anghraine: jyn erso and cassian andor standing together (jyn and cassian)
[personal profile] anghraine
But I'm woefully behind on everything over here. :\

title: per ardua ad astra (5/?)
verse: Death Star
characters: Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor; some nameless OCs, but they're transitory—this chapter is definitely the Jyn and Cassian show (FINALLY)
stuff that happens: Jyn and Cassian discreetly catch up, for a Jyn and Cassian value of discreet. Also, it turns out that it takes a really long time to get around a base the size of a moon, and feels still longer when one of you has broken ribs.
previous chapters: one, two, three, four

He looked less pinched but also more exhausted; he hadn’t buttoned the jacket at all. Silently, she pointed at the bed.

With Cassian, she didn’t have to worry about some pathetic attempt at flirtation. He nodded, walked over, propped up the pillow, and carefully laid himself down. Then he said,

“What is Darth Vader doing here?”

Pathetic flirtation might have been better.


Getting Cassian out of the medical bay had to be a higher priority than literally anything else. Even so, Jyn didn’t look forward to the strain of pushing the chair around the Death Star. Since she’d never actually touched a hoverchair before—seen them, but never got near enough to touch—she didn’t really know what it would be like.

It turned out that you didn’t push them so much as … direct. Also, the medical bays had their own elevator system. Imperials still surrounded them, but Imperials of a less suspicious stripe.

Though they couldn’t be sure.

“There,” Jyn said in a loud voice, leaning down to Cassian’s ear. In some shallow part of her soul, she relished standing taller than him. “Now, isn’t this better, captain?”

“Yes,” said Cassian, without a trace of the irritability of moments earlier. He turned his head to look at her, eyes intent on hers. “You’ve done good work.”

Embarrassingly, she felt a rush of gratification. She had done good work, and she didn’t need him—or anyone—to tell her that. But it mattered, in a foggy way, that he thought so. Of course, his opinion of her work as an undercover agent of the Rebellion had to be more pertinent than his opinion on any other subject. Almost any other subject.

Your father would be proud of you, Jyn.

“Then I hope you’ll recommend me for a promotion, sir,” she said, leading him into the hospital elevator.

In his haughtiest tones, Cassian replied, “I may consider it.”

The door closed with two nurses, some sort of technician, and four droids inside. It limited anything they might say, even under the words, but she couldn’t regret it too much. Worth it to stay out of sight in the elevator, for one; wandering the Death Star with a man in a hospital gown seemed—not something to foster respect, even if she couldn’t think Cassian had too many concerns for his dignity around Imperials. And perhaps it was better that they couldn’t say anything remotely meaningful out in the open.

“I hope Dr Esten didn’t torment you too much. You seem in better spirits already,” she remarked.

Cassian sat very straight in the chair, but without the vibrating tension of before—if anything, a deep, quiet stillness that she nearly envied. She’d never been a quiet person, never wanted to be, didn’t want it now. But sometimes, she’d give anything for a moment’s peace.

“The doctor means well,” he said calmly. No doubt he’d have shot Esten between the eyes had it allowed for their escape. “I simply prefer to be an undesirable patient.”

One of the nurses snorted. “Pulled one over, did you?”

Cassian’s smile at him was positively sunny. “Only a small one. The ribs are healing, you see—but they can torment me in my own bed as well as this one. Isn’t it so?”

The nurse laughed outright. “It is.”

Glancing from one to the other, Jyn felt unsettled. More than unsettled. It was a lovely smile, and utterly wrong on Cassian’s face. Not the smile alone, either, but the easy good humour that pervaded his voice and demeanour. The features that had always struck her as sharp and suspicious now seemed entirely open and guileless. Friendly.

“You’re an officer, aren’t you?” the nurse was saying.

“He’s a captain,” said Jyn, eyes narrowed.

“Not many like you that far up.”

Something—she couldn’t have said what—flickered in his expression.

“You mean this?” He gestured at his mouth. “True. The admirals are kind enough to overlook it. On account of my genius, you understand.”

“Modest, too,” said a technician. “But where are you from?”

“You would not have heard of it,” said Cassian.

“I know a lot of places. Try me.”

“Sareia,” he said, and laughed (laughed!) at their blank faces. “I told you. It is a district on Alderaan—a very small district. Many farms.” That opaque nothing shifted in his face again. “Today I would be a nerfherder, if not for the Empire. I joke, but I am very grateful.”

“Aren’t we all?” said the second nurse, a woman. “Bless Tarkin and his vanity projects.”

The technician said, “Are we going to bless Vader while we’re at it? I hear he carved through those Rebels like cheese.”

“No,” the woman replied. “You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.”

Cassian added, “Well, Lord Vader is not exactly—how do I put it? Known for employment opportunities.”

They all laughed, except Jyn and the droids. Even if she’d understood what the hell they were talking about, she didn’t think she would have laughed. She couldn’t tear her mind from Chirrut and Baze and carved through Rebels like cheese.

The sign on the elevator pinged red.

“Good luck with the escape,” said the first nurse. “And the ribs.”

“My thanks.”

The others filed out into a busy hall, droids and all. This time, though, nobody joined them. The instant the doors closed, Cassian’s pleasant mask dropped.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Jyn informed him.

“As am I,” he said, grimacing.

That was some relief, though by the pinched look that crept into his face, it came from raw pain as much as anything else. Distracted by that horrid charm, she hadn’t noticed him turning pale again. He retained the same quietness as before, but held himself stiffly every time the elevator stopped or started. Jyn wanted to do something, and hated that she couldn’t. Halfway to clasping his shoulder, she withdrew her hand. It seemed grossly inadequate, and—and embracing a dazed and bleeding Cassian felt very different from touching an upright, alert one.

She tried to think about something else. To go by her comlink, they had forty minutes left in the elevator.

“I figured you were playing it up,” she said. “With Esten. I wouldn’t have imagined that you liked med-bays much in the first place, though.”

“No,” said Cassian, accent thinning out again. “But one grows accustomed.”

By ten, Jyn had known all the Partisans’ medics by name. Hell, in most cases, she’d known their families if they had any, and most of their histories. They felt almost like old friends, all the more as they tended to live the longest. Nothing like the sterility of Imperial hospitals, naturally, but she’d found herself less prickly around them as she got used to the needles and scolding and smell of burned flesh. You could get used to anything, really.

“Yeah,” she said. “One does.”

The elevator jerked to a sudden halt. He didn’t cry out, but she recognized his sharply indrawn breath as the nearest Cassian equivalent.

Jyn touched his shoulder anyway. “All right there?”

“Yes,” Cassian said, his voice full of the same tight frustration that she would have felt. “Thank you.”

He glanced up at her, and a faint half-smile tugged at his lips. That smile she knew, careful and wry and somehow encouraging. It always seemed like something drawn out of him against his will, stifled and unguarded all at once.

He probably wasn’t used to people sticking around, either. For the Rebellion, sure. But she hadn’t saved him for the Rebellion. She saved him because she didn’t want him to die.

On some unclear instinct, Jyn smiled back, still more cautiously. “I haven’t got us this far for you to fall apart on me now.”

The doors creaked, and opened to a pair of doctors. They peered into the elevator.

“Is this going down?”

“No,” said Cassian.

“Oh—pardon, then.”

The doors closed again. A simple mistake. Still, anger rushed through her, cold and quiet. Jyn didn’t even hesitate this time, just gripped Cassian’s shoulders and held him as steady as she could. She could feel his muscles tighten when the elevator jolted up, but no worse. Thankfully, he didn’t say anything about it.

“Not the intellectual trust of the Empire, I think,” he remarked.

“No.” Jyn gave a short laugh. Casting about for something of enough moment to distract them, but not too much, she went on, “Tell me about this Darth Vader. I keep hearing about him.”

As she spoke, she released her grasp on him and moved from behind the chair. She kept one hand on the side to hold it steady, but she wanted to see his face. Jyn always preferred to look at people when she talked with them. You never knew what their faces might give away.

Of course, she knew perfectly well what Cassian’s would give away. Nothing—or nothing that he didn’t intend to reveal, normally. But he wasn’t quite himself at the moment. Anyway, she liked to look him in the eye.

“Darth Vader,” he repeated. True to form, his face had gone entirely blank. “You had not heard the name before?”

Jyn said, “It sounds familiar, so I must have at some point. I don’t remember the details, except that he’s Imperial.”

“Yes,” said Cassian. “He is certainly that.”

“From what I gather, he’s involved with Starfleet in some way,” she went on. “But the title doesn’t sound military at all. Darth?”

Leaning back into the chair, Cassian rubbed at his chin. Then he pulled his hand away and frowned at it.

Not my fault, Jyn almost told him. The thought was immediately followed by another: I like it better the other way.

Wisely, she kept her mouth shut.

“You are right,” he said at last. “Lord Vader is not affiliated with any specific force or institution. He serves the Emperor directly.”

“But what does he do?”

“Whatever Emperor Palpatine wishes him to do,” said Cassian grimly. “In general, I believe he acts as a … a sort of special agent of the Emperor. Therefore, he does not often have command over significant forces, as the admirals do, but also cannot be commanded by them. Darth Vader is simply Darth Vader.”

“Huh,” said Jyn. She understood civilian contractors and the like, but this seemed very different. It seemed bizarre, frankly. She still didn’t quite know when or why she would have heard of him. When she tried to call the man to mind, she saw nothing.

Cassian’s gaze shifted to the featureless grey panel of the wall nearest him. He fell silent for several seconds, brows knitting into a frown—a moment’s weakness, or something he felt no need to conceal. On general principle, she suspected the latter. But when his eyes met hers again, they were intense and grave.

“It is worth mentioning,” said Cassian, “that Lord Vader does not require significant forces. He is one, in himself.”

Her skin prickled. “What do you mean?”

“He communes with the Force.”

Impossible. Jyn thought of her mother, and reached for the crystal. Inevitably, her fingers only brushed her bare throat. Trust the Force.

Every word that came to mind would betray them. She could only stare at him, hand still at her collar, grasping air.

“Imagine Chirrut,” he said, “if he were a black-armoured cyborg with a laser sword enforcing the Emperor’s will.”

“So … nothing like Chirrut,” said Jyn. But she remembered Chirrut, blind, fighting off troops with a staff. She’d had no difficulty believing that he walked with the Force. Though Jyn never depended on it herself, as she never depended on anything, she believed. She was Lyra Erso’s daughter, and nobody could take that from her.

“The abilities,” Cassian said evenly. “Vader has those, also, only much more so.”

“I find that hard to believe,” said Jyn.

“Regardless.” He made a slight, aborted gesture which she couldn’t begin to interpret. Then his glance dropped to his hands, loosely curled around the analgesics and sedatives. “He is a Jedi.”

“A Jedi?”

“You know what—”

“Of course I know!” Jyn exclaimed. She couldn’t mention her mother here, but— “They were all killed.”

“With Vader’s assistance,” said Cassian.

“And that’s who is here?”

His head jerked back, eyes blazing. “Darth Vader is here? You are certain?”

“Soon, if not yet.”

The sign flashed H29(G) only a moment before the elevator lurched to a halt. From this side, she could see that Cassian held his body not just still, but rigid, his jaws clamped together. Under his breath, he grated out something Jyn didn’t quite catch and probably wouldn’t have understood anyway. He looked very tired in the instant before the door opened.

Cassian smiled warmly at the doctor waiting outside. Jyn buried herself in Lyr.

“Excuse us,” she said, moving the chair aside to make room. “We’re headed from Bay Seven up to F One.”

“Long way,” remarked the doctor. He strode inside without hesitation. “Only nine floors for me.”

“Congratulations,” Jyn said.

Cassian’s expression hardened. “Sergeant!”

“Pardon.”

The doctor shrugged it off. He seemed more interested in Cassian, studying him with what Jyn could only hope was professional interest. “You look like hell, young man.”

In better circumstances, she might have snickered at anyone calling Cassian young man. He was one, of course—only four years older than Jyn—but she’d never thought of him that way. Then again, she hadn’t thought of herself as young in a long time, either.

“We just escaped Scarif,” said Jyn. The truth weighed uncomfortably on her tongue.

The doctor scrutinized Cassian again. “Then you look very well.”

“Thank you,” he replied. “I am in one piece, which is more than many can say.”

“Almost one piece,” Jyn corrected. “And not that much if you refuse to follow Dr Esten’s instructions.”

The doctor clapped her shoulder on his way out. “Good woman.”

As the elevator headed back up, Cassian pried his hands off the arms of the chair and wiped his forehead. He started to say something.

“Don’t,” said Jyn. She had to unclench her jaw, futilely searching again for proof of surveillance. “You … shouldn’t talk, sir. Not until you’ve had some more rest.”

Cassian didn’t argue, which probably said more than anything else. He just nodded and leaned his head against the back of the chair, features settling into neutrality between jolts of the elevator. When it finally reached F1, Jyn almost thanked the Force aloud. Instead, she led the chair out into the current med-bay, and tried to figure out how to get back to the hall she knew.

As they escaped the elevator, Cassian straightened up in the chair, alert once more. It was easier with him along; the minute they left the medical area, he flipped from pleasant and smiling to dignified and faintly embarrassed. They got directions within moments. Since he knew the structure of Imperial bases better than Jyn did—something that did not surprise her in the slightest—the directions actually helped, some. It only took another forty minutes to reach his quarters.

In that time, they hardly spoke except to confer over which ways to turn. Jyn didn’t mind; she had enough to dread in the conversation ahead. Her fingers tapped his passcode into the panel before he could lift a hand, her thoughts whirling around the plans and Princess Leia and the very concept of an Imperial cyborg Chirrut wandering about.

The door slammed behind them.

“This is it,” said Jyn. “Home away from home.”

Cassian had already lowered the chair. His gaze drifted about the quarters, from the furnishings to the scattered requisitions to Jyn’s rumpled bedding.

“Well done,” he replied. The detached tone should have weakened the compliment, turned it into something else, but instead only deepened it. Without effort, this time, colour rose to her face.

“Of course,” she said airily, turning her head away. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Cassian rise from his chair.

Instantly, Jyn jerked back around.

“Do you need help?”

“No,” said Cassian, and to her relief, it seemed true. Despite the hand pressed against the right side of his chest, he walked over to his bed without difficulty, his gait even. At the sight of the blasters, he drew a quick breath. Though his face immediately tightened, his voice went light. “It is good to see that your priorities remain in place, Jyn.”

Jyn had gone for years at a time without hearing her own name. But the last day and a half without it felt longer.

“Well, naturally.” Not trusting the sudden recovery, she walked over. “I’m the one who spent three hours in Requisitions—three hours terrified out of my mind, by the way—so I think I should get the rifle.”

Cassian gave her a look that could only be described as polite incredulity. “I will believe you terrified out of your mind when I see it. Also, your hands are too small.”

Graciously, Jyn ignored the latter observation. She admitted, “Maybe not terrified. But damn nervous.”

“Ah, well. You had reason for that,” said Cassian. His mouth thinned. “We all do.”

She hadn’t wanted him to hear about the plans from anyone else. But she didn’t want to say it herself, either. Least of all right now, when he seemed held together by bacta and willpower.

Unexpectedly, Cassian saved her.

“Is there a shower in the refresher?” Evidently, he’d seen the uniforms piled past the box. As he bent to reach for them, though, he grimaced. Before Cassian could wreck himself further, Jyn snatched up the clothes.

“Yes.” She pulled aside a single set of clothes and handed them over, feeling more than usually triumphant. “With water.

“Water?” His mouth twitched. “Then you must give me a moment.”

He headed straight for the shower, slower than usual, but still without a limp or slump. When he disappeared into the fresher, Jyn turned away. He’d have to be in a lot worse shape for her to offer help with bathing. Instead, she closed the blaster case and lugged it over to her side of the room. Cassian would have to ask for the code, which entertained her as far as anything could. Or he’d do some spy thing and steal one, which all things considered, would be even more amusing. She smirked to herself as she divided the rest of the requisitions between the two halves of the room, clearing off the beds.

It couldn’t have taken above three or four minutes, but Cassian walked out in Imperial uniform just as Jyn shoved the last of the kits into her drawers. If not for the damp hair in his face, she’d have suspected he never showered at all.

He looked less pinched but also more exhausted; he hadn’t buttoned the jacket at all. Silently, she pointed at the bed.

With Cassian, she didn’t have to worry about some pathetic attempt at flirtation. He nodded, walked over, propped up the pillow, and carefully laid himself down. Then he said,

“What is Darth Vader doing here?”

Pathetic flirtation might have been better.

Jyn sat down, heavily. She was tired, too. Alone with Cassian, she let herself slouch on the edge of her bed, arms dangling over her thighs, looking at the dull metal floor while she tried to organize her thoughts. But she couldn’t think of any way to soften the news, and probably wouldn’t be any good at it if she did try.

She lifted her gaze to meet his, both unflinching.

“It’s the plans,” Jyn said. “Someone was listening. We did get them out.”

“You did,” said Cassian. The half-smile briefly touched his mouth again, lingered in his eyes.

We did,” she corrected, unsmiling but fervent. “Together.” Jyn braced herself. “The plans reached the Rebellion, got passed to some princess who escaped Scarif with them.”

“Leia Organa,” he said immediately. He frowned. “What was she doing at Scarif? She should not be …”

“You know her?” A flare of interest lightened the gloom, a little.

“I do,” Cassian replied, his face and voice very neutral. He paused, then added, “She also works in intelligence.”

“Ah,” said Jyn. So the stormtrooper gossip hadn’t been exaggeration. She didn’t know if that made things worse or better. “A Rebel princess senator spy.”

He focused on her again. “All imperial senators have diplomatic immunity, but most of our allies in the Senate lack … vision, courage, serious commitment to the cause. They are allies, not Rebels. Not truly.”

“I noticed,” said Jyn. “And Princess Leia?”

“Born into the Rebellion,” Cassian said. “Her father is one of its founders, her mother one of our strongest supporters. It is all she knows. But they are … over-cautious. Princess Leia joined the Senate in order to provide us with a true Rebel agent in the government, one positioned to gather information and ready to act when needed.”

“Someone with nerve, you mean?” She remembered the dithering senators, mumbling about their constituencies and petty fears. “And—hope?”

Someone like you, she thought. Not that the daughter of royalty on a rich planet could really know what it was like to lose everything, whatever six-year-old Cassian’s everything had been. Probably not much different from Jyn’s own. Nevertheless, a Rebel spy with the guts and determination to turn lifelong belief to dangerous action? That sounded familiar enough.

“Exactly.” Cassian seemed pleased, or something like it. “You understand, of course.”

Two weeks ago, of course would have been the last phrase from his lips. Hers, too. But Jyn knew what it was to grow up in the thick of revolution, either steeped in it or ground down completely. Or both.

“Of course,” she said, at some level pleased that he understood. Jyn rather thought she would like to meet Leia Organa. Damned unlikely, now. She couldn’t imagine the Empire would keep her alive for long.

All light fled his face. “How far did she get?”

“Sorry?” How—

“How far?” At her expression, he sighed, then winced. “No, I have not heard the news. In fact, Dr Esten and her associates went so far out of their way to prevent my hearing it that I guessed something significant must have happened. At this point, it would most likely be connected to the plans. They seemed relieved, so it must be bad. You suggested that Vader had some involvement, and he is relentless. He would not arrive so quickly without success.”

She should have expected that, really. Now, at least, she didn’t have to figure out how to break it to him.

“Tatooine,” said Jyn.

“Tatooine,” he repeated. But he didn’t seem particularly demoralized; he just folded his hands over his ribs and examined the ceiling, as if some solution might be found there. “Not far, but she had a mission there. She might have … perhaps.” He shook his head. “There is no way to know, unless …”

“You are only partly right,” she said, and was petty enough to enjoy his slight surprise as he looked her way again. “That is, Vader only partly succeeded. Bodhi says—oh, we hid Bodhi with the stormtroopers.”

“Bodhi? With the stormtroopers?” Cassian considered. “Yes, that would be the only way. Is he holding up?”

“Seems like it,” said Jyn. “There was enough chaos and incompetence for him to slip through the cracks. He’s keeping his head down and picking up what he can. More than I’ve been able to. Apparently, stormtroopers gossip like schoolchildren.”

“Yes.” He went back to contemplating the ceiling. “What did he hear?”

For herself, Jyn hoped and dared not hope, all at once. She had no idea which, if either, Cassian would feel.

“According to the troopers,” Jyn told him, “a detachment got sent to Tatooine’s surface after Vader captured Princess Leia.” Feeling her fingers tap her knees, she pressed them flat. Cassian, irritatingly, remained so still that she squinted to make sure he hadn’t fallen asleep. “They don’t know much, they’re just—sorry for that unit. And Bodhi says their commander is twitchy because the admiralty’s in a foul mood over the princess. She’s still causing them trouble, he says.”

“She would be,” said Cassian. “Good.”

“Yes,” Jyn said crisply. “She must have ejected the plans somehow. Maybe they’ll keep her alive if they think she might talk.”

He was silent for a long moment. Then he said, “It is possible. As long as they do not find the plans, themselves.”

A very real possibility. Jyn felt cold, but she didn’t want comforting lies. She never had, and least of all from Cassian, now. Or ever—but in the circumstances, lies were not an indulgence any of them could afford. Everything depended on pooling their knowledge and discoveries together, on truth and trust.

She got to her feet and walked over to the hoverchair, where he’d abandoned the two bottles of drugs. As she picked them up, Jyn asked,

“Will she?”

“Talk?” At that, he did stir, if little beyond an adjustment of his shoulders, a tightening of his interlaced hands. “I do not know, for certain.”

Jyn unscrewed the lids, examining the pills. It was the only way to know the difference, since Imperial standards evidently didn’t extend to labels. There, sedatives on the left, analgesics on the right. Something easier to think about than the forthcoming torture of a daring, determined woman. Jyn stuck them in the crook of her elbow and bent down to extract a tin of nutrient milk.

“What do you think?” she asked.

After another of his careful pauses, Cassian said, “I do not think she will tell them anything.”

“She’s that good?”

“No,” he replied, startling her. From here, Jyn could see the strain in his face, despite the measured calm of his voice and body. “The princess is not an ideal agent—she has little ability or interest in concealing her opinions, and less in accepting orders.”

Jyn snorted.

“I know what you think of that, but in the field, information is often limited by problems of time and interception, and in many cases would never have been shared at all,” said Cassian. “Intelligence depends upon the obedience as well as the resourcefulness of our agents.”

“Yet here you are,” she said.

“I had the relevant information in this case.”

“You only had my word,” said Jyn sharply.

“As I said,” he told her, “I had the relevant information in this case.”

Without intending it, Jyn felt her mouth pull, just a bit. Her own near-smile, drawn out against her will as much as Cassian’s. She had to press her lips together to break it.

Cassian added, “I had enough, I believed, to act on my own judgment. I could not live with doing otherwise, knowing what I did. But it is not a decision I made lightly, or ever will.”

She didn’t quite know what she thought of that. Not when the relevant information had been trust. It was not something she gave lightly, either. And in an abstract way, she could understand why the Alliance kept its secrets close, even from those who gathered them. At the same time, she’d never think it defensible to surrender all choice and conscience to others. A choice made out of obedience remained a choice, even if responsibility rested more heavily on the one who ordered it. And a choice made with the understanding that you lacked vital information, but that your orders came from those who had it, those you trusted?

Well, that was it, wasn’t it? It always came back to trust, in the end.

Jyn thought of the spies and saboteurs who had come with them to Scarif. They’d come because it was right. How many of them seriously expected to live? Cassian all but said they went to die with honour. But he didn’t say, didn’t need to say, that they trusted her because he trusted her. A testimony good enough for Captain Andor was good enough for them. She didn’t flatter herself that they’d ever have followed her without Cassian at her side. Good faithful men, and Force knew what they’d done out of that faith to go hunting redemption.

It depends sounded feeble, an excuse of the weak-minded. But it depended. Cassian would have been wrong to murder her father in cold blood. Horrifically wrong. If he hadn’t known the truth, though, or if Galen really were a willing Imperial collaborator, prepared to unleash more monstrosities on the galaxy, then—?

“Would you have made the same choice a month ago?” she asked.

This time, he didn’t hesitate. “No.”

Obscurely satisfied, Jyn nodded. “You—we probably should avoid making those choices lightly, as long as we get to the right ones in the end.” Jyn lifted her eyes to the metal walls around them, felt the weight of her Imperial uniform. “The trick is figuring out what those are. Everything gets so … unclear.”

Cassian regarded her with a thoughtful expression, plainly surprised. She felt sure he’d expected condemnation, not solidarity.

“Yes.” He cleared his throat. “This is Princess Leia’s weakness.”

“She sees too much uncertainty?”

“No,” replied Cassian. “She sees none at all.”

“Ah,” Jyn said. Young, she thought. Or a zealot, more than Cassian. The prospect was mildly terrifying.

“I supported Princess Leia’s appointment,” he went on, “only because the qualities necessary for this particular role were not the ones she lacks, like restraint and subtlety, but the ones she possesses. She has a strength of mind and will equalled by very few, great courage, a resolve I have never seen shaken.”

Jyn exhaled. “We have to hope we still never see it, then.”

“I would not have wished this on her,” said Cassian, as somber as she’d ever seen him, “but if it must be someone, there are not many I would trust more to resist.”

“Good enough for me,” Jyn said. They couldn’t do anything about it yet, she reminded herself. If she knew anything, it was how to confine her attention to what she could do something about. All right. They needed to keep flying under the radar. They needed Cassian recovered. They needed information. At the moment, there was really only one of those to deal with.

“You’ve got to rest again.” With her free hand—the other held nutrient milk—she extracted Esten’s bottles from her elbow. “I’ve got analgesics and sedatives here, but Esten said they don’t mix. Pick your poison.”

Cassian looked at them doubtfully. “I do not want Imperial drugs, Jyn. And certainly not Darth Vader’s milk.”

“In that case,” said Jyn, “I’ll choose, and pour it down your throat.”

His eyes narrowed.

She added, “Don’t bother pretending you’d stop me. You can barely ride an elevator.”

Cassian glanced from her, to the bottles, then back again. “Give me the sedatives.”

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