. She’d have to do her best, that was all. And hope that, once more, it might be enough.

“What’s his condition?” she demanded.

The medic whistled, scrolling. “Lucky to be alive.”

Jyn was already tired of hearing that.

“Blaster took off a chunk of flesh. There’s a lung damn near shredded. Did he have a bad fall?”

A bad fall. She nearly laughed. “Yes.”

“Figured.” He nodded to himself. “With that many fractures. Quite a bit of blood loss, too, though that’s from the blaster … he’ll be in full immersion for sure. Looks like they’ve called for the bacta already.”

It wasn’t really anything that she hadn’t already guessed. Maybe more bone damage. Part of her felt the same lingering horror as before, echoing around and around her mind from the moment she saw him fall. But a rather greater part was relieved. This massive base would have bacta, lots of it. Probably enough to buy a small planet. And he needed it. They couldn’t even think about escape until Cassian recovered.

“Good,” she said crisply. “I’d better go see him before—”

She’d only taken two steps when the medic seized her arm. Pale and weedy as he looked, his grip held her fast.

“I don’t think so.”

Force, no. Had something come up in the records? Cassein Willix wanted for something, or proof of his nonexistence, or …?

She ignored the pounding in her ears. “I beg your pardon? My commander—”

“You’re a contaminant, Sergeant,” said the medic. He gestured at her filthy clothes. Filthy everything.

Jyn winced.

Not unkindly, he said, “He’ll already be under. But if the two of you were on Scarif, you’ve got work to do. Have either of you been posted here before?”

She shook her head.

“Then you’d better go to requisitions.” He gave a slight smile. “Your captain’s going to want a place to sleep and halfway decent equipment. You can serve him better waiting in the quartermaster’s line than moping around here. The nearest one is easy to find. Just take the elevator up to Hall M27, hard right, two lefts, and you’re there.”

Peering past him, she thought about refusing. Just sticking around here and insisting I have to see my captain until someone let her. But this wasn’t the Rebellion. It wasn’t even the Partisans. It was the Empire. The Death Star. There would be no someone here. At best, they’d probably throw her into a cell for re-conditioning. At worst, well, Cassian himself would be horrified at throwing away their cover over sentiment. It wasn’t like she could do anything to help him, anyway. Or Bodhi, or herself.

Just one thing: keep this charade rolling. She might not have ever enlisted, but she was a Rebel agent now. Just like Cassian.

She said, “Oh, of course. I should have thought of that—the battle rattled me a bit. Elevator to M27 and right, left, left?”

He nodded. “If he does wake, we’ll tell him where you’ve gone. Stressors are a liability to recovery.”

Jyn flashed a smile, more confident than she could begin to feel. “I’m sure his lungs will thank you. I’ll be back when I’ve been decontaminated.”

As she walked away, her entire back prickled. She felt like a dozen blasters must be trained on her at once. But she strode through the hall with as much purpose and assurance as she could muster, and nobody so much as lifted a blaster. Just a few eyebrows.

In the elevator, an ensign looked her up and down. “What the hell are you wearing?”

“Lost my armour on Scarif,” she said curtly.

To her surprise, the bemusement on his face dissolved into sympathy. “Damn. I heard it’s a nightmare down there.”

“It is,” said Jyn.

“And you didn’t have armour? You’re lucky to—”

She fixed her eyes straight ahead. “I know.”

Awkwardly, he shuffled. Neither said another word for the next fifteen minutes, until L14 blinked on the screen.

“That’s mine,” he said. Jyn, practicing her best sneering Imperial, didn’t deign to respond.

Though the ensign towered over her—he must have been well over six feet—he seemed actually intimidated. He stared at his feet until the door opened, and bolted out into a long empty hall.

Not someone destined for glory, she thought. They could only hope that the Death Star contained more like that than like Krennic. Possible, but she dared not count on it.

The door closed, and for a wonderful two minutes, she was alone. Jyn nearly slumped against the wall in relief. Or maybe the floor. Her legs ached, thighs to the soles of her feet. She’d give just about anything for some rest. Instead, she squinted up at the ceiling. There might be cameras. She didn’t see any, but that didn’t have to mean anything. She stayed straight as a protocol droid.

M27 flashed over the screen. Jyn inhaled, locked her hands behind her back, and marched through the door.

Another stage cleared.



Quartermaster Brakas was considerably taller than the ensign, and had far broader shoulders. With weathered skin and bristly eyebrows over narrow eyes, he seemed perpetually angry, not helped by the fact that he never spoke in anything below a shout, except when he dropped to a hoarse whisper. To her relief, he also spoke in a heavy Rylothian accent. Everyone else had talked like they walked off the HoloNet. However far Cassian’s self-command went, she felt it wouldn’t extend to faking an accent under anaesthesia.

In any case, though Brakas’s uniform bore only the vaguest resemblance to regulation—his jacket open over an oil-stained shirt and floppy trousers—nobody appeared to pay attention to it. Jyn had no difficulty guessing why. Both muscular and tending a little to fat, he looked like he could snap anyone in two, and very much wanted to. His assistants scurried anxiously at every barked order.

She noticed all this because she spent three hours waiting for him.

Privately, she’d doubted the supposed ease of the medic’s instructions. But at the last left, she turned and saw four lines of people waiting beneath a sign that read QUARTERMASTER, the lines extending nearly all the way down the hall. Soldiers chatted with each other. Petty officers grumbled and pointedly checked their chronos. And at least a third looked as battered and filthy as Jyn, most ragged and several in non-regulation gear.

Not the way she would have chosen to buy time, but there it was. As her nerves and muscles screamed at her, Jyn determinedly reminded herself that every moment of escaping attention was a moment Cassian had in the bacta tank. And one for Bodhi, if he’d …

Jyn clasped her mother’s crystal, then shoved it under her shirt. He’d be fine. He had to be.

In the crook of her arm, Kaytoo’s head stared vacantly up at her. She bit her lip and turned the face into her elbow.

She would have waited still longer, her gaze fixed on the quartermaster’s bald head, had not one of the assistants taken it upon themselves to count up the survivors. Two hours in, Brakas abruptly wheeled about.

“All of you out of Scarif! Over here!”

Several of those nearest Jyn gave her dirty looks. She ignored them and pushed forward with the others. Even then, she ended up at the end of the Scarif line. In most situations, of course, she would have elbowed and fought her way to the front, never mind her size. Now, she reluctantly gave way to necessity and let herself be shoved to the back.

Bastards, she still thought. Cassian had better be grateful.

Then she felt sick, mind alight with the memory of his blood on her hands, on his mouth. She hadn’t forgotten. But just for a moment, Cassian had meant the cool-headed spy, somewhere out there glowering at the unworthy, not the man who carved up his own body getting to her.

Soon, she promised herself. He’d be himself again, preaching about the cause, and she, well, she’d figure out what she was. Maybe a Rebel. Definitely free.

The minutes ticked by, filled by Brakas’ shouting and the clacks of the machines along the walls, where some of the assistants took lesser requests. Jyn, grasping Kaytoo’s head as she’d once clutched her stormtrooper doll, tried to think of anything but this. The plans had gotten out. The Rebels should be carrying them to the high command at this moment. Maybe those gutless senators would finally do something.

Something, in the best case, would be destroying the Death Star. Even if they were all on it. Though she didn’t want to die, it’d be worth it.

But she wasn’t going down without trying her damnedest to pull them all through.

“You!” snarled Brakas.

Jyn nearly jumped.

“What’s your identification code?”

Fuck.

“I’m here for my commander,” she said, mind racing.

Brakas rolled his eyes. “Then what’s his?”

They had nothing to lose now. Jyn hesitated, then took one last leap.

“Three one five jay eight oh ar six one eight five.”

Grumbling to himself, he typed it into the tech station in front of him. His scowl didn’t shift, and her whole chest shuddered. She held Kaytoo tighter.

“Captain Cassein Willix?” Brakas demanded.

In that moment, she could have kissed Cassian Andor. Blood and all.

“Yes,” said Jyn. “It’s just the two of us. I’m his sergeant. The rest of the team didn’t make it. No equipment, either.”

“Cry to someone who cares,” he said. “All right. Two quarters—”

“One,” Jyn said.

Brakas fixed his glare on her. Horrifyingly, she was reminded of Saw.

“I don’t know what you all got away with on Scarif. On the Death Star, there is no fraternization.

“Fraternization?” Jyn shook her head violently. “Ugh, no, nothing like that. Captain Willix was very severely injured, and he never listens to the medics. Or anyone. He’ll fu—uh, disrupt his recovery if I don’t keep a close eye on him.” She dared an exasperated smile. “You know how they are, officers.”

Brakas snorted, but he regarded her with something almost like friendliness. “Sure do. Damn idiots think they’re invincible, when half are the brats of some politician or other, and the other half convinced they’re martyrs.”

“Exactly,” said Jyn, in her most long-suffering tone. Turning it conversational, she added, “Captain Willix is, well, he’s a bit of both. But he’s a good commander when I can keep him in line. Helps that he’s not Coruscanti. Neither of us are.”

He lifted a brow, typing into the station. “Says he’s Alderaanian.”

“Right,” said Jyn. Bail Organa’s planet? An odd choice, but she’d think about that later. She gestured at her mouth. “And me, well, it’s my mother who came out of Imperial City, not me. I’m from the back-end of nowhere, but I figured out pretty fast that the higher-ups don’t need to know that.”

Brakas actually gave a short laugh. “Good for you. Okay, it’s all in. Captain’s quarters for two, F1813. Datapads, comms, so on. Full set of uniforms—” He gestured at one of the assistants. “Give him measurements for both of you. Should be ready within a standard day.”

“Thanks,” Jyn said. She glanced at the impatient crowds, and gave him a sympathetic look. “Good luck, Sergeant.”

“I’ll need it,” muttered Brakas.

Once again, she walked away unscathed. And this time, as she headed over to the outfitter, she didn’t even feel a target painted on her back. Not safe—that’d be idiotic—but not, at this instant, in danger from the very ordinary people around her. Maybe she was just tired.

Jyn hoped so. She didn’t want to like anyone here.

on 2017-01-10 06:03 pm (UTC)
zero_pixel_count: a sleeping woman, a highway stretching out, mountains (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] zero_pixel_count
So, funny thing - I read the first bit on Tumblr when you posted, and still have the tab open because I was like 'shit, I want to read the rest of this, and I don't reliably see everything on my Tumblr feed because it's too long' and then you posted on DW, and I was like, ah, yes, I shall go comment there and say so -

- then apparently Time Happened? And now there is a second part! I am kind of impressed that you have written a second piece in less than the time it took me to remember that I needed to go leave a comment. *facepalm*

ANYWAY I was totally biting my metaphorical nails through that.

on 2017-01-12 09:08 pm (UTC)
zero_pixel_count: a sleeping woman, a highway stretching out, mountains (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] zero_pixel_count
Yeah that "Jyn talks to people and doesn't get killed" is exactly where the tension's coming from though, it goes up every conversation, and down again as she doesn't get caught, and it feels like the danger's escalating because of the cognitive distortion about coin-flips (ie: after coming up heads 10 times it doesn't feel like tails is going to be 50:50 on the next flip). It's more effective because you keep getting those moments of relief.

on 2017-01-12 08:34 am (UTC)
sathari: Anakin in the Vadersuit (Anakin's a knight in shining armor)
Posted by [personal profile] sathari
Still loving this. Still loving every bit of this! Now, to read the third part!

on 2017-01-13 09:58 am (UTC)
sathari: Anakin and Padme's wedding kiss with the caption "I love you more than light and dark" (Balance of the Force- Anakin/Padme)
Posted by [personal profile] sathari
Just the fact that she's trying to survive in the middle of the Empire, on the damn Death Star, is tension enough for me at least!

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