The saber of Windu
(Episode I of The Adventures of Young Solo)
year of the Empire
were completed all legal
formalities on the undeniable
proving of criminal activity of the
Jedi Order. Then the Emperor issued
a decree that declared illegal any literature
and any information distribution about the Jedi.
Totally was prohibited the possession of any surviving
Jedi artifacts and their owners risked imprisonment. In subsequent
years, this decree led to an impressive increase of the cost of any Jedi items
on the black market...
The klukluk Dnaro wrote 2 different wills. One was if he had died by a natural death, and bequeathed almost all his wealth to charity. The other was if he has died by an unnatural death and bequeathed all to this one of his three nephews who would survive live one month after his death. The lawyer kept both wills and after Dnaro lost his life in dubious crash with an old boat, he decided that it was rather violent death. He invited the nephews and opened the second will. In it, besides the last will, there was an additional sentence - the old klukluk wanted his 3 heirs to go into a hidden cave and to open 3 left chests. They should go without any escort and completely unarmed. For each of the three was prepared a single key. The lawyer knew that such conditions were placed when it was needed to bequeath something illegal, but valuable.
The three actually went to the cave, convinced that their uncle has taken care of their safety, by the condition to be completely unarmed. All three were already trembling with the risk of being killed within 30 days. And everyone has started to make plans on how to get rid of the other two.
After the three chests were open, it appeared a hologram of their beloved uncle. He said:
"Hello dear nephews,
You inherited a lot of money. But as one of you is responsible for my death, here's my gift - at least two of you will soon follow me. In blood of our race is to kill each other, and always do it with selfish motives. We are the most bloodthirsty race in the universe, except maybe the humans. But they are not so rational, and sometimes kill even without selfish motives, and even without motives at all. But let's not get myself distracted. I know that after you killed me, you've seen the will, and now you are ready to kill each other. This is my gift to you. I expect at least two of you to join me soon, so I am not getting bored here.
But let's not get distracted.
In these boxes is my most valuable heritage. These are three real Jedi light sabers. Yes, absolutely real. My good business partner Jabba The Hutt repeatedly offered to redeem them, telling me that he had a ready client, with thirty million Malawian credits. $ 5 million for two of the swords and 20 million for the third. You can not find which one is the most valuable, but the friends of Jabba can. But anyway this is irrelevant, because all three swords will eventually come into the hands of one of you. So, my favorite boys, my dear, draw the swords and decide the issue now. The winner takes everything. And a friendly advice - Jabba pays the most, do not seek another buyer ...
Hahahaha ... " – an extreme giggle ended the record.
The hologram went out, then as expected, the unbridled emotions took over among klukluks and they grabbed the only available weapon - Jedi sabers before them. The Dnaro legacy worked instantly. One of the nephews committed suicide by activating the sword aimed at himself. He got a hole in the abdomen, then dropped it, and while falling down the beam slashed him in half. But that's not what killed him immediately. Completely unable to fight, in 2 seconds he was beheaded by one of the other two swords.
His brothers fought in the most awkward way. They had never touched a sword and had no idea what it is and what it is doing. They had never heard about the art of fencing. The battle would have made any dead Jedi to turn in his grave. The outcome was expected - another head fell. But as a bonus for the uncle the winner lost a leg. So the uncle got two nephews as a company plus the leg of the third...
He did not know if it was a curse or a gift. But he never could get drunk. As much as he drank any alcohol of any planet, he never achieved more than a moderate daze. And it was impossible even to imagine to faint or to fall asleep from drinking. In case when his body just could not cope, an atrocious vomiting followed. But never a real fall under the table.
Moderate daze was the maximum and at the moment it had already been reached. A soothing and relaxing after the new idiocy of the Empire, that rejected him as a candidate for the Academy of pilots, using the vague but universal argument that he was unreliable. He showed the best results of the tests, including practical ones, but anyway he was kicked out - probably because any bureaucrat wanted to get the place for his candidate. He just had no idea why is unreliable, having never had any activities against the Empire, nor against the Republic before it, nor anyone in his family had had problems with politicians. But anyway - unreliable, and an alcohol without limitation...
-You again are trying to get drunk, Han? You know that the battle is hopeless ... – a familiar voice sounded behind him.
-Black, get out. Now I am not a company... - answered the failed cadet.
-Black? I have my name... You've become a racist ... lol ...
-I am not a racist, but even if you were white, I would kick you out, unless you leave me. I do not want to talk with anyone...
-Sorry, sorry, I probably missed the right approach. I'm afraid of you beating me, but there is no way to go out. I must risk, as I have a job to do…
-I don’t care of any job, do it alone...
-You may not care, but I do, and I need you for it. So - you cannot get out ...
-Why do not you put your work ...
A moment later two burly goons turned a barrel full of ice cold water over the unsuccessfully tried to get drunk youth. Then dragged him into a nearby booth where also entered Lando. Gorillas has left. Han restored to consciousness and was about to jump on the black, but he was so surprised by what happened, that he decided to wait and see what it is all about anyway.
-After so brutally sobering, I expect at least 100 credits, even if I refuse the offer. And at least 50 if I refuse it with a bonus of beating you...
-I see that you're really sober ... - Lando smiled.
-You would do me a favor if you had made me drunk - for instance with these two to blow me on the head with the barrel.
Lando smiled again and decided to pass on the merits.
-My friend, we are not speaking about some hilarious hundred credits. We're talking about 10,000. For everyone. For me - 10 and 10 for you.
- I guess you have made progress in smuggling? - Han said.
-I have not advanced, lots of work for others that are robbing my entire profit. But this is my chance. With these 10 grand I will buy my own ship and start profiting normally.
-10 grand profit for you, presumes Jabba to take 100,000. A business for 100,000 suggests a big trouble. And a deal for 100,000 that has been missed by Boba Fett and Jabba’s near friends presumes a very very big trouble ...
-Not exactly, Han. Slightly different is the scheme. The customer is offering 250,000 Malawian credits for transportation only of him. That's about 25,000 imperial credits. Only for carrying one person. Nothing more wanted. Jabba does not need to know about the money. He will take 90% of its normal highest rate for transporting a man - 5-6 grand. I'll take the rest 20 grand, with no any report to Jabba.
-You seem want 20 grand to be declared on your head...
-Well, without sometimes risking there is no future in this business...
-Exactly because of this, do not draw me in. I already told you I do not want to become a smuggler. Too bad investment you have made in these 2 gorillas with the barrel on me...
-Look, Han, I need your help. Just once. There is no risk for you. Jabba does not know you will be involved. You get 50% and disappear. Imperial 10 grand or 100 grand Malawian.
-I do not need 100 grand. Right now I only need some whisky...
Lando thought for a while. He could say nothing. He knew that the chance to convince Han was minimal. He has already several times refused to engage in smuggling. He wanted to be a Fleet officer and a pilot...
-Even if you do not want the money, there's something more - you will get even with the Empire.
Han winced. He was really angry with the Empire, the Emperor, the bureaucrats, the Academy, and in general, with any state-connected thing.
-What exactly I will pay back to the Empire? Lest a revolution has broken out and we are here to transport it leader?
-Hahaha… - giggled Lando – A revolution! Who'll make a revolution against Palpatine, Vader and that crook Organa. There will be no revolution soon. I'm talking about something smaller. We can have some fun with those who Empire had evaluated as better than us, and has taken them in the Academy. We - the spurned, against the successful geeks with reliable blood. We will move the load right through the strongest blockade ...
Lando was also rejected from the Academy due to unreliability previous year, and smuggling was his choice as a response to the humiliation.
- The strongest blockade? - Han asked - Are you saying that you have to take off these days? Right now?
"Right now" actually around the planet had about a hundred imperial ships, including ten destroyers. Nobody knew the exact reason for their presence, but "right now" absolutely no smuggler dared to get off from the planet. Everyone was on leave. Even if the cargo really was the future leader of the revolution, it was absolutely unthinkable "right now" to carry him. It was needed to wait until the siege is over.
-Are you sure you're more sober than me? - said Han.
-Look, buddy, there is no easy money. The man gives 250 Malawian grand to get him out right now. 5 times the price of the service. Nobody wants to take it, so the offer came to me ...
-When no one wants to take it, do not you think that the offer must pass you, and continue its way to the crazy one who will finally accept it?
-Look, Han. The truth is that the deal is very risky. But there is another truth - no one but me and you together - as a team can execute it. Such ones as Boba Fett simply know they have no chance and therefore do not engage. But you know, you and I - we are the best pilots. And together we have a chance. I.e. this money for us is not impossible.
-You still count yourself as good as me? - asked Han.
-It's always been obvious that I was even better. - Lando replied.
-If you try me on honor it will not pass. Do it alone. We may be really the greatest pilots, but for 10 destroyers – we are not enough. And why you need a co-pilot? If they blow up the ship, no matter how much the pilots were.
-Well, Han, the ship is a little too old. It is operated by two pilots. Perhaps one is also enough, but with not optimal results. If you want to go through the blockade, a second pilot should be involved.
-A ship operated by two pilots? This is may be an antique from before the Republic...
-I do not know when it was built. Jabba gave it to me on lease. It was used for smuggling cheap ware. It is not an impressive ship.
-So if I understand you correctly, you are offering me by using a junk that does not know its years, and driven by two pilots to break the blockade of 100 imperial ships?
-In fact, we will have to drill twice. Once here, and once the planet of arrival. There is a blockade there too.
Han become speechless. Then he said:
-It is likely I have learned to get drunk. Obviously I'm under the table and dreaming.
-No, Han, you're not dreaming. 2 blockades, ships on full alert, no one goes near them and an old junk jalopy with 2 pilots. The only interesting thing in the story is 10 grand each.
-I refuse ...
-I know you refuse, my friend. I know that. But I'll wait tomorrow morning at the dock, along with the passenger. If you do not come, I am flying alone.
-You are suiciding alone!
-It is possible...
Lando got up and left. He was sure Han will come. They were too good friends to leave him to be killed. It was not honest to use such a threat in the business, but he had to. And Lando himself knew that if he was pressed under such blackmail he would have succumbed and would not abandon Han.
When Solo entered the dock, all the heavens crashed over him. He has never seen so tragic ship in his life. And he had seen pretty ships.
Lando appeared satisfied:
-I knew you will come...
-This exploitation of friendship will be repaid one day, Lando...
-I am sure...
-What is with this ship? Is it a ship anyway?
-It is a ship. And it is flying...
-Flying. It is good news that at least is flying. So now we can call it “she”…
-Her name is "Millennium Falcon"...
-The name sounds true. This antique must be a thousand years old.
-She makes half-light speed...
-Half-light? Are you sure this is not a sea-going ship, but a space one?
-She has flown in space.
-This junk can easily pass any blockade. No one will suspect that we are carrying something illegal. - said Solo.
-If you're right, this will be our easiest money, Han...
-Let me see your plan to escape...
They entered "The Falcon," which had the same view inside as outside. Lando's plan was simple. Take off and keep silent. Gain time. Then run at maximum speed, and with some luck reach before the Imperial fighters the asteroid stream that runs along the planet. Then hide inside, go through it and get away surprisingly from any of the sides where there are no ships. Then max-speed and hope no one will follow them.
-This plan is so absurd that I'm ashamed to even ask how you will go through the second blockade. Just because we will not go out of this one. - said Solo.
-We'll go out, Han, and you will pay your debt to the Imperials. And second blockade - as we approach, we will improvise on the spot.
-Lando, hear me well - give up this madness. If you do not give up, and if you survive, you will not owe me money, but so a great favor that all the life you will regret.
-Here we go, Han ...
-In the next 15 minutes everything will be decided. - Han said when "The Falcon" got out of the atmosphere.
-I think there will be no more than10. - Lando said.
The radio activated:
-Here, the destroyer of His Imperial Majesty "Invincible". You are entering a restricted area. Identify yourself...
Lando did not answer the call.
-How long will we test their nerves? - asked Solo.
-3 Minutes. I do not risk more.
-Asteroids are 5 minutes away. You have to steal at least a minute more. This ship can not survive more than 1 minute under a fighter attack.
-Destroyers fire around the third minute, we can not make four. - Lando said.
-So, let’s answer them right away?
-What? We will lose the three minutes...
But it was too late, Solo has already taken the radio
-Here, captain Soleno of the "Millennium Falcon." We do not intend to leave the planet. We are on a walk. I am teaching my nephew to fly. In a half hour we will go home.
-Captain Soleno? - Lando ejaculated. - Who proclaimed you a captain? And exactly on my ship?
-Peace, Lando. That is the reason I have always been better than you. Because I know the answers before the questions arise.
-You're very bold, Han. Half an hour ago you did not want to fly, and you seemed like a cowardly rabbit. I brought you here.
-Yeah, and now I will take care to survive here, where you brought me...
From the destroyer again a voice appeared:
-Captain Soleno, you are violating a government decree placing the planet in isolation. No one can arrive at it, or leave. Immediately retract back or I'll have to arrest you.
-Hey, guys, Will you arrest you the child? He is only 12 years old? Let's take a ride. Myself my father had taught me to fly in the same way. And see what a great pilot I've become...
Then with the ship that did not know her age, Han did something similar to a loop in which the passenger they had placed in something like a cabin hardly avoided a serious bruise. Lando was tied by a belt.
-What are you doing? - cried Lando.
-Counting minutes. - Han said.
-Mister Soleno, your name does not appear in any register of ships captains. When you graduated and when you picked up your license? Immediately stop the ship and enough with this circus. - called back the Imperian.
-I am Captain at birth. My father proclaimed. - Said Solo.
-You mock the Empire, Soleno. I will blow you up if you continue.
-Look, guys, the child wants to show him how good am I against fighters. Would you sent 2-3 machines. But not really shooting ones. You see this junk is good for nothing.
While these discussions were going on board of the "Invincible" a sort of commotion occurred. They did not see any objective possibility "The Falcon" to escape. She did not depart from the planet, and was flying in close orbit. The captain was probably drunk. In this situation there was no chance to activate the warp engine. And the imperial staff doesn’t even wanted to think to stow this jalopy on board. Nor wanted to shoot and then write reports for hours to explain what and why they had done.
-Captain Soleno, last warning. You have 1 minute to go back to the planet. Then we will shoot. – Finally the voice came from the destroyer.
-Thanks guys, I promise in one minute I’ll be gone. Thank you for giving me this minute to toy some more. Now watch what things I can do...
Then "The Falcon" was involved in very unexpected maneuvers that surprised Lando. On "Invincible" soldiers gathered around the windows to watch.
-Lando, here it came time to do the job you called me for.
-My plan was slightly different. I have no idea what job now have to do.
-Don't you guess, Lando. We have to surprise them with the hyperdrive ...
-Hyperdrive? So close to the planet, and between ships and asteroids?
-Do you think that in this junk-vessel we have another chance?
-My plan was to maneuver and avoiding imperials to get to the asteroids. Where they will not follow us.
-No matter how good I am, Lando, I can not maneuver to escape ten times faster fighters. We must jump with the hyperdrive for several milliseconds.
-Asteroids are 100,000 kilometers away.
-Then, set a timer on half a second. With half the speed of light, will pass 75,000 kilometers. To catch up us, it would take minutes, during which we will go quietly among the asteroids. - Said Solo.
-Unless they do the same as us?
-Do you think among imperial officers there are such psychos?
Meanwhile, the "Invincible" called again:
-Soleno, your minute runs out, you have 10 seconds to get back to the planet, where you will pay a solid fine...
-Yeah, guys, thanks for your understanding. I'm getting out ...
Then the not knowing its age "Falcon" disappeared from screens, radars and any equipment. A moment later reappeared - at 80,000 km away.
-What did they do? – staggered the captain of "Invincible"?
-I think they activated the hyperdrive, sir. – the officer on the radar responded.
-The Hyperdrive? Here?
-I think so.
-Go after them immediately. These jumps are crazy, but will not save them.
-Sir, I think they will hide among the asteroids. They have almost reached them.
-Asteroids? They will go there with this junk? - exclaimed the captain.
-This is the most apparent purpose. - Said the officer on duty - No chance to catch them, unless we repeat their maneuver.
-I am not a suicide. Call 2 more destroyers. We will block the asteroid field from all sides. I wonder if on that ship is what we are looking for?
In fact none of the Imperial fleet did know the reason to block this planet. Only the Supreme Commanding Admiral was clear why they were here and what they were looking for. But he did not share this even with the closest officers. So the imperials on lower levels really did not know what they were doing and why they were doing it...
Meanwhile, "The Falcon" has entered among the asteroids and Han reduced speed to a minimum to allow the computer to maneuver in the field alone.
-So far we are doing excellent, Lando. Now let's see what provides your old plan.
-Somehow surprisingly, we must get out of the asteroids and rush away with a speed of light before they intercept our direction.
-I perfectly understand what we need. But I do not understand how this will happen. After this trick, they will encircle the asteroids from all sides. Every exit will be blocked. And as soon as we show our nose outside, they will shoot without asking. In fact we even no longer have any way back. There we will be shot too.
-We will find something. I will think on it. - Lando said.
-Think faster. I'm going to see if our passenger is alive.
The term "cabin" some exaggerated when describing the room where the passenger was housed. But it was the best possible on this ship. Maneuvers haven’t killed the klukluk but certainly had caused him a lot of trouble. He, among other things, was an invalid - one missing leg.
-Are you alive? - asked Han.
-Obviously ... – the other said.
-I do not know if I owe you an apology for the last minutes or you owe us an apology for letting us into this. - Han said.
-No need to apologize, it was clear that if we do pass the blockade, it will be similar to this way.
-We have not gone completely. In fact, we're trapped.
-Among asteroids, right?
-They cannot come to us, or at least it is not desirable for them. But we cannot go out?
-Fast you understand, obviously...
-It seems to me that we have no way back either...
-So what will we do now?
-A very good question. Lando at the moment is thinking on it...
-If I can help...
-Actually, you can. If we clarify what exactly we are transporting, why you are paying so dearly, and are you the reason for the blockade?
-I assume that I'm the reason, and that is why I am paying so dearly.
-Who are you, what is so important with you?
-Does a client need to reveal everything? Just transport me and take the money.
-It is needed for a client to disclose everything, especially when approaching the ability to discharge his cargo to get out.
-To throw out the load?
-Yeah. Didn’t Lando tell you this? If we cannot get out of the Fleet, always the cargo is being thrown out. So there is nothing to condemn you for. You just pay a fine and they leave you go.
-You can not dispose of the cargo. It costs mill ...
The klukluk stopped.
-I will not say anything more. It's not your job. But know that if you try to touch the cargo, it will destroy itself.
-What a cargo? You have no cargo. There is only one chest. Even if it is full with gold, it does not worth millions.
-Look, my load is my business. You owe me the transport service. I am paying dearly.
-Look, sir, if you wanted a reliable transportation, you had to get on a passenger ship. Once you join with smugglers, so a smuggling you are doing, so will play by their rules. I need to know what the load is and how years in prison are due for it. So I can judge if it is worth keeping it. I guarantee you that if we get caught only three - persons, without any load, we will not be enjailed.
The klukluk took out a device, pointed it at the chest and activated it. The lock snapped.
-Here, look at it yourself...
Han lifted the lid and saw inside three containers. Around them was filled with explosives. In each of the containers was put an elongate cylindrical instrument. Solo does not understand immediately, but it did not take him a long time to identify the ware.
-Jedi sabers? Is this that is worth millions? Have I missed a hyperinflation?
-I have a ready customer that awaits them. We are really talking about millions. Malawian credits.
-Your client is probably insane. The Jedi saber is an expensive commodity, and getting dearer more and more. But there is no unit that costs more than 50 thousand. Malawian credits. These three together cost less than 150000. If you have no other money you can not even pay our fees with Lando. In fact, do you have any additional money?
-I do not know, I would pay you after the sale.
-You will pay 250,000 after selling something that is not worth even 150,000?
-I told you already that I have a buyer who will pay enough.
-I think Lando has done the dumbest deal in his life.
Han went to the cockpit to clarify the situation with Lando.
-I did not ask for the product. - Lando said - and I'm not interested. It is enough that he will pay us so I do not care where he will get the money from.
-What he will pay with? Using 3 Jedi sabers, evaluated a million each?
-This is his job. He knows the code of smugglers, particularly the Code of smugglers working for Jabba.
-His life, it's your guarantee?
-Everyone who hires a smuggler of Jabba knows that if he does not pay, he will be killed. Jabba keeps his reputation. That is why everyone is paying. This is a guarantee.
-This story is increasingly starting to stink. - Han said. - For these sabers imperials will not put us in jail. At most a suspended sentence will be given. And if we get rid of this cargo, we have even the chance of keeping the ship from being confiscated.
-We have to deliver the goods and get the money. - Lando said.
-It's your job - you are thinking on it.
Solo again went to the passenger.
-Who's the one who will pay millions for these sabers? - He asked.
-I was recommended to contact Jabba The Hutt.
-Jabba? Jabba will pay millions for this? Surely you've all gone crazy ...
-Jabba has already made an offer for the swords in past. He has a ready customer for them. I do not know more. – the klukluk said.
-Look, you are in a deep confusion, a great mistake. Jabba is not a fool and will not pay millions for such a junk. In fact, he does not even deal with such small transactions. He only collects the commissions. There is no way to pay a million for these swords. Neither Jabba nor anyone else. In fact – Jabba will be the last to offer such a sum.
-I have assurances from serious enough source that you are not right.
Han got confused, but did not lose sanity:
-Let me clear the situation. If you really had a load that was worth millions, then do you know the character of Jabba?
-In what way?
-I mean, that it comes much cheaper to kill you and take the cargo than to pay you. Your life is not worth millions. For 100 grand Boba Fett will take your head off.
-My source did not mention such a thing. He said not to try to sell to anyone else except Jabba.
-Your source has invented an elegant way to kill you. - Solo said and left.
The klukluk knew he was right. The uncle avenged his two nephews by giving them swords. And now the third was sent to Jabba ... The obvious goal was all three to accompany him in the afterlife, and not to have a winner. The klukluk rose and leaning on crutches went to the cockpit. Having nothing to hide anymore, he understood now the question of saving lives. He told all he knew to Lando and Han and added one more thing:
-Before I decided to go to Jabba, I delved extensively in libraries and read about Jedi swords and artifacts. Not being absolutely sure, I think that these three swords are of very prominent Jedi-knights, and one of them is the one of the most powerful Jedi in history - Master Windu. Rumors suggest that he is the only one who was able in a direct combat to defeat the Emperor. Who in turn was saved by the treachery of another Jedi. If these rumors are true, this has to be the most valuable of all Jedy-swords ever.
-Even so, it could not worth millions. Let's assume a price of 100,000, but not more. You should be aware of what is the market of illegal goods. Even the sword of Windu is not priceless. - Lando said.
-It is possible it to have a special value for the customer to Jabba. – Assumed the klukluk.
-Surely, however, you are not the reason for the blockade. - Said Solo - Imperial Fleet will not send ships around many planets simultaneously because of some Jedi artifact. Which means it would be more prudent to wait to end the blockade, and then to go to your slaughter at Jabba.
-It is possible that I have not properly assessed the situation. Indeed, taking into account the value of swords and the blockade just when I had to fly out, I decided that I'm the reason for it.
-Sometimes you klukluks are quite paranoid. - Lando said.
-The question is now what to do. - Han said. - Certainly we have no way out, and the more we delay, the more interesting will become to the Empire.
-We can get rid of the load and go out. This is the usual practice. Empire knows it, and accepts that the financial loss is enough as punishment. Fines and releases. - Lando said.
-We need to get rid of the passenger too. As we get caught, they’ll investigate him, will find the will, and might even get him to crow about swords.
The klukluk shuddered.
-Easy, buddy - we're not murderers. - Lando smiled.
-Where did you get with the thinking on the situation? - Han asked Lando.
-I have an idea. We can sacrifice the ship and hide on an asteroid. As Imperials blow it up and leave, we'll go back using one of the rescue capsules.
-This ship has escape pods? – Surprised was Han.
-There are, and they are brand new - my own, not Jabba’s. - I have two.
-In one of them will become quite tightly. - Said Solo.
-But at least we'll return live where we started.
Han thought, then said:
-Once we have rescue capsules, we can do another. We'll send one with our passenger back down, while the other will hide on an asteroid. After the Imperials capture the ship and ransack it, they will leave. Then we will return to the ship at an appropriate time and fly out.
-The idea is good. - Said Lando - Imperians will scan the first capsule and see that there are living beings on it. Then they will scan the ship and see that it's empty. They would hardly think of scanning the asteroids, and in fact it is impossible to perform with so many asteroids. So they will decide that we have escaped using the capsule and will send patrols down to seek it. With some luck, they'll leave the ship because they do not need her. She will remain as another asteroid. And if anyway they pick the ship, we will return to the planet.
-But, for this plan, our client must trust us and leave us with light sabers. - Said Solo.
-What? – Astonishing said the klukluk.
-There is no other way, pal. If we get out with Lando, we will have to get out the cargo too. And then sell it and take some money. If you take it back to the planet, the patrol can seize it if you do not manage to escape him.
-But this is an absurd? What guarantee do I have ...
-Currently, there is no guarantee, friend. We are fighting for our lives and for yours too.
-I cannot agree. – the klukluk said.
-There's some more. - Said Lando - In view of the situation, we're now partners. If there is more profit over our 250 grand, it becomes is divisible by 3.
-You are asking for millions for a transport service?
-We are asking millions for transportation, plus the service to sell goods to Jabba, and leave alive. - Said Han.
-Furthermore, take the situation as fair - we do not take your share but that of your brothers. - Lando said.
The klukluk hardly mastered his nerves.
-I refuse and reject this extortion...
-OK, friend, so you will get your swords and will flee with the rescue capsule. - Lando said. - This is one of your options. The other is to accept the common business with us.
Faced with the likelihood of being arrested with banned goods, and not only to lose them but to go to jail, the klukluk had no choice. He acted rationally.
-Sir, the fugitives are back. It seems they are surrendering. - Said the voice of the officer-in-duty. The captain immediately went to the bridge.
"The Falcon" really emerged from the asteroid field with a very slow speed and exactly at the zone where “Invincible" was, with not causing any problems with chasing.
-Captain Soleno, here is the destroyer "Invincible." Stop your ship as soon as it comes out of the asteroid field, and take the assault squad.
There was no answer, but "The Falcon" really stopped just before the end of the asteroid field. Then it shot up a rescue capsule, followed a few seconds later by a deafening explosion around the engine compartment. Only then they heard the voice of Soleno:
-I give you "The Falcon", Captain. For me you will have to do some work ... lol ...
The capsule accelerated to the planet, and the scanner showed that it contains a life. On "The Falcon" no life forms were detected.
-Shall we blow the capsule, Captain? - Asked the officer.
-No, we don’t need this. There is nowhere to escape. Just mark it with a tracking device to help the colleagues below. They will find it within 5 minutes after landing.
-What will we do with the ship?
The captain thought. This old ship was useless and could be used only for recycling. Soleno has apparently blown its engine, which meant that they had to drag it in tow, or to pick it up inside the destroyer. But taking an abandoned ship was absolutely prohibited by the military statute because it was the simplest way to send a bomb on an imperial ship. So there has left only the towing. Something that the captain of the "Invincible" didn’t like to do. Therefore, the decision was different:
-Send three storm troopers to inspect the ship inside and see if there is something important in the cargo. Then call a scrap dealer to pick it up. Also tell the planetary governor to seek the money from recycling. Until they pick it up, leave a fighter to guard it...
Then the captain removed the guard of the asteroid field and returned the ships to their posts. A tedious story, but importing some diversity in the weeks of the siege, in which nothing happened.
-The idea with this firework was good. I hope they will not look closely at the engines. - Said Solo.
-I think they will not watch. - Lando smiled. – But if they leave guards, the plan is failing.
-Yeah, if someone is left on board, we cannot go back. But what is the condition of the weapons in the case they leave only a fighter or two?
-I have a few blasters, but I doubt they are enough to destroy a fighter. In a good shot, you can damage it.
-This ship is really bad, my friend. - Noted Han.
-I am young and new to the business, Han. What more do you expect Jabba to give me? This crook just has found a way to sell me a little scrap like a ship.
-Jabba is the consummate hustler in this sector of the galaxy.
-Maybe in the whole galaxy. - Lando said - But after this deal I will get a new ship and Jabba to foist its rust to someone else. I'll get a new lightweight machine, and I talked to a very good engineer to make it quick. I will have the fastest ship in the galaxy. Then I will receive large orders from Jabba.
-You know that there is no ship as fast as a shot from a blaster ... - Han said.
-You are difficult to convince, but you will also be a smuggler soon. There is simply no other way for people like us. The Empire has obsessed everything, so the chance for us is only somewhere outside the law.
-If you're right, trust me, I will not lease "The Falcon." - Han finished.
3 hours later were left only two of them, "The Falcon" and a fighter. The plan was simple. If they started with the capsule to ship the fighter would blow them up. So they very quietly moved to an asteroid located close to the end of the field, where Han deployed a ship blaster. Lando climbed into the capsule and drove carefully to the "Falcon". He chose to go on the ship, as he was more familiar with it and could quickly activate the weapons. The time was a critical moment and the life of Solo would hang in the balance.
When the capsule has reached the end of the field and become detectable by radar, Han made 3 shots to fighters. Aiming with pure eye it was practically a miracle that one of them even had hit the fighter, but did not cause any damage. The fighter awoke, sent a signal to the Fleet that it was attacked and went to the asteroid.
During this time-gaining, Lando slipped to "The Falcon" and followed the fighter. It does not detect it right away, because among the asteroids the radar got confused. So the fighter reached the asteroid of Solo and started spewing fire by all guns. Han’s chance to survive was minimal, if this bombardment would last more than a minute. But Lando met the time and brought "The Falcon" to the place of battle. The fighter detected it and redirected the fire, that added some more damage to the already battered "Falcon". But the surprise gave result and the several shots with the depreciated guns managed to knock out the shield of the fighter and overload the power supply. It was not clear who would win if this duel continued, but the fighter decided to withdraw and await for reinforcements, which were already on the way.
Lando took Solo, then got out of the asteroid field and promptly directed to outer space. They had at least 5 minutes advantage. They needed no more than 4. So when "Invincible" and its sent five fighters reached the site of the surprising awakened "Falcon", she vanished into her half-warp. Imperials failed to detect direction.
The klukluk however ended up in jail facing very very angry investigators.
-What are all these blockades for? - asked Han.
- I know as much as you? - Lando replied.
-Jabba probably knows, it is impossible not to have rumors...
-Even if he knows, he will not tell us. But I doubt it. This is a very secret operation of the Empire. The only crawling rumors are that when they impose such a blockade there always appears Vader.
-As he appears, it means the matter is really important.
-They are looking for someone or something - probably. And when they get information about a possible presence somewhere, immediately a blockade is imposed. - Lando said. – It repeats already for several years.
-And raises the price of your services ... – smiling said Han.
-Yeah, it can be said that smugglers are also profiting from it. Maybe Jabba is conspiring with the Emperor periodically to impose blockades. And then to divide the money ... - grinned Lando.
-Jabba is a great villain, but not of the caliber of politicians. - Concluded Han. And changed the subject:
-Obviously, we cannot go to Tatooine with this ship. We must get rid of it. At the moment everyone is looking for it.
-I also think so. And our load is not large. We can get on a passenger liner.
-Since when there are passenger liners to Tatooine? - asked Han.
-Not to Tatooine. To the nearest imperial system. Then we'll have to wait to lift the blockade and hire another ship.
-Will we introduce these costs to the klukluk?
-We should deduct them before the distribution of the profit. We're partners...
-Although I do not approve this idea, there is another option. We can recruit smugglers to put us through the blockade, and without waiting.
-Once you are not accepting it, why do you think you should mention it?
-Just to talk.
-We'll wait to see how long the blockade will last. If it is too long, we will search for smugglers. Smugglers hiring smugglers. - Ironically ended Lando.
The blockade continued for three weeks, and then it was lifted with the same suddenness with which it was imposed. Meanwhile the klukluk got 6 months sentence after making a full confession that he was transporting Betan salt, but was deceived by traffickers who took the salt from him and threw back in the escape pod. Betan salt was an illicit drug at some planets and a perfectly legal spice at others without a common imperial regulation. The sentence was imposed more because the imperials were angry that "The Falcon" had escaped, and not because of the seriousness of the infringement.
Jabba learned of the events surrounding "The Falcon" and immediately saw through that something serious is coming to him after Lando was the only runner who tried to do something during the blockade. As he has previously learned about the death of Dnaro, it was not hard to guess what the cargo was. He immediately called his best mercenaries back to Tatooine to form a team to ensure the greatest possible benefits for Jabba in the future deal.
Lando and Han landed "The Falcon" for a few weeks - until passed the bustle about their daring passage through the blockade. To reach Tatooine they rented a small two-seater capsule whose price was less even than "The Falcon". Which in turn was left as a pledge that they will return the capsule. If Jabba knew that someone pawned his ship – even “The Falcon”, there would fly heads ...
-Jabba is already preparing our trap. - Lando said - It is reasonable that you should go to talk about the deal with him. So when he takes you a hostage, I - as more experienced will be able to finish the negotiations.
-Forgive my inexperience, my friend, but I will do this second. And as everything up to now is absolutely your fault, so you will go to Jabba and become a hostage. - Responded Solo.
-There is hardly any way to talk you out, but it should be clear that the risk of my life will be greater than would have been the risk for your life in the other option.
-Just trust in my abilities, Lando ...
Their strategy, however, suffered a complete failure when Lando went to Jabba, and not only did not become a hostage, but received 10,000 imperial credits as a down payment for the deal. This behavior of The Hutt amazed not only Lando, but the whole criminal environment around the Big boss. Additionally Lando and Han were able to choose the meeting place for the whole deal, and check it before the delivery of the goods.
-There is something very suspicious in this situation. - Lando said. - I do not know what.
-May be the merchandise is very important for Jabba, so he has chosen such an unusual approach. - Han said.
-There is no such event in history. Any such twisting of Jabba has ended badly for his partners.
-But do we have a choice? Is there someone to foist these swords?
-Not at that price. For some reason Jabba pays astronomically, he is our only possible client. And knows this well...
-If he is our only client then he is in a strong position to bargain and blackmail us. He is doing the opposite.
-That's what is worrying me...
-Then, let me give an interesting idea ...
-Your ideas are quite often very interesting ...
-What about to buy another swords and foist them on Jabba. It will take at least a few days before he finds this. It is even possible to understand it only after he sends them to his client - the guy with the big money. Meanwhile, it will become clear what he's prepared for us. If he is planning to play us somehow he has to do it before we fly. I.e. within hours after the deal.
-This idea is quite clever. - Lando said – It would not be possible to buy 3 light sabers if he had not pre-paid us some of the money. It turns out that we will play him using his own money.
-We will not play to him, Lando. We will just defend ourselves. At the end we will have to give him the real swords. We'll just show him that we are keeping the price ... and want to get the promised...
-Of course it will be so ...
Everything in the transaction went perfectly, Jabba did not brought any surprises. He brought the money, no any evasions, Boba Fett was not around to shoot the seller, obviously – a new Jabba was born. Han and Lando left with three million imperial credits, as if they were withdrawn from a bank in the center of the imperial capital. Nobody followed them, no ambushes along the way. The ship was in place.
What they did not know was that Jabba was a very close friend with the Empire, with its admirals, and especially with the local commander of the recent blockade. And when they went into the capsule, the two enriched smugglers learned that a new blockade was imposed because of tracing dangerous terrorists. Simply said – they had to remain indefinitely on Tatooine. In the kingdom of Jabba. On a planet where there was no way not to find them, and in fact – find them in very short period of time.
So they had to immediately leave the ship in the middle of the sands and hide in cities of crime that teemed on this planet. But they knew the time works against them.
In the next few days it became clear that it was placed a reward for catching them on the amount of 50,000 imperial credits. Out of closest servants of Jabba, anyone who believed himself a hunter started to seek the thieves who had dared to rob the Big boss of this world. Han and Lando disguised themselves, but they knew they had no chance. They tried to rent a ship to escape the blockade, but all smugglers were afraid of Jabba and fulfilled his order no one to take off. They thought to hide in the desert, but there would become an easy prey to the sand people, and even the thugs on Jabba were far more prepared than them. At some point it occurred even the folly idea of Lando to give everything to the Empire - both the money, and the sabers – just to revenge on Jabba. But common sense prevailed and saved them from such a signature of their own death sentences. One of the optimistic conditions announced by Jabba on the 50000 prize was that he wanted the fugitives alive. I.e. up to now they were not still sentenced to death.
And still they had the last trump card - the real swords.
They knew they had no time, they knew everyone was against them. And they have made the only possible move – a meeting face to face with Jabba. In his own palace. The Hutt was not impressed by their courage, because he realized that the whole world belonged to him so the palace was not much more dangerous than any other place.
-I see you two are quite clever. - Jabba said when they stood before him. - I suppose you have come to take yourself the price for your heads. Clever ... - bursted into giggles the green beast.
-I'll be honest with you, Jabba - I knew that you would outplay us, and I did not act like a fool. - Lando said. - We took some measures and prepared a guarantee. Money is hidden and will explode if we do not go out of here. But more important is something else – light sabers are also hidden and they will be destroyed. Your customer will pay you nothing...
Jabba froze for a moment. Then again rumbled:
-Smart are you two, good bums. Properly you have done. I believe you and will not check the swords, just because you have done the same I would have done.
Then burst into laughter.
Han and Lando did not understand how to perceive the combination of high praise and a mocking laugh. Soon they found the answer:
-But you do not think I've become a master of this reprobated world, if I got bend so easily. My strength, guys, is not the money, not the ruthlessness, not the cruelty. My strength guys, is my reputation. Here stand dozens of my slaves, they all see what is happening and tomorrow the entire planet will know. The whole world will know how two impostors managed to bargain and do something like draw with Jabba. - Followed a brutal and sinister laughter - Do you think I will let that happen? Even for 3 million credits. Do you believe I'm gonna let all Tatooine to see me portrayed? Catch them ...
Boba Fett, leading his squad of twenty thugs, immediately surrounded Han and Lando. The situation was hopeless.
-Now I'll make you an offer you cannot refuse. The proposal will prove I am an honest businessman and I will fulfill my promise. But will also prove that no one is smarter than Jabba, at least not on Tatooine. Being smarter than Jabba is forbidden ...
There was yet another eruption of laughter before the climax:
-I am accepting the deal we have made, but will deduct half of the price as a sanction of you trying to scam me. You will return half the money and you will have a million and a half after bringing me the swords. Do you agree?
Under the muzzles of twenty blasters, even if they disagreed, they could hardly say it. But in fact, a million and a half after all this looked like a fairy tale.
-Obviously, you agree. Now I will offer you another deal. Lando has leased one of my ships. I suggest him to redeem him and “The Falcon” to become his property in exchange for the remaining one and a half million credits. What about this Lando?
Although it was at gunpoint, Lando just lose control of himself:
-A million and a half for "The Falcon"? For that money I can buy a brand new small cruiser...
-Buy, Lando, and call it to save you soon ... - giggled again Jabba.
At this moment Han entered the conversation:
-Jabba, my friend wanted to say that the deal is not so bad, but it only deals with him, and he cares for me, and also for one more our partner. "The Falcon" will become the property of Lando, but what about me, and the klukluk who delivered the swords?
-Quite simply, Solo – you will become co-owners with Lando and ride together.
-Thanks Jabba, but I have no plans for a career of a smuggler - Solo said - I do not need a ship.
-I, kid, I think you have a quality to be a smuggler. And a ship will help you well. - Jabba said.
Then there was a silence, which seemed as the green was waiting to see who of his thugs will not keep his nerves under control and will shot two prisoners. Finally the generosity of Jabba reached its climax:
-But I understand Solo. I'll be generous. I will give you in addition to "The Falcon" also the three swords that you gave me. When you sell them, you will get good money. This is my final offer - your life, "The Falcon" and the 3 Jedi swords. In return, I only want 3 Jedi swords. It seems to me in this transaction you are up...
Lando said nothing because it was clear that there is nothing to say. Solo, however, got one last thing:
-All right, Jabba. We will accept the deal. Obviously we have a profit because everyone stays with 3 swords, but we also have "The Falcon". But we need to be sure that you will not reconsider the deal. So we request to immediately lift the siege, give us three our swords and escort us to the capsule. Once we fly off, we'll tell where the money and the three your swords are.
-You ask for a very slight advantage, Solo. What bothers me after taking the swords to blow you up or ask my friend The Admiral above to do it?
-Prevents this, Jabba, that you'll need time to get to swords, and the money, and I have a chance to have fled already. But mostly prevents you something else - will you kill two smugglers who managed to bring you goods for millions through a multi-planet imperial blockade? How many such partners do you have for a future business?
There followed the loudest of the day giggle, then Jabba finished:
-You know your price, you are dear scoundrels. I accept your terms. Boba Fett will take you to your ship. He will kill you if I can’t get the money and the goods ...
A week later in the home of one of the most influential senators in the Empire, in a very secret room, isolated and protected against any possible eavesdropping were dismantled 3 Jedi swords. Of them were removed recorders then they were reassembled and sent for a re-sale on the black market. The three swords – the one of Mater Windu, and two of the other Jedi who were present at the attempt to arrest Chancellor Palpatine, had recorded everything that happened in this critical day for the galaxy. No one but Windu himself was aware of the recorders. But in some mysterious way, later Master Yoda has learned about them. And senator Organa undertook to finance the finding of the swords that had disappeared in the confusion surrounding the murder of Windu and the extermination of the Jedi. The recording could not immediately crush the Emperor. But according to Master Yoda it was a weapon usable both by the Emperor, and his enemies. It was a matter of interpretation. The recording proved an attempt to arrest the Chancellor, which would perfectly fit into the propaganda of Palpatine, that the Jedi have attempted a coup. But in combination with other evidences, it could prove Palpatine's treachery against the Republic. Master Yoda decided it was important that this recording was in the right hands, but most important was to prevent it from being found by the Emperor. Organa has done his job perfectly. Although a bit expensive...
(More of Young Solo adventures - soon)