Baze doesn’t like Jedha. Hot, surrounded by desolate land and characterized by desecration and lawlessness. The only thing anyone there can agree on is how much they hate living there – no one on Jedha is there by choice, but circumstances force their hand.
He’s told by some of his contractors that it actually used to be quite beautiful around these parts, back in the olden days, when the Jedi Temple was up and running and each city was an oasis in the desert. Now the Jedi are dead and each city has fallen into its own pitiful ruins.
Jedha is a terrible place to be, certainly, but work here pays tremendously well. Whether it be the Empire trying to oust some minor rebel or one of Saw Guerra’s freedom fighters wants to make a mess, they need someone of Baze’s specific skill set to get the job done, and Jedha is one of those rare neutral places where both sides can still meet.
He’s leaning by some large building, blaster armed and attachment secured on his back while he waits for his latest contractor to contact him when he sees him – a blind man, tapping his staff ahead of him as he walks along the streets of Jedha City. He comes over to where Baze is standing and slides down to the floor, back against the wall, legs folded under him with his staff hanging high.
Baze moves aside a little and does his best to pay no mind, when all of a sudden, the man speaks. “I’m going to die in your arms, you know.”
“Do you use that line on everyone you come across?” Baze asks.
“No,” the man replies with a smile. “Just you.”
Baze scoffs. “I’m sure you say that to everyone else too.” He turns his head away and tries to pay no more attention to the man but he keeps on talking to him.
“Most people don’t listen to me long enough for me to use any of my lines,” he says. “I don’t think they can recognize that I’m talking to them.”
“Maybe they ignore you because they don’t want to talk to you.” Baze hopes the hint is obvious but the man laughs.
“That is an excellent point,” he hums, turning his face to up at Baze. His eyes are a white blue. He holds out his hand. “Chirrut Îmwe.”
Baze’s first reaction is to try and ignore him again, but it’s much too late to try that approach. He takes his hand. “Baze Malbus.”
Chirrut nods slowly, hand still in his. “Your contact is waiting for you by the stand on your left. The job is different than what he’s already told you, but I suspect you’ll take it anyway.” He uses Baze’s hand to pull himself to his feet and smiles. “I hope you have a good day, Baze Malbus. I am sure we will meet again.”
Baze turns to the stand and, sure enough, there is the man who’d contacted him a few days ago regarding a job near the Outer Rim. “How did you –” he looks back but Chirrut is gone.
The job is different than what Baze had been told earlier – he has to go to two different planets instead of one, to find two different people – but it doesn’t seem terribly difficult and the pay is doubled so he takes it.
And then he wonders how that blind man had known.
After the job, Baze goes back to see if he can find Chirrut again, but to no avail. He’s not particularly worried about it, though – he did say they’d meet again.
And they do, though the gap is longer than he’d expected.
He’s finished up a job in Jedha City, helping some business owner take out his competition in a literal sense, and he’s exiting the shop when he hears a familiar voice.
“How exactly is your job different from that of a bounty hunter?”
He looks around and, a couple of feet away, sitting on some stairs, is Chirrut Îmwe. Baze walks over and leans against the wall. “How did you know who I was waiting for?”
“I asked you first,” Chirrut counters with a smirk.
Baze rolls his eyes. “Fine. Bounty hunters search for their work. My work searches for me.”
“That’s a strange way of putting it,” Chirrut says. He leans his head back. “The Force told me what you were looking for.”
“The Force,” Baze repeats. “You mean that mystical power those Jedi believed in?”
Well, what else would I expect from a blind old man? “I see,” Baze says skeptically. “So the Force told you all of that about my contact and me? And not some sensitive documents on my holopad?”
Chirrut scoffs. “How would I even use a holopad? I’m blind.”
“You could have gotten someone else to do it for you,” Baze replies.
“I’ve already told you, people don’t usually talk to me,” he says. “Except for you, that is.”
Baze sighs. “Who are you, even?”
Chirrut lifts himself up with his staff. “Buy me some dinner and I’ll tell you.”
“What is this, some sort of convoluted way of asking me for dinner?”
“Maybe,” Chirrut shrugs. “But you won’t find out unless you take me to dinner, now will you?”
He does have a point, Baze thinks, and they walk together in search of food.
It takes Baze several meals to figure out Chirrut Îmwe, and about the same amount to grow rather fond of him.
He’s got a sharp mouth, a quick wit, and a shit-eating grin whenever he manages to get under someone’s skin, but somehow it just makes Baze want to be around him more. He’s definitely not a terrible person, and somewhere along the line, they become friends.
Chirrut tells him about himself in slow installments – first he’s a monk, then he’s a monk at the temple, then he’s a monk at the former Jedi Temple in Jedha City, and so forth, until Baze gets the full picture: he’s a monk at the former Jedi Temple in Jedha City charged with protecting it from outsiders. There are three others with him, living at the Temple, and that’s what they do.
“What is that you’re protecting?” Baze asks him.
Chirrut laughs in response and orders another plate of food.
He’s a very religious man, Baze quickly learns. Sometimes, while they’re standing around together while Baze searches for his contact, Chirrut mumbles under his breath, “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.” Baze doesn’t ask him about it and Chirrut doesn’t talk about it, but it’s a comforting feeling, listening to his voice, even though he himself doesn’t think much of the Force.
“I made an impossible shot today,” Baze says after one of his jobs.
“The Force must have helped you,” Chirrut replies with a hum.
“Or, I’m an incredible shooter.”
“Agree to disagree.”
Baze rolls his eyes and can’t resist a fond smile.
He comes back from another job and finds Chirrut waiting for him, both hands around his staff while he whispers his prayer to himself. Baze is reluctant to disturb him when Chirrut looks up and practically rushes over.
“Baze,” he says, “Baze, I must ask something of you.”
“What is it?” Baze asks. Chirrut doesn’t look as confident, as peaceful as he usually does, and there’s a sharp pain in his chest when he thinks about it.
“The Empire is coming to Jedha.”
Baze can’t help but scoff. “Why would the Empire come to Jedha? There’s nothing here for anyone.”
“Yes, there is,” he replies. He takes a deep breath and tells him, un urgent whispers, about the kyber crystals located in the inner sanctums of the Temple and how the Empire is coming for them and how they won’t be able to hold them off on their own.
“I wish I didn’t have to ask this of you,” Chirrut says breathlessly, “but I have no other choice.”
Baze puts his hands on Chirrut’s shoulders and gives them a gentle squeeze. “Chirrut, you are my friend. Of course I’m going to help you.”
Chirrut smiles for a brief moment, and that is enough to cement Baze’s resolve.
They plan out their strategy well – Baze will be in the upper levels, sniping down on troopers, while the monks work along the main level. He’s seen the monks fight before, when some fool tries to rob the Temple, and he knows they can handle their own. But Stormtroopers are nothing to trifle with, and he knows they must be prepared.
The Star Destroyer comes to Jedha City a day after Chirrut tells him it will, looming over like a harbinger of destruction, and Baze prepares his gun and heads to the Temple.
Four hours. That’s how long it takes until it’s just him and Chirrut, the last line of defense, pushed up into the inner chambers of the Temple, just a few short steps away from the crystals. They barricaded the door with everything they could, but Baze knows it won’t be enough.
They’ll break through soon enough.
Chirrut is crouched by the floor, staff in hand and he prays. Each word sounds as loud as each bang from the door. Baze goes to crouch beside him. “You were right,” he says quietly.
“About what?” Chirrut asks.
“I guess you are going to die in my arms,” Baze says. He smiles with no humor, but full warmth, and puts his hand on Chirrut’s back.
Chirrut smiles too. “We’re not going to die here,” he whispers, and before Baze can respond, he leans forward and kisses him. Despite what he’d said, Chirrut kisses him like they’re about to die, and Baze kisses back the same way.
They pull apart right before the largest blast, and they stand as the dust clears. Chirrut drops his staff and Baze sets down his blaster and they.
They aren’t killed. The general in charge – Orson Krennic, Baze soon learns – decides to spare them in order to show what happens to those who comply with the demands of the Empire.
Chirrut doesn’t speak for days after the surrender, aside from the whispering prayers in the night. Baze stops taking jobs and stays with him.
One night, when they both can’t sleep, and Chirrut has his head resting on Baze’s chest, still quiet, Baze sighs. “It’s a small consolation, then, that we’re still alive to die in each other’s arms another day.”
“I suppose it is,” Chirrut replies quietly.
“If I have to have anyone die in my arms,” Baze says, “I’m glad it will be you.” He pauses a moment. “I hope the day never comes.”
“But come it will,” Chirrut says. He leans up to kiss him, and they lie side by side, waiting for the sun to rise.