Title: Final Mission Author: Seldes Katne Era: Original Trilogy, set shortly after the events detailed in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Characters: Admiral Raddus, Corporal Paodok'Draba'Takat, Corporal Bistan, Lualani’Draba’Takiil (Drabatan OC borrowed with permission) assorted Rogue One background characters, Glockel (Human OC borrowed with permission). Genre: Drama, Introspection Summary: A member of the Rebel Alliance brings the final effects and posthumous Medals of Valor to the families of three non-human casualties in the Battle of Scarif. Notes: Gift-fic for @Findswoman. Her wish for this story: “An introspective story centering on one or more of the non-Human characters from Rogue One, such as Paodok’Draba’Takat, Weeteef Cyu-Bee, Benthic (“Two Tubes”), or Admiral Raddus. It’s OK for Human characters to appear or be mentioned, but the non-Human(s) have to be the main one(s).” Final Mission Despite an Imperial presence on Dac (known as Mon Cala to the rest of the galaxy), the traveler has made planetfall and located the family of the late Admiral Raddus. After introducing herself, she unwraps a metal disk with a ribbon attached – a Medal of Valor from the Rebel Alliance. She offers it to the Raddus family, along with a datastick. “I’m sorry that we have none of his personal effects to return to you,” she explains. “He kept it all aboard the Profundity, and we couldn’t retrieve any of it. I have a recording of his final message to you in case of his death, but it doesn’t include his thoughts during the battle itself. I can only imagine what those might have been.” “We were together for many years, so I can not only imagine them, I can almost hear them,” the late Admiral’s widow assures her. I have been asked about the Mon Calamari’s propensity for space navigation. It’s simple, really – we learned to move in water, and the deep ocean is similar enough to deep space, both with their currents, their eddies, their shores and shoals. We can learn much from the ocean and the creatures that live there. For example, our Rebel Alliance fights a greater, stronger foe. Yet there are creatures in the seas who must also survive against a larger predator. How do they do it? Some travel in great numbers, like the ghaleesit fish in their multitudinous schools – but that won’t work for our small Rebel cells. Some have developed camouflage; this works better for us, when we can disguise our ships, or better yet, acquire one of the Empire’s. As we have done now. A courageous band of mismatched adventurers have brought us a warning of doom and an Imperial shuttle from the research installation on Eadu. Yes. Yes, this has possibilities, if only the Senators will see it…. And yet they argue. “Fight!” “Run!” “Go into hiding!” “Sue for peace!” (Peace! As if the Empire would grant us any such thing, or keep their word if promised. A fool’s belief, and we would end up like a drejil on a plate, set before the Emperor with a garnish of sea cabbage.) We cannot, we CANNOT continue on with these arguments. The Empire will always have more ships, more troops, more supplies, better equipment. Like a hunting pack of krakana, they will keep after us and after us, first one, then another, until they wear us down or devour us. If we continue to fight a defensive war, we will eventually lose. And STILL we argue…. ~*~*~*~*~ At last! Our courageous band of mismatched heroes has once again shown us the way. Word has come that they’ve taken the Imperial shuttle and set out for Scarif, whose garrison houses the Imperial engineering plans for thousands of projects – including this horrifying weapon, this Death Star they warned us of. No more arguing. No more debate. Now we must act. Now we must push our advantage, our every advantage, to make this mission a success. I’m ordering the fleet to scramble ships and fighters – we must go NOW! (I can imagine the Senators arguing about how to discipline me when this is over….) ~*~*~*~*~ In the midst of battle. No time to think – only instinct, like the sea creatures of Dac. Fighting everywhere, Gold Squadron probing the planetary shield, Blue on Scarif protecting the landing party – no, Rogue One. A fitting name – I will make it official. The shield must come down. We have not the fire power – but perhaps the Empire does. There. “That Star Destroyer’s disabled.” To use the enemy’s power against him. Like the illikith, a small predator that is often targeted by a hunting pack of choarn. Sometimes a single illikith, brought to bay by the pack, will strike one of the choarn, wounding it and driving it against another and then flee as the choarn tangle with one another, disrupting the entire pack formation. This will be our tactic. “Call up a Hammerhead Corvette. I have an idea.” If you know the seas, you can often choose a current, or series of currents, to carry you to a chosen destination. But sometimes an intensely powerful current sweeps you up and you cannot break free – all you can do is ride it until it lets you go, as it has done in this time and place. We are committed now. We will ride this current to its end. Rogue One, may the Force be with you. May it be with us all. The traveler departs Mon Cala, taking a public flight to Sarka, then to Ubrikkia and its space routes to Nal Hutta. An odd place to find a Drabatan, the traveler muses, but then everything has turned upside down in the galaxy lately…. At any rate, her next stop will be the Nal Hutta town of Gebroila and a villa located just outside. Lualani’Draba’Takiil looks up to see the majordomo usher a Human woman into the library, then close the door behind her. The traveler lowers the hood of her coat. “Lualani’Draba’Takiil?” she asks. “Yes,” the Drabatan replies. The traveler bows her head. “I’ve come from the Alliance base on Yavin 4. I’m told General Draven has already contacted you about your son?” When Lua nods, the woman continues, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what your customs are for honoring the dead, but I will help with them if I can, and if you’ll allow it.” She reaches into a pocket and holds out a holodisk. “This is for you.” As Lua takes it, the woman says, “It belonged to Paodok'Draba'Takat.” The Drabatan female cradles it in her hands, then activates it. A series of pictures flow above it: Pao with a rifle, Pao with other members of the Alliance, shots of Pipada, a picture of Lua herself. “It was among his personal effects,” the woman continues. “We felt it should be returned. This is also for you.” She draws a bundle from the same pocket and unwraps a metal disk with a ribbon. “This is a Medal of Valor. It is awarded to your son in honor of his service and sacrifice on behalf of the Alliance.” “Did YOU know him?” “Not well – the other members of his commando team would be able to tell you more, but as far as we can tell, they were also killed during the Battle of Scarif. I can give you my impressions of him, if you would like.” I know I should NOT SHOUT at a COMMANDING officer, but I am tired of waiting, tired of people arguing! WHAT do they not UNDERSTAND? We must fight BACK! Otherwise, why are we HERE? The corporal is shouting back, but I am LOUDER. And a few minutes later, we BOTH HEAR running footsteps of MANY people – one of them is SERGEANT Melshi, who has been TRAINING me and the other recruits. He halts and stares at us. “Is that your melodious voice I hear, Recruit Pao?” “SIR, YES SIR!” I shout, remembering my training. Besides, I RESPECT Sergeant Melshi. “Sir, I’m sorry –” the corporal begins. Melshi raises a hand. “It’s all right, Corporal. I just wanted to see who was loud enough to be heard clear on the other side of this pyramid.” Melshi eyes me. “Are you this loud all the time, Recruit Pao, or just when you’re reaming someone out?” “ALL THE TIME, SIR!” I reply. A grin begins to spread across his face (although a Human’s mouth is too small for a REAL grin). “Good to know.” He nods at the corporal. “Thank you. I’ll take it from here.” The corporal salutes and walks away. Melshi turns back to me. “I hear you’re a fighter,” he says. “YES, SIR!” “We need fighters in this army, but I’d rather you didn’t fight with our own officers. I think I might be able to help with that. Do you know what a squad coordinator does, Recruit Pao?” “YES, SIR! A squad COORDINATOR relays order and information to troops in battle.” “Among other things, yes. Given the volume of sound I’ve been hearing, I think you can fulfill that particular duty. Do you agree, Recruit Pao?” “SIR, YES SIR!” “Good. I’m going to recommend you be promoted to corporal when your training is finished next week. I’m going to place you with one of our commando squads. No more fighting with our own troops, though. Save it for the Empire. We’ll be seeing plenty of action soon enough.” Melshi is RIGHT, of course. LESS than a month later, my squad is ordered to FOEROST. Part of the mission is to take out their COMMUNICATION tower. I VOLUNTEER to plan and lead that part. I know towers. I’ve DESGINED towers. If not for the [untranslatable Drabatan expletive] Empire, I would be ENGINEERING towers now. But this is the next BEST thing. I KNOW where to plant the explosives. And I know my TEAM. We MOVE in. We DESTROY the tower. We ELIMINATE Imperial troops. And we DISRUPT Imperial communications. Then we return to base to await the next assignment. We do MANY missions. My squad and I LEARN to work together, RESPECT each other. Some even learn Drabatan words, and one, Private Kappehl, even manages to tell a JOKE in my language. (The joke is TERRIBLE, of course, but that’s NOT the POINT.) Serving alongside these beings gives me HOPE that we will DEFEAT the Empire. But it does not DIMINISH my hatred, only FOCUS it. So when one of our Intelligence officers brings a girl, the daughter of an Imperial SCIENTIST, to our base and they CALL for a STRIKE on the Imperial base on SCARIF, I am ready. I want to go. Our ENTIRE squad volunteers to go. Yes! The main ASSAULT team! Finally we TAKE the fight to the Empire! ENOUGH of the politicians and their arguing. My squad will HIT the ground RUNNING! I will show them where to plant the EXPLOSIVE charges, to provide a DISTRACTION for the main mission, and will relay ORDERS as needed. AT LAST! We will HURT the Empire, STEAL their secrets, show the GALAXY that fighting WILL gain us victory! When this war is done, I HOPE that my mother and our people will again walk FREE on our world. Into battle! SA’KALLA! For FREEDOM! After her meeting with Lua, the traveler seeks out Captain Glockel and the Rose Evergreen. “I would like to commission your ship,” the traveler says. “What’s the destination and cargo?” asks Glockel. “Just a passenger and carry-on bag. To the Queyta system. From there, I will find transport to the planet Iakar. I have one more family to locate. It’s the last stop on my mission. It’s also the most challenging. The Empire has a strong presence on Iakar, and our information on Corporal Bistan’s family is sketchy….” The Humans (and many other species) only see my height – and frequently laugh. They stop laughing when I leap to the high places – a tree, a pole, a pile of boxes, the building’s wall, the ship’s wing. I owe the ground no allegiance. My body becomes the weapon as I use gravity and movement to strike hard and fast. When I came to Yavin 4, Sergeant Melshi pointed to a target and said, “Show me what you’ve got.” I think he meant for me to grab up a gun and start shooting. Instead, I kicked off the boots I’d been given and leaped into the trees. I yanked broken branches down and threw them. I grabbed vines and plunged toward the ground, snatching up stones and branches to use as projectiles. Using speed and momentum, I bodily attack the target and stop only when it is lying twisted and broken on the ground. Both of Melshi’s eyebrows had disappeared under his cap. He whistled. “Impressive. It’s almost an insult to ask you to try using a rifle….” But I want to learn to shoot, and by the end of my training, I can do even more damage to the target. On the first night that I was assigned watch tower duty, I bared my teeth in a smile, kicked off my boots, and scaled the tower’s exterior to the tiny, covered space at the top. I breathed the jungle air. I scanned the jungle canopy. Yes, this. This was home. The Human female within almost shot me before realizing I was her replacement. “Where did you come from?” she demanded. I jerked my head toward the ground. “Down there.” She peered over the windowsill, then scowled at me. “You do know there’s a ladder inside the tower, right?” She pointed to a circular door in the enclosure’s floor. “No,” I told her. “I didn’t. I though you all just climbed up the outside.” She later told me she couldn’t tell then whether I was joking or not. Finally, she answered, “Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I use the interior ladder.” Baring my teeth again, I said, “I can see where that would be useful if someone is shooting at you.” “Yeah. Okay. Well, since my shift’s over, I’ll be using it to climb back down the tower. Good night.” She opened the door, took two steps down, and stopped. “There won’t be anyone shooting at me when I get down there, right?” “There shouldn’t be.” “Good to know. Thanks!” Later, when I was formally introduced to her and discovered she was Laren Joma, pilot of a Blue Squadron U-Wing, she told me she’d requested me as a crew member. “Figured if you could climb the outside of the tower like that, a little thing like air flight wouldn’t faze you.” As it turned out, she was right. For the six months I’ve served here, I’ve felt at home. We Iakaru live in the canopy. We know the way of the trees, the birds, the weather, the winds. Here, as on Iakar, I can sense the winds with my fur, especially my brows and whiskers. If I feel the wind coming from the east, I know a storm is brewing. From the south is always a good sign. When a bird takes wing, a small mammal leaps, I can feel the light breeze of their movement. I know where they were, and the direction of their path. It gives me an edge as a hunter. When I am not learning the gunner’s skills or standing watch, I explore the surrounding jungle. The Humans running the Alliance are so concerned with supplies and shipping in food. The jungle could feed us all, even with the Rule of Fourth. On Iakar, whether we are hunting or harvesting, when we first encounter the thing we seek, we pass it by. We do the same with the Second and the Third. Once we have found a Fourth plant or animal, we can harvest it. This way, there will always be enough. That rule served us well for many lifetimes. It provided for my people for untold generations. It allowed us to trade supplies with the space-faring races that came seeking our plants for medical supplies. It kept us fed even when the companies came to Iakar to build the factories that made medicine for the rest of the galaxy. But our jungle harvests also brought the Empire. They didn’t want to trade, only to seize and plunder. Now they ravage the jungle, seeking only the medicinal plants and destroying everything else. They don’t care about having supplies for the future – when our planet is stripped bare, they will move on to their next conquest. Joining the Alliance was an easy decision when they offered me the chance. Now, what I want the most, is to become a scout or a sniper -- someone who moves unseen through the high places, where the Human soldiers of the Empire seldom look. Today, I took the first step into that future. We’ve gotten word that the Empire plans a massive weapon, that will destroy whole planets. I went to the briefing, climbing up into the support scaffolding inside the Yavin 4 temple, to see the ones who bring us the news and urge us to take action. I usually stay out of the inner temple. In the conference rooms especially, the air doesn’t move and my ability to sense the currents is blocked But as I heard the girl speak, even in that enclosed room where no breeze could blow, I could sense the change in the wind.