Star Wars IV.5, pt V

Han Solo felt giddily sick. He could not believe he was doing something as stupid as this. Ever since Chewie got them that  milk run with the kid and the old man he had made one suicidal move after another, culminating in crossing the Witch-Emperor’s left-hand monster and blowing up what must have been a terribly expensive weapon of extinction-level-capacity. And now, here he was, smiling for the camera.

Hey there, everybody! I’m Han Solo and these are my pals! I owe Jabba the Hutt a hold full of glitterstim spice (plus 15 percent!) and the Emperor has a deathmark on me! Look at my shiny medal! I’m an idiot!

And now, here he was, standing with all of the true believers.

They can’t all be, can they? Really? Luke, okay, he’s a kid from a Rim World who believes in magic and Jedi mind tricks. But Leia was a Senator and a Princess of Alderann. A Princess of one of the Core Worlds is smiling at you like that, Solo, and that is probably what is making you so stupid lately. She’s a lot of things but stupid isn’t one of them, and she believes in this banthashit more than he does. Am I the only person in this room who realizes we’re all committing suicide?

And yet, here he was, standing alive with Chewie and the Princess and the kid on a moon that had not been blown to bits. His ship was still in one piece and he had a stash of credits the Rebels had given him sitting in the Falcon’s hold. His luck was doing that thing it sometimes did. He smiled and his mind wandered from the moment for a moment.

The last time he had stood at attention like this he was having his rank ripped from his uniform. He still wore his Corellian bloodstripes, the Imperial Navy had no right to strip him of those, but he lost everything else that day. Except for the undying loyalty of Chewbacca.

Han was so glad for Chewie’s joyful howl he couldn’t help but be briefly grateful for the absurd ceremony. He and Chewie had been arguing a lot more than usual lately. The Wookie didn’t care for running glitterstim for the Hutts in the first place, and he was righteously pissed when they spaced the last Kessel Run. He had felt peculiarly desperate after that; things had been going particularly bad lately. The Imperials had been really cracking down, using the excuse of these ridiculous Rebels to clamp down on commerce, making scoring legitimate work nearly impossible and smuggling increasingly hazardous.

An Imperial Star Destroyer battle group with an Interdictor cruiser pulled them out of hyperspace while they were running spice. The Inderdictor used gravity well projectors to cast a sort of net across a hyperspace lane between systems. They had a hold full of enough glimmerstim for the death sentence and were surrounded. They ran at full sublight out of the range of the Interdictor’s gravity shadows barely ahead of the rest of the battle group. He had dumped the spice moments after losing the rear shields but just before they skipped into hyperspace ahead of the Star Destroyer’s tractor beam. As soon as the stars streaked into rainbow blurs, the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon erupted into a demonstration of multicultural cursing the like of which it had never before experienced.

Han had stormed out; the problem with a ship like the Falcon was that there wasn’t really anywhere to storm to. He was in the dorsal turret looking out at chaotic streaks of red shifting to blue when he got one of his really bad ideas. He had been from one side of the Galaxy to the other, but that really wasn’t the whole Galaxy, not by a long shot. What everyone called the Galaxy was a few thousand charted systems scattered along the known hyperspace routes across two spiral arms. Fully two thirds of the Galaxy was still uncharted.

It was a matter of hyperdrive mechanics and galactic topography. There was a small mechanism in a sealed compartment in the middle of the Falcon that manipulated negative-energy to form a bubble of spacetime compressed to the aft of the ship and stretched out far ahead of the the stern. The speed of the ship relative to space outside of the bubble could far exceed the speed of light depending on how far the distortion bubble extended across space. The Falcon was of nearly ideal mass and shape for generating the most efficient possible bubble to begin with, but Han had tuned her drive so finely it had once generated a field stretching 12 parsecs.

The problem lay in plotting new routes through the Galaxy as all attempts to do so demonstrated it was very dangerous and very unprofitable to try. A spiral arm was full of dust clouds, nebulas, suns, asteroid fields and uncountable other ways to die. Hyperspace travel was confined to straight-line jumps across known voids; the gravity shadows of planets and stars could burst the bubble and pull a ship out of hyperspace, or worse, into collision.

He had heard old spacers dreaming of a big score like finding a previously uncontacted civilization with all the attendant exclusive rights to trading contracts. But there were more black holes wandering in deadly silence between the stars than one might expect. Then there was the huge nothing of space, the sterile rocks, frozen deserts and toxic atmospheres that comprised most of the surface area of the worlds of the Galaxy; there were countless planets but only a precious few of any value. Habitable worlds were relatively common if you considered places like Tatooine ‘habitable’; there were still places to get lost in the Galaxy, but precious little to find. The Empire’s borders were closed for reasons beyond the Emperor’s will, but borders closed by nature serve tyrants better than any artificial means could. Feeling claustraphobic,  Han couldn’t help thinking about how prospecting for new and profitable hyperspace routes would be like looking for buried treasure without a map.

But Han had a map.

While waiting for the drop of the shipment they had just dumped they had time to kill so they ran diagnostics on the new suite of illegal sensors and military comm rigs they had just installed. Chewie was reminding Han that they had installed the rig with credit they were supposed to pay off with the proceeds from the glimmerstim run when he was interrupted by a transmission in the realspace EM frequencies coming from a point deep in the Unknown Territories. The new descrambler quickly found a video and audio component to the signal, and for a few moments they caught glimpses of a civilization that had incredibly sophisticated technologies. They were interrupted by their contact jumping in, but what they had seen came flooding back into his mind while he brooded in the gunnery chair.

Five minutes later he had already dropped the ship out of hyperspace and was plotting a return course to the original drop point when Chewbacca brought the smell of the forest into the tight cockpit. Han flashed the Wookie a mad grin and explained their new plan. The ship filled with roars of argument which Han parried until they became questioning growls. He would never forget what he said to seal the deal. As if Chewbacca would let him.

“Pal, you saw what I saw. There’s a spacefaring society with energy transporters on the other side of that signal. If we could get our hands on that kind of tech, we could buy our own planet.”

Matter-energy transport seemed beyond the capabilities of any civilization. Scientists on worlds across the Empire and the Republic before it had never gotten the idea to work despite the resources put into the effort. Han and Chewie had witnessed a demonstration of the technology where sentient organics (some of them clearly human, no less! Perhaps this was a lost colony of humans that had started their own Republic in another spiral arm.) had been turned into pillars of light and brought from a planetary surface to a ship in orbit. That sort of technology could have made the two spacers wealthy beyond imagining.

Well, it could have. If it had existed.

They found the source of the signal. The jump had been a mad gamble; but they found what they thought they were looking for. They came out of hyperspace near a massive gas giant with dozens of moons. None of them was a life world but they quickly picked up signals from one of the planets closer to the system’s sun. They orbited it for an hour, doing every scan the new sensor package had to offer, but they had realized the awful truth in the first few minute they took a close look at the place.

It was a planet of primitives. Human primitives, which astonished and perplexed Han as much as it angered and embarassed him. Chewbacca actually put it together first; they had been fooled by some fictional entertainment broadcast by backwater primitives. The shock gave way to mad laughter as the absurdity of their situation dawned on them both; then they fell into pondering silence as profound possibilities shimmered on the fringes of their awareness.

Han turned to Chewbacca and said solemnly, ‘We never tell anyone, Chewie. I’ll erase the navcomps’ hardlogs.’
The Wookie hooted. He understood. His people had been ravaged by slavers and Imperials alike. He could only imagine what the Empire or the Hutts would do to a world of humans in the raw.

‘We’ll go back to Tatooine. We’ll explain what happened to Jabbba. Maybe he’ll cut us a break.’  The Wookie howled incredulously.
‘I know, pal, I know. I just don’t know what else to do.’

That had been less than a week ago, he thought, blinking at the flash. Then the klaxon rang and he was halfway down to the command center before he asked himself why he wasn’t running to the Falcon. He knew damn well why that alarm was sounding. Had they really thought the Empire would let them sit around patting themselves on the back after blowing up the Death Star? Then Chewie bounded past him and he knew he had no choice but to keep going.

General Dodonna was there before anyone and was looking intently at the viewscreen. An awkward mix of feelings moved through Solo when the old man looked from the display to his meet his eyes. Solo remained expressionless as the General regarded him with tired satisfaction.
“I’m glad your here, Captain Solo. With everything else that’s happened today I managed to have my Intel people pull your files.”

‘I have a file?’

Dodonna smiled wryly through his white beard. “There’s damn few men who’ve managed to earn a Wookie Life Debt. Especially young Imperial Navy officers who disobeyed direct orders while doing it. You’re lucky you pulled that stunt when you did. These days you both would have been executed outright.’

‘There’s still time for that, General.’

‘Maybe not. Solo, you’re the kind of man we need…’
Solo cut him off. He had heard this speech before.
‘General, with all due respect, you people have me confused with someone…’
Dodonna cut Solo off, which was a different kind of experience for Han.

‘Captain Solo, do you think you are the only person who has ever lost anything?’ Solo’s confused expression was answer enough.

‘I told you I had read your file.’ Anger found it’s way to Han’s eyes but before it could erupt from his mouth the General said, ‘I need you and Chewbacca to escort Princess Leia to Dac. Luke Skywalker will accompany you. You will serve as her guard and as diplomatic representatives of the Alliance.’

‘Have I been drafted?’

Dodonna’s eyes narrowed. ‘I can’t tell if your inability to appreciate your situation is a neurotic affectation or if you really are this self-absorbed and stupid. I read your file. I know that even if you manage to escape from this system, you don’t have anywhere to go. You’re a wanted criminal who is wanted by the other criminals. You may as well be doing something noble when you finally get caught.’

Chewbacca howled his approval. Han winced. Dodonna smiled.
‘It’s obvious who the brains of this operation is.’

Han looked at the extraordinarily large object that had just dropped in from hyperspace. He pondered a couple of variables and did some calculating; he came up with and rejected several ridiculous plans. Then he spoke.

‘Dac? Isn’t that the Mon Cal homeworld?’

‘Exactly, Solo. We need a fleet.’

‘The Mon Cal build pleasure cruisers, not warships.’

‘The Mon Cal build ships.’

‘You better damn well keep whatever you found in my file to yourself.’

‘I can respect that, Solo.’

‘And I’m still going to have to settle with Jabba…’

Luke and Leia entered; Luke was grinning broadly while she didn’t even glance at him. ‘And then there’s the matter of my fee…’ He was cut off by Dodonna bring the Princess up to date.

Leia looked pensive. ‘We need to evacuate. We should have fled hours ago.’
Solo interjected, ’That’s what I was saying. We should all take off in different directions and never look back!’
Luke scolded, ‘We didn’t run from the Death Star.’
Solo retorted, ‘I doubt this thing has a convienently located button that blows it up, too. We’re not that lucky.’ Chewbacca howled. ‘No, Chewie, we’re not.’

Leia turned to General Dodonna. “Jan, order everyone onto the ships. Leave any equipment that can’t be immediately loaded. We aren’t going to have time to debate the plan. We’ll have to go with what we talked about earlier.”

“It’s a very risky course, Princess. You’ll be putting a lot of faith in a criminal.” he said, glimpsing at Han, who began to bristle but was cut off by Leia.

“We are all criminals, Jan. He’s just more honest about it than most.” She said, smiling at Han.

5 Responses to “Star Wars IV.5, pt V”

  1. Brian Radford Says:

    G’day once again, ol’Winnie. How’ve you been mate? Just a quick question: are you related to the ‘eyewitness’ to the New York story below? I was reading it, saw your surname, and got all kinda emotional…. I miss you man.

    *The link has been deleted for the usual reasons.*-WD

    “But a witness, Viane Delgado, said Brodigan was the one out of line. Delgado said Witriol “repeatedly” asked the woman to place the barking pug in a carrier she had. But instead, she allegedly insulted him with anti-Semitic slurs and tried to walk away.

    “You f—ing Jew, you’re not even human,” Delgado quoted Brodigan as saying.

    She repeatedly said, “Jewish people think they own everything,” a source said.”

    Just curious….

  2. Oh Winnie. You deleted the link? C’mon mate. Lighten up. Hope you had a great weekend. Cheers, B

  3. So, I take it she IS a relative?

  4. Your mum, maybe?

  5. […] Star Wars IV.V pt iv Part i Part ii Part iii Part iv Part v […]

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