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Fandom Star Wars: Power & Control

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Cleocrypt Cleocrypt

“I think I can handle going in alone, buddy. She doesn’t know anyone’s coming, it’s not a trap.” Poe spoke, having just landed his ship at the docking bay nearest the ever familiar bar. He knew that wherever she went or whatever she did, she’d come back to this place. “I don’t think rolling up to her unannounced with an entourage would do us any favors.”

“And you trust this girl? After she’s already left the Resistance for whatever reason?” Finn questioned, following after his friend.

Finn had a good point. Poe paused at the end of the ship’s ramp, turning to face the man. “More or less, yeah. Not like we have much of a choice, Finn. You know what state we’re in.” Poe shrugged. “Keep an eye out, yeah? I’ll be back soon.” He clapped Finn on the shoulder. BB-8 beeped out from behind Finn, Poe kneeling down to talk to the droid. "You know her, pal. You know she's harmless." BB-8 beeped, calling Poe on his bullshit. Poe grinned at the droid, shushing it and patting it's half-sphere head.

And then he stood. With a reassuring look to Finn, he turned and carried on.

Poe strode through the docks, into the tiny town. He’d walked through the town before, to the bar. With the very person he was trying to find. Poe didn’t think he’d really ever come back to this place and he certainly didn’t think he’d go looking for her, had their numbers not been drastically subtracted from.

He found himself in front of the bar, pulling his door open. It was the same as ever. Same bartender, same rowdy crowd. His eyes scanned the crowded bar. There was no guarantee she would even be there but at this point the Resistance had no choice but to take what they could get, however they could. And this was his first lead.

Poe let out a breath when he saw her familiar head of hair, her unmistakable features. His shoulders relaxed as he pushed his way through the people to her. There was a lot he wanted to say to her, good and bad. But he didn’t start off with any of that. “You gonna let me buy you a drink, little lady?” His tone was playful, asking her what he’d heard countless people ask her before, leaning against the bar in the little space between her and the other bar patrons.

-

“I thank you for coming, Senator Eleni.” General Hux felt he was actually putting in effort to keep up with the woman, even though he was the one who was supposed to be leading them. She was tall, but she stood even taller than Hux in those shoes of hers, clicking on the floor of the Star Destroyer. The sound irritated Hux just as much as the woman did, but he bit back any comments. He needed her there.

“I’d hate to see the organization my family’s invested so much in to fail all because of an insolent, incompetent leader.” Varsha Eleni came from a very well regarded family, her father having been an Admiral during the reign of the Empire, her mother having formerly been a Senator as well. Varsha was well acquainted with balancing military and politics.

Her family had invested both decades of time and plenty of funding into the First Order. And she’d be damned if she let some unstable, mock-Vader run all of it into the ground. Even if she held no rank within it, didn’t wear any uniforms, she was still a contributor, often representing it in her daily life.

And as much as the Elenis and the Huxes were less than fond of each other, the ginger haired general knew that Varsha was the best candidate to help him manage the mess that Kylo Ren always seemed to leave in his wake. Now that the Jedi Luke was gone, a fair amount of Kylo Ren’s focus seemed to be on finding the scavenger girl and destroying what was left of the Resistance. Whether he was ignorant to it, or just didn’t care, there was much more to the First Order than fighting wars.

And no better place for Varsha to get a better understanding of what they were dealing with than the Supreme Leader’s first official meeting.

Hux led Varsha through a set of blaster doors, into a large room. In it sat a large table, a computer in the middle that often projected images of all sorts. Usually it was filled to the brim with all the upper ranking officials, but was empty when they’d wandered in. It wouldn’t be for long.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia lived day by day with no inherent goal in mind. She fixed up broken ships and landspeeders for some credits, and then she almost always ended her day at the same old bar. It wasn’t quite a seedy location, but she had witnessed her fair share of fights caused by drunken stupor.

She may or may not have initiated a few of said fights.

But she wasn’t anywhere near that level of intoxication that day. In fact, she was only on her first bottle of beer, having just arrived to the bar not long ago. Her dark gaze scanned the bar, though not looking for anything in particular. Cassia simply enjoyed watching people and the endless stupidity they can get into.

Despite her observations, she did not expect a stranger to come up beside her. Cassia tensed at an unexpected voice offering to buy her a drink. The voice sounded familiar, but she didn’t think much of it. “Not unless you want a blaster bolt between your eyes,” she scoffed, taking another swig of her beer. When he made it obvious that he wasn’t leaving, she turned her head to tell him off, but her gaze settled on the last person she expected.

“Poe fucking Dameron. Didn’t think you were still alive.” When news arrived of the Resistance’s fall, she had expected Poe to be among the casualty, for he was always the reckless type. Cocky, reckless, but one of the bravest man she knew. And easy on the eyes, but she would never utter those words to a single soul. “Whatever it is you want, it’s a no.”

She left the Resistance for a reason, and unless Poe’s priorities in life changed drastically since she saw him last, she will not agree to anything he has to offer.

-

He almost had them. He was so fucking close, but somehow, they managed to escape, with the scavenger’s help no doubt, and crawl into some nondescript hole in the galaxy, no doubt licking their wounds and wondering if there was still hope for them.

Hope.

General Organa still lived. She will always serve as a beacon of hope for those poor souls who had nothing left to turn to. It was only because of her that he believed the Resistance would once again prove to be a threat for the First Order. A threat to his goal of controlling the galaxy. He only wished he could force this idea through General Hux’s thick skull, that they needed to be annihilated once and for all.

His obsession consumed him, but in recent days, Kylo learned to shift his focus. If he could work on strengthening the First Order, then when the time came for the Resistance to crawl out of whatever hole they nested in, he could squish them like the vermin they are.

He snapped out of his thoughts at the arrival of the first two officers for the meeting. Or, well, one officer and one senator. He stood at the front of the room and remained largely blended into the walls due to the dark colors of his robes. He knew about the arrival of Senator Varsha Eleni, but yet had the pleasure of meeting her.

It was only a matter of time before she questioned his decisions, and he would be delighted to put her in her place. “I trust you had a safe trip?” Despite the intention, Kylo’s tone revealed the sarcasm in his words.
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
“You’re still all about the warm welcomes, I see. Probably should be dead, to be fair.” Poe shook his head, though the corner of his lips quirked upwards. He looked up to the bartender, holding up two fingers. A nod was offered before Poe turned back to Cassia. “Why do you you immediately assume I want something from you?” He feigned defensiveness. She knew him well. Or maybe he was just transparent.

The bartender placed two beers in front of them, the same brand that Cassia had been drinking to which Poe traded him some credits for them. Poe nudged one of them closer to her for her to drink whenever she wanted and took the bottle in his own hand, taking a nice swig of it. It had been a long time since he’d been able to enjoy a drink. Too much work to be done. But he felt like he needed something in that moment. “Well you’d be right, anyway.”

There was a lot at stake. Poe felt the pressure of it. It was up to him and Finn, Rey even, to try and piece the Resistance back together. Leia worked as hard as ever, but Poe didn’t want her to. She needed to deal with the loss of her brother. And her husband. And even her son, in a way. Leia always served as a beacon of hope for the Resistance. But who served as a beacon for Leia?

Poe wouldn’t know what to do if he failed. Cassia was the first person he thought of, the best chance. The best start. Where would he go after? If he couldn’t convince her?

Poe sighed before facing her completely. His playfulness and all joking aside, his tone became serious, “We need you, Cass. I wouldn’t be here if the Resistance wasn’t desperate. You know that.” It was true, he wouldn’t be. Poe still harbored a grudge. She’d left the Resistance and Poe couldn’t think of any good reason for someone to do such a thing. Not that she ever even told him the reason.

“I don’t know why you left--though I would very much like it if you explained--but this is bigger than that. It’s bigger than you and me. We’re losing this war, and you know what’s going to happen if we let the First Order win.” Especially now, with Kylo Ren leading it. Poe didn’t want to imagine the strife that monster would bring.

-

Varsha admittedly had not seen Kylo Ren initially, upon walking into the room. But she didn’t so much as flinch when he spoke up, turning her attention to the man cloaked in darkness. She knew very well he cared little for how her trip went, his voice dripping with sarcasm. She figured he wouldn’t react well to her, anyway. After all, she was just there to question everything he said.

Well, advise. But she didn’t know how Kylo viewed her presence. She gestured to herself, standing in front of him. “I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t, now would I?”

Varsha took a moment to narrow her eyes at him, examining him. He lived up to rumors about how physically imposing he was. Whether he was as skilled with the Force, she obviously couldn’t tell just by looking at him. “You’re shorter than I expected.” She decided, turning her back to him. She walked around the large table, to the end directly opposite the front of the of the room. She dragged the chair against the ground, the sound making Hux’s eye twitch.

To say she didn’t take satisfaction in annoying the ginger, or anyone for that matter, would be a lie.

She lowered herself into the seat, crossing her legs. Hux stared at her for a moment before gesturing to her. “Supreme Leader--” the words pained Hux to say, his jaw tight, “Senator Eleni.” He introduced the two.

Varsha forced a smile, “An honor to meet you, Kylo Ren. To be allowed to attend such a meeting. I can’t wait to hear how you plan to run the First Order into the ground.” Her lack of concern for offending the man was likely dangerous. She’d heard about just how irrational he could be. But as she’d been told, this was his first meeting as Supreme Leader, which Varsha thought had been put off for entirely too long.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia merely scoffed at Poe’s words, each one less surprising as they spilled out of his mouth. She blinked at the second beer placed in front of her, while her grip still remained on the first one she was working through. Ah, so the bastard is trying to soften me up.

Before she could add on anything, Poe confirmed her suspicions. He did want something from her, and her mind was already set on a hard ‘no.’ She did not wish to get mixed up in his mess, which undoubtedly had to deal with the Resistance. Why else did he want her? “Fucking knew it, Dameron.”

She took another swig from her beer, eyes glancing around the bar before settling back on the man beside her. No one else seemed interested in their conversation. Good. First Order sympathizers lurked everywhere, which only grew by the day as they gain more power. Trust no one.

She set her drink back down on the bar when Poe further spoke, confirming her suspicions on why he sought after her. Her heart broke at his words, but how could the Resistance possibly stop the First Order now? “We’ve already lost the war.”

Cassia turned her body to fully face Poe. “What you’re asking, it’s a suicide mission. You stand no chance against them now. Do you guys even have a plan of attack?”

--

Kylo was quick to surmise that their newest guest would prove to be a huge nuisance for him. More so than General Hux. Already she proved herself to bold. Mouthy. His eye twitched at her erroneous observation of him, but he couldn’t lose his temper because some girl poked fun at his height.

At least, not in front of General Hux. He didn’t need that lecture later on.

“And you’re not as put together as I thought someone of your standing would be.” Kriff, just let him force choke the woman for a few second. Let her get a taste of that fear she deserved. He grimaced at the harsh sound of the chair grating against the floor. Just like the irritating noise she caused, was the woman totally necessary?

He placed his hands on the chair in front of him, fingers turning nearly white beneath his gloves with how hard he clutched. “Senator Eleni,” he nearly spat out her name, “it would do you well to remember your place here, unless you wish to quickly find yourself disposed of and replaced.”

Kylo didn’t know how difficult it would be to replace her family’s investment into the First Order, but he didn’t care. He would make sure that General Hux found a suitable benefactor. “I would suggest you hold your tongue and remember who you’re in the presence of.”
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Poe nearly felt offended when she’s said they’d already lost the war. But then he realized she said ‘we’, which gave Poe just the slightest hope that he could convince her. Even if it was just once, and even if she went on to exclude herself. Just for a moment she spoke as if she was one of them among the Resistance.

Dameron shook his head, dark curls moving with him. “No, we haven’t lost the war, Cassia. We’re still alive. We just lost a battle, it happens. We’d all be dead if we truly lost.” There were so few of them, but they were alive. Leia was alive. As long as she was still around, there’d always be a Resistance. Always a war to be fought.

He leaned forward, resting part way on the bar. ”Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. We’re in no position to stand against them, not now, I know that. That’s why I’m here,” he reminded her, gesturing between the two of them. “We can’t attack them, not now. We need ships. We need people. We need people who can fix ships,” i.e., her.

He glanced around before lowering his voice. Never knew who was listening in. “Luke Skywalker, he’s gone. But there’s still someone, a Jedi.” Rey. A good kid, a strong girl. She wasn’t Luke Skywalker but she still had the Force. She was still something. She had a real chance against Kylo Ren. The Resistance just needed more people, more ships to fight the rest of the Order.

“Would you really be okay with living in a galaxy run by the First Order?”

-

Varsha was already getting on his nerves. There was no hiding it, though she knew he wasn’t. “Supreme Leader,” General Hux began, to attempt to mediate, the words paining him as they came out of his mouth. Hux would be the first to admit that he didn’t like Senator Eleni, either. But he also knew just how necessary she was.

He also didn’t have a chance to say anything else, as Varsha spoke over him.

“Disposed of and replaced?” She could have laughed at that. She didn’t. “Forgive me, Supreme Leader, but I don’t imagine that would go very well for you. Or rather the First Order, but nonetheless. I’m sure you’re aware of just how much my family has invested and continues to invest. Though, I wouldn’t put it past you if you didn’t.”

Hux shot her a look, obviously scolding her. Her slights would do no one any good. And she’d known Kylo Ren three seconds and he already was speaking of disposing of her.

“That would be cut off. And not only that, I am a Senator. I serve a planet that serves many others. And given your already rocky relationship with the Senate and...lack of volunteers to speak as an ambassador for the Order after the obliteration of the Hosnian System. Well, unless either of you think you can manage such a task, I believe I’m needed here.”

“I believe that Senator Eleni’s involvement here can be discussed at a later date,” Hux interjected, finally.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
A part of Cassia knew that Poe spoke the truth. The war would never be over until the very last person gave up hope, and they were still many out there who held onto that last string of hope with every fiber of their being. Poe was one of them. And even if she pulled her blaster on him and threaten him, he would most likely still not leave unless she was with him.

She scoffed and looked away, finishing her first beer as she did so. ”And there’s plenty of people all over the galaxy who can do just that.” But Cassia had a slight ego. She knew she did a damn good job at fixing ships. She was fast, she was nimble, and she could crawl into tight spaces that many others couldn’t reach.

Wait...did he just mentioned a Jedi? Eyes slightly widened, her head sharply turned to him. “Another Jedi?” she whispered in partial disbelief. She thought Luke Skywalker was the last of them, which is why they desperately looked for him. Maybe there was some hope. At least against Kylo Ren. She glanced away as she mulled over his statement, grasping the second beer Poe bought her and started on it.

Cassia’s focus snapped back on Poe. “Of course not. That’s why I joined the Resistance in the first place, but then they got far stronger than we could hope for.” Her body relaxed a bit, and she leaned onto the bar as her dark gaze gave Poe a glance over. “We’re outmanned, outgunned, Poe.”

--

General Hux spoke up, but of course Senator Eleni rudely interrupted. He clenched his jaw, teeth grating against one another as he held back his desire to snap her neck there. It looked delicate enough. He could easily do it.

“Senator Eleni,” he barked, “Not only do you should disrespect to me, your Supreme Leader, but you also show disrespect to the general.” Kylo straightened he as spoke, but his hands still firmly grasped the chair in front of him. If he let go, he may just do something he would regret later. Maybe.

Or maybe snapping her neck would be a merciful death for her. He ignored General Hux’s interjection and remained focused on the insolent woman. “Since you’re so sure of your importance here, then maybe another arrangement could be made.” His tone softened to false niceties.

“We do often utilize cybernetics for our more obstinate or unruly Troopers.” He recalled the incident with Terex, who became much more subservient under Phasma’s command after a chip was implanted in his head.

“I’m sure it will be just as useful in our case.” He was aware that others of the meeting would soon make their appearance for the meeting. He was also aware of Varsha’s mouth and how she could easily undermine him in his first meeting as Supreme Leader.
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
“We’ve always been outmanned, outgunned.” Poe remembered when he’d been captured by the First Order. When he got to see inside their superweapon and see just how truly technologically and physically equipped the Order was in comparison to the Resistance. But that hadn’t mattered.

The Resistance destroyed Starkiller.

And maybe the Order got them back. Bad. Really bad. But that was war. “The rebels had losses, too. They were underfunded, understaffed at points, too.” Maybe not to the Resistance’s extent then, but...that wasn’t a necessary detail. “But they won in the end.” Crushed the Empire when they were in power. When they were at the peak in their reign.

Poe couldn’t help but recall all the stories his mother had told him about her adventures, his father’s adventures. He’d been very young then, but he’d always grasped at those memories. He hardly remembered what his mother looked like, sometimes, but he still remembered her voice telling him all about her story. “Because they didn’t run away when things were a little more complicated than they expected.”

Poe couldn’t help the slight that slipped out. Deep down he knew he couldn’t blame her for leaving. But the shallow part of him was still bothered. He knew he needed to keep it in check if he wanted her back. “Come back with me. Meet our Jedi. Talk with Leia. I’ll bring you back if you want me too.” He offered.

-

Hux resisted the urge to roll his eyes, giving up on his attempts to quell the tension. To tame the two children he was forced to work with. And to think that the Senator prided herself on being sophisticated. She was no more than Kylo Ren. Only she could maintain some semblance of composure.

Of course, in that moment, Varsha’s jaw clenched. Kylo Ren almost getting her with that comment. Almost. She breathed, her jaw relaxing. Her head tilting as she took on a falsely sweet tone, mocking the similar tone Kylo had adopted for the moment. “Are you volunteering, Supreme Leader? Perhaps, under the supervision of General Hux and I, it wouldn’t be such a terrible idea.”

Varsha knew she really could only push so much. Given Kylo Ren didn’t have a reputation for being rational. Her intention wasn’t to die. “But I would suspend any of those decisions until after your little meeting here. Perhaps you’ll dispel my doubts. I sincerely hope you do.” It would make her job easier. She didn’t believe he was a complete idiot, her certainly couldn’t be with where he ended up.

But obviously there was some level of incompetence. Otherwise she wouldn’t be there.

As if on cue, the doors whooshed open, a collection of officers timidly announcing themselves and cautiously mumbling out greetings to their Supreme Leader, unsure if they were allowed to enter or not. Or if they even should try to. The tension was palpable in the air and visible in both General Hux and Kylo Ren.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia could do nothing but sigh and take another swig of her drink. It seemed that Poe Dameron was not going to leave any time soon. He had a plan, and he wanted to see it through. That was one thing she always both loved and hated about Poe: he was persistent and stubborn.

And one hell of a pilot.

She clenched her jaw at the slight snide he let out, which she relaxed at the last words Poe spoke. With an actual Jedi, maybe the war could be shifted in their favor. But they still lacked resources, weapons, anything that could protect them from obliteration from the First Order. She could almost hear C3PO telling them the odds in his constant state of anxiety.

Wordlessly, she brought the bottle back up to her lips, tilted her head back, and downed the rest of the ale without a single word to Poe. Once the bottle ran dry, Cassia slammed it on the bar in front of her, hardened gaze focused on the pilot.

“One condition,” she warned, holding up one finger for emphasis. And to poke at Poe’s chest. “If I say the words, you will bring me back. No fuss.” Once Leia spoke to her though, she knew she wouldn’t be able to return. She didn’t have the heart to deny their general in their greatest time of need.

~

Kylo noticed her subtle tensing and tightening of muscles, and he nearly smirked at his minor victory. The woman needed to shut up and realize her position in the hierarchy of the First Order. Money be damned, Hux could find someone else’s pockets to stick his hand into.

But like any other politician, he knew acting skills came with the job. The ability to appear calm and poised under great pressure and scrutiny. It was something...General Organa knew how to do quite well. But he didn’t, and everyone knew that. Kylo Ren would make a poor politician.

Had the officers waited only a few extra minutes, the Senator would’ve found her airway restricted and unable to even beg and plead for mercy as he demonstrated what he could do to her if she didn’t watch her damned mouth. He wouldn’t have killed her, not then. He only wanted to instill fear into her. If she continued to act up, then he may just follow through with his desire.

But instead his attention focused on the officers hesitant to enter the conference room. Kylo wasn’t sure if he wanted to scoff at their display of cowardice or yell and demand them to just enter the damn room already. This was the best the First Order had to offer? These were the fearless and ruthless officers part of High Command? Perhaps they needed an overhaul.

“Are you just going to stand there all day, or will you stop gawking and take a seat already?” The meeting will test the limits of his patience. He didn’t need the Force to feel that.
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
The moment she sighed, Poe knew he had her. Even if it was just convincing her to see Leia, they both knew the General could do the rest of the convincing. No one could say no to Leia. Even as Cassia’s gaze was harsh on him, her finger jabbing his chest, he couldn’t help the grin that broke out on his face.

His hand came to gently hold the wrist of her pointed finger, lightly shaking his head, dark hair bouncing with the movement, “Done. If you want me to bring you back, I won’t even say a word. All I ask is you give us a chance.” She would, he knew. He gave a small squeeze to her wrist before letting it go.

His hand instead moved to her shoulder, his smug grin turning into something more genuine, sincere. “Thank you, Cass.” The tension between them was cast aside in that moment, the question of why she left and his lack of understanding left alone. Even if it burned through him to just ask why, to understand, he let it lie. She would come back with him. That meant a lot, even if she wasn’t doing it for him.

The Resistance was his life now, just as much as it was Leia’s. He couldn’t watch it or the cause die.

“I got someone waiting that I want you to meet. I think you’ll like him.” He figured Finn got along with everyone. And maybe his story could inspire something in Cassia, some encouragement to stick around. “And I brought BB-8, of course,” his hand dropped once again, “Is there anything you need to tie up before I whisk you out of here? Pack anything...clothes, reading material...,” ‘Everything you own because I’m not bringing you back here.’ “Another drink?”

-

Kylo and Varsha could likely agree with the fact that the First Order’s high ranking officers were all too cowardly for their positions, but all the while, Varsha couldn’t blame them. Not if he was also perhaps threatening the officers into submission like he had tried with her. She wasn’t terrified of him, she knew she held enough importance for him to hesitate killing her.

The same couldn’t be said for the officers. Strategists could be replaced. Engineers could be replaced. The person below them could easily be promoted should Kylo Ren grow tired of them. They had a reason to be cautious. But they couldn’t be too cautious lest their new Supreme Leader think them weak. It was a tricky situation and a fine line to walk.

One that Varsha also walked, but she at least had a net under her. A thin one.

“Apologies, Supreme Leader.” One seemed to speak for all of them before they shuffled in, finding their seats and setting their datapads and things of the like down. A few acknowledged Varsha’s presence and she shook a few gloved hands. After a few moments of settling, another officer spoke up, the man sitting to the side of her.

“However you’d like to lead, sir, we all have a few matters we’d like to discuss,” he spoke, allowing the Force user to set the tone of their first meeting as Varsha looked over to the officer’s datapad, a clear list of points and notes to be brought up. How to proceed with the Resistance, needs for resources. Things Varsha was going to acquaint herself with, while the Lieutenant—if she was not mistaken—was looking at her, wondering if this was something she was allowed to be doing.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia hated how Poe knew he was going to win this fight, and as his calloused fingers gently wrapped around her wrist, she hated how her heart skipped a beat. She hated how damn cocky he was, and she hated he would risk his own life for the greater good.

He was fearless and selfless, and Cassia loved that about him.

She glanced at the hand that placed itself on her shoulder before she just as quickly averted her gaze back onto his face. “Don’t thank me just yet.” There was still a chance she may decide to leave again, but even she knew that was a fleeting chance. Even with her reason for leaving, the desire to help her friends and the galaxy outweighed that reason.

One brow lifted in question at the mention of someone new for her to meet. He brought someone along? As far as she could tell, no one followed him inside the cantina. The mysterious figure faded from her thoughts when Poe mentioned how he brought along BB-8. The corners of her lips quirked into a small smile as she thought about seeing the amicable droid once again.

“I need to pack a few things, so you can take me to my place first.” As her housing was just over a hill, Cassia had walked there earlier that day, so there was nothing at the cantina she needed to worry about leaving.

And if Poe took her, he would finally see the reason why she left the Resistance in the first place.

She strolled towards the exit, not even checking to see if he was following her. She knew he was. “So, who’s this guy you brought along?”

-

Kylo watched the officers take their seat with one eyebrow raised. At least they could follow orders, but could they do what he wanted? Could they actually help him in ensuring the total control over the galaxy? He knew he needed General Hux to command the army, which pained him to admit to himself, but the others? Easily replaceable with the next in the hierarchy of command.

They soon settled in their respective seats, and one spoke up before Kylo said anything further. Instead of feeling irked by his interruption, Kylo almost seemed pleased that one took initiative despite their hesitance. Hands clasped behind his back, the Supreme Leader listened, saying nothing for a moment after the officer finished.

“As this meeting is to discuss the immediate and future goals of the First Order, if you feel that what you wish to discuss aligns with the objective, then please, share with me what you have.” Kylo grabbed the top of the chair in front of him and pulled it back from the table so he could take a seat.

He couldn’t be bothered to remember the Lieutenant’s name. Lopez? Lankost? It didn’t matter. “But do not waste my time if it is something trivial.”

Given the senator’s mouthy nature, he found himself curious as to if she would interject the meeting with her own opinions on what she found ridiculous, or if she would actually act like the senator she was and provide something meaningful to their discussions. He didn’t hold his breath for the latter.
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Poe noted how she didn’t bother to look behind her, to see if he was following. He almost had the urge to stop following her, just to mess with her. But he couldn’t. She knew him well. And so he trailed behind Cassia as she led the way out of the cantina, falling into place next to her as soon as they were in the fresh air. Poe couldn’t help the grin that came when she asked about Finn.

“His name’s Finn. He’s got quite the story, but I think you should hear it from the guy himself.” Poe wouldn’t do it justice. “He saved me from the First Order, that’s how we met. He’s a great guy, I can easily say he’s become one of my best friends.” He’d considered Cassia one of those, too, at one point. Before she left. He wasn’t sure what they’d call themselves now, even if Poe easily slipped back into that familiarity with her.

He still felt that anger, he was still upset she left in the first place. But he was willing to forget that. Or at least, try to.

“BB-8 loves him. I’m sure you will too. And his friend, Rey,” she was probably still more Finn’s friend than Poe’s, but they were quick friends when they finally met each other. They were torture buddies, after all. “She’s the jedi I was telling you about. You’ll like her, too.” Poe was already trying to get her accustomed to the little friendship group that had formed in her absence. And as the Resistance got smaller.

Poe didn’t mention Rose for the sole reason that he was fairly certain Cassia had to know her already. She and her sister had been around when Cassia was last with them. Well, now they were missing Paige.

“Where’s this place of yours?” Poe asked, as it might be in their best interest to bring the ship to her place. He didn’t know how many things she wanted to pack up and bring. And Poe wasn’t into the idea of carrying her bags all the way to the ship. “My sources say you’ve been here for a bit.” He wanted to know where she’d been staying all this time. What she had been doing.

If it was any better than what she had with the Resistance. But he supposed, to her, the lower risk of dying at a young age could be considered better than what she’d been doing with them.

-

The lieutenant pulled his gaze from the Senator, fixing it on his datapad once more to read over his notes. There was a nervousness to him, as he looked over his itemized list and wondered if Kylo Ren would consider any of them to be a waste of his time. “Well, sir, there are some concerns about resources and manpower,” he began. His lead seemed to give the other officers the confidence to speak up, finally.

“There’s been significant losses in both ships and weapons, as well as bodies. Particularly following the destruction of Starkiller Base, was a big loss in both Stormtroopers and ships. And then it was followed by the loss of many on the Supremacy as well as the liberal use of the troopers.” An additional lieutenant, whose name Varsha could not learn from his uniform, spoke up. “The Resistance may be dwindling in numbers, but the war doesn’t end once they’re diminished.”

The Resistance needed to be crushed, and they would be. But control over the galaxy would not be immediately assumed after that. The First Order was not unanimously supported, especially not by worlds whose political representatives they destroyed during the Hosnian Cataclysm. Worlds would not concede easily, and then they’d have to maintain order.

“We need to make more ships and we need more troopers,” the original Lieutenant finished.

There was a look to Hux, then, as he was in control of the military, the Stormtrooper population. But before Hux could offer an answer or a suggestion of any type, Varsha spoke up. “Why not use a clone army? Better yet, why was one not used in the first place?” It seemed blatant to her. It made more sense in the long one. “Perhaps they take time to develop, but takes less than stealing babies and raising them to fighting age. That method doesn’t work as well as expected, anyway.”

“One trooper does not reflect the entire program,” Hux interjected, a glare settling on the woman.

“Perhaps not, but you can’t deny clones are the quicker method to supplement the demand. Or even droids, as faulty as they are.” Varsha looked to the Supreme Leader then, for his opinion.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia heard the admiration in Poe’s voice as he talked about Finn. He must have really made an impression on Poe for him to talk about him like that. “Careful now, or else I would think you had a crush on this Finn.” Her lips tilted in a teasing smile as she glanced over her shoulder to look at him.

Finn must have done something really amazing to be so admired by Poe.

“Oh? There’s someone else? Is this that Jedi you were talking about?” Her footsteps halted, and her dark eyes took in the scenery, the gorgeous weather with not a single cloud in the sky, and people milling about with their own business to conduct. While she enjoyed the quiet life, Cassia secretly yearned to return to her friends in the Resistance.

Cassia spun on her heel to face Poe. At another glance in his dark gaze, her heart skipped a beat as she felt some semblance of guilt for leaving. Damn you, Dameron. There was a reason the Resistance chose him to be the poster boy that one time. One look at him and he could convince anyone to his side. “And I assume you will be flying us there?”

She extended one arm, one finger pointing in the northeast direction. “My place is just over those hills. Not very far, but since I’ll be grabbing a few things, it’ll be much faster to fly there.” Cassia dropped her arm to her side before crossing them over her chest. “Now, where’s my favorite droid and this Finn guy?”

-

Report of their heavy losses, in nearly every aspect, was obvious to Kylo. Of course they would sustain heavy losses. In a short period of time, they lost Starkiller Base and a dreadnought. What the lieutenant didn’t mention was that they also lost many officers, and with the death of several high ranking officials, including Phasma, they had to quickly reshift the ranks. Many undeserved promotions will occur.

He didn’t lambast the lieutenant who told him what he already knew. They did need more resources to rebuild ships, as well as more stormtroopers and replacing Phasma. Kylo liked her. She was competent. He doubted that whoever filled her position would be just as competent.

Before he spoke up, the irritating senator chimed in with her own opinions. He was prepared to dismiss whatever idea she presented, yet the opposite happened. Kylo mentioned something very similar to General Hux when they were tracking down the droid that had the map to Luke Skywalker, but the general was quick to defend his methods.

“One trooper reflects the potential for how your troopers can turn on us,” Kylo fired at Armitage. One hand that laid casually on the table curled into a slight first, but he immediately relaxed it. “I’m surprised that something useful can come out of your mouth.” This was directed at Varsha, whom he was starting to think actually had her use.

“We have lost many troopers, a number that will not be easy to regain before the Resistance inevitably rise once more. We have to think of other ways to replenish those numbers in a set amount of time, whether that is droids or clones.” He could practically feel Armitage seething underneath his skin, a feeling he relished in. “As for our ships and weapons, we’ll need to get in contact with Sonn-Blas and our doonium suppliers. Find more engineers to quicken the projects.”
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
“He wouldn’t be the worst person to have a crush on, honestly. He’s easy on the eyes.” Poe couldn’t help the playful smirk pulling at his lips. No, Finn wasn’t the worst person to have a crush on. Half of what was left of the Resistance probably had a crush on him. But not Poe. They had just become quick buddies. Best friends.

They meshed well.

Like he and Cassia had, once upon a time. ‘Still do.’ His thoughts chimed in, that teasing smile of hers that she threw over her shoulder making his breathing hitch for just a moment. He hated how she could so easily rope him back in. He wanted to hold his resolve, let her know he wouldn’t forgive her abandonment so quickly. But that mindset was quickly fading.

He’d missed her.

“Yeah, she is. She’s kind of had to...wing this whole Jedi thing. But she’s smart.” He had faith in her. Poe paused with her, “What kind of question is that? Of course I’m flying.” He teased. His dark eyes followed the form of her arm, totally not admiring it too long for his own good. He shook his head lightly, to pull his attention away, curls swooshing with the movement. Noting where her finger pointed, “Got it. You’ll be my co-pilot, anyway.” At least, to her place.

“They’re with the ship,” his hand found her back, gently leading her in the direction he’d come from earlier, “C’mon, it’s this way. Not a long walk,” he assured, his hand dropping from its position, thumb looping through his own belt loop.

And it really wasn’t a long walk. Within just a few minutes the ship came into sight. And they came into sight if a loyal droid keeping watch. BB-8’s excited screeching is what caught Finn’s attention, and he watched the droid do a spin before it hurriedly rolled out of the ship. The target: Cassia. The excitable little beeps not letting up for a second.

-

Varsha herself was surprised that Kylo Ren hadn’t immediately objected to her suggestion of alternatives to General Hux’s troopers. She knew how Hux felt about his program, but didn’t know how Ren would feel, if he was just as proud of it. Evidently not. “You shouldn’t be.” She responded to his backhanded compliment. She couldn’t simply leave it alone. She was there for a reason, in her position for a reason. She was not stupid by any means and could, in fact, be useful.

That’s why Armitage had called upon her, initially. He had not called her to question his Stormtrooper regime. And he was seething, the only visible indication was the clench of his jaw, which was not unusual at that point. Kylo Ren was diplomatically incompetent, would be a poor representation of the First Order. That was why Senator Eleni was there.

Hux was not incompetent, that’s why he was General, and why he was in control of the military proceedings. But he said nothing, settling his hard stare on Varsha, rather than Kylo Ren. She couldn’t Force choke him. “The matter will be looked into.” Hux’s answer was stiff.

“I’d hurry.” Varsha suggested, the combined tensions between the General, the Senator, and the Supreme Leader filled the room, almost suffocatingly so.

“...And I’ll reach out to Sonn-Blas immediately,” the lieutenant did not break the tension with his note, nor his tapping away at his datapad, likely writing out details of what had to be done.

The First Order was set back exponentially, despite the Resistance being setback even further. Both in power, and financially. It would be a delicate balance. “Those are the immediate concerns. The officer ranks will not take as long to restore, well, order.” There were a lot of undeserved promotions, yes, but not all. And officers flooded in easier than newborn babies to train to be Stormtroopers. “Is there anything of concern to you, Supreme Leader, that we’ve not brought up.” Everyone seemed to turn to Kylo Ren in unison.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia smirked. “If I didn’t know any better, I would say you really do have a crush on him, with the way you’re gushing about him.” There had to have been something amazing about this Finn guy for Poe to speak so fondly of him. Soon enough she will find out.

She was consistently reminded of how much she missed Poe. How she missed his teasing nature, how she missed that mischievous smile, how she missed the way his hair bounced with every movement, how his eyes twinkled.

Not even an hour with the man and already she was back under his influence.

“Damn right I’ll be the co-pilot.” It at least made sense for their journey to where she lived, and she looked forward to sitting at his side in the shuttle. Close to him again. Calm down girl, it’s highly unlikely that he’s even forgiven you for leaving without telling him.

But he’ll understand in time.

Cassia swore her heart jumped up into her throat at the light touch on her back, but too soon Poe remove his hand. Easy there, it was nothing. Nothing at all. It was easier to believe that.

Nearly the moment she laid eyes on the familiar ship, a droid came zooming out, beeping excitedly at the sight of Cassia. A wide grin stretched across her face, and she kneeled down to BB-8’s height as it zoomed up to her. “BB! How I’ve missed you, my old friend.”

Her hands patted the droid as it continued its rapid beeping. “Yes, yes I am coming back.” She wasn’t so sure on her words though. But she promised Poe to try. To talk to Leia.

She straightened back up, and her gaze lingered on the unfamiliar person peering out from Poe’s ship. “You must be Finn.”

-

Maybe Kylo shouldn’t have underestimated Varsha, but he would do so to anyone appointed by Hux, and he would continue to do so until he felt she had proved herself a valuable edition to the First Order. For now, she would be nothing more than a very wealthy, influential senator who bought her way there.

The First Order was always desperate for money and benefactors.

But the tension between the Senator and General Hux amused him. It was obvious he was annoyed by her critique on his stormtrooper program, which Kylo had to agree with her on. It was something he had always been critical of.

Really, clones would’ve been easier.

Kylo only had one more thing to comment on. “We need to ensure that we can regain the number of competent officers we had lost.” They would be harder to replace than troopers, and thus recruitment would be slower.

“We need to up the propaganda and recruitment efforts for them. Reach out to the academies to increase numbers.” But it would still take time. The First Order would have to manage with a decreased number of officers for some time, even if one of the lieutenants in the room thought otherwise. Kylo still felt the need to emphasize the point.

“That is all I wished to discuss.” He opened the matter for anyone else to bring up anything they felt was of immediate concern, but if not, they would be free to leave, which he couldn’t wait for. Everyone in the room managed to annoy him in some capacity, and all he wanted to do was leave.

And then, Kylo Ren would try and reunite the Knights of Ren without anyone’s notice.
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Poe couldn’t help the toothy grin from spreading across his face as he witnessed the reunion between his droid and Cassia. BB-8 had been fond of her, too. Understandable that BB-8 would miss her too, when they’d all been together so much. They’d all been close. Not as close as he thought, though.

He wondered if BB-8--or droids in general--could feel the sense of betrayal he had. If BB-8 did, the droid was quick to forgive. And Poe found his resolve crumbling quickly, too. Not that he’d admit it.

I’m coming back. He knew she said that just for BB-8, that she was hesitant at best, but he couldn’t ignore the aching feeling of hope in his chest mixed with frustration that she’d ever left in the first place. “Don’t get BB-8’s hopes up,” Poe mumbled under his breath. He may have said BB-8, but what he really meant was not to get his hopes up.

BB-8 let out a happy beep and rested it’s half-spherical head against Cassia’s leg when she stood, clinging to her like she’d disappear.

Poe’s eyes moved up to spot Finn as Cassia spoke to him, and Finn seemed more confident to step out then, a small smile spreading on his face. “Poe tell you about me?” He asked, glancing to the other man. “Yeah, I’m Finn. And you’re Cassia. Poe’s told me about you, too.” Finn greeted warmly, holding his hand out for her to shake.

Finn was well aware of Poe’s feelings with Cassia, and he understood them. But at the same time, without knowing her reason for leaving, he could sympathize with her. Sometimes something makes one question what exactly they’re doing, and Finn knew that feeling all too well. He had little right to judge her, not that he was.

Poe could do enough judging for the both of them.

-

“We’ll begin working hard on officer recruitment, Supreme Leader, but it will undoubtedly take longer than replenishing our other forces, however we choose to supplement such a thing,” The lieutenant warned, just so Kylo Ren couldn’t turn around and berate them for it, should it take longer than his liking.

Not everyone was smart.

Varsha was still deciding if Kylo was or not. So far, he seemed not entirely stupid. Not as she thought, but it had also been only a short time she shared the room with him. And the room was filled with people who didn’t want to die by Kylo’s hand, so naturally they avoided putting stressors on him.

There was much to be discovered.

“If there’s nothing else, then we’ll get to work immediately,” the declaration was followed by the sound of rustling as things were gathered to leave, ready to be free of the intimidating presence of Kylo Ren and the suffocating tension between the General and this new woman.

Varsha, too, was eager to free herself of Kylo Ren and General Hux, the short time they’d shared a room together. Yet she did not leave immediately. “I’m sure nothing will inspire potential recruits more than seeing your face, Supreme Leader,” she lifted herself from her seat, smoothing out the front of her clothes as she did so. “Congratulations, your first meeting as Supreme Leader was not the disaster I expected it to be.” Compliment and not.

“Perhaps you were more prepared for the role than I thought.” She’d give him that. He had previously been Commander, after all. Not that she was entirely sure what that job description consisted of. “I don’t want to see the Order fail. I don’t trust you--or believe in you, at all, really. But I’ll work with you if you work with me.”
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia swore she heard Poe mutter something, but she became distracted. She had to figure out Poe’s new best friend, after all. He trusted Finn enough, so she didn’t see why she wouldn’t either. The man normally held decent judgement, unless it was about rash decisions in his X-Wing.

Has that changed at all?

She stepped away from BB-8 to meet the new man half-way. The droid followed after her, resuming its previous position, leaning against her leg, as Cassia came to a stop in front of Finn.

Finn’s grin proved infectious. Cassia broke out into a wide smile, and she reached her own hand out to take Finn’s in a warm handshake. “The way he talked about you, I thought he had a crush on you.” She only teased, an act that came so natural to her, it was as if she had never left Poe in the first place.

But if he had been talking about her...”I would ignore anything he said about me.” Cassia intended her words as a joke, but she knew some words may have been less than kind. She wouldn’t blame him. If she were sticking around though, she would prefer Finn had a new impression of her, free of any bias Poe deserved to have on her.

“I guess we should get things rolling.” She stepped away from Finn, throwing a quick glance in Poe’s direction. “The trip to my place shouldn’t take long, and I suppose you have some questions for me.” It was bound to come up, and Cassia preferred to get that awkward tension over as soon as possible.

Her steps led her up the ramp, and she assumed the position of their temporary co-pilot. Cassia didn’t know what Finn did in the ship, if he even knew how to fly. He could wait until the time it took to get them to her house.

-

Kylo had no desire to keep the officers in the conference room any longer than was necessary. He waved them away, and some did not hide the immediate relief that flooded their faces. If anything, it amused him. It was obvious that many of the officers feared him, which Kylo considered an advantage. They would be less likely, or try harder, to not disappoint him.

His anger was, after all, infamous in the First Order.

The woman and the General lingered behind. Kylo straightened, unable to stop the rising contempt the more Varsha talked. Did she not know when to stop while she’s ahead? The backhanded compliments did not sit well with him.

I’ll work with you if you work with me.

Kylo let out a huff of air as a semblance of laughter. “Then why do I have the feeling you won’t work with me at all? Nothing you have done proved that you are able to cooperate. You’ve only proven that you are stubborn, spoiled, and antagonizing.” Words some may use to describe Kylo.

“And you still have yet to prove yourself useful.” She grated on his nerves, and they’ve only known each other for less than an hour. How much money does her family invest in the First Order? Surely they can be replaced once we’re able to secure other financiers. “I would watch your words, Senator, before they prove to be your downfall.”
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Finn had to chuckle at Poe’s supposed crush on him. If Finn didn’t know any better, his cheeks would’ve heated up. Well, they did anyway. Whatever Poe said about him must’ve been nice, if it gave that impression. Finn did briefly wonder if Poe told her about his past, in whatever he mentioned. “Sorry, Poe, not really looking for anything right now.” He teased too.

“Oh, haha. Very funny.” Poe did smile, though.

There was a knowing in Cassia’s voice, even as she joked. She knew Poe had some particular thoughts about her. And Finn could understand where Poe was coming from, but he also wanted to get his own impression from Cassia. He’d want someone to look past things they’ve been told about him, past the fact he was a Stormtrooper. He could at least offer that to others. “Even the parts when he said you were very pretty? Alright,” Finn shrugged, an attempt at easing her.

“Finn,” Poe mumbled, having not said any of those things. Even if they were true.

Finn just grinned, turning with Cassia as she moved towards the ship. Poe followed swiftly, just as well. And BB-8 hardly left her leg. “Oh, yeah, I can think of a few questions.” Poe had questions in him burning from the second he found out she was gone. “And I think you know what I want to ask.” Why she left. Why she didn’t tell him or even just leave a note explaining why.

Wordlessly, he took up the pilot’s seat, flipping switches to get the shuttle started. Finn sat behind him, leaning forward into the front. He could pilot, but he didn’t question Cassia taking the position. He was better with guns anyway. Not that the shuttle had any guns. But…

“First question,” Poe turned to her. “Where to, Captain?”

-

Varsha’s jaw clenched so tightly she was sure her teeth would shatter. She’d been quick to dislike people before, but she didn’t think she could begin to loathe someone as quickly as she was Kylo Ren.

“I’m trying—“ She cut herself off quickly, hearing the irritation in her own voice. She continued, steadier. “I find those words very interesting coming from you.” Was he not all that he said she was? But that wasn’t what really bothered her.

“You want me to prove myself useful?” She was where she was, wasn’t she? “Fine,” she turned to walk away, her shoulder bumping into the now standing General as she walked past him. She paused at the door. “We’ll see how your recruitment efforts go when I defund some of the academies. Or how you’ll rebuild your ships when I suggest stricter mining and refinery regulations to the Senate. Or stronger treaty restrictions.” She had more than her money. She had influence in the Senate, that she’d earned all her own.

“I’m sure there would be few qualms over hindering your progress after the Order destroyed an entire system of planets.” Varsha should have shut up, surely. But being questioned, having to prove herself, grated on her. She wasn’t the one who proved herself, everyone proved themselves to her. “Like I said, I don’t want to see the Order fail. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t let it.” She wouldn’t, truthfully. She just needed Kylo Ren to know there was a reason she was there.

“Maybe you should be the one watching your words, Supreme Leader.” Her exasperation may have blinded the fact that she should be wary of this man, that he could kill her in a second and that would be it.

“I think that’s quite enough,” General Hux interjected, only for the fact that she was useful, that’s why he’d wanted her here. The First Order existed before Kylo Ren did, Hux didn’t want to see it run down by Ren.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia grinned at Finn, enjoying his easygoing nature. His smile was infectious and could cheer anyone up. It was no wonder Poe took an immediate liking to him. Cassia would soon join him in that thought.

She had to fight off a blush at the compliment. Did Poe really say that? Don’t be ridiculous, he wouldn’t think that, especially right now. Finn is just teasing. “Everything he said,” she laughed.

Once she was in the seat, she swiveled her chair to pat BB-8 on its head, and to also maintain eye contact with Finn. It would be easier than to look over her shoulder or attempt to talk to him while gazing out the viewport.

Poe dampened her spirits, although it was much deserved. You asked for this. You said he could. And Cassia would. She had to, if she could ever hope to rebuild that friendship they once had. But if she couldn’t? Finn may be easier to befriend.

She did turn back around to direct him easier. “About five kilometers to our west. The house is located at the edge of a meadow. Hard to miss.” The meadow held a colorful bloom of various wildflowers this time of year.

Cassia would have to take some with her.

“I will answer your other question when we get there. It will be easier to show you, rather than tell you.”

-

Kylo seethed with the threat Varsha promised. Who was she, to threaten him? Threaten to cut off their resources? He wouldn’t deign to comment on his own insult thrown back at him. He knew he could be stubborn, and he was antagonizing to those who upset him. Spoiled? That was an insult.

When he spoke, his words were calm, deceptively so. “Do that, Senator, and I can’t promise that an unfortunate accident may happen your way. Maybe a technical error with your shuttle. After all, you are cutting off our resources to hire more engineers and new ships.” He allowed the threat to hang in the air.

General Hux spoke up, which forced Kylo to realize that the insufferable man was still in the room with them. “You are excused, general. You have no reason to remain here.”

But he may be the only reason Kylo and Varsha hadn’t physically attacked each other yet.

Kylo paused a moment. His threats didn’t seem to phase her in the slightest, as she would only counter back with promise of withholding any potential for regrowth. He needed the ships. He needed the weapons. He needed the troopers and officers.

Maybe he could frighten her.

“Actually, Senator, can I show you something? It won’t take too much out of your valuable time.” Sardonicism lingered with his words. “It may help you see things from my perspective.”
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
“Got it,” Poe noted her instructions as he flipped a switch or two, lifting the ramp to close as he raised the ship. Not as high as he would if they were leaving the planet, but just enough so they wouldn’t run into trees or buildings. That wouldn’t be a good look, certainly not to bring back to Leia.

He had to admit, he was anxious to have his questions answered. Would’ve preferred she just explain right then and there instead of having them sit and wait in anticipation until they got to her place. Though, he was curious as to what would be easier to show him rather than tell him. Which only fueled his desire to know right then and there, his mind racing with possibilities.

Luckily, it wasn’t a long flight.

And a meadow it was, very hard to miss. “Oh, wow,” Finn mused when the vibrant wildflowers came into view. They were beautiful. “We should take some with us. Maybe Leia and Rey would like them,” Finn suggested. Well, Leia might like them. Rey might just try to eat them.

“I don’t think I ever thought of you living in a place like this,” Poe mumbled. Well, he never thought of her living anywhere other than a Resistance base, really. But when he thought if Cassia, he thought of her covered in dirt, working on a ship, something. But looking at the flowers, the house nestled at the edge, he could see her in such a beautiful place. And he could see why she’d want to live there.

He almost didn’t want to land in the field of flowers, not wanting to disrupt them. But he did, nevertheless, resting the ship close to the house, flowers rustled by the thrusts of air coming from the ship as it came to sit on the ground.

“If you two—“ BB-8 beeped, “—three, sorry BB-8. If you don’t need any help, I can stay here,” Finn offered, knowing the conversation to be had would be personal between the two, or three, of them. Perhaps they didn’t need him listening in. And he knew Poe would fill him in later.

“That’s fine with me,” Poe almost did want Finn around, for support. Or to restrain him from saying something he’d regret. Depending on the situation. But he didn’t object. “Cass, you ready?” To both get her things and to share her side of the story.

-

They could sit there and argue all day. Spit threats back and forth between one another. She could argue that even if she ended up in an unfortunate accident, it wouldn’t matter. His resources would be gone and she could not reverse it dead. And then he could threaten some more, offer to kill her there, or something along those lines.

It was clear they were not going to get along.

General Hux very well was the reason Varsha hadn’t lunged at the Supreme Leader. The desire to wrap her hands around his neck and throttle him all too strong, even if she knew that was physically impossible against Kylo. ‘I could still try.’

Hux could see that. And he could see that there was a high possibility of Varsha simply getting her neck snapped the moment he left. But he also was in danger of being offed by Kylo, the two were at odds as well, always had been. And for that reason, he left when he was told. Not willing to stick his neck out that far for her.

His shoulder brushed hers as he passed, payback for when she’d done it to him. Petty, but he cared little. “Don’t die,” he hissed lowly as he left, his words making her eye twitch in irritation.

They were alone barely a moment before Kylo asked to show her something. His words alarmed her, finding the shift from threatening her suspicious, and her eyes narrowed on him. “You’ve already wasted much of my valuable time,” she snapped, mimicking his emphasis. But she remembered her own words. She’d work with him, and if that included ‘seeing things from his perspective’. Maybe he’d try to see things from hers, if she went along.

That she doubted. But, still.

She could have said no. Walked away. But what good would that do? She sighed, the noise bordering on becoming an exasperated groan, but she resisted. “A few more minutes won’t make much of a difference at this point. Show me, whatever it is.” Varsha allowed with a gesture.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia smiled at the innocence in Finn’s statement. In the beginning, she admired the wildflowers, as they reminded her of a life outside of the Resistance. But after a few weeks, they did just that: reminded her of the Resistance. Constantly. Of how she left everyone behind. Left Poe behind.

She heard Poe’s murmur. “Me neither” she whispered, watching how the ship lowered to the meadow. But it happened, and she couldn’t change what happened. She could only change what she did from then on.

A part of her did enjoy the quiet life in the peaceful meadow. Although Cassia always remained on guard for enemies, she knew there was little threat of attack in that meadow. On that planet. She did miss the hectic life of an engineer though, hair and face covered in some amount of oil and grease at all times.

The ship landed, and Cassia rose to her feet. She offered a smile at Finn, as he offered to stay behind. “I’ll try not to take too long and leave you bored.” He would be alone on the ship. Not that there would be many threats to worry about, but it could lead to intense boredom.

She turned to Poe and nodded her head. “Yeah, I’m ready.” She made her way off the ship, and once in the meadows, she ignored the blooming flowers for the small cottage that laid in front of them. Before she could make it to the door, a toddler came running out, his arm wide as he approached Cassia with all of his energy.

“Cassie! You’re back!” he yelled out.

The woman smiled and knelt down as he run towards her. She held out her own arms, swooping him up as his arms wrapped around her neck. “Karhem!” She brought the boy close to her, hoisting him up in her arms as she walked forward to the cottage. “Is your mother inside?”

He nodded. “But she’s being paying way more attention to Kev.”

She laughed at his complaint. “He’s only a baby! He needs a bit more attention right now. But that’s why you have me here, right?”

-

Kylo smirked, his dark gaze following Hux’s form as he left. It was just he and Varsha now, and with Hux gone, most of his voice of reason left as well.

Which meant he had to remind himself that he didn’t want to kill Varsha. Not yet.

“I highly doubt your time is worth any more than mine.” He wanted to scoff. A senator compared to the Supreme Leader. What comparison could be made?

A feral grin crossed his face. Good, she agreed. “Just give me one moment of your valuable time, Senator,” he mocked. It was laughable that she thought her time was any more valuable than his own, the Supreme Leader.

He pulled out a comlink, and uttered a simple question into it. “Is everyone there?”

After a few seconds, static sounded before an answer was given from the other end. “Affirmative.”

“Good. I shall be there shortly.” The comlink was placed back into his robes, and he shifted his head to look back at Varsha. “There are several people high in the First Order who are eager to meet the senator so graciously funding our supplies and troops. Come, let’s go meet them.”

With a turn on the balls of his feet, Kylo led them out of the conference room, when he would then wordlessly continue down the corridor.
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Poe followed Cassia out of the ship. While her eyes focused on the cottage, Poe’s eyes were on the flowers as he stepped into them. Admiring them as he felt the plants brush against his leg. He could see Cassia laying in them, looking up at the sky just as well as he could see her under a ship, looking up at wires and parts. Of course, his focus was quickly torn from that image by the sound of a child.

Poe’s dark eyes widened to the size of moons as the toddler raced into Cassia’s arms, his own mind racing to fit together puzzle pieces. He first tried to make sense of this being Cassia’s kid. How would it be possible for her to have a kid that old? Did he somehow not notice it? Who was the father? Only, Poe’s questions were dismissed when Cassia asked the kid, Karhem, if his mother was inside. So, then the question remained of whose kid this was. And apparently there was a second one, a baby.

“I guess!” Karhem let out a big, long sigh. Though, he didn’t seem unhappy at all in Cassia’s company.

Poe quickly noted that Cassia was moving again, towards the cottage, and so he willed his legs to move forward, hopping a bit in his effort to catch up. Karhem noticed him then, as Poe came into step next to Cassia. “Hi,” Poe offered, a small smile accompanying it. Poe was alright with kids. He liked them and they tended to like him, for some reason, especially when he was in his flight gear. But he wasn’t sure how this would go.

“Hi,” Karhem echoed, simply.

“I’m Poe, I’m a friend of your…,” well, Poe didn’t know who Cassia was to this kid. “To Cassia here.”

Karhem looked to Cassia then, curiously, “I know a Poe?” It was posed as a question, as if the kid was familiar with the name but not quite sure of the correlation. It made Poe wonder if he’d ever been mentioned, or if it was purely a coincidence.

“Yeah? Well, Poe’s not the most unusual name in the galaxy,” Poe engaged, stepping forward ahead of them to get the door open while Cass had her hands full. He took the opportunity while he faced her to shoot her a look full of questions. He was about ready for them to be answered. Poe almost wished Finn had come along, so he didn’t feel so alone.

BB-8 beeped a little thank you as he slipped into the door ahead of Cassia and Karhem, the beep drawing the attention of the toddler. “A droid!”

-

Varsha had questions. Who was on the other end of the comlink? Who ranked high in the First Order that she hadn’t met yet? With how long she’d worked with the Order, how long her parents had, she knew many. But, with recent losses and sudden power shifts, she supposed she could make sense of it. That she hadn’t yet met those promoted, like some in the conference room just a few minutes earlier.

But there was something too smug, too snide in Kylo Ren for the Senator to settle with that idea.

Still, she followed after him. Her shoes were certainly not meant for the strides she was making to keep up with the man, but she didn’t let that slow her down. She managed to stay a step behind him, her eyes focused on the back of his head. There’d be a hole burning through it if suspicion had that power. Her eyes raked over the rest of him, following his robes to where they flowed behind him. She resisted the strong, but childish urge to just step on them.

Varsha focused forward again, pushing down any unease she felt as he led her through the polished halls of the star destroyer, until they came to a set of blast doors that slid open eagerly upon his approach. Varsha, unfortunately, didn’t see what was waiting for her beyond the blast doors until they had already closed behind her.

Her steps faltered as she was greeted by six figures just as dark as Kylo Ren. ‘He’s going to kill me, that absolute idiot.’ Or was she the idiot? For following him even when she knew not to trust him. Even then, she wanted to throttle the man.

“Master,” voices distorted by masks echoed the greeting as they were joined by the Supreme Leader. Though, attention began to fall on the Senator. She didn’t need to see their eyes to know they were settled on her.

Hers, however, darted to the leader of too many things. “What is this, Ren?” Titles abandoned. If he’d already made up his mind on her fate, what did it matter? “You can’t kill me.” She stated simply. Or was he genuinely too thick to understand that? Though, despite her words, there was a knot in her stomach. He certainly could kill her, important as she was or not. He could also do much worse than kill her, if he wanted to.

Or he could have his masked creatures do as much.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia didn’t have to be Force sensitive to feel the questions Poe wanted to ask her. It was natural after seeing a strange toddler run into her arms, and for her to pick up said child with no hesitation. Her attention though wasn’t on Poe at the moment, as a squirmy toddler always demanded more attention than a dashing pilot.

She smiled at the child’s seeming exasperation over his little brother and kissed the top of his head while walking back towards the cottage. A light smile crossed her lips at the simple greeting Poe delivered, which Karhem equally responded.

She didn’t immediately answer Poe’s statement, for their relationship. “I’ve mentioned him before. The courageous pilot who could fly anything.” The pilot in question stepped ahead to open to door for them, and she nodded her appreciation while momentarily ignoring the questioning looks he shot her way.

In due time.

With the reminder, Karhem’s eyes lit up at the recognition, but the droid soon drew his attention. Cassia laughed and glanced down at the droid. “That’s BB-8.”

The toddler stuck one tiny hand out in a wave, to which the droid responded with a series of excited beeps.

“Cassia? Is there someone else with you?” A feminine voice asked from another room, before the woman stepped from around a corner. She was a near spitting image of Cassia, but the few extra years she had over the woman was evident by the few faint lines around her eyes.

“Uh, yeah. I brought a friend. Where’s Kev?”

“I just put him down for his nap. Now, who is this you brought into my home?” She gestured towards Poe, giving him a glance over before shooting Cassia an exasperated look.

“I’ve mentioned him before. This is Poe Dameron. Poe, this is my sister, Cara.” Cassia, with her nephew still in her arms, did her best to gesture between one another as she spoke their names.

Cara smiled and held out her hand for Poe. “Pleased to finally put a face to the name I’ve heard so much about.” A groan from Cassia could be heard.

-

Kylo could sense the myriad of questions Varsha held behind her tongue. It was amusing and downright entertaining, especially as he began to anticipate what he reaction would be once she met them. They would be far different from any officer she had already met in the First Order.

Far more dangerous.

He took long strides, not bothering to ensure that she could keep up. She would regardless. Varsha was too curious.

Although the overwhelming anticipation of her stepping on his robes had him wondering if he should push her in front of him, and just guide her to their meeting location. Was a senator really thinking such childish thoughts?

Even if they were somewhat amusing.

The blast doors slid open upon his approach. His posture straightened at the immediate sight of the Knights of Ren in the room, standing and waiting for his arrival. Amusement flickered between when they laid their eyes on the newcomer. A decidedly defenseless senator.

His attention shifted from the Knights to Varsha, as she begun to question what the hell was going on. You can’t kill me.

Kylo laughed, followed by a round of faint laughter from the Knights. “I’m not going to kill you.” His tone was full of mirth. “I just simply wanted to introduce you to a few close...confreres of mine.” One gloved hand gestured broadly to the masked Knights.

“Since you are helping to sponsor the Order, I figured it was only fair to introduce to you those who work close to me.” Faint chuckles sounded from the masked Knights, but none spoke up.

They all watched and waited like the predators they mimicked.
 
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KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
‘The courageous pilot that could fly anything.’ Poe liked the sound of that. And coming from her? Well, the sentiment stirred something in him.

But all Poe was capable of doing for a solid moment was blink as he processed everything. As he pieced together the situation. He felt a bit bad, as he noted this new woman’s exasperated look. Well, maybe he was starting to feel bad, period. For coming here. Maybe he shouldn’t have. Maybe he should have left her alone, left her and her family out of this losing war.

‘No,’ she had a choice. He gave her one. She still had one. There was no reason for guilt on his part. Right?

Poe couldn’t help the smug grin on his face, amusement twinkling in his eyes as he looked at Cassia, “You seem to talk about me a lot, don’t you?” He teased before he turned back to her sister, shaking her hand. “Nice to meet you, Cara. I hope you've only heard good things. I'm sure Cass has some less than favorable stories up her sleeve." She probably had enough recounting that she could put him in prison.

"I wish I could say I've heard much about you, but she hasn't mentioned you nearly as much as she had me, it seems."

Poe knew Cassia wasn’t an only child. She’d mentioned that before, but he didn’t recall any distinguishing comments. Nothing about a sister in favor of a brother. Nothing of said sibling having kids of their own. Poe didn’t think he’d overlook any details like that. Not when they came from her, when he had a habit of clinging to her every word.

“And this is BB-8!” Karhem interjected, eager to show his mom the real star of the show, the wonderful astromech who beeped in response.

Poe had to chuckle. “And this is my droid, BB-8,” he echoed, entertaining the kid. “I’m afraid Cassia hasn’t talked much about her family. I have to say I’m a little surprised by all this.” Pleasantly or not, he hadn't yet decided. "But I'm glad she finally has. You have a lovely place here." Poe didn't know what Cassia had told her family about her time with the Resistance, if she'd mentioned the Resistance at all. So he watched his words, careful not to allude to anything.

Careful not to mention he was trying to risk her away into a fight that, well, they may not win.

-

Varsha hated it, the sound of their laughter. She hated it because she knew they were laughing at her, mocking her. Her jaw clenched, so hard she thought she could very well shatter her own teeth. And stars, how she wanted to strangle the amusement out of Kylo Ren's tone. If it weren't for the current circumstances, she would've been happy to snap at the man. She hadn't been nice, no. But she had agreed to work with him and his very politically simple brain. And he couldn't be satisfied with that.

She didn't fail to notice how the Knights subtly seemed to surround her, like they were closing in on her. They knew what Kylo wanted of them, out of this, they'd done it all before. If Kylo had truly wanted her dead, she would be already. But she was supposed to feel scared, for reasons unknown to the Knights at the time they met her. Though, her difficulty didn't take long to make an appearance.

She could feel their eyes on her, observing her. Even if she couldn't see them. And she was painfully aware of how outnumbered she was. But that only proved that Kylo was, in fact, not going to kill her. He knew he needed her, but she supposed she wasn't compliant enough for his tastes. Either that, or he just wanted to fuck with her before he did kill her. Maybe she was eager to snap, after all, "Well, what an honor to be introduced to the hounds that do your dirty work," literally. Their armor and weapons were dusted with dirt. "I don't suppose any of you are politically inclined?" She gestured to the group around her.

And then she settled her eyes upon their leader again. Not in a glare, but a hard stare. "Is this what you do to everyone who doesn't submit to you? Simply introduce them to your band of mongrels?" The senator elected to ignore the way the Knights of Ren seemed to shift at that. She fidgeted. "Or am I a victim of convenience?" Maybe Varsha was the real animal here. A small one, backed into a corner. Yet she didn't know how to back down from anything. And as most trapped animals did, she lashed out in fear.

'Not in fear.' Confusion, uncertainty. Anger. Anything that sounded better than that she might be concerned for her well-being.
 

Cleocrypt

Coffeehouse Owner in the Ottoman Empire
Cassia rolled her eyes at Poe, and a light blush tinted her cheeks when he turned toward her sister. Of course I talk about you a lot, I could never stop thinking about you.

Cara shot an amused glance at her sister. Naturally, she could choose to embarrass Cassia and tell Poe exactly everything that had been said, but she decided to not quite be that cruel. “Oh, I’ve heard many different things about you, enough to know you’re quite the character.”

She knew enough to figure out how much Cassia liked this fearless pilot, and though Cara knew what Poe’s presence meant for her sister, she was happy. Cassia was better off fighting for what’s right than helping her care for the kids.

“She doesn’t talk about me because she doesn’t love me,” Cara teased, to which Cassia didn’t stifle a groan. They both knew there was an actual reason, and in that moment, Cassia debated if she should just go ahead and tell him then, with Cara in the room, or wait until they were alone.

But Karhem interjected before she could make her decision.

Cara smiled down at her son and crouched to be at eye-level with both. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, BB-8.” The droid beeped excitedly in response. Cara ruffled her son’s hair and rose to her feet.

“Thank you, Poe.” She didn’t seem at all surprised at Poe’s words. Cassia only stood to the side, watching and waiting to see what her sister would say on the matter. “That doesn’t surprise me,” was how Cara responded to Poe’s cluelessness. “Before she left for the Resistance, we had a lengthy discussion on the matter.”

“And I still wanted to protect my family, even if I was far away,” Cassia added. “So we figured, the best we could do is make sure no one knew about them or where they were.” If Karhem was paying any attention at all, he didn’t show it, for he was too distracted by BB-8 playing with him, showing him different parts of his build.

Cara’s eyes softened, and she turned to look at Cassia. “I suppose you’re going back, aren’t you?”

Cassia gently tugged on her lower lip and shrugged her shoulders. “I guess so, yeah.” She sounded unsure, as if something will happen in the next few minutes to change her mind. But she knew that wouldn’t happen. Cara knew too.

-

Kylo felt the anger and frustration bubbling beneath the surface of Varsha. He loved it. Maybe now she could be knocked down a few pegs and do what he wanted without challenging him on it. Him, the Supreme Leader! And his Knights were just as amused as he was by the raw emotions coming from the woman.

The Knights slowly and subtly surrounded her, but not to truly capture her like the prey they imagined her to be. They just wanted to threaten her, put a little fear in her. Put her in line. They knew they couldn’t harm her, though they could sense how much Kylo wanted to do so. Wrap his fingers around her scrawny neck.

“So the little bird does speak,” one of the Knights spoke, his voice gruff through his helmet.

Though her words were laced with sardonicism and poison, none of them reacted in anger. They knew who held the upper hand in the room, and they knew Varsha was aware of that as well.

“Don’t think of yourself as a victim of convenience,” Kylo said, taking one step closer to Varsha. “You are our guest, and I wanted to make sure you were well acquainted with everyone, Senator.” Her title was spoken with such vitriol and ridicule.

Another wave of laughter came from his Knights, but this time, no amusement was evident on Kylo’s face. A few of the Knights took a step closer. All still maintained their distance, but it was clear that Varsha was indeed surrounded.

“We only wanted to meet the Senator who is graciously helping to fund the First Order during this time,” the first Knight spoke, his helmeted head cocking slightly to the side.
 

KyloGlenn

nothing compares to the emptiness we both share
Cara knew everything, then. About the Resistance. And about him, apparently.

He wasn’t mad anymore. He was more upset. Not about why she left, but that she didn’t think she could tell him. Maybe he’d thought they were closer than they were.

Cassia wanted to protect her family. Wanted to protect her sister and her sister’s kids. He understood that. And he couldn’t believe it never crossed his mind. He supposed it wasn’t something he related to, having a family to protect like that. His family--what was left of it, anyway--had always been incredibly gung ho about all things rebellion. His mom, his father, him. He had no siblings, no nieces or nephews.

He felt like he was stealing her away. Which, maybe he was. And maybe that made him feel guilty.

But everything was about the Resistance. The bigger picture. And perhaps something a little selfish. Perhaps he wanted her around again. “I won’t say anything about you guys here,” not to a single soul. It wasn’t his place, and this was Cassia’s family. He didn’t want them hurt, no matter how short of a time he’d even known them.

“And I won’t let her get into too much trouble,” he joked, but he was serious. He wouldn’t let her get hurt. Never on his watch, not if he could help it. “The Resistance will take care of her. And you, if you need anything,” he’d thought to extend a hand. One one side he wanted to, genuinely, and on the other he also felt obligated. For stealing Cara’s sister away. And he wasn’t sure just how much Cassia contributed to her family.

Karhem seemed to pay attention, then, BB-8 beeping softly to try and get his attention back. “Where are you going?” He asked his aunt, looking up at the three adults.

Poe said nothing, then, once again feeling that confliction that maybe he should’ve just left Cass alone. He shouldn’t have been selfish, as if those were the only reasons he’d come here.

-

‘Little bird,’ Varsha nearly scoffed at that. It rubbed her the wrong way. All of this rubbed her the wrong way and all she wanted was to make them as aggravated as she was. She knew that would backfire on her. They could kill her, easily, if she pushed too far. She had to fight her spite, but that was easier said than done when she grew more annoyed with every breath Kylo Ren took.

She wondered how long it would take her to pull off her shoe and jab her heel through Ren’s neck. Would she be fast enough? Was his neck too thick? Maybe she’d go for the eye instead. Not that she’d even have a chance afterwards, the Knights of Ren would eat her alive.

“You’re horrible hosts,” she spat, looking around at them. Her eyes came back around, though, trained on Kylo. “And now I’m acquainted.” She sauntered forward, though her ease was falsified, closing much of the distance between them. She inhaled, breathing deeply, before sighing. She had to calm down. Getting worked up only satisfied him and made things worse for her.

Her voice lowered, quiet, “This is why I’m here,” she hissed. ‘You absolute fool.’ But she didn’t say that. “You can’t handle opposition. That’s fine. I don’t like it either. But I’m here to pick up where you lack so the First Order can thrive under you. People don’t like you, Supreme Leader. And I can see why.”

She stepped back, then. “I’m not an officer. I don’t work for you, I work with you. If I did everything you wanted me to do, we’d chase our own failures in circles. If you want someone to bend over for you, find someone else. Or let me do what I came here to do.”

What she’d always done. Did her own accomplishments not speak for herself? She was sure they did. But Ren didn’t care. He just wanted control over everything. “I’m sure any one of your charming Knights would thrive in the Senate. What’s left of it, anyway.”
 

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