Separatist planet Lola Sayu (Clone Wars: Season 3 Episode 18 The Citadel)
A groggy fuzz held itself within Han’s mind. Waking up from carbonate was not his ideal situation. But hey he wasn’t blind this time so that was a plus.
The former smuggler walked out from between the row of carbonate stretching and faintly registering the people around him.
“Hey Snips.” A young Jedi greeted one of the other members with an easy tone.
“Hey Master.” Called a young Togruta as she craned her neck from side to side.
“Hey Vader.” Han gave a groggy greeted once he spotted the man.
“Hey Han.” The suit-less Vader replied automatically.
There was a slight pause before young Vader’s head snapped back to Solo’s direction. “Han, what are you doing here?” Jedi cladded Vader asked.
Awareness was almost back to normal for the Rebel. “What do you mean what am I doing here?” Started Han before he began to look around at the strange cavern with its eerie yellow light, “Actually what am-”
“I didn’t think you’d come.” Vader cut him off and gave Solo a look that screamed ‘play along’.
“Anakin would you care to introduce us?” Inquired another Jedi who sounded a lot like that old man Kenobi. As a matter of fact, he looked like him too, or at least the ghost version of him. It was the same with Vader. The only reason Han actually recognised the men was because of the rare holovid and spending the last two days with the force damned ghosts. Being deceased had next to no perks, aside from knowing that Vader had been actively trying to stop his son from turning dark. The guy, Anakin wasn’t actually half bad, excluding his time as Vader.
“This is Han Solo, he used to be a smuggler. I though his expertise might help with this mission.” Explained Vader, Anakin?
“Why didn’t you mention him before now?” Not-so-old-man Kenobi asked.
“I uh-” Vader started, he probably did have an excuse lined up but Han wasn’t going to let a conversation about him go on without him getting a word or two in.
“I used to be a smuggler, I’m not exactly the easiest guy to get a hold of.” Supplied Han.
Sticking up for Vader, he can now check that off his list of ‘Stuff he never ever though he’d do’.
“I wasn’t sure if he was even coming.” Vader finished, tying off that lose end.
“Smuggler eh, well you got any experienced with prisons?” Asked someone from behind.
Han turned around and was spotted troopers in white armour. Solo drew his weapon instantly and pointed it at the nearest being in white. All the troopers instantly lifted there weapons and trained them on him. The familiar hiss of lightsabers also assaulted his ears.
“Han!” Vader barked warning ringing in his voice.
It dawned on the Rebel that the troops were all identical, at least their face structures were. There armour also wasn’t the clean sleek design of the First Order nor the design of the Stormtroopers. The markings on their armour identified them as individuals, not a cog in a machine.
Han gave his trademark smile and held up his blaster and hands in a loose surrender. “Sorry, don’t have the best experiences with guys in white armour.” Han explained honestly. “Didn’t mean nothing by it. It’s just a habit I’ve picked up on.” Solo tenderly holstered his weapon.
“How do we know he’s not going to shoot us in the back and run as soon as things go south?” Asked a trooper with two handguns and blue markings on his helmet that looked almost like ears or were they eyes?
“Because if he does then he’ll have to answer to me.” Was Vader’s response holding a hint of annoyance though it wasn’t directed at the trooper.
Han rolled his eyes, “Don’t worry Vader I’m not gonna shoot any of your war buddies.”
The trooper with two blasters quirked an eyebrow before he slid on his helmet. The rest of the troops lowered their weapons and the hiss of disengaged lightabers followed the action.
“It’s partially the carbonate. I hate coming out of that stuff.” Han said vaguely gesturing the hunks of carbonate they had all come out of.
“You’ve been stuck in that stuff before?” Asked one of the troops with a blue handprint on his armour.
The former smuggler cringed, “I pissed off the wrong people and got stuck as a wall decoration for a bit.”
Another trooper with two handguns and, what looked like a Rishi eel on his helmet turned to Kenobi, “See! I told you that could happen!”
“I don’t see what you’re complaining about. We’re perfectly fine.” The sly old man replied folding his arms and giving the trooper a faint smile.
“Yeah Fives quit whining, the General got us in here undetected.” The trooper with the handprint said as he nudged his comrade.
Han stretched his shoulders, “Who’s fantastic idea was it to carbon freeze everyone?” Solo asked sarcastically.
A hand clapped down on his shoulder, “It was mine actually.” Said Vader with an all too happy smirk.
Han glared up at the guy, he was a precious few centimetres taller than Han. “Of course it was yours.” Solo said sourly.
“Let’s run through proper introductions, everyone this is Captain Han Solo. He is, as of now helping us on this mission.” Baby Vader started, “Han this is Obi-wan Kenobi, and my padawan Ahsoka Tano, who is not supposed to be on this mission.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Master.” The Togruta stated folding her arms, “I received orders from Master Plo Koon.”
They gave the Rebel not time to process the fact that Vader hand an apprentice.
“I didn’t hear those orders.” Vader countered crossing his arms to mimic the younger member of the group.
Vader’s apprentice, Ahsoka looked away but it didn’t seem nervous or shy. “It was after you were in carbonate.”
A trooper the blue ear like markings cleared his throat interrupting the conversation, “Nice to have you on board Captain Solo, I’m Captain Rex from the five’o-first.”
Han shot a look at Vader, the name ‘Vader’s First’ ringing through his mind.
“General Skywalker and Commander Tano are our superiors.” Continued Rex as he gestured to the other troops wearing blue. “That’s Echo and Fives.” The clone, for they had to be in the Clone wars right? Pointed to the other two troopers who had spoken before. “And that’s Commander Cody of the two-twelfth.”
Cody dipped his helmet in Han’s direction.
“Just don’t be dead weight or shoot us in the back and we’ll get along fine.” Warned Rex. It wasn’t harsh or filled with malice, he just didn’t want a rookie or a traitor on this mission. Han could hardly blame him.
“Oh trust me I know how to carry my own weight. I can shoot straight, work with others and I’ve fought with a Jedi before. Does that make me qualified enough Captain?”
“Experience is the only rank that matters on these missions.” Replied the captain of Vader’s First.
“Well you’ll be happy to know I’ve got bucket loads of that.” Solo replied giving the good captain a nod.
“If there’s anything I can vouch for Rex, it’s that.” Chimed in Vader who up to that point had continued the conversation with his apprentice and Obi-wan.
“I trust you, but I’ll judge that for myself if you don’t mind General.” The tone was filled with nothing but respect for his commanding officer.
“And you have every right to do so.” Replied Vader. “Alright men let’s move out we have a mission to complete.” Commanded Anakin with an authoritative tone before he moved over to a strangely familiar astromech, “Artoo, buddy stay with the ship we’ll call when we need you.”
Artoo? As in Luke’s little droid? Han let out a groan rubbing a hand on his face, both of which felt far too young.
This was going to be a long day, Han could feel it in his bones.