A/N: Welcome to the new version of the story I posted almost exactly a year ago (1/26/16) based on ideas created by the wonderful AvannaK. While my plot diverges from hers a lot, hers is still pretty amazing. There's a link to her Tumblr account below. If you have a Tumblr account, go follow her there!
Thank you all so, so much for the support (especially Anonymous Noob the Second)! Without your encouragement, I probably would never have updated this thing, and it would be lying here, still the schist first draft it was when I uploaded it.
I'm probably going to keep this a relatively short fic. I have ideas for the next chapter or two, and I will begin work on those as soon as possible. I don't know when they will be out, but I'm DEFINITELY going to try and keep it under a year this time ;D
As always, read and review. I love hearing what you guys have to say!
Hiccup's had his share of sticky situations as a Resistance pilot, but he's never actually been taken prisoner by the First Order.
Now two Storm Troopers watch him for whatever counts as morning, noon, and night on this infernal First Order ship. Now he's bound to a chair with steel bracelets. Now he's slowly being killed by a brother he hadn't known was still alive.
"Come on, little brother...give up your secret..."
Hiccup almost wishes Dagur would kill him already. He's inside this tin can of a cell, and his head feels like someone is trying to pound a nail into it.
"Well, that can be arranged. But I'd hate to send you off without first learning where that cursed map is..."
Curse Dagur and his Force-skills. Curse himself for not being able to fight back.
"The Resistance...will not...be intimidated...and neither...will I," Hiccup croaks. "Dagur...come on."
"Sorry, brother." The nail bursts into his brain. Hiccup blacks out.
Hiccup wakes up a prisoner.
He blinks, trying to get the sleep out of his eyes so he can figure out the blur of black and white in front of him.
"JB-007, close the door," a female voice orders.
The unmistakable white helmet of a stormtrooper is right up against his face. He's probably breathing right into the trooper's eyes. "I could kill you right now. You know that?"
"Seems like ev'ryone's out to kill me," he says feebly. "So yeah, y'could say I knew."
"Sassing your captor? You've got guts, murderer."
The accusation is like a slap to the face. "Murderer? What are you talking about?
"Are you kriffing SERIOUS?" The trooper rips off her helmet-throwing it against the wall.
Hiccup's breath dies in his throat.
Her face looks like it's never seen a sunny day. Cold, sharp, pale.
Her arms are crossed, and narrow blue eyes stare straight into his soul. "Stop pretending you don't know what you did. You kill innocent civilians and valiant troopers every day your Resistance stands. Half of my squadron is dead because of you."
"Don't deflect blame onto the Resistance. Your First Order ordered the Jakku massacre, as I recall."
"The First Order only kills because it has to!"
Hiccup raises an eyebrow. "You think all those Jakku villagers were evil spies? What about the babies? The children? The grandmothers?"
She rolls her eyes. "Oh, you're playing that card? Pulling on my heartstrings so I'll turn traitor? Shut up."
"I'm not trying to manipulate you." Much. "Just telling the truth."
Her eyebrow goes up. "Then let me tell you some truth."
"Please, enlighten me."
"I'm a soldier, Haddock. I trust my higher-ups. I obey orders."
Hiccup bites his tongue to keep the inevitable sass from slipping out.
His world shrinks to the trooper's deadly-calm face, as she leans in once more. Her lips press up against his ear, and chills run through him. "But once Sword Ren is done with you, you will pay. You've caused enough death as it is."
She pauses, just long enough to ensure that he's shaking in his boots.
And just like that, it's over.
She grabs her helmet, marches to the door, hits a few buttons, and stalks out. A different stormtrooper takes her place, and the door shuts.
The sky was dark, as if the stars couldn't bear to watch the First Order's justice. The only light came from the fires blazing and shots fired into the weak, crumbling village.
Blood was cooling on her forehead. Her helmet was gone-what did it matter? Her squadmate's blood was cooling on her head. He'd touched her face, just before his life fizzled out. Who knew why? Who cared?
She stopped at a safe distance from the fires blazing in the wreckage, and took aim at one of the faces in the crowd. So one trooper was down. She was still alive, and she would do her duty.
And then it hit her.
It was a gaping wound, a hole in her heart. Something between heartracing fear and heavy, all-consuming guilt.
The villagers were stepping back, huddling together, as AS-710's fellow troopers took aim. Some let out screams. Others closed their eyes, pulled their children close, and waited for the inevitable.
AS-710's finger trembled over the trigger. She wanted to vomit, throw something, cry.
She lowered her blaster.
It made no sense. She might be court-martialed.
But she couldn't do it.
Instead she stood, and watched the village burn.
AS-710 takes up her guarding position again, outside the prisoner's cell. Outside, she's a perfectly contained vessel of justice. No trooper or officer passing could find fault in her stance, her armor, her militant faith in them.
Inside, she's seething.
Insolent, idiotic son of a sarlacc. Implying the First Order is to blame here. Fah.
Death is a sad necessity, the leaders had told them in pre-conditioning classes. You are soldiers, and you will do your duty.
I am a soldier, and I will do my duty, AS-710 and her classmates had chorused back.
Back then, things were simpler. Good grades were the most important thing-not staying alive. Or keeping your squadron alive. Or failing to keep your squadron alive.
AS-710 inhales deeply, trying to regulate her pounding heart.
Troopers are supposed to be replaceable. Soldiers die for a cause bigger than they are; it happens all the time.
And then there's that idiot pilot, insinuating that the First Order just murdered those people.
War is war. Casualties happen.
Babies. She'd been just a baby when the First Order brought her in, hadn't she? Been told her parents abandoned her, told not to think of them anymore.
AS-710 shakes her head. What is this? Feelings of rebellion? If Sword Ren knew, she'd be demoted. Or worse.
One of her former squadmates, SN-7253, was on the receiving end of one of Ren's famous rages once. AS-710 was not informed on what it was about, but SN-7253 was later seen cleaning out the refreshers, in a dented, charred uniform.
Before she'd gone in to talk to the pilot, JB-007 warned her: "Be careful, trooper. The kind of disobedience you're doing could make Ren kill you. You've already gone against the rules twice."
"So is your habit of smoking that 'special' plant from Dagobah on your off-days," AS-710 replied. "But that's why Ren won't find out."
JB-007 didn't try to argue.
Now, looking back, AS-710 doesn't know why she wasted her time. The pilot is on his own side, and she's on the First Order's, and threats won't change anything.
Feelings tugged at her, but they always do. Usually she's able to successfully ignore them, but not this time.
The pilot himself was aggravating enough-but the feelings attached to his presence were the worst part.
She wants to hate him. She wants to feel justified in ripping those green, green eyes right out of his face and boiling them in a stew.
But those same green, green eyes stared right at her. Unwilling to back down. Only slightly terrified. And honest-to-god truthful.
I have to be imagining things. There's no basis for me thinking this way. Has the First Order ever led me wrong?
That was my own weakness, and I was punished for it. I serve the First Order, not myself.
AS-710 shakes her head again. There's no rhyme or reason for this feeling. Haddock can't be right. Because if he's right, then the Order is...
Suddenly white-armored troops flood the halls. "AS-710!" one of the troopers shouts. "Guard the prisoner! The Resistance has launched an attack!"
It's quiet in Hiccup's cell. He might as well be alone, for all the conversation his guard makes. Hiccup tried asking him what all the noise was out there-the thundering and the shouting and the alarm bells going off-but the trooper only grunted, "Nothing you need to get your hopes up about."
"Listen, you'll be better off worrying about where you go after you die when Ren's done with you."
So Hiccup had to give up after fifteen more minutes of that. He's lying back and pondering whether Ren will pry into his mind one more time before he tries to kill him, or if that furious lady trooper will just rip him apart while Ren cackles in the background.
His eyes wander to the ceiling. All metal, like the rest of the ship. Very utilitarian. Huge pipes running in and out of everything. There's a vent, in fact, right above the trooper's head.
Hiccup blinks, idly curious. Torture must be messing with my head. That vent cover looks like it's wiggling.
"What're you looking at?" the trooper sneers.
Snapping his attention away from the ceiling, Hiccup fixes dull, innocent eyes on him. "Nuthin'."
The trooper snorts. "Not likely. Trying to distract me? Trying to escape? You're dumber than I thought."
"Ha," says a voice from above.
Then the vent cover falls.
Hiccup is startled stiff.
The stormtrooper crumples.
And Lieutenant Heather Haddock, sister and Jedi Knight, lands on her feet and flashes a wild smile at Hiccup. "Thought I'd just leave you here to die, little brother?"
Suddenly, amid the blaster shots and alarm bells, there's a THUD. Coming from inside the cell.
AS-710 sets aside her personal confusion and decides to investigate.
Hiccup is practically speechless. He can only let out a shocked laugh.
Heather wastes no time. She snatches the trooper's blaster and is at Hiccup's side instantly, looking for a weakness in the restraints. She talks while she's working on the binders around his ankle and prosthetic. "Toothless sent me a distress signal last night. Don't know how, but he did it."
The thought of the little droid makes Hiccup smile. Toothless is a small little droid of an unidentified model. He has an attitude, a prosthetic tail, and the ability to breathe plasma. He's been Hiccup's best friend since he was fifteen. "Did he transmit the map, too?"
Heather shakes her head. "We didn't get any map. I think whatever transmitter he was using gave up the ghost before that got through."
Hiccup sighs. "Well, that's just great."
"As soon as we received the message, I got Dad to give me money for an escape mission. Cover story getting intel on the First Order's technology, but all my funds went towards my assault team. I have the Twins bombing this ship right now. That should distract the stormtroopers for a bit, long enough for us to steal a TIE-fighter and get out of here."
"Tuffnut and Ruffnut? Hope the General has deep pockets."
Heather shrugs. "They may be the most annoying smugglers on the Outer Ring, but they know their explosives." She purses her lips and shuts her eyes. "Quiet, I have to use the Force to undo these."
Hiccup's mood deflates. Of course, he thinks. It's not like we have keys for the binders.
Two Force-sensitive siblings. One is evil, and the other is always saving his butt.
The binders hiss and spring open.
And so does the cell door.
AS-710 barges in, blaster held high, eyes open for trouble.
Good news: the prisoner hasn't escaped yet.
Bad news: JB-007 lies dead at her feet, the prisoner is out of the restraints, and he has tall, green-eyed backup.
No, no, no, no.
Her blaster is aimed quicker than she can think. "Stand down." Her voice comes out disgustingly shaky. AS-710 wants to slap herself. Where's this sudden fear coming from?
Heather steps in front of Hiccup, blaster barrel pointed squarely at AS-710's face. "You stand down."
AS-710 doesn't doubt that Heather will shoot. That means she has to shoot first. "I can aim better than you think."
"Ladies, please!" Hiccup shoves in next to Heather, hands held high. "We can work this out!"
"Are you an idiot?" Heather growls. "She clearly wants to kill us!"
"Your emotions cloud your judgment," Hiccup deadpans. AS-710 doesn't quite understand why Heather's face squinches up in annoyance, but she's more interested in hearing why this Resistance pilot, whom she threatened to kill, wants to save her. "Look at her. She's shaking."
"You don't know the Force like I do."
"But I know people."
"You see what you want to see, Hiccup. She's a stormtrooper-they're conditioned to kill."
"She didn't kill on Jakku."
AS-710 steps back, head reeling. "What?"
Hiccup nods. "When the guards were hauling me off, yeah, I saw you. Your blaster just kinda hung at your side limply, and you stared at the villagers like you couldn't believe what was happening to them."
I couldn't, she remembers.
"The Light side of the Force is strong with her," Heather says slowly, like she's coming to an unwelcome realization.
AS-710 nearly drops her blaster in surprise. She feels like she's just been punched in the stomach. "What?"
Hiccup spreads his hands wide. An invitation. A plea. "Come with us. You know it's right."
His hands are pleading, but his eyes are alight. Hopeful.
She can't remember the last time she had hope inside these cold metal walls.
"W-what does a rebel know of right and wrong, anyway?"
Hiccup shrugs. "Same as you, I expect."
She still can't shake the truth-feeling from her, and this Jedi revelation
Really, what do I have to look forward to? Ren might take his tantrum out on me when he finds out the prisoner escaped.
She has no choice. Hiccup might say she does, but there is only one way she's getting out of this cell.
AS-710 drops the blaster. "Fine."
The word somehow carries the weight of a world in the short breath it takes to say.
Hiccup's grin lights up his face. Oddly enough, the sight is comforting. "Might wanna keep the blaster. We've got a lot of work to do."