Jasa showed the Guardians their glider.
It was a crude kite-like contraption that Jasa had built with their own hands, sewing together the flexible sailcloth wings, twisting and nailing the triangular wooden frame into place, attaching the complicated bantha-hide double harness and ancillary parachute pack.
“It isn’t the safest means of travel, and I haven’t flown it for years,” Jasa said. “But it will save you a week.”
Chirrut ran his hands over the straps and the sides of the long sailcloth wings, the frame, the control bar.
“I should tell you,” Jasa said, “that the last time I flew it, I may have got stuck on an overhang of rock. Can’t remember the details as it was about twelve years ago.”
“I think we’ll walk,” said Baze, at the same time as Chirrut, who said, “We’ll take it!
“Alright,” said Baze. His voice and his presence was sturdy, infallible. “If we’re going to abandon all reason and do something stupid, we might as well make a start. Let’s fly this kite.”
They backed away from the cliff edge. Further, further.
“When I say go, start to run forward. I’ll give us a count to three,” Baze said. “One–”
“Let’s go!” Chirrut shouted, ignoring him and began running, pulling Baze along. Baze didn’t even have time to raise a sigh.
They began a loping run, heading toward what felt like the end of reason. As they neared the drop, Chirrut felt a strange, almost savage need power him forwards. He was filled with belligerence and reckless joy, ready to throw himself at nothing and everything all at once, a solid wall of air. An emptiness so vast that it diminished him to a single grain in the desert. The ground unspooled beneath their feet, sending them to its end, but the wind slid beneath the sailcloth, caught them and hoisted them off in an updraught before they even reached the cliff edge, and just like that, they were launched into the miraculous, breathless expanse of flight.
“We’ll crash if we keep at this rate!”
“I’ll release the parachute!”
But Chirrut could feel the frenzy of his movement, fumbling with the release mechanism.
The parachute wouldn’t be enough. They were too near the ground and too heavy. But he didn’t have the strength to keep shouting anymore. It hurt his head to talk in this storm of spinning and falling. He reached over to Baze. Baze didn’t notice when Chirrut slid his knife out of its sheath.
Chirrut reached for the Force again. The Force gathered around him, holding him still. There was that beat of peace, that iridescent note of kyber somewhere in his staff, still leashed to the juddering frame. And he was aware of Baze. His whole life and Baze’s, all their arguments, complicatedness, pettiness, all the things they’d learnt of each other, the ways they touched and held each other, the words they hurled at each other, the words they comforted each other with, the enormity and the sheer novelty of just having a life in constant tangle with his own–all of that now filled Chirrut up, made him swell with the fiercest of gratitude. He looked toward Baze, and felt all the affection in the world for him. The razor edges of love that were going to slice his throat open from the inside out, with all the words of forgiveness he could not beg from Baze Malbus.
At what point should these lives so tautly wound together be separated? Chirrut knew the answer.
Now, said the Force and now, rang the kyber spark in his heart, and Chirrut began sawing at the harness with the knife.
By the time Baze noticed, it was too late.
“Chirrut!” he shouted. “Don’t!”
The parachute bloomed above the wrecked glider in an explosion of fabric at the same time as Chirrut cut himself loose. He couldn’t see, but the glider now seemed static, hovering in frail balance, and he was satisfied.
Parachutes are for the faithless, was the last coherent (and completely ridiculous) thought in his head, before he fell into the endless spiral of calm.