Han stepped out of the Falcon, legs protesting the movement after months of being frozen in Carbonite. A small hand brushed against his as he walked down the ramp. Leia.
“What do you mean it was a bad plan—it was your plan!” Luke complained at Chewie. “If we had just gone with my plan first, then maybe we wouldn’t have ended up in that mess!”
Chewbacca just roared something unintelligible in response while Artoo beeped obnoxiously in the background. Han couldn’t speak binary, but if he were a betting man (and he was), he’d say Artoo was cackling at the chaos.
Han cracked a grin and wrapped an arm around the kid’s shoulders. Luke might have been a fancy Jedi now, but some things never changed. Leia came up around his other side and tucked her hand around his arm. A strange warmth filled his chest.
Han was surprised they even came to rescue him in the first place. Going against the Hutts so directly was reckless. Going against the Hutts with that plan was just ridiculous. Seriously, they had a year to formulate the perfect plan to rescue him, and they decided that giving Artoo Luke’s lightsaber was the best plan? Nevertheless, he was grateful, if a bit confused.
Leia’s continued affection confused Han the most. Sure, they had some fun on the Falcon before Bespin and she did profess her love right before he had been frozen—but she thought he was about to die. Hell, he thought he was about to die. Maybe he had imagined it, one last comfort before his end, because it couldn’t be real life. Women destined since birth to rule entire planets didn’t fall in love with broke scoundrels, no matter how un-scruffy-looking.
But then Leia had freed him from carbonite. “Someone who loves you.”
“Han, did you hear me?”
“Huh? What? Of course.”
“We need to report back to command immediately and explain what’s happened. We took leave to go and rescue you, but it took longer than expected. Ackbar won’t be happy about it, but they have to reinstate our positions. The Rebellion can’t afford to lose us right now, and besides, Mon owes me a favor.” Leia explained quickly. “I asked if you’re up for it. Or do you want to stop at the med bay first and get checked out?”
Han rolled his eyes. Leia knew he hated reporting to Command and he hated med bay. “Well they’ll at least reinstate my status— “I’m the victim here, Princess!” Han teased. “And you, Luke, are my knight in shining armor.”
Luke smiled. “Wouldn’t that make you the princess, Han?”
“That’s ‘your highness,’ to you! Show some respect or I may have to execute you for high treason.” Han lightled shoved Luke’s shoulder, who responded by throwing up two hands in a mock surrender.
“Boys! Let’s stay focused here. Han, if you can joke around like this, you can handle reporting to Command. It probably would do you some good to use your brain a bit again after all that time in Carbonite. That is, if you ever used it in the first place.”
“Now, now, is that any way to speak to your princess?” Han questioned.
He was about to command Luke to arrest ‘the filthy traitor,’ but the look Leia gave him shut him up immediately. Then Luke stopped dead in his tracks.
Leia spoke first. “Luke, what is it? What’s wrong?”
“I- I don’t know. Something with the force.” He paused a moment. “Leia, we can’t go back to Command. Not just yet. I need to go check this out. We need to go.”
“Do we have to right now? Command is just going to be that much more upset if they find out we didn’t report immediately.”
“I’m going with Luke,” Han announced. “As much as I’d love to face command, this force thing sounds mighty serious and he might need some backup. Besides, I could stretch my legs after all that time in the carbonite.”
Luke grinned and Leia scowled. “You better hope we don’t run into anyone chasing this ‘feeling.’ Do you have any idea where we’re going?”
“It’s hard to explain. It’s just a feeling. A strong feeling.” He added upon second thought. “We go this way.”
They pushed through the thick vegetation of Yavin IV, hoping Luke’s feeling would resolve itself one way or another. Han wondered if the kid just didn’t want to face Command being disappointed in him. Or if he was hungry.
Leia looked happy. Han knew that her initial resistance was a front. She was supposed to be a princess and a general and follow the rules perfectly, but Han had known her for nearly four years now, and she always chafed against protocol. He knew damn well that she would prefer to get straight to the point. With a blaster if necessary. He sighed. She’s perfect.
Han had unknowingly been staring at Leia for the better half on the last minute. She noticed and gave him a small smile. That warm feeling returned. Rather than reveal how soft he had become, he gave her his best shit eating grin and said, “You know, if Luke is the Knight and I’m the Princess, that makes you the scoundrel, sweetheart.”
“I’d rather be the Wookie,” she fired back. I’d just as soon kiss a Wookie.
“I can arrange that,” he replied, smirking as he echoed their past argument on Hoth. It felt so long ago. She shook her head and trudged on.
Luke remained oblivious as usual. He had grown more confident over the years, but he hadn’t changed much other than that. His smiles were rarer nowadays, but whose weren’t? It was hard to believe that the naive farm boy he picked up out of Tatooine all those years ago was the Jedi Knight striding along in front of him.
“Here.” Luke came to such an abrupt stop that Leia almost ran into him, tripping over a vine. As she regained her balance, Han placed his hands on her shoulders, checking if she was okay. Leia, of course, paid him no attention.
“Luke,” she brushed off his hold, “what is it?”
Never looking away, Luke pointed at a strange object. A holocron, Han realized. “Luke, don’t! You don’t know wh—” Han started, but he had already grabbed it. Its faint glow became a blinding glare. Luke looked grossly inhuman in the harsh light. Han couldn’t move.
Suddenly, Luke dropped it, shouting in pain.
There was no time. Han reached for Leia. There was a heavy boom, like something broke the atmosphere. Then there was nothing. Please not again.
… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …. … … … … … … … … … … …
When Han opened his eyes, he couldn’t see. He was blind. Just like when Jabba captured him. “Leia,” he groaned, clumsily moving his arms out, trying to find her.
“Han,” Leia said. “I’m here.”
“You- you need to go,” Han choked out. “Leave me. Run!” He wouldn’t let her get captured. Not this time. Never again.
“Run? What? Han!” She gripped his arm and looked around in the dark. “Luke?”
Suddenly, a green lightsaber illuminated the dark, as well as a face—Luke’s face. Right.There was an explosion. No Jabba. No Vader. No Fett. Han took a deep breath.
“Luke, what the hell did you get us into this time?” he asked.
“I have no idea. I- where are we?” Luke asked.
“I was hoping you could answer that,” Han muttered.
“Well, clearly we’re in some sort of storage facility. It almost sounds like we’re on a ship, actually.” Leia said, walking around the edges of the light emitted by Luke’s saber.
“That holoron must have taken us here in the explosion. Either that or we’re all dead.” Han reasoned.
“How insightful,” Leia retorted. “The question is how do we get back? And where exactly is this place?”
While Han and Leia bickered, Luke had wandered to the side of the room, holding his saber near the wall. He pressed a button and suddenly the lights came on, lighting the entire room. They were in a hangar on an enormous ship. The Alliance couldn’t afford ships like this. It must be an imperial star destroyer!
Leia must have thought the same as she immediately went into action.
“Luke,” she waved at him to come over. “We need to get out of here. I don’t care what the Force says, I’m not letting one of us get taken by the Empire again.” She gestured at the numerous starfighters surrounding them. “Han, can you steal us a ship?”
Han looked at the ships. Something felt off. Han had thought the empire switched completely over to X-wings, but all he saw were fighters that looked straight out of the Clone Wars.
“Of course I can. Let’s go. That one.” Han replied, pointing at a fighter he had been eyeing the entire time. It was tricked out compared to the others, plus it had a cooler paint job.
“Looks kind of cramped.” Leia observed.
“Sorry, Your Highness, but we don’t exactly have many options right now.” Han paused. “But don’t worry, you can sit on my lap.”
“Good luck with that one, flyboy.”
“Can you guys please stop flirting for five minutes so we can get out of here? And I’m literally a pilot, we can take two ships.”
“Great idea.” Leia said. “I’ll go with Luke.”
“What? Why?” Han spluttered.
“Well if you haven’t noticed, Luke is considerably smaller than you. Besides, a Princess like yourself wouldn’t want to be stuck in a cramped ship with a Scoundrel, now would you?”
Han gave her a dry look and said, “We don’t have time to discuss it in committee.”
She winked at him before grabbing Luke’s arm and pulling him toward the ship that Han had pointed out. Which left Han running toward another ship with a much more boring paint job and no extra upgrades.
Right when they were about to get to the ships, a girl’s voice called after them.
“And where do you think you’re going?” She moved with an impossible speed, blocking them off from the fighters. “Master!”
While the girl called for her master, Han and Leia pulled their blasters out and were about to continue running off toward the fighters when Luke spoke up.
“You don’t have to do this. You can come with us, we’ll keep you safe.”
The Togruta girl gave him a blank look. “What?”
“We can keep you safe from your master but you have to trust me. We need to go right now.” Luke paused a second. “Do you have a chip? I have a device that can locate it and we’ll get it removed. But we can’t stay out in the open like this.” He extended his hand to her.
Now that Luke brought it up, Han realized the girl was likely enslaved. Given the Empire’s attitude toward non-humans and her calling for a ‘master.’ Being from Tatooine, Luke made that connection right away. And of course he would drop everything to help this girl. It was who he was.
However, the girl just looked confused, but before she had a chance to answer, a man sprinted over. “Snips, what’s going on?” he asked. “Who are these people? Are you okay?” He placed a hand on her shoulder, sounding genuinely concerned.
“I’m fine, Master. I have no idea who they are. They looked like they were about to steal some fighters when I walked in, so I stopped them. Then this one,” she gestured at Luke, “started talking about them keeping me safe from you if I go with him.”
At that, the man’s expression darkened. “Who the hell are you and what do you want with Ahsoka?” He took a menacing step toward Luke, looming over him. “Tell me!”
Before Luke could say anything, both Leia and Han had their blasters aimed at the man. “Step back,” Leia ordered. Han couldn’t help but internally smile at her taking control like that (he loved it when she took control).
The man chuckled. “You don’t wanna do that.” Suddenly, something yanked their blasters out of their hands. Just like on Bespin.
Luke moved a hand to the lightsaber on his side. “Who are you?”
“Nice try. I was about to ask you the same,” the man replied. Luke tilted his head almost imperceptibly. Everybody knew who he was. Unsurprisingly, it mostly from the damn bounty on his head, instead of him blowing up the Death Star.
“Luke,” he answered. “Are you Jedi?” He asked. In return, the man ignited a blue lightsaber, the same shade as Luke’s old one.
While Luke was asking the angry man if he was magic too, the girl had managed to cuff both him and Leia. Unless they turned out to be good guys, Luke was their only hope.
“You’re not the one asking questions right now. Who are you and what do you want with Ahsoka?!” He emphasized this by pointing his saber toward Luke’s throat.
At that, Luke ignited his lightsaber. Finally. Then the girl ignited two more. Well, shit.
Leia spoke up. “Put your sabers down and step back from him. I think there’s been a misunderstanding. There’s no need for bloodshed yet. I’m sure we can work something out.”
The man didn’t put away his saber, but he did back off from Luke. Of course, that was just so he could get to Leia instead. “I don’t cut deals with separatist spies.” Leia’s brow furrowed and she didn’t hesitate to step forward toward the man.
Right as she was about to give him a verbal beating, Han interrupted. “Hold up. Hold up. Separatist spies? What, do you think we’re in the Clone War?”
The girl spoke up. “Do you think we’re not?”
“Sister, of course we’re not. The Clone War ended over 20 years ago—you wouldn’t have even been alive, much less fighting in them. Your master has tricked you.”
“I- what? I haven’t tricked her. We literally just fought them today. You’re the one that’s confused.”
Luke looked murderous, which worried Han. Luke was hardly ever angry (though he was certainly whiny), much less looking like he wanted to skewer a man with his lightsaber like he did now.
“And why should we trust you? A slaver, a thief, and a liar?”
“What are you talking about?! I am no slaver.” The man answered. If his voice had been threatening before, it was downright terrifying now.
“You’ve clearly manipulated and enslaved this girl here. Haven’t you been lying to her? Lying to us? And I know for a fact that that,” he gestured at the lightsaber in his hand, “is stolen. You’re either a liar or you’re delusional.”
“I’m his Padawan!” The girl exclaimed. “He’s my teacher!”
Luke frowned. “He’s still a liar.”
“I don’t know what you think you know, but you better watch your mouth. I’m not lying and I sure as hell didn’t steal this lightsaber. I made it.”
“You’re mistaken,” the girl said. “Master Skywalker has had that lightsaber for almost two years—really it’s a personal record.” She added, earning herself a slightly reproachful look from her Master. Skywalker.
The blood drained from Luke’s face. “Skywalker? You’re a Skywalker?”
“Anakin Skywalker? General of the GAR? Jedi Knight? What backwater planet are you from that you don’t know him?” The girl answered.
“Liar. That’s impossible.”
“I’m not the one who’s a liar here. Why won’t you answer any of our questions, ‘Luke’? What are you doing on my ship?” Anakin replied aggressively.
Luke didn’t appear capable of responding.
“Anakin Skywalker is dead,” Leia cut in. “He’s been dead for over 20 years, so I don’t know what game you think you’re playing, but it won’t work.” Then she turned toward Luke. “This has got to be some trick of Vader’s to capture you. We need to get out.”
That at least turned ‘Anakin’s’ expression from terrifying to, like 40% terrifying and 60% confused. “I think I would know if I was dead! I don’t know who this Vader is or what spice you’re on, but I’m taking you to our holding cells. This is ridiculous.”
Han glanced around the hangar again, paying more attention to the starfighters this time. They were old, not even TIES. And that symbol embossed on each—that was the Republic symbol, not the Empire. What the hell… Whoever designed the trap put a hell of a lot of effort to make this look legit—which made no sense, because it was so obviously untrue.
“Wait!” Luke said. “Something isn’t right—can’t you feel it?”
“Yes, that something is you three, trespassing on my ship!”
“No, I think—” Luke broke off and looked at Leia and Han. “I think this is real. That artifact I grabbed must have sent us back here.” He paused. “We can save everyone.”
Leia’s eyes widened by a fraction of an inch, followed by the slightest nod. It sounded impossible, but Han had learned long ago not to question any of Luke’s weird force stuff. He hated to say it, but it was the only answer that made sense.
“Kid, if you think it’s true then I believe you.”
The Jedi interrupted. “I am asking one more time before I drag you all to the holding cells. What the hell are you doing on my ship?”
Han gestured toward Luke as if to say “all yours,” and the kid had the audacity to wink at him. Luke powered down his saber and smirked at the man in front of him. (His father, holy shit).
“My name is Luke Skywalker and these are my friends. We’re from the future.”