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The Family That Liberates Together...

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Rey is starting to wonder why she ever leaves the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. All she did was go to the galley to grab a bowl of whatever it is that Poe made today, and when she got back to the cockpit, she found it full of Skywalker ghosts. 

Which is--it's not bad, they are in fact the family she's chosen, she just never knows what they're going to get into next. For example, right now Leia's leaning over the back of the pilot's seat, watching as Anakin sticks his ghostly prosthetic hand right into Threepio. Luke has his prosthetic hand resting on Artoo, and Chewbacca and BB-8 are apparently engaged in a lively discussion with the two older droids and the ghosts. This stumps Rey, because while she's only seen Force ghosts for a year or so, she's reasonably sure droids can't see them at all.

Then she realizes that Anakin's voice is, in fact, coming out of Threepio's mouth. 


"--maybe as an armband or something," Anakin says. "Then I wouldn't be hijacking him to speak. Sorry about this, old buddy," he adds with genuine regret, patting the droid's shoulder with his other hand. 

"It's quite all right," Threepio adds in his own voice. "How many droids can say they actually talk to their Maker?" 

"But what if you had to send Threepio on a stealth mission?" Luke begins, only to be drowned out by Anakin and Leia guffawing. 

Chewbacca demands to know what's so funny, and Anakin struggles to explain, "Luke wants to prepare for the possibility of Threepio going on stealth missions.

"Oh, dear, my programming is not suited for stealth missions," Threepio insists over a chorus of laughter, growling, and rude beeps. Anakin narrows his eyes at Artoo, and some interrogative beeping issues from Threepio's vocabulator. Artoo responds at length, rocking back and forth. "That doesn't sound like something a Senator should have gotten involved in, Artoo," Threepio scolds. 

"Huh," Anakin says thoughtfully.

"No, but really," Luke insists doggedly. "Threepio can't always carry around an armband that talks to him. Wouldn't it make more sense to make a chip that's just there for you to talk directly to his motivator?" 

"No!" Anakin snaps. "What do you take me for, Luke? I'm not implanting a chip in his brain to tell him what to do!" Rey doesn't think she's ever heard him sound this hurt and angry before. Except on Exegol. But that was Exegol.

Chewbacca points out that not everyone in the room remembers the Clone Wars, which Artoo repeats in Binary for Anakin's benefit, adding in sorrowful whistles that Luke and Leia were activated after Order 66.

"That's not what I meant, Father," Luke tries to explain gently. "Just another input that he can decide what he wants to do with. But silent, if need be."

Anakin's hackles subside slightly, and he mutters something in Huttese. Leia's eyebrows rise thoughtfully and she asks, "What if it looked like a restraining bolt? Then nobody would actually try to put a restraining bolt on him."

Anakin looks at his daughter thoughtfully, then starts to grin--it's really weird to see him smirking while his voice comes out of Threepio. "Threepio, what if you had what looked like a restraining bolt but it was actually an input I could use to talk to you? Then I wouldn't have to hijack any of your processes. And I could just ping you to request a conversation."

"I suppose that could be a good thing," Threepio allows. The other two droids whistle and beep eagerly, and BB-8 rolls around in a circle with excitement. "Oh dear, it seems as if you will have to make extras."

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Leia asks Anakin, with the kind of grin that used to precede significant destruction of Imperial property. 

"I don't know, Leia," Anakin says, rolling his eyes as he takes his hand out of Threepio. "I'd have to know what you're thinking. All evidence in the past indicates that I'm spectacularly incompetent at that." 

Leia is really smirking now. "The list, Anakin. This could be part of the list. The, what did you call it, the 'after-bucket list'. Make the fake bolts, but make it so they can communicate with each other. Encrypted, of course. And include the blueprints. Make it something that can be assembled readily from common scrap components."

"Oh, is that all? Small, perfectly encrypted, reproducible, and made from junk? You don't ask for much, do you, daughter?" 

"Stormtrooper helmet coms?" Rey offers. "The form factor is almost right, and the network architecture is everything we need. There's tons of them out there. We'd just need to redo the encryption algorithms, maybe add in a frequency skipping hash function to avoid snooping--"

"Oh! Oh, my," Threepio flusters. "I'm not sure I want to have anything to do with stormtrooper helmets." Chewbacca groans something about Threepio's endless prissiness, and Artoo scathingly reminds the protocol droid that he was literally built from junk.

Anakin sticks his hand back into Threepio to scold Artoo, "You watch your language, if you ever want your rocket boosters fixed!" To Rey, he replies, "Well, yes, that would probably work. But it'd be a little bigger than a restraining bolt. Obviously wrong if you know what to look for."

Leia considers. "Are we talking Imperial or First Order stormtroopers here?" 

Rey shrugs. "I haven't scrapped any First Order helmets. All my experience is with Imperial helmets from Jakku." She realizes suddenly that she knows the technical specs of the First Order helmets, and clutches the back of the seat Luke is pretending to sit in, trying not to reel too obviously.  

"All I'm saying here is that the First Order engineers might have solved some of these problems for us," Leia is explaining reasonably. "Obviously if less modification is needed that makes it easier for droids to make more of these bolts and spread them around."

"First Order engineers don't solve anything," Finn declares, bringing in his own bowl of...whatever it is. Rey doesn't really have words for the different types of food Poe makes. This is probably why Poe doesn't let Rey cook. Or Finn, who grew up eating three rectangular meals a day, courtesy of the First Order stormtrooper indoctrination program, and has yet to successfully peel a protato or boil a nuna egg.

"Ben did," Rey whispers. "And they're small enough. He showed me." She looks up hesitantly, to see Chewbacca craning his neck to look expectantly around her, while BB-8 zooms to safety behind Finn and anxiously peers out. Luke looks guilty, Leia sad, and Anakin oddly cheerful.

"Is he here? Hi Ben! I love you!" Anakin waves excitedly above Rey's head.

"Ben's not--here," Rey struggles to explain, "but I was thinking about it and he could tell, so he showed me the blueprints." BB-8 chirps in relief, but remains in the dubious safety of Finn's shadow.

Finn just scowls and jams his spoon into his food. "Figures it was him. The big old jerk."

"That big old jerk is my favorite grandson," Anakin retorts. 

"He's your only grandson," Luke points out.

"And whose fault is that?" Anakin demands. "I never told you not to fall in love and have children."

Luke sputters something unintelligible and looks to his sister for help. "You're kind of a big old jerk yourself, Anakin, aren't you?" Leia asks mildly, but the corners of her mouth twitch with a repressed grin. 

Anakin shrugs, obviously trying to suppress his answering smile. "You could say that." He turns to Rey. "So I guess we need some scrap to work on, and you're the expert on that. Restraining bolts and stormtrooper helmets to start with."

"You don't think there's any downside to droids reprogramming each other on a massive scale, do you?" Luke asks, rolling his eyes.

Anakin shrugs expansively. "I'm sure all the owners of the droids are currently treating them fairly and the droids will have no reason to take any sort of violent revenge on them," he assures Luke in a flat monotone.

"And really, is it up to us to decide what droids do without restraining bolts?" Leia demands of her brother. "If we can free them, how can we sit around and say that we shouldn't because of what they might do with their freedom? Wouldn't that make us complicit in their continued enslavement?" 

Luke sighs. "That's not what I meant, Leia. I meant, some slicer could use our bolts to reprogram the droids to do bad things, terrible things."

Anakin scoffs. "Humans are vulnerable to the same thing, and I'm a prime example." He drapes a semi-tangible arm across Finn's shoulders. "And Finn here is another."

"Uh..." Finn breaks in, looking warily at Anakin. "I know where they used to manufacture the helmets. There's probably a lot of parts and things still there for Rey and Rose to experiment with..." 

Leia nods. "Good idea, Finn. Tell Chewie and Rey where to go." She smirks. "We've got a droid revolution to incite."

Anakin beams. "My precious, perfect, rebellious princess is righting the galaxy's wrongs. Again. Ow!" He mock-scowls at Leia. "I don't even have toes, beloved daughter, how are you stomping on them?" 

"The will of the Force," Leia answers sweetly.