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There’s an old woman in the marketplace. She doesn’t say anything, not like the monk - Monk of the Whills? - who had known about her necklace, but as Cassian drags Jyn away, she catches her eye. She’s old, older than the monk, her hair steel grey mixed with white, and Jyn doesn’t know why this one old human woman is standing out, but she is.

The woman gives her a look - not a smile, not a frown, just a look - and then she’s lost to the crowds of Jedha City.

Jyn almost forgets her, in the crowds, in the worry of meeting Saw again, after all these years, in the firefight–

In the firefight she doesn’t think, she just acts, running forward and scooping up the child, tumbling forwards and pushing the child towards their mother. Jyn goes to stand and there’s a hand helping her. She looks up and there’s the woman.

“Well?” the woman says, her voice low with age. “You aren’t just going to lie there and get yourself killed, are you?”

Jyn stands without the woman’s help, brushing off her knees, and opens her mouth to reply.

“Your friend looks rather annoyed with you,” the woman says before Jyn can speak, and nods towards Cassian. “You may want to go reassure him.”

Then she turns and walks away, straight through the middle of all the blasters and bombs. Jyn doesn’t have time to think about it, not after those blasters start getting a little too close to her; then there’s shooting stormtroopers, worrying about grenades, running through alleyway after alleyway, and K-2SO finds them, and the woman is trailing behind it, a secret smile on her face.

“You do have a habit of getting into trouble, don’t you,” the woman says after K-2 takes out the last  of the stormtroopers.

“Who are you?” Jyn finally demands.

The woman raises an eyebrow. “That’s a rather rude way of putting it,” she says. “But then, I’ve been rather rude myself, haven’t I?” She nods to Jyn, something that may have been half a bow and may have just been a nod. “My name is Shmi.”

Of course, then they walk into a courtyard full of stormtroopers and there’s no time for anything else. But Jyn knows - she knows - that Shmi isn’t telling them the full story.

Saw’s freedom fighters take them all - Jyn could fight but she grits her teeth and lets herself be hooded and pushed towards the transport. She knows how this goes; this type of thing was standard operating procedure even when she was part of the team. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t rankle inside, that she’s the one being brought and not one of the ones doing the bringing; not her fault, though. She left this kind of thing far behind, long ago. She thought she was out of this mess, out of the Rebellion, out of all these people with their hopes and dreams and loss.

She was wrong. Whatever. It’s not like she’ll stay long enough to get caught up in it again; Jyn’s learned that lesson, time and time again.

 

 

Cassian grits his teeth and thinks of the best way to pick the cell’s lock, the best way to plan a distraction–

“The Force is with me. I am one with the Force–”

It’s a Force thing. Force things are good, are Jedi things, are Republic things, all the things they’ve been fighting for–

“I am one with the Force, the Force is with me. I–”

If the damn monk would just shut up for long enough to give him time to come up with a plan–

“Wait,” says the old woman. “Distractions come and go, captain. Try paying attention to what you have here.”

“What I have here is an operation gone so far off the rim I’m worried we’ll end up in another galaxy,” Cassian grumbles to himself. Then he pauses. “How did you know I was a captain?”

The old woman - what was her name, Shmi? - just raises an eyebrow, then stands and walks to the door.

“Excuse me,” she calls.

Cassian might actually be ready to hit something. Getting the guards’ attention is not the same thing as a distraction. It’s sort of the exact opposite of a distraction.

“What?” one of the guards snaps.

“I’d like to be put in the next cell over,” Shmi says calmly. “This one is a little crowded.”

The guard peers at her. “Why?”

“It’s a little crowded,” Shmi says again, but there’s some sort of weight to the words.

The guard grunts. “No tricks,” he warns her - and the rest of them, gesturing several of the other guards to raise their blasters in warning.

“No tricks,” Shmi agrees, then flickers her eyes back to Cassian in warning.

She means it, he thinks - no tricks. There’s not enough time for one, anyways, not with the speed the cell’s door opens and closes again as she steps through; then she’s out of sight, and there’s a slight hiss as the door to the next cell opens and closes, and presumably she steps in.

“Hey,” the monk’s friend says. “That’s an imperial pilot in there!”

An imperial–

Cassian’s mind goes blank for a second, and that’s enough time for the monk’s friend to lunge at the pilot.

“Wait, no, no, don’t,” Cassian snaps, moving over as fast as he can, trying to push the warrior away from…

From where Shmi has gently pulled the pilot out of his reach.

“Now,” she says quietly, gently, speaking just to the pilot, though Cassian can still hear her clearly enough. “Breathe. In and out - you know how, don’t you? You’ve been breathing for long enough to make it this far, after all. Good. Feel your chest as it rises and falls; you know that you’re breathing. Let it draw you back, back here, back to me. It’s safe.”

Cassian blinks, and realizes that he’d gotten caught up in her words as well, the steady rise and fall of his own chest - even the monk has fallen silent, listening.

“Your eyes are dry,” Shmi says, continuing in that strange tone - not wavering but flowing, in and out. “You want to blink them - and you blink, and clear your eyes. Let them focus. There you go. Are you back with us?”

The pilot blinks, once, twice, then jerks away from Shmi, towards the back wall of the cell.

“Aaah,” he says, then blinks again. “I - I have a message - for Saw Gerrera–”

Yes! Cassian wants to shout, but bites down on his elation. Shmi’s eyes flicker over to him for half a second, regardless.

“You’ve delivered your message,” Shmi says softly. “Breathe.”

The pilot takes a deep breath in, looking startled, almost as if he’d forgotten how.

“Do you know what was in the message?” Cassian demands - who knows how much time they have. “I’m looking for Galen Erso. Do you know where he is?”

“Galen?” The pilot’s eyes flicker between Cassian and Shmi. “I - he - he sent me, he told me how to come here. I - yes.”

“That can wait, though,” Shmi murmurs, standing - slowly, creakily, brushing off her skirts. “We’re about to have some more trouble.”

“It can’t wait,” Cassian snaps - what does she know of his mission, what he needs to do?

Shmi meets his eyes.

Cassian swallows. He knows the answer to that question, and that answer is too much. But it can’t wait, it really can’t, and he opens his mouth to reply.

That’s when they hear the explosion.

 

 

K-2 is disappointed, not surprised, when they leave Jedha with not three people but seven. The pilot, it can understand; the miscreant, it can understand. They’d come here with the miscreant, looking for the pilot. It’s only logical that they’d be leaving with them, too.

The three monks are less expected.

Or - one monk? K-2 tilts its head and refocuses its optical input feeds.

The one with nonfunctional optical input feeds dresses in the traditional style of the Monks of the Whills. He carries a stick rather than a blaster, though he has a modified bowcaster as well. Status: monk.

His companion has a modified heavy repeater cannon. Status: not a monk.

The woman is not a monk. K-2 knows how to run a basic diagnostics and weapons scan.

“Cassian,” it says, but Cassian is too focused on the pilot. The miscreant is, too; all of them are.

Except the woman. Her eyes meet its optical input feeds. She curves her mouth upwards in a human smile and puts a finger to her lips, a nonverbal communication that combined with the smile translates into a polite, crafty, or amused request to not share the information K-2 possesses. There is a 17.0% chance that this will lead to the deaths of one or more of the people onboard the ship; that is lower than average.

“Reset the course to Eadu,” Cassian says, finally paying attention to K-2. But it’s his loss; K-2 has decided not to share the woman’s status.

There’s some more interesting discussion, about a weakness in the Death Star - well, about the existence of the Death Star, too, that’s an improbable piece of news. K-2 logs the new information in its memory banks, just in case it comes in handy later on. Many things have been like that in the past; it has remembered codes and passwords and the location of approximately 22.768 tons of explosives. That had been an exciting mission.

Eadu is a disaster, of course; there had been a 58% chance of them being caught even after they survived the crash, and a further 84% chance that organic emotions and familial bonds would cause additional unexpected complications. And they do; K-2 is right, though nobody listens, of course.

That’s not quite right. Cassian listens when he’s not being distracted by calculating the probabilities of negative outcomes of his actions, or whatever it is that humans do; however they do it causes so many added complications that K-2 keeps having to pick Cassian up off the floor after he imbibes a problematic amount of various types of ethanol and occasionally various other types of alcohols.

The woman always listens. Not in the sense that she always does what K-2 says to, even when it would be the most efficient course of action; in the sense that whenever it mutters something, it can see her glance over at it with a tiny smile on her face. It’s rather disturbing.

Well, regardless of her listening, Eadu is a disaster; she vanishes out into the rain just after the monk and his assassin friend go follow the miscreant. Peace and quiet at last.

Then there’s no peace and no quiet and the pilot is acting very anxiously; K-2 is willing to carry some of the ship’s necessary supplies because these supplies will help sustain it as well, but it is still annoying.

It looks like the rebels are attacking. If Cassian gets hit by a laser or a bomb, K-2 may have to take over the mission. If that occurs, there is a 97.5% chance of mission failure. K-2 hopes that Cassian does not get hit.

It’s a long trek to the imperial ship that the pilot has stolen, which means that K-2 is able to observe a good deal of the fight. Most of it is unremarkable. The monk’s destruction of the facility’s cannon was a given; the monk has demonstrated a precise ability to tell the positions of moving objects, likely through sound, and the rest is just calculations. K-2 can do those in its sleep mode.

The one interesting point of the fight comes near the end. The miscreant is up near the imperial shuttle, likely attempting to recover target: Galen Erso, due to aforementioned likely problematic familial connection. That is boring.

The interesting part is that a bomb does not hit the platform. That is an ambiguous phrase - the interesting part is that K-2 has seen at least three bombs with a calculated trajectory to hit the landing platform. But they all seem to swerve away until the miscreant and Galen Erso are off the platform and making their way, with Cassian, towards the stolen ship.

K-2 can see the woman, Shmi, standing in the rain, that uncomfortable small smile on her face.

Ah - not so unexpected at all, then; an entirely predictable outcome, given the possible actions all parties are able to take. K-2 may need to revise its probability matrices to actively incorporate these new possibilites, if it had not considered them before they took place; it wouldn’t do to be imprecise, after all.

 

 

Bail Organa steps into the briefing room, just starting to fill with the Council, and freezes.

There’s a woman standing by young Jyn, her back to him; but he can see her hands as she gestures, old and weathered. Her hair is grey and white, without a hint of familiar black, and her clothes are different, tattered and worn but still usable.

But her gestures are the same, the way she holds herself. Her hair, in that braided bun at the nape of her neck.

Shmi Skywalker turns to face him, a twinkle in her brown eyes.

“Bail,” she says. “It’s been too long.”

He steps forwards, one, two, three long strides, and wraps his arms around her.

She laughs, a little weaker, a little more tired, a lot older, and hugs him back.

“We thought you were dead,” he says softly.

“I know,” she says. “So did I, for a while.”

There’s a lot unsaid in her words, but then again there always has been; and what’s being unsaid, well, he’s heard that from more survivors than he can count. She’s been through a lot more than most.

Bail pulls back, finally, not letting go, but taking a step back, letting his hands rest on her shoulders. She seems so short in comparison - shorter than she had been. Older. Not necessarily wiser, but then, she’s always been wise.

“I need to introduce you,” is the next thing he says, blankly, almost in shock. “On Alderaan - though, no, she’s not on Alderaan right now, she’s - there’s–”

“I know,” Leia’s grandmother says with a small laugh. “Don’t worry, Bail, I’ve been in contact with Ben; I’m well aware. I look forward to meeting her. But first, we have other business to deal with.” Shmi turns and gestures to Jyn.

The girl looks so young, standing next to Shmi, her face unlined and her eyes wide. “Jyn Erso,” Bail says. “I hope you’ve brought us some good news.”

“I have,” Jyn says, and looks behind her, to an old man standing a few steps away.

Bail blinks. Then he blinks again. He’s been so distracted by Shmi’s presence that he hadn’t even noticed - “Galen,” he says, amazed.

Galen Erso grins, the grin of a man who thinks he should be dead but somehow he’s gotten everything he loves in the world handed back to him. “Viceroy Organa,” he says. “I’m glad that your rebels decided to not carry out those kill orders; I’ve got a lot to share.”

Bail feels himself go a little cold, and his hand - the one not on Shmi’s shoulder like a lifeline - tightens into a fist. “This is the first I’m hearing about any kill orders,” he says quietly. “That should not have been an issue.”

Galen nods, a slight dip of his head, an acknowledgement that isn’t quite a forgiveness.

“We almost got creamed by those bombs anyway,” Jyn mutters. “Not a lot of coordination in the Rebel Alliance, is there?”

“Well, evidently those bombs all missed, so the point may be moot,” Bail points out.

Jyn snorts, unimpressed. “Then there’s not a lot of skill, either.”

Bail finds himself grinning. Jyn is delightfully blunt.

“Forgive me for suggesting so,” Galen murmurs, “But I’m not sure it was luck that kept us safe from the bombs.”

Shmi smiles, one of those motherly, knowing smiles. Well, grandmotherly, now - Leia will love her so much, Bail thinks with a pang of wistfulness.

“Don’t go revealing all of my secrets, now, Galen,” she says. “I didn’t tell anyone when Lyra was breaking the rules and the code to sneak out and meet you, did I?”

Galen sighs, tiredly, lovingly, sadly. “You didn’t,” he admits.

Jyn swallows. “You knew my mum?” she asks, and Bail can hear the disbelief in her voice. He can hear the hope, too.

“I did,” Shmi says, and the smile on her face fades from knowing to that same tiredness on Galen’s. “I’ll tell you about her, Jyn, but after the meeting; it looks like everyone’s here, or almost.”

It does - the rescued cargo pilot has been hovering in the back of the room since before Bail got here, of course, but the room’s steadily been filling with representatives from dozens of systems. Mon should be here soon, as well; it’s almost time.

Shmi places her hand over his and gives it a squeeze, then lets it drop, lets her shoulder fall away from his hand as she turns to Jyn and says something that Bail can’t hear over the steady murmuring hum of the room.

Whatever advice Shmi is giving her, it’s Jyn’s turn to speak now; Bail has high hopes for her and whatever information she’s recovered. All he can do now is hope that the rest of the Council will agree.

 

 

Baze is no fool, though Chirrut can sometimes make him feel like one; he can feel the direction the wind is blowing, can know that the Empire has gone too far. This Death Star has to be destroyed. Erso knows its weakness, but he can’t describe every single twist and turn of the battle station’s corridors, every place where a cannon is placed. The thing is the size of a moon, for crying out loud - they need those plans, and they need them now.

He stays back, out of the way but still close enough to hear little Jyn’s furious conversation with her father.

“I just got you back, I’m not leaving you behind,” Erso - the older one - insists. “Jyn, all I ever wanted–”

“Was for me to be safe, I know,” Jyn snaps; she does that often, that snapping, all sharp words and built up emotion bleeding through that even he can hear the gist of. “And all mum wanted was for you to be free!”

Erso - just Erso for now, since Jyn gets her first name - takes a step back as if he’s been hit.

Jyn continues on, her voice echoing with the whirl of emotion. “She wanted us to be free, and Saw wanted me to live, and they’re both dead now!” She takes a deep breath, sounding like she’s going to cry, but she won’t - Baze has a read for her, now. She’ll come back stronger than before. “They’re both dead.”

“Eavesdropping is generally considered rude,” Chirrut murmurs to him.

Baze rolls his eyes; Chirrut will get that from his tone. “Like you don’t do it all the time.” Chirrut’s hearing is better than his, and they’ve been standing right next to each other.

“I can’t help what I happen to overhear,” Chirrut protests, but he’s grinning.

Baze sighs and stomps off to go do something that isn’t listening to two people crying over each other. Chirrut seems perfectly happy to sit and eavesdrop, which will hopefully keep him out of trouble for a while; that means that Baze can go do things he wouldn’t do with Chirrut there to frown disapprovingly, or follow him gleefully into a situation that Baze may be able to handle but Chirrut won’t.

In this case, that thing is to go talk to a Jedi.

Baze is no fool. He knows what the outline of a lightsaber looks like, concealed beneath clothing; he is Chirrut’s friend, and he may not follow the Force but he sure as orbits are round knows what it looks like.

She’s sitting like she’s waiting for him to come talk to her, that look on her face that Chirrut gets when he knows something that Baze doesn’t, or when he has a particularly funny joke to tell.

“Baze Malbus,” she says quietly, when he’s stood there for a few moments, silent.

He nods, and doesn’t sit. “Shmi,” he says, testing how the name sounds. “Jedi.”

She inclines her head. “Path-walker,” she says.

He steps back, a grimace on his face. “I’m no Jedi padawan.”

“I did not mean to imply that you were.” Her speech is careful, her eyes solemn. “But there are few who know where that word comes from; you listen. You learn.”

Baze shakes his head. “I am not with the Force,” he says, and it weighs in his gut like a stone.

“You are Chirrut’s luck,” Shmi says. “You Guard the Guardian, do you not?

“I don’t want any mysticism,” he grumbles. This was a mistake.

She sighs, then relaxes, and it’s as if she becomes more real. “I apologize, then. Tell me, is that a mark-23-besh heavy repeater cannon?”

He’s so thrown by the change in conversation that he responds “Yes.”

Shmi nods once, sharply. “I like the way you’ve modified the sights and the barrel; that gives it a more accurate short-range spread, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” he says. “I have to keep from hitting Chirrut somehow.” He pauses. “You know weapons?”

She snorts. “I fought in the Clone Wars; of course I know weapons.”

“You’re trying to make me like you so that I will listen to you,” Baze says. If she can do sharp changes of subject, so can he.

“I am,” Shmi says, completely shamelessly. “There are few enough traditions of force-users left in the galaxy; the Jedi are dead or hiding, the Baran Do sages keep to their world. You guard the last Guardian of the Whills, who happens to be a very wise and kind man on top of that. I do not want to see him dead.”

Baze can almost like her for that.

 

 

The shuttle is cramped on the way to Scarif, but Chirrut doesn’t mind; the floors are even and the people move loudly enough that he can tell where they are if he needs to. Baze is sulking; probably something about that talk with Shmi that he doesn’t want Chirrut to know about.

Well, turnabout is fair play; the Jedi is sitting cross-legged when he finds her, deep in meditation.

He joins her; it’s been far too long since he’s felt another presence like this in the Force, calm and steady and strong.

“Guardian,” she greets him, after time has passed and they’ve both risen to calmness.

“Master Jedi,” he replies in kind. “It has been too long.”

“It has,” she says, and beneath her voice’s tiredness there’s an unexpected edge of bitterness, of fury, of sorrow so deep it cuts the heart.

Chirrut knows better than to ask; her pains are her own, and if she as a Jedi has lived this long then she knows what there is to know about herself.

“What brought you to Jedha?” Chirrut asks.

Shmi takes a long time to respond; perhaps even she isn’t entirely sure. “The echo,” she says finally. “Reaching back in time - there would be empty space where Jedha was, though I didn’t know it at the time. Also…” He can feel her attention sharpen over to the door, to the ship, to one bright young presence on it.

“Jyn,” Chirrut says. “I noticed, yes; she shines. Her necklace is a kyber crystal, is it not?”

“Her mother’s,” Shmi says. “Lyra left the Order after she met Galen; they must have missed her in the scourges.”

Chirrut can hear Shmi’s cadences, the way she speaks from familiarity. “My sorrows for your loss,” he says, and places his hand over his heart.

There’s a bitter thing she could say, he feels, but she closes her lips on whatever pains her and thanks him with kind words instead.

“You wish to teach her?” he asks.

“No,” Shmi says.

Chirrut pauses. “The Jedi did not often let sensitives be taught by Orders not their own.”

“The Jedi had many flaws,” Shmi says. “I tried to fix them, where I could; I failed.” Her voice is flat; he hadn’t meant to dig deeper into her sorrows, but it seems that he cannot avoid them. Unsurprising, with the galaxy the way it is. “If she wants to be a Jedi, I can try to track down a teacher for her; but I am not able to be her teacher, and I think that it may not be the path for her.” There’s a memory there, a recollection, a sense of familiarity; but Chirrut has caused her enough pain for one day, perhaps for a lifetime.

“You think that I am able to teach a bright young thing like her?” He laughs, shaking his head. “I am not as old as you, Lady, but I am not as young as she is.”

He can hear the slow smile in Shmi’s voice. “Well, what wills the Whills?”

“Mm.” Chirrut hums to himself, smiling. “I have not heard that wittiness in far too long. The Whills will what will be; what will be is by the Whills. I will ask her; let us hope she is not too spoiled by choice.”

“We can hope,” Shmi says dryly, but with humor, not sorrow. “Chirrut.”

Something is different about her voice.

Chirrut places his hands on his knees, leans forward, bowing his head. “I am listening.”

Îmwe, have trust.” Her voice echoes, though it is not really her voice, not now; he has heard enough prophecies in his time to know when advice is being given. “The Force is with you. You are one,” she says, then brings her hands together so lightly he can barely hear it. “You are with us. We are many.

Then she sighs, ever so slightly. “Oh. I apologize.”

“There is no need,” he says, and raises his head. “Prophet.”

He doesn’t need to see to know that she’s grimacing. “I did not see enough to prevent the worst from happening.”

“We never do,” Chirrut says softly. “All we can do is try, and trust in the Force.” He is one with the Force, the Force is with him - and yet now there is more he must consider, isn’t there? The Force is with him, and the Force has given him guidance; what can he do but do as he always does, and trust in it?

 

 

Bodhi takes a deep breath. He has never been so grateful in his life that somebody else has a basic understanding of mechanics.

“You worry about connecting us, I’ll brief them on how to find the master switch,” Shmi says, and takes the comm. “Yes, it should be on a control panel - black and large, an actual lever. Chirrut. Remember–”

That last bit sounds a little weird, but Bodhi doesn’t have enough attention to pay to that, he’s too busy rewiring this one broken connector that’s necessary for the minimum energy flow to not get rerouted straight into the ground, because that would be a disaster.

Everything is a bit of a blur, getting the connector together, getting it plugged in to the proper place, making sure the cable connecting it is long enough–

The cable connecting it is long enough, but it’s caught on a charging station. Bodhi stares at it and listens to the ever-closer sounds of battle. There has to be enough time for him to get it untangled, get it out of that frustratingly inconvenient indent in the–

There’s a groan, the creak of stretching metal, and the charging station breaks, its top flying off to the side, leaving the connector’s cable free to… well, to connect.

Bodhi turns around slowly.

Shmi is standing there, looking innocent, her hand outstretched.

“Okay,” Bodhi says, breathing quickly. “I can deal with this.” He plugs in the connector cable and takes a moment to close his eyes.

“Stormtroopers are coming,” Shmi says quietly. “Will you be all right?”

Bodhi snorts. “As long as I don’t get killed, yes, yes, this is fine, things will be… fine.”

“Good,” Shmi says, and there’s a touch of humor in her tone. “Fine.”

The comm - Bodhi’s comm - Shmi’s comm now, though, he supposes - beeps, just as the displays light up clear. “The switch has been flipped,” says Baze’s tinny-through-the-comm voice. “Jedi… thank you.”

Shmi lets out a deep sigh. “Thank you. Get back to the ship, all of you, as fast as you can,” she says into the comm.

“Come in,” Bodhi says into the ship’s transmissions. “Come in, come in, please, is anyone listening, this is Rogue One calling the alliance ships, this is Rogue One–”

“We read you, Rogue One,” comes a voice from the comms, and Bodhi almost cries in relief.

He blanks out a little, stammering over the explanation of what’s going on, that they need the shield down, “We need it down,” he repeats himself, and they understand. It’s going to be okay.

It’s going to be okay.

Something beeps.

It’s going to be okay, he repeats to himself. The alliance got the message; Galen and Jyn and Cassian will get the transmission through. He’s going to die, but he’ll die knowing that he’s helped–

“Bodhi,” says Shmi, quietly, her voice as solid as rock. “Get down.”

Bodhi ducks down, but he keeps his eyes wide open, so he sees the grenade go off, less than a meter from Shmi. He sees the blast curve, like it’s in a tube, all the force of a grenade going off but not in all directions - just out of the ship, away from them.

He’s heard legends of the Jedi, but none of them have compared to this. The Jedi Master standing strong and tall, old and wise, fire almost leaping from her hands as the grenade obeys her will and leaves her and Bodhi and the ship unscathed.

“Nice of you to clear a path for us,” he hears someone say, and it’s Baze and Chirrut and the others.

“I couldn’t let you have all the fun, now, could I?” Shmi says. “Now hurry; I have the feeling we’re going to need to do a quick pickup.”

Bodhi’s eyes dart from person to person, picking out which faces are missing, then shakes his head. He can’t let himself get distracted - quick pickup means he needs to be quick. Quick up the ladder, quick to the controls.

“Where?” he asks - Shmi’s the one who knows where they’re going, after all.

“The tower,” she says, close behind him. “Just beneath the dish.”

 

 

“And here we are,” Orson says quietly. “Galen, I really thought you were smarter than this.”

“No, you didn’t,” Galen says calmly.

Orson sighs. “No, I didn’t,” he agrees. Galen was always going to try something stupid; this is just a much, much bigger act of stupidity than Orson had thought it would be.

And Galen is paying for it, too; that traitor droid is supporting Andor and the girl, but all three - boy and girl and droid - are injured. They won’t make it far, and Galen knows it.

“Just…” Orson reaches out to Galen, as close as he’ll let him. “Why, Galen? You could have had everything, everything, and you threw it away, for what?”

Galen stares at him for a long moment, then laughs, rusty and low. “If you think that this is everything, I’d hate to see what your concept of nothing is.”

Orson grits his teeth. “You’re being deliberately obtuse,” he says. “The Empire is making the galaxy great–”

“The Empire killed Lyra!” Galen bellows, then catches himself. “You killed Lyra.”

“I saved Lyra,” Orson snaps. “I committed treason for her, for you, Galen, and then you two left–”

“You wiped her name from the lists,” Galen agrees. “And then you ordered your soldiers to shoot her to death.”

Orson shakes his head. “You’re already doomed, Galen,” he says, and it’s true - he’s not even sure why he’s doing this, trying to make Galen see reason for once, when there is no chance of Vader granting any leniency.

“I’m well aware,” Galen says softly. But his eyes aren’t meeting Orson’s - they’re gazing off into the distance, behind him. To the sky, perhaps, or

Orson closes his eyes.

Of course.

There’s the sound of a roaring engine, gusts of wind - the Rebels’s stolen ship hasn’t abandoned them yet, it seems, and it rises and hovers on the edge of the platform, beyond the walkway, its ramp lowered. Ready to bring the survivors home. Ready to bring them away to safety.

Orson raises his blaster and points it squarely at Galen’s daughter.

“You won’t,” Galen says.

“Watch me,” Orson says, his teeth gritted - and Galen steps in front of the blaster, grabs the barrel and presses it up against his chest, meets Orson’s eyes.

“Jyn, go,” he calls behind him.

Orson can hear her crying. “Papa!” she says, and he tries not to think of the concept that once upon a time, he could have been–

His eyes drift to her, past Galen and Galen’s sad eyes; to Jyn, who looks so much like he did, so much like Lyra. The droid and Andor are being pulled onto the ship, and a woman is taking Jyn’s hand, pulling her along.

The woman looks back, meets his eyes squarely.

Orson doesn’t pull the trigger as the ship lifts off; they’ll both be dead soon enough anyways. There’s light on the horizon behind him, he knows; it’s reflecting off Galen’s face.

“Now,” Galen says. “We’ll see what you wanted me to build.”

 

 

Jyn’s shoulders ache. Everything aches. K-2 has so many holes in his metallic body she’s surprised he’s still standing. Cassian was bleeding out, but now there’s bacta being applied to the shot in his torso. Nobody would blame her for closing her eyes and resting. Her father–

Jyn closes her eyes. She doesn’t rest; there’s something else she needs to do.

There’s the quiet murmur of voices echoing down from the cockpit; Jyn pulls herself up and moves over to a place where she can listen in.

“You want me to land on the currently-being-blown-apart ship,” Bodhi says, sounding a little more hysterical than is generally considered healthy.

“I want you to drop me off,” Shmi corrects. “Only a little bit of a landing.”

She thinks that she can hear Bodhi hitting his head against the console.

“Bodhi,” Shmi says softly. “Please.”

Bodhi swears a little bit, in a language that Jyn doesn’t recognize. “Fine,” he says. “Where on the exploding ship would you like me to land?”

Jyn can imagine that Shmi is pointing somewhere. “Near that detachable transport, please,” she says. “Thank you, Bodhi.” There are more murmured words, but Jyn backs away.

Shmi comes down the ladder a while later.

“What are you doing?” Jyn demands. “We’re safe, we’re out–” She swallows down the thought not all of us. “What are you doing,” she says again.

“Something I have to do,” Shmi says, and doesn’t meet her eyes.

Jyn blinks tears out of her eyes, because she knows what that means, and pulls out her last chance. “You were going to tell me about my mother,” she whispers.

Shmi closes her eyes. “I’m sorry, Jyn.”

There’s a dull thunk as they land - well, as they press up against the side of the other ship. Another noise as they connect to the airlock, and a hiss as the ramp lowers.

Everyone always leaves. Always, why hasn’t she finally learned this lesson, why can’t she just learn to let go

“May the Force be with you,” Jyn whispers.

Shmi smiles. “Thank you,” she says, then turns and walks down the ramp, into the ship and the battle taking place there.

The lasts of the rebels are facing down a monster.

One is pressed up against a door, and Jyn can see something shining slip through his fingers; the others were getting massacred.

Shmi steps in front of them, and the monster with its glowing red blade stops.

The last Jyn sees of Shmi Skywalker is her drawing a lightsaber out of her clothing, the hilt somehow identical to the one the monster wields; when she ignites it, the blade glows bright blue.

Blue like the streaks of hyperspace as Jyn leaves behind yet another person - yet another parental figure. Mother, and Saw, and Father, and Shmi–

A hand is placed on her shoulder, comforting, grounding.

“Breathe,” says Chirrut.

 

 

A breath. Echoing. In, out.

In, out.

In, out.

“Hello, Ani.”