anghraine: jyn erso during the jedha mission (shoulders up) (jyn [jedha])
[personal profile] anghraine
orrr I'm trying to write Ch 11 of ad astra, so maybe I'll stop polishing up the *squints* eighth chapter.

title: per ardua ad astra (8/?)
verse: Death Star
characters: Bodhi Rook, Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso; Bain Efrah, Quartermaster Brakas; hints of Jyn/Cassian
stuff that happens: Bodhi gets a crash course in Assets 101; Efrah offers orientation services to Lyr and meets Willix; Cassian orders the requisitions Jyn missed; Jyn stresses over Leia, Wiki-hops from Alderaan to Vaesda, and hears an inevitable revelation.
previous chapters: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven

Efrah cast a quick glance at her, unreadable except a very slight, very knowing smile.

“Well, now I can see why you’d stick around that deathtrap for your captain.

“Oh?” Her fingers tingled. Puzzled for a moment, Jyn realized she was gripping her datapad so tightly that she’d cut off blood from her fingertips. She forced herself to relax her grip.

Very solemnly, Efrah said, “His cheekbones would be a great loss to the galaxy. You’re a true hero, Lyr.”

Jyn snorted. “Just doing my part for the Empire.”

The comlink went so utterly silent that Bodhi worried he’d lost the connection. Several seconds passed. Then:

“Yes,” Cassian said. “This is Captain Willix of robotic research and development. Identify yourself.”

His voice was subtly different than usual. A little in the accent, mostly in tone. Colder, Bodhi thought, yet not as cold as he could sometimes get.

“RK-1301,” he replied.

“RK?” said Cassian. Something that might be amusement bled through the altered voice. “Very well. State your purpose.”

“I had a message for Sergeant Lyr. I … er, I’m not sure what happened that it went to your com, instead.”

“This is hers.” Now he definitely seemed amused. “She appears to have forgotten it. What message?”

Bodhi’s brain caught up with his relief. The last time he talked to Jyn, Cassian had just woken up. She said he was coherent, but exhausted. He didn’t sound it—well, of course coherent, but also clear and strong and careful, not tired. Then again, he could probably sound like anything if he felt like it. And if he was still recovering, he shouldn’t hear bad news.

“Trooper?” Cassian prompted him.

“Uh,” he said. “I—I’m in the fresher. I don’t think anyone else is here.”

It was so bald a tangent that even Bodhi winced. And with Cassian, of all people? He remembered the sabacc games during their long hours in hyperspace; the only time they managed to drag Cassian into one, he’d crushed them all. Even Jyn, who cheated.

“That does not matter,” said Cassian, which genuinely startled him.

Bodhi blinked at his wrist. “It doesn’t? Are all transmissions …?”

“Unlikely,” Cassian said. “But if you constantly switch between one way of thinking and another, it is more difficult to hold to what you must be. Do you understand?”

Now he sounded like a cross between Bodhi’s strictest Academy instructor and his favourite uncle.

“Yes, sir.”

It made for a very strange combination, Bodhi decided. But Cassian seemed to fall into it naturally. This must be how he talked to his other recruits, his real ones.

Though it didn’t get much more real than this.

After another pause, Cassian said patiently, “Lyr’s message?”

“Oh … well, I …” He knew he was babbling. “Where is she?”

“The mess hall,” said Cassian. “I take it Lord Vader has arrived with his prisoners.”

Relief whipped through him. His knees might have buckled with it, had he been standing. As it was, Bodhi leaned against the nearest wall.

“That’s what they’re saying down here.” He gulped. “It’s Princess Leia and her crew. I don’t know if you heard—”

“I have,” Cassian replied. He didn’t sound dismayed. He didn’t sound anything, really. Somehow, that cold, even tone comforted him more than open sympathy could have. “Are you familiar with Lord Vader?”

“I don’t think anyone is,” said Bodhi. “I know about him. In a general way.”

“He is a Jedi,” Cassian said.

“What?” Bodhi’s mind flew back to Jedha, to the temple, the old stories. Chirrut and Baze, everything. “That’s … that’s illegal. Isn’t it?”

“Nothing is illegal for the Emperor’s agents,” Cassian told him. “Stay away from him. Do not take risks.”

Distantly, Bodhi felt his nails digging into his wrist. He was so useless, really. If not for Jyn, they’d all have died, or been imprisoned—he’d be questioned all over again, worse than Gerrera by far. But he had saved Jyn and Cassian, Bodhi reminded himself. All their brains and nerve wouldn’t have protected them if they’d been on the surface when the Death Star razed Scarif. He’d done his part in the mission and he’d saved them and … and even now, he could do something. He just didn’t know what.

It occurred to him that he might be making things too complicated. His sister always said that he did. Probably the veteran intelligence officer on the other end of the call would say the same thing.

Bodhi asked, “What should I do?”

He half-expected to hear nothing.

“Note everything that you can,” said Cassian. “Learn the routines, and pay attention to any changes. Listen to what the other troopers say, particularly those higher up the ranks, but remember that rumours are not always reliable.”

“Don’t get excited and don’t panic?” he said, his heart still thudding.

“Yes.” There was a pause, and then an odd sound, a sort of shallow hiss he wouldn’t have thought possible from Cassian.

“Is something wrong?”

“Ribs,” Cassian said succinctly. “Remember, also, that nothing is worth endangering your position. If you must choose between information and your safety, choose safety. Every time.”

That did not sound very much like him.


“We cannot achieve anything from the grave,” said Cassian. “For now, our work is to learn and to wait for opportunity.”

Okay, that sounded like him.

“Yes, sir. I understand,” said Bodhi.

“Good.” Cassian’s voice shifted again, to something that wasn’t so much Captain Willix or Captain Andor as the fellow prisoner in Gerrera’s cells. The man who’d freed him when he couldn’t do much more than gibber, and in a peculiar way, seemed teammate as much as leader afterwards. “Do not forget. Be careful.”

Despite the dread and fear that clung to him, for himself and the others, despite the memories of battle and the nightmare of the Death Star, the horror that nearly swallowed him when he had to leave Jyn and Cassian in Imperial hands, the one worn and the other bleeding to death—despite it all, Bodhi felt something like hope. And courage, too. He mustered up his nerve.

“You, too.”

Jyn thought she would finally be free once they left the mess hall. Instead, Efrah hesitated as they walked into the corridor, locking her hands behind her back.

“Have you been given any sort of orientation?” she asked.

“No,” said Jyn, already bracing herself. “Captain Willix went straight into bacta, and I’ve been dealing with requisitions and the doctors and—all of that. I don’t think he’s even been assigned a commander yet.”

Efrah said, “Can he walk?”

“Yes, for short periods,” she replied. “It’s the ribs. They’re broken and he had a punctured lung, so he’s on strict bed rest. It was all I could do to get him discharged to his quarters, last night.” Jyn saw another chance, and seized it. With her best attempt at a wry look, she said, “Perhaps you could tell me which hoop I should jump through next.”

“Certainly,” said Efrah. “In fact, I can show you. I have two hours until my next shift, and I’m in logistics.”

Jyn felt immediately suspicious. The great Imperial sisterhood, or—? But she couldn’t see an easy way to refuse, or a particular reason to do so.

“Thank you,” she said, her bare wrist itching. “I need to check on my captain before I leave the floor, though. We’re in F1813, but I’d be grateful, unless that’s too much trouble.”

“F1813? That should be on the way,” said Efrah instantly.

Jyn, unsure whether she’d stumbled into a lucky break or a trap, just nodded. They walked the short distance—comparatively short distance—to Cassian’s quarters in near silence, for which Jyn could only feel grateful. She’d half-expected further interrogation. Then again, nobody talked much in the halls. Cassian hadn’t, either. Another regulation?

At the quarters, Efrah remained a few feet behind as Jyn typed in the code. Some other protocol, no doubt, but it might give her a moment to make sure Cassian didn’t give anything away. If he’d ever given anything away in his life.

When the door whooshed up, however, she found the room empty. Apart from its very cleanliness, it looked like Cassian had never been there at all. Jyn’s heart jolted.


She didn’t hear anything, except Efrah moving towards her.

“Is there a problem, Lyr?”

A trap
, Jyn thought wildly, yet when she turned around, Efrah betrayed nothing but bewilderment. Although she’d moved to the doorway, beside Jyn, she made no attempt to do anything but glance inside. Nothing like a formal inspection, but thank the Force for Cassian’s paranoia, anyway.

“It’s Captain Willix,” she said, only then remembering that she stood right where the door would normally crash down. Nothing happened. It must be some sort of sensor ... but why the hell was she thinking about the wiring when—

Cassian stalked into the room from the opposite direction. At the sight of them, he came to an immediate halt.

The fresher. Jyn almost laughed, all the more as his blank face somehow went blanker. She just remembered to salute.


“Sir!” said Efrah, all but vibrating with deference.

Cassian’s glance flicked from Jyn, to Efrah, to Jyn. Nothing about his face changed at all, but that meant nothing. For all she knew, he might find the whole situation entertaining. Her eyes narrowed.

“At ease, sergeants,” he said, walking over to them. “Is there an emergency?”

“No, sir,” said Jyn. “Sergeant Efrah, here, offered to help us navigate the bureaucracy. If I have your leave, I shall go with her.”

“You do,” he said, without a trace of gratitude. Or anything.

“And if you are well enough to manage on your own,” she pressed.

Cassian’s brows lifted, his expression transforming in some indistinct way from neutral to haughty. “As you see.”

He did look better, in fact. His posture was straight as ever but less stiff, his complexion completely back to usual, his face devoid of the strain she’d already grown accustomed to. Some of it would be the analgesics, but—

“Yes, sir,” muttered Efrah. Though her manner remained as professional as ever, colour crept up her neck.

Jyn rested her hand against her pocket and prayed for patience.

“Do you need anything before I go?”

“Yes,” he said. “Either you or the quartermaster missed some basic necessities. I have placed a full list of what I require in your datapad. Take it to Requisitions and do not leave without a satisfactory affirmation.”

She bit the inside of her cheek. “It will be hours before I return, in that case.”

“Very well,” said Cassian indifferently. He moved aside and gestured at her dresser. “Your datapad is that way, Lyr.”

While Jyn felt reasonably sure he was running at maximum Imperial bastard for Efrah’s sake—nothing she hadn’t done with Esten, really—she couldn’t escape a burst of annoyance as she walked past. She also couldn’t escape a sense that something else was going on.

Walking over to the dresser, she risked a glance over her shoulder. Cassian had moved back into place, standing in the middle of the doorway and saying something in a quiet voice. She couldn’t make out the words, but she recognized the warm, easy tone from the elevator. He probably had that horrible smile plastered on, too.

Turning past the bed to her dresser did improve her mood, however. The datapad itself looked exactly as she’d left it; she wouldn’t have known he’d touched it. But her comlink, which she knew she’d left on the bed, sat neatly beside the datapad. Jyn dared another look at the door—Cassian had stepped closer to Efrah, effectively blotting her out. He was still talking to her, saying something that provoked a low laugh.

Hastily, Jyn bound the comlink around her wrist, just visible under the sleeve. She didn’t know how peculiar it would seem for an Imperial soldier to forget basic equipment, but she didn’t feel like finding out.

Datapad in hand, she headed back.

“—must have been extremely difficult, sir.”

“Anything for the Empire,” said Cassian.

Jyn cleared her throat.

“Ah, Lyr.” He moved again. “I’ll expect you to take note of everything. We have a great deal to learn.”

“Yes, captain,” she said, striding past. “Make sure you rest.”

Both women saluted him, and headed out together, Jyn doing her best to keep the grinding of her teeth inaudible. Even with her near-certainty of the game—if this could at all be termed a game—her hands itched to punch something.

“Captain Willix said Rebels shot him in the attack,” said Efrah, sounding impressed. Evidently the hall regulations only applied to the other halls. Or not at all. Hell if she knew.

“Yes,” said Jyn. “He dropped right off the archives and down to one of the platforms. Hit a few beams on the way down.”

“So that’s why you spent the battle looking for him. I wondered.”

She hadn’t asked. And Jyn hadn’t seen any trace of curiosity—nothing to dilute her relief as Efrah appeared to accept the explanation and return her attention to Zekheret. More suspicious than ever, she gave a short nod.

“He’s my captain.”

Efrah cast a quick glance at her, unreadable except a very slight, very knowing smile.

“Well, now I can see why you’d stick around that deathtrap for your captain.

“Oh?” Her fingers tingled. Puzzled for a moment, Jyn realized she was gripping her datapad so tightly that she’d cut off blood from her fingertips. She forced herself to relax her grip.

Very solemnly, Efrah said, “His cheekbones would be a great loss to the galaxy. You’re a true hero, Lyr.”

Jyn snorted. “Just doing my part for the Empire.”

She didn’t even look at the requisition list until Efrah had led her through a labyrinth of departments and officials and questionnaires. At every other turn, Jyn expected it all to turn into some complex trap. After all, Lyr had no data trail, beyond what little her errands had grafted onto Willix’s. If anyone started digging around, they’d turn up that dangerous nothing. But nobody seemed to care about Lyr at all, except as proxy for an officer.

Maybe it helped that the officer in question had been a triple agent. Or quadruple—she lost count somewhere in there.

At any rate, she emerged an hour and a half later with a commanding officer for Cassian and a sketchy map of their quadrant in her head. Once Efrah headed off to her shift, borderline-friendly as ever, Jyn prayed she hadn’t signed any inadvertent death warrants and headed back to Requisitions. This time, at least, the lines didn’t look so miserably long.

Still, she had an hour’s wait, two hours after she left Cassian. And before that, Efrah had said that it’d been hours since Princess Leia’s arrival. By now, she must have been questioned. No, Jyn thought. Tortured. No point in polishing it up. She might have cracked, given up the plans or the base or the whole damn Rebellion. She might have held firm, even against a Jedi—Cassian believed she had it in her, and he certainly wasn’t one to overestimate people. Or she might be dead. They didn’t know, and they had no way of knowing.

Jyn checked her comlink. Nothing from either Cassian or Bodhi. Though it wouldn’t be safe here, anyway. She sighed, nevertheless, and switched on her datapad.

A message flashed over the screen.

Comlink: 36050682961
If sensitive location, replace audio: 975 (clear), 615 (uncertain), 248 (emergency)

Jyn instantly programmed Cassian’s comlink code into her own com, fixing the other three into memory. Sure enough, the message vanished before she’d finished typing.

She suppressed a flare of sheer excitement. Enigmatic messages with secret codes were much more her idea of spying than gossiping with a boyish flirt and pretending to bond with an inscrutable sergeant. Or—not her idea of it, not at all, but an idea, like something from a good holodrama.

She knew it was silly. No doubt he’d have just told her the codes directly if she’d come back alone. Unless he had fallen asleep, which was … a very real possibility, in fact, and probably the reason he left the message in the first place. He couldn’t know who’d be around when she read it. It made perfect sense to be cryptic.


The childish pleasure lasted no more than a few moments. Jyn’s mind returned to Princess Leia, the flawed but dauntless spy locked somewhere in this place. Maybe near, maybe distant, but—no, it had to be near, didn’t it? If she could trust Efrah and Zekheret that far, his reassignment to the prison was part of a general reshuffling to increase security, on account of the new captives. Of course, Princess Leia might be held elsewhere, and of course, they might be completely untrustworthy. But their information coincided with Bodhi’s, and certainly with the level of chaos around the princess. It seemed most probable by far that she was here, in this very quadrant.

Being tortured.

I can’t do anything about that, Jyn told herself, even her mental voice thin. I can’t do anything.

She’d help if she could do something—she would, now. But with only a vague guess at a location and no way to escape, anything they might do would only throw away what little advantage they had. Best case, it’d get Jyn and Bodhi killed, and Cassian left to fend for himself when he could hardly walk.

The thought only twisted the knives in her chest further. Cassein Willix could be as much of an ass as he liked; if anything happened to Cassian Andor because she took a pointless risk, she’d … Jyn didn’t know what she’d do. But abandoning her team for something not just dangerous, but utterly futile, that would be more than stupid. It’d be wrong. Lyra, Saw, the Rebel leaders, they all ran through her mind. You had to look after your own in this galaxy. Cassian was hers—Cassian and Bodhi were. She’d led them here and she’d get them out, if there was any way to do it.

Jyn understood Leia Organa’s value, she heartily pitied her, but she couldn’t help her, and she wasn’t about to risk Cassian for her. She didn’t even know what the woman looked like. Hell, she didn’t know what the woman’s planet looked like.

She considered the line still winding ahead of her and then her datapad. Well, she could fix one of those.

Jyn swiped the screen to the standard database and typed out A L D E R A A N. Immediately, a long page of statistics and descriptions appeared on her pad, alongside a picture of a vast, icy mountain range, its jagged peaks beautiful and terrifying. That wouldn’t be the whole planet, of course, but she remembered Cassian saying my world was white. As she shuffled forward in the line, Jyn touched the picture.

A data entry scrolled down. The Anduçelos Mountains, a large mountain range surrounding the planetary capital of Aldera.

Cassian’s home. It felt unreal.

She flipped back to the main entry. Most of it didn’t much interest her—a radius of some four thousand miles, high water content, plenty of nitrogen and oxygen, an average temperature on the cold end of temperate. Population of seven billion. Five thousand known languages. One of seven planets in the larger system, but the only one to independently support life, and home to the vast bulk of the system’s residents.

Without much better to do, she kept skimming downwards, examining the pictures that flickered along the sides as she went. All right, now she knew what Alderaan looked like. She could read something more interesting. Or … talk to someone.

Jyn paused, and stifled the impulse to glance over her shoulder and to her sides, make sure nobody watched her. It wouldn’t mean anything to them if they did, but she still felt hunted. Ignoring the feeling, she selected Districts.

The list that rolled down, Aldera to Zyxei, was longer than she expected. It didn’t matter; she almost immediately saw the only one she cared about, towards the end. Not that she expected much accuracy from an Imperial database, but you never knew.

Vaes District showed no images except a smaller picture of the mountains, focused enough for her to make out a grey and unattractive town nestled into a crag. Even the description told her little that she hadn’t guessed from Cassian, except that the district had no unified government, but instead operated as a loose confederacy of small, independent cities. Each city used its own variant of standard Alderaanian; few spoke Basic at all, unlike the people in the capital beneath them. They had a subarctic climate, scarce resources beyond the deposits of ilum, et cetera. Still not interesting, but rather to her surprise, the official list of settlements did include a Vaesda.

She hesitated again, longer, but pressed down a last time.

The entry for Vaesda contained no pictures at all, no statistics, no descriptions. It consisted of three sentences:

Vaesda was one of the principal sources of ilum during the Clone Wars. His Imperial Highness the Emperor Palpatine, then Supreme Chancellor of the Republic, sent a company of clonetroopers to Vaesda in order to defend the city and the mines from Separatist sympathizers, but to no avail. Though the troopers bravely defended Vaesda, either Separatists or Vaesdi collaborators ignited the mines, and the resulting blast reduced the city to rubble.

Biting her tongue, Jyn closed out the entire database. She didn’t know what had actually happened, but she’d seen plenty of Imperial propaganda in her time. Separatists raiding remote cities on Alderaan? Right, when nerfs flew. But she didn’t imagine Imperial propagandists would take the trouble to concoct an entirely fictitious story for a brief databank entry on an obscure mining town. Anyway, Cassian had mentioned clonetroopers. No doubt Palpatine really did send them there. No doubt the place really had been wiped off the map.

And, she thought, no doubt this was what Cassian meant when he said he’d lost everything at six. He was twenty-six now, so twenty years ago. The year before the Empire. Something must have happened that year, something to do with Alderaan, but she had no idea what it was. She’d never paid much attention to Republic history; she couldn’t even remember the Republic.

Jyn’s thoughts swerved back to Princess Leia. Born into the Rebellion, she remembered Cassian saying. She hadn’t put it together at the time, but—exactly how old was Leia Organa? Even with her father as a founder, she couldn’t be much over … what, sixteen? All their hopes rested in the strength of an adolescent girl?

The age she was when Saw left, Jyn reminded herself, and stepped up to the front of the line.

The quartermaster glared at her, though less ferociously than he did at everyone else.

“You again,” he grunted.

“You’re good with faces,” she said, doing her best to strip any overt flattery from her voice. Bringing up Cassian’s list on the datapad, she handed it over and sighed. “My captain woke up.”

“Happens to the best of us,” said Brakas. He scanned the datapad. “Kit 2X97NE4? What the hell is that?”

“I have no idea,” Jyn told him, and winced. “Captain Willix just said that either you or I don’t understand basic necessities.”

“Fucking officers.”

Jyn gave him a look of intense sympathy. “He’s usually not this bad. I think it’s the bed rest getting to him.”

Brakas, typing into his tech station, muttered something she didn’t recognize. Then he said, “Ah. Droid repair tools. Fine, I’m running it through. What’s the ID?”

Droid repair—she almost grinned as she rattled off the code. Cassian must have found Kaytoo.

“Right. Willix, here he is.” Brakas slid something on the screen. “There, all in. He’ll have his supplies by morning.”

“Thank you,” she said emphatically.

“If you dare, tell him he can cheer up now,” he added.

Jyn, more at ease with the rough quartermaster than any of the others, scoffed outright. “What for? The supplies?”

“The Star’s on the move again. He’s going home.”

All restraint dried in her mouth. “He’s what?

“You haven’t heard?” Brakas handed the datapad back to her. “We’re headed to Alderaan.”
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