beatrice_otter: Finn holding a blue lightsaber (Finn)
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Chapter 2 on Dreamwidth

Chapter 3

Ahsoka followed her master to where Master Kenobi was examining the pedestal. They were here partly because the ruins had been a Jedi monastery with a thriving research station for centuries before it was abandoned as the Order became more centralized on Coruscant, they'd been damaged in fighting a few months earlier, exposing things that had previously been hidden or contained, and they Order had gotten intel that Dooku might try to salvage something he could use as a weapon. So far, Dooku had failed to show. Ahsoka and Anakin had been treating this mission almost like a vacation, because they couldn't find anything active or dangerous, and even Master Obi-Wan was more relaxed than usual. And the clones had taken their cues from their generals.

Maybe they'd been too casual. And too quick to call things safe.

"You know, Obi-Wan, this tracker our guest was carrying is really interesting," Anakin said as he scaled the rubble to get to the pedestal.

Ahsoka followed, testing each step with the Force for stability before taking it.

"I'm not surprised," Master Obi-Wan said. "All things considered. Tell me, do either of you remember this object from the briefing Master Nu gave us?"

"No," Ahsoka said, shaking her head. "It wasn't the thing Dooku was after."

"It was almost an afterthought in Master Nu's presentation, and she was uncharacteristically vague in describing it," Obi-Wan said. "She was not, however, vague in describing the necessity of staying away from it. But if I understand what she said, and the inscriptions on the controls, it is designed to facilitate time travel."

"Time travel?" Ahsoka said skeptically. "Like in some of those cheesy fantasy holos?" Both masters turned to look at her. "Hey, we spend a lot of time aboard ship, where there's not much to do besides my lessons and meditating. I get bored."

Obi-Wan raised an eyebrow at Anakin. "Yes. Well. Be that as it may, that does … seem to be what it says it does. And it would explain how he appeared out of nowhere."

"And why I don't recognize this tracker," Anakin said.

"And why he doesn't recognize the Seppies or Master Anakin," Ahsoka said. "Is he from the future or the past?"

"I've no idea," Obi-Wan said. "Either could be dangerous. If he's from the past, and learns things about what's happening now, and we manage to return him to his own timeline, he could change things dramatically in ways we've no idea and probably couldn't imagine."

"But maybe he could prevent the war," Ahsoka said. "Wouldn't that be good?"

"Possibly," Obi-Wan said, "but the war is a large and complicated thing, and there were many actions leading up to it, and some of the necessary preconditions for the Separatist breakaway happened long ago. What if he gets back to his own time, attempts to prevent the war, and only manages to alter things so that the Separatists attack a decade earlier, before the clones were made?"

"Oh," Ahsoka said. She tried to imagine fighting this war without the 501st—going up against clankers single-handed, no covering fire. "That wouldn't be good."

"Exactly," Obi-Wan said. "And the same limitations apply to us if he is from the future and we learn what his world is like. We could change things, and make them worse in the process, without any sort of idea what the true consequences might be. And there's a good chance we would change things out of all recognition, such that he could never return home because it doesn't exist anymore."

Anakin looked at him suspiciously. "Obi-Wan, how do you know this? It's not like they teach classes on time-travel even in the Jedi Order."

"The only places they talk about time travel are those cheesy holodramas," Ahsoka pointed out. She widened her eyes innocently. "Master Obi-Wan, does that mean that you watch cheesy fantasy holos?"

Anakin grinned. "Yeah, Obi-Wan, do you?"

"I was once a young, bored padawan with nothing to do while travelling for missions myself," Obi-Wan said with great dignity.

"And that's where we're basing our strategy on?" Anakin said. "Old fantasy holodramas?"

"Do you have a better idea?" Obi-Wan said. "Jocasta Nu will be able to tell us a lot more about this experiment and why it was abandoned and what the potential dangers are. Mace Windu sees shatterpoints, the fault points where things change—that will be invaluable if we are indeed dealing with time travel. If our guest is not a time-traveler—or I am wrong about the possible consequences of communication with him—then no one will be harmed by a slight delay while we wait for Masters Windu and Nu. If he is a time-traveler, and I'm right about the dangers—"

"You mean, if the holodramas are right about the dangers," Anakin put in.

Obi-wan ignored him. "—then we are in a much better position if we do not talk."




Finn was bored. This was a good thing.

Nobody had done anything even vaguely like reconditioning prep. Nobody had threatened him. His hands were cuffed, but in a comfortable position. There was no bid for psychological dominance, such as the First Order liked to use before starting in on the real torture. None of the standard interrogation prep procedures had been done, nor anything like them. Nothing, in fact, had been done since Skywalker and Tano had left him alone with the clone troopers.

Finn was not complaining. He'd take bored over torture or reconditioning any day of the week. It was kind of homey, actually, being bored and surrounded by white armor.

Except without the comforting weight of his own armor. It had been such a shock, the first time with the Resistance he'd wished for his armor back. He'd spent so long, most of his life, annoyed at the armor in one way or another: the way it restricted his vision, the way it got sticky when the temp controls went on the fritz, the way the gloves made everything harder, the way the rigidity of it constrained his movements and got in the way when he was working—why did he need to wear armor to take out the trash?—the way it blocked out every sensation except that of the suit itself. Like many of his brothers and sisters, he'd found any excuse to strip out of it—at least the helmet and gloves—lingering over those few times when it was permitted. He'd discarded it as soon as he could, even though its temperature controls would have been handy on Jakku's desert.

And found himself craving it, shortly thereafter. He'd told himself, in the odd free moment as they careened off Jakku and to Maz's place and the Resistance base on D'Qar and then to Starkiller Base and back, that he only wished for it because it would have been useful in a fight. (And how strange was it that he'd only really put the armor to its intended use once as a stormtrooper, but would have used it constantly after his escape?) Surely, that wasn't odd—especially on Starkiller, where it would have been a useful disguise?

Then, back on D'Qar, he'd woken up in a strange place with Rey and Poe both gone, and the familiar pressure of the armor gone, and he'd hyperventilated. He'd thought it was damage from the still-healing wound, but Major Kalonia had said it was a panic attack. Things got better as he healed more, and especially when Poe was on-base between missions, but there were times when the sheer openness of the world around him made his skin crawl and long for the weight of his armor. Not always, but … now and then.

These troopers … their armor looked different. The paint alone was a shock, but the shape of the helmets (so many different variations!) was almost disorienting. But if he looked at their feet, and listened to the clinking and whirring that the armor made … he could almost feel the weight of his own discarded armor. It was terrifying, and comforting, and terrifying that it was comforting.

But he couldn't take too long to let that feeling distract him, because if these guys weren't angry at him as a traitor, he probably had a lot better chance with them than with their officers. Clone or not, he bet he knew how they thought. The training couldn’t be that different.

"Hey, I'm Finn," he said. "FN-2187."

That got a reaction.

"You're no clone," said the trooper on the left side of the door. His pauldrons were blue with darker blue striping, his knees and cheekpieces were blue, and there were three blue stripes like claw marks on his left shoulder. Three blue stripes adorned his helmet like the wings of a Lambda shuttle. He sounded annoyed.

"Obviously not," Finn said. "But I am a trooper in the First Order. Or I was. FN-2187."

"If you're not a clone, you're not a trooper," the Lambda-faced guy said. "You're not one of us. Don't try to pretend otherwise."

"General Kenobi said no talking," said the other trooper. He had the Imperial emblem on his helmet, with his eyepieces outlined in blue. There was a blue stripe down the center of his chest, and one on the outside of each arm from shoulder to wrist. His shins were blue, too.

"Hey, just trying to pass the time," Finn said.

"Unfortunately, that may be rather dangerous at the present time." A human man walked through the door and the two troopers snapped to attention. This one was wearing lighter-colored armor and robes than Anakin Skywalker, but in a similar style, with short hair and a beard. A lightsaber hung at his waist. "We aren't quite sure what happened, but the device that activated seems to be some sort of time travel device."

"Time travel?" Finn frowned, racking his brain. "What the dwang is that? How do you travel in time?" Growing up a trooper in the First Order, there were a lot of things that Finn knew a lot about. (No, he was not anywhere near as innocent as Poe sometimes assumed.) But there were a lot of things that weren't deemed necessary, that were apparently common knowledge in the rest of the galaxy, and Finn hated feeling stupid for not knowing them.

The troopers shifted.

"It's not common," the new officer said. "The … people who lived here long ago were experimenting with it. And, as I said, the device that activated when you arrived was part of that experiment. You appeared out of nowhere when it went off. And you are very strange to us. It is a good bet that you are either from our future, or our past."

"Maybe you're the ones who travelled in time," Finn said, thoughts racing. Time travel. Which meant that they were really clone troopers from the original Clone Wars. Holy Sith! They'd been the ideal he was supposed to aspire to all his life! But unlike the training holos, their armor was personalized! And their officer had used one of their names. To hear the teachers talk, they'd been even more interchangeable and indistinguishable than the Stormtroopers of Finn's day were supposed to be. He felt satisfied to learn differently. One more way the First Order was wrong. Assuming this wasn't all some giant hoax, but it seemed like an awful lot of effort for anyone to go to.

"We've been in contact with our people since you arrived," the officer said. He handed Finn's communicator back to him. "Why don't you try?"

Finn took it, thoughts racing. It was encrypted, low-powered, omni-directional, and it didn't hook into the larger comnetwork on the planet. There was no way to trace a transmission to the person receiving it, only to the person sending … and they already had him. He thumbed it on. "Shuttle, you there?" 'Shuttle' was code name for a droid. It wouldn't have fallen asleep or left for a toilet break. He checked the com's recorder. No messages. "Shuttle?"

He was answered only by silence.


Chapter 4

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Date: 2016-05-22 08:04 pm (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] the_rck
I really love the details about Finn missing his armor. It makes complete sense.

I'm enjoying this story so far!

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