title: per ardua ad astra (12/?)
verse: Death Star
characters: Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso; OCs—Commander Tor, Renalia Andor (in flashback); Jyn/Cassian
stuff that happens: Cassian's paper trail catches Imperial attention.
previous chapters: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven
“Alderaan has no weapons. Even officers on the Death Star might think twice about seeing their planet attacked for no reason. Of course, there’s another possibility.”
“It could be a trap for us,” Jyn said. Always alert to danger, she couldn’t help but favour that option. “They’re putting you in the perfect position to communicate with Princess Leia. Even to help her escape, if we take the chance.”
He nodded. “Exactly.”
Unless Bodhi found an opportunity to escape, they couldn’t do anything until Cassian recovered. Or rather, they might find a way for Jyn and Bodhi to escape, ideally with the location of the plans, but she refused. Instead, they had to wait for the bacta to do its work, and gather as much information as possible to prepare for the day when the attempt might be worth the risk, without Cassian as dead weight. Resting, and strictly adhering to Esten’s advice, was his greatest contribution right now.
Cassian reminded himself of that for the seventeenth time. Jyn refused to leave him, a realization that strangled the breath out of his throat on multiple occasions, for multiple reasons. In her place, he would have done the same—had done the same, so despite the differences in feeling, he didn’t try to persuade her out of it. Not with escape near-impossible, anyway. And once his damn ribs healed, he could be of use even stuck here, if the plans remained hidden long enough to eventually find a way out.
Willix held the whole subterfuge together. While Cassian didn’t care for undercover work, he itched to do something. As Willix, he could. His data trail left opportunities that the nonexistent Lyr couldn’t have. He just had to recover.
So every hour on the hour, Cassian dutifully wandered about the halls near his quarters for fifteen minutes. The limited time provided little chance of seeing anything, but he was still pathetically relieved to walk by himself again, even with his nerves on high alert in the open. He also dutifully took the Imperial analgesics, so he didn’t even hurt.
On his fourth perambulation, he caught footsteps behind him. The halls saw enough activity that it wasn’t extraordinary; he could hear any number of footsteps at this moment, all around him. Only one set, however, seemed exactly synchronous with his own.
Maybe coincidence. Maybe not. Pretending to adjust his gloves, Cassian let himself slow, then return to his original speed. Sure enough, the tread behind him did the same thing. He held up a lieutenant with a demand for directions, and the steps vanished altogether. They began again as soon as he headed to his quarters.
He could think of any number of possibilities, none of them good, few short of disaster. Jyn would be back soon, to make the danger more daunting, but openly contacting her might escalate the situation. As he approached the passcode panel, Cassian considered his options, fear flickering in him.
He didn’t bother trying to repress the feeling; he was often afraid, and had no difficulty acknowledging it. He’d learned long ago to accept fear as the warning it was, keep going, let it sharpen his senses and quicken his reflexes. Denial only made it paralyzing instead of useful.
The steps had fallen out of unison with his own, instead speeding up. Their possessor would be here in a moment. Instantly, Cassian switched from observation to action, swerving without warning.
“May I help you?” he demanded, and then had to tilt his head back. Regardless of Jyn’s opinion, he was not a tall man, but neither was he a short one; he almost never had to strain to meet another man’s eyes. This one, square-built and fair-haired, must be at least six and a half feet. After a glance at his insignia, Cassian softened his tone to respect and his posture to deference. “Sir.”
The giant, who horrifyingly reminded him of Draven, gave a faint smile.
“At ease.” He grasped Cassian’s hand with a force that nearly wrenched his arm out of its socket. “Captain Willix, I presume?”
“I am,” said Cassian, extricating himself. “I did not expect you to come so far, Commander … Tor?”
The smile broadened.
“Good,” Tor replied. “I need a word with you.”
That didn’t require a tedious physical journey to track down a subordinate. On the Death Star, it was very little less.
“Privately,” he said, with a nod at the door.
Mentally categorizing the blasters that Jyn had stuck into various corners of their room, Cassian tapped in his passcode and led the commander into his quarters. He had to be grateful that he’d re-made Jyn’s bed after she left; Tor glanced around with an approving look.
“I don’t trust comlinks,” said Tor.
“Ah.” With a grimace, Cassian gestured at the hated hoverchair. “Do you mind?”
“No, no,” Tor said, waving him ahead. He watched closely as Cassian leveraged himself into the chair. “I didn’t realize you could walk yet, captain.”
“For short periods.” He peered up at the man, not even having to fake a grimace. From here, Tor really was obscenely tall.
The commander must have felt the awkwardness himself. He glanced around, then sat on the edge of Jyn’s bed.
“How soon can I expect you back on your feet?”
Silently reminding himself to sanitize the bedding, Cassian said, “Dr Esten said that I may be capable of half-duty tomorrow or the next day. Full recovery will be longer—a week or two, I think.”
With a thoughtful nod, Tor took out a small datapad. “I took a look at your history when I received your assignment, captain.”
Cassian could think of nothing to say that wouldn’t already be on the record or look vastly more suspicious than anything in it. He kept his mouth shut and waited.
“Quite a lot of analytical training—that’ll be why you got assigned to my division. But I see that you’ve been in combat a few times.”
A few. He inclined his head.
“Commanded a small battleship.” Glancing up, Tor’s brows rose. “Very small. You’ve been stationed on Corellia, Naboo, Coruscant … coordinating security, it looks like. Men and droids?”
“Yes, sir,” said Cassian. He cleared his throat. “Mostly droids.”
“Understandable,” Tor said dryly. “Then you were reassigned to—the Senate? A bit below your pay grade.”
“My pay didn’t change,” he replied.
“Mm. Says here that you commanded the security detail for Senator … Organa?” The man’s voice, already lighter than Cassian’s, rose higher over the name. “Which—ah, Princess Leia. The traitor.”
“Yes,” said Cassian. He held his breaths even, counted in his head to keep his heart to its regular beat, and not the pounding rush it seemed to be considering. He had long practice with both, particularly in the last few weeks. Even more particularly in the last few days. “We had no proof of treachery then, and I never saw any for myself, but Colonel Jerox preferred to keep her under close observation. He hoped she would be less guarded with me than the other available officers.”
She certainly had been. He could remember Leia, all of sixteen, yelling at him about not telling her how to hide bodies. He remembered his younger self, too, struggling not to shout back at her, snarl that she wouldn’t need to know if she would just listen—
Then again, he remembered everything.
“Why you?” the commander barked out.
“I’m Alderaanian, sir.”
Tor grunted. “I saw that. Well, your record ends there. A few months ago. You were on Scarif in the meanwhile?”
“Yes. The destruction of the station”—Cassian coughed—“was undoubtedly necessary, but destroyed all local records. I worked in robotics.”
“The droids again, eh?” Tor set his datapad aside, and Cassian did his best not to look too obviously tempted.
He could only imagine the amount of information, high quality information, that must be stored right there, nearly within arm’s reach. In more productive circumstances, he could take it and run. As it was, any theft or death would be quickly detected and traced to its source, at least one involving a high-ranking officer. He had nowhere to run and no capability of doing it, anyway. Instead, Cassian wrapped himself in polite obedience and waited.
“An interesting history,” said Tor. “Directionless, some might suggest.”
“Versatile,” Cassian said quickly.
Tor gave a short laugh. “Perhaps. Certainly, we could find any number of uses for your skills, if not for one thing.”
Alarms rang in his head. With a puzzled frown, Cassian searched the commander’s expression. He’d gone from wry to grave—more than grave. Outright somber.
“What is that, sir?”
Tor’s eyes, cold and unwavering, fixed on his own. “You’re a spy.”
Jyn hated the Death Star.
Hated, hated, hated it.
Not that she hadn’t before. Every time she thought of Baze and Chirrut, she felt a breath away from Lyr shattering around her. And Kay—though she hoped he might be resurrected yet—so thrilled with the blaster, and then Cassian screaming his name. All the spies and saboteurs she hadn’t known, who followed her (followed Cassian, but he’d yoked himself to her), dead by stormtroopers or bombs or the terrible light her father had spawned. Jedha, desecrated to feed it and then obliterated—Saw—and less directly, her father and mother—Force, she hated it.
At the same time, she was petty enough to hate it not merely as evil manifest, but simply a place. In particular, the place where she happened to be stuck, with no way out, no ability to take advantage of an escape route even if she had one, and too many dangers and opportunities to stay holed up in Cassian’s quarters. And it took so long to get anywhere. The size of this thing seemed completely asinine; the underlying mechanics couldn’t require this much space, could they? Besides that, the people were either untrustworthy, inane, malicious in a casual, colourless way that bothered her far more than concentrated malevolence, or some combination of them all.
She spent hours talking or eavesdropping on perfectly horrible people, along with a handful of ostensibly decent ones who couldn’t be decent at all, or they wouldn’t be here. Jyn understood keeping your head down; however intolerable now for her personally, she had no room to judge that after the last six years. But actively participating in it was something else altogether.
She didn’t regret the presence of Brakases and Estens who made things somewhat less relentlessly terrible, or even the Efrahs and (maybe) Zekherets. That was only for her own sake, though, and Cassian’s. In a way, they seemed worse than those who probably celebrated Life Day by kicking puppies.
Bodhi contacted her once; he assured her that he’d encountered no problems, and the rushed training he and the other new stormtroopers received had left him sort of shooting properly when he didn’t get nervous. However, he had no further information, not even gossip. Relieved over him and exasperated with the universe, Jyn stayed as encouraging as she could until the connection broke, then slipped into a fresher and slammed her fist against the wall.
It was safe enough; for obvious reasons, the women’s freshers generally stayed empty. Jyn suspected they wouldn’t exist at all except for the sheer amount of space the architects had to fill. In a normal base, the personal quarters would probably be less (comparatively) lavish, too, even for officers.
Cassian’s ribs should really heal faster. Not that he could help it, but as often as she’d worked alone, this wouldn’t feel so blandly sickening with him around. Especially if she didn’t have to worry every time he got out of bed.
Out of sheer impatience and aggravation, Jyn decided that she wanted to hear his voice. He might have advice or something, and he’d probably appreciate a distraction, anyway. She opened the connection.
The first time, it failed. She must be too far; they should probably figure out the stronger hand-held comlinks. Jyn made her way to an empty elevator; while she hadn’t travelled far enough down that she needed to account for a full hour in her schedule, dinnertime would be soon enough that she should probably start heading back. She tried the com again; it connected, but she only heard static. The connection had gone through, but he wasn’t answering.
Probably asleep. He needed his rest, too, but … she felt uneasy. After five minutes, Jyn tried for a third time.
“Willix.” Cassian’s voice came through, sharp and clear.
A bit too sharp, in fact. Almost tight. Every nerve in Jyn’s body twitched into high gear.
“Sergeant Lyr, sir,” she said, in her most professional voice. “Calling to inform you that I should be available for immediate assistance in … thirty minutes or so.”
“Thirty?” repeated Cassian, in the same strained voice. “Very well.”
Jyn paused, then said, “I hope I haven’t disrupted any important matters, captain.”
To her horror, she heard Cassian say something inaudible—not mumbling, but as if he spoke from a distance. To someone else. Was he on one of the prescribed walks, or worse?
Even more alarmingly, she heard another voice, a man’s, but higher than Cassian’s. This one, also, remained too distant to make out, but sounded much too near for a casual passerby. And she heard nothing else, none of the background hubbub she’d expect in public, not even the groans and hums of machinery. No, everything suggested that she’d caught Cassian in his quarters, and a stranger with him. There, now.
“Ah, no,” said Cassian. “We were just finishing up, I think. Is that right, sir?”
She heard an affirmative sound from the other man. Not merely a stranger, but someone Cassian, a captain here as well as in the Alliance, would call sir.
The hairs on her neck nearly stood up.
“Is there anything urgent, sergeant?”
Cassian’s voice had subtly changed, turned heavier and more emphatic. Jyn took a gamble.
“Yes,” she said. Wildly extemporizing, she went on, “That is, not urgent, but I think potentially significant for … for any future posts. I believe it best to confirm with you in person, if that’s acceptable.”
“Yes, certainly,” said Cassian. “I’ll expect you in half an hour, precisely.”
Jyn took a deep breath, all thoughts of hunger fled from her brain. “I’ll be there, sir.”
A good twenty minutes earlier, Cassian found himself gazing at Commander Tor with a neutral expression and his ears ringing. You’re a spy echoed in nauseating circles while he calculated probabilities as fast and well as he could, without Kay.
Ruthlessly, he shoved away the flood of loss and hope. He could see only two routes before him, and one almost certainly impossible. They’d just have to bet on the other.
“Oh,” he said. “Well, yes.”
Tor gave a satisfied nod. “Good.”
Logically, Cassian knew that his heart could not actually have stopped. Yet he certainly felt like it had taken up beating again, enough that he clung to the last scraps of fear. Relief, he knew from long experience, could be as great a danger as panic.
He permitted a touch of curiosity to touch his face.
“I had not imagined,” he said, threading his way by each word, “that there would be any need for my services in that capacity. Not here. Surely the Death Star must be secure.”
“It seems so,” allowed Tor. “There is no possibility of any breach in our defenses, of course, and if there were, no weapon to rival it.”
Cassian, ever the good soldier, listened respectfully.
A pity Jyn isn’t around to hear this. Not that she’d dare gloat openly, but she would enjoy it, and he’d see the traces. A sneer of the soul, as it were.
“However,” Tor went on, “as I’m sure you know, the Core worlds provide the bulk of our officers. Coruscant, Brentaal, Corellia.” He settled another meaningful glance at Cassian. “Alderaan.”
The usual irritation was a drop next to the ice in his veins.
“And the princess of Alderaan is a prisoner on this station. I believe she enjoys a great deal of … local popularity?”
“Yes,” said Cassian.
“That’s to be expected,” Tor said. “No blame to you, Willix, but many of our worst problems have come out of Alderaan. It’s a hotbed of sedition, entire towns have blown themselves to smithereens rather than submit to the rule of law, and resources disappear into the hands of smugglers and pirates.”
Blown themselves to smithereens.
It had been a long, long time since Cassian had to work so hard to keep his expression steady. For a few seconds, he didn’t even realize his teeth were clenched together.
Sloppy, he tried to tell himself, but he’d already flown past that. With perfect clarity, he remembered the dazzling rays of light reflected off the snow, Renalia’s fingers strong and firm about his own smaller ones as she led their way. Firm right up to the moment that she halted just outside of town, her hand dropping. In an instant, she shoved him behind the nearest snowdrift, rougher than she’d ever been with him. It hurt, and then more when she tumbled down over him, but she clapped a hand over his mouth before he could complain.
When she snuck forward to peer about the edges of the snowdrift, Cassian followed, shielding his eyes and squinting until he saw what she did. Clonetroopers marched about the perimeter, the sun flashing off their armour. They hadn’t noticed the two of them yet, but they would find them eventually, and that meant trouble. Nobody was allowed out at this hour, edging past mid-afternoon, without leave. Already, though the sun shone brightly enough that he peered out of half-blinded eyes, Vaesda looked aflame.
Cassian, no. She pulled him back even as he tried to understand. Then, without warning, he felt the good goggles drape over his face, Renalia’s hands tightening the straps on the back of his head. You’ve got to get to the caves. Not by the mines, understand? The far ones. Don’t stop for anything. Don’t make noise. Don’t look back. Just run.
Puzzled, he mumbled, Rana?
You don’t need to know why. Just do it.
He nodded. Cassian and Renalia had their squabbles, but she was five years older, and he idolized her. When she spoke in that tone, he always obeyed.
I promise, he said, all the more confused when she knelt to wrap her arms around him and kiss his hair. She was a kind and affectionate sister, but rarely soft about anything. And he didn’t see how he could run with her holding him like that, though he didn’t mind. He liked hugs more than she did.
I love you, Cassian, she said, almost casually, the way she always said anything that mattered. Then her painful grip on him fell away. Now go.
And Cassian ran. Luck or the Force kept him alive, and his own obedience brought him to the caves beyond the blasterfire and real fire and everything. He only disobeyed once, early on, glancing back as he snuck down towards the city. But he couldn’t see Renalia at all, just a dark shape sprawled on the snow, well past the drift they’d been hiding behind. It couldn’t be her, not unless she’d run forward for some reason, and that didn’t make any sense at all.
He wouldn’t understand until the next day, when the Queen’s men pulled him from the rubble, shouting we’ve got an eighth down here and it’s a child! Until a man with soft robes and soft eyes asked him his name, and he just begged him, where’s Mama? Where’s Rana?—I’m Cassian, Cassian Andor, but Rana—Renalia, my sister, you’ve got to find her—
“—the old senator was a troublemaker since before the Empire, the princess is a traitor and spy, and that queen and the planetary council turn a blind eye to open disrespect for the Emperor.”
Tor halted long enough that Cassian assumed he’d finished his catalogue of Alderaan’s sins.
“I’m aware,” he said. “You’re concerned about the Alderaanian officers?”
“Not you, Willix,” Tor assured him. “You more than proved your loyalty on Scarif. Now it’s time to prove your competence. With certain events”—he stopped, frowning at his hands rather than outwards. Not quite certain of something? Or ashamed. “With Leia Organa imprisoned and slated for execution, we want to know what sort of unpleasantness might result. Alderaan may have produced problems, but it’s produced some damn good officers, too. And Tarkin isn’t above airlocking the lot of you just to be safe.”
“I imagine not,” said Cassian, the words and bland tone automatic. He’d always known that he might die in undercover work; even the best identity could be blown, often by the most trivial mistakes. Though he dreaded the possibility and took every precaution, he understood that discovery would probably mean his death. But Cassian had never imagined dying under an identity, because of it.
One part of him felt almost outraged. Even as a child, he’d always been able to fool or escape Imperials. Not once had the Empire succeeded in capturing him; very rarely had they grasped enough to try. If he died because of that traitor Willix—
The other part, more insistent, thought of Jyn. Bodhi might be able to make it, if he kept his head down. He had no known connection. But Jyn would never keep her head down. She’d keep trying, even without Willix’s documentation shielding Lyr’s total lack of it. Willix’s death would mean Lyr’s transfer, and they would immediately discover that there was nothing to transfer.
Jyn might find a way to survive it, as she survived everything. Cassian knew she’d kept him alive, though he didn’t recall how. His memories of their escape, such as it was, remained a haze of agony and blood and Jyn’s hands on him, in his hair. Very little would astonish him at this point. That said, he trusted that she could find any chance of survival that existed, not that she had some Jedi-like power to manufacture chances that did not exist. If her last chance died with him, that would—no.
“We’re on a tight schedule,” Tor told him. “Half-duty, we can work with that, but we’re talking about a matter of days, here. This is your chance to compensate for your failure with Princess Leia.”
He tried not to feel offended on Willix’s behalf.
“As you know, I’m sure, she refuses to reveal what she knows. That’s where you enter. You’re as Alderaanian as they come.”
Cassian was getting tired of that. “I am, sir?”
With a vague gesture at his face, Tor said, “Look it, sound like it, all of that. It should help.”
He was very tired of that. Nevertheless, he saw the opportunity gleaming beyond his fingertips, for the Rebellion and Jyn and his own survival.
“With Princess Leia?” said Cassian. “I don’t quite follow, commander. The idea that she might be susceptible to one of her own people plainly proved false. I doubt I could get anything out of her that Lord Vader didn’t.”
“Of course not.” Tor looked appalled. “However, if any of the Alderaanian officers retain some sentimentality towards her, her resistance may provoke some of them to attempt contact, or even to break her out. Either would mean the loss of valuable men.”
“What one does, we all pay for?” Cassian kept his voice flat, but a little dry. Even Willix wouldn’t contemplate his own death with perfect sangfroid.
Rather to his surprise, Tor grimaced.
“I’m afraid so.”
“That would be a loss,” Cassian remarked. “So I am to hunt down any … seeds of sedition among the Alderaanians, until the execution? Is there a particular date?”
“That depends on—various factors,” said Tor. “In any case, it will happen, and soon. Your vigilance will not end there, either. Princess Leia may prove more dangerous as a martyr than a traitor. For now, we’ll begin rotating Alderaanians into her vicinity, and you into taking command of security.”
With a thin smile, Cassian said, “Throw the doors open and see if anyone steps aside?”
“Precisely. In the meanwhile, you can’t investigate the entire station, but you can take the measure of the sector’s Alderaanians at meals and meetings and the like. I’ll send you a list.”
As Tor consulted his datapad, Cassian said,
“I can’t be the only one placed to … observe.”
“Of course not,” said Tor, without looking up. “We would aim to neutralize the threat in any case. This is simply happy coincidence.” Now he did glance over at Cassian, blocky features inscrutable. “An Alderaanian spy landing here is more luck than we ever anticipated. Yet here you are.”
Cassian considered him.
“Yes,” he said. “Here I am.”
It wasn’t the first time Jyn fought the temptation to dash down the halls, toss all her careful work aside to act, however disastrously. But it was certainly the most difficult. She strode towards their quarters at her most determined stalk, letting just enough worry leak through to justify it.
The effort distracted her so much that she didn’t notice a massive figure approaching until he said,
Pausing, she lifted her eyes. Then she lifted them much higher; if she had to crane up (just a bit) with Cassian, this man forced her entire head back. He must have at least six inches on Cassian, well over a foot on her, and he was built like a mountain. A head of slicked-back yellow hair lent a certain absurdity to him, but couldn’t diminish the overpowering impression of enormity.
She’d never seen him in her life. Jyn was certain she’d remember if she had. And she remembered everything, anyway.
“Commander,” she said, taking in the squares at his breast, and then making a leap—“Tor?”
He gave a crisp nod, and a clap on her shoulder that nearly brought her to her knees. “Good luck.”
With that, he passed on down the hall, leaving Jyn with considerably less terror and considerably more confusion. A high Imperial officer coming this far to—what? Welcome a subordinate onboard?
Frowning, she darted into the quarters. To her total lack of surprise, Cassian wasn’t resting, but pacing the chamber with some sort of humming device in his hand. He seemed completely unhurt: better than he’d looked since before he fell, in fact, if thinner and slower.
He held up his hand, which would have been infuriating, if not for the fact that she didn’t rush into rage for no reason. She could put two and two together.
Jyn snapped her fingers and mouthed scanner?
“Sorry it took so long, captain,” she said. “Damn elevators.”
Cassian made a short, laugh-adjacent sound. “Can’t disagree with you there. I’m fine, anyway.”
The scanner’s hum remained low and constant.
Pausing, he actually looked taken aback. “No, actually.”
Jyn narrowed her eyes. “When did you last take your analgesics?”
“After you left,” said Cassian. “About three hours ago.” He switched off the scanner and exhaled. “Well, if he left equipment, I can’t find it.”
“Commander Tor?” At his sharp glance, she added, “I met him, if you can call it that, in the hall. He wished me good look and just about crushed my collarbone.”
With a slant of his mouth that needed no interpretation, Cassian said, “He is tall.”
“He is horrifying,” she retorted. “What was he doing here?”
“He realized that I am a spy,” said Cassian, with perfect calm. He placed the scanner in an open kit on his bed.
“What?” Jyn thought about Tor’s cordial greeting in the hall. “Wait—what?”
“An Imperial spy,” he amended. “Supposedly based on Willix’s posts, but it should be in the file. That’s how I was able to get …” Cassian gestured vaguely at the closet, then walked over, kit in hand, and neatly stacked it. “Everything.”
“Right, you’re a quadruple agent, or whatever it was.” Letting her muscles relax, Jyn tossed her cap—she particularly hated the Imperial hats—onto her bed. She pressed her hands against her back until it cracked.
“Triple,” Cassian said. He turned back to the closet, fixing some trivial problem he must have noticed. “I think.”
Jyn yawned. Though curious about whatever their supposed commander had wanted, the panicked urgency had drained away. Mostly, she felt tired. Dinner and then the hours consumed by Esten’s nightly examination loomed ahead.
We’re alive, she reminded herself. They had their limbs; Jyn and Bodhi had perfect health, in fact, and Cassian would soon. If they survived. The grind of inconvenience and danger couldn’t compare to death and horror.
“He wants us to spy on someone?” She wandered about the room, checking the locations of all the hidden blasters. No changes there.
At first, Cassian didn’t say anything. Maybe he was distracted by whatever had bothered him in the closet, but if so, only briefly. He emerged while Jyn was still surveying blasters, his implication of a smile deepening when he saw her. Not mocking, not even amused—she couldn’t have said what, exactly, it was.
“Multiple someones,” he said. With no more explanation than she had offered, he yanked the blanket off her bed and tossed it into the laundry chute. As he did, and after they sat on their respective beds, Cassian reported the entire conversation he’d had with Tor. Word-for-word, she suspected.
“It’s a trap,” said Jyn.
“Of course.” Tentatively, he leaned forward enough to drop his arms on his thighs, bringing their eyes nearly level. “The only question is for whom.”
Jyn searched his face, her own mind racing. “Do you seriously think they’re concerned about Alderaanians defecting to help the princess?”
“It’s possible,” he said, startling her. “The Organas are very much beloved on Alderaan. More than they were under the Republic. If Commander Tor can be trusted that far, there is no intention of letting Princess Leia live. Any bargain they might offer is a lie. People have defected over less.”
Her brows rose. “Really?”
“Yes, though I don’t think it’s at all likely that these ones would,” Cassian said. “Not here. Someone like Tor considering that they might, though? Perhaps.”
“All right, perhaps.” She tried to think over all the details stuffing her head. “He didn’t say anything about Aldera?”
“Not directly,” said Cassian. Turning his face to the side, a little, he wet his lip. “But he did specify that he wanted the observation to continue past the princess’s execution. He seemed—I wouldn’t say upset, but …”
“Troubled?” Jyn suggested.
“Yes.” He looked back at her, steadying.
“If they are planning to attack Aldera,” she said, half to herself, “then that is what they’re really worried about, isn’t it? Imperial officers on this thing would probably shrug off the death of a traitor, no matter who it is. Destroying their capital and wrecking a good chunk of the planet around it? That’s different.”
“Very different,” said Cassian grimly. “Alderaan has no weapons. Even officers on the Death Star might think twice about seeing their planet attacked for no reason. Of course, there’s another possibility.”
“It could be a trap for us,” Jyn said. Always alert to danger, she couldn’t help but favour that option. “They’re putting you in the perfect position to communicate with Princess Leia. Even to help her escape, if we take the chance.”
He nodded. “Exactly. It’s very elaborate for potential mid-level traitors, but if they suspect we’re spies for the Rebellion, identifying and questioning us becomes important.”
“Right.” She felt a certain warmth at we’re spies for the Rebellion, at the sheer truth of it. And a little at the sheer ease with which he folded them together—Cassian, a hardened Alliance agent of twenty years, and Jyn, guerrilla soldier turned thief turned thief for the Rebellion. Rebel spies had a nice ring to it.
“Well,” said Cassian, “either is likely enough. So there is only one thing we can do, at the moment.”
“Wait and see,” Jyn supplied. It better have a nice ring, for this. “We can’t contact her.”
“Not yet.” Something like her own frustration settled on his face. Like all his expressions, though, it passed quickly. He straightened up, resolute again. “But we’ll be there.”