By Solo Jones
The rebellion suffers a devastating defeat. They suspect someone on the inside of treachery. And what better target than a self-absorbed, cocky Corellian....

Disclaimer: Characters and elements of this story created by George Lucas and LucasFilmsLtd belong to them. I am not making money off of this story. I am just a bored girl with a word processor and lots of free time and ideas.

Send all comments to solojones@hotmail.com.


"Rogue Squadron, this is Solo. Requesting backup. Wedge, get down here!
We're getting swamped by Imps!" Han shouted through the comlink.
"I thought this was supposed to be a secret mission?" Wedge responded
from his X-wing cockpit, high above the atmosphere.
"I thought so, too. Apparently, someone tipped the Imps off. In any case,
we've got company! Get your squad down here, now!" Han sounded very urgent.
Wedge could hear the chaotic firing of blasters and yelling in the
"Is he on his way?" Luke asked, deflecting as many of the blaster shots as
he could with his lightsaber. "These Imps are destroying our troops." He
"He says he's on his way, but with all the action going on down here, I doubt he'll be here for a while." Han shouted over the roar of the battle.
Han, Luke, and Leia were huddled down behind a small crate in one of the streets of the capital of Synegast. This was supposed to be a secret meeting with the Synegastian King to persuade him to support the Rebellion, and possibly supply some volunteers and weapons. It had turned into mayhem.
"Great secrecy you've kept here, highness," Han remarked while firing blindly around the crate. "Might as well have sent the Empire a written invitation."
"It's not my fault!" Leia protested. She saw Luke suppress a grin. I'm starting to sound just like Solo, she sighed. "What I meant was, there was no way they could have found out about this meeting. There must have been a spy."
"Or a traitor," Luke said quietly. Han's face twisted in disgust at the thought. For a few moments, no one said anything. A traitor, one of our own, Luke thought sourly.
Leia broke the silence. "We can't just wait here until Rogue Squadron arrives. It could take an hour, or more."
"Do you have any escape plans, sweetheart?" Han snapped. "Because I'm open to suggestions." He fired another shot around the crate.
Leia sat in thought for a moment, surveying their surroundings. The Falcon was on the other side of the mass of stormtroopers in front of them. There was no way around them. But might there be a way over them...
"Luke, you see that sign there?" She said, pointing to a sign mounted atop a restaurant in the square where the battle was taking place.
"Yeah," he replied, suspiciously. What is she getting at, he wondered.
"You think you can take out the supports with your lightsaber?" she questioned.
Luke's eyes brightened with realization. "Pretty sure I can." He grinned and readied himself to launch his weapon toward the rooftop.
Leia turned to Han. "When he throws the lightsaber, that board's gonna be falling down here pretty quickly, so you better get ready to move," she commanded.
"Brilliant!" he exclaimed. "Now we're taking out the Emperor's troops with falling billboards!" He rolled his eyes.
"You have a better idea, Captain?" She waited. He said nothing. "That's what I thought. OK, we're going on the count of three. One... Two... THREE!" She shouted, dashing out from cover, blaster ablaze. Han charged out after her. They blasted blindly into the crowd.
"Luke!" Han screamed. "Hurry up, kid!" Luke took one deep breath, then hurled his lightsaber toward the sign. He held his breath as it twisted and turned toward its goal. Then, with a shower of sparks, it sliced cleanly through the supports.
Luke stood still, gazing at the swaying billboard. "Great shot, but wake up and move it before we get hammered!" Han tugged Luke toward the edge of the crowd.
For a few moments, the cocky imperials believed they had forced the rebels into surrender. But their smugness turned to terror as the giant mass of stone and metal plummeted down upon them. It crushed nearly two-thirds of the stormtroopers, which was enough for Han, Luke, and Leia to make a run for the Falcon.
"Go!" Leia shouted. "Straight to the ramp!" she pointed to the Falcon's agape entrance. The three of them rushed over the rubble and bodies, dodging the small amount of fire. In a few minutes, they were safely in reach of the ramp.
"Ladies first, Your Majesty," Han said, with a mock bow. Leia jogged up the ramp. "Though you could hardly be called that," he added under his breath. Leia spun around and gave him a 'Do you have a death wish' look. Han held up his hands in defense and protest.
Luke called his lightsaber to himself with the Force and snapped it to his belt. He rolled his eyes at Han at he trotted into the ship.
"What?" Han asked, incredulously. "I didn't do anythi-" A sharp crack was heard as the butt of a blaster struck Han at the base of the neck. "Ahhhhh......" he groaned, crumpling to the ground.
"Han!" Luke and Leia cried in unison. The Imperial officer who had clubbed Han proceeded to beat him with the blaster and kick him in the ribs.
Luke pulled out his lightsaber and ignited it with a snap....hiss! He started to charge the officer when Han pleaded, "Get back in that ship! Don't worry about me!" The officer hit Han over the head again, knocking him unconscious.
Luke ignored Han's request, and charged the unsuspecting officer, striking him down with a single swipe of his lightsaber. "Leia, help me get Han back on the Falcon, so we can get off this rock," he shouted, grabbing Han's ankles.
Leia complied, silently grabbing both Han's wrists and helping Luke drag him into the ship. Luke palmed the close ramp button, just as a new transport full of stormtroopers arrived and opened fire on them.
"Chewie, get us outta here!" Luke called. The familiar sound of the Falcon's repulsorlifts sounded as it roared out of the atmosphere. Luke entered the coordinates into the Falcon's nav computer, then set them off into hyperspace, back to the Alliance base.


Han's eyes cracked open a few millimeters. Intense light glared into them. Wherever he was, it was quiet. "Imps must have me in an interrogation room." He moaned, sitting up. He blinked and squinted. "Luke?" he asked, seeing the young man asleep in a chair across the room. Luke stirred. "They get you, too?" His voice grew angry, "I told you two to get outta there! Why'd you come back to-"
"Relax!" Luke comforted, finally getting a word in. "No one's been captured! We're in the hospital." Han looked puzzled, then he looked at Luke questioningly.
"An Alliance hospital, right?" He inquired. "I'd rather die than be in an Imperial hospital." A dark look crossed his face.
"Yes, an Alliance hospital. Didn't you know we'd get you back?" Luke asked.
"OK, so lemme get this straight; even though I told you to leave me, you got me outta there anyway." He paused, and Luke nodded. "And we're back at the base hospital?" Luke nodded again. Han shook his head. "I must've got cracked over the head real good. I'm not thinkin' straight." He muttered.
Luke couldn't resist the wide-open comment. "No, that's perfectly normal." he said, failing at an attempt to keep a straight face.
Han rolled his eyes. "That's the best you can do? I need to teach you a thing or two about zingers, kid." He shook his head. He was about to fire a comment of his own at Luke, when the door slid open. A white-cloaked figure crept into the room, quietly closing the door behind her. "Well, if it isn't Her Majesty Senator Organa?" he announced, bemused. "To what do we owe this great privilege? Come to make sure the lowly peasants are well? Or is this just for your image as a compassionate politician?" He sneered.
"I was foolish enough to have concern for you, Captain. I see your mouth is fully functional." She spat at him, angrily. She realized her mistake too late.
Han was quick to reply. "Why don't you give me a kiss to test it out, sweetheart. Who knows, I might turn from a toad into a prince like one of those old fairy tales." He smirked at her and winked.
Leia's rage was building up inside her. Luke knew she would explode at any moment, which always happened when she was around Han. He decided to throw some water on the fire. "I was just about to check Han out. The nurse says he's fine and can leave as soon as he's ready."
Han sat up and was about to get up and head for the door, when he remembered he was only wearing a hospital gown. "Ah, junior? Could you throw me my stuff?" He nodded toward his shirt and pants by Luke. "As much as I love these things, I'd like to have my own clothes back." He said with thick sarcasm.
Luke complied, quickly tossing Han his outfit. Han pulled the gown off over his head and slipped into his shirt. He somehow managed to pull his pants on under the covers. He then swung his feet onto the cold floor, and grabbed his boots. Once they were on, he donned his jacket and gun belt.
Leia was a little more than shocked at Han's behavior. To think, he has the nerve to just go and change right in front of me with nothing more than a sheet for privacy! She fumed internally. She just stared at him, her mouth slightly agape. Han noticed her reaction and grinned cockily. Leia blushed, and quickly turned the other way, pretending to be very interested in a chart of Rodian nasal cavities.
"I suppose you never get tired of looking at gorgeous men." He smiled at Leia.
Leia was enraged. She was about to lash out when she had a better idea. She smiled sweetly. "Oh no, I never tire of looking at gorgeous men..." she began. Han smiled proudly, but should have known better. Her smile faded instantly, "But I don't see how that has anything to do with a bantha like yourself."
Luke snickered, and Han's smiled faded. The Princess was really starting to get Han riled. He admitted that he got angry easily, but for some reason, this little monarch made him madder more quickly than anyone he'd ever known. And he'd known a lot of aggravating people.
Han was about to spit out his retort, when the door flew open. Thank the Force, Luke thought. I don't think I could have stopped that one. A young doctor in a fair white jacket entered. There were two guards behind her. "Captain Solo?" She addressed Han.
"Yeah. Uh, the nurse said I was free to leave." He said, slightly whining.
"I'm sorry. That order has been revoked. You'll have to come with me." She said sternly.
"Look," Han began to get angry, "I feel fine. I need to get back to work. You guys are the ones always pinning me to get all my paper work done. So don't go whinin' when it's not finished!"
The doctor held up her hands, blocking Han's exit. The guards behind her started to get out their blasters. "You're not staying here. This isn't a medical issue." She said, as she turned to leave. She gave Han one last, sorrowful look as she left.
"Captain Solo." The older guard addressed.
"What?" Han asked.
"If you'll come with us. Please remove your weapons." He held out a hand. Han was about to ask why, when he added, "You're being placed under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a-"
"What do you think you're doing?" Han shouted, pulling away. His eyes grew wide. "Hey, if this is about my smuggling and other slightly shady activities, you can forget it! That's none of your business!"
The other guard moved behind Han and slapped the handcuffs on him as he yelled. The first guard looked at Han with obvious hatred, "You're under arrest for high treason. We have reason to believe you are responsible, by conspiracy, for the deaths of 137 rebel soldiers at the battle of Synegast." He was about to add his own thoughts on the matter when Han cut in.
"What?" Han's face grew red with anger. He wanted to reach out and strangle the guard. But, of course, his manacled hands prevented that. The officer smiled smugly. "Come along, you. We're taking you to a nice, cold cell. Back with the scum you belong with." With that, the two guards shoved Han out the door. He turned his head back just in time to see Luke and Leia's shared look of anger, sympathy, and shock. He gave them one last reassuring smile, though he didn't feel reassured at all, and was dragged off down the hall.

Han lay on his cold metal bunk. He stared at the ceiling, tracing the tiny cracks there with his eyes. He had been kept in this cold gray prison for three days now. Occasionally, a guard would bring him some food, but mostly everyone stayed away from him. Even the man in the cell across from him seemed afraid to peer into Han's window. There was no worse crime than treason, save murder. And most people figured that this treason had caused the deaths of 137 people. So in their eyes, he was a mass murderer. Talking to the other prisoners about it wasn't going to earn him much sympathy. But that was OK. He didn't want, or need, their sympathy anyway. So he just sat on his hard bunk, thinking about lots of things. He figured if they kept him in here long enough, he would go crazy. But he was growing used to being alone. After all, it wasn't like he'd never been in prison before. So for now he was content to stay by himself in his cell. He had accepted that he wasn't going to really get to talk to anyone until the trial, whenever that was going to be...
The intercom in Han's cell buzzed with an incoming message. "Captain Solo," A young male voice announced, "visitors." Without further warning, the cell door slid open. Luke and Leia entered. The guard closed the door behind them and waited outside.
For a while, there was only uneasy silence in the room, as Han stared at the floor, avoiding the gazes of his friends. Then he looked up and broke the silence, "Well, it's nice to know you guys didn't disown me." He laughed sardonically. "Aren't you worried about the troops finding out about this little visit?" he asked. "Doesn't do much for your image as royalty," he said as he looked at Leia, "or a hero," he directed at Luke, "if people find out you've been visiting a lowlife and a traitor like me." He laughed again. They apparently didn't find it funny at all. He shrugged, "No? Well, then you might as well sit down, make yourselves comfortable." He said the last word with a dry laugh.
Leia and Luke sat on the bunk opposite from Han. Leia was shocked by his haggard appearance. He had bags under his eyes and probably hadn't slept in days. "Han," she said softly, "are you doing okay?" she gave him another concerned look over.
He sighed, "I'm fine. Glad one of you finally decided to talk. I'm going crazy talkin' to myself in here-"
"Han," Luke cut him off. His deep blue eyes conveying complete serisouness, "We've been asked to testify at your trial."
Han seemed to get a little more focused, "Trial, eh? When is it?" he asked expectantly.
Luke hesitated. "Tomorrow," He said finally.
"TOMORROW?" Han yelled in astonishment.
"We'll do everything we can to get our defense ready for you," Leia tried to reassure him.
Han's face grew cold, "Won't be necessary. I figure most people will be quick to pin this thing down on someone. And considering most everyone's low opinion of me, I should make a perfect scapegoat." He sounded depressed.
Luke was quick to come to his defense, "No one is going to jump to any conclusions." Han threw him a doubtful look. And to tell the truth, Luke wasn't so sure that was true. Han was right. The incident at Synegast was a tragedy, and people wanted, needed, someone to blame for it. And a shady smuggler who seemed to care for little else than his own fortune was the perfect target.
Luke glanced at his chrono. "I've got to go. Wedge wanted to see me about some X-wing repairs." He stood and walked to the door. The guard opened the door for him. He paused and sent Han a grievous glance. "Goodbye Han," he said.
Han waved a hand at him, unconcerned, "Get outta here kid. You've got more important things to do." The door slid shut.
Han turned toward Leia. "Well sweetheart, is it nice to know you have friends in low places?" he teased.
Leia sighed heavily, "Han, you know I don't think of you as..." she searched for the right word.
"A criminal," he offered.
"Well... yes... but you know we consider you a wonderful and faithful ally," she insisted. Han nodded slowly, facing the floor.
"And," she added carefully, "a friend." His eyes shot up to meet hers.
"Oh," he said "so you really think that we're friends?" Leia was shocked that he even had to ask. But yet she was more shocked that she hesitated to answer. "That's what I thought," he said sorrowfully, his gaze returning to the ground.
Leia lifted his head up with her hands to meet her gaze. "You are our friend Han. The Alliance has always treated you as a friend," she said.
"The Alliance..." he said slowly, "but what about you?" he asked. His questioning hazel eyes burned through her.
"Han, I know we have our share of arguments-"
"That might be the understatement of all time-"
"But we're still friends. You know that I care about you... And Luke does too," she added quickly, seeing a slight smile tug at his lips. "We care about you and we're going to get you out of this. I promise."
He was about to make some snide remark, when he noted the seriousness in her eyes. "I know," he said quietly.
For a long moment, the two of them just stared at each other. Leia was overflowing with compassion for the smuggler. The look in his eyes returned that compassion. No way Organa, what do you think you're doing? She shook her head and broke the intense moment. "I ought to be going now," she said as diplomatically as she could.
"Yeah," he said slowly, "that's probably best, isn't it?"
The door slid open and Leia stepped into the hall. Before leaving, she turned to Han for one last word. "Remember, we're always here for you. Always," She held his gaze for one moment longer.
"I know." he said softly. With that the door slid shut, leaving Han alone again. "I know." he whispered to himself.


Luke sat silently with Leia at the defense table. The prosecuting attorney to their right hurried around with last minute tasks, readying his papers. Luke fidgeted a little in his chair. There were probably at least a hundred people looking on from the public seating area. Leia looked much more calm. She was used to legal proceedings, being a Princess and Senator. But Luke was only a pilot, formerly a farm boy, and he was totally unprepared. She leaned over to him and whispered in his ear, "Relax. You look way too tense." Luke tried to follow her advice, but to no avail.
The door from the holding cell slid open. A guard stepped out, followed by Han. He pulled a key from his jacket, and proceeded to remove the cuffs from Han's wrists. After doing so, he lead Han to the defense table, and pushed him roughly into a chair. "Have a nice trial, Captain," he jeered as he moved back into public seating.
Han opened his mouth to spit a colorful response at the guard, but Leia stopped him and turned him to face her. "Solo, don't make this any harder than it already is," she grumbled. Leia was dressed in her typical white senatorial cloak, her hair neatly braided and wrapped around a large bun in back. Han noticed that despite her obvious attempts too look cool and even, she instead looked edgy and tired. He could tell just by the way she addressed him that she was in a snappy mood. Good, he thought. We can use all the aggression we can get.
"Han," Luke said, extending a friendly hand, "How are you?" Han waved away Luke's hand, and wearily buried his face in his palms. He raked his hair back with his fingers.
"Been better. And you?" Han replied.
"The same." Luke said, dropping his depressingly happy facade. Han was glad for that. He hated it when people didn't act the way they felt, especially out of sympathy.
"Listen up, Solo," Leia cut in, getting right down to it. "We've been up all night and did some research on the prosecutor. His name's Johann Calheed, and he's going to be tough to beat," she paused a moment, reluctantly, "He's barely ever lost a case, and he's very aggressive with his proceedings," she finished.
"Great, "Han huffed.
"But," she amended, "we know that you're innocent, and we can prove it." Han gave her a wary look.
Just then, a justice stepped up to the front of the courtroom. He cleared his throat then announced, "All rise, for the honorable Judge Maxefin." The whole room quickly stood. A middle-aged man with gray hair and a black robe entered, and approached the bench. He sat, and signaled for the assembly to follow suit. Once everyone was seated, he read the paper in front of him, "We are here today to witness the trial of the people vs. Han Solo on the account of High Treason. The people charge that Han Solo informed the Imperials intentionally of the Alliance presence on Synegast, resulting in the deaths of 137 Alliance troops." He glanced to both sides, they had no objections, so he continued, "Then, let the proceedings begin. Prosecution, you may now begin."
Calheed nodded, "The prosecution calls its first witness, Senator Leia Organa." Leia stood and moved quietly to the stand. After being sworn in, she sat silently, waiting for the questioning to begin.
Calheed stood. He was tall, with neatly combed brown hair. He had intelligent brown eyes. He was probably around 40 years old. He took a short breath, and began.
"Senator Organa," he began, "how long have you known Captain Solo?'
"About three years," she answered calmly.
"And how is it that you came to be acquaintances?"
So, Leia thought, this is going to be personal. She made sure she did not hesitate one moment with her response, "He and Commander Skywalker rescued me from my cell on the Death Star. It was a very brave and noble act." She answered.
Calheed seemed to flinch at her last statement, but he continued on, "At the time, did you not feel that Captain Solo was simply working for hire? That he cared nothing for the Alliance?"
"At the time, yes. But these notions were quickly dispelled when Ha-" she caught herself, "Captain Solo, came back to help us of his own accord."
"I see," Calheed mused. He knew Leia had much practice with proceedings such as these. Which made him even more pleased that he had almost caught her referring to Solo by his first name. He decided to exploit this matter.
"Senator Organa, what is your relationship with Captain Solo?" he said, possibly hinting that they were romantically involved.
She gave Han a cool glance, "We're friends." She took Calheed's hint. She was enraged that he would ever think that she would be romantically entangled with a smuggler, particularly one as roguish as Han Solo.
"Good friends, would you say?" He raised his eyebrow.
Leia knew where this was going. There was no way she was going to show that her opinion of Han came from a close friend, not a respected leader. She turned her eyes on Calheed's, with cold disdain. "Not particularly," she said icily. From her peripheral vision, she could see Han shift in his chair and turn away. She wished she could explain to him, but she knew that now was not the time to show such concern.
"Senator," Calheed continued, "when did you decide to make a trip to Synegast?"
"The Alliance has been trying to find new allies, as you know. Synegast was on the list. They weren't under Imperial jurisdiction, and they have a considerable army. It was suggested that I, along with part of Rogue Squadron, go to Synegast and meet with their king," she explained.
"And so, you traveled in the command ship with the rest of the ambassadors?" he asked, smugly. He knew this was not true.
"No," she said, through gritted teeth.
"Really? I thought it was standard procedure for ambassadors to stay aboard the command ship," he said shrewdly. "Where did you travel, then?"
Leia breathed deeply but quietly. "With Captain Solo and Commander Skywalker on the Millennium Falcon," she confessed.
"Solo's personal ship?" he asked rhetorically. From the table, Luke stifled a groan. This wasn't going very well.
"I see," he said, cockily, "That will be all for now." He waved Leia down from the stand.
She returned to the table and Han whispered in her ear, "Not particularly good friends?"
She grimaced. She knew he wasn't going to be too pleased about her denunciation of their friendship, especially after the big speech she had made to him in his cell last night.
"You know that's not true," she whispered back. He nodded slightly in return.
"Is the prosecution prepared to call its next witness?" Maxefin asked from his bench.
"Yes your honor. The people call Commander Luke Skywalker to the stand," Calheed announced.
Luke slowly stood. "You're turn to run the gauntlet, kid. Don't get jittery," Han called quietly as Luke moved toward the front.
Luke settled into the chair and took the oath. Calheed approached with dignity, "Commander Skywalker, you are, by all accounts, a hero of the Rebellion. You're the one who fired the shot that destroyed the Death Star, correct?"
"Yes," Luke answered, modestly.
Calheed nodded, "Who assisted you in this?"
"Wedge Antilles and Han Solo." Luke was a bit surprised that Calheed would bring this up. To Luke, this made Han seem like a hero.
"Han Solo came back to help you because he's a good friend of yours, yes?" Calheed smiled.
Now Luke was in a jam. He knew Han hadn't come back to help out of generosity to the Alliance. "Yes," He answered simply. "I would trust him with my life," he added. Calheed's smile faded a little.
"Certainly," He said dryly. "Now, tell us about the incident at Synegast," He said as if it were a mere suggestion.
Here we go. Luke took a breath and began, "We arrived early in the morning, and headed straight to the palace."
Calheed interrupted. "Captain Solo, Miss Organa, and yourself," He clarified.
"Was that all?"
"Yes." Luke replied.
"You had no body guards?" Calheed questioned.
"And why is that?"
"Han and I can take care of ourselves."
"Was this Captain Solo's suggestion?"
Luke glared at him, annoyed. "We never use body guards. No one suggested it."
Calheed nodded suspiciously, then Luke resumed his testimony. "We were walking through the main street. When we reached a prominent square, stormtroopers emerged and surrounded us. Han called on the comlink and instructed his copilot to bring the Falcon in and pick us up. It landed outside the square, as close as possible."
"Did you board it?" Calheed asked.
"No, the fire from the troopers was too heavy, and they blocked our path. We stayed in the square behind some crates. After about 30 minutes, Han called Captain Antilles and Rogue Squadron in."
"When did they arrive?" Calheed asked.
"We didn't stick around. Leia suggested that I knock a sign down with my lightsaber as a diversion. It worked, and we headed to the Falcon," he concluded.
"So you left without problems?" Calheed lead him on.
"No," Luke admitted, "Han was attacked by an Imperial officer, and we had to help him."
"And what was his reaction to this?"
"He told us to go, to leave him."
"Was this because he planned to defect?"
Leia jumped to her feet, "Objection. He's leading."
Maxefin nodded, "Jury disregard that last remark."
Calheed grinned, "No further questions for this witness, your honor." Luke trudged back to the table. "The defense calls Han Solo to the stand," Calheed announced.
Han stood. Leia grabbed him by the arm and whispered in his ear, "Try to control yourself, please."
Han pulled away and smirked at her. "Hey, it's me!"
"That's what I'm afraid of," she mumbled.
Han casually took the stand and repeated the oath. Calheed approached him with a tinge of hatred. "Captain," he said, almost mockingly, "have you ever had any dealings with Imperials?"
"No. I've tried to stay with small time operations," He glared at him.
"Interesting," Calheed mused, pulling a paper from the stack on his table. "According to this, ten years ago you were a Private in training in the Imperial flight squad under Admiral Flag Stirkson." Han saw Leia's eyes widen. He had neglected to tell her that. Luke just stared, awestruck.
Han sighed, "Yeah, that's correct. But I left the Academy shortly after I began."
Calheed nodded, "Yes. You were sent to the Kessel mines for attempting to free a ship of slaves. You thereafter escaped." He actually seemed to show some appreciation for this amazing deed for a moment. Then he shook it off and returned to his questions. "When you were attacked by the officer on Synegast, why didn't he shoot you?"
"I dunno, why don't you ask him?" Han growled. Leia shot him a warning glance, "He probably wanted to take me back to the base for questioning."
A tingle went down Leia's spine. She knew how horrible that was, and obviously Han did too. He glared off into the distance. Leia made a mental note to ask him about it, later.
Calheed resumed his arguments, "Do you still have connections with anyone in the Imperial squad?"
"Besides a few buddies who got out around the same time I did, no," Han said, pointedly.
"Hmm... I find it quite interesting then that Flag Stirkson was the Admiral in charge of the Imperial ambush on Synegast," Calheed mused.
"Yeah, I guess that is pretty coincidental," Han said, with a touch of sarcasm, "but I haven't heard anything about him for ten years."
"Really? It seems we have evidence to the contrary." Calheed pulled out another paper from his stack, "It says here that a message was sent from the Millennium Falcon directing the rebels to meet at Synegast. The message is as follows, The rebel troops will meet at Synegast in the Atrogastia system, at 0500 on 20-11-467. The message was encoded in MAC 57-4 coding. Does this ring a bell?" Han was silent. "Let me refresh your memory then. It's a coding taught in Imperial flight squad. It's also interesting that Flag Stirkson and his command ship the Plague were nearby and intercepted this message. It was easily decoded and alerted the Imperials to our presence on Synegast. How do you explain this?" Calheed asked, smiling slyly.
"A strange set of coincidences," Han said dryly.
"Very strange indeed. If not impossible-"
"I've seen stuff no one would believe," Han spat, "Nothing is impossible."
Calheed just shook his head and turned to Maxefin, "The prosecution rests, your honor. We have no further witnesses to call. The defense may begin." He returned to his seat, as did Han.

Leia took a moment to brief Han and Luke. "Luke, you're going first, and you've got to be very sure of yourself. Han, you've got the confidence covered," Han rolled his eyes, "so you just need to be very convincing," She sighed to herself.
"Try not to sound too optimistic," Han sneered.
Leia straightened her gown as she stood. "The defense calls Commander Luke Skywalker."
Luke approached the stand and seated himself again. Maxefin looked at him, "You are reminded that you are still under oath. Begin."
Leia smiled at Luke, "Commander, how would you describe Captain Solo?"
Luke was glad to be able to answer a question cheerfully, "When we first met, I thought he was a little bossy." Leia contained a laugh.
Han rolled his eyes and gave her a 'this isn't helpful' look.
"But he saved my life, and now I know that there were good reasons and intentions behind his actions. It was mostly my own childishness that created troubles." Calheed looked like he was about to object, so Luke continued. "Several times, he's saved my life. I truly believe that without his help, I couldn't have blown up the Death Star, and we would have lost at Yavin." The crowd murmured. "You can all imagine how that would change things."
"Yes," Leia said, "indeed, the Alliance might not even exist. Would you call Captain Solo a hero?"
"Definitely, a hero who should be respected by us all." Luke threw a glance at Calheed.
"When you were on your way to Synegast, did you ever see Captain Solo send the alleged coded message?"
"No, I never saw him sending any messages. I spent most of my time in the lounge, while Han was in the cockpit. But I never got the impression that he was sending a message, to anyone."
Leia nodded. "That will be all," Luke sat down at the defense table once again.
"The defense calls Han Solo to the stand." Leia said. Han trotted to the stand, giving Leia a sly smile. She tried not to smile back, unsuccessfully. He always seemed to be optimistic at the worst times.
"Captain," she began.
"Yeah?" he interrupted. She glared at him warningly. He backed off and mouthed the word 'sorry' to her.
"Did you in fact send a MAC 57-4 coded message identifying the target planet of Synegast?" Please say no, she pleaded silently.
"No," He said positively, "It was Captain Antilles' job to send out messages. I didn't send any messages the whole trip."
Leia sighed in relief, "And do you have any connections with Imperial forces, particularly Admiral Stirkson?"
"No, as I've said. They didn't like me much when I was in flight squad anyway. They never missed me. The feeling was mutual," he answered.
Leia mentally ran through any other questions she needed to ask and decided less is more. "That will be all, your honor."
They returned to their seats.
Maxefin looked at Calheed, "You may begin your summation."
Calheed stood and approached the jury. "Captain Solo is anything but a noble man. His motivation for helping the Alliance is only for monetary gain." Han seemed about to jump up and tackle Calheed, but Luke and Leia held him back. "It is true that he was ejected from Imperial Flight Squad, but it is also true that he kept in contact with Admiral Stirkson. Despite his denial, there is evidence that he sent a message coded in a known Imperial code, with the intentions that the Admiral would intercept it. He could then attempt to defect to the Empire on Synegast. He failed thanks to Commander Skywalker and Senator Organa. His treasonous acts resulted in the deaths of 137 loyal soldiers. I urge you all to deal this man the punishment that is deserved for high treason," He finished and seated himself.
Leia breathed a few deep breaths and centered herself. She walked gracefully over to the jury, and began. "As you have seen clearly today, Han Solo is a loyal man and a hero. His bravery at the Battle of Yavin was a crucial part of our victory. Although he was once an Imperial in training," she paused to glance at Han, who turned away to stare at the wall, "he was banished, and for the very noble act of freeing slaves. At Synegast, he unselfishly asked the troops to leave without him. If there is anything this man deserves, it is a medal, not a sentence."
"Jury, you are dismissed," Maxefin waved the jury out. "Defense and prosecution, you may retreat to your private rooms until called upon. Dismissed." He tapped his gavel on the podium, and exited the courtroom.
Han, Leia, and Luke stood and walked to their assigned room, followed by a guard, who waited outside.
Inside, they sat at a table, quietly at first; then Han spoke up, "Well, this is certainly one of the biggest jams I've been in. And this one's serious, too." He added, sincerely.
"You're going to make it, Han. We know you're innocent," Leia locked eyes with him. "We're your friends, remember?"
"Really," Han said incredulously, "because I seem to remember you saying that we weren't particularly good friends." He turned to Luke, "But thanks for sticking with me, kid."
Luke smiled half-heartedly, not wanting to make Leia mad.
"I just didn't want my perceived value as a witness degraded," Leia explained.
"You think it's degrading to be known as my friend? Of course, her majesty Senator Perfect doesn't associate with the lowlifes." He stood, and kicked his chair a little ways. He turned his back to them, leaning on the wall.
Leia didn't know what to say. She felt terrible for being so selfish. Han was right, she was just a stuck-up little snob-

The door creaked open, and the guard motioned for them to come out, "The jury is ready to rule." They quickly walked to the courtroom and took their seats. Judge Maxefin was already seated at the bench. The jury entered their box, and sat down. The elected head of the jury stood.
"Have you reached a unanimous verdict, council?" Maxefin asked.
"We have, your honor," He replied. "In the battle of Synegast, on the count of treason in the high degree, we find the defendant, Han Solo, guilty." With this, the jury retired.
There would be no sentencing. There was only one sentence for high treason. "Han Solo, you are charged with the murder of 137 rebel troops by act of treason and are hear-by sentenced to be executed on a date to be set by the high courts of the Alliance. May the Force be with you," The loud clank of Maxefin's gavel echoed through the courtroom, and through Han's mind. Two guards handcuffed him, and escorted him back down the prison hallway.
Luke stared at Han in disbelief. Han's face was void of any expression. Luke, however, was flooding over with emotion. He nearly collapsed into his chair.
Leia stared pleadingly into Han's hazel eyes. She felt so guilty. There was so much she could have done. "Han, I..." She was speechless.
He didn't even look back at her, as he was led away. He simply followed the guards down the hallway, his tall silhouette disappearing in the dark.


"We've got to do something, Luke," Leia insisted, holding back the tears in her eyes.
He pulled her close and hugged her reassuringly, "I know... I know." Luke was frustrated. He had lost his aunt and uncle in this war, and now he was about to lose his best friend, too. He couldn't let that happen.
"There has to be something. Think Luke. Try, please!" Leia pleaded, pulling away a little to pace around.
The two of them just stood in the hallway for a moment. Suddenly, Luke jumped, "I've got it!" he exclaimed, running off toward command center.
"What?" Leia asked anxiously, following him.
"Well, Han said Wedge was in charge of sending the rendezvous transmission and-"
"Yes!" Leia shouted. "Why didn't I think of that? Where is Wedge?"
"I think I recall seeing him before the hearing...." Luke thought for a while.
Leia pushed him aside, "Never mind, I'll find out. In the meantime, you see if you can figure out more about this Stirkson character." She started off down the hallway, then added as an afterthought, "We can't let them kill him." Her voice quivered. Then she straightened up and collected herself, and trotted off to the command center.
Luke nodded. He had never seen Leia so exuberant over anything. But this is pretty serious, he reasoned. Yet there was a little part of his mind that wondered if Leia's concern for Han had to do with something more than simple friendship. He smiled. The two of them fought all the time, but he and General Rieekan thought that perhaps their arguing was really flirting instead. The thought of this made Luke a little jealous, though. Everyone knew he admired the Princess, and he hoped she felt the same about him. "Now's not the time," he reminded himself, as he ran down the hall to the computer database. Surely, there was something or someone that could clear Han...

A young Imperial captain sat quietly at the visiting booth. Why would some Rebel commander want to talk to me? he wondered. But he had a pretty good idea why. The rebel probably wanted to torture him into revealing Imperial secrets, or maybe just for fun. He grimaced. Rebel scum, he thought.
Abruptly, a guard ushered a young man with wavy blonde hair into the room. He sat across the table from the Imperial and extended his hand. "Luke Skywalker," he said pleasantly. The Captain just sat there. Luke withdrew his hand and started speaking, "You're Emil Deluide, Captain in the Imperial flight squad?"
"I was," Emil spat, "now I'm a prisoner of the Rebellion."
Luke examined the man in front of him. Luke couldn't really tell with him sitting down, but he appeared to be tall, maybe a little shorter than Han. He had dark brown, almost black hair that was shaggy and medium length. It was cut about the same as Han's, in fact. Luke found it interesting that he had many similarities to Han, but shrugged it off. His eyes were as dark as his hair. He had a lean face and build, but had more muscles than Luke did. He seemed to be a very relaxed man. But then Luke noticed that he was really not much of a man. He was probably only a year or two older than Luke himself, and as Han often pointed out, Luke was basically still a kid.
Luke finished his observations, and nodded gravely to Emil, "I'm very sorry about all that, but I'm afraid I don't have time to chat. I need your help."
"Humph!" Emil snorted, "You need my help?" Luke nodded. "And what makes you think I'll tell you anything? Oh, you think you'll just torture it out of me?" He spat.
Luke shook his head, "Torture is a horrible thing. We don't practice that."
"Of course not. The holy rebels wouldn't want to sink as low as the evil Empire," Emil snuffed.
"I understand you served under Flag Stirkson at the battle of Synegast?" Luke asked, ignoring Emil's comment.
Emil smiled. "That's what this is about, huh? The Synegast thing..." he trailed off, "Yes, I was his second in command, the Captain aboard the Plague. What is this really about?" His dark eyes narrowed.
To Luke, Emil didn't seem like the typical Imperial captain. For one thing, he was very young, but he also didn't seem to be as polished and strategic as the other Imperial officers Luke had met, "My friend has been convicted of treason for that battle, but he's innocent."
Emil leaned back slowly in his chair, weaving his fingers together and pressing his forefingers to his lips, in thought, "What does this have to do with Stirkson?" he asked suspiciously.
"It was believed that Admiral Stirkson was my friend's contact for defection. You see, my friend used to be enrolled in Imperial Flight Squad under Stirkson," Luke explained.
Emil's eyes went wide in mock surprise, "You mean Luke Skywalker, rebel hero is friends with a former Imperial? I'm appalled! What's your friend's name?"
Luke hesitated. "Han Solo," he replied.
Emil answered with recognition, "Ah yes, Han Solo who is... or was... also a rebel hero. This is quite a mess, yes?" He seemed amused.
"Do you have any information on his involvement with Stirkson?" Luke asked.
Emil squinted at him, "Maybe. Let's say I did. What's in it for me?"
Here comes the fun part, Luke thought. He had to convince an Imperial to tell the Rebellion about top-secret Imperial activities in order to save a rebel leader. This should be about as easy as teaching a bantha to fly a Star Cruiser, Luke thought pessimistically. He drew a long breath, "We could offer you anonymity. From the Empire and the Rebellion. The Empire has probably left you for dead, and we'd be willing to let you start a new life," Luke offered. He held his breath as Emil considered.
"And if I don't help... I'm stuck in this prison for who knows how long-" Emil was cut off.
"And," Luke interjected, "Han, an innocent man, will be executed."
"Listen, kid," Emil drawled, "I don't care about Solo. All I care about is me," he pointed a thumb at himself.
Luke thought it almost funny that Emil would refer to him as a kid, when he was only a few years older than Luke. Then something about that drawl, and that attitude clicked in Luke's brain. Suddenly, a light bulb went on in his head. "Where are you from?" Luke asked.
"What's it to you?"
"I'm from Tatooine, and I know that if an innocent Tatooinian were facing the death sentence and I knew something that could stop it, I'd speak up." Luke said.
"Oh, wouldn't that be noble of you," Emil scowled. "Fine, if you must know, I'm from Corellia."
Luke brightened up. Thank the Force, this just might be the ticket. Luke mentally crossed his fingers. "Han's from Corellia, too. And he is innocent," his blue eyes glared deep into Emil's "and you know it... don't you?" he said, his voice a whisper.
For a while, Emil remained silent. He rocked back in his chair, rubbing his chin with one hand. Then, he made up his mind. He leaned forward, putting his wrists on the table, pointing a finger at Luke, "I just want you to know that I'm not doing this to be noble. I'm in it for the reward."
That sounds familiar. Luke grinned. Are all Corellians the same?
"As for Solo, he is Corellian, and I've heard he's some pilot. It'd be a shame to let him take the blame for this. Corellians have bad enough reps already," Emil finished.
Luke reached into a little pouch on his belt, next to his lightsaber. He pulled out a small recording device, set it on the table, and activated it. "Now," he said with a slight smile, "tell me what you know about the Synegast incident."


"Senator Organa," Judge Maxefin said, rubbing his eyes tiredly, "you may begin your proceedings of appeal on the treason sentence of Captain Han Solo."
Leia walked to the stand, and began reading her paper, "The following is a certified testimony of Emil Deluide, former Captain aboard the Imperial Cruiser the Plague."
Maxefin waved his hand to usher her along.
She took a breath then began to read.

"SKWALKER: Tell me what you know about the Synegast incident.
DELUIDE: What do you want to know?
SKYWALKER: Let's start with your relation to Admiral Stirkson.
DELUIDE: He's been my commanding officer on the Plague for a year and a half, since I was promoted to captain. I was his right-hand man.
SKYWALKER: Had he told you anything about Captain Solo wishing to defect?
DELUIDE: No, but he mentioned his plans to capture Solo.
SKYWALKER: Capture him?
DELUIDE: Yeah, he said that he'd learned that Solo had joined the Rebellion. Said to find out where they'd be next so we could "acquire" Solo.
SKYWALKER: How did you go about this?
DELUIDE: After the battle at Hawmore, right before Synegast, we paid a mechanic to put a bug in the Millennium Falcon's computer. Once Captain Antilles' message was received, the bug transmitted a message back to the Plague.
SKYWALKER: What was the coding on that message, do you remember?
DELUIDE: Yeah, it was MAC 57-4."

Leia paused, "That's the end of the transcript." She pulled another paper from her file, and handed it to Maxefin. "This is a signed affidavit from Captain Antilles stating that he was the one to inform the Alliance troops of the rendezvous point at Synegast."
Maxefin took the paper, and gestured for Leia to go back to her seat. "Prosecution," he addressed Calheed. "Do you have anything to add?"
"No, your honor," Calheed hesitated, "in fact, in light of this new evidence, the prosecution would like to concede the trial."
Maxefin raised a brow at him. "From what I have seen today, and the prosecution's concession, I hear-by relieve Captain Han Solo of all charges. Court is adjourned." He tapped his gavel lightly on the stand, and then exited back to his office.
Luke, Leia, Wedge, Emil, and Han all stood from the defense table. "Let's celebrate," Luke insisted, "How about we all go out for a drink?"
"Make it a mug, or two, and it sounds good to me," Han said, groggily.
"I second that motion," Emil agreed.
They turned and started toward the door. Calheed stepped in front of Han. "Captain," he addressed Han soberly, "I am deeply sorry for this whole matter. You deserve a medal not a sentence."
Han smiled wryly, "Just doing your job Calheed." They shook hands, then Calheed turned and walked out the door.
"C'mon," Leia said, trotting forward. "Let's go have a drink." The four men followed without argument.


The five of them sat at a large booth in the corner of the Alliance cantina. Luke twirled his finger in his drink absentmindedly.
"Aren't you gonna drink that, kid?" Han questioned.
"I'm just taking my time." Luke took a small sip. Wedge and Leia had been quietly sipping their drinks, while Han and Emil gulped down their drinks with eagerness.
Emil wiped his mouth, then tapped the server droid on the shoulder. He pointed towards his empty mug. "Another, thanks," the droid moved away.
"Make that two!" Han added.
Wedge shook his head. "Corellians," he grunted, then a small smile spread across his face. Everyone but Emil, who had no idea that Wedge himself was Corellian, smiled along with Wedge.
"Hey, after what I've been through, don't you think I deserve a good drink or two?" Han asked.
"Or four," Luke laughed, indicating the empty mugs in front of Han.
Han shrugged.
Emil decided to put in his own defense, "And I'm just trying to drown my worries."
"What about?" Luke asked.
Emil sighed, "I dunno what I'm doing now. I won't miss the Empire, that's for sure. I think they have a vendetta against Corellians." He looked at Han. "But now I don't have anything to do with myself."
"Why don't you stay here?" Leia asked in her most persuasive voice.
The droid returned with Han and Emil's mugs. Emil took a swig of his new drink. He considered his options for a few long moments, "I suppose I could stick around for a while. Wouldn't do any harm. But let's get this straight-" Emil was cut off by Han.
"Lemme guess," Han began dramatically, "you aren't in this for the revolution, and you aren't in it for any of us. You expect to be well paid," Han quoted himself.
Leia and Luke started laughing. Emil glanced at them sideways, as if they were insane. "Yeah," he said slowly, "yeah that's about right." Han joined in with his friends' laughter at the private joke.
Wedge glanced at his chrono. "Well, uh," he said, politely interrupting, "I'd hate to break up your little nostalgia-fest, but I've got to be going. Need to get back to the mission I was on." He stood and gave everyone a nod, then left.
Emil sighed, "I suppose I better go meet with Rieekan about my new allegiance." He said the word 'allegiance' awkwardly, then stood as well.
"See ya around, kid," Han called. Emil waved to him and also exited. Now the three friends were all together again, and the atmosphere started to sober.
Han took another gulp of his drink, then turned to Luke, "Well kid, looks like we made it through. Couldn't have done it without you," he said gravely.
Luke smiled, "I owed you one. If not for you, I wouldn't have survived Yavin. The whole Rebellion owes you..." Han laughed. "What?" Luke inquired.
"I'm not on trial anymore, junior. That means you can stop tryin' to make me into a hero. It's makin' me sick," He laughed again.
"You are a hero, Han. You saved us all, and especially... you saved me," Luke insisted.
"Yeah, well what are friends for, huh?" Han answered lightly. He hated sappy conversations.
Luke grinned, "Yeah, well we're even." He stood up. "Sorry to leave so early but it's been a long couple of days. We're leaving on a mission to Ord Mantell tomorrow. We're gonna pick up some new Y-wings. I could use a transport. You up to it Han?"
"Sure, not like I've got anything else to do," Han shrugged.
"Good, then I'll see you tomorrow, both of you, bright and early," Luke chirped.
"Bright and early, can't wait," Han said sarcastically.
"Night Leia. Night Han," Luke waved.
"Night kid. Now get to sleep. It's past your bedtime," Han replied. Luke rolled his eyes as he pushed open the door and left.
"So," Leia said, "you've decided to stay?" she asked cautiously, with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah, I can't very well go back to my old business. At least not right now. Too many people with connections to Jabba the Hutt," Han explained.
"Jabba the Hutt... and what's your entanglement with him?" Leia asked, hoping she wasn't prying too much. She knew Han was sensitive about his past.
To her surprise, Han just shrugged and explained, "I dropped a load of spice I was smuggling for him when I was boarded by Imperials. My guess is he's not too happy about that."
"No, don't think I would be either," Leia agreed.
"Yeah, but you're not a crimeboss, either," Han chuckled. For a while, they just sat in silence and sipped their drinks.
Han glanced at the chrono on the wall. "Well, it really is getting late," he said. "You'd better be getting back to get some rest, I know I will. We've got a big mission tomorrow, looks like." He stood and nodded to Leia, "Goodnight, Princess." Leia smiled, "Goodnight Han."
Han got a few steps from the table, then stopped. He turned back to the table. "Oh, and Princess?" he added.
"Yes?" she replied.
He leaned over and looked straight into her eyes, "Thanks." His gaze and words were more sincere than Leia would have expected of anyone, much less this snide smuggler. He broke the gaze and moved his head slowly alongside hers. He kissed her gently on the cheek.
Leia was speechless, and just sat silently as Han pulled away. He smiled crookedly at her, and she tried to manage a smile in return. Her heart was pumping so loudly, she feared he could hear it. Why are you getting so worked up about this? she asked herself. But deep inside, she knew why. He winked, then walked out the exit. Her eyes followed him out the door. She let out a long breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. "Friends," she said to herself. It felt good to know that they were friends. Then she smiled and amended, "Particularly good friends."