He slept soundly, too exhausted even to dream. When he woke, it was to Chirrut practicing his forms in the small space at the end of the bed. Bodhi watched as Chirrut flowed from one stance to another without pause, lips moving soundlessly as he placed each foot with precision.
“Welcome back,” Baze said from beside him.
Bodhi started and glanced over. Baze was propped against the headboard at an angle to protect his shoulder, linen bandages wrapped around his shirtless torso. His eyes were alert, although there was an edge of pain to them, and Bodhi sat up.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
Baze lifted his good shoulder. “Better than I expected, from what Chirrut told me about my injuries.”
“The Force healed you,” Chirrut said without stopping.
Baze made a rude noise and Chirrut’s lips curved.
Bodhi stood and sidled around Chirrut to slip into the bathroom. His ribs were sore, but marginally better than the day before, he decided. When he was done, he came back out to Chirrut sitting on the bed beside Baze. One of Baze’s big hands was resting on Chirrut’s bare stomach, thumb moving in absent circles as the two spoke quietly.
Chirrut lifted his head when Bodhi appeared. “Are you hungry?”
Bodhi’s stomach growled and Baze huffed a laugh.
“Chirrut says he smelled dumplings last night. Do you feel up to scouting for them?”
“Of course,” Bodhi said. He scooped his still-damp jumpsuit off the floor and stepped into it, grimacing as the clammy fabric stuck to his skin.
“Keep your head down and your ears open,” Chirrut said. “We need to know what’s happening out there, if there’s a manhunt going on, if the others have been captured.”
Bodhi nodded, firming his jaw, and dragged his boots on.
Baze was watching him when he straightened. “If anything seems the least bit off, come back immediately. We don’t want to risk losing you too.”
“What about the others?” Bodhi asked. He shoved his hands in his pockets to hide their trembling. “Can we get in touch with them? How do we know they weren’t taken?”
“We don’t,” Chirrut said. “But Cassian is the best at what he does, and Kaytoo is an Imperial droid. Remember, all is as the Force wills it. Our friends will be safe.”
“But how will we find them? How will they know we’re okay? How—” Bodhi snapped his mouth shut as Chirrut stood.
“Trust the Force,” Chirrut said. He stepped around the bed and gripped Bodhi’s shoulders. “We are safe, we have to trust that they are too. We will find them. Now go.”
Bodhi went, easing the door shut behind him. The inn was stirring with life, its inhabitants rising for the day. Gray light spilled through the grimy windows as Bodhi went down the stairs, struggling to look relaxed and not like a fugitive on the run from the authorities.
The girl from the night before was gone, replaced by an equally bored young Cerean female, tapping her nails on the desk as she accepted payment from a Durosian.
Bodhi slipped around them and out the front door. It was still raining, and he stopped under the awning to tug the collar of his jumpsuit up.
The next building over was the restaurant Chirrut had noticed, a clapboard sign out front announcing they were open.
Bodhi stepped inside. The place was small but clean and smelled enticingly of spiced meat and dough. Bodhi’s stomach growled again as he gave his order to the boy behind the counter—human and barely fourteen, if Bodhi was any judge—and sat down to wait.
Things seemed fairly calm, pedestrians huddled in their coats as they hurried past outside the window Bodhi was sitting beside. The restaurant had only two other customers, a pair of Trandoshans in the far corner, eating noodles and talking in their hissing, sibilant speech.
A man came out of the kitchen and set some fried crispic in front of Bodhi. “While you wait,” he said with a smile.
Bodhi ducked his head gratefully and took a bite, savoring the flavor of the spiced meat and crispy outer shell.
“Get a lot of business this early?” he asked the man, who was cleaning the table next to him.
“Fair amount,” the man said, straightening. “Inn next door sends customers our way. We’ve got a nice, central location, so we do alright.”
“Imagine you hear the best gossip first, then,” Bodhi said.
The other man took the bait. “’Course we do. I’ll bet you haven’t heard that there was an attack on some stormtroopers at the spaceport last night, have you?”
Bodhi did his best to look properly impressed. “What happened?”
“Reports are sketchy still,” the man said, wiping his hands on the towel at his waist. His eyes were blue, tired but kind. “I’m Freleyn, by the way. This is my place.”
“B—Brandt,” Bodhi managed. “Just passing through.”
Freleyn nodded and turned to the next table, pulling out his towel to clean it off.
“So what do you know about the spaceport?” Bodhi pressed. “Only—my boss’s freighter is there and I’m on a schedule, I don’t want to get in trouble for being late—”
Freleyn shrugged. “Don’t know much. Just that they were attacked while inspecting a ship.”
“Have they arrested the attackers?”
Freleyn shook his head as he put the spice shakers back in place. “No idea. But the port’s on lockdown now, so you might want to let your boss know you’re not going to be able to keep that schedule of yours.”
The boy came out of the back with Bodhi’s order, neat stacks of boxes all tied together with rough burlap twine.
Bodhi accepted it with a nod of thanks and went back to the inn. As he climbed the steps to the door, a squad of Imperial troopers came around the corner and Bodhi ducked inside as quickly as he could without drawing attention.
Chirrut was dressed and Baze had put his jumpsuit on, tying it at his waist so Chirrut could check his wounds when Bodhi tumbled through the door.
“Spaceport’s locked down,” he gasped. “No one in or out.”
“Anyone arrested?” Baze asked. He flinched as Chirrut peeled the bandage away from the torn skin, hissing through his teeth.
“Don’t be a baby,” Chirrut said. “Bodhi?”
“The cook didn’t know, but I think he would have, if it had happened.” Bodhi set the food on the end of the bed and Baze reached for it with a happy noise.
“So Cassian, Jyn, and Kaytoo are probably still alive,” Chirrut mused as he put a clean linen strip in place. “Hand me one of those dumplings.”
Baze held it over his shoulder and Chirrut bent to eat it from his fingers.
“Not as good as yours,” he said when he’d swallowed. “But not bad.”
Baze grunted, but he was smiling as he ate another.
“So what’s the plan?” Bodhi asked. He was too nervous to sit, too keyed up and jittery—he paced the length of the small room, rubbing his sweaty palms on his jumpsuit.
“Peace,” Chirrut said, and it sounded like an order. “Be calm, Bodhi. First, we eat breakfast. Then we steal a ship and make the jump back to Yavin 4.”
“Without the others?” Bodhi’s voice cracked and he fought to breathe. “We can’t—we can’t leave them, Chirrut—”
Chirrut slid fluidly off the bed and grabbed Bodhi’s shoulders again. His clouded blue eyes were fierce. “It’s what Cassian will be doing as well, Bodhi. We can’t spend time running around an Imperial-held city looking for them when we have no contacts, no way to find them, and not even a way to get in touch with them. Cassian knows that. When he got back to the spaceport and saw the mess we left, do you think he hung around hoping we might be nearby?”
Bodhi’s mouth was dry and he swallowed hard around the lump in his throat.
“No, if he’s half as smart as I think he is, he stole a ship too, and they’re halfway home by now.” Chirrut tightened his grip. “He wouldn’t want to leave us, but this is war, little one. We must make hard choices in the midst of battle. Cassian knows that as well as anyone.”
Bodhi sagged in Chirrut’s hands and Chirrut smiled.
“Have faith, Bodhi. Our friends are safe, and so will we be.”
Someone knocked and Bodhi stiffened.
“Checkout isss in an hoouur,” a soft voice called.
“Thank you,” Baze called back. “We’ll be down soon.”
Chirrut patted Bodhi’s shoulder. “Eat your breakfast, little one. You’ll need strength.”
When they were finished, Baze insisted he was well enough to walk without help.
Chirrut folded his arms. “Show me.”
“How?” Baze said, amusement threading the word. “You’re blind, remember?”
Chirrut scowled. “I can still kick your ass, old man, especially without your gun.”
That made Baze’s mouth fall open. “My gun. My gun. Chirrut, you left my gun behind?”
“It was you or that soulless piece of artillery you rely on far too much for your own good,” Chirrut snapped. “Would you rather I left you?”
Baze seethed but didn’t answer.
Chirrut motioned impatiently. “Bodhi, tell me if he looks unsteady.”
Baze rolled his eyes but his movement was free and easy as he strode across the small room and back again. “Shoulder hurts but my head is fine,” he said, and sat down on the bed to pull his boots on.
Chirrut nodded. “Let’s go. Bodhi, Baze and I will go out the back. We’ll meet you around the side.”
Bodhi was jumpy as he went out the front door and stepped into the cold drizzle, tugging his collar up again. A flash of red caught his eye and he glanced up to see a hooded pedestrian walking by, scarlet cloak pulled tight around their figure. Bodhi sidestepped out of their way and hurried around the building to find Baze and Chirrut waiting, Chirrut gripping his staff as Baze loomed over him, speaking quietly.
“All clear,” Bodhi said.
Chirrut turned and tilted his head, a wrinkle appearing on his forehead.
“What is it?” Baze asked.
“There is… I don’t know,” Chirrut said. “A darkness around Bodhi.”
Baze inspected Bodhi from head to toe as Bodhi fought the urge to squirm. “He looks fine to me,” he rumbled.
Chirrut grunted. “Wasting time. Bodhi, take the lead.”
They strode down the sidewalk toward the spaceport. Baze was between Chirrut and Bodhi, both of them ready to catch him if he wavered, but Baze’s stride was long and purposeful, and Bodhi was reassured by how clear his eyes were.
Bodhi stepped around a lamppost and hurried to catch up. “So, we’re going to sneak in and steal a ship?”
Chirrut nodded. “We need small and fast, not big and powerful, so pick something that won’t stand out.”
“How will we get inside if the place is locked down?” Bodhi asked.
Chirrut smiled, tapping with his staff as he moved. “Trust the Force, little one.”
Baze snorted, a by-now predictable response that somehow comforted Bodhi more than Chirrut’s faith.
They stopped a block away from the spaceport and Baze motioned for Bodhi to stay back with Chirrut while he assessed the situation.
Bodhi heard a noise and turned. He saw a figure cloaked in scarlet gliding toward him but he didn’t have time to open his mouth before they pounced, one arm snaking fast around Bodhi’s neck and dragging him backward as something hard jabbed his still-sore ribs and Chirrut spun, bringing his staff up.
Be sssstill, K’rillek hissed, and Bodhi froze.
“Bodhi,” Chirrut said. “Bodhi, talk to me. Who’s with you?”
Ssssay nothiiing, K’rillek whispered. We leeeave now.
“No,” Bodhi managed. “Chirrut—”
K’rillek jabbed him in the ribs again and Bodhi jerked in agony just as Baze came back around the corner.
Baze snarled and dropped into a crouch, hand going for where he usually kept his gun as K’rillek tightened his grip around Bodhi’s throat.
Bodhi choked, scrabbling at K’rillek’s arm, and Baze made a noise deep in his chest.
“Let him go,” Chirrut said, his voice low and deadly. “Let him go now and I will let you walk away.”
K’rillek hissed a laugh. Hee isss miiine.
“He belongs to himself,” Baze spat, hands flexing in useless fists, and K’rillek laughed again, sharp and derisive.
Bodhi could barely breathe through the pain of his ribs and the arm around his throat, his feet slipping on the wet pavement as he tried to keep his balance.
Wee go to my shiiip, K’rillek said. Nooow.
Bodhi flicked his eyes up to Baze, who froze and then nodded almost imperceptibly.
“Not—without them,” Bodhi managed.
Baze touched Chirrut’s arm, something unspoken passing between them, and both men straightened from their fighting stances.
K’rillek hissed. No. Yoouu only.
“I’m not—” Bodhi swallowed another spike of pain as K’rillek jabbed him yet again with the blaster. “If you want me, you have to take—ah—them too.”
I coouuld jussst shoot theeem, K’rillek countered.
Baze stiffened but Chirrut smiled.
“You won’t,” he said.
Bodhi dragged in a painful breath. “Because if you do, you’ll have to kill me too.”
K’rillek snarled, and a tense, brittle silence fell, broken by the spatter of rain on the permacrete around them.
Yoouu, K’rillek said, pointing the blaster at Baze. Tie hiiim up. He unhooked a pair of handcuffs from his belt and tossed them over.
“Smart,” Chirrut said as Baze took his staff and set it down, then gently pulled his hands behind his back to snap the cuffs in place. “Granted, I could still kill you with my hands tied, but points for trying.”
“Shut up,” Baze hissed.
K’rillek bared sharp, white teeth. If weee are stooopped, you are my bountiesss. If you fiiight, I will kiiill you aaall.
He pulled another pair of cuffs off his belt and hauled Bodhi’s arms behind him. The cold metal closed around Bodhi’s wrists with a click and K’rillek pointed at Baze.
Baze sighed and turned, putting his hands behind his back. Bodhi took the chance to sidestep closer to Chirrut, who seemed unconcerned.
“He must have followed us,” Bodhi whispered.
Chirrut lifted a brow. “You know him?”
“He was our contact, the one who had the Star Dragon scale. He… wanted me. Jyn shut him down, I didn’t think anything of—” K’rillek cut Bodhi off by grabbing his arm and wrenching it, Chirrut’s staff in his other hand.
Bodhi sucked in air and went up on tiptoe as agony shivered through his shoulder and Chirrut tensed as Baze jerked on his cuffs.
Waaalk, K’rillek ordered. Siiilently.
He steered them around the side of the hangar to a door guarded by a single stormtrooper, boredom in every line of his body.
The trooper straightened as K’rillek approached.
“Halt,” he ordered, voice mechanical and gravelly. “State your business.”
Prisssonersss, K’rillek said. Collectiiing bounty. He pulled a badge from his pocket and flashed it at the trooper, who inspected it and then looked back up to study Bodhi’s face, then down the line. Chirrut smiled cheekily and Baze stood stoic and silent until the trooper handed the badge back.
“These prisoners fit the description of individuals wanted for crimes against the Empire,” the trooper began, and K’rillek shot him.
Bodhi flinched as the body fell forward, a smoking hole in the breastplate, and landed with a rattle of armor.
K’rillek jerked on Bodhi’s cuffs. My prisssonersss, he snarled, and dragged Bodhi into the hangar, Chirrut and Baze right behind them.
His ship was small, with patches of rust on its wedge-shaped wings and a hatch that creaked ominously when K’rillek opened it.
Baze went through first. “Duck your head and step up,” he said over his shoulder.
Chirrut followed him and K’rillek gave Bodhi an impatient shove forward so that he stumbled and nearly fell through the door. K’rillek stepped through and dropped Chirrut’s staff carelessly on the floor. He hit the button to close the hatch and then dumped his rain-drenched cloak in a careless heap.
Sssit, he ordered. He didn’t wait to see if they obeyed, planting himself in the pilot’s chair and punching buttons on the console.
“Behind you there’s a bench,” Baze said. “Two steps back, one to your left.”
Chirrut moved as directed and sat as Baze and Bodhi shuffled to join him and the ship’s engines roared to life under their feet, vibrating the metal deck.
“How’s your shoulder?” Chirrut asked.
Bodhi moved it gingerly, holding his breath. “Sore, but I’ll be fine. What are we going to do?”
Chirrut arched a brow. “We’re prisoners. What can we do?”
Baze met Bodhi’s eyes over Chirrut’s head. Wait, he mouthed.
Bodhi swallowed and nodded.
K’rillek was speaking into the radio. From their position, Bodhi couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation, but K’rillek’s back was rigid and he spat his replies, each one progressively louder until finally he slammed the mouthpiece down and grabbed the controls.
The ship lifted off the permacrete with a jerk, throwing Bodhi against Chirrut’s sturdy form.
“Sorry,” he gasped, struggling to right himself. He thought his heart might beat right out of his chest from the terror surging through him.
“Peace, little one,” Chirrut said. “All will be well.”
K’rillek spun the ship in a tight circle and opened fire on the door. The heavy gun spat a percussive stream, punching holes in the metal that let cold, gray fingers of light through.
“Is he going to—” Baze’s question was cut off by K’rillek hurling the ship forward, right through the punctured door and out into the dawn sky as alarm klaxons went off behind them.
Flung back against his seat by the momentum, Bodhi could barely draw breath as they hurtled up through the atmosphere, far faster than a ship of that class should have been able to go.
They entered the ozone barrier, flames licking around the hull and up the front window. K’rillek was hunched over the controls, talking to himself in a steady stream too fast to be understood as Baze turned his back to Chirrut and Chirrut closed his eyes, lips moving.
Bodhi watched, unable to see what Chirrut was doing, one wary eye on K’rillek, who hadn’t turned.
Sudden silence enveloped them as the ship plunged through the planet’s atmospheric barrier and into deep space. Byblos hung in the black below them, a gleaming blue jewel suspended above velvet, but Bodhi didn’t have long to look out the window.
Chirrut made a quietly triumphant noise. The stars outside elongated just as metal clicked and Baze hurled himself forward, hands free and reaching for K’rillek’s throat.
He dragged him backward out of the chair as K’rillek bucked and snarls bubbled up liquid and feral from his throat. He flung up one magenta hand and talons gleamed in the light, slashing toward Baze’s face.
Bodhi swore. Jerked at his cuffs.
Baze dodged to the side just in time and the claws missed him by a millimeter. He got an arm back around K’rillek’s throat but it was obvious his shoulder was hampering him. There was almost no room in the small hold, the combatants moving so fast Bodhi could barely keep track.
Chirrut’s head was tilted as he listened to the fight. K’rillek rolled and Baze hit the floor with a pained noise. K’rillek rose above him, lips drawn off his teeth, and Chirrut moved. Quick as a striking snake, he leapt. Hands still behind his back, he wrapped his legs around K’rillek’s neck and rode him to the deck, pivoting in midair as they fell.
K’rillek’s neck broke with a sick crack and when he hit the floor, it was with the boneless sprawl of the very recently dead. Chirrut knelt above him as Baze propped himself on his elbows, chest heaving.
“Told you.” He turned to Baze. “Did he touch you with those claws?”
“No,” Baze said. He dragged himself out from under K’rillek’s legs and felt in his pockets until he came up with a key.
“I think they’re coated with some sort of venom,” Chirrut said as Baze bent to unlock his cuffs. “I could smell it—bitter. Burned my throat.” Baze dropped the cuffs and Chirrut rubbed his wrists as Baze cupped his face, touching their foreheads briefly. Chirrut laughed under his breath. “You’re forgetting about Bodhi.”
Baze growled something but released Chirrut to stand and unlock Bodhi’s cuffs.
Freed, Bodhi dashed for the pilot’s chair. It wasn’t a ship he’d flown before, but there were only a few variations within its class. What he had to figure out was where they were heading, drop them out of lightspeed and change their course to Yavin 4—he swore, low and horrified, as the data on the pad in front of him resolved.
“No, no, please no—”
“Bodhi?” Chirrut was right behind him, leaning over the chair, one hand warm and comforting on Bodhi’s shoulder. “What is it?”
“Something’s wrong,” Bodhi said, glancing up at him. “Something’s very wrong, I—I’m not sure how it happened, maybe because K’rillek was putting the calculations in when Baze jumped him, but—” He swallowed hard. “We’re flying blind. We have no set destination, and we could drop out of lightspeed trapped inside a moon or in a completely foreign solar system, I don’t have the coordinates for Yavin 4, I don’t know how to get us home, I can’t—”
Chirrut squeezed his shoulder. “First things first, get us out of lightspeed. We’ll figure out the rest from there.”
“Have faith,” Chirrut said. “All is as the Force wills it.” A smile curved his mouth and Bodhi felt warmth settle over him. “It is not our time to die, Bodhi Rook.”
Bodhi squared his shoulders and took a deep breath. “Okay, I just—okay. I can do this.” He turned back to the console and went to work, fingers a blur on the keys as he input data, muttering to himself.
It felt like an hour but was probably only a few minutes when he entered the last calculation and the stars shrank to pinpoints around the ship, wheeling in stately orbit around them.
Bodhi was afraid to move, afraid to breathe. If they’d come out in an asteroid field or been embedded in a planet, they would have known by now, but—
Chirrut slapped him on the shoulder. “Well done, little one. Very well done. Baze, strip that body and let’s toss it out the lock, I don’t want anyone accidentally getting scratched.”
“Already done,” Baze said.
Chirrut turned back to Bodhi. “Can you figure out where we are?”
Bodhi had been scanning the data and he shook his head. “Sorry, ah… no. It’s not a system I recognize. And the maps K’rillek had here are no good, there are only a few and none of them are for systems I’m familiar with. He must have carried most of the coordinates in his head. He’s definitely modified this ship, I’m not even sure how yet, but there’s no way it should have the power and speed it’s got.”
“Thyllians are known for being the best navigators in the galaxy,” Baze said from Bodhi’s other side. “There’s every likelihood he set his lightspeed system up so that only he could operate it. It would have probably been some combination of his DNA and codes he stored in his memory. It’s why Thyllian ships are never stolen. Can’t fly them.”
Chirrut cocked his head. “How do you know so much about them?”
Baze flashed a smile that was more a baring of teeth. “My second kill, after I left you, was a Thyllian. I did my homework.”
Bodhi focused on the controls. “I can fly the ship, but I won’t be able to make the jump to lightspeed. And I don’t have any points of origin even if I could. I can’t even jump back to Byblos, because Kaytoo was the one who set those coordinates.” He looked at Chirrut, then Baze, a bubble of panic lodged in his throat. “We’re trapped.”