Leaving Fest turned out to be bitter sweet. For over two years they had fought this planet for an existence that had been mostly peaceful. The Imperials hadn't found them.
If losing Cassian almost killed her, Jeron's birth saved her. Her son had hit all those benchmark firsts here. Firsts that Cassian missed.
Today, he was going to experience a new first, his first pilot lesson. Cassian was sitting in the co-pilot's seat, Jeron on his lap. They were discussing preflight. Or rather the elder Andor was attempting to teach, while the younger Andor chewed on the Wookie's ear.
Jyn stood in the cockpit doorway silently laughing at her boys. Cassian didn't seem to mind that his son was drooling on him. And really? He was only pretending to teach. After all, he doubted a two year old could understand hyperdrives.
So of course, Kaytoo chose that moment to take over the conn. "Cassian, there is a 34% chance that little one could cause a navigation malfunction. Perhaps you might want to switch places with Bodhi?"
"Where's the fun in that?" Cassian replied with a smirk. He saw her in the doorway and flashed a proud smile.
After a few minutes of "fun" Jeron settled his back into his father's chest and slipped quietly into a much needed nap.
Jyn offered to take the boy, but Cassian waved her off knowing the sudden movement would wake him. "I've got him. Why don't you have Bodhi come up here and take my place. I'll meet you in our quarters."
"Alright," she nodded and went off to find the pilot.
"It seems fatherhood agrees with you. After this, you're going to have to stop taking such dangerous missions."
"I know. I have already made arrangements with General Madine. He didn't seem surprised. In fact, he appeared pleased with my decision."
"Pleased? To have you step down from active duty?" Kaytoo asked.
Cassian thought back to bizarre conversation he had with his new commanding officer. Draven had just been transferred to a different post making room for the former Imperial officer turned Rebel Alliance Intelligence General. The transition of power had been bloodless, but not painless.
General Madine made a point to meet with each Alliance operative privately. Cassian had been off world on assignment for Draven when the transition took place. When he returned, it was to a new set of rules and expectations.
"Captain, at ease. Please have a seat. And for future reference, in private, I prefer to do away with formalities."
"Yes, sir," he replied quietly as he took his seat. "Congratulations on your post, sir."
Madine waived the pleasantries aside. "And knock off the sir. It's all well and good when there is an audience, but with the nature of your assignments, formality can get you killed."
Cassian wasn't really sure what to make of an officer who acted like an equal to his men. Granted, he was a captain, but that was more his cover rank within the Alliance as a U-wing pilot, not so much an intelligence officer. And Draven had certainly never waived formality. He knew his place with his former commanding officer.
"I've been looking over your service record. It's pretty extensive. You have been a rebel a long time. Your file is full of accommodations. My biggest concern about you, is why haven't you been promoted?"
"Draven felt I was too much of a loner at first. As I would never work with other operatives and I was never given assignments that require oversight of others, he didn't see any point in promoting me." He paused, then decided to just go with his feelings. "I also believe General Draven was disappointed in me. There was a time I directly disobeyed orders. The end result was the same, but not because I did my job."
Cassian blanched. "No, si--," he caught himself before continuing. "Eadu."
Madine looked at him in confusion. "The Imperial research facility? Your file never mentions it."
Now it was Cassian's turn to be confused. "I don't understand. There were a lot of events that lead to the Scarif battle: Jedah, Eadu, Galen Erso's death."
"And according to Mon Mothma's report, there was also the failure of the council to recognize the Death Star as a defensible threat, or to think that it would never be used."
"That is correct."
"But your file never mentions your presence on Eadu."
"I suppose that shouldn't come as a surprise. Draven wouldn't want anyone else to know what happened there. Jyn Erso was recruited to help us get in contact with Saw Guerra with the intent of finding her father. Mon Mothma and General Dodanna wanted her father brought in for questioning."
"That's noted in the report."
"What I think Draven might have withheld from the report was his secret orders to me. They were orders I disobeyed and I think that might have cost me any possible promotion."
Madine leaned forward. "What were your orders?"
"If we succeeded in finding Galen Erso, I was to kill him. Draven believed that with Erso gone, the Empire would lose the ability to make weapons like the Death Star."
"But you didn't obey?"
Uncomfortably, Cassian answered, "I had the shot, I could have taken him out. In the end, I couldn't do it. And then it didn't matter. Draven had sent fighters to destroy the research facility and Erso was killed during the bombing. It was a miracle Jyn wasn't also killed. She was on the platform too."
"So this is why you are still a Captain after," he consulted his file, "eight years of undercover work?"
"I suppose if I were promoted, then Draven would have to pull me out of the field. You can't send your ranking officers to the front lines. And after Eadu and Scarif, I think he believed I was compromised as an officer."
"He felt my relationship with Sargent Erso made me weak and unable to make hard choices."
Looking down he gave it some thought. "For twenty years all I had was the fight. Getting back at the Empire for destroying so much and doing my best to ensure no one else incurred such losses. And then I met Jyn. Suddenly, the end result wasn't worth it if the methods to get there destroyed the victory. And I would never have been able to face her again if I killed her father because of an order I disagreed with."
He looked up and met Madine's eyes. "I have no intention of stopping my search for Jyn and Bodhi. If that interferes with my position under your command, I could seek a transfer."
Madine shook his head. "I gather from Draven's notes in your file that he tried several times to end your search for them. He went so far as to accuse them of desertion."
Cassian jerked as if shot. "They didn't desert. They were off world when Echo Base fell."
"But they've never attempted to return."
"They were not allowed to know where our fall back point was. So when they returned to a ruined base, they had no way of contacting us."
Suddenly alert, Madine said sharply, "They returned to Hoth?"
Puzzled, Cassian answered, "Yes, sir. It's in my report from the post Hoth survey. A group of us were sent to bury the dead and determine whether or not the Empire was able to get any intelligence from our computers. Jyn left me a message in our quarters."
Madine sat back in his seat. "Your post action report from Hoth is missing a lot of information. You are sure the message was for you?"
"Yes, but I don't understand it. She took some of our belongings, and left a stuffed toy Wookie behind. I guess she didn't want to risk the Imperials finding it."
The general nodded, "That might have been her reasoning. So what are your plans once you find her? Do you intend to resign your commission?"
"No. Not unless I am ordered to. I do intend to marry her, if she will have me. And if you want me to, I will request a transfer. I understand the Pathfinders have an opening."
"Actually, Captain, I would deny any such transfer. I need you on my team."
"I understand that Draven had a problem with your refusal to follow his order to kill a possible Imperial defector who could have been an asset to the Alliance. As a former Imperial defector, I am pleased that you were willing to wait and see. As for your plans as a family man, what is the point of ridding the Galaxy of the Empire if we don't also have something to live for?"
Stunned, Cassian had to take a moment to absorb this change in authority. Draven would never have understood his decision to start a family with Jyn. "I wouldn't be in a position to take on such dangerous assignments in the future."
"We can decide where you fit in my command after you find Sergeant Erso and Private Rook. We don't leave our men behind.
"While you look for your family, I want you to assist Princess Leia with finding Captain Solo."
"One more thing, Captain."
"See the quartermaster about your rooms. Hopefully you are going to need more space soon," he smiled.
Shaken out of the memory, Cassian looked up at Kay. "I'm not sure, but I think our Head of Intelligence might have already known about my son."
Jyn came back in at that moment, Bodhi trailing behind her. "He would be a bad intelligence officer if he didn't know."
"Excuse me?" Cassian whispered so as not to wake the baby.
"Assuming he talked to Leia, or read my file, he would have known I had asked for and been granted a transfer right before that final mission to meet with that last hold out of Saw's. The only reason I was still sent is because our contact refused to meet with anyone else."
She continued, "Leia knew about our baby. I asked her not to tell you. I planned to give you the news after we returned. I'm not sure why she didn't tell you after the base fell."
"During the evacuation the Millennium Falcon was separated from the main group. By the time they caught up to the fleet, Han Solo was captured by Darth Vader and handed over to a bounty hunter named Boba Fett. For the last couple of years we have been looking for him. I suppose it slipped her mind."
She got quiet for a moment. "Han's missing? Has anyone checked with Jabba the Hutt?"
"I'm not sure," Cassian frowned, surprised by Jyn's question.
"We'll work on that puzzle later. Let's put our son down for his nap."