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No other exile

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By the time Phasma regains consciousness, she’s a prisoner.

They remove the locator as soon as they have her armour, which she’d expected. They also find the secondary one, which impresses her a little more. Then they put her in a cell, restrained in a chair, hands fixed to a bare metal table and feet secured to the chair legs, the chair itself immovable on the floor.

For the Resistance, it’s bordering on professional.

It’s another nondescript, grubby room like every other in every bunker she’s ever raided, but she commits the details to memory automatically just the same. She doesn’t know how much time passes before the door opens and FN-2187 walks in, followed closely by the pilot he’d turned on the Order to free. Both of them are armed, but the pilot is the one who seems the most tempted by that fact.

“Of course they’d send you,” Phasma says, the first time she’s spoken since they put her in here.

“I volunteered,” FN-2187 tells her.

“What a proud moment for you,” she says.

“I didn’t,” the pilot says with an unpleasant little smirk as he leans against the wall, hand hanging next to the holster on his thigh.

“I imagine prisoner duty is beneath the notice of the greatest pilot in the Resistance,” she mocks. “And then there’s you,” she says to FN-2187. “The hiltless blade. How long until you turn in the hand again?” She looks back over at the pilot. Dameron, she remembers from the intelligence file. “You’d be wise to kill him now, before he makes a traitor of himself to your cause as well.”

“I’ll get right on that,” Dameron says, smirk unaltered. “Hey, Finn, you should think about using that if you ever become a bounty hunter: The Hiltless Blade. Has a nice mercenary ring to it.”

FN-2187 snorts. “Admit it, you just like giving me names.”

Phasma fights the urge to roll her eyes. “How are any of you still alive.”

“Hey, we captured you, didn’t we?” Dameron says. “It was a nice little ambush, you gotta admit. Oh yeah, and we both escaped from right under your nose.”

“More than once,” FN-2187 adds.

“Blew up their big fancy base and everything,” Dameron says to FN-2187, shaking his head. “A real disorganised little outfit you left back there, buddy.”

“Sad,” FN-2187 agrees.

Phasma looks at Dameron. “Be grateful I was not placed in charge of your interrogation that day.”

His smirk thins and widens, and the casual mask slips just slightly. The brief glimpse of danger it lets out is the most interesting thing she’s noted about him so far. “I was about to say the same thing to you,” he says.

“So you’re letting the traitor handle this?” she asks, shifting her gaze to FN-2187. “Let me guess: you’re going to try and convince me to see the error of my ways and join your noble crusade? To follow in your glorious example and tell you everything I know about the First Order’s plans?”

FN-2187 makes a considering face. “Well I was gonna build up to it a little more,” he says. “Throw in some stuff about fighting the good fight, working against the Dark Side, but... yeah, pretty much. You interested?”

“Food’s good too,” Dameron says, and FN-2187 points at him and nods.

The look she gives FN-2187 has brought more troopers snapping to attention than she can remember, and it doesn’t move him at all. “A pity you found your backbone among this sorry lot,” Phasma tells him. “You may have had some promise, once we’d reconditioned you.”

“Watch it,” Dameron says, the smirk exchanged for a scowl now.

“Touched a nerve, did I?” she asks, rounding on him, seeing the potential vulnerability like a signal flare. “Is the Resistance so desperate it has to turn to the Order’s scraps to fill its ranks?” She quickly catalogues the twitch in his jaw, the narrowing of his eyes, the fractional motion of his fingers toward the blaster. “Or is it something more... personal?” She slides her eyes to FN-2187, slowly, for Dameron’s benefit. “Just what did he offer you to help him escape?”

Dameron gets half a step before FN-2187 is between them, his back to Phasma as he mutters something she can’t hear that ends with Dameron stalking back to his position against the wall.

FN-2187 turns to her, leans on the table. “Look, you don’t need to go back. You still have a chance. Just... give us something, anything we can build on. You can help us.”

“So I should just become like you? Piling one betrayal atop another?”

“Hey,” FN-2187 says, casually pushing away again, “technically, only the first thing was a betrayal. After that it’s about doing the right thing, helping your friends.”

“Friends,” she sneers. “Rebels. Bandits.”

“Yeah, friends. Better friends than anyone you’ve got on your side right now,” FN-2187 tells her. “Or ever, actually. That’s something worth thinking about.”

There's a pause. “Having thought on it,” she says, “I’d prefer the trash compactor.”

“We can still arrange that,” Dameron tells her. She hopes he tries. They’d have to undo the restraints in order to move her.

“Listen,” FN-2187 says, “you know you can’t go back. You’re better off here.”

Phasma wants to argue, but he knows almost as well as she does what happens to troopers who’ve been in enemy hands. No telling how many check-ins she’s missed. They will have already revoked her clearances, changed every sensitive code she knows.

“Think it over,” Dameron tells her. “C’mon, Finn.”

They leave, the sound of the door locks clicking into place echoing off the walls. Phasma tests her restraints, isn’t really surprised when they don’t shift, and curses. Then again in every language she knows.


She’s in a wary, watchful half-sleep when the klaxon starts blaring, the wavering call of it punctured by feet moving quickly through the hall outside in both directions.

In a repeat of however many hours ago, FN-2187 comes in, followed by Dameron. It’s faster this time though, and they both look rattled.

“Your other friends seem to really want you back,” Dameron says.

Phasma absorbs that, straightening sharply in the chair despite the way it pulls the restraints tighter.

“How many ships?”

Dameron looks surprised at getting a sincere response. “Three transports,” he says slowly, searching for the trap, most likely, and all too predictably in the wrong place. “With fighter escort.”

Her jaw clenches. The restraints rattle as her hands twitch. She’d known from the start that Hux is a short-sighted fool.

“What?” Dameron asks, interested enough that the bravado slips for a moment. Not the hand near the blaster, however.

“Aren’t you going to tell him?” she asks FN-2187.

Dameron shifts on his feet. “Well, someone tell me.”

FN-2187 turns to him. “It’s not a rescue mission,” he says. “The First Order doesn’t send rescue missions. Not for stormtroopers, even if they are captains. Not even if they’re her.”

“No,” Phasma says, swallowing the bitterness. “It’s an assault. And a diversionary one at that.”

That gets Dameron’s attention enough to bring him a few steps closer. Not enough to compensate for the restraints, but even so. “A diversion for what?”

Phasma very deliberately sits back in the chair, loosening her posture as much as she dares. Nothing to be gained from letting them know what she’s feeling, that she feels anything at all.

“There’ll be a fourth transport,” she says. “It will approach slowly, and in low-power mode to avoid detection while the others occupy your forces. The transport will carry specialist stealth troopers who will quickly and quietly infiltrate this base.”

Dameron frowns. “And they’re not here to rescue you.” He doesn’t phrase it as a question, credit him that. The more stupid Resistance members are likely all dead by now.

FN-2187 looks from her to Dameron. “They’re here to kill her.”

“Not just me,” she says, trying to sound pleased about it, trying to funnel the anger into something productive. Throw them off enough and they’ll make a mistake, she's sure of it. “I’m compromised. They’ll kill me, to be absolutely sure I can’t tell you anything. Then they’ll kill you, in case I already have. And then they’ll kill everyone else here purely on principle, and anyone you may have contacted just for good measure.”

“Is that true?” Dameron asks FN-2187, who nods, a grim expression set on his face as he looks at her. Perhaps he feels sorry for her. The idea is almost funny. Dameron frowns. “All right. So help us.”

“Help you,” Phasma repeats flatly. “There’s no helping you, or myself. The troops are almost here by now.”

“No, there’s still time. They haven’t landed yet, and we can hold them off,” FN-2187 tells her. He even seems to believe it. “How do we find the stealth transport?”

“You can’t,” she says. “As the description might suggest.”

“There’s always a way,” Dameron insists, and she rolls her eyes. She really can’t help it this time.

“Oh, the motto of pathetic ragtag groups of renegades the galaxy over,” Phasma says. “And where do you think all of them are now? Optimism won’t stop blaster fire.” They just stare at her until she asks, disinterested, “Is this the point where you hold a weapon to my head again?”

“Seems like the First Order’s doing a pretty good job of that already,” Dameron says.

She sighs, considering her options, and wonders if these two will still be in here, between her and the door when the first trooper comes through it firing. Not likely. “The transport’s trajectory will bring it around the curve of the planet opposite to the main force, while your attention is elsewhere.” She thinks about the pointlessness of treason by degrees and the general risk of ineptitude from these people, and adds, “The hull composite makes detection difficult, but if you use sensor probes as relays you may be able to triangulate the heat signature as it comes through the atmosphere.”

“Poe, the General,” is all FN-2187 says, and Dameron gives her a quick stare before he leaves the room.

“You realise your chances of repelling even the first wave are still negligible,” Phasma says. “They want me dead, and they want confirmation of it, and they won’t stop.”

FN-2187 sighs. “Like I don’t know that. What’s your point?”

“That if our positions were reversed, I would have disposed of you and relocated by now.”

“Thanks for the advice,” he says, “but that’s not how we do things.”

We,” she spits. “Was your training that sloppy? Is your loyalty swayed so easily? You’d rather die, here and now, pointlessly?”

“Than live as a monster? Yeah,” he says. “But you’re wrong. It’s not pointless. It’s about making a choice.”

“What choice?” she demands. “I’ll likely die in this mess either way. I’ve already lost everything.”

“Maybe you have,” he says, “but what really matters is what you do right now. What counts is deciding for yourself who you are, and what you want. You can still change. It’s not too late.”

“Perhaps I’m not as weak-willed as you are.”

“I think you’re scared,” he presses. “Scared to admit you can choose, because that means you’ve been making the wrong choices all along. Because it means all the things you’ve done, everyone you’ve hurt, it’s been in your control this whole time. I think you’re scared to face who you are without the armour, and the helmet, and believe me, I’m the one person here who really knows what that feels like, but there are bigger things at stake now.”

She grits her teeth, looking at her clenching hands on the table. “You understand nothing.”

This fool who was FN-2187 shrugs. “Maybe not, but I choose to be here, with these people. I choose to believe we can change things, make them better. Just like I choose to believe you can be something better than you are now.” He stands up, walks over and opens her restraints. “Time to choose, Phasma,” he says, looking down at her. “What do you want?”

It takes a moment for the fact of her freed limbs to sink in, by the audacity of that move. “To not have been captured by this miserable little band,” she snaps. “To return to my post. To live.”

“You were killing, not living,” he tells her, “and going back is just giving up. Funny, I would’ve said you don’t seem like the type to surrender.”

She brings her fists down on the table and starts to stand, but the door opens and Dameron strides back in before she can say anything.

“We need to move,” he says to FN-2187. He unholsters the blaster, then says to her, “For the record, you’re coming along because I trust him, and he seems to think you can be brought around.”

“He’s a fool,” she says.

“Never in my experience,” Dameron says. “So get up, and start walking.”

FN-2187 leaves first, and Dameron waves her through the door at the point of the blaster. People sprint past them without sparing them a glance. Orders are relayed in echoing voices overhead. The sound of an engine passes somewhere above them. She’s in familiar territory, suddenly, and at the same time not at all.

A few paces away on the other side of the corridor, Dameron is opening a locker. He throws a rifle to FN-2187, who catches it without looking and quickly performs the exact field check Phasma has trained into cadets for years.

Then Dameron takes out a pistol and hands it to her. “Don’t take this to mean I won’t still shoot you,” he says, gripping it by the barrel for an extra moment before he lets go.

Phasma checks the blaster. It’s the same SE-44C they confiscated from her when they captured her. The look on Dameron’s face says he thinks it’s somehow poetic. Aiming it at him is extremely tempting.

“So,” FN-2187 says to her, rifle held in safe position. “Time's up. What’s your answer? Who do you wanna be? What do you want?”

This time, weapon in hand, unrestrained at least in the manacle sense of the word, Phasma considers it. Reconsiders. Reconsiders again.

“Hux,” she says finally, firmly. “He declared me unsalvageable. He took away my position in the Order. He sent my own troops to kill me.” She meets FN—she meets Finn’s look, whoever he is, stares him down and says, “I want to make him regret it. We’ll see what happens after that.”

He blinks at her, at least having the sense to still be afraid. “Well,” he says, “that’s a start, I guess.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard worse,” Dameron agrees.

“What a profound relief,” she tells him, which he ignores.

“Better too, of course,” he adds, to Finn, she thinks.

“Pilots to your ships,” comes the order from overhead. “Attack imminent, pilots man your ships. Ground teams report to division leaders at assigned positions.”

“Hey,” Dameron says to Finn, sidestepping her to put a hand on Finn’s shoulder. “You watch yourself out there.”

“You too,” Finn says, non-weapon hand coming up to rest on the side of Dameron’s face. He tugs Dameron down until their foreheads meet. Their mouths follow, briefly.

The fact that she was right about that little suspicion makes Phasma feel not at all better about any of this. She briefly considers simply shooting them both and taking her chances. She’d only have to steal a ship, head for the Outer Rim. Her skills would serve her well out there.

She pictures Hux’s smug expression as he gave the order to have her eliminated, his pompous glee at finally stumbling over a chance to be rid of her. Weak, always weak, but clever enough to know she realised it. Too much power and ambition, not enough ability.


“If you’re quite finished,” she says, “there’s still a battle to be fought.”

“Always is,” Dameron says, stepping away from Finn with a final grip on his arm. “We’re just lucky that way.” He spares Finn a smile before taking off at a run.

“You coming?” Finn asks her, gesturing down the hallway in the other direction. He waits for her to be safely ahead of him before he starts moving.

“This is still foolish,” she says, not turning around. More engines whine overhead.

“Okay,” he says, then, “But you have to admit it’s kind of fun too, right?”

Phasma keeps walking, and doesn’t answer.