A/N: My partner for this challenge, snitchbitch, made some lovely graphics to accompany this fic. Profuse thanks to her. These can be found here: _
"You've never heard of the Millenium Falcon? It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs!"
Beka Valentine's ears pricked up at that. She looked over her shoulder to find the voice and spotted a scruffy looking cargo pilot. He and a Wookiee were speaking to an old man and a boy, apparently trying to impress them with his ship's legendary speed. Beka snorted into her drink; she'd never heard of the Falcon either.
Her companion seemed to read her mind. "You're not, are you?" Harper asked her nervously. "Oh, you are." Beka ignored him and watched the foursome at the far table. Harper babbled, "I mean, sure, the Maru could take that guy in a fair race. Heck, even an unfair race, but Kessel? Beka, it's suicide! I mean, we're talking- Beka? Beka!"
But Valentine was up and gone. The man and boy had wandered away, leaving the cocky pilot and his Wookiee friend alone. "Less than twelve parsecs?" she challenged without preamble.
The pilot sat back in his chair and looked her up and down with a crooked grin. Beka Valentine wasn't the usual sort that frequented cantinas on Tattooine. "You bet, sweetheart," he drawled lazily. "Looking for a ride?"
Beka frowned and drummed her fingers against the butt of her pistol. Do not smack him, do not smack him... "Not so much, flyboy," she snapped back. "Looking for proof. You got a ship that backs up your mouth?"
His eyes narrowed. "Millenium Falcon. Are you saying you wanna race?" His grin got bigger. "You're on." He got to his feet and thrust out his hand. "Name's Solo. Han Solo. Maybe you've heard of me?"
She took his hand and shook it firmly. "Never have. Captain Beka Valentine. My ship's the Eureka Maru."
"Never heard of you either," Solo replied, sitting down again and waving for her to take a seat as well. "Buy you a drink?"
"I buy my own," she rebuffed. He put on wounded puppy dog eyes and Beka rolled her eyes. "That never works." She waved a hand to Harper, who had been nervously lurking at their original table. Now he joined them and Beka introduced him. "My engineer, Seamus Harper."
Harper thrust his hand across the table. "Just Harper."
Han shook his hand, then chucked a thumb over his shoulder. "This is Chewbacca, my first mate." The big Wookiee uluated a greeting in Shryiiwook and the Maru's crew nodded politely at him.
"Now where were you thinking to race?" he asked her. "I've got a job and I can't spare too much time, so we better make it quick."
Beka stared at him like he was stupid. "We're racing Kessel. I want to see you put your ship where your big mouth is." She gave him a dangerous lopsided smile.
Han just stared at her, then broke into laughter. "I like you, lady," he gasped through guffaws. "You're my kind of crazy. Kessel, huh?" He waved over the bartender and got their drinks refreshed. "You ever made the Run?"
Harper broke in as Beka was taking a drink. "Once and never again. We almost died!"
"Almost being the operative word, thank you, Seamus," Beka gritted, kicking him under the table. He yelped in protest, but she ignored him. "We were unprepared. But we still made good time."
Chewbacca shrilled something and Han translated. "Chewie here has doubts that your boat can match up to twelve parsecs. The Falcon's the fastest ship in the universe. Ask anyone," he challenged.
Valentine was unimpressed. "The Maru did it in fifteen, even with almost dying." She glared at Harper, who rubbed his shin and kept his mouth closed.
"Really?" Solo looked impressed, but Beka couldn't tell if he was being straight with her. "Let's see it. When?"
"Now," Beka answered promptly, as if it were a stupid question. Which it kind of was; if you start boasting like that, you have to be ready to back it up.
Solo glanced uneasily between Chewbacca and Valentine. The Wookiee shook his head slowly and Han winced. "That's what I thought you'd say." He shrugged apologetically at Beka. "We have a job toward the Core. Don't have time to waste on pointless races."
Beka got to her feet and rolled her shoulders casually. "Of course. Your ship isn't quite up to it. I understand." She smiled sweetly at him and turned away. "Come on, Seamus."
"Whoa!" Han shot to his feet as well. "I didn't say that, sweetheart. You're on!" Chewbacca growled a warning, but Solo waved him off. "No one insults my ship."
"Mine either." Beka's smile became sincere. "The Kessel Run. Less than twelve parsecs. Winner gets..."
Solo was on his way to the door. "We can decide that later. Let's go; Chewie and I really do have a job to do." Chewbacca roared at his friend again. Solo turned back to face him. "Come on, buddy. One quick run. Quick race. What could happen?"
Beka followed Han out the door, leaving Chewbacca and Harper to share a long look. "What, indeed," Harper muttered.