Sand rough on her cheek and Cassian embraced and embracing her, Jyn looks to the disappearing horizon and thinks, The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is strong with me, I am–
Jyn wakes up in her Wobani prison cell, panting and a scream dying in her throat. She startles to sitting, her breathing too loud, her blood rushing in her ears, the air suffocating her, everything–
Everything goes silent.
A drop of water hits cloth.
She turns. On her pathetic excuse for a pillow is a dark patch from a single drop of water. Had she not moved, it would have fallen on her forehead.
She remembers wiping it off her forehead…
She dreamt wiping it off her forehead.
It happens often enough, there is no significance.
She was trained out of night terrors when she was a child. Memory fragments, those still slip through. This… This was…
It doesn’t matter. She forces herself to have it not matter.
The transport to the farms is bumpy as it always is. The Imperial Army has better things to invest in than prisoner transport tanks, and Jyn feels every lurch in the chafing of shackles against her wrists. Another day, this is just another day.
The transport stops.
Jyn has a bad feeling about this.
The door blasts open.
Three Rebel soldiers make their way into the transport.
Jyn stares as one of them makes his way to her. When he asks – he asks again – if she wants to get out of here, she nods. She watches as he moves towards her shackles. She had a small window of time to attack him and the two others. The Imperial droid had been a surprise, but she could avoid him this time, ducking down lower and running the opposite direction. Her shackles fall off. Does she fight her way out? Again? Or does she go quietly this time?
She goes quietly.
Yavin 4 is as humid as it had been in her dream. Her vision. Her precognition. Her… she doesn’t know what it is.
“A chance for you to make a fresh start,” Mon Mothma proclaims.
It makes Jyn’s breath catch in her throat. Are you doing this? she wonders. She nearly asks, too. She needs to know who is doing this – needs to ask them to stop. Her heart aches too much. The accusation of who she is, of who she is daughtered to, they’ve stung just as much the second time around. Perhaps more, now, for Cassian is being introduced, and he has his arms crossed as he stares down at her.
Jyn meets his stare. You died in my arms, she thinks, and the ache worsens.
“When was the last time you were in contact with your father?” he asks.
Her father died in her arms what feels like scarcely a day ago. She wants to deny everything that’s happened, everything that could happen, but the weight of him in her lap, the feather press of his fingers against her cheek, it’s too real. It’s…
“It’s just a simple question,” he says.
She swallows, and says through grit teeth, “I fled our home in Lah'mu when I was a child.”
“Any idea what he’s been up to all that time?”
I like to think he’s dead, she had said last time, and at that – at that she snaps, pushing herself out of the chair. She needs to get out of here. This isn’t her fight, this has never been her fight, the Alliance has only brought her–
Cassian blocks her escape attempt, deflects her hits, and shoves her back down into the chair.
Her heart is racing. Too many eyes on her. No backup plan, no backup potential. “He’s with the Imperial Army,” she says, and it’s hollow.
He’s with the Imperial Army, has been since she was a child, has been secretly trying to find a way to sabotage the weapon he was made to design.
He’s with the Imperial Army, at a base on Eadu.
He’s with the Imperial Army…
… and he’s still alive.
And maybe Jyn was given this second chance to save him. She focuses herself. To get to Eadu, she needs to be taken to Jedha. She needs to give Cassian a reason to take her there. A deep breath in, then out, and she looks up at Cassian, then dutifully recites her line about the luxury of political opinions.
The shade of concern and compassion fade from Cassian’s face, and he asks about Saw Gerrera. Cold and impersonal, he follows the script of his previous interrogation beat for beat.
Beat for beat, along with the beat of her heart, the scene plays out, until they’re on the U-Wing and K-2SO is asking why Jyn gets a blaster and he doesn’t.
Jyn knows how to use it, and that’s what Cassian is afraid of.
Trust goes both ways, she thinks. And maybe this time she should act like it. She moves slowly, twirling the blaster so the grip is extended to Cassian. “Jedha is a war-zone. I want this back when we land.”
It’s not until they’re in the press of the city does Cassian slide the blaster into her hand, saying, “Please don’t kill me.”
“I’m not going to dignify that with a reply,” she says. She needs to stay the person Cassian expects her to be. And more than that, Jedha was bustling last time, but last time it was a threat – now, this time, it’s a bustle of bodies that are to be corpses in the next few hours, and it presses against her differently.
It distracts her, and Cassian is distrustful as he leaves for his contact.
“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”
Sand rough against her cheek–
“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”
Heat lashes against her skin and it’s too bright to see–
“The Force is with me, I am…”
She is going to die, and she’s done what she could, but had she done enough – she hadn’t, she knows she hadn’t – death is approaching and she wants to scream–
“That is a very pretty necklace.”
Jyn turns to Chirrut, heart pounding. How does he know she’s wearing a necklace? He hadn’t answered last time – offered her the answer for a price, but Cassian had whisked her away. Her throat is raw, and she doesn’t know if she can speak.
“Would you trade that necklace for a glimpse into your future?”
Cold seeps down her spine despite the late afternoon heat. “Are you doing this?” she asks, scarcely a whisper.
“That is not the question you asked last time.”
She’s over to him in three long strides, garnering Baze’s suspicion.
Chirrut waves him off.
“Are you doing this?” she repeats, and it’s a hiss this time. Adrenaline is coursing through her body, she’s afraid and she doesn’t know why. “Why?” she asks.
Chirrut doesn’t reply, only strums his fingers along his cane. He’s waiting.
“Why?” she repeats.
There’s a warm humor to his smile. “That is not the question you should be asking.”
What question, what question– Her body goes cold. “What do you know of kyber crystals?”
His smile widens, and he nods.
She startles at her name, whirling on her heel.
Cassian is waiting. “Come on,” he says, voice low. He takes three strides to her, and wraps his hand around her elbow, starting down the street. “We’re not here to make friends.”
She digs her heels in. “I need to–” She cuts herself off at his stare.
“We don’t have time for tourism, or pilgrims. Jyn, this place is about to blow, we need to get out of here.”
Jyn needs to know what Chirrut knows. But there’s no way to tell Cassian this, and he’s right, any minute the grenades will start raining down. There’s a young girl who may die if Jyn doesn’t return her to her mother.
She goes with Cassian.
Chirrut will find her.
“Let them pass in peace!”
Jyn is more relieved to see him than she had been last time. And far less worried for his safety.
“I fear nothing,” he declares, “for all is as the Force wills it.”
Jyn is hyper-aware of the kyber crystal against her skin. She had disregarded his words before, but as Chirrut takes down the unit of Stormtroopers, she wonders, Is this the Force’s will?
Baze arrives, finishes off the second wave of Stormtroopers.
This time it’s Cassian who asks, disbelieving, if Chirrut is a Jedi.
Jyn wants to yell at him to be quiet, she doesn’t have time for Baze to dismiss Chirrut as a dreamer, she needs to talk to Chirrut before–
Saw’s rebels surround them.
Jyn spends the journey to Saw’s hideout preparing herself. Not for a confrontation honed by so many years of daydreams. She had not seen him die, but she had seen the warp of the land and known he was dead. The sixteen year old inside her is still so angry at him, and is at war with the overwhelming relief of seeing him alive, him being alive.
Her first thought had been that she could save her father – perhaps she can save Saw too.
Jyn is alone in a room for six seconds before she hears the metallic clank of his approach.
She turns to face him.
Tears water in her eyes.
“Is it really you?” he asks. “I don’t believe it…”
Neither does Jyn. Not really.
He frowns at her quiet. “Are we not still friends?”
It draws an ugly laugh out of her, and she shakes her head. “Whatever we were, Saw, we were never friends.” She straightens herself up. “But there’s no time for that – we need to get you out of here, everyone here is in trouble.”
“I do not run from trouble.”
“The Empire has a planet-destroyer–”
“The Alliance has told you so?” he asks. His expression is wary and assessing.
It feels like the trap he thought she had set for him. She takes care with her words as she says, “Yes, I was sent here by the Alliance. One of the intelligence officers heard about Bodhi’s defection and the secret of the planet-destroyer, and that Bodhi sought you out–”
“So that I may seek you out. The defector brought me a transmission. I must show you something.”
“You can show it to me once we’re off this forsaken moon–”
“I am not leaving," he says, resolve steadfast. "Jyn, I have a message from your father. It’s urgent. You must see it.”
She can’t bring herself to keep arguing.
Tears sting in her eyes as she gazes up at the image of her father. She memorized every word of his message the first time around. This time… this time, she just gets to watch her father confess his love for her.
The transmission cuts off as the Death Star fires on Jedha.
She needs to take the holochip.
But if she does… if she does, they may not need to extract her father, and General Draven may still send a squadron to assassinate him.
She instead turns her focus to Saw. “Come with us,” she says.
“There is no more I can do,” he tells her.
“You’re Saw Gerrera, you can–”
“I can stand and face my death, and I will.”
She stares up at him until Cassian comes to drag her away.
“Save the Rebellion!” Saw yells after her. “Save the dream!”
I want to save you, she can’t yell back.
Cassian is calling K2 for an extraction. Soon, Jyn joins Cassian, Chirrut, Baze and Bodhi on the U-Wing.
Outside, the land warps in the aftermath of the attack.
Everyone in the Holy City dies.
The little girl that Jyn was so desperate to save dies.
Cassian is in disbelief that she didn’t get the holochip. Too much was going on, she explains, hoping he’ll take her being unable to meet his eyes as shame, not deception. She muddles her way through the rest of arguing about transmissions, about what can and cannot be sent. He retreats up to the cockpit with K2 and Bodhi.
Leaving Jyn in the cargo hold with Chirrut and Baze. One who will take her questions, the other who will ask none of his own.
"What...?" Jyn starts, before she realizes she doesn't know where to begin asking her questions.
Chirrut hums, and nods his head.
Nods his head like he’s answering her. He’s not, not enough for her.
She moves in closer, lowers her voice. "This... this has all happened before? Right? Or was it some sort of... premonition?"
"Premonitions are solitary creatures, they go to one person and one person only."
"So it all happened," she says, prompting for an affirmative answer. When he doesn't take the bait, she asks, "But it's happening again? It’s…"
"All is as the Force wills it."
Jyn hangs her head, and lets out a shaky sigh. She’s being pulled in so many different directions – determination to save her father. Grief for Saw. Torn between the fear of repeating past mistakes and the fear of what lies ahead.
"You are seeking for the wrong answers."
What question, she idly wonders, before repeating, "What do you know of kyber crystals?"
It gets another smile from him. His face brightens and he looks younger, almost carefree.
Jyn continues, "They say the strongest stars have hearts of kyber." It's something familiar, almost– like it was told to her once upon a time, long ago, when she was a little girl. She hadn't understood it then, she does not understand it now. "What does that mean?"
He reaches out.
She takes his hand.
He encloses her hand in both of his. "You, my child, are seeking for the wrong answers."
“What should I be asking? What’s the right question?”
He shakes his head.
Jyn lets out a noise of annoyance, and storms off to the cockpit.
Jyn searches her memory for the moment they clip the ledge, so they can land safely – and with their communications system intact – but she’s too late.
Cassian insists it's just a scouting mission.
Jyn looks down at his blaster.
"I'll come with you," Jyn offers.
"No,” he says, shaking his head. “You're the messenger. We need you safe. And we’re in hostile territory, we need to go as few as we can."
And then he and Bodhi are gone.
Jyn stares after him, the rain quickly obscuring his figure.
“You know your path,” Chirrut announces.
Jyn turns to him.
"And you two know each other?" Baze asks, looking between Jyn and Chirrut.
"It is as I said, we are good friends, we have met before."
Baze looks back to Jyn. Hoping for a sensible answer, no doubt.
"I'd tell you..." Jyn starts, slowly, "but I don't think you would believe me."
"Pay it no mind, he did not believe me either."
"You already told him?"
"Yes. And he was hoping for another answer. All these years, and he doubts me still. It bothers him, because he knows it is true."
Baze rolls his eyes.
"It's true," Jyn echoes. "Everything that's happened... it's happened once before."
"And that once before ended."
Jyn nods. "I–" She died, she supposes. But she woke up after, and so she never thought of it like that. But the end came, and she died, her and Cassian on the Scarif beach.
And it occurs to her – Chirrut and Baze must have died, as well as the rest of Rogue One. There's only the scarcest chance that they could have been picked up by a Rebel ship, searching for survivors once the shield was down and the transmission was received, but it's an empty hope. She stares at them, stares at Chirrut, and she knows the truth. She knows he knows the truth.
"So you have another chance," Baze continues. "To not die."
"For us all to not die." Cassian has left to kill her father, purposefully alone and with his blaster in the sniper configuration, and her anger stirs – but even so, she doesn't want him to die. Not again. He died in her arms, and she died in his.
She can save herself, and she can save him.
“Your path is clear,” Chirrut murmurs.
Jyn grabs a rain jacket. “It is. I’m going to save my father."
She doesn’t save her father.
This time when Cassian comes to retrieve her, she is sobbing. Her father is half onto her lap, half cradled in her embrace. “Jyn,” he says against her temple, his body wrapping around her as he pries her paralyzed fingers off her father’s body – dead body – and pulls her up and away. “We need to go.”
Her father’s body slumps to the ground, and Jyn screams.
“We need to go,” he repeats, firmer, and he’s apologizing into her hair as he drags her away.
She’s in shock.
And possibly still crying. Her face is still wet from her tears or the rain or them both. Her hands are tingling uncomfortably and her fingers are unresponsive.
Her clothes are drenched, the weight of her shirts pressing down against the kyber crystal. It burns against her skin. She was brought back – or shown a premonition – or given a vision – something happened, Chirrut’s knowledge means she can’t deny it.
Can’t deny she was given a second chance.
But her father died.
Cassian explains the full situation to the others. Explains Jyn’s loss, that she’s in shock.
She’s in shock and she’s cold and she can’t bring herself to reprise her argument with Cassian.
They return to Yavin 4. Jyn, Chirrut, nor Baze have a change of clothes, and are given spares while their own dry. They’ve given temporary quarters. They’re given time before the briefing.
Jyn sits in the silence of the room for what feels like a very long time. She feels like herself as much as she looks like herself, which, in Mon Mothma's borrowed white tunic and pants, is very little. Her kyber crystal is the only familiar weight.
She finds Chirrut in a room given to him and Baze.
His expression goes somber as he senses her approach. He braces himself against his cane to stand up, and he walks over to her. He pulls her into his arms, and holds her.
She thought she shed all possible tears on Eadu, but she finds herself crying against his shoulder all the same. "I don't understand what's going on," she says, her breathing unsteady with tears. "Why is this happening?" Why is this happening to me?
He pats her on the back. His hands are firm and strong and gentle all at once. "I am sorry," he says, "for your loss."
A fresh well of tears makes it impossible to speak for a few minutes, and she just shakes in his arms. Finally she takes a deep breath in, and asks, “What do we do now?”
“Now there is a question worth seeking the answer to.” He pulls back, places his hands on her cheeks. He’s blind, but she knows he sees her, perhaps better than anyone ever has. “We do all we can.”
“Jyn, it’s– oh.”
She blinks a few times, and turns to see Cassian in the doorway.
He doesn’t meet her gaze. “Sorry to interrupt, but K2’s heard from the cleaning droids that your clothes are dried. The briefing is in a few minutes. I’ll see you down there.”
The briefing does not go any better the second time around.
“You don’t look happy,” Baze remarks.
The clash between disappointment and anticipation makes her voice hard as she says, “They prefer to surrender.”
Chirrut answers for her. “She wants to fight.”
“So do I,” Bodhi adds.
Jyn waits a few hammering heartbeats, then says, “I’m not sure four of us is quite enough.”
Baze looks beyond her as he asks, “How many do you need?”
She turns around. The anticipation is replaced by relief. She has never been this glad to see Cassian.
And this stays the same. Cassian’s belief in her. His speech and sins and confession. The dozen volunteers. The slow burn of pride deep as Jyn takes it all in. Another chance.
Behind her, Bodhi remarks, “It’ll be a bit cramped.”
The Alliance isn’t her home, she hasn’t had a home in years, and thought of the promise when death may soon take it away leaves her aching. But it would hurt worse to say nothing. Jyn looks up at Cassian and tells him, “I’m not used to people sticking around when things go bad.”
It aches. Maybe, this time, just maybe…
“What’s your call sign?”
Bodhi looks panicked. He looks at Jyn, frantic, then says, “Rogue.”
He looks back at Jyn.
After a moment, she holds up two fingers.
“Rogue Two.” He nods to himself, then to K2. “Rogue Two, pulling away!”
She looks around at the cargo hold, remembers her courage and remembers her words.
“Saw Gerrera used to say, one fighter with a sharp stick and nothing left to lose can take the day. They have no idea we’re coming. They have no reason to expect us. If we can make it to the ground, we’ll take the next chance. And the next. On and on until we win or the chances are spent.”
It’s true, now, more so than ever.
The Empire has no idea the Rebellion is coming, and they have no way to expect that Jyn has done this before. The first time laid the groundwork, and Jyn’s taken this next chance. And she’ll take the next – if she’s given one. There’s no way to know if her chances are spent.
She’ll just have to keep trying.
She tries, but it’s not enough – there are too few ways to gain time once they’ve landed. Time is needed for the inspection team to arrive and be replaced. Inside the Citadel, K2 needs time to get the information from another imperial droid, and time is needed for the Rebels to fan out and cast their diversion.
Once she and Cassian are inside the vault, she tells K2, “See if there are any files named ‘Stardust.’”
Cassian looks at her curiously.
“It’s what my father called me.”
His expression goes soft, before his gaze is drawn away.
Jyn turns, catching sight of the green blinking light. While Cassian starts maneuvering for it, she finds the other potential time-save. “K2, would it be faster to reach the transmitter going through the Citadel, or just climbing up here?”
“One moment while I make the calculation,” he replies. In the background, there’s the sound of blaster fire. “I do believe that climbing would be a better option.”
The vault door bolts closed.
“K2?” Cassian asks, concern bleeding into his voice.
“Get out of there,” Jyn tells him. “You’ve done your part, now make your way back to the ship.”
“Valiant as that is, Jyn,” K2 says, “and as much as I appreciate it… I think it would be best were I to stay here and stand guard.”
“Thank you, K2,” Cassian says, quietly.
Amid more blaster fire, K2 replies, “You are very welcome, Cassian.”
Jyn and Cassian share a silent moment.
Cassian starts ripping off his Imperial uniform with shaking hands. His hat is thrown across the room. His shirt back towards the door.
Jyn hopes it’s the last time he’ll ever have to wear that uniform. She looks away, to give him his modesty, and to blast open the windows.
Some things change, some things don’t.
Jyn and Cassian arrive at the top of the Citadel.
The antenna isn’t aligned.
Cassian goes to fix it.
A TIE-fighter shoots him on his way back.
His death is more sour for the sooner it is, but Jyn can do nothing for him. She only waits for the shield to go down.
They rehash their prior argument.
Cassian has enough strength to shoot Krennic.
The shield goes down, and Jyn starts sending the file. She runs towards Cassian, pulling him up and propping him up.
The file sends in its entirety.
“D’you think anyone is listening?”
She nods. “I do. Someone’s out there.”
He nods back. “Good.”
She maneuvers them into the turbolift, hits for them to be taken down to the ground level.
It’s dark inside the turbolift.
Jyn feels herself fading.
Can feel Cassian fading across from her.
He cups her cheek, and presses his forehead against hers.
They share air, as they will soon share the strength to wait for their demise.
Sand rough on her cheek and Cassian embraced and embracing her, Jyn looks to the disappearing horizon and thinks, The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. Heat lashes against her skin and it’s too bright to see. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. She is going to die, and she’s done what she could, but she can do more. This next chance, and the next. The Force is strong with me, I am –