For @falleen who has fallen into Thranto hell. So how about some Rebel Eli AU? ;)
“And who spotted this anomaly?”
Thrawn looked around the control room, waiting for one of the officers there to speak up and tell him who’d issued the order to cease firing up the weapons.
Only silence greeted him until, suddenly, the door opened and two stormtroopers stepped inside, carrying in between them a squirming human male.
“Sir, we apprehended—“
“You didn’t apprehend me, I told you to take me—“
“—while he was hacking into the system—“
“Saving your lives, you mean.”
“—to overwrite the attack codes.”
The Stormtroopers dropped the man, who promptly landed on his knees hissing. There was nothing particularly unusual about the man, except perhaps his accent, which sounded so unlike that of the posh officers that had been forced upon his command staff. Very few of them he’d been allowed to choose on his own and they hardly managed to make up for the incompetence of the others.
And yet Thrawn couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d seen this man before.
“Who are you?” Thrawn asked calmly.
“Ensign Eli Vanto,” Vanto nearly spat, his expression torn somewhere between frustration and smug satisfaction. “And I reiterate: I saved your lives, you’re welcome.”
The second statement was entirely true, the first one not so much.
Ensign Eli Vanto.
He didn’t hesitate when stating his name. Most people had troubles lying about their names, identities being too ingrained in their minds.
Titles, however, especially those liable to change, could be lied about more easily. Therefore one could also conclude that one was more likely to be less careful with the easy lies.
Vanto was good, Thrawn doubted a human would have picked up on the tension in his voice. He was still kneeling where the Stormtroopers had left him and, well, that certainly wouldn’t do. Thrawn held out his hand to help Vanto up. The Empire favored directness, brutality, and while such could be effective, Thrawn preferred a polite conversation over threat and torture every day. Surprise flashed over Vanto’s face, but then he accepted Thrawn’s hand and let himself be pulled to his feet. Vanto dusted off his pants, then let his arms hung loose at his sides likes someone who might have seen how the military stood but never attended the Academy.
“And how did you manage this feat, Ensign Vanto?”
Vanto shrugged, having gained confidence from Thrawn’s unsuspecting behavior. “I’m good with numbers. I saw that they didn’t match up and since nobody was believing me, I hacked the system.”
Spy or not, that was remarkable work. Thrawn could certainly use more people like Vanto on his staff, even if the smudge of color on his ill-fitting uniform gave him away.
They weren’t bound to return to Lothal for a while anyway, he could make use of him until then.
“You have unusual problem-solving skills,” Thrawn said and allowed himself to smile. “I thank you for saving our lives. Please, Captain Vanto, tell me exactly how you noticed the anomaly.”
His new Rebel Captain eyed Thrawn like he couldn’t quite understand him, then he began to speak.