Epilogue: One month later . . ..
"Okay, Han! All charges are ready to go! Let's get out of here!"
At the sound of the kid's breathless voice and footfalls on the deck as he raced onboard the Falcon, Han glanced over to Chewie and smiled. "Punch it, Chewie."
Chewie howled his affirmative, and the Falcon took off, soaring away from the Imperial shipyard at top speed.
"I'm in," Luke's voice crackled over the comm from the topside gun turret.
"And you, Princess?" Han asked.
"Armed and ready," her voice called back from her position in the lower turret.
Han grinned. One month ago he'd been ready to leave. Now the four of them were working like a well-oiled machine. Who would have guessed they'd be sent as a team to destroy the Imperial fleet's replacement ships? If only he'd volunteered for the Super Star Destroyer mission. Then, maybe, they would have succeeded. But, that was the past. As for the present—
"Ready to blow in ten seconds," Luke's voice called.
"And here come the TIEs now," Leia added.
Han checked his scopes and his readouts. "Preparing for the hyperspace jump, once that thing goes."
A blast hit the shields and the ship rocked with the impact. Han looked at Chewie who howled back that the shield was still holding strong.
"Good," he replied, "but don't let anymore hit us."
Leia's voice filled the comm. "Sorry, Captain." A moment later she added, "But he won't be shooting anyone else."
"And five," Luke started to count, "four…three… two… one… Whoa!"
"I think you did it, Luke!" Leia shouted.
Han glanced back down at his readouts. "Great. Now, just hold them off for a few more seconds!"
"Got it, Han," Luke called back. "One coming up on you, Leia!"
"I see him!"
"I think they're a little angry!"
Han grinned. "Well, no kidding! You just blew up their ships, Luke! I'd be kinda' upset myself."
"Are we ready to go yet, Han?" Leia asked.
Han turned to his first mate. "How're we lookin', Chewie?"
Chewie howled back.
"Okay, kids," Han called. "Hang on to something!"
Han watched the stars turn to starlines as the ship entered hyperspace, then he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Whew! We did it!"
Han laughed at Luke's ecstatic shout of triumph. The kid was never one to hold anything back.
"One more success," Leia called, much more calmly than the kid did.
Leaning back in his chair, Han remarked, "Well, kid, I gotta' hand it to ya'. You sure are getting good at blowin' stuff up!"
He heard Luke's gleeful laugh through the comm. "Yeah, but only with you around, Han."
"He's got a point," Leia agreed.
"Just don't stick me in one of those X-wings again!" Han shook his head. "Well, get back up here and we'll celebrate."
"Corellian?" Luke asked.
"Only the best," Han replied with a wink toward Chewie.
The Wookie looked over at Han and laughed, saying something about Han getting too used to this. Han stared back at him, wordlessly agreeing. So what if he was? Sure, he hadn't planned on any of this three months ago. Sure he'd become attached to the kid and the Princess who were on their way to the cockpit right at this very moment. And right now, he didn't care. He was making trouble for the Empire, and he was enjoying it. And for the moment that was all that mattered!
Craning his neck, he watched as a beaming Luke Skywalker strode into the cockpit followed by a flush-faced and radiant-looking Leia Organa. As she entered, she favored him with a smile that made her look even more beautiful and radiant.
Okay, maybe wreaking Rebel havoc wasn't all that mattered, he conceded. Maybe there were other, more subtle things in the works. Plans change, after all.