Characters are created by George Lucas- so they belong to him (I'm merely sharing for a short time). This is set shortly after A New Hope.

Doubts of a Hero

+++ by Michelle Lunsford +++

It was a typical morning in the east side dining hall. Various aromas, hinting at a plethora of edibles, wafted through the air. A myriad of humans and aliens, all dressed in a varied array of what could only loosely be termed Rebel uniforms, were milling their way in and out of the area. Still others had paused in the hall to enjoy a meal, catch the morning's news on the comm, or share a conversation over a cup of some preferred steaming liquid. All these activities registered, at least on some conscious level, in the awareness of all the beings that happened to be in the area at the time.

東棟の食堂はいつもの朝を迎えていた。空気の中に、多種多様な食事を匂わせる様々な香りが漂っていた。様々な種族が反乱軍の制服を各々ぎりぎりまで着こなしてひしめき合い、その部屋を出入りしていた。 何人かはその場で食事を楽しみ、コムリンクで朝のニュースを聞いたり、温かい飲み物を手にお喋りに花を咲かせたりしている。そんな活気が、その場に居合わせた全員の意識に影響していた。

All, that is, except for one particular being.


The young man sat silent and alone in a far corner of the room. He was absolutely oblivious to his entire surroundings.


"Hey, kid. You awake?"


Somehow the voice made its way through the heavy haze in the young man's mind. A pair of troubled blue eyes blinked twice, and then focused on a familiar face. A slightly confused expression soon took form on the young man's features and he mumbled a response to fully express the extent to which he had understood his friend's query.

どういう訳かその声は、濃い霞がかかった青年の意識まで届いた。戸惑ったような青い瞳が二度瞬きをして、見なれた顔に焦点を合わせる。 すぐにわずかな混乱が表情に現れ、青年は問いかけに答えてもごもごと呟いた。



Han Solo gave a half chuckle before occupying the only empty chair at the table.


"Come on, buddy. Don't tell me you're *still* recovering from the party."


Luke Skywalker's brain slowly began to put the pieces into the appropriate places. No doubt it had appeared to his friend that he was out of sorts, so preoccupied had he been with his own thoughts. The party to which Han had referred was the event that had celebrated the destruction of the Death Star. While a brief medal awarding ceremony had occurred almost immediately after the demise of the formidable Imperial weapon, prudence and experience had then declared a hasty retreat was in order. So the Rebels had packed up camp and withdrawn from their temporary home on Yavin IV. A few weeks later camp had been more slowly, but no less orderly, set up again.


The new Rebel base was now established on Kreelos, a remote moon on the fringes of the outer rim. Though mild in climate, it was just barely habitable due to the mixture of gases in the atmosphere. A few additional days had passed, and once the Rebel leaders reached a point where they felt it was relatively safe enough to step back and take a breath, a full-fledged celebration of the Alliance's victory was organized and duly carried out. This had been two nights ago.


At various times throughout that long evening, Luke had found the focal point of the festivities to be none other than himself. This experience was received by the young hero with a mixture of emotions that spanned the gamut from sheer delight to utter perturbation. The later extreme, Luke had noticed, was especially the case when he discovered that there were several young females at the party who had expressed great interest in meeting the 'daring young pilot with the bashful smile'. At least that's how Han claimed to have overheard one lovely hopeful's description. It was, no doubt, this aspect of the events that led to Han's next comment.


Leaning in, conspiratorially, Han whispered to his companion, "Or were you up all last night having a private celebration?"


"Han!" Luke retorted with a good deal of exasperation, a distinct color working its way up his neck and face.


The smuggler gave his friend a hearty slap on the back. "Oh, don't get so riled up, kid. You know I'm just giving you a hard time."


Luke, not in a particular mood to appreciate his friend's efforts, responded with a sour expression before returning his attention to breakfast. He took one bite, chewed, and barely managed to swallow. It was cold. Just how long, Luke wondered, had he been sitting here?


"Hey Luke, everything okay?"


Once again it took a few seconds longer than it should have for Han's voice to register.


"Hmm?" Luke responded.


The older man drew his eyebrows together in a questioning, almost suspicious, manner. "I asked if everything was okay." He paused. All joking had been replaced by obvious concern. "You feeling alright?"


Luke pushed his plate aside and released a sigh. "I'm sorry, Han. It's just that I didn't sleep well last night." He waited, some part of his brain wondering if Han would take that comment and run with it. But the only response was the continued, questioning gaze.


"Actually," Luke went on, "I hardly slept at all."


Han was leaning across the table now, arms crossed, voice low. "You want to talk about it?"


Luke opened his mouth as if to speak, then thought better of it. Finally, he just shook his head. His gaze drifted away and an uncomfortable silence began to hang between them.


"Listen," Han said suddenly, leaning back in his chair. "There are some things I need to do on the Falcon. I was wondering, if you're not busy, would you give me a hand?"


"Sure, be glad to." The response was sincere, but there was a definite weariness in Luke's voice that he made no attempt to hide. "I'm scheduled for some flight simulations later this morning, but I'm free after that."


There was another, slightest of pauses before Han stood and responded, "Just come by the hanger bay whenever you're ready. I'll probably be there all day."


Luke managed a nod and watched as his friend turned and exited the dining hall. The next thing he knew, Artoo was beside the table, emitting a series of unmistakably urgent beeps. The young man blinked, realizing once again that he had been sitting, staring blankly ahead, completely lost in thought.


"Alright, alright, Artoo." A quick glance at a chronometer on a nearby wall revealed the reason for the little droid's insistence. He was late for the flight simulations. Hurriedly disposing of his mostly uneaten breakfast, Luke exited the hall, Artoo fast on his heels.


* * *

It was early afternoon and Luke Skywalker was meandering down corridors that would eventually lead him to the hanger bay where the Millennium Falcon was berthed. In direct contrast to his leisurely steps, Luke's thoughts were racing about in a most haphazard fashion. He had done poorly at the morning's flight simulations. No, he thought, poorly was too kind a word. Pathetic would be much more accurate. When the commander had questioned him about his performance, Luke didn't have a reasonable reply. The excuse of just having an off day was not one considered acceptable by the Rebel Alliance. In this business, just having an off day was likely to get someone killed. Luke had reluctantly admitted that he hadn't had much sleep in the past couple of days, and with a promise, as the commander had bluntly stated, to alter his sleeping habits and to spend extra hours in the simulators, Luke was given no further reprimand. The latter of the requirements Luke was certain could be accomplished. After last night, he wasn't so certain about the other.


Once again the images flashed in Luke's mind. He could feel the back of his neck tense as he fought not to concentrate on them, not to fix his mind's eye on any of them. He swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. He felt the bitter pain as it stabbed his chest, and then the bottomless void beginning to claw at him from somewhere in his abdomen. No matter how hard he tried, Luke simply couldn't get the dream out of his head. When he began to feel a wave of dizziness, Luke paused to lean against the wall, hoping desperately that no one would stop to ask if he were okay.


Don't panic, he thought silently, and focused on taking slow, deep breaths. Within a few seconds, the dizziness passed. The images also departed, scurrying back to the dark recesses of his mind where they would wait to haunt him again. He ran a shaky hand over his face, and wiped away clammy perspiration. For a moment Luke considered returning to his quarters. But he knew there was no rest to be found there. In sleep, the dream would only attack him full force. At least in physical labor Luke had the possibility of forgetting his demons for a while. Besides, he'd already promised Han that he would help.


The sight of the Falcon occupying one corner of the hanger bay was, in its own way, a comfort to the young man. Luke had learned to appreciate the ship, having discovered through some rather harrowing experiences that she wasn't quite the piece of junk she appeared to be. By design, outward appearance was little indication of what the Falcon truly was. Not much unlike her captain, Luke thought.


As Luke made his way up the ramp, typical sounds of routine repairs could be heard from inside. Mixed among the noise of tools against metal parts was the distinctive sound of rather expressive Wookie and Correlian curses.


"Blast it, Chewie, I thought we replaced that converter not even two months ago. What do you mean it's blown?" Han noticed the young man's arrival and waved him in towards the cockpit as an irritated Wookie reply came across the comm speaker. Apparently the converter, though in good condition, had suffered by being hooked up in configuration with a much less reliable part; just one of Han's many personal modifications. The pilot swore. "Well, we'll just have to get another one, and hook it up through the *left* power coupling this time. Use the older one we have in the spare parts until I can lay my hands on a new one."


The answer from the comm spoke clearly of Chewbacca's assessment of that particular resolution to the problem.


"Yeah, well I didn't ask you to like it, you big furball, I just asked you to fix it. If it bothers you that much you can always work on the afterburners instead."


Another derogatory bark was heard, but Luke knew that would be the end of it as Chewie went to work on the converter.


"Hi, Han. How's it going?"


"Don't ask," was the gruff reply. Then Han got a good look at his friend's pale features. "Hey kid, you okay? You don't look so good."


"I'm fine," Luke lied, and thrust his hands into the pockets of his coveralls. "Just a bad day in the simulators."


"Whatever," Han replied casually. "If you're ready to get started, I could use a hand with some fine tuning I want to do in the hyperdrive unit."


Luke nodded. "Let's get on it."


* * *

Several hours later, the two men were tired and dirty, but the Falcon was a little farther along in her increasingly elaborate modified status.


"I believe that'll do it for today. I really appreciate your help," Han commented as he extricated himself from the narrow space between two engine components he'd crawled into earlier.


Luke waved him off with the towel he was using to wipe the grunge from his hands. "Glad I could help."


Han searched for his own towel, discovered he'd lost it somewhere along the way, and wiped his hands on his pants leg instead. "How about something to eat? I'm starved."


Having barely eaten a few bites of breakfast, and skipping lunch altogether, Luke heartily agreed. He was even a little surprised to find he was hungry at all, considering how his appetite had decreased greatly in the wake of his disturbing dream. Actually, he'd felt more at ease this afternoon, in Han's company, than he could remember being in several days. Suddenly the idea of facing groups of people in public struck Luke as something he wanted to avoid.


"Say, why don't I see about getting something sent to us here on the Falcon?" It was a simple enough suggestion, and Luke hoped his outward demeanor wouldn't hint that there was more to it than that.


"Why, you got something against eating in the dining hall?"


The young pilot shrugged. "Nah. I just don't feel like going to the trouble of getting cleaned up enough for public appearance, and you're even filthier than I am." Luke knew it was an excuse, but he didn't want to admit the real reason.


"Okay. Just be sure and tell who ever that if tonight's special is Marivian noodles, I don't want any. Last time I ate that I nearly broke out in hives."


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