60,000 credits. Well, it was worth considering. Boba Fett leaned back in the pilot's chair and studied the ad. Oh hello, a Priority Bounty? He waved it off. Let some other lesser bounty hunter take it. He tapped a button and the lists scrolled down. 45,000 credits, 50,000, 30, 14, 29 and negotiable..bah.
What was the galaxy coming to when a mere 60 grand was the highest bounty in a week? Then Boba Fett saw who posted the Priority Bounty, and he sat up straighter. Darth Vader. As clients went, he was the least miserly. He was also the least inclined to haggle and the least inclined to take failure from anyone.
Fortunately for Boba Fett, failing wasn't an option.
A single button dialed the coordinates for Vader's ship, and the message screen went static. A young imperial officer glanced nervously at the sender's ID and cleared his throat. "Slave I, this is Executor, d-do you copy?"
"I copy." Fett recognized the arrogant young Admiral Motti in the background. He shouted something about a meeting with Grand Moff Tarkin to an aide, distracting the officer on the comlink. The bounty hunter waited impatiently while the man swallowed. "I uh-excuse me. Are you the bounty hunter, Boba Fett?"
"Uh.There's a memo from Lord Vader with orders to patch you through.. But he's in a meeting right now, and.."
How nice. He was expected. "I'll wait."
Behind the fidgety young man, Imps ran back and forth. Careful not to display the movement, Fett's left elbow brushed a directory lever. The officer made some pretense of working, unaware that on Fett's screen, a small box was now open to the right of his head. The helmeted head of Boba Fett didn't move, but one hand slyly touched off a string of codes, causing numbers to spin inside of the box.
Finally his search was rewarded. Not hours before, Darth Vader had captured a small Rebel ship. They had taken Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan prisoner, but the charges were buried beneath a security code. Something flashed in the box. The Senate was dissolved! The Imperial Senate? He wanted to shake his head. How far would the Empire go ?
Suddenly the officer looked up, and he jerked his attention back to the screen. "Slave I, stand by. We're patching you through."
"I have been expecting you, Bounty Hunter."
The mechanical breathing of the Dark Lord of Sith was no less intimidating over a comlink. But Boba Fett faced the screen squarely. "60,000 is not enough for a priority bounty."
"Direct as always." Vader growled. "Remember to whom you speak. I knew you would call, especially since I made sure that no higher bounty would be posted."
"I'm honored that you would go to such trouble to secure my services." Boba Fett's voice was cold.
"I expect a return, Bounty Hunter. I want results."
"You'll get them..for 80,000 credits." He was taking a chance, trying to haggle with the Dark Lord. Like a chill, he felt an invisible hand at her throat.
"70,000 credits, and don't push your luck."
Fett nodded, surprising the urge to rub his neck. "70,000 credits. You'll have whomever you seek."
The invisible hand fell away. "Excellent." Vader replied smoothly. "Stand by to receive the information. I expect you to begin at once."
"Of course, Lord Vader. It's a priority bounty, and it will be treated as such."
Vader broke the connection.
Boba Fett leaned back while his computer received the files from the Executor. Dealing with Vader gave him a sick feeling in his stomach, but then he suspected he was not alone. Word was that Admirals bearing bad news had a way of dying mysteriously. The computer beeped, signaling that the transfer was complete. His quarry was an 19-year old female named Shallat Ob'tur, red curly hair, brown eyes, freckles. She wore reflective lens glasses by day. It didn't say why she was wanted, but Vader made it very clear that her capture was important..to the Emperor. Fett did wonder what the Palpatine wanted with a young unknown, but it was idle curiosity. It was none of his business, his business was to find the girl and deliver her to Vader. It would only take a few days to find her, with the tracking systems he had managed to procure. Then he saw something that made him frown under his mask. The quarry was prone to suicidal behavior..and they wanted her alive. That called for some preparation.
Shallat Ob'tur had been last seen on Tattooine, apparently she had paid of Jabba the Hutt to protect her from the Empire. Then she'd taken off, leaving Jabba with the short side of the stick. The girl had guts, Fett had to admit. But she was running, that much was obvious. She knew someone would be coming after her.
Now Fett was headed to see Jabba himself.
"Jabba is not here, he's gone to Mos Eisley."
Boba Fett glared at the hissing, simpering servant. Bib Fortuna was not one of his favorite creatures to deal with. The pink eyed Twi'lick bared pointy teeth in an ingrateing smile. "Would you care to wait in the throne room?"
"No I would not." Fett turned and walked away. "I'll find Jabba myself."
He finally located the obese Hutt in the spaceport, waiting for Han Solo. The space pirate had been in disfavor with Jabba ever since he had been forced to dump a load of spice. Jabba was surprised to see Boba Fett, but not displeased. "Boba Fett!" He cried in Huttese. "It pleases me to see you again. However, it will have to wait. I have an appointment with Captain Solo any minute now."
Bored, Fett nodded. "I'll wait."
He glanced around at Jabba's motley group of bodyguards, this shouldn't take too long. He turned up his comlink and pulled his blaster in case there was trouble. Jabba slithered this way and that, calling for Han Solo to come out.
"I've been waiting for you, Jabba." The roguish pilot stepped out of the shadows, fingers centimeters from his own weapon. Jabba turned and greeted Solo, but it didn't take him long to get to the point. Han Solo owed him money!
"Even I get boarded sometimes." Solo walked around the big Hutt, glaring. "Do you think I had a choice?"
Jabba listened to Solo's excuses with more patience then Fett would have given him credit for. Then he waved aside his men. ".If you fail me again I'll put a price on your head so large.." The Hutt looked pointedly at Boba Fett, and Solo glanced nervously away. He promised to pay up, with interest, and he and his wookie left Jabba's presence. Only then, did Jabba turn back to the bounty hunter.
"What can I do for you, Boba Fett?"
"I'm hunting a human named Shallat Ob'tur. I know she was here and took shelter from you."
The Hutt was silent, weighing his options.
"1,000 credits." Fett offered impatiently.
"There WAS such a human." Exclaimed Jabba as though he had just remembered. "A small female with bright red hair."
"Where is she now?"
"Dantooine. But let me warn you bounty hunter, she hired bodyguards before leaving."
"I don't fear thugs. Where on Dantooine?"
"The old Rebel base. Sector 12."
Fett quickly paid Jabba. The big Hutt licked his lips, eyes bulging. "Thank you, Fett my boy. Come see us at my place when you can."
Dantooine. A small rocky planet, dry soil, barren stretches that rivaled Tattooine. It was easy enough to find a landing spot, and before long Boba Fett was armed to the teeth and ready to hike over the hills to the abandoned base. He used his desert binoculars to scan the area, no life forms in view.
Two hills later, he spotted the old rebel base. There certainly wasn't much left of it, just a few buildings and some disassembled Y-wings. He raised the binoculars to his helmet's visor and scanned the area again. This time a red light began blinking, they'd found a life form.
The life form moved to the open doorway, and the pale sun gleamed on her flame colored hair. She was dressed in street clothing, a light tunic covered by a thickly woven robe. She dragged a tub into the rough yard, and went back inside. She returned shortly with two buckets of water, which she emptied into the tub.
Boba Fett put away his equipment and began to creep down the bank. He slid to a stop behind some scraggly brush only a few meters from his target. Her back was to him, a thick red braid hung down her back and swayed when she bent. She took the buckets and returned inside, and he jogged to the far wall of the shack. Moving quietly around the side, he heard male voices within the building.
"Don't need help with that, Lady Shallat?"
"I can manage, thanks Rubuv."
"Well, we're right here if you need us."
"I know, Orgo."
She stepped through the doorway with two more buckets, then gasped when Fett shoved his blaster in her ribs. She didn't make a sound, though her face drained of color. He pulled her away from the doorway, keeping the gun trained. He was pleased with how well it was going until she dropped the buckets. She released them both at once, and water splashed up as the they hit the dry ground with a THUMP!
Fett quickly shoved her against the wall as Orgo rushed out the door. The bodyguard was raising his blaster when a dart embedded itself in his neck, his eyes rolled heaven ward and he plunged to the ground.
"Orgo?" Rubuv called hesitantly. Then he too jumped out of the door, and managed to snap off a shot before Boba Fett ducked and brought the blaster away from Shallat long enough to kill Rubuv. That done, the bounty hunter turned back to his target. "Any more?"
She was pulling a knife from beneath her cloak, which she raised with a wordless yell. He slapped her wrist aside and the knife went flying. He trained the blaster on her once again and coldly viewed his captive. She looked younger then 19, wisps of red hair framed a child's face as she crouched by the wall, breathing hard from fear and spent adrenaline.
Keeping an eye on her, he put away his blaster and surveyed the area. No sign of any one else. "Have you no more guards?"
"They all quit when they heard you were chasing me, Boba Fett."
He nodded. "I see you're not surprised."
"It was only a matter of time." She stated calmly. "Stalling is no longer effective."
He nodded again, then stepped forward and frisked her for any more weapons. She remained silent and still until his hand touched the bulge of her stomach. A small whimper escaped her as the bounty hunter probed the area lightly. Grimly he pulled out a mechanical scanner and flipped it on, running it over her body.
"So." He finally said. "You're pregnant."
She didn't look up. "Yes."
"12 weeks." He said flatly, looking at the scanner's screen.
"A bounty is a bounty. Come with me."
Shallat Ob'tur was on her knees in one of the 6 holding cages Slave I boasted. She fingered a pendent around her neck and whispered prayers to gods unlikely to help her. Footsteps sounded on the hall and she dropped her hands into her lap. Boba Fett entered the area and unlocked the door. There was a pallet rolled up under one arm, and blankets draped over the other. He handed them to her, ignoring her surprised and questioning look. "Make yourself you bed. You will get at least 8 hours of sleep at night, and take a 2-hour nap in the mid-day. Have you ceased to have morning sickness?"
She gaped at him. "How-how did you know.?"
"Research. You'll also need to eat lots of high protein foods and vegetables. I'll stop at Tattooine and buy some. You will exercise daily by walking up and down the corridor 4 times. If there is anything else you need, you have only to mention it."
"You're very kind-"
"The bounty is only good if you're alive and healthy. I intend upon seeing that you are." He turned and left the cage, locking the door behind him.
"I still can't believe you researched.." She mused.
There was an undertone of dry amusement in his voice. "You must not assume that a bounty hunter is an expert about babies, Lady Shallat."
True to his word, Boba Fett made sure Shallat stayed healthy. He watched every spoonful of high-vitamin soup that went into her mouth, and stood in grim watch while she paced the hall 4 times each day. If she had trouble sleeping, he gave her sleeping drugs, mild enough only to relax her.
Shallat knew she was receiving special treatment, but she knew better then to make fun of his caution. As the days wore on she became more talkative, using every opportunity to chatter. It didn't seem to matter to her that she seldom received an answer.
"Of course, I didn't know I was with child until I was two months along." She explained to the silent Boba Fett as she began her walking exercise. "I'm not nearly as big as I should be, but then, I wouldn't worry about it, we all do it differently. This is my first child..I don't mean to sound like a know it all." She paused for breath. "Honestly, Boba Fett, I wish you'd talk now and then. If I asked you a question would you answer it?"
"It's not about you, it's about me. Where are you taking me?"
"To the newly built Death Star."
"Darth Vader's going to meet you there, or are you turning me directly over to-to the Emperor?"
"Vader is usually the one who pays me."
"So you've worked for them before?"
Her breathing became slightly labored. "There, talking isn't so hard, is it?"
The bounty hunter shifted and didn't answer. Shallat might feel free to ask questions, but he certainly wasn't going to make that mistake. He couldn't help the mild curiosity that longed to ask who the baby's father was, and why she was wanted so badly by Darth Vader and the Emperor. But it was none of his business. Getting involved was foolish.
Shallat stopped suddenly at 3 laps and leaned against the wall. "I'm feeling a little dizzy."
"It's enough for today, Lady Shallat. I'll take you back to the cargo hold."
Shallat bit her lip as they descended into the hold, her cheerful faÃ§ade dropping. "It isn't that I mind so much dying, Boba Fett, but what's going to happen to my child?"
"It is likely the child will die with you."
"That's what I mind." She said softly as the cage door clanged shut. "I mind that very much."
Shallat sat up, wide-awake, when she heard the terrible noise of ion cannons. "We're being attacked." She muttered. She heard footsteps in the cockpit, and wondered who would attack Boba Fett. The ship lurched with a fresh burst of speed, and she tumbled back in the corner.
"Boba Fett!" She cried. "What's happening?"
Footsteps hurried down to the cargo hold, and Boba Fett was soon standing at her door. "Are you all right?"
"Y-yes, I think so. What happened?"
"Pirates. Upstarts who thought they could make a name for themselves by challenging Boba Fett."
"Who thought? You changed their minds?"
"They have no minds to change..now." The bounty hunter turned and walked swiftly back to the cockpit. Shallat cradled her belly with her hands. "I don't think you're going to like this world baby."
In the cockpit, Boba Fett viewed the damage bitterly. They would have to stop again so he could have Slave I's shields repaired. Blasted Pirates! Some of the older ones knew better then to attack him, but the younger, cocky ones..they all came to the same end. Floating space junk.
He slumped down in the chair and turned on the back holo-camera to check on his cargo. She was talking to her stomach again. It didn't concern him, the Galactic Web said that mothers-to-be were often over-emotional and irrational. He watched her hands caressing the smooth bump of her tummy, smiling as though she could feel the baby move. Not for another few weeks, the Web claimed.
He allowed himself to wonder if his mother had ever done that to him..strange to think of himself as anything but self-sufficient. He turned off the camera. They were nearly on the far side of Yavin, perhaps the spaceport at Yavin III could be of some assistance.
Shallat didn't see a thing of little Yavin III, mainly because Boba Fett didn't buy her "Pregnant women need fresh air" pitch. Maybe she had no studies to back it up, but surely it was true. Everyone needed fresh air. Despite her best efforts, she spent the day locked in a cheap hotel room with no windows. Fett insisted she pace the room as exercise, but she didn't feel like walking and told him so.
She was surprised when he shrugged as though it didn't matter. He locked her in around mid-afternoon, told her to take a nap, and he would return later.
Shallat sat down on the bed and rubbed her tummy. "You know what, baby? I think Boba Fett is up to something. Wouldn't it be great if he upped the bounty price, and Vader wouldn't pay it and they let me go free? Not likely, eh? No..They want to know where your daddy is awful bad, but they won't get it from me..no sir."
She fell back across the bed. "I wonder if Tolan even knows where I am."
Boba Fett walked swiftly to the docking bay where a crew of Ugnoughts were working on Slave I. The setting sun was behind him, otherwise he would never have seen the man's shadow fall beside him. The bounty hunter quickly turned left, and the shadow followed, dropping back to avoid suspicion.
So..he was being followed. It was either one of Vader's minions keeping an eye on him or it had something to do with Shallat. Either way, it was better to ask questions later.
He easily made a sharp right and pulled into the shallow coverage of a doorway. The Shadow started to follow, then hesitated. Boba Fett pulled his blaster silently and waited. The Shadow waited.
Then the Shadow retreated, and he glanced around the building just in time to see a dark haired man in a green shirt turn the corner. Now that was better, he could take his place as the hunter.
Fett took some pride in his tracking skills, and it was child's play to tail the man into an open alley. The Shadow, now the Hunted, stopped and whispered with a dark robed alien. The Hunted paid the alien, then hurried off.
And the alien suddenly found it's snout gripped by an iron hand, a blaster aimed at his stomach convinced him not to fuss.
"Who was that man?" The bounty hunter hissed.
The alien's beady eyes took in the man in armor, then the blaster. "Tolan Figree."
"And what do you know of him?"
Hesitation. The blaster barrel poked his tummy. "Er.He's looking for his girlfriend. One of those.uh.tricky situations."
Undoubtedly the baby's father. "What did he pay you for?"
"I .Er, only gave him directions."
"He tips handsomely." Keeping the weakling in range, Boba Fett lifted a dart from his pocket. "Do you know what this is?"
"It's an illness called O'T'ou. It cannot be treated. It causes the flesh to melt off your body.and I can't say that it's painless either."
The alien's large mouth fell slightly open. "He's headed to Western Slouv, the Chancford Hotel."
"You have been most helpful."
"Not at all. Happy to help." The alien was babbling now.
"Your reward shall be your life."
Fett nodded, tiring quickly of this game. He turned and walked swiftly back down the alley. So! Tolan Figree was trying to rescue his mate! No one stole a bounty from Boba Fett. No one.
"Shallat? Are you in there? Honey, its Tolan, open the door."
How pitiful. Boba Fett watched dispassionately, knowing the sound sponge would prevent Shallat from hearing anything. He stepped quietly up behind the young man, and slowly brought the blaster to rest on Tolan Figree's back. "She can't hear you."
Figree stiffened, but he didn't back down. "Look, she's just a child..I'll pay-"
"She's carrying a child! And I will be paid..but not by you, young Figree. I am bound by my honor to bring her to Lord Vader for the price of 70,000 credits."
"A child? Shallat?"
"You didn't know." Fett felt a rare moment of surprise.
"No..She never.I had no idea."
"It's not important now, Tolan Figree. You would rob me of my bounty, and for that, you should die."
"No!" Figree cried as he went for his own blaster. It was the last sound he ever made. Fett calmly put away his Blaster and picked up the smoldering body. There was a small balcony at the end of the hall, with a deep river below it. They wouldn't find the body for days.
This done, He unlocked the door and stepped inside. Shallat was sleeping, her red hair spread out on the pillow. She was very young, despite the fact that even now, one hand rested protectively over her unborn child. The galaxy made some strange criminals..
Shallat awoke feeling hot and gritty. No wonder, with no windows..She twisted around and saw Boba Fett slouching in a chair by the door. He looked over and nodded, then got up and brought her a glass of water.
"Thanks." She tried to smile. "How are the repairs coming?"
"I'll try to hide my delight. Don't act surprised, Boba Fett, I'm in no hurry to die."
"Then Vader was mistaken. He said you were suicidal."
"I was. Before Tolan." She smiled dreamily and rubbed her tummy. "Having Tolan made me love every minute of every day, and now carrying his child makes me strive to live. I'm not impractical enough to hope that he'll rescue me, but it would be nice if I at least knew he tried." She shook her head. "You must think I'm a fool, and you're right. Love has made me a fool. I just wish this baby had a chance to live."
"The odds are hardly in your favor, Lady Shallat."
"I know. They won't.hurt my baby, do you think? I don't want my child to suffer."
Boba Fett extracted a small bottle from his pocket as an answer. "If you want make sure your baby will not suffer..there are always purges."
Shallat recoiled from the bottle as if it were a serpent. "You mean kill my baby? Abort it?"
"The child will die anyway."
"No! I can't!"
He replaced the bottle. "It's your choice. I wouldn't offer them if they weren't safe."
She hesitated, drew a sharp breath, and shook her head. "No. I can't."
He shrugged. "As you wish."
The heat seemed to be making Shallat listless and irritable, as far as Boba Fett was concerned, the sooner his ship was repaired, the better. Now, the only question was, would Vader be willing to cover the damages, or should he not chance the Dark Lord's anger.
One one answer made sense, he was a businessman, and he would approach Vader as one and demand compensation.
As they neared the Death Star, Shallat moved blithely from resignation to blind panic. Boba Fett monitored her closely, watching the muscles in her neck strain when she folded her arms over her belly. There was naked anxiety on her face at these times, and he worried she would become ill.
Shallat would be surprised to learn that she wasn't alone in her fretting. The bounty hunter often speculated what her baby could do to his prize money, after all, it was Shallat they wanted. The baby they would see as an inconvenience, and very likely they would force an abortion on Shallat.
They also might see the child as a defect, and he might loose credits, even if there was almost nothing he could do about it. He thought about it long and hard, and very nearly hated himself for coming to the conclusion in the end.
"How much longer?" Shallat was huddled in the corner of the cell, arms locked protectively over the baby.
"0-900-hours, maybe less."
She compressed her lips. "I've made up my mind to be brave."
"Commendable." He handed her a streaming cup of stim tea. "Can you drink that without spilling?"
She smiled ruefully at her shaking hands and accepted the tea. "Mmm." She remarked after a sip. "You're really a decent fellow, for a bounty hunter."
Boba Fett turned and left abruptly. She wouldn't be saying that in an hour.
He looked again. No, his eyes didn't deceive him, the Death Star was gone. He had pinpointed its location near Endor only a few hours ago! What was that? Rebels! The Slave I did a twist and blasted away from the surveying X-Wings.
"Unidentified ship, this is Red 2, this area is a classified war zone, you'll have to leave." Another voice broke through the static. "What's wrong, Wedge?"
"It's just a lost freighter, Luke, I'll take care of it You head on back, you hero, you!"
"The Force was with us. See you at the base."
"Roger, Red 2 out." Wedge re-assumed his official tone. "Do you copy, Unidentified ship?"
Boba Fett couldn't help it. "What happened to the Death Star?"
Wedge cackled. "We blew it up." Suspicion surfaced. "Why? Who are you?"
Fett slapped a few buttons and sent the rebel pilot one of his false identities. "I had a delivery to make on the Death Star."
"Well, no use now. What's your destination Galaxy Cruiser?"
The bounty hunter grew impatient. "That Battlestation WAS my destination! Never mind, I'll handle it. Cruiser out."
As he blasted away he entertained the brief notion that Lord Vader had perished aboard the Death Star, but he knew it couldn't be. That's when he heard an outcry of pain from the cargo hold. The purges had begun. He set the ship on Autopilot and hurried into the cell area.
"You scum!" Shallat screamed when she saw him. "You tricked me! That tea was fixed!"
"I do not deny it."
"Oh gods!" She sobbed as blood flowed down her legs and soaked her skirt. Fett opened the door and forced her to lie down on her pallet. The pain was fierce, but the bottle label had allowed for that.
"The rebels have destroyed the Death Star." He told her. "Your return will be delayed until we reach the Imperial Center, they will know where Darth Vader can be reached."
Shallat moaned and twisted. Boba Fett wrapped her white knuckled fingers around his own hand, noting that the bleeding was growing worse. "Squeeze my hand, Lady Shallat. Big breaths."
She moaned again. "If I could kill you right now, so help me I would." "Of course."
She looked up at him with eyes full of pain. "Every day of my life I will wish a slow and painful death upon you."
"Wishes do no good."
"They I will pray, to any god I find, please let the man who killed my child die in agony."
"It was me or them."
"Errghhh! Go away!" She finally sobbed. "Just leave me alone!"
He rose and did as she wished.
"Lord Vader. I had some trouble locating you." Even over the comlink Fett could feel Vader's wrath. But not at him, no doubt the Dark Lord was still stewing over loosing the Death Star.
"Well, Bounty Hunter?"
"I have her."
"Bring her to the Imperial Center. I will pay you 70,000 credits upon delivery."
Fett took a steadying breath. "It will have to be 75. There were complications. My ship was damaged in a fight with some pirates, and when I found the target, she was in a state of dishealth."
"She was ill?"
"No , just pregnant."
Vader's breathing was all he could hear for a few minutes. "Is she healthy now?"
"She will be, once she recovers from the purges."
He thought he heard anger in Darth Vader's voice. "Purges? She terminated the pregnancy?"
Now he was sure there was anger. "You have acted foolishly." Darth Vader growled. "The women is not worth anything without the child."
Fett felt as if he'd been sucker punched. "The bounty was for the women."
"Who carried the child. Didn't I stress that she was to be kept in perfect health? No.You have failed."
He felt his own anger now, and he knew Vader could feel it. "Don't even think about arguing, Boba Fett. You have failed the Empire."
"I did what I was paid to do!"
"You have one hour to leave the system before I send a squadron after you. And you know I will."
Fett broke the connection with a violent jerk of his hand. Was the Dark Lord so sure that he could cheat Boba Fett? But one thing was for certain, Vader meant what he said. He forced himself to be calm as he put
Slave I in a loop and headed out toward Tattooine. Darth Vader would come to regret his mulish behavior then next time he wanted a decent bounty hunter. He wouldn't take a job for the Sith Lord again until he was paid for his time. He gave his word on that.
Shallat's cell was a mess, blood-soaked blankets, ripped by herself in a fit of rage and pain. She was perched on her last clean blanket, worn and drained, and oddly triumphant. She sat in silence while he gathered up the debries and took them away, then returned with a bucket of cleaning solution and proceeded to clean the cell. "Why does Vader want you?" He asked abruptly.
She took a breath and let it out. "I suppose it's because Tolan Figree fathered my baby. I suspect they'll want me to tell them where he is."
Fett shook his head. 70 grand for a piece of information? No, it was the child they wanted, but Shallat obviously didn't know that. "What makes Tolan Figree wanted?"
"He has.special abilities. His father was a Jedi, you see. Anyway, some old prophecy by someone named Yoda claims that Tolan's children will be even more strong.in the way that he is." She struggled with her words, falling back on self-depreciation. "Though I doubt Yoda meant his illegitimate child. I used to dream that someday Tolan and I would marry and have special children. Perhaps after I'm dead he'll marry someone else."
Not likely, thought the bounty hunter, when he's decomposing at the bottom of a river. Shallat was better off without him. "As it turned out, Vader didn't want you or your boyfriend, he wanted your child." Shallat's face paled, and he went on. "Since your child is dead, he no longer wants you, and you are no longer worth a bounty."
Shallat raised a hand to her face, eyes wide.
"I will take you to Tattooine, perhaps you can start life again. I would recommend changing your name."
Tears rolled down her face. "Oh."
Boba Fett turned back to his task, and realized that something in the mess was missing. There should be at least a mass of tissue or fetus. He turned back to Shallat and read the incredible story in her shining eyes.
"So. Your child lives."
Shallat gazed at him grimly. "My child is strong."
"Well." The bounty hunter went back to scrubbing for a minute, then straightened. "It appears we've had our revenge on Lord Vader."
"Yes. And on you." She smiled a bit too smugly.
Fett nodded. What could he say? It was true.
Dressed in a fresh tunic and cloak, Shallat was escorted by her former captor into Mos Eisley, and although he didn't ask, she assured him that she would be fine. "I have buckets of friends in this city, and only a few enemies. Jabba won't bother with me, he's just put out a bounty on that smuggler, Solo."
"Take my advice and change your name just the same."
"Oh I will! Before the baby comes."
"This is as far as I go. I have other business to attend to. May your child be healthy, Lady Shallat."
Tears filled her eyes. "I never thanked you."
"No, now." She declared firmly, and with that, knelt before him in the street. Bending herself low she touched her forehead to each of his shins in a display of servitude. "I will never forget you. And if Tolan were here, he would thank you as well."
"I doubt that." Muttered Boba Fett as he turned and walked briskly away.
5 months later, after 9 hours of labor, Shallat Ob'tur gave birth to a girl. The midwife who attended her declared the dark-haired baby perfect, and Shallat's friend and host, Hally Mork, wept for joy.
"Beautiful!" She cried as she laid the baby in her mother's arms. "What will you call her, Shallat?"
"Her mother's name is now Shallo Tober." Shallat reminded her friend. "And her name will be Zibwa. It means revenge..for the mother."
"How strange you talk! Never mind dear, Zibwa's a very fine name. Oh, there's the door chime. I'll get it."
Shallat chuckled and crooned to her daughter. "They probably heard your mama hollering."
"Shallat-I mean Shallo!" Hally burst into the room with a flower arrangement that could only be described as "enormous".
"Have you ever seen the like?"
The midwife came bustling back into the room and laughed at the great bouquet. "Must be from the father!"
Hally and Shallat exchanged an earnest glance, and Shallat quickly tore the card from the midst while the midwife and Hally struggled to lay the arrangement on the table. What she read made her sigh.
Lady Shallat, I think it's only fair to tell you that Tolan Figree is dead. Congratulations on the birth of your child. Regards, Boba Fett
She almost laughed, picturing him dictating that message to a florist. So Tolan was dead! It was the lack of pain in her heart that made her realize that her wonderful Tolan had been dead to herself, for much longer then she had known.
The midwife giggled. "Well, what did he say?"
Shallat stared at the plain white card without really seeing it. The scent of flowers wafted over to her bed, and she breathed deeply before replying. "It's from the father."
Dare to be naive.