The crystal was…interesting.
Breha had wandered over to the cluttered table out of vague interest—amid the looming structures and finicky-looking equipment, the table was the only thing she trusted herself not to damage. It was a chaotic mess, tools and rock samples and notes scrawled on flimsi all scattered, stacked haphazardly. But Breha’s gaze had been drawn to the innocuous white crystal immediately. She couldn’t help picking it up, turning it over in her hand. Someone had drilled a hole through one end, and threaded a cord through it, as though it was meant to be worn as a pendant.
It felt oddly warm against her skin, like something living.
Breha thought of Leia inexplicably, and for a moment she panicked—but Leia was fine, stuck in yet another strategy meeting. She would be there in the mess for dinner, probably arguing with Captain Solo, or trying to bite back a grin as Luke teased Lieutenant Antilles. Leia was fine. She was—
Breha startled at the sound of a loud grunt, too-close behind her. When she whirled around there was a helmeted sentient sticking out of what had previously been a gaping hole in the ground. The faint sound of hammering, voices, could still be heard drifting up from depths unknown.
“Oh!” the human woman—at least, Breha was reasonably sure; it was hard to tell under the layer of grime—said. She hauled herself up and out of the hole, stumbled to her feet. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize anyone was here. Have you been waiting long?”
“Only a moment or so,” Breha demurred. Now that she could see all of her, the sentient was definitely a human woman, dressed in something that may have, at one time, been a Rebel uniform. (It was encrusted with entirely too much dirt to be called that anymore.) She had repurposed a blaster bandolier, and stuck it full of what looked like laserscopes and spectrographs.
There was a pickax at her hip.
Breha cleared her throat, tried again. “I was told Lyra Erso—”
“You must be with Acquisitions! They said someone would be coming by for the wishlist.”
“It’s not a wishlist,” Breha said, but she couldn’t summon her usual fierceness, the accompanying lecture about the importance of resource planning.
So this was Lyra Erso.
Your husband killed my husband, Breha thought dizzily. She’d forgotten how to breathe, what came after exhale.
“Yes, yes,” Lyra Erso said, waving a hand dismissively. She had come to stand beside Breha, and was sifting through the cluttered mess of the desk with purpose. “I swear on the Force, the Rebellion has become almost as bad as the Order was when it comes to paperwork…”
Breha blinked. “The Order?”
Lyra Erso froze, a sheaf of flimsi in her hand. Breha watched a complicated expression flicker across her face, and then slide away. “Oh. That’s—I mean the Jedi Order,” she finally said, stiltedly. “I was…a youngling. At the temple on Coruscant. In another life.”
Now that Breha was looking, she could see that the lines around Lyra Erso’s mouth, her eyes, were not cracks in the dirt—she had to be just older than Breha, and that was a strange thought, that Galen Erso’s widow was the same age as Bail Organa’s.
“AgriCorps?” Breha hazarded. She wasn’t sure if there was a politer way to say, so you never made it to padawan.
“Engineering division. Mining geology and geoengineering, mainly.” Lyra Erso straightened up, and looked Breha in the eye. “You?”
“I was not in the AgriCorps,” Breha retorted dryly. Lyra Erso pulled a face, and Breha found herself adding, “But I knew many Jedi.”
“Ah. From Coruscant, then?”
“Alderaan,” Breha said, and Lyra Erso jerked, stumbling a few steps back, away from Breha. All the blood had drained from her face, and Breha watched her throat work as she swallowed.
“My husband was a senator on Coruscant for many years, though, and counted some of the High Councilors his friends.”
“I know,” Lyra said weakly. She looked as though she wasn’t breathing. “I—heard stories of Senator Organa. Though more from…My husband was a engineer. He worked on military contracts, so he—”
“I am aware,” Breha said, and she wasn’t able to keep the ice and fury out of her voice this time, not entirely. Lyra flinched.