CHAPTER ONE

Han Solo sat irritably in a familiar cantina, downing yet another drink, Chewie alongside him letting out a howl of disapproval. Han just cast him a nasty look, causing Chewie to seem even more upset. Why he was in this wretched place on Tatooine was beyond him. It was only where the start of his problems were initiated, when some old wizard paid him seventeen thousand credits for a passage to some blown-up planet for himself, some arrogant - smart, coming from the thoughts of Han Solo - boy, and two metal idiots. Yes, he was spiteful. He was Han Solo: he could hold a grudge. He sighed, leaning against the wall in the seat where he had found himself the pleasure of frying a certain bounty hunter. All unimportant now, all meaningless in his mind. Lazily, he picked up the cup of alcohol in front of him, dropping it back down to the table. However much he hated Tatooine, it was, strangely, the safest place for him now. The New Republic had been in operation for little more than a year now, and every day he heard smatters of conversation regarding important people, such as "Luke Skywalker" and "Lando Calrissian" and, lastly and leastly in his point of view, the "Princess Leia Organa-Skywalker". His stomach panged at the torturing thought of the woman, but that was quickly drowned in more alcohol.

After Jabba the Hutt had been killed by none other than the Princess, there was absolutely no government of any form on Tatooine. Sure, they were part of the Republic now, but those idiots one calls politicians have many more important planets to pay attention to. The two or so years since Jabba was destroyed and his grip over everyone was slackened had apparently taken a toll on Mos Eisley and the surrounding cities. People fought in the streets, credits lost virtually all value, and it was not unusual to walk past one or two dead, rotting people, baking in the desert suns, that were not going to be removed until the smell became unbearable. This, off course, made it easier for Han Solo to hide, because there were no records of anyone coming in or out of the planet, and he was thankful that no Republic snobs have come to check. He has disappeared to the ends of the universe.

See, after an incident with someone close to him, he deserted his rank as a general for the new Republic and just flew around for a few months, while the Republic tailed him, desperate to punish him as a military deserter. He was caught at one point - but, by a stroke of luck, that same ship was boarded by pirates shortly after they left the system. Han, being a poor, useless prisoner, and having much anger at the time at the new government, was allowed to live and leave with the pirates after he shot four prison guards. He hated these people almost as much as he hated the Empire. The pirates and he had a good time, due to similarity of interests. After all, what pirate or smuggler did not hear of Han Solo? Soon enough, after two months of pirating, Han Solo and Chewie got sick of being with the pirates, and had a longing to be on the Millennium Falcon once again. The pirates obliged, leaving Han with a promise that if they ever caught him in trouble, they would do whatever they could to help him and his allies - obviously, Han helped them win a lot of money.

So he ended up here. Life now was so dull that the pirates' promise would be useless. They wouldn't even think of attacking a ship coming out of Tatooine, because it would be just a waste of time. And it didn't look like he was going anywhere either. Han Solo downed another drink, finally feeling he drowned his thoughts for the moment, and tossing the bartender some of his few spare credits. He was broke, from not being in a job for so long, but he managed by stealing and some odd jobs he took up every now and then Chewie grunted, following him, walking much more gracefully with his long limbs than the staggering, slightly drunk human in front of him.

Solo seemed on the verge of collapsing, causing Chewie to have to pick up the Corellian to keep him from face-planting the sand. Chewie carried Han all the way to Docking Bay Ninety-four, unlocking the door, letting it slide up, and walking under it, shortly locking it behind him. Everything had to be locked in this godforsaken town now, even with it being more or less empty; the anarchy, as it may be correctly described, enabled people to do whatever they want, but Han and Chewie made their own modifications to the door, equipping it with a top security system. They approached the Falcon, where the fastest ship in the galaxy sat. It looked like it hadn't moved in a while. It had a strange, desolate feeling to it, like an empty shell. It lost any of its own character since Han and Chewie returned here.

It only showed how good of a friend Chewie was to Han by the way he took care of him. The ferocious-looking and sounding Wookie had a surprisingly, to those who did not know him, soft heart. He must be able to withstand a lot of frustration to not throw his mighty, furry hands in the air in despair and just leave Han and return to Kyyshek, his home planet. Chewie helped Han when he was drunk, or in a fight; he stopped Han from doing anything rash or stupid to show off, which was already part of the past-smuggler/Rebel General's nature, but heightened by drink and anger. Chewie, now, after punching in the correct security code for the Falcon, carried Han to a bunk in one of the quarters, letting out a yowl as he looked at his wasted friend. Immediately, he got a bottle with strange markings on the label and filled with a stranger liquid, and forced Han's head up, pouring some of the liquid into his throat. No doubt this had a burning sensation, because Han instantly afterward started coughing and rubbing his throat. Chewie cocked his head, letting out one of those soft growls from the back of his throat.

"Yeah, Chewie, I'm alright..." Han said, swinging his legs off the bunk and walking to one of the small windows, looking to the door that lead into Docking Bay Ninety-four.

The scene around him seemed the change, and now, instead, he was in front of the Falcon, which was in the exact same position it was in now. There was indiscernible yelling, and he can hear himself yelling something to a young man with a white tunic, retreating up the ramp and into his beloved ship. Han himself had his blaster out, and was shooting furiously at five or so Imperial Stormtroopers, then retreating back into his ship, getting ready for take off.

Wait... that couldn't be right. The Empire has already been defeated... the scene around him faded quickly, and there was Han Solo again; sweaty, tired, still looking out the same window, leaning halfway against the wall with his palm pressed up against the wall. No doubt was he feeling nostalgia. No. He couldn't - that ship has taken off, his own glory days were over. No more being renowned by pilots and people everywhere, no more medals of honor, no more sweeping in at last moment with a change of heart in his Falcon, ultimately leading to the destruction of the ever-dreaded Death Star... his own whoop of joy being echoed on the comlink by the Rebels on the other side, particularly her's... no more lying awake, watching the stars with the princess, thinking of his own hopes, dreams, meaning...

That was gone now. All left that he had was a frayed and chipped medal, the comlink long since turned off, and random spatters of memory.

He hated her. She was the cause of this...

Han Solo used to be Han Solo, owner of the fastest ship in the galaxy and damn proud of it, he used to be funny, confident - arrogant and egotistical, more like - a smart ass - but in a good way, having to fight the ladies off of him because of his gorgeousness... now, however, he was the lame, sorry excuse of a 'retired' general of the great Rebellion, whom no one would give a second glance to - that is, if they spared even any time to give him a first. He would be in the middle of everything, still, with the woman he so desperately loved and his best friend, her brother, able to spend every waking hour in happiness.

Because, unfortunately, he still loved her. And he hated himself for it. That was one thing that he kept trying to drink away. His love for her.

Princess Leia Organa was a confident, hardheaded, beautiful, and intelligent woman that he had the displeasure of meeting on the Death Star with her brother, when both of them had no idea of relation to the other. Han Solo and her were always going at it. They argued over the stupidest things, each wanting to be in total control over every situation. Luke Skywalker, who had first seen the Princess in a hologram message of her pleading for help of Obi-Wan Kenobi, found her on the Death Star as the deadly battleship's tractor beam pulled in Han Solo's ship. They managed to get around, disguised as stormtroopers, while Obi-Wan went in search for Lord Vader. Luke found out they were going to execute the Princess, and finally managed to persuade the very reluctant Solo with a promise of a large sum of money for reward. Han Solo's and Princess Leia's first words to each other were an argument, and they continued to manage to fight over everything that either of the two did until they managed to escape with the Millennium Falcon. Even while on the ship, they were butting heads like two male rams fighting over the same square of territory. Finally, before a great battle, he was about to leave with his promised cash - he had a great debt to pay to Jabba the Hutt, for losing some smuggling jobs, and both Luke and Leia were angry that he was leaving. In the middle of the great battle in which Luke Skywalker was about to be killed while almost destroying the Death Star, Han arrived back on the scene, spinning Vader's fighter out of control, enabling the destruction of the Death Star. Him and Luke were awarded a medal of honor, and it was then that Han Solo decided his future was with the Rebellion and the destruction of the evil Empire. While at the Rebel station on the ice world of Hoth, Han let it known to Leia that he knew of her feelings to him, which she denied. Luke went off to battle, then Han escaped Darth Vader with Leia, Chewie, and See-threepio, one of the previously mentioned 'metal idiots'. After a successful escape into an asteroid field - Leia protesting the whole way - Han hid from the searching Empire in a crater of a large asteroid, actually the stomach of a space worm. It was here that Han isolated Leia, and kissed her for the first time. She was fighting him the whole way, but eventually she had to give in to his charm and her own deep feelings for him. Later, as Han was about to be frozen in carbonite to be given to a bounty hunter hired by Jabba, Leia professed to him her love, and he, of course, knew, and told her so. A similar exchange occurred again in the Battle of Endor, when Leia was lying wounded, and Han told her that he loved her. She, as a sort of joke, replied with the same, 'I know.' To him, their relationship was perfect: he was madly in love with her, despite their constant arguments, and he couldn't imagine life without Princess Leia.

And then she had the nerve to, just when he was obviously about to propose to her, end it. Like that. And it broke his heart into a thousand pieces.

"I'm sorry, Han, I can't do this..."

"What in hell's name are you talking about, Leia?"

"With the New Republic, well... I just doubt that there'll be any time for, you know, us."

"..."

"I'm not emotionally ready for this, Han, this has to end."

"Oh, so things get too 'serious' for you, and you just up and leave? Bullshit, Leia. Bullshit."

"Han, please, I do lov - "

"Don't you goddamn try to reason with me, sweetheart. I don't want any crap about your 'business'. You know, you live up to your title, your Worshipfulness, you just think you can just take a man's heart, play with it for a bit, then once you are bored of it you can just throw it away."

"Han, st - "

"This is exactly why I was the way when you first met me. 'Your friend is quite the mercenary - one who doesn't seem to care about anything... or anyone.' Recognize that? Huh? You want to know why I was like that? Because I was afraid of people like you. Stop crying, your highnessness."

"Han, you have to re - "

"Whatever. I can live without you, Leia, sweetheart. ...Bye."

Footsteps, the sound of something metal lifting, and a roar of engines... then it all faded away.

Thankfully, for his reputation, only the Rebellion knew of their relationship with each other, and of their breakup, so none of this got out. He was relieved. At least one good thing went his way. From what he heard, formal Rebel members hated the idea of them breaking up, especially Luke - but none have been in contact with him for ten months, and he doubted whether there'd be anymore contact ever again.

Han went and took a shower - his first for a while - pulling on some blue breeches, a clean white shirt with a black vest over it, and a blaster fitted into his 'sheathe' for it on his right thigh. He felt refreshed, and better than he had in weeks.

Then there was a knock on the door.

It was quite loud, for him to be able to hear it from across the docking bay and into the Falcon. Chewie, with his acute Wookie hearing, had heard it also, letting out a large roar. Han frowned, thankful that he was clean, and then slowly ambled out of the Falcon and towards the docking bay door, taking his blaster and pressing a button, making the door open.

The man behind him appeared to have just been about to knock once again when the door opened. He was dressed in a crisp uniform, bearing the Rebel logo on either shoulder. "Er, sir?" he asked, while Han just shook his head, turning around. The man stepped into the docking bay just before the door closed on him. "Er, are you General Solo?"

"Depends who's looking for him." Han called over his shoulder, once again proceeding into his ship. The man stood back, studying the famed ship for a moment, before hastily and nervously ran up being Han.

"Erm, General Solo - "

"I'm not general Solo anymore, Skippy." he told the man, sitting in a chair in the small mess hall, putting his feet onto the table. Chewbacca appeared right behind the hesitant man, letting out a roar of confusion. This made the man jump a few feet. "Don't worry, Chewie, just someone from our great and good Republic." he said, gesturing and grinning, very sarcastic. 'Skippy' cleared his throat.

"Erm, well, sir, the Republic has acknowledged your leave of absence and request - "

"Leave of absence?" Solo laughed sadistically. "Is that what they call it now? Ten months ago it was desertion." The man cleared his throat, again, uncomfortably.

"Well, sir, they request you to go on an escort mission - one senator had a recent assassination attempt on them, and the Republic seems to recall a certain General owning the fastest ship. They are requesting you escort the senator to Yavin IV, on a serious diplomatic mission." Chewie looked at Han, who was quiet. He hated the Republic at the moment, but it was a job, and it would break the monotony nicely... he wasn't sure, though.

"Who is it that I'm supposed to be escorting?"

"Well, sir, I'm afraid to say that I don't know. The whole thing was kept rather quiet, I was just instructed to give you the message here."

"Yeah?" Han was obviously annoyed. Blubbering idiot. "So I am supposed to do this mission, out of no where, for someone unknown." he said bluntly. "How did you find me?"

The man blubbered for a few moments, before replying with a lame, "I don't know. They just gave me the location and the message, sir."

Han sighed. Useless man probably couldn't even fly anything. "Whaddya think, Chewie? Think we should go for it?" he asked of his furry friend, looking over Skippy's shoulder. Chewie nodded and voiced his obvious approval. "Fine. We'll do it." The man looked extremely relieved.

"Ah, thank you sir, here, just sign here..." he said, holding out what appeared to be a contract on a data screen he carried with him. Han put his thumb on it simply, and it blinked, then on it flashed the words, "CONTRACT SEALED".

"Now, Skippy, get back to where ever you came from, we'll leave as soon as we're ready." he told the man, standing.

"Well, sir, you're expected to leave for Coruscant immediately..."

"I said I'll leave when I'm ready." repeated Han stubbornly and dangerously, his hand drifting by his blaster, which he had replaced in its holder. The man looked frightened.

"Ye - yes sir." he said, turning, about to run into Chewbacca, letting out a frightened squeal, then sidestepping the mighty Wookie and jogging, more or less, out of the Docking Bay. Han Solo suddenly grinned, a hint of his old ego and arrogance returning to his face. Chewie moaned lightly.

"Lets clean up this wreck, Chewie, give her some maintenance. I bet you're glad that bloke came along, eh? You were probably getting fed up with me, right?" Han Solo grinned at his furry friend, jogging down the ramp with renewed energy and vigor for life.