The monumental golden wave transfixes Jyn so completely that she has no attention left for anything but her approaching doom, nothing but that and the man in her arms - the man who’s holding her, his grip still strong despite the effort it costs him. She can feel his body trembling with fatigue and what must be no small amount of pain. He fell twelve stories after all, and still clawed his way back to save her. She couldn’t have left him after that - she might have run off, steal a ship and get off Scarif, maybe even get it through the Imperial blockade above the planet surface without being shot down. She could make it to hyperspace and then - anywhere else. Anywhere Bloody Else, Kriff Sector, Galaxy, The Known Universe.
But she couldn’t leave Cassian behind. Even if it wasn’t for the Death Star on the horizon he didn’t have much time left, she could see that much when he first emerged behind Krennic. He wasn’t going to outrun this, his injuries were substantial enough that after that insane climb he couldn’t hold himself upright anymore. His chances simply ran out, and there was no going away for him. Yet the thought of abandoning him never crossed her mind for a single second. Nobody replied her comm when they exited the turbolift, so her team was gone. The only Rebel they encountered on their way to the beach was the dead soldier by the palm trees, and she didn’t have the heart to allow Cassian witness that. There was no point in adding to his guilt for what are now his - their - last moments, the last two at the heel of an apocalypse.
I’m glad that you came back.
She keeps her arms locked around Cassian and her eyes fixed on the terrifying beauty that is approaching rapidly, so she almost misses the Imperial Delta landing a dozen yards or so next to them. She does feel Cassian jerking up, though, and the way he’s trying to push her up to her feet, so she lets the galloping clouds off her sight to look what is the matter.
At first, she believes that it might be the death in white, that he somehow survived the shot, that he came to have one last round with them. Why , she thinks, we’ll all be dead soon anyway, why can’t you let us be? But then the ramp slides into the sand and Baze is standing there, cradling his left arm and dragging his left leg from the hip but he’s standing, he’s alive, he’s shouting something Jyn cannot hear clearly for the roaring coming from the distance and he’s waving his uninjured hand at them, urging them to rush aboard while glancing at the clouds, now almost onto them.
Jyn cannot believe what she sees. It must be some kind of a beautiful dream, this scenario where they still have this one chance after all. Maybe, she thinks, maybe they already died and are now just moving on? Then, though, if they’re dead and the pain is still present it’s quite disappointing; she hoped to be free of such setbacks after she finally bit the dust.
Cassian is trying to stand up and he’s failing. His entire body is cramping and the little while between when she let him slid into the sand and now seems to be enough for him to lose almost all control over his legs. Baze is looking at them, worried, and after another second he’s limping toward them, reaching to them with his right hand.
“Take Jyn,” Cassian rasps out in a raw, tired voice that doesn’t sound like him at all, and he’s pushing Jyn away from himself, to her feet, to Baze. “Take her, Baze, save her, save yourself!”
Jyn pushes into the sand with her foot and almost falls over as exhaustion pulls her down. Her left leg spasms as a spike of white-hot agony strikes through but she holds herself up, even though the sand is making it difficult. Her hands grab Cassian around his upper torso and she gives him a forceful tug, trying to get him on his feet. “Come on,” she gasps. “Get up. Get up right now!”
“Jyn, please go,” he begs her, trying to untangle himself from her hold. “I’ll slow you down, you can save yourself - no, Baze, leave me, take her and go!”
“Seems to me that she’ll only go with you,” Baze retorts breathlessly and positions himself at Cassian’s left hip. “Ready, little sister?”
Jyn nods, and together the two wrap their arms around the captain and pull him to upwards. His face goes white when Baze presses his left-side ribs a bit too much, and when he’s up and Jyn is drawing his right arm over her shoulder and when she puts her hand on his lower back to grant more stability she’s sickened to realize that she can feel something moving in his spine in a way absolutely nothing there should be moving. He quashes a cry at the change in position and his breath comes in hasty and shallow, but at least doesn’t attempt to shake Jyn and Baze off any longer.
The golden horizon is almost upon them. The air around them gains pressure and speed and sand is flying from under their boots, making them nearly lose their balance.
Jyn nods at the big man and together they begin their 30-odd feet long way back to the shuttle. Jyn’s left leg is mostly numb from the knee down but the wound on her thigh turns her hip into a fiery pit of flames, but still she pushes their little arrangement of two working, two partially working and two mostly dragged legs forward.
She can see Cassian trying to help them along, to bear his own weight and not hinder them, but his legs refuse to follow his command. She can feel the moment when he starts to panic, when his breathing gains a sharper edge and he whispers, “I can’t move, I can’t move my legs…”
Jyn finds the arm slung over her shoulder and grabs his hand in hers, giving him a quick, hopefully reassuring squeeze. “Almost there,” she says in half-voice like that changes anything. Baze grunts nonverbally and shifts the younger man a bit more onto himself, aiming for a stronger grip. This time, the squeak of pain is audible if quickly cut off.
The ramp of the shuttle is firm and solid and they almost run up on it to finally reach the cargo hull as the ground starts swaying under it and the roar of the end of the world grows almost unbearably loud. Just as soon as they are inside Baze yells with all his might “kick it, Bodhi!” and hastens to deposit Cassian on the floor, next to an unconscious Chirrut. They make it the very last moment before the shuttle leans backward and lifts off.
Please let it be enough, Jyn prays as she finds herself holding onto Cassian once more, being the only thing that keeps him from sprawling all over the shuttle floor. He’s sickly pale, sweat is standing out on his face and his breathing is progressively getting more and more rapid, and she can’t help but cradle him in her arms and whisper to his ears to try to keep calm.
“Entering hyperspace, now!” Bodhi yells from the cockpit. The ship seems suspended in place for a second as sounds of cannons blast around, then it gains momentum and shoots forward in a flash. The four people in the hold are thrown around and Baze looms over Chirrut, pushing him down to the floor so he won’t hit the opposite wall.
A set of heavy footfalls sound from the cockpit and Bodhi appears in the doorway, breathing fast and skipping his look between his passengers. “Are you all alive?”
The horror at the faces of Jyn and Cassian is equal to what was Baze’s just a few minutes ago, when Bodhi landed the ship by him to pick him and Chirrut up back near the master switch console. He’s aware of the burns that cover most of his left side, the charred pieces of his flight uniform are roasted in with what was left of his skin and it tugs painfully when he moves, but there wasn’t time to weep for the discomfort. He had to save them, his heart gave a mighty lurch when he saw Chirrut fallen and Baze falling but at least he wasn’t all alone again. He nearly cried when they found the top of the control tower empty (Cassian said they would transmit the plans, did they not succeed? They should be there by the antenna, where else would they go?!) until Baze pointed out to the two small figures limping to the sunlit beach just as the Death Star ignited the horizon. Bodhi knew that he could still save them, and saving his comrades was the most important mission he’s ever been assigned. He was too late to save his homeworld, but home became these people, and he would not forsake them now. Either they all lived, or they all died together; there was no other way for him.
“Mostly,” Baze grunts and starts digging in the compartment around their head for something.
“Have you - have you seen anyone else?” Cassian asks silently. “Anyone who made it?”
Bodhi and Baze look at each other with trepidation. Jyn lowers her gaze, trying not to think about the dead Rebel soldier whom they passed just by the palm trees, whom she did not allow Cassian to see because she didn’t want him to spend his last moments feeling guilty. They all volunteered, she says to herself. We all have. They knew the chances of coming back were thin. Even getting the plans and delivering them was a bloody miracle.
It doesn’t ease up much on her own guilt, though, to think that brave soldiers like Sefla, Melshi or Pao laid their lives for theirs, not to mention the countless others who came in after them, all those lost in the sky battle that bought them time. It’s overwhelming, cripplingly unfair that she gets another shot to live and they don’t. And she didn’t even know most of them, and those she did know she only met a few days ago for the first time. Cassian knew them, probably grew up with them around.
She can see the little flicker of hope disappearing from his gaze as nobody gives him an answer. He looks down to the floor and Jyn is suddenly hit with the realization that while their breathing core group has found itself just because some upper force apparently willed it so, K-2SO didn’t make it with them. That his empty, short-circuited frame was left by the fried console, the only thing that kept her and Cassian’s back safe in the vault. He was loyal till the very end, that droid, and he was Cassian’s best friend.
K-2 -bloody- SO.
“Here,” Baze says and pulls a basic medkit from the upper compartment. “Look what we’ve got.”
He opens the bright yellow-striped case and pulls out a bottle of saline solution, a roll of bandages, several tools, some bacta patches and a handful of hyposprays of various colors. He reaches to the shelf again and pulls out a thin blanket made out of silver plastic. He wraps Chirrut unmoving body in it with a care that seems out of place for a man of his size and wearing heavy armor.
“Come, Jyn Erso,” he waves for her and holds out another thermal blanket to her. “Time to mourn will be later. Now we care for our wounded.”
Jyn nods at that, and carefully eases herself from Cassian (and the moment she does, she can feel the cold of outer space setting in her bones). Together they manhandle Bodhi into sitting down since his presence at the controls is not necessary for now and Baze gently administers him a hypo of painkillers while Jyn starts applying gauzes with saline onto the burns on his face and hands, all the while as the young man chants quietly, I am the pilot, I am the pilot. Baze eyes him critically and reaches for a second hypospray, but Bodhi suddenly grasps his hand.
“No, save it,” he says. “I need to - I need to have my head about. For the landing. What if Yavin isn’t secure anymore, I need to - to think.”
Jyn and Baze exchange worried glances but together reach a conclusion that what Bodhi says makes sense; they really can’t afford to knock him into a stupor when he’s currently the only one with experience of landing a ship without crashing it and who is functioning. They scrape some bacta from the patches and apply it to what seems to be the worst of the burns, then wrap the thermal blanket around him and Baze procures a canteen of water from some other compartment. He opens it and pushes it into the pilot’s hands with a firm “drink up, Bodhi Rook.”
Jyn turns back to Cassian, who seems to be fighting sleep propped on the wall opposite them. Jyn pulls down his shirt on the right shoulder, wanting to inspect the damage left by the blaster bolt that shot him off the data tower. The fabric crumbles away, exposing a crater that bit out a good portion of skin and muscle, leaving the edges of the wound blackened and raw. It looks gruesome, but unlike his injured back, this is an injury they can do at least something about without a healer on board.
Baze kneels next to her with the hypos and, after a casual look at the wound, empties three of them into the captain before the other man has even the time to form a complaint. Then he reaches for Cassian’s wrist and feels for the pulse there; nodding, he gestures for Jyn to get going with the saline swabs and bacta while he cleans out his own blaster wounds on his hip and shoulder which luckily don’t seem that serious - one hypo of analgesics is all that he needs to soldier through it with minimal bother.
Then, as she’s applying a bacta patch to Cassian’s shoulder Jyn feels a sharp sting in her thigh and turns her head to see Baze with two more hypos - one already emptying into her flesh, the other ready for use. What shocks her more is seeing that her left trouser leg is soaked with what she assumes to be blood - curious, she thinks; she did feel that something has injured her thigh but didn’t remember to actually look at it, too preoccupied first with transmitting the plans, then keeping Cassian upright and moving, then seeing to others and in the meantime she got so used to the pain in her leg that she hardly registered it anymore.
“You’re losing a lot of blood, little sister,” Baze says in a low voice, but still it’s loud enough to jolt Cassian from his doze. He looks panicked. Baze continues, aiming to sound calmer than he really feels: “This is a serious wound, we need a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.”
Jyn blinks and looks around, searching for something that would serve such purpose, but Cassian stops them. “Here, take this,” he says and hastens to unbuckle his belt with one hand. Jyn pulls it free of the trouser loops, taking care not to tug at Cassian’s hips and jostle his mangled spine.
Baze takes the belt in his hands and after a brief scrutiny, he deems it sufficient enough for its new purpose. He wraps it twice around Jyn’s upper thigh, high enough above the injury to avoid tears in the blood vessels, and loops the loose end through the buckle.
“Hold it here,” he instructs her and starts tightening the belt. Jyn screws her face, and her breathing turns to gasps, but she doesn’t cry out loud. Cassian’s hand covers one of hers and Baze notices how their fingers immediately lace together but he chooses not to comment on that. Instead, he pulls the bantha-hide belt as tight around Jyn’s leg as he dares. He doesn’t want to kill off the blood supply altogether but her ankle, where he touches it under the trouser leg, is cold and she doesn’t react to the touch. Her limb is in danger as it is; if Baze has to choose between taking measures to save Jyn Erso’s life or her leg, he will gladly choose her life. And if that makes her angry, so be it - at least she’ll be alive to give him a piece of her mind later.
When he lets go of the tourniquet Jyn sighs deeply and leans into the ship hull. There are tears in her eyes that balance on her lower eyelashes. Baze pats her on her healthy knee and limps over to get her and the captain water to drink. Then he settles down next to Chirrut - still passed out, breathing weakly but regularly, same for his heartbeat - and closes his eyes. He keeps one hand on his companion’s chest to make sure he still breathes, and his keen ears are ready to pick on any sound coming from the others, should they need his assistance, yet it is time for him to allow himself to relax.
The flight to Yavin 4 is long, and Baze Malbus needs to have his strength by the end of it in case that more fight awaits them when they drop out of hyperspace.