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13 BBY

They had planned for this day from the moment they’d fled. Galen had hoped that the plan would never be needed, but Lyra had known better. Krennic would never stop searching for them until he found them.

She had managed to put the fear, the concern to the back of her mind, but Lyra had ensured that they were always ready. There was always a plan.

But now that they were putting the plan into action, Lyra had doubts. She hesitated.

But she couldn’t protect both of them.

For a moment – just one moment – she saw herself putting her kyber pendant around Jyn’s neck, telling her to go ahead. She saw herself running back to confront Krennic, to stand by Galen’s side one more time. The image of Krennic lying on the ground with a smoking blaster hole in his chest was appealing, but she knew in her heart it would not happen that way. There was no way Krennic would be alone, no way he wouldn’t have a bodyguard. Even if she did shoot him, even if she did remove Krennic from among the ranks of the living, would it really make any difference?

Krennic was her enemy, but she knew the Empire had plenty of men just like him, willing to do whatever was called for. There would always be more men like him.

More than that, she knew that Galen would be safe with Krennic – Krennic needed his skills, his talents as much as he wanted to possess Galen himself. Oh, she had no doubt Krennic would take all three of them into custody, but she also didn’t doubt that Krennic would find a convenient way to get rid of her. It was so easy to have accidents on Coruscant.

And Jyn – she didn’t fear for her daughter’s life as much as she did her spirit. Lyra couldn’t bear the thought of her girl being swallowed up by the Empire.

She couldn’t protect both of them, as much as she wanted to. She had to choose one or the other. Jyn or Galen.

So she chose Jyn, hoping that the Force she so trusted would protect Galen.

But it didn’t mean that her heart didn’t hurt, that she didn’t wish there was some other way.

Orson Krennic and the Empire would never win. Not if she had anything to do with it.

***

0 BBY

She should have known that eventually she and Saw Gerrera would have to part ways.

Lyra owed Saw her life and Jyn’s life, but he couldn’t keep them safe forever.

There were too many rumblings of discontent, especially as it became apparent that Galen Erso was actually working for the Empire, not biding his time until he could escape or actively sabotage the Empire. Her protestations that none of them knew what was really going on, what constraints he was under, fell on deaf ears. It was not the unwillingness to listen that truly worried Lyra, but the restlessness of Saw’s rebels. The number of rebels who had been on missions with Lyra – who had seen her fight – was getting smaller, and their voices were getting quieter, while newer people more freely clamored for blood and fed Saw’s paranoia for their own purposes. She had fended off one attack in a dark corner, but it wasn’t her back she was worried about.

It was Jyn. Her daughter would make a better target, although Lyra and Saw had worked to ensure Jyn’s proficiency in any number of dubious talents. Jyn had earned the price on her own head after her first mission, and Lyra’s pride warred with a mother’s fear. Before, Lyra had worried about her daughter being trapped in the Empire, but now she was beginning to wonder if this was any better.

If only she could persuade Saw to bury the hatchet, to join with the Rebellion itself, instead of maintaining his own band of fanatics. Her previous attempts had not ended well. Of course, she and Jyn were free to go, but she hated the idea of leaving her dear friend behind. It would be so much better to bring him along, rather than risk ending up on opposite sides.

There was also her concern that Jyn might not want to go. All Lyra’s passion for freedom, her hatred of the Empire, had been passed down to her daughter, although Jyn was better able to control it. She kept a cooler head, but she could make poor decisions as easily as the next person. And she idolized Saw. He had stood as a second father to her all these years, and if Lyra was having a hard time leaving him, she could only imagine what it would be like for Jyn. Could she abandon her daughter to Saw’s rebels? It was a question Lyra didn’t want to contemplate.

If only they could somehow get to Galen, could find out what he was really doing, could free him from Krennic’s custody. She didn’t want to believe the whispers she was hearing about a super-weapon the Empire was preparing to use to consolidate their stranglehold on civilized space. Those whispers were increasingly – and distressingly – linked to three names.

Grand Moff Tarkin.
Director Orson Krennic.
Galen Erso.

Lyra refused to believe that Galen was really working for the Empire. She refused to let anyone try to make her daughter – Galen’s daughter – believe it either.

***

It was the arrival of the pilot – captured? Trying to defect? Just unlucky? – that changed everything. Lyra was able to intercept Saw, to be there when the pilot was presented to him.

“We should view the message before we do anything else,” Lyra said cautiously. She didn’t want to see this poor kid exposed to the Bor Gullet – another reason she was seriously considering leaving. As much as she wanted to bring Saw with her, it was hard to deny that he was becoming…difficult. Dangerous. Unbalanced.

His paranoia made Saw increasingly difficult to reason with. She knew in her heart that, if they stayed, eventually she or Jyn would end up on the wrong side of that paranoia.

“Yes!” The young pilot cried. “Finally someone is making some sense here! I’m not lying. Galen Erso sent me with the message.”

Jyn came in as the pilot said her father’s name, and stiffened. “What is going on?” she whispered to Lyra.

“That’s what we’re going to find out,” Lyra said softly.

But there was another commotion going on outside the door, with another of Saw’s trusted subordinates bursting in.

“We’ve captured some Rebels in Jedha City…”

Lyra didn’t wait to hear the rest, but stepped close to the pilot while the others were distracted. “Where is the message?” She said softly.

“I don’t have it any more,” he muttered.

Lyra repressed the curse she wanted to utter.

She needed that message. She had to know what was so important that Galen had risked sending it with the pilot.

But she couldn’t prevent the pilot from being dragged away. She would have to focus on getting the message from Saw.

***

Saw had finally requested that Lyra and Jyn join him in his quarters. He’d been alone with the message long enough to have listened to it a dozen times, and Lyra found herself lining up her arguments about why they needed to see the message.

“Watch,” Saw said, gesturing to the holovid player. The image of Galen Erso – older, sadder, Galen Erso – came to life in the dim room.

Saw, if you're watching this, then perhaps there is a chance to save the Alliance.
Perhaps there's a chance to explain myself and, though I don't dare hope for too much, a chance for Lyra and Jyn, if they’re still alive and you know where to find them.
I want so badly to let them know that my love for them has never faded.
I’ve missed them so desperately but there was no other way. I can't imagine what you think of me – what they think of me now.
I was told that, soon enough, Krennic would capture them, but that never happened. As time went by,I knew that they were either dead or so well hidden that he would never find them.
I knew if I refused to work, if I took my own life, it would only be a matter of time before Krennic realized he no longer needed me to complete the project.
So I did the one thing that nobody expected: I lied.
I learned to lie, to play the part of a beaten man resigned to the sanctuary of his work. I made myself indispensable, and all the while I laid the groundwork of my revenge.
We call it the Death Star. There is no better name. And the day is coming soon when it will be unleashed.
I've placed a weakness deep within the system. A flaw so small and powerful, they'll never find it.
Saw, the reactor module is the key. That's the place I've laid my trap. It's well hidden and unstable, one blast to any part of it will destroy the entire station.
But you'll need the structural plans for the Death Star to find the reactor. I know there's a complete engineering archive in the data vault at the Citadel Tower on Scarif.
Any pressurized explosion to the reactor module will set off a chain reaction that will destroy the entire station.
But, Lyra, Jyn, if you're listening.
I try to think of the two of you only in the moments when I'm strong, because the pain of losing our family and our life together is so overwhelming I risk failing even now.
It's just so hard not to think of you, to think of where you are.
My love, my Stardust.
The Death Star must be destroyed, so that other families won’t suffer what we did.
Saw, you must get this information to the Rebellion. You must.

The message ended, and Galen’s image disappeared. Lyra wanted to call it back up, to listen to it one hundred times more, to let his voice wrap around her. She was shocked by how much older and worn he looked. She could see the tears in Jyn’s eyes – too large in her stricken face – and feel the tears in her own.

Part of her felt a stab of white-hot anger, the loss of everything she and Galen had together suddenly fresh and sharp and new.

But part of her was triumphant – she had known Galen must be doing something to stop the Empire and this was proof.

“The Rebellion has to know,” she said flatly. “You don’t have the resources to tackle this, but the Rebellion does.”

And that was when the building began to shake.

Jedha isn’t prone to earthquakes, Lyra thought. What is happening?

Saw had stumbled to a window, and whatever he saw made him go pale. When he turned back around, it seemed he had aged another ten years. Lyra moved to join him at the window.

This was no earthquake, she realized suddenly. It seemed the planet was breaking up. What was happening, she wondered.

Then, with a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, she realized what it was. This was Galen’s project, his Death Star. It had to be – there had been no planetary bombardment, no other explanation. She wondered if all this was because of the message the pilot had carried, or if Saw Gerrera’s presence had been enough. But there was no time now to figure it out.

“You have to get this to the Rebellion,” he rasped, pressing the message disc into her hand. “Goodbye, dear friend.” He smiled sadly. “May the Force be with you.”

“Come with us!” Lyra pleaded. "We need you, Saw!"

He shook his head. “Go! Give the Rebellion the message. Save the dream, Lyra, and think well of me.”

***

Lyra and Jyn walked into the prisoner holding area just as one of the Rebels succeeded in opening his cell door from the inside. He froze when he saw her, and Lyra had the feeling that if he’d had a working blaster, she would have been dead.

“The Rebellion sent you here to contact Saw Gerrera, in the hopes reaching Galen Erso.”

He nodded slightly, his face guarded. Jyn was opening cell doors, helping the dazed pilot – she hoped the Bor Gullet hadn’t scrambled his brains too badly. In addition to the pilot and the wary Rebel, there were two men who looked vaguely familiar. Lyra was sure she had seen them somewhere on Jedha, but she couldn’t remember where right now. And they didn’t have any time for her to figure it out.

“My name is Lyra Erso," she said, watching surprise flicker in his dark eyes. "We have a message from Galen Erso,” she said, holding up the message disc. “And we need to get out of here now. Take us to the Rebellion.”