A New and Brighter Birth @astriferoussprite
A New and Brighter Birth Originally published in 2017 on AO3.

Finn is all too aware of the fate in front of him.

He and Rose have successfully infiltrated the grand Super Star Destroyer of the First Order with hardly a second thought; here they were, dressed as petty officers (though, judging by the salute a nearby squadron of troopers had given him earlier, perhaps not so petty), with the entire ship ripe with opportunity for rebellion. And rebellion they will stir, indeed.

The two of them have discovered, through a combination of asking around and simple slicing, that there is to be a grand rallying of the troops in one of the lower bays of the Destroyer; every single Stormtrooper was to be there half an hour before the grand speech by Hux.

Every single Trooper.

The plan seems to unfold in front of the two of them perfectly; given the large timeframe between the gathering of the troops and the rally itself, that leaves a perfect window of time for, perhaps, an officer to enter and lecture them about anything, from the concept of loyalty to obedience to the Supreme Leader… to stirring up a revolt.

“Wish me luck in there,” whispers Finn as he adjusts his cap one last time. Rose gives him a nod, standing at her position outside the bay door with her hands properly behind her back in parade rest.

With that, he enters the bay.

What greets him is a sickeningly familiar sight: rows upon rows upon rows of neat, orderly Stormtroopers, their white plastoid armor polished to a blindingly white gleam. They are the image of perfect obedience, of perfect conformity. Of perfect indoctrination.

Taking a deep breath, Finn steps onto the stage in front of the assembly, settling himself in front of the podium. Instantly, every single visor points towards him, perfectly forward.

It sickens him.

“Soldiers!” he yells. Inwardly, he winces at having to address them in such a dehumanizing manner. Nevertheless, he continues with the speech.

“You were raised to do one thing: follow orders. Obey. Listen. Do whatever they tell you to, no matter how you feel or what you think. Do it, they tell you,” he says bitterly. “Kill that old man, burn down that village. It’s all for the greater good.”

The visors do not move.

“And Force help whoever defies—or, hell, thinks something else. Because this is the First Order, and we need good soldiers, not thinkers. Because as soon as you start showing doubt—if you dare to question the questionable—they won’t ask you to change, they’ll make you do it. Break you apart until there’s nothing left but the useful stormtrooper they’ve always wanted.”

Finn pauses, momentarily closing his eyes.

“And yet, there’s always someone who manages to slip through the cracks. I’m sure you all know of one particular trooper who broke away,” he says, looking around at the motionless crowd of white, “and how he did it—disobeying orders, escaping with a prisoner, and an enemy of all things.” He laughs sharply, trying to distract himself from how fast his heart is racing. “It’s unclear what became of FN-2187’s fate, but I can only guess stories they fed you; executed by loyal officers, tortured by the Resistance—whatever helps keep scared troopers in line.”

His fingers begin to drum nervously on the podium.

“But I can proudly say that those are all bogus,” he says, a sudden swell of pride ballooning in his chest. “87 didn’t die, wasn’t brainwashed; he managed to rediscover his personhood once more, to escape, to defect on his own terms. In fact, he is standing before you at this moment, willingly fighting for the bogeymen he was warned about.”

Finn can’t tell their expressions behind those helmets, but he sees heads tilting up, glances being exchanged, armored hands over armored hearts. His own heart leaps.

“I know it might seem terrifying to even consider defecting,” he says. “You’re scared of being caught, or killed, or reconditioned. But I promise—” here he drops his voice, “there is hope still. You are not broken for feeling, not a defect for doubting. You’re more than just another white helmet or a vessel for a blaster,” he adds, voice shaking with the weight of held-back tears, “you are a goddamn person.

He looks behind him. “Right now, the First Order is closing in on us, determined to crush the Resistance,” he says, adrenaline beginning to rush through him. “This is the tipping point for you—which side do you want to fight for? Will you slink back into the shadows, letting them control you once more, or will you finally stand up for what you believe in? Are you going to be another cog, or embrace your humanity?”

A jolt of energy courses through his body. “Tonight, the fate of the galaxy rests in each and every one of your hands. There is good in you, and together, we have the power to change everything.”

He raises his hands. “Who’s with me?”

For a moment, there is complete silence. Not a single hand goes up in the air.

Finn breathes heavily, bravery beginning to fade. He can already sense the oncoming storm—he will be jeered at, called a traitor, turned in. Reconditioned. There truly is no hope left, then. He ducks his head, prepares to leave.

And then, he hears something hiss.

Turning his head, he is nearly floored by the visual that greets him. One of the troopers has taken her helmet off, exposing her warm brown face and dark eyes. She tilts her head, looks at him, throws the helmet down with a definitive thump, and raises her hand, curled in a tight fist.

Next to her, her fellow soldiers—her fellow people—follow suit. The auditorium is filled with the hiss of helmets being removed and the thump of them falling down, revealing so many faces behind the plastoid: pale, dark, tall, round, scared, determined. All young.

All making what is possibly the first choice in their entire lives.

Finn’s heart swells with every helmet abandoned, every fist raised in the air, every head tilted in defiance. He always knew, somehow, that he was not the only rebel in the system. “I am so proud of every single one of you,” he says brightly. “Now come on, let’s surprise these bastards!”

A cacophony of cheers rises up from the crowd as they whoop and holler and pump their fists up. It’s not the organized chanting of the Order that he’s used to.

It’s so much better.

Before the battle, Finn walks up to the first rebel who unmasked herself, the girl with the brown eyes full of determination. “I just want to tell you that what you did was incredibly brave,” he says in a lower voice, “standing up like that.”

“Thank you, sir,” she says, face flushed. Dimly, he realizes this girl can’t be older than eighteen.

“Please,” he says, “call me Finn.”

“Alright, Finn,” she says with a nod.

Something bothers him about calling her “the girl.” “What’s your name?” he asks.

“HV-5608—”

He shakes his head. “No, that’s not it.”

“It’s the only name I’ve ever known,” she says, resigned. Oh.

Finn knows that feeling all too well. Was it only a few months ago that he was sent hurtling through the sky with Poe, with nothing but his designation to offer?

“HV, huh?” he says. “That’s a start, maybe.”

The girl nods, before her eyes snap open. “Hava,” she whispers. There’s so much hope reflected in her eyes. “My name is Hava.”

Finn’s heart wells with pride. “Good to meet you, Hava,” he says proudly as they begin to file back in order.

She smiles—a bright smile full of joy. “Good to meet you too, Finn,” she says, before putting her helmet back on and preparing for the attack.

It’s amazing, he wonders, how hope can spring up from the darkest of places.

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