This place feels pretty much the same as all the other secret bases I've been to in my life. Enough to make me feel somewhat at home, even if I've just arrived. There's the usual bustle of the ground crew in dirty, grease-covered overalls swarming around the ships, countless droids whirring about, technicians carrying equipment up the spacecraft for repairs. Nothing new here; somewhere, somehow, something always gets broken in a spaceship. Especially if you drive 'em as hard as these babies. They've seen some action, that's for sure. I can tell.
I walk around a bit, glad to be able to stretch my legs. I've been cooped up in that narrow cockpit for weeks with only the occasional rest on an uninhabited asteroid, trying to find my way to this place. But the coordinates I'd wheedled out of that snotty Mantellian-who couldn't hold his liquor as well as he thought he could-turned out to be right after all. So now I'm here, on Yavin 4.
I want to do my bit for the Rebel Cause. I've had it with the Empire. I watched my brother die because I didn't have the money to bribe the Imperial medics to treat him. It was enough incentive to try the other side, for a change.
There's a Corellian freighter in the middle of the hangar. It's an odd ship, an old ship. It's been modified somehow, and I spend a minute or so looking at it, trying to find out what's been changed. I wonder whose ship it is and how it has gotten here. It seems completely out of place beside all the small fighters, although it has that same battleworn feel to it. Two guys are standing next to it, talking quietly to each other.
"Hey, you're new, aren't you?"
A gentle tap on my shoulder makes me turn around and a woman smiles at me, her eyes giving the warmest welcome I've ever experienced. Anywhere. I smile back at her.
"I'm Leia Organa, Rebel Alliance commander. I'm doubling as welcoming committee today. So, welcome to Yavin 4," she says. Gorgeous smile, gorgeous lady. But I also sense a hardness shimmering underneath all that soft loveliness; wouldn't want to be a Stormtrooper and facing any weapon /she's/ holding, that's for sure.
"Pleased to meet you," I say. I reach out my hand in greeting. Her hand is warm and soft, but I'm not really surprised her grip is quite firm. "I'm Darin Levoy. Just flew in from Nar Shaddaa. Took me weeks to get my ship from there to here and I'm itching to blast those Imperial bastards back to the pit they came from."
I see a shadow cloud her eyes as she shakes my hand: like me, like everyone else, she has her own reasons to be here, I guess. But then she looks at her pad, frowning slightly, her long, no-nonsense braid falling over her shoulder.
"What's your forte, Darin?"
"I'm a pilot. A good one," I say.
She looks up and grins at my remark. "Okay, Darin. I'm assigning you to Red Squadron. Squad's quarters are over there." She points to the left where I can see a door that's just closing. She motions to a battered X-Wing. "I assume you can fly one of those?"
I grin at her and tell her, "Ma'am, I can fly anything that still has wings and some juice left."
She smiles at that. Her gaze flickers toward the two guys standing near that Corellian freighter. She's still smiling, but for the tiniest moment her face has become unreadable. If I hadn't been watching her so closely I never would have noticed.
"You should report to your squad leader. He's over there." She points to those same guys, who are deep in conversation, like there's only the two of them in the whole hangar.
"Which one?" I ask.
"Luke Skywalker. The short one." She grins. "But don't tell him I said that. The other one's Han Solo. Smuggler." A knowing look is in her eyes as she looks me up and down.
Han Solo? 'Kessler Run' Solo? So the ship they're standing next to must be the legendary Millennium Falcon. Fastest ship in the universe, they say. Sure doesn't look like it. But what's he doing here? There's no profit in this Rebel business. I should know, because my so-called and know-it-all friends kept telling me that before I finally left to join up.
"All right," I say, trying to hide my surprise at the presence of such a famous smuggler in a rundown Rebel base. "I will. Thank you."
She turns away with one final smile that's just for me. She's already busy with some other urgent chore. I start to walk over to Solo and Skywalker, to introduce myself.
It's funny, the way they completely fail to notice the bustle around them. They each seem so focused on what the other one's saying, as if they've shifted into another dimension, a dimension where there's no one else. It's there in the way Solo subtly invades Skywalker's personal space when he's saying something, and it shows in the way Skywalker is listening to him, giving him his full attention. Those two are not discussing the next attack on the Death Star. Everybody else here seems to sense it too, because the busy flow of androids and techs eddies around the private space they've created for themselves.
My stomach rumbles loudly, reminding me that I haven't eaten for a very long time. Food first, then introductions. I doubt Skywalker will mind if I let him finish whatever it is he's talking about with Solo; I'll report to him later. Then I'll check out my quarters and see if I can catch a glimpse of Leia again. That lady has the most amazing smile I've ever seen.