Something Worth Fighting For

By D. L. Slaten

Djslaten@aol.com

 

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Han Solo crouched down as dirt and debris rained down on his head and shoulders. If it had been about ten inches lower, that last shot would have blown right through his forehead.

“This gets old real fast,” Han said, firing a shot back in the direction of the storm troopers up ahead. Smuggling had been a dangerous business, but not like this.

Chewbacca, who was pinned down across the hall and had a dusting of white and gray debris sprinkled throughout his brown fur, growled his agreement.

“You know this is all your fault,” Han said. “If you hadn’t talked to that crazy old man back in Mos Eisley we wouldn’t be here today.”

Chewbacca roared something in Wookie that made too much sense, and Han just shrugged. Chewie had a way of cutting through Han’s bravado and bringing him back to reality.

“I know. At the time it seemed like a good idea. I needed the money. We needed the money.”

Another blast zinged overhead, and Han ducked instinctively. Luckily, this one wasn’t as close as the last one had been. Sometimes Han wondered how Imperial troops ever won any of the battles they were in. If they didn’t outnumber their foes, they didn’t stand much of a chance. Unfortunately, they almost always outnumbered their enemies . . . and they had better weapons.

“Life has a funny way of sidetracking you,” Han grumbled, still thinking back to that fateful day in Mos Eisley that had brought them into contact with the Rebellion. “And don’t give me anything about destiny or the Force or anything like that. This isn’t our destiny.”

Chewbacca didn’t say anything in response. He didn’t have to. Han had already said everything that needed to be said on the subject.

Han focused his attention in front of him, but he couldn’t see anything beyond the clouds of smoke slowly drifting his way. For a moment, the blasts stopped and the clouds wafted closer in an eerie silence. Han’s thoughts drifted to Princess Leia Organa briefly - which is what they did more and more often lately. Increasingly, he couldn’t get that annoying little brunette out of his mind. If not for the ongoing chaos of this war he probably would have driven himself crazy thinking about her. She was . . .

Something wasn’t right, thought Han, bringing his focus back to the task at hand. It was too quiet now.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” said Han.

The Corellian raised his blaster, ready for whatever might emerge from the haze, but he wasn’t ready enough. Without warning, a red blaster bolt pierced through the gray fog and struck him in the left arm. Pain surged up and down his arm, and before his life even had time to flash before his eyes, everything turned to black.


 

Han opened his eyes to a blindingly white room. He wondered if this was Heaven, but then he quickly remembered who he was . . . and he saw Luke Skywalker, decked out in the now familiar orange outfit of an X-Wing pilot, standing over him.

“How you feeling, Han?”

Han looked around the non-descript room and the bed he was in, figuring out just how to answer the question. “For a second there I thought I was dead. Other than that, I’m okay.”

“You’re not dead yet, Han, but you took a nasty shot to the arm. You’re gonna be okay, though.”

Han looked down at his arm, which was heavily bandaged and extremely sore. He hadn’t really noticed that until Luke mentioned it.

“Did we at least win?”

Luke shrugged his shoulders. “Depends how you define winning.”

“That bad huh?” Han asked. One thing he’d learned since hooking up with the Rebels was that most battles didn’t end up with clear cut resolutions the way the battle at the Death Star had. War was a whole lot murkier than that. Sometimes just living to fight another day was victory enough.

“The Empire knows we’re here anyway, and that means we’ll be leaving soon,” said Luke. “Right now they’re talking about relocating to the Hoth system. Apparently it’s  a desolate, uninhabited hunk of ice that’s remote enough to offer a safe harbor.”

“Sounds like a real fun place,” said Han.

“Nobody said this was going to be fun, Han.”

Han looked back down at his bandaged arm. “You know I never signed up for this. I’m a smuggler, not a revolutionary or a soldier,” he said, sounding more like someone trying to convince himself instead of someone trying to convince the person he was speaking to.

“You keep saying that, and yet you’re still here.”

“Not for long,” said Han. Getting shot in the arm was enough to tip the scales in favor of getting as far away from the Rebellion as he possibly could. “There’s stuff worth dying for, kid, but I’m not ready for that yet.”

Luke frowned. “Well, I’ve got some work to do. I’ll tell Leia you’re awake. She wanted to see you.”

“The princess?” Han perked up. “She wanted to see me?”

“Don’t start having delusions of grandeur, Han. It’s not like that,” said Luke.

“If you say so, kid. But I know a thing or two about women.”

“I’m sure you do,” Luke said derisively. He turned and moved towards the door. “I’ll see you later.”

Han flippantly waved goodbye with his good arm. “All’s fair in love and war, kid,” he mumbled under his breath. He closed his eyes then, not expecting Leia to show up any time soon, but she surprised him a few minutes later when she entered the room.

“Han, are you okay?”

Han opened his eyes and grinned, partly because she’d shown up so quickly and partly because she was such a sight for sore eyes, even if she was conservatively dressed in a gray vest and brown pants. “Your worship, I see you couldn’t stand to be away from me for very long,” he said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Leia.

“Sure you don’t. That’s okay, princess,” said Han.

“You’re obviously heavily medicated. You’re raving like a lunatic. Maybe I should come back later.”

“You don’t have to leave,” said Han.

“Do you promise to be serious if I stay?”

“If that’s what you want,” said Han.

“Just this once would be nice,” said Leia.

“What’s on your mind?”

“I don’t know if Luke told you, but we’re packing everything up and heading for the Hoth system,” said Leia.

“Yeah, he mentioned something about that.”

“This means we’ve got to move you - and all the other injured troops - out of here. I just wanted to make sure you were able to go.”

“I got shot in the arm, your highness. It’s not much more than a flesh wound,” said Han.

“Like I said, I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” said Leia. “And I can see that you are.”

“I am,” Han said. “Thanks for checking on me.”

Leia looked at him then, her expression serious, and she nodded. “The doctor will come back in to check on you, but after that I’d recommend you and Chewbacca get the Falcon ready to leave this place.”


 

Chewbacca was working on the Falcon when Han walked up to it. Han wished he could help, but the medical droid had put his arm in a sling and there really wasn’t much use for a one-armed mechanic. He didn’t know what hurt worse - seeing yet more repairs being made on the aging Falcon or not being the one making those repairs.

“You think we can get this bucket of bolts up and running,” Han said jokingly.

Chewbacca looked up and roared something that was only funny to someone with a Wookie’s sense of humor.

“I’ll be okay soon,” Han said.

Chewbacca roared something about going to the Hoth system then, which caused Han to shake his head.           

“We’re not going to the Hoth system,” said Han.

Chewbacca stopped working on the Falcon and stood up, clearly outraged at his old friend.

“This isn’t our war, pal,” said Han. “We’ve already stayed longer than I planned to. It’s time we get back to our real lives.”

Chewbacca looked at Han like he either wanted to rip the Corellian’s good arm off or throw the blowtorch he was holding at his head. Deciding between the two options was probably the only thing preventing him from tearing Han to shreds.

“Come on, you know this war is crazy,” said Han. “A small outfit like this can’t topple the Galactic Empire. You’ve got to know when to fight and when to walk away. Some things are worth fighting for, and some things…” Han trailed off. He knew Chewbacca wasn’t buying this speech one bit.

C-3PO and R2-D2 strolled past the Falcon then, warbling and chirping at each other like an old married couple and briefly distracting Han and Chewbacca from the potential argument they were about to have.

“I’m not ready to die for a hopeless cause,” Han said to Chewbacca once the droids finally moved on. “Look, I left my medicine back in my room. I’m gonna go get it, and when I get back, we’re out of here.”


 

Of course Leia would be standing between Han and the room where he’d left his pain medicine. Han almost cursed out loud when he saw her, but a part of him was happy she was there.

Even in the middle of all this chaos she was beautiful. It wasn’t that she was unaffected by the madness surrounding her, it was just that she had a certain kind of grace under pressure. While others lost their heads, she stayed calm and focused on the task at hand. She had to be scared - at least a little - but she never showed it.

Han admired that.

“This is where we part ways, princess,” Han said as he approached her.

“I can’t believe I actually thought you had some character,” said Leia. “You really are this selfish aren’t you?”

“Hey!” Han said, putting his good hand up defensively. “You don’t know what it’s like living with a death mark on your head. If I don’t pay back Jabba the Hutt soon . . .”

Leia cut him off quickly. “I don’t know what it’s like living with a death mark on my head? I’m one of the most recognizable faces of a rebellion against a galactic empire, Han. Besides Luke, I’m probably the most wanted person in the galaxy! Don’t talk to me about death marks.”

“Yeah, well, there’s a difference. You chose this life. Me, not so much. I didn‘t ask for this rebellion, and I don‘t need it. I‘ve got my own problems to worry about.”

Leia shook her head. “There are some things in this life worth fighting for, Han. The rebellion is one of those things. I thought you’d figured that out by now.”

Han opened his mouth to say something, but the words died in his throat. What could he possibly say in response to that? It wasn’t like he’d come back to help Luke out over the Death Star because he wanted a reward. No, he’d done that because it was the right thing to do. He’d done it because somewhere deep down inside him he knew this was a stand he had to take. He’d done it because, for whatever reason, this was his destiny.

No matter how much he wanted to deny that.

Han looked into Leia’s eyes, and she looked back into his, both of them lingering just a second longer than was comfortable. Han leaned in ever so slightly, but Leia pulled away quickly, as if nothing had happened between them in that moment.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” Leia said, “whether you’re coming to Hoth or not. The rest of the Imperial fleet will be showing up here any minute now.”

“I didn’t think to pack a coat,” said Han.

“What?”

“Never mind,” said Han. “Just get to your ship, okay?”

Leia looked at him for a brief second, and then turned away.

She was right, Han thought as he watched her walk away. Some things were worth fighting for.

Han headed in the opposite direction from Leia, but no matter how far away from her he got, he couldn’t really escape her. That much was painfully clear to him now. He could get in the Falcon and keep jumping through hyperspace until he was as far as it was physically possible to be from the Hoth system, but he would never really get away from Leia or this rebellion. Destiny was funny like that. You could run away from it all you wanted, but it would always be there right behind you.

Chewbacca stood at the foot of the Falcon’s loading ramp as Han approached, looking resigned to follow whatever decision Han had made about their ultimate destination. No matter how much the Wookie might disagree with Han, he still deferred to the pilot on these decisions.

“Come on, Chewie, let’s get the Falcon ready. We’re going to the Hoth system.”

 

 

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