Beyond the Saga Burden of the Past (Rose Tico/Finn, Rey)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by TheProphetOfSullust, Jan 9, 2023.

  1. TheProphetOfSullust

    TheProphetOfSullust Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 10, 2003
    Title: Burden of the Past
    Author(s): TheProphetOfSullust
    Timeframe: Sequel Era (post-TROS)
    Characters: Rey, Rose Tico, Finn, OC
    Genre: Drama
    Relationships: Finn/Rose Tico (minor)
    Summary: Rey Skywalker is outed as the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. The Resistance -- and General Rose Tico in particular -- has to deal with the fallout.

    "Commander Dreeva."

    The statement rang with metal, having been delivered by a droid--but KR-72 didn't make it sound emotionless

    "The charge of harassment against a fellow crewmember on the basis of family origin this court-martial dismisses on the grounds of insufficient evidence."

    Only a few sighs game of that--mostly from people who hadn't followed the trial, but only came to see the results.

    "On the charge of incitement to violence against a fellow crewmember on the basis of family origin, this court-martial finds you not guilty."

    That prompted many more murmurs. The Devaronian defendant turned her head to her council, who grinned.

    "On the charge of conduct unbecoming a Resistance officer, this court-martial finds you guilty as charged."

    "Son of a--"

    "Order!" General Rose Tico shouted.

    The courtroom grew somewhat quieter. "Commander Dreeva," she said. "You've suspended as commanding officer of the Leia Organa's starfighter contingent for the duration of this court-martial. As you've been found guilty, I hereby relieve you of that assignment permanently..

    That prompted more murmurs, but subdued ones.

    Rose continued. "You will be ordered to disembark at the first Resistance base the Leia Organa arrives at. You will not serve on this ship unless ordered to by my superiors."

    That caused only a shrug from the defendant and her lawyer.

    "Finally," Rose finished, "you are to be reduced one grade in rank to Lieutenant Commander."

    "What?" Numerous shouts came at once.

    "I've decided," Rose said. "If you want to dispute it, you can appeal."

    Knowledgeable people realized what was happening. "Conduct unbecoming" was a vague charge from the start, and was more commonly brought against enlisted personnel, not officers. Losing the current assignment was the expected outcome, a ****** following assignment--or none at all, quite likely. But a permanent loss of rank was the maximum discretion a convicting officer had for such a charge. Essentially, this indicated Tico felt that the other charges should have stood.

    Commander--Lieutenant Commander--Dreeva slumped. So did her human male lawyer--at least until he saw Tico marching out of the courtroom with a sabacc face and said,

    "This won't hide the truth, General."

    Rose stopped. "The truth is a weapon, Lieutenant. When someone uses a weapon against my crew, I respond."

    Finn found Rose in the Leia Organa's workout center, pummeling at a training droid with a combat baton while ducking strokes from its four arms.

    "Hey," he called out.

    "Sorry," she said. "I'm not good company right now."

    "You're always good company to me."

    She deflated, but let him step up and give her a quick kiss.

    "I need to take it out on something, and I can't exactly use subordinates."

    "Want to have a few rounds with me?"

    "Sorry," she repeated. "You're a Jedi. Either you hold back, or I get pummeled--and I need to fight someone--or something--doing the most they can."

    "The Force does give advantage," he smiled. "Which is why I have this." He reached into his pocket and drew a strip of black cloth that he tied around his head and lowered over his eyes. Then he stepped back and drew his lightsaber.

    "I haven't done this in a while."

    "Why not?" Rose swung the baton overhead in mid-sentence, making Finn dodge it.

    "We were taught to use every possible advantage in combat," he said. "No one deliberately throws one away.

    Rose's baton collided with his blade and she tried to yank the lightsaber out of his hands by jerking it. That was a tactic of brute strength, though, where he overpowered her by a good deal, so they just pulled apart.

    "This makes me question whether I'm fit for command."


    "Second worst part of the job I've had."

    "And the worst is?"

    "Telling families that someone died." Another weapons clash.

    "Well--you didn't show it much."

    Rose snorted. "Please. Everyone knew that if I could throw Dreeva in the brig for a month, I would, if I could demote her to private, I would--"

    "If you could execute her--"

    "--no!" Rose snarled and lashed out with an underhand swing that Finn felt in the Force, but not quickly enough to avoid entirely. The blow landed near his right knee, and the baton emitted a mild shock.

    "So you've still got perspective."

    Rose growled. "How's she, anyway?"

    "Why do you think I know something you don't?"

    "You two are Jedi."

    Finn chuckled. "She refused to talk."

    "To you?" Rose stared, then remembered Finn was blindfolded. "Sparring's over."

    Finn pocketed the headband. "She also hasn't left. Though I made sure to place a homing beacon on the Falcon in case she does."

    "This brooding can't be good. And I even told her the trial would be more likely to go our way if she testified."

    "I don't think Rey cares one way or another. What are you really angry about, Rose?"

    "That she didn't trust me enough to tell me, for one thing. You knew."

    "Not my secret."

    "That's not it. But did she really think I would not stand by her?"

    "Maybe it's that we're dating."


    "If you didn't, I'd have to choose."

    "If I didn't, you should have chosen her."

    He laughed. "If this lasts longer, I'll take a trip to Kashyyyk."

    Rose raised an eyebrow. "Explain."

    "I already tried to call Chewbacca, but he's out of reach. He's the only one with the codes to bypass the Falcon's locks. Then I can get you two in the same room and let you feel sorry for yourselves together."

    Sigh. "We're the Resistance. Galactic heroes. We're supposed to be above judging people by who their families are. And look at this. Not only is Dreeva around, too many agree with her, or the incitement charge would stick. I had to do the maximum because the court-martial did the minimum."

    "Which is why you are in command and the others aren't."

    "For now. You might have start thinking of moving your Jedi camp off Leia Organa if the next commander is more like Dreeva."

    "Now that would be ironic."

    Rose lifted an eyebrow.

    "The commander of a cruiser named after the daughter of Darth Vader refusing to accept the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine."

    Rose gulped. "Why didn't I think of that?"

    "Because with Rey, we already knew her when we learned her heritage. The General--we all knew about from the start."

    "Apparently, too many forgot." She paused. "Maybe it's time to remind them."

    "What, have Beaumont give a lecture?"

    "Oh, no. It'll be a lot more memorable." She drew a comlink. "Lieutenant Enteri."

    "General," the Leia Organa's communication officer replied.

    "Arrange for a secure call with Governor Lakshaamaloo. Inform me when she can speak, and setup a transmission to my cabin."

    "Understood, ma'am. When?"

    "As soon as it's convenient for her. Tico out."

    Finn looked thoughtful. "Governor Lakshaamaloo... of Kashyyyk?"

    She nodded. "Yeah. If nothing comes of it, you can at least find Chewbacca and have him slice into the Falcon. But if my idea works, you won't have to."

    Rey woke up to the Falcon's comm loudly beeping. She rose--the sleep, filled with dreams of Palpatine once again offering her the galactic throne and onlookers chanting for her to take it, wasn't providing much rest.

    The panel indicated someone was at the hatch. She flipped on a security vid and saw an unfamiliar droid--a short bipedal modal with a wide, thin cylindrical head. Rey opened a voice link, then looked at the chrono. It was deep into the ship's night.

    "What?" she demanded.

    "Message delivery for Jedi Knight Rey."

    She lowered the ramp, then raised it again as soon as the droid ambled inside, just in case. She met it in the galley.

    "I am PR-98," the droid announced. "Courier for Mid-Rim Deliveries, Limited. Requesting permission to scan for identity verification."

    Rey snorted. The questions of identity were very much on her mind, and she doubted this droid's capacity to assure anyone--her least of all.


    A glass bulb on the droid's chest lit up in bright magenta, contrasting with the electric blue and white of the plating. At least it didn't demand a blood sample. Karé told her once that was a possibility.

    "Identity confirmed." PR-98 spun its head and let one of the slots in it open with a click it reached inside and drew a data card, which it handed to her.

    The card had neither her name nor the senders, and was blank except for a Aurebesh 'H' glyph, indicating the contents required a hold projection system to display.

    Rey raised her eyebrows. Nobody she knew--and more importantly, knew where she lived these days--would need to do this. It was peacetime, the Leia Organa wasn't running with silent comms.

    Rummaging around, she found a portable holoreader--no way she'd slot a mysterious data card to interface with the Falcon's computer--and placed it on the galley table. While the device booted, she brewed a mug of caf and saw PR-98 to disembark the Falcon, shutting the hatch behind it. Upon reflection, she also grabbed a bottle of Corellian brandy. Thus fortified, she sat down and with trepidation, slotted the card.

    The hologram that appeared was of an elderly human male, pale-skinned, gaunt, with large eyes. She didn't recognize him--and then she did. They'd never spoken, and she didn't know his name, but in the months of war with the First Order, she'd seen him in close conversations with Leia several times, with prolonged absences in between. he clearly was carrying out sensitive missions on Leia's behalf, but Rey concentrated on her Jedi training and chose not to pry.

    "Hello, Rey," the unknown man said, smiling softly. "We've never met, and I was asked to make this recording on behalf of our mutual friend, Sen--General Leia Organa before her death. She also asked me to ensure that, should the time ever be right, that you receive this after my death. Thus, I don't know if I still live as you're listening. If I do, feel free to seek me out and ask any questions that arise from this. I do not promise to answer, but I will listen.

    "I also don't know why she made me record this. All she said is that what I say may have bearing on your situation. I can't see how, but that is not for me--or even her--to judge, and I respected Senator Organa too much to defy her. So, here goes. May you find this helpful, Rey."

    The hologram blinked, then displayed the old man again. This time, he was dressed more formally, in dark blue robes, and was sitting in front of the recorder, allowing closeups of his face.

    "My name is Ransolm Casterfo," he said. "I was a colleague of Leia Organa in the New Republic Senate until, in my fear, anger, pride, and ambition, I destroyed her political career--and unwittingly, my own alongside it. For that, I, she, and the galaxy have paid too much.

    "I don't know how much Leia told you or what else you know. But under the Empire, Leia's origins as the daughter of Darth Vader was a closely kept secret, for obvious reasons--including from Leia herself. She learned during the Rebellion, and took about as well as you could expect. That being said, she handled the revelation far better than I did.

    "At the time, I appeared to have stumbled onto the secret by accident, by coming of a possession of some family artifacts of Leia's adoptive parents. In retrospect, I was led to it by First Order agents in order to accomplish exactly what it did--weaken the New Republic. But I played my part. I knew, personally, what Darth Vader was, and in the anger, I didn't even bother to confront Leia herself about this. Instead, I announced it on the Senate floor to the entire galaxy."

    Rey paused. So this is why.

    "That is the great irony," Casterfo continued. "I acted to prevent another Darth Vader. The Senate, when they rejected Leia, acted to prevent another Empire. Both actions ultimately helped the rise of the First Order.

    A Jedi cannot wish terrible consequences on the galaxy to satisfy her ego, Rey thought. She paused the recording and connected to the ship's database.

    Ransolm Casterfo, the screen displayed, and she quickly scanned the outline. Senator. First Order prisoner. Resistance operative. Retired to Altar III.

    Leia never told him what I was, but if he still lives--and the records, quite recent, gave no indication that he didn't--I could talk to him now.

    Almost automatically, she resumed the hologram player.

    "I do not know why Leia thinks I should give you this, what benefit she thinks it can bring you. I surmise there's a family secret in your past, though it surely can't be worse than hers."

    Rey snorted to herself.

    "But I have learned from my mistakes, and will neither pry not encourage others to do so. Even if we haven't talked, I know what you have done for the Resistance, and Leia believes you are destined for still greater things. Your actions speak far louder than your heritage, whatever it is. I learned that far too late."

    And the galaxy didn't learn it at all. Except there was no galaxy--there were people. Some learned, some didn't, and some never needed to learn in the first place.

    If what happened to Leia happened to you, I'm sorry," Casterfo concluded. "My consolation is that, with what I went through afterwards, it is unlikely that anyone found inspiration in my actions. Leia got through it, and she believed that you could too. If I still live, you are welcome to see me for any advice I might give. May the Force be with you, Rey."

    She dried several tears coming down her fake and headed for the Falcon's cockpit. She didn't necessarily feel the need for Senator Casterfo's help, but he was the only person who didn't know her, and who she was sure would not judge. She flipped the comm.

    "Millennium Falcon to Leia Organa. Requesting clearance to depart."

    "Falcon, this is Organa. We cannot grant you clearance. We are currently in hyperspace."

    Why? Rey wondered. Aloud, she asked, "Destination and ETA?"

    "That information is restricted."


    "Orders from General Tico."

    Rey was glad the comm was audio-only--her eyebrows must be doing impossible arcs by now. Rose, what are you up to?

    Rose Tico entered the Leia Organa's bridge almost to the second when the navicomputer took them out of hyperspace. "Target coordinates, ma'am," the duty officer informed her.

    "Thank you, Corel," she answered.

    "There's nothing here!" someone yelled out from one of the tactical stations.

    Rose didn't answer that. "Shipwide comm," she ordered.

    "Shipwide comm, aye, ma'am."

    Drawing a speak input from the armrest of the commander's chair, she began.

    "Crew of the Leia Organa, this is General Tico. We are going to be the op-for in a wargame. Set condition orange, prepare the ship for simulated combat. You have two hours. This is serious, people. We can't neglect something and have a real weapon go off. As of now, we are the Sith Eternal Star Destroyer Korriban's Mist. Two hours, then we depart for the game. Tico out."

    The bridge crew stared at her.

    "Sith Eternal?"

    "A wargame?"

    "What the--"

    "Quiet!" Her XO shouted.

    "Thank you, Colonel," Rose said. " I believe you all understood the orders. Come on. Condition orange won't set itself."

    "But... why?"

    "We need practice. Our allies need practice."

    "What allies, ma'am?"

    Rose grinned. "Wookiees."

    "Wookiees, ma'am?"

    "That's right. In two hours, we're jumping to Kashyyyk, where, in the guise of Korriban's Mist, we will try to obliterate the capital city with orbital bombardment--without getting ourselves destroyed in the process. The Kashyyyk militia will try to stop us."

    "Do... do they know it's a game?" Lieutenant Pon asked.

    Rose exchanged glances with Colonel Feriini. The ultraviolet imager in her contact lens told her the Duros had performed the equivalent bit of a raised eyebrow.

    Rose activated her comlink. "Finn, you listening?"

    "Yeah," he snorted.

    "Can you come up here?"

    "Sure." He didn't tease her with the common joke that because of the way Leia Organa was built, going to the bridge meant actually coming down. He arrived a minute later.

    "Sorry to drag you out, without even a kiss."

    "No kiss?" he pouted.

    "Not on the bridge. It's against regulations. Now," she rotated the command chair towards the stern viewport and faced the black of space.

    "No," she declared. "The Wookiees don't know it's a game. We're going to arrive in the Kashyyyk system with the appearance and transponders of a Sith Eternal ship and announce our intent to destroy their capital city."

    Into the ten seconds of silence that followed, Rose continued.

    "Naturally, that's going to start a panic down there. People will rush out the city, en masse. Some will get trampled. Some will get in vehicle accidents.

    "People will also rush to spaceports to get off planet away from the Sith. They'll try to take off in a hurry, disregarding all safety precautions, which for some will turn out really, really bad--ships will explode or crash, killing both passengers and bystanders.

    "As always happens, there'll be people trying to take advantage of the chaos, and others will try to stop them. More violence.

    "Then there are a few people who have been prisoners of the Empire, the First Order, or the Sith before, and who rather than fall into their hands again, will kill themselves. And that'll be more likely here, given how long Wookiees live.

    "And after all that happens, we're going to tell the survivors that all that fear, all that violence, all those losses, injuries, and deaths had been pointless. Because it's a game."

    She sighed. "If that happened, and I was governor Lakshaamaloo, I'd order the Militia to disregard the game and fire on the Leia Organa with real weapons, seize control of the ship no matter the cost, and then have every crewmember put on trial for war crimes.

    She spun around in the command char to meet the faces of her shocked bridge crew.

    "Think, people!" she snapped.

    Finn and Captain Feriini were grinning. "Why bring me here?" Finn asked.

    "Just in case someone failed to read sarcasm, and decided to take out their mad general," Rose said. "Even with individuals, pranks can be risky. Pulling them on millions of people, some bound in armies and fleets--that's recipe for disaster.

    "And also," she said, "I want to spend some time with you before we all get really busy. Let's make the rounds of this ship and see how the condition orange prep is going. Captain Feriini, you have the bridge. Anyone else voices a bright idea, feel free to imitate me."

    The Duros grinned and took Rose's place when she vacated the command chair. "Yes, ma'am."

    In the turbolift, when the doors closed, Finn and Rose kissed. "And what am I supposed to be doing for this exercise?"

    Rose lifted her eyebrows. "I think that's obvious." She glanced at his lightsaber. "We're pretending to be a Sith Eternal warship. You will pretend to be a Sith."

    Rose winced as the tactical hologram erupted in several flashes, winking out some of the last remaining TIE Defenders. Not that she particularly enjoyed playing the villain, and not that anybody was actually dead--but she wanted to win, even in a simulation. The wargame parameters left a lot of room--and the Wookiees surprised her with that flexibility.

    Several squadrons of Wookiee fighters with a design she'd never seen before heavily damaged the simulated Korriban's Mist defenses--both fighters and hull emplacements. They suffered their losses, but the success was more than could be expected from the equivalent number of X-Wings, TIEs, or even B-Wings. There was definitely an idea here the Resistance should look at.

    It was then that the most unwelcome person entered the bridge. Lieutenant Commander Dreeva wandered past the tactical hologram and smirked.

    "What are you doing here, Commander?"

    "I don't have duties aboard, thanks to you. Perhaps a reconsideration is in order."

    "You think you would do better?"

    "I'm a good pilot. I gather you haven't launched the reserve squadrons."

    "No, I haven't. And I won't. Yet."


    "You're thinking like Resistance. We're playing Sith, remember?"

    "Tactics don't change."

    "Some don't. But look. The Wookiee fighters already outnumber what we've got left. And they'll be alerted when we open the hangars. Pointless. I'm afraid we'll need to withstand the barrage without fighter cover."


    "We're going for the capital. We launch when we're in range, throw those fighters away to buy us time for the bombardment, then flee."

    "And leave them?"



    "It's not how I'd fight as a Resistance general. It's what a Sith commander would do."

    "You learn that from their spawn?"

    Rose was quiet for a few moments and then spoke very slowly.

    "Do you want to be court-martialed again, Commander? Or do you want me to speed things up and bump you down to Ensign right now?"

    "No, ma'am," Dreeva finally said.

    "Good. Engineering, I need more thrust on starboard."

    A Wookiee fighter sped by past the bridge, towards the main hull. They watched the tactical hologram on which several larger craft were approaching, but had neither fighters nor defense emplacements left to stop them now.

    "Shields are still--"

    "Hangar three shield down!"

    "What? How?" Dreeva demanded.

    "Something for the debrief," Rose said. The section still flashed red on the hologram. "Blast doors should have shut by now."

    "They did, General. But something's holding--"

    "Internal cam, hangar three." Rose studied the screen. One Wookiee transport had lodged itself in the way of the blast door, leaving a gap through which another had flown in, and both were dislodging Wookiee warriors.

    "They boarded us," Colonel Feriini grunted.

    "Admin, confirm no one aboard stuck craft," Rose said.

    No matter how realistic the simulation, you needed someone to monitor reality--damage to the military equipment was acceptable, destruction of civilian property, heavy injuries, or deaths, no matter how inadvertent, weren't.

    "Confirmed, ma'am."

    "Engineering, triple power to servomotor S-O-H-3-B."



    Two seconds later, they saw on screen as the blast door pushed through the stuck Wookiee craft, cutting it in half and shutting the breach.

    "Estimate number of boarders."

    "Twenty to a hundred."

    "Doubt it's twenty," Feriini said. "Those transports look a bit like ones Duros used in the Clone Wars, and those carried a full platoon each. Wookiees are bigger, of course--but we're in their home system. Ditch the hyperdrive, and you've got room. Two platoons."

    "Dispatch security, and cut the power to that section. Redirect to starboard engines."

    "Understood, ma'am."

    "Hangar Two foyer under attack!"

    "Of course."

    "I don't understand," Lieutenant Pon said.

    "We closed that hangar, so they go to another. Shields can be opened from within, and they'll try to bring in more boarders."

    "Why not just use Hangar Three?"

    "Because Korriban's Mist has rotated since then," Ensign KR-72 piped up.

    "Correct. It's on the port side, and is facing the planet. Bad approach. Not happening. Engineering, shut down power to Hangar Two. Re--"

    "--direct to starboard engines. This is it, General. You put anymore on those engines, they'll overload and you'll lose thrust!"


    "Breach, Hangar Two."

    "Give me camera feed."

    The darkened expanse of the launch bay flickered on the screen. A-Wings of their reserve squadrons stood silent, and among them, a different ship--the oval saucer of a Corellian YT-1300.

    Wookiees wearing armor and helmets, armed with bowcasters, funneled out, covering each other. Two of them approached the Falcon and began working something on the hull. The ship's ramp lowered, and one Wookiee headed inside.

    "What are they doing?"

    "I'm not a telepath," Rose said. Then she smiled. "Interesting."

    "What--no. No. No!"

    "Commander!" Feriini chastised Dreeva.


    "You can say the name, Commander. Rey. It's not cursed. That's not how Jedi work."

    "How does this even fit with the scenario?"

    Rose snorted. "Trivially. The Sith Eternal ship carried a Jedi prisoner, the Wookiees rescued her, and now she's assisting them."

    "The hangar is not a brig."

    "And I didn't order the fuel supply dumped into it and ignited upon boarding. We continue."

    "This is a farce!" Dreeva called out. "A joke!" She looked at the screen. The Wookiees in the hangar were confronting a ship's security squad when all the troopers' weapons flew out of their hands. The Wookiees stormed in and took them prisoner.

    "Security, Tico here. Be careful, boarders have a Jedi with them." She switched channels. "Finn, you up for a duel?"

    "On my way."

    "What good will that do? She's the master."

    "Sometimes we surpass our masters," Rose replied.

    Dreeva, meanwhile, was getting angrier. "Lightsabers don't have stun settings!" she yelled. "The spawn of Palpatine will kill us all!"

    She grabbed one of the officer's blaster, set it to stun, and fired at Rose. The blue ring expanded and hit the General. But like all ship weapons, the blaster was reconfigured for the wargame. The beam harmlessly passed through her, and only generated a beep on her wristcom.


    Then others drew weapons, and low-powered bolts zoomed all over the bridge in a shootout. Dreeva ducked, and the admin operators rapidly worked controls.

    "Got everything?" Rose asked.

    "Check, ma'am," the lead admin reported.

    "Call out your status, everyone."










    "Well, well," Rose said. "Everyone deemed alright, stand up."

    "You aren't!" Dreeva called.

    "I'm sitting," Rose said from a chair in the admin section, and bit into a piece of fruit. "Congrats, Commander."


    "A Jedi prisoner on a Sith Eternal ship works as part of our scenario. So does a mutiny. You're in charge, Dreeva."

    "Finn here. Sorry. Lost the duel. What the hell happened up there?"

    "Another unexpected turn. I like this, actually. Real war is full of surprises. Talk to you later."

    Dreeva stared at her small but workable bridge crew, then at Rose.

    The general's wristcom chirped. "Oh. Good. Says my stun wore off. Now, I'll be gracious and presume that in a real mutiny, I'd be bound somehow, and couldn't just rush you to retake my ship. You're in command. Decide. The Wookiee capital is still the target. Abort or proceed--your way. I'm not a participant in this game anymore."

    "We can abort?"

    "Sure. But on a real Sith ship, even from a suicide mission, that wouldn't prolong your life much."

    "We proceed--"

    "Engineering bay three here. We're under--" the comm went silent.

    "What the--"

    The cruiser jolted and began to spin. No longer was the port side steadily facing Kashyyyk, ready to open fire the moment the capital was in range. Instead, they spun, and the planet and starscape flipped in the viewports--port, starboard, port, starboard.

    "Stabilize!" Dreeva called.

    "Can't!" Engineering reported. "Engine's burned out. We won't be able to leave unless we flee now."


    The crew stared as a gleaming gold shaft pierced through the bridge ceiling and began cutting a circular opening. "She's here!" Dreeva shouted. "As soon as the hole opens up, shoot!"

    The circle completed, and the deck plating fell out. Before anyone could open fire, though, a small object flew out of the hole. Instead of just falling, though, it suddenly angled, sped up, and slapped into the hand of a technician standing behind Dreeva.

    Where it again produced the lightsaber blade, held across the Devaronian's throat.

    "Hi," Rey Skywalker said.

    Everyone was too surprised to do anything when Wookiees jumped down from the original opening and held them at bowcaster point. One of them stared down Dreeva and barked something.

    "Well?" Rey translated.

    "Comm, broadcast to the Wookiees. Tell them... we surrender."

    "Surrender acknowledged. Also, end of game."

    Rose stood up and activated the shipwide comm.

    "This is General Tico. The wargame is over. Once again, we are the Resistance cruiser Leia Organa. I regret to inform you that we lost. Resume normal operations. Move the ship into high orbit. Debriefings will commence tomorrow at 800. Tico out."

    She turned to the Wookiee leader. "Hi, Chewie."

    He slowly howled. "What?"

    Rey shrugged. "He asks if we let them win--and I think there's some sort of joke in there, which I don't get."

    Chewbacca produced several barks. "Ask Threepio? Sure. It's not urgent, is it?"

    Chewie growled a denial.

    "This is, though," Rose said. "Chewie, congratulate your commander, and let Governor Lakshaamaloo know that I'm ready for a high-level debriefing at her convenience. Lieutenant Commander Dreeva," she turned to the Devaronian, "you are confined to quarters until 800 tomorrow. No visitors, no comms. Rey, could you escort her there?"

    "Sure," the Jedi said.

    "This is an outrage!" Dreeva protested.

    "No. This is a precaution. The outrage will be later. You will need a lot of luck soon, Lieutenant Commander. Pray to however you wish to for it. Dismissed."

    "I'm not supposed to have visitors!" Dreeva called out from the refresher.

    "Doesn't apply," General Tico answered.

    When Dreeva emerged, Tico was sitting at her desk. "Ma'am," she said, and saluted.

    "What do you think of Rey now?"

    "Ma'am, that is not the sort of question I'm obligated to answer as a Resistance officer."

    "I see," Rose said. "Well, you aren't telling me what I want to hear, at least."

    After a pause, she continued. "We run wargames to reveal problems in our military so that they can be rectified before we have to fight for real. I'd say this one revealed quite a number."

    "Maybe. If Rey wasn't around..."

    "Yes, yes. How fortunate that our Jedi did not side with her blood legacy."

    "Maybe if she didn't call herself Skywalker--"

    "Nice excuse, not gonna fly. She knew Luke and Leia better than either of us. And Chewbacca knew them longer than her. I'm sure he'd object if he didn't think she deserved it."

    "Well, as you said--I'm not just going to tell you what you want to hear."

    "And I said that's a good thing. But back to our little wargame. One thing we saw is that a lot of things are flexible. Every participant will write a report on their part in the simulation. Mine will be the most scrutinized, naturally. And regarding your intervention, it will say one of two things.

    "The first possibility," she said before Dreeva could interrupt, "is that I follow the legend--your mutiny was part of the wargame simulation, and you were playing the part of a Sith officer who saw failure by her superior and took it as an opportunity for advancement."

    "Are you going to lie? Claim this was planned out?"

    "No. It wasn't planned because the wargame's outcome was uncertain. The report will state you improvised within the wargame legend."


    "You're still not staying aboard. But you transfer in good standing, with your rank intact, and can continue your career.

    "On the other hand, I can write in my report that this had nothing to do with the wargame, and I improvised your actions into it just as a preventative measure. Then your mutiny will be treated as real. Do you want to take your chances with a court-martial for that?"

    "So this is how we do things now? Truth is a bargaining chip?"

    "Both versions are true. I do want improvisation within the legend of the wargame. And you didn't care one bit about it." She grinned. "Kind of like our friend Rey. Yes, she's descended from the Emperor. And yes, she's taken up the Skywalker legacy. Both are true. I"m giving you something you never gave her. A choice which truth goes forward.."

    "On what condition?"

    "There'll be more than reports for the wargame. There'll be a completion ceremony, awards, banquets, news reports, interviews, and public analysis. Not galaxy-shattering news, but noticeable.

    "If you want me to write version one of the report, you will participate in those events alongside Rey Skywalker. You will be amiable to her. You will be seen shaking hands with her, you will appear in holos together, and you will not bring up her bloodline. If anyone asks, tell them to talk to Rey themselves, and that it's not your story to tell. Because it's not. That's how you'll spend next week or so. It's the least you can do to repair the damage you inflicted on Rey.

    "Refuse or fail in your conduct, and I write version two."
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2023
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  2. TheProphetOfSullust

    TheProphetOfSullust Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 10, 2003
    Related Scene
    Rose's steps echoed dully in the empty hangar, as she circled the craft. The thing was unusual in many ways, but it definitely had the grace that always accompanied good design. Even though she wasn't really a fighter pilot, she was still fascinated--and the recent wargame showed that this had to be taken seriously.

    Her admiration was interrupted by a soft growl. Rose replied with the only bit of Shiriwook she managed to learn to pronounce correctly. "Hello. I understand you, but can't speak." Very practical. For anything else, she would need so much practice that it wouldn't leave time for anything else.

    "Same here," the Wookiee replied in Shiriwook. He was standing in front of the ship, arms folded, looking at it proudly.

    "I'm Rose."

    "I know. Chewbacca told me you were interested in the--" his next word wasn't something Rose recognized.

    "Is that its name?"

    "A bit untranslatable, I'm afraid. It's a creature that lives in Kashyyyk's volcanoes."

    "In volcanoes?"

    He nodded. "I'm Sabaroownel Wolnarry," he said. "Lead designer on the--untranslatable name--project. You may call me Sabar."

    "Pleased to meet you. They definitely work. The wargame showed that."

    "Pilots like them, too. Do you have questions?"

    "A lot. But why don't you give me the walkthrough first? I'd rather have a complete picture."

    "Finally, someone who gets it!" Sabar exclaimed.

    "I'm an engineer, too."

    They smiled at each other. "Pretty much all fighters of the last three big galactic wars--on all sides--were designed for you humans."

    Rose considered that and flushed as she realized he was right. Certainly the xenophobic Empire and First Order didn't bother to even consider aliens, but on this point, the X-Wing was just as humanocentric as the TIE.

    It could even be justified somewhat--humans were the most populous sapient species in the galaxy, and alongside others who looked different but were similarly proportioned, such as Twi'leks, Zabraks, and Bothans, probably formed the majority of sapient beings. She didn't say any of that--it still left too many out. You could make adjustments, of course. For Wookiees and Besalisks who wanted to fly X-Wings, one typically took a two-seater training model and put in one correctly sized seat in place of two standard ones. For smaller species, one could also replace the seat--that could even be beneficial, making room for extra fuel to give the ship a longer range. Some squadron commanders took advantage of that by putting their Chadra-Fan pilots on reconnaissance duty.

    But seat size was not the only thing. Screens lit in the standard spectrum. Instrument panels written in Basic. Controls presuming grasping, clawless hands. You could make workarounds--but a machine usually performed better when used by design.

    "I see what you mean."

    "Right. So we start with a cockpit and life support system tailored for Wookiees. It's not that different, but it is bigger. And I'm not just talking about the actual cockpit space. Oxygen supply. Waste reclamation. Survival gear in case of crash. We make the calculations and find ourselves bumping into the Shan-Tja limit. That's--"

    "I know what Shan-Tja limits are." The fusion process used in power reactors across the galaxy, everywhere from moisture farms to starships, had a curious property dictated by the underlying physics: it couldn't produce power at arbitrary levels. As you fed in more fuel, increasing the reaction mass per second, the energy output increased smoothly within a very narrow range. Beyond it, it became unstable, fluctuating wildly, and if you kept increasing, it would surge, with more energy output per unit of fuel. The size of the reaction itself would expand as well--and if the reactor wasn't built to handle the larger volume, it would be consumed by its own product--usually violently. The distinct plateaus at which the reaction was stable--there were five used practically, two more produced experimentally, but which required too much surrounding infrastructure, and three more that were possible theoretically until other physical limits came into play--were traditionally referred to by physicists as the Shan limits and by engineers as the Tja plateaus. The combined name had only caught on recently, and not everywhere.

    The existence of the Shan-Tja limits meant that at some power outputs, you couldn't get just a little more--you had to redesign the whole thing to support a reactor capable of running at the next Shan-Tja limit--a bigger one. Alternatively, you could have a second reactor, but that also needed a redesign. Details of compromises made around Shan-Tja limits could fill engineering libraries.

    "Third limit?" Rose asked.

    Sabar nodded and she whistled. Very powerful for such a small ship. No wonder they ripped through her fighters--the extra power could flow to shields or lasers. Shields and lasers, she mentally corrected herself.

    "As soon as we made it big enough for the reactor, we saw that at that size, it could easily accommodate two crewmembers. And that there'd be power for an art-grav plate in between."

    "Oh!" Rose realized something that had been puzzling her. She inspected the craft again. The fighter, like most, had left-right symmetry, but unlike most--also top-bottom. Both had a cockpit--and in each, the occupant would feel just like someone in a normal cockpit--that they were at the top front, and the rest of the ship under them.

    "I suppose if I wanted to fly one, I'd need accommodations installed, for once. Same controls?"

    "Yes. Either one can be a pilot or gunner, and you can switch on the fly--or both if the other is damaged. No need for a separate training model, either."

    Now that she knew the core of the secret, she could see the ship with new eyes. From front or rear, the profile of the ship resembled an upscale X-WIng, though those wings were sturdier and couldn't be folded. But the hull had additional thrusters at various points--meaning the fighter could rapidly rotate while keeping the flying momentum.

    "The Shan-Tja limit upswitch meant that we went from not having enough power to too much. Shields can only be strengthened so much before you have to expand them to cut interference, and no pilot wants to be mindful of an invisible wall larger than the ship itself. Some suggested we mount a capital turbolaser."

    Rose pondered that. Total length from nose tip to tail was--

    "We could do it, though the gun would have to be non-standard. But it'd still run the whole length of the ship. As is, the reactor, fuel, ammunition are deep within--"

    "If you put in a turbolaser, the Tirana gas tanks would be right in the rear!"

    "Front," Sabar corrected. "It'd fire backwards."

    "Either way, less protected, riskier. So what did you do instead?"

    The designer lifted a datapad and pressed a key. On the port side of the craft, two panels slid out. Within each opening, eight laser cannon nozzles stared at her. She didn't need to walk around to know that another sixteen cannons existed on the starboard side.

    "That's how you did it. Fly between enemies and blast both of them, fly by a capital ship and destroy emplacements... I'd normally say we need to see how it does in the field, but we already had that test."

    "Just one."

    "Well, I'm glad I'll never have to face them for real," Rose said. "Congratulations. This is special."

    "Thanks. You think the Resistance will want them?"

    "Maybe, but maybe we'll just contract up some Kashyyyk Militia squadrons to serve on our ships. Size is a compromise. A four-bird squadron of these will take up at least as much space as one with twelve X-Wings."

    "Your ship has room."

    "We do, but Leia Organa is not typical. You know the bulk of the Resistance Navy are destroyers. This will need to be considered carefully. Thanks for showing me this--and for being so open about it."

    "You're welcome," he padded the ship. "May it serve us well if she is ever needed--but may the day she's needed never come."
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  3. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Just wanted to say that I'm reading along and thoroughly enjoying your characterizations of the Sequel characters. It's so fun to see Rose get to nerd out about engineering in this latest one! :D And I like all the detail of what it takes to design a ship for a species that's physically really different from Humans, too.
  4. TheProphetOfSullust

    TheProphetOfSullust Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 10, 2003
    Thanks, fellow fan of tech nerd Rose. And yeah, we don't see enough of that (I know, I know, budget). The closest thing in the movies is probably the variety of podracer designs in TPM.
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