The horizon flared, sending shockwaves through the planet-wide ocean of Scarif. Jyn felt her legs finally give out, Cassian collapsing beside her like a broken limb, attached and yet incapable of holding them up. She wished she could be numb, to uncouple herself from the oncoming rush of death, from the fear, the endless cycle of thoughts that threatened to drown her before the deadly wall of light ever did.
What if we failed what if the message never got out and this was all for nothing…
Regardless, her body remained sentient, struggling desperately in these final moments to push blood through her veins faster, as though her heart were trying to squeeze as many beats into one as it could, live out the last seconds as though they were the hours and years she’d never have. She was acutely aware of Cassian next to her, could almost hear the blood pulsing through his veins just as forcefully. They were both fighters, both incapable of letting go and giving up even with the fight so surely over. She was glad to have him there, in those final moments, even though it meant that both of them would soon be stardust.
“Your father would have been proud of you, Jyn.”
She looked at Cassian’s smiling face and felt her fear dissipate as she reached out to place her smaller hand in his. It was like taking a warm sip of her mother’s tea on a cold night at the farm, the way the heat began in her heart and inched through to the tips of her fingers and finally made her smile. The brightness on the horizon now seemed like a spectacular sunrise, the dawn of a new age where the Empire didn’t seem so powerful and dark, where her father’s gentle face and caring hands would carry her around in a home that would never need abandoning.
Somehow, they managed to get to their feet. Cassian embraced Jyn with a fervent something that seemed all-consuming in this hyper-state of life that they both now experienced, facing away from the brilliant light and burying his face in her shoulder, but Jyn stared straight at it, suddenly fascinated by the sheer beauty of such tantamount destruction. It danced before her eyes as Cassian sighed into her skin and she could feel her body become lighter and lighter as the glaring wall approached—
—and suddenly darkness and sound, unfamiliar and definitely out of place supplanted it. She gasped, the only constant in her utter disorientation being Cassian’s grip around her torso, his breath still mingling with her shoulder as he jolted through the transition, sensing rather than seeing that something was wrong.
“Jyn, Cassian! What in the Galaxy’s name just happened here?”
Her vision came into focus, the glare of the wall of fire she’d been staring at replaced suddenly by much dimmer, electrical lighting with glass and metal surroundings. Cassian’s grip on her relaxed (but only slightly) as he lifted his head and she saw a look of confusion and wonder on his face.
“If this is the Afterlife then it sure is a strange one.” he muttered, his gaze wandering around the room they were in before landing on her face “You’re here, Jyn.”
She could only stare. Before her mind could catch up with what was happening, her eyes caught movement over Cassian's shoulder, where a commotion appeared to be happening behind a glass wall. A man in a bright red uniform threw open a door and almost fell over in his rush to get to them before straightening up and catching each of their arms in a tight grip. He had a kind face which was twisted with worry and a light mop of hair gracing his head. Jyn noticed his red shirt had a strange insignia on the left side, not one that she could recognise.
“Oh thank goodness you two are alright! Something strange happened during the beaming and there was a bright flash of light and the walls of the transporter beam shook something awful! We were worried it had malfunctioned and that it may have scrambled yer signals and, er, what in heaven’s name are you wearing?”
Before either of them could even contemplate the question, they were suddenly joined by another man, this time in a bright yellow uniform with the same insignia on his chest. His breathing was ragged as though he’d run there from a good distance and he placed a hand on the first man’s shoulder with the same confusion apparent on his face as he appraised the two Rebels. He looked younger, with bright blue eyes that reminded Jyn of her own and Cassian’s, eyes that had seen far too much far too early.
“Erso, Andor, what happened during the beam-up?”
Jyn felt that she probably looked as bewildered as she felt. She looked to Cassian, who didn’t seem to be faring any better. He shrugged helplessly, but she could see the stiff set in his shoulders.
“What is this place?” she asked. “What happened on Scarif?”
The man in yellow narrowed his eyes.
“What are you—“
Before he could finish his sentence, Cassian groaned and slumped down on the ground. Jyn crouched down beside him, being careful with her own injured leg which suddenly made itself known after the initial shock wore off. She helped him up into a position on her lap, trying to assess his injuries before she felt a gentle touch on her arm.
“It’s alright lassie, let us help him to the medbay, there’s nothing you can do fer him or yerself here.”
She looked up at the red-shirted man suspiciously, but the ragged breathing of her companion made her grudgingly release her hold on him, allowing the two strangers to help Cassian up to his feet. The yellow-shirt turned to her and she could see wariness mixed in with copious worry in his eyes as he noticed her leg.
At that moment, a number of other strangely dressed humanoids marched into the room and yellow-shirt motioned towards her, instructing her to be helped to their medbay. She considered her options, deciding finally to cooperate, as the people did not seem hostile and as far as she knew, had not shown any ill-intent towards herself or Cassian.
She was helped up by a blue-skinned stranger in a blue uniform and he supported her in limping after Cassian and the others. Her eyes flitted around the long, clean corridors they were being led through as she could not help but let the curiosity and suspicion consume her. Now that the initial shock had died down, she began to truly wonder what had happened on Scarif, to Chirrut and Baze and Bodhi and the rest of Rogue One. Surely this could not be the afterlife. Both her and Cassian were still injured and the surroundings didn’t exactly yell ‘Eternal Place of Rest’. Did the rest of the crew end up here too? And why was it that these people seemed to know her name and yet she knew nothing of them?
She wondered for the hundredth time about the Death Star plans and prayed to the Force that they be delivered to the Rebellion. She prayed for Chirrut and Baze and Bodhi and K2-SO. More than anything, she prayed that she should not be separated from Cassian, for he was the one familiar face in this sea of uncertainty and confusion.
And Jyn did not just pray- she planned. She committed to memory the route that they were taken on, the exact floor that was pressed in the elevator, the signs and symbols throughout the building. She noticed that everyone wore the same uniform in three colours: blue, red and a very occasional yellow. There did not seem to be soldiers around, but she did notice a few people carrying what appeared to be blasters, so they were not altogether peaceful. Those that they passed along the corridors eyed her and Cassian with a mix of surprise and worry, although the strangest occurrence was the few people that seemed to notice them and wave. As though they were familiar with her!
Finally, when the pain in her leg was beginning to reach unbearable levels and she was sure Cassian was about to lose consciousness entirely, they reached what could only be considered the medbay. She was dismayed at the lack of bacta tanks and then further disconcerted by the lack of pretty much anything she could recognise from a standard medbay. They were met immediately by a loud and seemingly very angry man.
“What’s the matter with you Jim? You made them walk all the way to the medbay from the transporter room without bothering to get stretchers? And where the hell’ve Erso and Andor been anyway, to end up in this state? Here, get’em into the beds, stat! Chapel, get the tricorders and some A-grade pain-killers, Mr. Andor here looks like the first thing his body needs is a good rest and some food. I swear I don’t remember either of them being this skinny during their last medical.”
She felt herself being led, very gently, to one of the beds in the room. It was so much softer than anything she remembered sleeping in for many years and it was blissful to get the weight off her injured leg. She was exhausted, but the adrenaline helped keep her awake for which she could only be grateful, because no matter how comfortable these strangers seemed with her, she wouldn’t trust them as far as she could throw them until she would understand where they were and what had happened.
“I don’t know, Bones. They were down on Jalta 5, scouting out the city with other officers before we’d send an official landing party to greet the Government, but while the others beamed back fine, there seemed to be some strange interference during Erso and Andor’s beam and suddenly here they were, injured, tired and seemingly not aware of who or where they are.” The yellow-shirted man sighed an rubbed his face. “I don’t wanna jinx this but it reminds me of that Mirror Universe incident a year ago. If these guys are from that hellhole, who knows what havoc they could wreak here if we don’t watch them.”
“Well they ain’t wreaking any havoc in this state, that’s for sure. And they ain’t wearing no loony sash and carrying daggers around like it was Christmas, so I think we’re safe.”
The angry man known as Bones strode purposefully to Jyn’s bed and lowered some sort of bleeping device over her leg. She sat up, making a grab for the doctor’s arm but was caught by the yellow-shirt man (Jim?) before she could. He gave her a serious look before nodding to Bones, who continued slowly waving the device over her body without ever touching it.
“Officer Erso, I understand that you’re disoriented, but Dr. McCoy here means you no harm. You and Mr. Andor are in need of serious medical attention and I swear on my life you’ll not get hurt while you’re on my ship.”
She was taken aback by the concern in his voice and decided to obey, allowing the doctor to continue uninterrupted. She looked over to Cassian who was being tended to by the nurse and another medic. His eyes were closed but his chest heaved with heavy breaths and she clenched her teeth, wishing for the thousandth time to feel less helpless.
“Relax, kiddo, he’ll be fine.” said Bones as he stared at the device in his hands. He then brought it up to her face and she grimaced at the unwelcome closeness. “Tell me, how much do you remember about what happened?”
She wondered about what to tell them. How much did they know? There had been no sign of anything Empire or Resistance related in the short timespan since she’d appeared on what was, apparently, Jim’s starship. Did they know about the Death Star? Were they in league with the Empire or the Rebellion or some other faction? She immediately decided against telling them about their mission on Scarif, because she couldn’t risk even the smallest chance of the information getting to the Empire. She did not want to share the fact that her and Cassian were from the Resistance either and although they obviously knew her name already, she’d keep quiet about her father.
“I don’t really know. We were caught in a battle planetside and got injured. Before we knew what was happening, there was a mass explosion the likes of which I’ve never seen somewhere in the distance. The last thing I remember is the two of us watching the shockwave approaching with no escape. We thought we were dead.”
“And what do you remember from before then?” Jim asked, his brow furrowing.
“We’re nothing but travellers, scavengers. We do not align ourselves with anyone. We just happened to be caught in a battle. It was probably the Empire and the Rebels, but we don’t usually concern ourselves with these things until a blaster shot comes our way.”
There, she hoped that the story would hold up at least until they got healed well enough to escape if things went South. She wanted to ask the man about their involvement in her and Cassian’s insane survival, but she was wary of revealing more than she wanted to.
“Empire? Rebels? The Jyn and Cassian I know both have homes on planets and families that wait for them to come back during their time off. Either you two have lost your memories or…”
At this Jim pulled out what she could guess was a communicator of some sort and spoke into it: Commander Spock, Lieutenant Uhura please report to the medbay.
“… Or you could be from a Mirror Universe, a parallel like the one we visited. But our experience with parallel Universes is far more limited than I’d like and I still have no way of knowing you’re not just a really good impostor with a terrible backstory. Jalta 5 isn’t exactly Federation-friendly.”
Jyn’s mind was still in shock at the word families. She tried desperately to understand what the Captain of her new prison had said to her but the weariness and pain were nearing breaking point. She glanced worriedly again to Cassian, who seemed to be breathing a lot more calmly now and tried to reassure herself that Jim had promised not to harm them and that was the best she could hope for. Besides, she could still fight her way out if need be, she was still aware of her surroundings and she could probably make it to a blaster before-
She heard a small hiss and felt a sting in her arm. She looked up at the apologetic face of Bones as he pulled away a syringe-like object and cleaned it. She wanted to cry out but she was feeling far too drowsy, sinking slowly into a blissful oblivion, her muscles lax.
“I’m sorry but you two need your sleep and Jim needs to know the ship is safe with you aboard. I promise to take care of you and your boyfriend over there, I swear on my honour as a doctor. Now get some rest and heal up, Ms. Erso.”
She fought it to the end, but she had never encountered a drug this potent. Her last thoughts went to Rogue One, to the poor souls lost on Scarif and to the last embrace she’d had in a world where everything made sense.
Please, Cassian. Please be there when I wake up.