Adopted from a 'Smokey and the Bandit' meets SW plot bunny suggestion.
The Sith and the Smuggler – AU is going to be an understatement
Lando Calrissian took another swig of the golden liquid, shutting his eyes in bliss as the substance slowly trickled down his throat, leaving a pleasant tingle radiating throughout his entire body. He let out a long, satisfied sigh. "This is best ale in the galaxy, bar none."
"I don't know about that. Corellian whiskey – ."
The Baron's eyes opened, taking in the confused and suspicious expressions of the man and the Wookiee seated across from him. He cut off his friend with a quick retort, "Gutter water. In comparison to this… this mouthful of pure heaven, Corellian whiskey is gutter water."
"Corellian whiskey ain't gutter water," Han Solo argued, swirling the remains of his drink in the crystal goblet. "This stuff tastes okay, but I can't see why you're so worked up about it."
Lando shook his head in dismay. "You haven't got the refined palate to appreciate such things."
Glaring, Han stood up from his comfortable nerf-hide chair, which was situated across the gleaming desk of his friend. "I didn't come all this way just to have you insult me, Calrissian. Come on, Chewie. We're outta here."
"Sit down, and stop being so hot-headed," Lando ordered lightly. "I need you to do a shipping job for me."
Han refused to sit, and folded his arms across his chest. "What does it pay, and why would you call me?" The smuggler waved his hand toward the large window, where many sleek spacecrafts zipped past. "You must have dozens of employees already."
Giving a wide grin, Lando nodded. "This job is going to take someone brave and daring. Someone that can improvise on a moment's notice. Someone who claims that 'inspiration is his specialty.'"
"Flattery is free. Sounds to me like whatever this is, it's gonna cost you. Big time."
"I'm prepared to pay you one hundred thousand credits."
Han sat down with a shocked thud, and Chewie let loose with a disbelieving roar. "A hundred thousand? What kind of job is this?"
"In one week, I'm throwing a big bash to announce my engagement to the most beautiful woman in the galaxy."
"Lucky girl," Han said sarcastically.
"Yes, she is," the Baron said agreeably. He leaned forward, holding up the amber bottle. "This ale is only made on one planet in the galaxy, and shipping it anywhere besides Coruscant is strictly against Imperial Law." Lando gave a sour face. "Disgusting Imps, anyway. What makes them so special that they have to act like greedy Hutts and keep it all to themselves? I want – no, I fully intend – to serve this wonderful ambrosia to my guests."
"What's the name of the planet, Lando?"
"Nice little system called Ponty-Ack, and the planet is named Tranzam. Resort type of place. Lots of agricultural land."
"So you want me an' Chewie to go there and pick up a case of Tranzam ale and bring it back? That sounds way too easy for one hundred thousand credits. What's the catch?"
Lando rubbed his chin. "Well, it's like this… there are only two spaceports on the entire planet, and both of them have tight security."
"I could land somewhere besides a spaceport," Han said.
"You could try, but that would attract Imps faster than pincers at a picnic. The entire planet is under a blockade."
"All this for some ale?" Han asked in awe.
"Nah. There's a big wedding going on this weekend for Lord Vader's son and some princess. So that's the reason for all the heavy security."
Han rubbed his face. "Why didn't you buy this ale earlier, before the big shindig?"
"Well," Lando hedged a bit. "Serving the ale wasn't exactly my idea."
"You know how women can be."
"Yup, and that's why I'm never falling in love, or getting married," Han declared. "Never."
"Be that as it may, are you interested in the job?" Lando prodded.
"I can get the Falcon past any blockade there is, but I need a few more details," Han said. "Once I've landed, is someone going to deliver this stuff to my ship?"
Lando cleared his throat. "No, not exactly. You'll have to drive a hover-truck and go pick it up and get it back to the Falcon."
"About two thousand klicks."
Chewie gave another roar, and Han's eyes widened. "Two… thousand?
"That's how far it is from the spaceport to the only distillery that's willing to sell black market ale," Lando said defensively. "It's a twenty time-part trip there, and twenty time-parts back. No big deal."
Han did some fast mental calculations. "That's one-hundred klicks per time-part…in a HOVER-TRUCK? Are you insane?"
"So you're saying you can't do it?" Lando asked, smirking. "I guess not. I'll get a hold of Rendar. I'm sure he can handle the job, and I always suspected he had more spine that you do, anyway."
"Anything Dash can do, I can do better," Han shot back hotly. "Where am I supposed to get this hover-truck?"
Lando quickly shoved a flimsy across the glistening desktop toward Han, looking triumphant. "I've already arranged the hover-truck's rental, and it will be waiting near the spaceport. The directions to the distillery will be in the navigation system."
Han picked up the flimsy and looked at it warily. "This is a long haul, Calrissian. Chewie can drive the hover-truck, but I'll need to run interference for any Imps we run across."
"I'll need to rent… no, make that buy, a really fast hover-craft when we arrive on Tranzam. Then I'll drive ahead and warn Chewie about any Imp problems before he gets there, and distract them with my dazzling feats of daring-do, if necessary."
Lando pulled a credit voucher, wrote an amount on it and tossed it at the Corellian.
Han glanced at the writing, then shook his head. "Faster than that."
Gritting his teeth, Lando added to the amount, and Han finally grinned. "That should do it."
"Yes, it certainly should," Lando agreed dryly. "Oh, and one more thing. If you're not back in one week exactly, you don't get one credit of pay."
"But it'll take two days just to get to the Ponty-Ack system, even in the Falcon."
"No buts," Lando declared firmly. "Two days to get there, a little less than two days to make the pick-up, and then two days back. That gives you a bit more than an entire day to deal with unexpected delays."
"You're so generous to me."
"A hundred thousand credits is plenty generous, but the rule stands - no ale at the party, no payment. Do you still want to go?"
Han stood up, grinning manically. "You'll have your special ale, Lando. And do you know why?" He pointed a thumb at his chest. "Cuz we both know that I'm the best smuggler in the galaxy."
"I knew I could count on you," Lando said, shaking the Corellian's hand.
"There they go," Lando declared with a satisfied smile as he watched the Falcon veer away from Cloud City. "Our ale will be back in no time at all."
"You seem to have a lot of confidence in these smugglers," the woman replied. "That blockade will be pretty tight."
"Han and Chewie are the best," Lando told her. "I have faith in them."
"I'm glad," the lady said. "I wish you'd have as much faith in me… your own fiancée." She snuggled up close to him. "Lando, sweetie, please tell me where I can find my very own supply of Tranzam ale? I mean, what if something should happen to you…in the far off future, of course! You wouldn't want me to never have Tranzam ale again, would you?"
Lando gazed down at the beautiful woman in his arms. "I've told you a thousand times, dear. The old bootlegger on Tranzam trusts me not to give out his name to anyone. Han won't even know the guy's identity until he arrives to pick the stuff up." He gave a meaningful grin. "Besides, you're holding out on me, too, right? And what you're holding out on is way more personal and frustrating for me than it is for you not to know some bootlegger's name." He shut his eyes and puckered his lips, making kissy sounds.
The woman gave a hard shove away from Lando. "How many times do I have to tell you? My people of Phishipphosphate believe that a physical relationship starts on the wedding night, and not a moment sooner. Otherwise we cannot have a true, spiritual bonding which will last forever." She put her hands on her narrow hips. "Are you telling me you only want a physical relationship and not a complete bonding? Is that how you see me? You want my body but you're not interested in my mind?"
"No!" Lando said, throwing up his hands in surrender. "We've been through all this. I want us to spend the rest of our lives together, Honey-bear. I sure wish you'd be a little more forthcoming about where Phishipphosphate is located, though. I've never heard of it before, and it doesn't appear on any space maps."
"Are you going behind my back and checking up on me?"
"I was only curious, and wanted to know a bit about your history because I love you," Lando protested meekly. "Really!"
"And don't call me Honey-bear. I don't appreciate your making fun of my name."
"If you must know," she replied, her tone icy. "It's not an actual physical place, it's a state of mind. My people are scattered throughout the galaxy, and our only connection is through our philosophy."
"Oh. I see," Lando said, feeling confused. Deep down, he was starting to wonder if getting engaged to a woman he'd met less than three weeks ago was a good idea. She was so defensive all the time, and seemed rather paranoid. Some of the stories she told were rather preposterous. He watched as Honey Ba'her stomped off, the primal male part of him appreciating the view. Ah, so what if she was a bit eccentric? If everyone thought exactly the same, life would be boring, and Lando hated being bored.
Two days later…
The Millennium Falcon shadowed an Imperial shuttle down to the surface of the planet, remaining close enough to not be detected by the Star Destroyers surrounding the planet. It was a tricky maneuver, and few pilots were daring enough to attempt it. It was necessary to stay just behind the shuttle, far enough away to avoid the engine's afterburners, yet close enough that the shuttle's pilots could not get a visual lock, and that their own sensors would have the Falcon show up as an echo. Once they'd entered the planet's atmosphere, Han then used the thick cloud cover to break away, hoping by this time the Imperials would have their attention focused elsewhere.
"Keep your fingers crossed, Chewie, or this is gonna be one short trip," Han told his co-pilot.
"Arooo," Chewie yelled back.
"I know you can't technically cross your fingers," Han shouted. "It's just an expression."
"Narrarrgh!" The Wookiee wagged his paw in Han's face. "Rearough ah varroom!"
Han's eyebrows shot up. "'Humans are nuts' is not an expression!"
The Wookiee gave more barks, nodding vigorously.
"No, I don't want to bet on it," Han returned. He jabbed his finger at the viewport. "If you don't pay attention to this landing, we'll both be another old expression… flatter than a flapcake."
"Yeah, pal, I guess we can get some flapcakes after we land," Han said with a sigh. Chewie was so easily distracted whenever the subject of food came up.
Leia dabbed her eyes, and gave a loud honk into her tissue as she addressed the small holo-gram. "This isn't fair, Winter. Why is it every time Father acts irresponsibly, I have to sacrifice myself to save Alderaan? I know that the beings of the galaxy expect Prince Bail to be the daring, bold adventurer, but really, who in their right mind goes spelunking on Mustafar, anyway? Why couldn't Little Junior Vader demand someone else's in marriage? Why me?"
"Because you're a Princess," Winter's small, shimmering form replied patiently. "There are very few, young eligible Princesses in the galaxy. You don't want them to blow up Alderaan if you refuse, do you?"
The Princess gave her nose another noisy toot. "Empty threats. I don't believe they truly can do that, do you?"
"Well, I don't know," Winter agreed. "But it's a chance I'd rather not take." She smiled reassuringly at her friend, dressed in a long white gown. "You do look like a beautiful bride, Leia. I sure wish they'd let me attend your wedding. Have a nice day, and keep your chin up. I'm sure Prince Bail will turn up safe and sound someday. He always does."
"By then, it'll be too late for him to stop the wedding." A buzzer sounded, and Leia quickly shut off the connection to Alderaan, since she didn't want to get caught talking to Winter. "Yes?" she called out, looked toward the doorway. "Who is it?"
The door whooshed open, and a tall, towering creature encased in black armor entered the room. "Your soon-to-be father-in-law," Vader hissed out. "Are you ready for the nuptials to begin? Little Junior is anxious."
"Are you sure this feels right?" Leia asked nervously. "I know I'm not Force sensitive like you and Junior, but … but…."
Vader held up his gloved hand, flexing his fingers, which made an odd, grinding sound. "Are you questioning my judgment, missy?"
"No…no…." Leia said quickly. "What's wrong with your hand?"
Vader turned his visor to gaze at his hand. "I just lubricated my joints. I want to be limber for the reception, when we do the Twi'lek two-step." He pointed his finger in Leia's face. "You'd better be marching down that aisle on-time, Princess. I grow tired of waiting." With those threatening words, Vader spun around and stalked out of the room, leaving the flustered Princess behind.
As the Wedding March music came drifting in, her eyes flickered to the window. It was only a two story drop to the grass below. Even if she broke her leg escaping, it still would be the best part of the day.
Han nodded his approval as the dealer showed him the sparkling new, black and gold hover-car. "Is it fast?"
"Fast?" the plaid-suited Bith repeated, clutching his chest dramatically. "This craft can make zero to one-hundred in two parsecs."
"That makes no sense," Han complained.
The Bith slapped Han on the back. "Let's just say it's real fast. Fast enough for you, old man."
"Who are you calling old!?" Han yelled indignantly.
"A major chick maggot," the Bith continued on, unfazed at Han's outrage. "Females will be crawling out of the woodwork for a ride, if you get my drift."
"Maggot? Don't you mean magnet?"
"Do magnets crawl outta woodwork?" the Bith snorted merrily.
"No, actually, they don't," Han groused. "Look, I'm not interested in picking up girls. I just want a fast car."
"Then this is your new machine! You'd better act fast, or some other lucky stiff will buy it out from over you," the sales-being pushed.
"Under," Han muttered.
"Never mind." Glaring, Han handed over the credit voucher, not bothering to haggle over the price. It wasn't his money, after all. And, despite the annoying sales-being, the hover-car was one hot looking vehicle. It even had a fancy golden falcon painted on the hood. If that wasn't a sign it was the right hover-car, nothing was.
Jumping in the hover-car, Han pressed down hard on the accelerator, and the hover-craft's big engine responded with a roar. Driving much faster than necessary, he headed down the street to the address Lando had directed the hover-truck would be located. Chewie should already be there, and waiting for his arrival.
Han skidded to a stop, his eyes blinking in surprise. Indeed, Chewie was there, waiting next to the rental. Jumping out, Han let loose with a low whistle. "Wow, pal. That's some truck."
*DO YOU EXPECT ME TO DRIVE THIS… THIS THING!?* Chewie bellowed. *We are SUPPOSED to be picking up contraband! Can this truck be anymore noticeable? Why not put flashing lights and clanging bells on the top to announce our presence?*
"Keep it down," Han whispered out of the side of his mouth. "It's not that bad."
*It has a HERD OF THUNDERING NERFS painted on the sides!* Chewie yelled. *What was Calrissian thinking?*
"He's engaged to be married. Give the guy a break. I've heard that once a female traps a male, his brain atrophies."
*Then what is your excuse?* Chewie woofed out as he climbed up into the cab.