By the end of the next day, Indy was grateful that Roland Walsh had insisted they use one of his Jeeps. He didn't believe the old Ford would have made it across the rough terrain without serious problems. The sun was unrelenting, with no shade anywhere to be found. The heat shimmered in waves off the desert floor. Although Leia was not about to admit it, Dr. Jones had been right - she wished she were back on the train.
"There it is," Indy pointed off into the distance at a small mound on the horizon, surrounded by flatness.
"It sure doesn't look like much," Luke remarked, squinting into the brightness.
"I know, but tourists love it," Indy said with a grin.
The red rock gradually rose up as they got closer, and the evening shadows grew longer. Eventually, its grandeur filled the windshield, and the siblings had to admit that it was mesmerizing to watch as the colors shifted and changed. Up close, the rock was an impressive and thrilling sight.
"We'll camp here, near the base, and get an early start climbing tomorrow," Indy instructed as he pulled the Jeep over. The professor hopped out of the vehicle, and hauled a tent out of the back.
Luke helped Indy pitch the tent, then hauled out dry army rations for dinner. As the darkness settled over the desert, the small campfire crackled. Indy stretched out his legs and yawned. "I'm going to sleep. We have a very hard day ahead of us, so you two should think about turning in, too."
"There's only one tent," Leia said flatly. "Where am I supposed to sleep?"
Indy stood up, looking down at her in amusement. "It's a big tent."
"Luke is sleeping in the middle," she shot back, embarrassed.
"Too bad," Indy replied with a smirk as he headed into the tent.
"It's amazing how he turned out so similar in both lives," Luke said softly, after Indy had disappeared inside the tent. When his sister didn't answer, he looked over at her.
Leia turned her face away, so her brother couldn't see the tears shining in her eyes. "I still love him, Luke," she whispered hoarsely.
Luke moved over closer, and put his arm around her shoulders. "I know."
The hike to the top of the rock was strenuous and in places, very steep. Although it was only about a mile in length, it took nearly three hours to reach the top. The rock reminded Indy of a loaf of bread, and the view from the top was spectacular.
"It sure doesn't look like there is any place for an entrance," Luke remarked as he peered around the fairly flat top. They strolled around in separate directions, looking down at the uneven surface.
After a half an hour, Indy shook his head and walked over to Luke. "I think Walsh is delusional. There isn't any opening up here."
"You think we're delusional, too," Luke told him. "He did say one of the opal pieces would be needed to open the entrance."
Indy put his hands on his hips and looked at the craggy nooks that lined the rock. "Trying to fit a single piece of opal in all these little crannies would take months. And don't forget - it has to be the right piece of opal, or the angry gods will send down their wrath upon us," he added with a smirk.
Leia trudged over to where the men stood. "Now what?" she asked.
"I need to meditate," Luke decided.
"Ah, meditate." Indy sighed. "So your Force-thing can tell you what to do?"
"Yes, and don't make fun of my Force-thing, or I may send my angry gods' wrath down on you," Luke laughed, refusing to get mad. He headed off, alone, to the north side of the rock and sat down, cross-legged.
Indy and Leia went to the opposite side, then sat down next to each other to rest. "Tell me about this Han Solo," Indy said after a long silence.
The Princess looked surprised for a second, then replied softly, "He was a lot like you, Indiana Jones."
"Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?"
"I fell in love with him," she answered as she looked up into his hazel eyes. "What do you think?"
Impulsively, Indy bent down and kissed her. He felt her stiffen for a moment, then she threw her arms around him, returning his kiss with an intense fervor. An image flashed through Indy's mind - he was sitting on a forest floor, kissing this same woman. Startled, he drew back. The look of disappointment in Leia's eyes made him feel guilty. "I'm sorry," he stammered. "I shouldn't have done that."
"It's okay," she whispered, averting her eyes. After a while, she spoke again. "Han was a pilot, one of the best in the galaxy. He was soft-hearted, although he wouldn't admit that for all the credits in the universe. He had a huge ego, and a smart mouth. Han knew exactly what to say or do to make me angry. And once he called you a friend, he would gladly lay down his life for you."
"So," Indy mused with a grin, "Do you think I have a huge ego?"
Leia opened her mouth to reply, but Luke's call interrupted her answer. "Leia! Indy! I know where to put the opal!"
Luke led them to the very center of the mound. "Here," Luke pointed down.
"Where do we put the opal?" Indy asked as he looked at the surface. It didn't look any different than any other part of the mountain top.
The Jedi bent down and stared intensely at the crevasses. Finally he pointed to a small hole. "Right there."
Indy fished around in the leather case at his waist, pulled out the pieces of opal, carefully unwrapping them. "Which one?"
Luke carefully picked up each piece, a look of concentration of his face. "This is the one."
Indy took the opal piece and placed it in the hole. It was an exact fit. The mountain began shaking beneath their feet - the three quickly backed up. Indy couldn't believe his eyes when several rocks began shifting, exposing a deep, dark hole.
"I guess Walsh was right after all," Indy said as he peered down into the dark hole. It actually did appear to be a type of corridor, with the entryway sloping down into the gloom. "We're going to need torches to light the way... it's pretty dark down there."
"I think this will work better than a torch," Luke said as he ignited his lightsaber. "And it doesn't use up oxygen."
"All right," Indy agreed and put back the remaining opals in the sack. "I'll go down first."
"No." Luke shook his head negatively. "I'll go first, and light the way." Luke removed the opal that had been used to open the gateway, and handed it back to Indy. Then he carefully climbed down into the chamber, holding the lightsaber in front of his body. Indy followed, helping Leia retain her footing in the rubble that made up the floor of the entrance.
The rock shuddered, and the opening shut behind them as they rounded a corner and went deeper down into the mountain. "I hope it's just as cooperative letting us out as it was letting us in," Indy mumbled to himself.
"There's some type of writing on these walls," Leia remarked as she put her face closer to the side.
Luke stopped, and held his saber closer to the edge as Indy peered at the carvings. "I've studies dozens of types of hieroglyphics, but I've never seen anything resembling this," Jones said quietly as he ran his hand over the strange markings.
"It's Shyriiwook writing," Leia whispered in awe. She turned to Luke. "How is that possible?"
"I'm not sure, but don't forget, we're here," Luke answered his sister.
"What kind of language is Shyriiwook?" Indy questioned.
"The Wookiee language, from the galaxy where we came from," Leia replied. "It still doesn't make sense - this writing looks like it has been on these walls for ages."
"Am I allowed to ask what a Wookiee is?"
Leia and Luke smiled at each other. "A Wookiee is a non-human sentient being from our galaxy. They are very strong, usually tall, and covered with hair," Luke described as best he could. "And most of the Wookiees in our galaxy are very brave and loyal."
"Also," Leia added, "Han Solo's co-pilot is a Wookiee, by the name of Chewbacca."
"Oh," Indy said slowly, for lack of a better response. "Do you know how to read this?"
"It's impossible for humans to speak Shyriiwook, and due to vocal limitations, Wookiees can't speak Basic, but I can read a little Shyriiwook," Leia told him. She studied the writing for a few moments.
"I suppose it's a warning about all ye who enter are doomed and all that," Indy said lightly.
She turned to him, her expression serious. "It's a plea for help."
"What kind of help, Leia?" Luke asked, frowning in concern.
"I'm not that good at reading Shyriiwook, but I think it's asking for Nature to protect their souls in this strange land," she replied. "The rest I can't make out."
They continued down into the cavern, the air was now becoming chilled and Leia shivered. Indy removed his jacket and draped it over her shoulders. "Thank you," she said softly.
"Not a problem," Indy responded, keeping his voice light. In fact, she was beginning to affect him deeply, and Indy was becoming worried about his future.
They came to a fork in the tunnel. Indy and Leia both stopped and looked at Luke. "Which way?" Leia questioned her brother.
Luke shut his eyes, then said, "To the left." They headed left.
Why am I trusting this kid to guide me? Indy thought to himself. Yet he did, and that puzzled him even more. As the days had passed, it had felt more and more natural for Indy to be with these two very strange people. He had tried to dismiss the feeling, but over time the feeling was growing more intense. When they eventually went their separate ways, Indy knew he would feel like a part of himself would be forever lost.
The trio came to a stop in front of a solid wall of rock. "I think we need another key," Indiana remarked as he opened his sack.
Luke picked out another piece of opal and located the proper hole. The rock parted.
"Two down, three to go," Indy said with a grin as he removed the opal and they continued on.
Again, they came to what appeared to be a dead-end. The wall held some more Shyriiwook carvings.
"Another plea for help?" Luke questioned Leia.
Frowning, she studied the writing for a minute. "No. This one is a warning, I think. Something about pure hearts and a warning about temptation."
"If this requires a pure heart, I'm in trouble," Indy mumbled as he handed Luke some opal.
Carefully, Luke chose another piece of opal and again the wall parted. This time, however, the tunnel beyond the opening was only about three feet high.
"Now what? We have to crawl?" Leia grumbled as she bent over and looked into the gloom.
Indy stared down at Leia. "At least you have the advantage of being short."
"And you have the advantage of having a hard head," she shot back.
"Stop it, you two. It doesn't look that bad." Luke got down on his knees while awkwardly holding his lightsaber, and started crawling down the shaft. Leia followed, then Indy entered last.
They crawled for nearly a half an hour before Indy complained. "My knees are killing me. And my back isn't singing any praises, either. I wonder how much longer until this tunnel ends."
"I thought archeologists spent lots of time on their knees," Leia said over her shoulder.
"We do," he agreed. "And I have to admit, the view usually isn't quite this enjoyable. I guess there's something to be said for not being the lead dog."
Leia was glad Indy couldn't see her blush at his comment. She wanted desperately to think of some clever retort, but instead called up to Luke. "Do you see any end to this tunnel yet?"
Luke didn't hear his sister's question. The tunnel had opened up and Luke quickly stood up, staring around in the dark room.
Shocked, Luke turned slightly and realized he was no longer in the caverns, but in a throne room. The Emperor's Throne Room.
Luke turned around to where the tunnel exit had been, but it was no longer there. "I have been waiting for you," a familiar voice said from the darkened throne. Slowly the chair turned from the view of the stars.
"Palpatine?" Luke whispered.
The robed figure stood up and made his way down the steps until he stood before the young Jedi. "No, Luke, it's not Palpatine," the male voice replied as he lowered his cowl. "It's Obi-Wan."
"Luke? Where are you?" Leia questioned in concern. She had seen her brother step out of the tunnel, and had quickly followed. Only Luke was not in the dark cave. "Indy? Are you coming?" No response. "Luke, turn on your lightsaber... this isn't funny."
The room slowly began glowing and brightening. At first, Leia had no idea where she was - then, to her horror, she recognized exactly where she was. The control room of the Death Star. As she looked out the viewport she saw Alderaan, still whole and alive.
"Finally! I thought this blasted tunnel was never going to end," Indiana groused as he climbed out into darkness. "Luke? Leia? Are you there? Hello?"
"Hello, Indiana Jones. It's about time you showed up."
Indy blinked as the room suddenly lit up. He was back at home, in his bedroom, and a dark-haired woman in a negligee stood in front of him. "Marion?" he gasped in surprise. "How did you get here?"
"Ben? How.... what are you doing here?"
"Don't be surprised, Luke. This is your destiny - to rule the galaxy. I am merely here to provide you with assistance along the way to power and glory."
"But... I don't want power and glory," Luke argued. "That isn't the way of the Jedi. Why are you telling me these things?"
"Of course you want power, Luke. Everyone wants power. Look inside your heart. Feel the truth. You are more powerful than Palpatine and Vader combined. The galaxy is yours for the taking. You deserve this... everyone owes you their lives already. It's time to make them pay the price for your sacrifices."
Luke shut his eyes, trying to block out Obi-Wan's words, and the feelings that swept over his mind and soul. "No... no... "
"Feel the power, Luke," Obi-Wan intoned. "Feel the power of the dark side."
"This isn't possible," Leia whispered as she stared at the beautiful planet of Alderaan.
"Of course it is possible, my daughter."
The Princess spun around and faced her father. Bail Organa stood before her, dressed in black from head to toe, a billowing cloak waving from his shoulders. "Father! What are you doing here? Why are you dressed like.... him?"
"Am I not your father, Leia?" Bail asked quietly.
"Of course you're my father." Leia wanted to weep and throw herself into his arms, but something held her back.
"Then why did you kill me?"
"I... I... didn't have a choice."
Bail lifted his hand, showing Leia a black helmet. The helmet of Darth Vader. He placed it over his head, and the filtered breathing of Darth Vader started. "You always have a choice, daughter. Tell me the location of the Rebel base, and Alderaan will survive."
Marion walked up to Indy and put her hand on his chest. "Why did you leave me, Indiana? I loved you."
"It had to end, Marion. It was wrong. I wish I could undo the past, but I can't."
"You could have stood up to my father, Indy. I wanted to go with you, not him."
"I'm sorry, Marion. I'm sorry I hurt you, and I'm sorry I hurt your father."
"Come with me now, Indy," Marion said in a sultry voice. She took his hand and tugged him toward the bed. "It doesn't have to end. We can be together, for now and for eternity."
Indy stopped walking and stood still, torn by indecision. He knew part of him still wanted her... but something about this didn't feel right.
"No!" Luke yelled as he stepped back from Obi-Wan. "This isn't what you taught me! I know this isn't you at all. I'm not in the Throne Room, am I?"
Obi-Wan's face altered and changed. Suddenly, Luke was staring at Palpatine. "Strong is the dark side! Feel the power!" the Emperor hissed.
Luke shook his head. "You're dead. I am not afraid of you anymore."
"I won't tell you the Rebels' location," Leia said, her voice trembling. "I didn't tell you the location the first time, and it won't happen this time, either."
"You are willing to kill me, daughter?" Vader asked.
Finding strength, Leia turned to the Dark Lord. "This isn't about betraying the Rebellion, this is about betraying myself. I don't know who you are - but you're not my father. The Death Star was destroyed, and you can't hurt me again. I won't let you."
Professor Jones pulled his hand out of Marion's grip. "You aren't really here."
"What are you talking about, Indy?" Marion purred as she tried to put her arms around his neck. Indy stepped backwards, avoiding her grasp. "Why are you acting so hard to get? This isn't like you."
"And this isn't you, either. Who, or what, are you?" Indy demanded.
"I'm your best dream, Indy. Or your worst nightmare." Marion's dark hair suddenly changed and became writhing snakes. She moved toward him, her face no longer seductive, but as deadly as Medusa.
"Stop!" Indy demanded, holding up both hands. "You are not real. Just... Stop!"
Luke blinked as the throne room vanished and was replaced by a dark, stone corridor. The only light came from his humming lightsaber. Turning, he saw Leia standing near him, her face buried in her hands. A few feet away stood Indiana, holding his hands out in front of him, a look of horror and disgust plastered across his face.
"Leia?" Luke called out gently.
His sister looked up, her expression changing from sadness to relief. "You're here," she whispered.
The Jedi walked up to Indiana, and put his hand on his arm. "Indy? Can you hear me?"
Dr. Jones gave a startled yelp and jumped back a step. "Luke? Leia?" Indy shook his head to clear his thoughts, then shuddered. "I didn't think it was possible to have wide-awake nightmares."
"We didn't have nightmares," Luke murmured. "We were given a test."
"Did we pass?" Leia asked quietly.
"We must have, or we wouldn't still be here, at least not mentally," Luke replied.
"I guess your heart must be purer than you suspect, Dr. Jones," Leia teased as they continued down the hall.
As they traveled ever deeper into the rock, oddly, the temperature started heating up. Leia removed the leather jacket and handed it back to Indy. They had used one more "key" to get past another dead-end tunnel, and now only one piece of opal remained unused. Indy had been very careful to keep the unused pieces separated from the ones that had already worked to open the walls. Indiana figured it lessened the chances of accidentally putting the incorrect piece in a keyhole. Now that they were down to the last piece, he was pleased they had avoided any deadly booby-traps.
"Why is it getting so hot in here?" Leia asked as she pushed her braided hair off her neck.
"Must be some geothermal activity near here," Indy answered. "And it is starting to smell like sulfur."
"I think we are getting close to the final piece," Luke remarked as they hiked on. "I can feel... something stirring in the Force."
They turned a corner and came to a complete halt. The floor sloped down and widened out to a huge underground cavern that was eerily lit up with its own glow. The surface bubbled and streams of vapor rose in columns from the floor. Steaming hot ponds, radiating with an underground light, sent swirls of mist from their depths.
"Wow," Leia whispered.
"I guess this is where the sulfur smell is coming from," Indy said quietly. "It's like an underground Yellowstone."
Luke turned off his lightsaber. The light was bright enough that it was no longer needed. "I think getting across this is going to be difficult," Luke murmured.
"Of course it's going to be difficult," Indy said with a tired sigh. "Since when is anything in my life ever easy?"
"I should go first," Luke said carefully as his eyes remained on the boiling cauldron. "That way I can find a safe passage across."
"Why you?" Indy shot back. "This is dangerous, and I don't like you risking your neck for me."
Leia smiled up at Indy. "Are you starting to care about us, Indiana Jones?"
The truth was, he did care about them. But he didn't want to confess that to Leia. He feared if he admitted that he cared, and the confusion he was starting to experience when he thought about them leaving, she would start to get her hopes up that he would return with them to wherever it was they came from. I have my own life here, Indy kept firmly reminding himself, and I am not giving up my life, my memories, for another man. "I don't want you to get hurt," Indy replied lamely.
Leia's smile grew wider. Even in this life, she knew him too well, and so he averted his gaze.
"When are you going to believe that I can use the Force to help guide me, Indy?" Luke asked him.
"I've been in a lot of tough situations, too," Indy frowned. "Don't underestimate me."
"I have never underestimated you. Not as Indiana Jones, and not as Han Solo," Luke replied.
"Fine." Indy sighed as he gave up the argument. "Go first, but be careful."
Indy and Leia watched nervously as Luke cautiously picked his way around the pools of boiling water and the expanses of hot mud. Luke was only too aware that if he placed his weight in the wrong place, and the crust of hard surface turned out to be too thin to bear his weight, he would meet a terrible end. It would be unlikely that even his Force skills would help him if he happened to fall into superheated mud. The Force certainly had not been able to help his father recover from his fall into hot lava. Every time Luke placed his foot down, he held his breath. The smell in the center of the cavern was overwhelming, and sweat ran in rivers down his back, and trickled down his face, making his eyes sting. If the place had not been so dangerous and vile smelling, it would have been beautiful. The pools of water shimmered with a green-blue underground lighting, and through the eons, the minerals had created exotic-looking, cascading tables, surrounded by curtains of stalagmites.
Finally, a nerve-racking ten minutes later, Luke reached the far side of the cavern. Smiling, he turned around and called across the steaming expanse. "I made it! Just follow my route, and you should be..."
The ground beneath his feet gave way, and Luke vanished.
"LUKE!" Without waiting for Indiana, Leia took off, barely aware she was following Luke's path across the cavern.
"Leia... wait!" Indy called after her. For a brief moment he stood frozen in fear, wondering if she too would disappear beneath the surface. When he realized she was using the same route as Luke, he took off after her, moving only slightly slower than her reckless sprint. He arrived at the edge of the hole that had swallowed Luke seconds after Leia's arrival. She stood rooted to the spot, staring down in shock. Luke lay on his back about twenty feet down, inside a lower cavern, his arms spread out and his left leg bent at an odd angle. Partially covered in the rock rubble, Luke was not moving, although his hand still grasped his turned off lightsaber. At least he didn't fall into boiling water, Indy thought with a rush of relief.
"He's hurt, but he's alive," she said, gasping for breath. Quickly, Leia started the treacherous climb down the steep side of the hole.
Indy wondered how she knew Luke was still alive, but since she didn't give him the opportunity to ask, he could only follow her down into the hole. Twice, Leia almost fell in her rush to reach her brother as small rocks slipped out from under her feet, but Indy caught her both times before he decided to not let go again. "Why is this cavern so well lit?" Indy wondered as they climbed slowly down. "I don't understand where the light is coming from."
Leia heard Indy's musings, but didn't bother to respond. Her entire focus was reaching her brother and when they got to his side, she knelt down by his head and touched his face. "Luke? Can you hear me?" she pleaded softly. In response, he moaned and turned his face to her. Indy carefully tossed aside the rocks that covered the young man, wincing as he saw how twisted the broken leg looked.
"Leia?" Her brother opened his eyes, and looked up in a daze. It could have been much worse, for Luke had used the Force to lessen the impact of his fall. Still, the wind had been knocked out of his lungs, and all of his bones felt vaguely displaced.
"I'm right here," Leia reassured him. "Don't move, it looks like your leg is badly broken."
Luke focused on his leg, then wished he hadn't. It hurt fiercely. He groaned and shut his eyes. Concentrating, he used the Force to ease the pain - while the pain did not leave entirely, it faded considerably.
How are we going to get Luke out of these caves? Indy thought frantically. Looking around, he saw there was nothing he could use to brace the leg, or give Luke to use as a crutch. His eyes drifted further into the cavern and he heard himself give a startled gasp. "What... the hell... is that?" Indy pointed to the far edge of the large cave.
Leia turned and looked over her shoulder. The cave opened into a much larger area than where Luke had fallen. Behind her, about two hundred feet away, sat a perfectly preserved space ship. Leia immediately recognized that it was an older model, from the Clone Wars. Beyond a doubt, it was from their galaxy. "Luke," she said quietly. "I think you should look at this."
Careful of his leg, Luke twisted his body around and looked at the ship. "It's a transport, from the Clone Wars era by the looks of it," Luke said as he tried to identify the ship.
"There's so much in that sentence I don't understand that I'm not even going to ask," Indy said with a shake of his head. "But I take it you recognize that thing."
"It's from our galaxy," Leia answered Indy. "That model hasn't been manufactured for years."
"Can you help me up?" Luke asked wearily.
Carefully, Indy put his arm around Luke's waist, gently easing him up. "That's got to hurt," he said in sympathy as he looked at the young man's leg dangling limply, right below the knee.
"It hurts, but I can use the Force to help me deal with the pain," Luke replied.
"Really?" Indy remarked as he raised his eyebrow. "Can you teach me how to use this power? It sounds like it's something I could use... with great frequency."
Leia laughed at the statement. "Now that's something Han would never have wanted to do - become a Jedi!"
"That's what people who are strong in the Force usually train to become - Jedi," Luke explained as he hobbled, with Indy's assistance, toward the spaceship. "Not everyone is Force-strong, Indy. I am, and so is Leia, even though she is untrained."
"So I take it I'm not?"
"No, sorry," Luke said with a smile. "Your talents lie elsewhere."
"That's all right." Indy laughed. "I'm not sure jumping in front of bullets would be something I'd want to do on a regular basis, anyway."
Reaching the ship, Leia looked up at the underside. "I guess this answers the question of where the light is coming from," she said to the men. Indeed, the ship seemed to pulsate with a soft greenish-blue glow. "I wonder how it's still giving off light."
"The final piece of the pyramid is inside the ship," Luke informed her. "I can feel it."
Luke shut his eyes again and concentrated. The ramp gave a groan of protest, refusing to lower to the surface. Suddenly Luke opened his eyes. "It needs a key."
"A key?" Leia questioned with a frown. Ramps generally lowered with either codes or palm prints. Keys would have been considered archaic, even back during the Clone Wars.
"The final opal piece is the key," Indy guessed with a grin.
"Yes, I believe it is."
Luke waited, leaning against Leia, as Indy rummaged around and took out the only piece of opal they had not used. Walking up to the ship, Indy slid the opal into a matching hole near the closed ramp. Obediently, the ramp lowered. Indiana turned, and gave Leia a wink.
"Don't get cocky," she shot over as she helped Luke limp forward. Jones quickly stepped next to Luke, and let the young man lean on him. Slowly, they made their way into the stale interior of the ship.
"I can't believe I'm actually on a spaceship," Indy whispered in awe.
"Do you believe we're from another galaxy now?" Luke asked, looking up at the taller man.
"It's getting pretty hard for me to deny."
"We should go check out the cockpit first," Leia said. Luke agreed, and they went into the small cockpit. "These instructions are in Shyriiwook. This ship must have belonged to Wookiees," Leia told Luke. "I wonder what happened to the pilots of this ship?"
"Undoubtedly, they were the same Wookiees that wrote the plea for help on the wall," Luke answered. "Don't forget, Leia, when Baxjaqua sent us here, he sent us to a different time as well as a different place. Even though the Clone Wars only happened thirty years ago in our past, it could have happened thousands of years ago in this past. I believe we were sent far into the future, and the Wookiees that came here are long dead, either from old age or accident. We need to find the last pyramid piece, and I think I know where to look."
Leaning heavily on Indy, Luke pointed directions to Dr. Jones, and soon they were in the main engine area. The compartment was round, and in the center of the room sat a pedestal. On top of the column was the last piece - a tiny pyramid that was sending a beam of blue light directly up, to the top of the room. "Our light source is the Force," Luke whispered as he picked up the small glowing triangle. The Force was intensely strong now. Luke could feel his entire body tingle with energy.
Indy quickly removed the five broken pieces from his knapsack and assembled them. Then Leia and Indy stepped back as Luke gently placed the last piece on the pinnacle. The pyramid began glowing so brightly that they were forced to turn their faces for a moment, until the light dimmed to a bearable glow.
"It's not cracked anymore," Indy said quietly as he stared at the beautiful object as it shimmered and pulsed. Indy was now positive this object was no ordinary piece of opal.
"And neither is my leg," Luke commented as he flexed his lower limb. There was no pain..it had healed completely.
"It does heal," Indy said, surprised. "I guess Walsh was right."
Leia walked up to the pyramid, staring at it for a long moment. "Now I remember."
She turned to Luke and Indy. "When I was a little girl, my father told me about the Clone Wars and the extermination of all the Jedi. The Wookiee Jedi had a powerful talisman, a pyramid, which Palpatine longed to get his hands on. When Palpatine was having all the Jedi in the galaxy murdered, the Wookiees knew they couldn't allow their talisman to fall into the Emperor's hands. So they sent it far away, along with the last living Wookiee Jedi and their best pilots, to hide it somewhere safe. Somewhere the Emperor would never be able to find it. According to the Wookiees of Kashyyyk, there can never be Wookiees that are Jedi until the pyramid is returned. This is the Wookiee talisman... this planet is the hiding place."
"Sometimes things happen for a reason, Leia," Luke murmured. "Maybe Han being sent here by Baxjaqua was the will of the Force."
Leia looked at her brother and swallowed a lump in her throat. "If it's the will of the Force that I lose Han in order to find this pyramid, I can't say I'm too crazy about the trade-off."
Walking up behind the Princess, Indy put his arm around her waist. "I know you're not too fond of Earth, but I haven't exactly been suffering," he said, trying his best to soothe her.
Leia turned in his arms and buried her face in his shirt. She didn't want to leave this planet without him.
"What are you going to tell Walsh?" Luke asked as the Jeep bounced along the gravel road. They had exited Ayers Rock with little problem - the corridors had opened at their approach, then sealed again firmly behind them. No one would ever be able to tell there had been an entrance, and without the keys, it would never open again.
"I'll tell him it was a dead end," Indy replied.
"What about the pieces of opal?" Leia worried. "He'll think you stole them."
"Hey, I'll just tell him you stole them," he laughed. "It's kind of the truth, and he'll never be able to find you anyway."
"How long before we get to this mountain range?" Luke asked Indy. "What's it called, Flinders?"
"Only about a day, day and a half," he answered. "You'll be home in no time."
"No time at all," Leia whispered to herself as she watched the desert pass by.
Lying on his side in the tent, Indy decided this would be his last chance to ask questions. "What's the name of your planet?"
"I was raised on a system called Tatooine. Leia was raised on Alderaan."
"Different planets?" he marveled.
"Where we're from, traveling from system to system takes less time than traveling from continent to continent on Earth," Luke replied.
"How did you two meet?"
"We were both fighting on the same side of a war," Leia said softly.
"Something our cultures have in common then," Indy remarked. "War."
"Unfortunately, that's true," Leia answered.
"How come you two never, um, got together? I mean, it looks like you're the same age, and you get along so well," Indy said carefully.
"Leia and I are brother and sister," Luke laughed. "Twins."
"And you grew up on different planets?"
"We were separated at birth," the Jedi answered.
"Oh. How Charles Dickens," Jones mused.
"Who?" Leia questioned.
Indy grinned. "Never mind."
"So, can I ask you a question, Dr. Jones?" Leia asked.
"Why did you become an archeologist?"
"I followed in my father's footsteps," he replied. "I know - it sounds stupid."
"No, it's not," she said quietly. "I followed in my father's footsteps. I became a politician."
Indy smiled at Leia. "Something else we have in common: following our father's footsteps."
"Yes," Leia agreed sadly. "Something else, indeed."
The next day.
"There's Flinders Ranges," Indy informed them as the ragged mountains came into view. "Your mountain with the cave is called Vulture's Eye, and it's at the northern edge of the range. We should be there in about four hours."
Two hours later, Indy turned off the road, and they bounced along the rocky desert floor. By the time they actually got close enough to the mountain to begin hiking, Luke thought his teeth may have rattled out of his mouth. Indy finally stopped the Jeep. "This is as far as I can safely take the Jeep," he informed his passengers. "From here we have to hike."
"That's fine with me," Luke quickly put in. "I think I'm ready to walk after all those bumpy roads."
"Are you hiking with us to the mountain, Indy?" Leia asked.
"I wouldn't miss seeing this for the world," Jones answered with a grin.
Leia smiled back with relief. It would mean a few more hours she could spend with Han - and despite everything, she still could not stop thinking of him as Han.
They hiked for a little over two hours before reaching the rocky slope that lead up to the cave. "This is it." Luke paused and looked up at the cave. "Exactly like it was on Terrall."
"I have to say, it doesn't look any different than any of the other million or so caves on Earth," Indy remarked as he pushed his fedora back slightly.
"Ayers Rock wasn't just a rock, either, was it?" Luke returned as he glanced at Indy.
"Got me there, Luke," Jones said with a smile. "Come on, let's go."
Slowly and carefully, they began the climb to the cave. Halfway there, the ground began shaking - slowly at first and then with greater and greater intensity. The loose rocks started tumbling down the hill and the climbers dropped to their knees seeking something to hold in order to stop their slide down. Luke quickly caught himself on a larger, firmly entrenched boulder. Indy skidded down several yards before catching a sickly looking, but strongly rooted shrub. Unable to find anything to grab, Leia started slipping painfully down the hill, her clothing ripping on the jagged stones.
"Leia!" Indy screamed as he tried, and failed, to grasp her as she skidded past.
Using her untrained Force abilities, she managed to slow her descent and looked up the hill at Jones. Just like my dream, she thought in a daze. She watched as Indy uncoiled his whip and tossed the end to her, while he held the handle. Quickly, she grabbed the narrow end, wound it around her hand, and determinedly pulled herself back up the slope.
"Leia!" Luke shouted from further up the hill. "Are you all right?"
The ground slowed its trembling, and then stopped. Indy grabbed Leia around the waist. "Are you okay?" he repeated Luke's question.
"I'm fine," she gasped out. "Just a little scratched up."
"Let's get to that cave," Indy suggested, and helped her climb the rest of the way. Once in the dim cave interior, Indy looked around, rather disappointed. "So much for having some archeological interest. This is just a big, empty cave."
Leia looked over to her brother. "How do we get the portal to appear?"
The Jedi stood staring at the spot that the maw had appeared before, touching the leather satchel that Indy had given him to hold the pyramid. "I'm not sure. I hope we're not too late." The words had barely left Luke's mouth when the trembling began again, this time much stronger. Rocks from the ceiling of the cave started to rain down.
"I don't think it's safe in here," Indy murmured as he looked up.
Suddenly, the portal appeared, its edges undefined and the image flickering, as if it were a defective holo-image. "Leia, it's opening!" Luke pointed. "We have to hurry!"
Leia spun on her heel and stared at Indy, trying to memorize his features, knowing she'd never see him again. She stepped up to him and embraced him. "I love you, Han," she whispered into his chest, her throat tight. "I'll never forget you."
"I'll never forget you either, Leia," Indy replied as he returned her intense hug. "You'd better go."
Quickly, she pushed away and headed for the portal. Behind her, a loud crack sounded as a large portion of the roof of the cave gave way. "Indy! Watch out," Luke yelled. The young Jedi used the Force, pulling Jones away as a huge wall of rock crashed down, blocking the exit. Even as fast as Luke had acted, a fist-sized rock glanced off the back of Jones's skull. Indiana went down, unconscious.
Leia rushed over to Indy's side, coughing on the thick layer of dust. The trembling ground only increased in intensity. "Leia, the portal is failing! We have to go now!"
She turned and looked up at Luke. "We can't leave Indy! He's trapped in here! He'll die!"
Rushing over, Luke hoisted Indy up, holding his limp arm across his shoulder. "I guess you're coming with us anyway, Dr. Jones," he said to the unhearing man. Leia picked up the hat that had fallen off Indy's head and held on to his other side. Together, they stepped through the portal.
The cave on the other side of the portal was in the same disarray as the one they just left. The ground was shaking, rocks were breaking off the sides and top of the cave. With eerie suddenness, the cave stopped trembling. The entrance to this cave was also blocked with rubble, just like the one on Earth had been.
I cannot stay any longer. My time is over.
"Wait," Leia called out to the voice. "What about Han's memories?"
There was no answer. "Leia, look," Luke said as he pointed to the wall that held the memory crystals. One by one, the glowing crystals flickered and went dark. "Baxjaqua is gone," the Jedi said as he felt the life-force of the strange being dim and fade away.
"How are we going to get out of this cave?"
"I can use the Force to remove the rocks, but it's going to be time-consuming."
A distant humming sound filled the cave. "A tractor beam," Luke said as he identified the sound. "Chewie must be pulling the rocks away from the entrance with the Falcon."
Hurriedly, they carried Indy to the deepest portion of the cave, and watched as the rocks pulled away from the mouth of the cave. As soon as a space was cleared large enough for them to exit, they headed for the bright daylight. A roar greeted them as they pulled themselves out of the hole. "Chewie!" Leia called down to the excited Wookiee.
With amazing speed, Chewbacca reached them, and lifted Indy gently into his strong arms. *You found him. Why is he unconscious?* he woofed, turning worried blue eyes to Leia.
"He was hit on the head with a rock. We need to get him into the Falcon," she instructed. Quickly the Wookiee carried his friend toward the ship. Leia turned to Luke. "Should we use the talisman for Indy's head injury?"
"We should scan his injury before we use the pyramid on him, Leia. I'm not sure something as powerful as the pyramid should be used for minor injuries. If the scan shows problems, I'll use it to help him."
Leia nodded her agreement with her brother, then asked. "How are we going to tell Chewie that it's not Han?"
Luke put his hand on his sister's shoulder. "It is Han," he quietly reminded her.
And one way or the other, Leia realized with a surge of happiness, I have him back.
The Millennium Falcon made the jump into hyperspace with Luke and Chewie at the controls, their destination Coruscant. Leia sat next to Indy, who was lying on the medic cot and beginning to regain awareness. Scans had indicated he had a very mild concussion, and that he would not require specialized treatment. The Princess was truly worried about Indy's reaction when he woke. What if he blamed them for bringing him to their galaxy? He might not even believe that the entrance from the cave had been blocked. How would he deal with such a strange, new place? Would he accept Chewie? Leia had seen the concern in the Wookiee's eyes when they had filled him in on the situation. If Indy was afraid of Chewie, or simply could not accept him, Leia knew Chewie would be devastated.
Indy moaned, bringing Leia's attention back to the cot. Leaning forward, she put her hand on his forehead. "Indy, you're going to be all right."
Squinting, he opened his eyes. "Where am I?"
"You're on Han's ship - it's called the Millennium Falcon, and we are on our way to a planet called Coruscant to get you medical attention," she answered quickly, hoping her words made some sense. "A rather large rock fell on your head, and knocked you out. You'll be fine."
"The 'Millennium Falcon'? So people in your galaxy like naming things, too?" Indy grinned up at her.
Leia felt relieved that he didn't appear to be angry. "Yes, we do." Her eyes shifted away and then back to his face. "The portal is forever gone, Indy," she whispered. "The creature that allowed us to use the portal died."
"So I'm trapped here... forever?"
"I'm so sorry."
"Don't be. It wasn't your fault, and I'm not sorry to be here." Indy admitted, just as startled at his confession as Leia was.
"So, you're, um, not angry?" Leia asked carefully. "The cave entrance had collapsed," she explained further. "If we left you behind, you probably would have died."
Indy reached for her hand and squeezed her fingers. "It's all right, really. I'm not angry." He gave a jump as a loud roar filled the doorway. The huge Wookiee appeared, looking into the room with deep concern.
"This is Chewbacca," Leia informed him. "Han Solo's co-pilot. You remember, the Wookiee we told you about?"
"Yes, I remember," he replied, struggling into a seated position.
Unable to resist, Chewie quickly stepped forward and scooped the man he only knew as Han into his strong embrace. *Cub, I have missed you so much!*
"Chewie," Luke stepped forward. "He doesn't remember you. You're probably scaring him to death."
Gently, the Wookiee put Indy on his feet. *I do not want to frighten you, cub.*
"It's okay, you just startled me," Indy answered without thought. "I'm not frightened."
"Indy?" Luke asked slowly.
"Do you understand Chewie?"
A look of shock passed over Indiana's face. "I do understand him. Every word. How is that possible?"
"I don't know," Luke replied. "Is anything else familiar?"
"I... I'm not sure."
"Maybe Baxjaqua managed to put Han's memories back before he died," Leia suggested hopefully.
"It's possible," Luke mused. "It's also possible that only part of his memories were restored before Baxjaqua ceased to exist. Or perhaps the pyramid has something to do with this."
*His memories are the least of my concerns,* Chewie barked out. *As long as he is safely home, we can deal with the rest later.*
Indy sat in the small hold of the ship dressed in clean clothes that supposedly belonged to him. A white shirt, a vest with pockets, and dark blue, tight fitting pants with a gold stripe up the legs. Indy felt somewhat self-conscious wearing such form fitting slacks, and wondered if perhaps he was a bit heavier than Han had been. Leia and Luke had either not noticed or been too polite to mention his pants. Leia had, however, gotten teary-eyed seeing him dressed as Han Solo, and that had only made Indy even more uncomfortable.
Luke sat across the small checkered table, watching his reactions, while Leia and Chewie prepared dinner. "How's your head feeling?"
"It hurts a little, but it's not bad."
"Anything else look familiar?" the Jedi prodded gently.
"That's all right," Leia soothed as she put steaming plates down on the table. "I hope this food tastes acceptable... I know it will be different than what you're used to normally eating."
"I'm sure it's fine."
"Indy," Luke tentatively began. "This is just a suggestion, but I could use the Force to probe into your mind. Maybe I would be able to help you remember your life as Han."
Indiana looked somewhat askance. "Probe my mind? That sounds.. uh.. painful."
Luke smiled. "I would never do anything to hurt you, Indy. Like I said, it's just a suggestion."
Coruscant, three days later
The city planet of Coruscant left Indy speechless. He stared, wide-eyed as a child, as speeders flew overhead and the various non-humans and droids buzzed about. The four climbed into a speeder, and Luke turned it toward the Medical tower. Seeing it through Indy's eyes made Leia appreciate Coruscant in a way she had never been able to do before.
Two hours later, Indy sat on the edge of a bed, warily watching as a machine that vaguely resembled a human ran bizarre-looking equipment over his head and torso. The machine turned to Leia. "There was minimal damage to Captain Solo's skull, which has healed satisfactorily, and there are no further injuries. He does, however, require a minor adjustment to his eyesight."
"Thank you, Two-One Dee. We'll get his vision problem corrected later." Leia answered politely. She turned to Indy. "Are you ready to leave?"
"More than ready, Princess."
"What did you just call me?"
"Uh.. Princess," Indy repeated contritely. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it as an insult."
"I am a Princess, Indy." She turned to her brother and Chewie. "Luke, Chewie, did you ever tell Indy I was a Princess?"
Both shook their heads negatively. "I think you might be slowly started to remember things, Indy," Luke remarked. "Have you given any thought to the idea of letting me use the Force to see if I can open Han's memories?"
Indy turned away abruptly. "I don't want to cease to exist, either," he whispered, almost to himself.
The young Jedi came up behind him. "I know your life as Indiana Jones is just as important as Han Solo's life. I have no intention of destroying that part of you."
Indy exhaled the breath he had been holding. "All right, I'll let you try."
As they made their way back to the Falcon, Leia found herself wishing that she hadn't given up her apartment on Coruscant. Although she no longer had any intention of going through with the wedding to Isolder, the fact remained the big event was less than four weeks away and she had yet to contact her soon-to-be ex-fiancé. Informing Isolder that she was calling off the wedding was not something Leia was looking forward to - she fully expected enormous repercussions from her announcement. Leia knew that Luke and Chewie would be there to support her when she told the Prince and Queen Ta'a Chume. Still, her stomach knotted up every time she thought about the upcoming confrontation.
Arriving back at the Falcon took less time than Indy anticipated. He trusted Luke, but this notion of using some type of unseen power to go into his head frightened him. Despite the young man's reassurances, Indy was afraid that something could go wrong, and he would end up either brain damaged, or worse, dead. And the possibility that Han Solo might simply erase Indiana from existence was never far from his mind, either.
Luke could sense the uncertainty and turmoil in the emotions radiating from both his sister and his friend. In truth, the young Jedi was nervous about trying to retrieve Han's memories as well. He meant every word he had told Indy, but the fact remained he had never done anything like this. What if something went wrong? What if he destroyed Indy in the attempt to find Han? What if he destroyed Indy and failed to locate Han's memories, and in the process put Indy into a coma? Luke tried to banish such thoughts and focus on drawing the Force to him. The Force will guide me, he thought as he clenched his jaw and pushed aside negative feelings.
Once inside the Falcon, Luke had Indy lie down on Han's cot. He had asked Leia and Chewie to wait in the hold. Luke pulled up a chair and sat down. "Have you ever done this type of thing before?" Indy inquired casually.
"No, sorry. This is the first time."
"Oh. Lucky me."
Luke grinned at Indy's dry humor. For a few minutes, Luke shut his eyes and concentrated, drawing on the Force to guide him. Gently he placed one hand on Indy's forehead, the other he rested on his chest. Time seemed to stand still as Luke slowly guided his Force-sense into Indy's mind and memories. The richness of the archeologist's life flooded his senses. Indy's mother.. his father... a pretty young girl named Marion, whose remembrance brought forth both fondness and shame. The fact that Indiana's name was actually Henry Jones, Jr., but he used Indiana to annoy his father.... his daredevil, death-defying adventures.... All these things and more came to Luke's mind. Not certain what he needed to locate, Luke kept searching, until he finally reached a strange divide in Indy's mind, almost like a wall. Gently Luke pushed: the wall refused to yield. The Jedi probed more insistently against the barrier. And still it refused him entry. Luke sat back, confused and frustrated.
Indy opened his eyes. "Not working?"
"No," Luke shook his head. "There is a barrier in your mind, and I can't get past it." Then the Jedi smiled. "I have an idea." Getting up, Luke quickly went to retrieve the pyramid, and returned to the cot.
"How is that going to help? Indy questioned. "I don't think I'm exactly injured."
"I disagree, Indy," Luke said quietly. "I think that is exactly what Baxjaqua did to you - he injured your memories." Holding the pyramid in his right hand, Luke placed his left hand back on his friend's forehead. The young Jedi reached out again for the divide in Indy's mind, and the pyramid began glowing, as it had in the Wookiee space ship. And then the wall in Indy's mind gave way.
All the memories that belonged to Han Solo spilled out, and overwhelmed Indy's mind. His eyes shot open and he gasped in shock, trying to sit up. "No," Luke instructed firmly. "Lie back down! I need to help you sort this through." Using the Force, perhaps in a different way than he intended, Luke pushed his friend down.
Whether Baxjaqua had returned Han's memories before he ceased, or whether the memories of Han Solo had been hidden in the deep reaches of Indiana Jone's mind and the pyramid freed his memories, Luke wasn't certain. For a while, confusion and turmoil swirled in his friend's mind and senses. Luke remained steadfast and eased the fear from Han's and Indy's mind. Slowly, over the course of more than a standard hour, Luke was able to help sort out the dual memories of his friend. When he was certain the danger had passed, Luke pushed Han down into a restful sleep, then quietly got up and left the room.
Soaked with sweat, Luke entered the hold where Chewie and Leia nervously waited. Leia leaped up and rushed over to her brother. "What happened?"
A huge smile broke out on Luke's face. "We have Han back, sister."
Two hours later, Leia was still pacing between the ship's hold and the cockpit. "Leia, will you sit down?"
"Why did you have to make him sleep? I want to see him!"
Luke laughed. "You have been seeing him, for a couple of weeks already."
"You know what I mean," she glared at Luke.
"What's all this racket? A guy can't get a decent nap in this ship if he tried."
"Han!" Leia spun around and threw herself into his arms. "Are you really back?"
He kissed the top of her head. "I'm back, sweetheart... I'm back."
Chewie let out a huge roar and gathered both Leia and Han up into a tight embrace. "Hey, pal," Han gasped out. "You're kinda crushing us here."
The giant Wookiee set his friends down. *After three years, cub, I finally have you back home! I should pull your arms out of their sockets for leaving us!*
"Hey! It wasn't my fault!" Han protested.
Laughter filled the hold. "It's great to have you home, Han," Luke said as he hugged his friend.
"Well, kid," Solo drawled out. "I think you had a lot to do with it."
"Han?" Leia began carefully. "Do you remember Indy?"
Solo turned and left the hold. Leia looked at Luke in concern. "Did I say the wrong thing?"
A moment later, Han returned holding Indy's whip. He lashed out at a small metal cup on the game board and sent it flying. Then he turned to Leia and grinned. "I remember Dr. Indiana Jones just fine."
"How are you handling the extra memories?" Leia asked.
Solo frowned a second. "It's strange.... and kind of confusing. I have to stop and think whose life I'm remembering."
"I think that will get better with time, Han. Or do you prefer to be called Indy?" Luke teased Solo.
"Honestly? I'd answer to either name. Indy's not gone, you know."
"And I'm glad of that. I made a promise."
"Speaking as Indy, I appreciate it."
Leia lay in Han's arms in the dim light of the Falcon's cabin. "Han?"
She wiggled and looked up at him, smiling. "Nothing. I just like to be able to call you Han and have you answer."
He grinned back and gave a deep chuckle. "Leia?"
"Will you marry me?"
At first, she wasn't certain she had heard correctly. Unable to resist, she answered, "That depends."
"On what?" Han asked suspiciously.
"On who is asking... Han or Indy."
"Does it really matter?"
"No," she laughed softly. "I'll marry either one. Or both."
"Good thing, cuz you're getting both."
She settled back against his chest, trying to work up the courage to tell him about Isolder. "I need to tell you something," she began softly.
Just as Leia feared, initially Han had not reacted well to the news that she had gotten engaged in his absence.
"Han, this is a very difficult thing for me to tell you."
"As long as you're not married, it'll be okay!" he joked.
"I'm not married... I'm engaged."
Silence. Finally, Han sat up. "Engaged? To who?"
"His name is Prince Isolder, and I agreed to marry him because the Hapans said they would join with the New Republic if I did," Leia had explained quickly. "I don't love him... I've never loved anyone but you."
Han had gotten out of bed and left the room without further comment. Later, after speaking to Luke, he had insisted that he was not angry about the fact that Leia had moved on with her life three years after his "death", but that she would throw her future away for political reasons. "Why would she agree to marry someone she doesn't love? I just can't understand that!" Han had ranted to his friend.
"She thought you were dead, Han," Luke calmly replied. "She believed she had lost the only man she could ever love, and if an arranged marriage could help the New Republic, why not?"
"Why not? How can you say that? She's your sister, you should want her to be happy!" Han had shot back. "You should have made her see reason!"
"I tried, Han," Luke answered softly. "You don't understand how deeply depressed she was after you disappeared. Would you rather that she was in love with Isolder?"
With that question, it finally dawned on Han that if she had loved Prince Isolder, he would have lost her completely. Han took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down - this ability coming more from his "Indy" side than Han's much shorter temper and tendency toward jealousy.
Leia had noticed Han was quicker to see reason, and far less inclined to mood swings than he had been before his life-altering experience. When the Princess had mentioned this difference to Luke, he had smiled and agreed with her assessment. Luke pointed out to his sister that Indiana's childhood, with both a mother and father, had been far less traumatic than Han Solo's had been. Perhaps, as Luke suggested, Indy's more stable childhood was a steadying influence, so Han now felt less deep-seated insecurities and feelings of inferiority. Whatever the reasons, Leia decided she liked this "new" Han.
Five days later, en route to Hapes
Sitting in the cockpit, Han contemplated everything that had changed in the galaxy during the past three years. While he was truly grateful to be back, he also missed his life as Indiana. Staring at the blur of stars, he wondered what had happened on Earth after his disappearance. Would Marcus try to find him? Did his father even care he was gone? According to Luke, he was now in Earth's past, so would he even exist in the future of Earth? He jumped slightly when he felt a hand on his shoulder. "Leia," he smiled up at the Princess.
"A credit for your thoughts."
"They're not worth a credit," he grinned up at her.
She sat down in the co-pilot's seat. "Isolder isn't going to take my leaving very well," she started out. "I need you to try and not make things worse, okay?"
"Who, me?" he asked, pointing to his chest innocently.
"Yes, you," she reached over and touched his face. " I suspect the Queen Ta'a Chume will try to make things harder on me than Isolder. Don't lose your temper."
"I'll try to behave," Han promised. "But I have a real hard time staying calm when people start insulting you."
"I know. And I love you, nerfherder. Keep that in mind."
Hapes, two days later.
Leia sat at a large conference table with Han and Luke on either side of her, and Chewie sitting next to Han. Prince Isolder and his mother were seated on the opposite side of the table, looking angry and belligerent. Taking a deep breath, she began. "Isolder, I can't marry you. I'm sorry."
Isolder's face flushed bright red, and his fists clenched. "How dare you break our engagement, for this... this... common criminal."
"Don't you call.."
The Queen Mother interrupted Leia's defense of Han. "If you go ahead with this foolish idea, I can guarantee that the New Republic will be considered our enemies, not our allies."
"Isolder, doesn't it bother you that my sister doesn't love you?" Luke asked quietly.
"Love has nothing to do with Royal Marriages," Ta'a Chume huffed.
"Not to mention those arranged marriages turn out such nice, well-adjusted kids," Han mumbled under his breath. He was trying to be good and not say anything, but these Hapans were making it difficult.
"What did you say?" Isolder shot back at Han, rising to his feet. Instantly, Chewbacca also stood and gave a warning roar, but the Prince didn't pay any attention to the protective Wookiee. He was itching for a fight, and he didn't need much of an excuse to throw the first punch at Han. "You take off for three years and then come waltzing back into Leia's life as if you own her! Well, she's mine now - get used to the idea!"
"You don't own me either, Isolder," Leia snapped, giving a quick glance over at Han, worried he might reach for his trusty blaster. She was gratified to see that Han was looking more amused than angry, and once again she realized just how much influence Indiana was having on his reactions.
"I think everyone needs to calm down," Luke put in quickly.
"Shut up, Skywalker," Isolder turned to Luke. "This is your fault. You're the one who dragged Leia off on some false pretense!" He looked back at Leia, glaring at her and pointing his finger. "You lied to me. You knew perfectly well that Skywalker was running off to search for this worthless smuggler, and you went with him!"
"That is true, my dear," the Queen said primly. "This behavior speaks very poorly of your upbringing."
Leia was furious. Standing, she glared at Ta'a Chume. "This has gone far enough. I will not be blackmailed into a marriage to your son. I should never have agreed to marry him, and it's over. I can't make it much clearer than that."
"You're willing to destroy the relations between the Hapans and the New Republic for this... man?" Isolder sneered at the Princess.
Luke stood up beside his sister. "And you would rather marry someone who could never love you? Who would resent you for the rest of her life? Is that such a better option?"
With shocking speed, Isolder flung himself across the table, one hand grabbing the front of Han's shirt, the other striking the Corellian across the jaw with such force that Han would have been thrown from his chair if Isolder had not been holding him. He tasted the iron tang of his own blood a second before he felt the pain. Han quickly stood, using his leverage to break the Prince's grip on his shirt, and delivered his own return punch to the underside of Isolder's chin. The Prince's head snapped back, but he rolled quickly atop the table to avoid a second blow from his opponent. Chewie roared in rage and made his own grab at the Prince, narrowly missing Isolder's arm.
"Han! Isolder!" Leia yelled at the men as Luke quickly moved to intercede. "Stop!"
Luke grasped Han's arm and pulled him away from the Prince, who had leapt to his feet on Han's side of the table. Isolder made a second lunge for Solo, but Luke pushed him backwards using the Force before Chewie could intercept the Prince and make matters worse. Isolder went backpedaling, and landed on his back as he fell in an ungraceful heap over a chair. "Enough, Isolder," Luke ordered.
"You are quite correct, Skywalker," Ta'a Chume stated as she tilted her chin up. "This is enough. Please take your sister and your so-called friends and leave Hapes immediately, or I will have you all arrested for attacking my son."
Han started to reply, but Leia quickly put her hand over his mouth. "We're leaving. I'm sorry it had to end so bitterly, Isolder, and I hope someday you can find a wife that will love you. Goodbye." She pulled Han out the door, with Luke and Chewie following.
"That went well," Han commented as he rubbed his throbbing jaw.
Three days later
A formal ceremony marked the return of the Force pyramid to the Wookiees of Kashyyyk. *On behalf of the future Jedi of Kashyyyk, we thank you for returning our long lost talisman, the Ryckkryn, which our people greatly value. We can never repay this debt to you.* The elder Wookiee Moorllakk bowed to the three humans and Chewbacca.
"It's our privilege to be able to return the Ryckkryn to you," Leia spoke through Threepio, who stood by translating. "You owe us no debt, other than providing the galaxy future Jedi."
Luke stepped forward and presented the iridescent pyramid to Moorllakk. The old Wookiee took the pyramid reverently into his hands and held it up for all to see. A cheer went up from the assembled Wookiees. The talisman was finally home.
The small group made their way slowly back to the Falcon through the huge tree branches that held the homes of the Wookiee population. The past few days, to both Leia and Luke's amusement, Han had taken to wearing Indy's leather jacket rather than his black vest, along with his Corellian style pants, boots and white shirt. Solo also wore the battered fedora almost constantly. Han nervously eyed the tree branches above their heads as they walked along.
"Worried about snakes?" Luke asked casually, trying to keep from smiling. Han shot Luke a warning glare, and Luke laughed before questioning his friend. "Well, Indy, are you eager to find treasures in this galaxy, too?"
"Maybe, kid," Han replied, not even noticing that Luke called him Indy. The Corellian smiled as he looked down at the beautiful Princess on his arm. "But I think I've already got the best treasure this galaxy has to offer."