A/N: April Fools! I said one week, but really I meant (?) three. 50% of this chapter was written within that week I promised, but it took a bit longer than expected. My grades are better now, but I have a goal for this last few months and I doubt we'll be returning to my regular updating schedule.
Did I have an updating schedule?
Anyway, just know that I'm not abandoning this story. Ever.
—It Takes One to Rogue One:
Bodhi cracks a smile at the name. He doesn't exactly recall how he got the name. On Eadu, maybe, just before everything went down to kriff. And whether Jyn likes it or not, she might already be a part of that family.
"The nearest settlement is a day and a half out on foot," Cassian says. "We'd bring you closer but—"
"—Imperial territory," they say in unison: Jyn, Cassian, and Bodhi.
She nods with a sad smile. "Goodbye." She doesn't pass a hug or a tear, because they've done it already. Jyn just turns around and begins that trek to the nearest colony.
She doesn't look back.
Bodhi looks over to Cassian. "So we both failed our missions, didn't we?" (Not that Bodhi counts his intentions to be a mission, per se.)
The other man snorts.
"Why didn't you do it?" (Cassian should know what Bodhi means, no matter how actually vague the question is.)
Cassian is a rebel who follows orders. Bodhi didn't need to be at the debriefing of the mission to know Intelligence Protocol for extraneous informants that go out of their control. In the four years they've known each other, not once has Cassian failed to follow through.
They watch Jyn's dark outline fade into the greenery. Bodhi isn't sure if he sees a smile on Cassian's face or not. That kind of thing doesn't usually happen.
"She has Galen's eyes," is his reply. It doesn't sound like much of an answer, but Bodhi gets it.
As quick as it disappears, Cassian replaces his face with a mask. Honestly, did Bodhi expect anything else?
Cassian moves to close the boarding ramp of the ship. "I'm flying the ship this time."
Awkwardly, his hand stiffly pats Bodhi's shoulder. "You couldn't have convinced her to stay. She didn't want to go with you in the first place." You, because Cassian didn't want to be on this trip either. He was in Cloud City for a mission, a mission he essentially failed by being unable to 'mitigate the threat Erso poses,' if Bodhi were to put it in the words Draven must have used.
"You could've tried, but you would've failed." With that, Cassian retreats up to the cockpit.
Bodhi was supposed to. He was supposed to try and convince Jyn to stay. He doesn't because there are a few—or maybe just one—fundamental truths he realized only that morning. The one thing he learned about Galen Erso's daughter: she blames herself.
He personally understands, but through the years he's learned that fault isn't a simple thing to place. Jyn needs to know that first if Bodhi is ever to blackmail her back on the ship.
If Bodhi hadn't asked Jyn for her credit chip, they would be on a Cloud Car right now touching the clouds. If Cassian didn't bring Kay-Tu, they might have been able to talk their way out of their detention flag.
If Bodhi hadn't gotten Jyn to come along, then he would never have borrowed the chip. (And, in extension, Cassian wouldn't have to go on this mission.)
If Jyn's house didn't get blown up… If Cassian didn't visit the memorial… If Galen hadn't died…
(Really, it all just boils down to Bodhi taking a certain message from Galen. A ship in the hangar is safe, but that isn't what a ship is for. Bodhi would have done the deed any way or not.)
Bodhi's main point is that Jyn can't blame herself, an opinion she made very clear when they were cornered in their hotel room. She needs to know that, but too much time around Chirrut has taught Bodhi that it isn't the kind of lesson you get from other people.
The more bad things happen, and the more she surrounds herself with others, the isolationism just gets worse. Nevertheless, and Bodhi quotes, All is as the Force wills it.
Bodhi looks out to the viewport on the closed door, but the shadow of Jyn isn't there anymore.
Someone grabs Bodhi's shoulder and he half-jumps. Baze grunts from behind, "And here we hoped you lost your anxiety."
(It isn't an easy thing to let go.)
"I don't understand why you'd say goodbye," Chirrut spins Bodhi around with his hand. "This isn't a goodbye. We'd see her again."
The question is: after how long.
He shakes his head. "Let's just get to the cabin. Cassian needs therapeutic ship-piloting."
And as opposed to the norm, Cassian needs the therapy not because he killed yet another person (for the rebellion) but because he didn't kill a person.
People are confusing and Bodhi prefers ships.
A year apart is not going to change the fact that Major Andor acts erratically in the presence of Jyn Erso. (He is erratic either way if he is aware that Jyn Erso is involved, presence not required.)
Body language tense. Heart rate little to spastic. The diagnosis applies to either. Today's goodbye is one Kay-Tu would name as awkward. But to be practical, the goodbye is necessary. (Jyn and Cassian's hug was awkward, yes. Necessary, no.)
It's in all their best interests that she goes into hiding. No one argues.
K-2SO is the practical one of the entire crew. It was once Cassian, but he has since let practicality go in favor of… something Kay can't quite identify. Companionship, which was once constantly forgone.
It takes some time, approximately four minutes, before Cassian somehow gets the motive to start up the cargo ship. They still have a while to travel, considering the relative gravity of Demesel. It's unsafe to go into lightspeed within a planet's force.
Kay rechecks the airlock (digitally, but what bothers) just as they fly out of Demesel's gravity. As they do, Bodhi hikes up into the cockpit. "We picked up something on the long comms. We have to go to the Haven."
Approximately 38 hours travel in lightspeed.
Cassian's hand rests warily on the hyperdrive, but he doesn't pull the lever either way. "Is it a call for nearby spacecrafts?"
"Us," Bodhi replies. "Specifically. Well, you."
The man in the captain's seat heaves a sigh. He still doesn't pass a glance to Bodhi behind them. "Was it Mon Mothma?"
"Private Rois sent the message," the pilot replies. "But it might've been Mothma's orders, I guess."
Probability of Cassian listening to said orders: 74.29% (margin of error: 26%, due to recent disobedience regarding Jyn Erso—further proof of her role in Cassian's induced deviant behavior.)
"Rois also said that Jyn has to be at the Haven, too." The man is smiling, Kay notes. No one truly understands practicality in this group.
So in summary, they are specifically being summoned from a hidden base in the dangerous suburbs of the galaxy, thousands of parsecs away. They also need to bring Jyn Erso along with them, due to orders from the highest recesses of the Rebel Alliance High Command.
Despite probability of disobedience, K-2SO personally doubts those odds.
"Did they say immediately?" Cassian's blood pressure spikes four points above average: anxiousness. Truly, no one understands relevance—the tragedy of Kay's existence.
Bodhi nods his reply. "'As soon as possible,'" he quotes.
"What's the fastest, safest time to the rendezvous?" Cassian asks.
Kay computes. "38 to 43 standard hours."
"That soon is good enough," Bodhi comments. After that, the cockpit becomes spaces by one less fidgety pilot.
The major looks at K-2 with a look in his eyes that easily portrays a question. Kay doesn't know what that question is. Honestly, it's not as if he can read minds.
Cassian catches that fact quickly and silently. (How efficient.)
"Is Bodhi lying?"
K-2 would shrug if his extremities were designed to move in such a way. He can tell how conflicted Cassian is about this. He wants to, perhaps, but he might be looking for an excuse not to do it. "Unlikely."
Cassian sighs. It can be a sigh of relief, or a sigh of resignation. Either way, Cassian wants to go back down there and retrieve Jyn Erso—without getting anyone killed or anything destroyed, like any of the previous times.
"It is evident that no matter my analysis, there is no arguing with you," Kay flips a few switches before turning the ship back around. "But have you considered that there might also be no arguing with her?"
They begin their descent back into the atmosphere they just left. "You have a plan for that."
And honestly, Kay does. If those are the orders, K-2SO has been programmed to follow them even before Cassian got a hold of his circuits.
"How far would she have gone?" Cassian disengages the airlock once they're in the breathable atmo.
(Then again, Kay has never found necessity for breathing.)
"Not very far."
He earns a look for that comment. Not a good look either. Just proves that Jyn may be an unhealthy addition to Cassian's professional person.
He releases the landing K-2 points out ear with the computations already in his system. "If she continues a natural pace, no less that two kilometers."
Which puts her about 34 feet below them, to the diagonal at 13 degrees. Exact, of course. Kay-Tu was not programmed for approximations.
Kay points out from the viewport, where Jyn Erso squints up at them in her billowing black overcoat. Most likely, she will not be in the mood for a debate, and she will not choose to go with them. He stands from his copilot's chair to go down the ladder.
"My manhandling protocol may be required," he announces just as the ship lands onto the grassy plains of Demesel.
Cassian follows down the ladder, but does not argue.
Bodhi, Chirrut and Baze are standing around the door when Kay and Cassian join them.
"I would like to speak with her first," Chirrut asks. This statement was most likely triggered by Kay's arrival. Yet again, he is the practical one of the situation.
Cassian moves to open the boarding ramp. "Make it quick."
They agree on a party of Chirrut and K-2SO, a decision that took longer than need be. Jyn hasn't run yet though, despite every expectation. She is an anomaly, behavior continually unexpected.
"Has it been a year on Hoth?" Jyn shouts against the wind and roar of the cargo ship's engine. "Or did you accidentally give me the wrong directions?"
Jyn holds her hand up with a silencing gesture. "Rhetorical question."
That explains much. Until given proper reason to do anything else, Kay-Tu can only watch and stay silent.
"You've only been here fifteen minutes, Jyn," Chirrut replies. "You're well on your way towards the nearest Imperial settlement,"—she visibly winces at the word Imperial. Kay assumes he should take offense at that—"We're here for other reasons."
She laughs. It's a strange reaction, and unexpected as per extrapolation. "I thought the goodbyes were over."
"I never said any goodbyes," the monk smiles. "I have a question: what do you hope to accomplish on your self-imposed exile?"
K-2 once asked a similar question to Galen Erso when they once met.
Her smile subsequently fades. Her heart rate rises, gradually. Her blood pressure, systolic to be precise, heightens just the same.
"There's a person you want to be, Jyn, but you're afraid to know her." Chirrut is being philosophical again. "You're looking for a home here, but you've already found it. And you keep fleeing from it."
Jyn crosses her arms over her chest. "You could've tried to convince me to stay before you dropped me off here, Chirrut."
"This argument of yours is getting tedious, Jyn," he replies.
(This conversation is tedious, Kay notes.)
Her eyebrows furrow. "It wouldn't be if you listened."
"A ship in the harbor is safe, Jyn," Chirrut spouts again. "But that isn't what a ship is for. This is a war, and you can help us fight it."
She scoffs. "I've done enough, to be honest. I deserve this."
K-2SO looks back to Cassian and Bodhi watching from the open boarding ramp behind them, hoping to pass the silent I told you so humans are so adept at. Jyn and Chirrut are still talking, a repetitive conversation about going and staying, but Kay is still looking at Cassian.
There's a twitch in his face, an almost unnoticeable nod, and it's all the consent Kay needs.
He approaches Jyn less that carefully, enough that she can start looking wary. Before Jyn gets a word out, he delivers a well-computed blow to her neck, and in extensions her jugular artery. She crumples easily to the ground but Chirrut's reflexes are there to catch her.
"It was worth a shot," the monk shrugs as he lifts a comatose Jyn from the ground.
Cassian is there in less than two seconds, taking her body from Chirrut. (In K-2SO's own opinion, Chirrut could well have managed to carry Jyn a ten-foot distance without any difficulty. Yet again, practicality.)
"Try not to wake her until we get to the Haven," Cassian orders as they step aboard. He sets Jyn down on one corner of the ship, a terrible place to put her if they intend to keep her unconscious throughout the two-day flight service.
This means, of course, that they would have to keep her sedated. "Let's go."
When Jyn eventually comes to, her senses are very much dead. On the upside, she had that one night of sleep where she hopefully had no nightmares. (She takes one more breath just to make sure she isn't breathing in the telltale scent of blaster oil and Cassian Andor.)
On the downside, her body sold function for sanity. She can't see. Can't hear. Can't feel.
"Should we put her back under?" Chirrut's voice comes from her senseless void.
Scratch that. She can hear just fine.
It's Cassian's voice. Further away, somewhere to her left. Jyn's eyes snap open as her mind reels with memory.
They kidnapped her, essentially.
Chirrut's arm is there to lift up her body, and he sets her back upright on a stack of stiff pillows.
On an equally stiff bed.
In a clean room, flooded by industrial lighting.
"Where am I?"
The bed depresses where someone sits on its foot. Mon Mothma lays a gentle hand on Jyn's leg, the way her mother would prepare a bantha leg to cook. "The Haven of the Rebel Alliance," the rebel leader answers. "Good morning, Jyn."
It's not morning anywhere.
"You've been unconscious almost two days now," Cassian tells her as he approaches her with a syringe in his hand. Jyn twitches at the sight.
The needle touches her forearm and sinks in with a sharp pinch. "It's a stim, to flush out the sedatives you've been put through." (Must've been a lot.)
She doesn't know how sluggish she felt earlier until the life comes back into her nerves. The damp feeling on her senses fades away.
"Kay controlled the doses, don't worry," he reassures her as the rest of the clear stimulant disappears into her veins.
Jyn's hand goes to her left arm, where the needle was introduced. Her eyes look to Cassian who has retreated back to the wall where he leans. "It's not the drugging I'm mad about."
He looks like he's about to reply, but shakes his head and thinks better of it. Mon Mothma takes the opportunity to talk. "I would like to speak with Jyn in private."
"She's unpredictable," Cassian argues. (Wow.) Chirrut just stands up and walks to the door.
Mon Mothma remains hardened. "Alone, major."
Cassian resigns and joins Chirrut outside; but something tells Jyn that he'll be standing at the doorway all the same. (The thought of a doorway pushes a heated feeling through her face, and she only hopes she isn't flushing.)
Jyn swings her legs off the bed as Mon Mothma helps sit her upright, without the pillow wall support. "Sometimes, I wonder what person Major Andor would be, when the war is over."
(Jyn catches the when statement, as opposed to a more pessimistic if.)
"War?" She leans on her arms, because pressure helps get rid of pain sometimes. "So you've given up on your hopes for a peaceful negotiation."
Mothma waves her hand dismissively. "I doubt I ever will, but that peacefulness is a dream. The detonation of Scarif started a civil war, and the Rebel Alliance has to fight.
"There's no negotiating anyway," the ex-Senator continues. "You of all people should know that the Emperor dissolved the Senate, and with them, whatever influence I had in the galaxy's politics."
He'll dissolve a lot more, too.
Jyn pushes that thought away. She distracts herself with the thought of how clean the room is, how bright the lights are, how there're more than one bed. Most likely, she's in the med center, in the Alliance's 'Haven,' whatever that may be.
The though is worth having after all.
"I wasn't informed of Major Andor's mission until well after you left Hoth," Mothma continues into another topic, because they're at the pause of a war and there's no time for political small talk. "I sent a comm immediately one I was."
Now that effectively catches Jyn's attention. Not the stim that Cassian had just fed into her bloodstream, or the constant churning of a bacta tank she never realized was there.
"Mission?" She asks. "What mission?"
The rebel leader's face goes sour. "That would explain why you were brought here unconscious, with a severe dosage of sedatives in your body. I assumed you were half-captured on Cloud City, based on what Sergeant Rook had been telling."
Karabast. Jyn and Bodhi are going to share some words; maybe not even words in Cassian's case.
"His mission was basic Intelligence," Mothma informs. "Get information: from you."
Jyn presses her lips into a fine line and mutters, "Nerf-herder."
"I take it you told him something," the older woman assumes, and assumes correctly.
Of course Jyn told him something. Perhaps she didn't want to tell anyone in the first few days, but after seeing the state of the Rebels in Hoth, it became something she wanted to do—mission or not.
But still… to think that he used her, for the purpose of the Rebel Alliance that's used her more than once before. (And Bodhi says Cassian has trust issues.)
Jyn has had dreams of sick versions of Eadu, where Cassian takes out the trigger and aims for her father, then aims for her. He's killed her more than a few times in a year. That doesn't mean Jyn hasn't had dreams of her killing him, because she blamed him for too long.
She knows she wouldn't be able to forgive him, so she chose not to blame him instead. Now he has a few other faults, and gets no impunity in her mind.
"It's confidential information, of course, and it will be discussed at the council later today," Mon Mothma says between brainwaves, "But I'd like to know firsthand, without the pressure of anyone else listening."
Anyone else listening? Cassian Andor may very well be at the doorway (again) right now listening in. But Jyn is well versed in the action of putting aside emotions: a survival skill for any rebel in the Imperial center. She can mentally murder later.
Jyn takes a deep breath. "The Empire is building a second Death Star."
The words get more tasteless as she says it again.
"I've seen plans handed out under dinner tables, and conferences hidden as party conversation. My father put no weakness."
Because Galen Erso can't.
It makes me proud to think that you will fight where I cannot.
She knows he won't be.
Jyn studies her audience: the ex-Senator with a mask better than Cassian's. Someone is still listening.
"An old design of the Death Star has been kept in an abandoned Imperial station off Geonosis,"—everyone on the crew of Rogue One know this—"But that won't be enough."
She pauses. "This is something easier said once." It's hard to explain, simple to grasp, impossible to forget. Jyn has muttered what she knows third time to herself in front of a mirror. The taste of those words remains the same.
"Then say them at the council, where you have no choice but to," the other woman carps.
That may be the point of this conversation. Right now, Mon Mothma has no choice but to listen to Jyn and believe her. Later, the council will have that choice.
It's a better compromise than anything, all because Jyn is afraid that she won't be believed. But she needs to tell someone, for the strait purpose of fulfilling her father's final wishes.
Mon Mothma stands up from the edge of the bed and hovers the button on the side of the door. She passes a glance to Jyn. "The council meeting is in a while. The major has been assigned to bring you there."
"There may be a second Death Star, Jyn, and I hope the Alliance believes you." Mon Mothma looks to be hesitating over the button, as if she has something she needs to remember.
Mon Mothma wipes some nonexistent dust from her flawless white robes. "And Jyn, I want you to answer a question, and I'll give you some time to think about it: If we do succeed in overthrowing the Empire, destroying that Death Star, and we survive, what kind of life would you lead?"
The door swooshes open; Mon Mothma and Cassian share hushed whispers out of Jyn's earshot. He asks, she nods; they walk away in separate directions.
"They're not going to let you stay in the medbay any longer," Cassian tells her. "You need to get ready. You're covered in dirt and you're meeting Rebel High Command for the first time."
Jyn stands from the side of the bed. "I didn't ask for either."
"Do we ever?" He gestures to the open door, to lead Jyn to the rest of this seemingly vast space station.
Cassian never usually gets front row seats to any of the council meetings. On the occasions that he's invited (which he usually is,) the people usually sitting in this current seat are limited to generals, a certain princess, or perhaps her smuggler beau.
He half-hopes the Wookie hasn't been in this seat.
"Settle down please, everyone," Mon Mothma says over the chatter of all the rebels in the room. It comes to its desired effect. Even Bodhi has stopped bouncing in the seat next to Cassian.
Around the main table are the most notable figures of the rebellion: Mon Mothma; Admiral Raddus and Admiral Ackbar; Generals Draven, Cracken and Dodonna. General Rieekan would have his hologram if not for the limits of comm distancing.
Most Allied Senators are there, though they now lack the power of an actual senator since their dissolution. The most distinct lack they have, however, is the empty space Viceroy Organa once occupied.
Cassian thinks, that in some better version of the world, Saw Gerrera would be here and so would Galen, and Jyn wouldn't look either broken or murderous (stars forbid both.)
Draven speaks first, about the original operation. Whisper, he calls it. The informant relationship they established with Jyn and other Imperial-occupying rebels, and the "extraction" they had to officiate once the Empire caught her in the operation.
Cassian can see her jaw stiffen at the mention, because it's so blatantly a lie for the people who know. Still, Draven's ability to improvise a situation and turn the tales to their favor never ceases to gain Cassian's respect.
After that, Draven hands the figurative spotlight to the angry, small ball of fire standing around the table with him.
Jyn says what she knows as concisely, and as bluntly as possible. "Before the director was killed along with the rest of the people on the Death Star, he kept referencing something," she says, "Offhanded comments here and there about how my father's betrayal wasn't going to stop anything."
Her voice is too soft one moment and an explosion the next, but she has a way with words. In the spacious waiting room, her voice carries to every corner. The course of hours, Jyn explaining the monotonous year constantly researching into Orson Krennic's last threat to her, they pass into twos and threes, and the councilors grow restless.
Cassian doesn't. Deign to admit it, he can listen to Jyn's voice and the way her accent bleeds and mangles letters and words.
"The first key is in Geonosis," she approaches the projector to display a map of the galaxy. It shifts around star systems, over planet that looks dry even with the monochrome color. "There's an old Imperial research station, where the Death Star was being constructed before my father joined the operation."
Cassian knows this, of course. He was listening just a little bit into her conversation with Mon Mothma in the med room. He didn't mean to, but it was spy's habit.
"First?" Senator Jebel attacks her with questionings. It isn't a detail that Cassian might have caught quickly.
Jyn's eyes travel to Mon Mothma, then to him; and he knows that here comes that last piece of the puzzle that she didn't want to say, even in semi-privacy of an audience with Mon Mothma. "The schematics are split, because the Alliance can't be the only group of people getting smarter."
Cassian can feel Bodhi's eyes watching him. As if he can ask Did you know? without ever saying a word.
Simply put, no, he did not know.
"I can't confirm this to be exact, but I've learned there are at least seven pieces of the plans," Jyn says with an unnatural calm unlike the flustered, secretive Jyn from the med room, or the resigned and impassive one in Cloud City. "And all of them are scattered around the galaxy, and Geonosis is the only one we know about."
From the corner of his eyes, Cassian can see Chirrut and Baze slip away into the brightly lit, but empty, halls of the Rebel's Haven. Bodhi follows after them. In front of him, Jyn is being completely professional about the fact that she was brought here as half a hostage, and that she's in the main base of the Rebel Alliance.
Based on everything she's saying, Jyn has been an independent spy on Coruscant. Of course she would be professional. If Cassian can do it for more than half his life, Jyn can definitely make it further with only a year.
Around him, everyone else is silent. Vague disappointment settles in Cassian; a sense that Jyn's words should carry more weight; because this is another Death Star they're talking about. No one steps up, no one argues but no one agrees.
"Tynnra Pamlo, former Senator of Taris," the ivory-hooded woman announces herself. The ex-senator seizes the floor, despite the soft murmurs from a dozen rebel subgroups focused on their own discussions. "When we were informed of the first Death Star, the term crisis was a loose description. But we had your father's revolutionary assistance. As you've said so yourself, there is a second Death Star, and this time your father can't do anything. We all know what happened to Alderaan. This new planet killer is not only an existential threat to our Alliance, but to all life as we know it."
New voices rise in the background, soft against Pamlo's dauntless. "I say this with sincere regret and moral certainty: we cannot in good conscience risk entire worlds for this cause." (Blast it, Cassian has sacrificed more than his own personal world for this cause.) "We know firsthand that the Empire will not hesitate to turn any weapon towards populated planets. There is no fighting it, because we don't have the plans. If there is something we can do, it's to scatter the fleet and disband military units. Save lives while we still can. We have no recourse but to surrender—"
The gathering's pretense of civility evaporates like water droplets on an engine block. Silent murmurs and arguments erupt into full-blown debates. Twenty or so grand speeches create dissonance as voices compete to be heard. The councilors throw rhetoric and retorts that they had been preparing since the meeting had begun.
Cassian catches fragments of proclamations and questions, each closer to anger him than the last.
"Are we really talking about disbanding something over one girl's word?"
"We can't just give in—"
"This was an Alliance, not a suicide pact!"
Cassian has been in this rebellion twenty-one years now. While he usually saves Kay-Tu for the numbers, he'd computed several possible outcomes of this event himself. Surrender has never been on that list.
"The blood of Taris will not be on my hands," Pamlo's voice echoes from the fray. "There's already a war; but if it's a massacre you're aiming for, then you will fight without us."
Another haughty councilor, a man in blue, asks, "If that's the way it's going, why has this Alliance lasted so long?"
"Councilors, please!" Mon Mothma attempts to regain control. "We are all troubled by this situation, but I beg you to open yourselves to—"
It's Draven who interrupts next. "We don't even know if she's telling the truth! This could be a ploy, to lure our forces into a final battle. To destroy us once and for all. Who knows what happened on Coruscant? Who knows is she's become an Imperial within the year?"
Jyn is fire once again. "Who's to say you're telling the truth, General? I, of all people, know the truth about this 'informant correspondence' I supposedly took part in." Her eyes scan the crowd, and they land a second too long on Cassian's. They're wild, like a Galen lost in thought.
"I have never been part of the quasi-Imperial Whisper Network. That's something you should all know now," Jyn announces. "You should all be aware of what exactly happened on Eadu, how I reacted. I don't think I seem like such a strong person to any of you.
"In a rebellion, you don't have to choose a side. It's just a group of people against a belief you don't have to believe in. Neutral territory is still natural territory. This-this is a revolution. It's a fight, but I know which side I'm on. I can't stay in between, because there's crossfire now."
Senator Jebel calls. "The first Death Star posed half a threat with Galen Erso's assistance. But if the Empire has a new power, what chance do we have?"
Jyn's shouting, and maybe she doesn't even realize it. "What chance do we have? The better question is What choice? I was not pulled out of a hopeful exile to only accomplish nothing!"
It amazes Cassian how quickly she can shift from grieving, to passive, and to passionate within a single sentence. This is Jyn Erso's personal revolution. Not the Alliance's, but one born from the phoenix ashes of all the worlds killed in this war. Not retribution—resurrection.
"You give way to an enemy with this much power and you condemn our galaxy to an eternity of submission. The Empire won't care if you surrender; it won't stop if you're hopeless. I once lost everything because I happened to be in the way"
"The time to fight is now, while we're still a live to try. Time is still our ally, but every moment we waste is another step closer to Jedha and Alderaan!"
"Surrendering will get us nowhere," she says. "A ship in the harbor is safe, but not until the storm makes landfall." (The line sounds oddly like something Chirrut once said.)
That would have been a fantastic place to end it, but Jyn's on a roll and she isn't going to stop. "My father isn't here to guarantee you an easy way through this, but there are seven pieces of a Death Star puzzle out there. If I could find one in a year, what more can a whole team of rebels do?"
New voices rise from the crowd behind Cassian. "What is she proposing?"
"Just let the girl speak!"
So Jyn speaks. "We hunt down those puzzle pieces. I know the lower bound of the Rebel Intelligence network. We need to capture the second Death Star's plans if there's any hope of destroying this one."
Pamlo is near pleading. "You're asking us to run a massive spy operation, of such a high risk, based on nothing but hope?"
"Rebellions are built on hope," Jyn shrugs. Her eyes linger yet again on Cassian, just so that he knows exactly who she stole the line from.
The red-shirted Jebel speaks, like a prophet preaching to an audience. "There is no hope."
"Then there is no rebellion," Admiral Raddus pipes.
The arguing is reborn yet again, with calls for fight and calls for surrender filling the chamber. People push in and out of the fray that is the central table. Dozens of bodies struggle for a place there, so Cassian has to work to keep his attention of Jyn.
Mon Mothma approaches her with an unheard whisper along the voices of ten others. Then Jyn runs out of the room.
Jyn spots Cassian hurrying after her in the bright maze of hallways beyond that mess of a meeting room. She's trying to retrace the map of a station she's never been in. She needs to find the hangar, she needs to be on a ship, she needs to get out of here.
"You didn't tell us there were seven pieces of the plans," he catches up to her. Given, since he's been running around in a better physical shape than her.
She doesn't try to look at him. "I was hoping to hunt them down on my own."
But Mon Mothma offered to help. Jyn has never been a person to refuse help—unless she knows she can do it on her own.
Cassian doesn't say anything but when she turns a hallway, he grabs her by the arm and leads her down another fork. "The hangar is this way."
She doesn't argue. She's kept worse company. Though he's admittedly even better company when he doesn't talk the entire time.
There are X-Wings enjoying repairs, and transports receiving inspection checks. She's surprised to see Bodhi, Baze and Chirrut leaning nonchalantly on the side of a U-Wing ship. Cassian gives a nod and then he and Bodhi whisk themselves away into another corner of the massive base (though not as large as either of the Death Stars.)
"You don't look happy?" Baze says. (Chirrut interjects, "What does she look like?")
Jyn shrugs her answer. "The council prefers to surrender." Well, not every councilor, but it doesn't matter. Without the full support of the council, the odds are too great.
"But you?" Baze remains somber and calm, but Jyn is aware of the warrior-esque exterior that he puts on at the warzones.
Chirrut gestures towards Jyn with his staff. "She wants to fight."
Has she fought in a while? It's all she's ever done. It's the greatest answer she has, when nothing else tries to find meaning in her questions.
Only, for the past months or so, Jyn believes that fighting is the right choice. Geonosis first, and they'll figure out the rest.
"So do I," Bodhi steps in. Jyn tries to subtly scan the hangar, to check if Cassian is still around. He's left Bodhi and them all behind. "We all do," he stands closer to her side.
"The Force is strong," Chirrut says like a promise. Jyn hopes it is.
She looks at them: the orphan, the blind man, the killer and the coward, all in wonder and confusion. She doesn't know them, not the way they know each other. She'd half-expected never having to see them again after the washout on Eadu.
But they've fought together and nearly died together on Jedha. They've seen Jyn nearly fall off the ledge and become dust in a desert. They've seen her fall and claw her way back, and they're still with her.
The four of them look willing to take on the galaxy, smug smiles and all, no matter the odds and the probability that they won't even make it halfway to Geonosis. But Jyn can't help but smile, a small smile, subtle but real.
"I doubt the four of us are enough," she says. Personally, Jyn hopes Cassian would be here. She hopes that he'd be willing to put aside the Rebellion for this. (Also a rebellion, but the capitals make a point.)
Bodhi is smiling, a small joke he keeps for himself. "How many do we need?"
Baze's eyebrows quirk at her direction, and Chirrut is chuckling. Jyn's just confused. She turns around, to see Cassian there standing with a more than two dozen or so rebels.
"They could have believed you," Bodhi explains, "But the council would never have chosen to actually do anything. Especially after the 'seven puzzle pieces' thing. The odds were too great."
The familiar clank of K-2SO's feet on the ground. "6, 942 to one, to be exact."
Cassian is there in the center of it all. "We know it won't be quick. There might be seven pieces, and it took you a year to just find one. But if there's a chance, we have to take it."
Jyn looks to Bodhi at her side. The pilot shrugs. "It was Cassian's idea."
"I don't trust you, Jyn," Cassian says—completely turning down the mood of the event.
She rolls her eyes. "I thought you were on my side?"
He waves his hand in a silencing gesture. "I don't trust you, because who's to say you're telling the truth. You didn't tell us about the seven pieces because you wanted to hunt the pieces down on your own, so yes, I don't trust you."
Bodhi's face looks entirely disappointed in Cassian.
"But I did trust Liana Hallik," the major continues, "When she was pulling me through a warzone on Jedha. I trusted her because she tried to save lives. She tried to save mine. I trust her. I don't trust Jyn Erso, because as far as I know, she wants to save lives on her own."
She's so close to smiling at that point, because he brings the Jedha nightmare into a slightly better light. "And you're still Liana, because you needed a new name."
Her voice is gone, but her lips move along her mind. "Thank you," she mouths.
"You're not alone," Cassian continues. "We may be the worst company there is. Some of us—"
Jyn raises her eyebrows.
He corrects quickly. "—most of us were spies, saboteurs, assassins. We've done terrible things for the rebellion. There are too many people we've seen die, let die and… sometimes made to die. Every time I walked away from something I wanted to forget, I told myself it was for a cause I believed in. But I can't be willing to do anything for a cause that won't do the same for me."
And there it is. Jyn isn't a story; Jyn isn't a person.
She's a cause.
Jyn can't be a cause. She can't be a point for them to rally behind, something willing to forgive. Because Jyn can't forgive him, any of them, because then she'd have to start blaming them again.
They stare at each other for a while, as Jyn studies every color in his eyes. She isn't sure what Cassian's thinking as his gaze slowly approaches a thousand miles.
"I can't be the only pilot," Bodhi says as the tension snaps. "We'd all be cramped in one ship."
Cassian's eyes flick back to a specific direction. "I'll take one."
They talk as if this is something they've already discussed. Probably one of their grand talks while Jyn was heavily drugged in the cargo hold unconscious.
It's a wonder how quickly she stopped caring about what happened to her. (Not really. It's hard to forgive. It's a luxury not to care, and a luxury she doesn't have.) It's absolution, in a way. Something only her father had been able to give.
"But where are we going to go?" Jyn asks, "We can't drift in space, avoiding the Empire and the Alliance while hunting down ghost plans."
Bodhi and Cassian share a mischievous look. "We have a place in mind," Bodhi says.
The man in front of her, who had volunteered for what will be the most helpless mission yet, looks at the relatively small group of rebels around them. "Grab what weapons you can, and the belongings I hope you prepared. Get in either my ship, or Sergeant Rook's. This will be a quick exit."
So this is the way it will be. Jyn is the cause; Cassian is the leader.
"Baze, Chirrut, you handle the airlock. You know what to do," he slings orders around in a way Jyn isn't familiar with. The rebels run around, because that's what rebels do: they follow orders.
It isn't as much chaos as it is organized. Bodhi bumps her in the shoulder. "Welcome to Rogue One."
They rustle into adjacent U-Wings, Jyn climbing aboard Cassian's. Wherever Bodhi and Cassian planned to go prior to this mini-mutiny, she's glad she's there. Baze and Chirrut are with Bodhi, and they act as if they're racing through space like two friends at flight school.
"We'll all die within a fortnight," K-2SO prophesies behind her, and she is never than happier to prove that droid wrong.