Iâve heard Jeremy Bulloch state at conventions that Boba Fett may have stayed in the Sarlaac pit, opening a casino/pub and running it with the help of Mrs. Fett/several scantily-clad women. So, hereâs the alternate-alternate sequel to âDark Dreamsâ (and hold onto your steel bikinis!).
I heard her cry out for me as I fellâ¦loudly, and in denial. Given the connection she had forged between us, I had allowed myself to hope that she would remain near the rim of the Pit. If I could find a way out, she could have helped me toâ¦
That is all moot, now. I have found out what it means to be trapped here; to have this thing feed on me for the next thousand years. To have the others here, as well. And to know how it feeds: on our dreams.
Each cilia of each tentacle that caught at me as I fell loosed its acids into my armour. The Sarlaac seemed to be all throat at that point. As I was denuded of my weapons, there was less acid directed at me. I came to rest near what I took to be the beastâs stomach, clad only in the cloth beneath the armour.
I am not used to writing things down; not even used to thinking them so clearly. It is, of course, all illusion. I am probably lying against the monsterâs gut, digestive juices flowing over me. But I may live again in dreams.
Ara took Vaderâs black dream from me; that no longer troubles my mind. The Sarlaac feeds on thought as well as flesh, and I have many tales to tell. Or to create.
Jaster Mereel, Justice Protector, Concord Down.
Since I may fabricate any number of possible lives, I go back to my origin. And change things. Interestingly enough, I seem to be able to place Ara in any number of situations that I have already lived through. I think âwhat ifâ, and there is a whole other life.
I have known many womenâ¦perhaps Ara is uppermost simply because she was last; or because she knew better than to try to change me.
âThey gave me his lands and his title; they were going to banish him from Concord Down, but decided on the death penalty instead.â
Jaster Mereel wearily brushed back a strand of blonde hair from his forehead. It had been a long council session, culminating in the sentencing of his former senior officer. The man had been on the take for years, slipping up only when he had tried to bribe Jaster into looking the other way.
Well, it had worked with the othersâ¦why not him?
Ara turned from her cooking long enough to give him a warm glance.
âHe knew how honourable a man was in his employ,â she said simply, coming over to touch him gently on the shoulder. âHe had a 50-50 chance between offering you that bribe or trying to kill you. That he chose wrongly is on his own head, not yours.â
âKnowing that doesnât make that fact that Iâve been working for aâ¦thief any easier.â
Ara laid her cheek against his.
âI am going to be completely selfish, and thank whatever deity might be listening for your safety,â she stated.
Moving to sit across from him, she picked up a cloth from the table and began twisting it in her hands. Drawing a deep breath and looking up at him, she asked:
âI donât care much about the title, but what do you intend to do with the land?â
âGive it to the Protectors, I suppose. They can auction it off; I really donât want anything of that traitorâs. Why?â
âIt may come in handy,â she murmured, blushing slightly.
Jaster looked carefully at her, really seeing her for the first time in days. As his mind shifted into gear, he thought up and discarded a dozen or so reasons as to why they might need extra land. His hazel eyes widened as he reached the most obvious of answers.
No. No. NO!
I will not sate the Sarlaacâs voyeurism with what might have been.
If only we had met sooner. If only she had been another hunter. If onlyâ¦if onlyâ¦if onlyâ¦
Hunting Le Bon Temps:
She walked into every place as if she owned it. At first, I was unsure whether it was a simple show of bravado, but I later learned it was a kind of âkiller instinctâ. I have always been more cautious. I do not mind attracting attention; indeed, it seems to warn off certain types of potential customer: those that can not afford either of us. And I can move like quicksilver (her word, not mine) if need be. Still, I prefer slow and stealthy to seemingly brash arrogance.
It always amused me to watch her. Not that I would let her know that.
Never mind how or where we met. Suffice it to say that we did. It was the only time I have ever willingly partnered with anyone. She was, in many ways, like meâ¦
They were trying to flush out an elusive quarry for Morhtan Kale. Their bounty had lost himself on Ricâs World, a place of âa million pleasuresâ. (So said the brochure.) Boba Fett and Ara Lars had tracked him to a small inn at the edge of Ricâs main city. Bon Chance Louis was a dive, and their prey had made the mistake of attempting to lower his âstatusâ on this world too quickly.
âThink this will draw him out?â
Ara strolled into their room, slowly pivoting in front of Fett, who was forgoing his armour and assumed the name of Jazon Merel. She had donned a dress of crimson shimmer-silk, slit thigh high and not leaving much on top to the imagination. Her autumn-leaf coloured hair was twisted in an elaborate knot, secured by a jeweled pin. Eyes twinkling with amusement, she showed Jazon just exactly how far up her leg sheâd hidden a tiny stunner.
âSince he is a known womanizer and not dead, yet,â Jazon sighed, slightly rolling his eyes at her blatant display, âI assume you will âgetâ him.â
âWhy thank you, sir,â Ara smiled, loading her thanks with sarcasm. âIâd kiss you for that, but I donât want to ruin my mouth, just yet.â
Before Jazon could voice a rejoinder, she had flounced out of the room, looking for all the world like an accident ready to happen.
A scant hour later, Ara was dragging their bounty into one of the holding cages aboard Slave I. Fett, once more in his armour, leant against the doorframe, listening to her curse. Wincing after a particularly blistering expression, he prudently stood aside to let her pass. If she could have stomped her way to her cramped quarters instead of climbing ladders to them, she probably would have.
âAre you going to tell me, or must I guess?â
Ara shot him a look of pure hatred. Throwing herself down on her bunk, she began the delicate operation of undoing her hair. He could see the way her hands trembled, ever so slightly.
âI found him in the bar, just as we suspected. He was trying to buy his way off planet; I think the pilot might have been accepting many drinks as part of the bargain. Damn that âtender! Why the hell couldnât they have had a proper âbot instead of a humanoid!â
She yanked the last pin from her hair, sending it tumbling around her shoulders. Fett tried hard not to be too distracted by her flushed face and scanty clothing.
âSo, that idiot âtender was trying to flirt with me! So damned distracting, I almost lost our quarry again!â
There was a soft snort from under Fettâs helm, just loud enough for Ara to hear.
âYou have something to say, maybe?!â she asked menacingly.
âYou did your job,â Fett pointed out, backing away slightly, just in case. âYou brought the man back. Now we can get off this planet and get our reward.â
Ara seemed mollified, for the moment.
âIt shouldnât have taken me as long to get him outside. I was lucky no-one else was in the street when I tranked him,â she said thoughtfully.
Fett shrugged. It did not matter to him how the thing was accomplished, merely that it was, within the time frame their employer had set.
âHeâll sleep it off,â Ara said, after a brief study of their prey.
Fett set the automatic pilot on Slave I, then joined Ara in her quarters. Divested of helm and armour, you could see the slight scarring he carried over much of his lean body. After he had gathered her to him, they whiled away the time caressing each other to new dimensions of passion.
Ara lay back, one arm curled beneath her head.
âIsnât it amazing,â she mused, âwhat some wives will do to keep their husbands from having a good time?â
I have sworn many times the creature will not take whole dreams from me. Many times I have beenâ¦wrong.
One thought often triggers another. If she were here, with meâ¦or if I were free, with herâ¦
A new face in the crowd:
She threw herself in front of me just before Solo could hit my jet-pack. She wrenched the lance from his hands, tossing it over the side of the prison skiff. A fortunate move, since I could have careened off the sail barge and into the Sarlaacâs open maw.
Skywalker and the princess swung aboard, and we picked up the two âbots that had been the start of the whole adventure. Han and Chewbacca were none too pleased that she was defending me, and Luke was outright astonished. It was not much better even when she explained how I had saved her from Jabba. Solo was all for returning to the Carkoon Pit and pitching me headfirst into thatâ¦creature.
Everything was finally sorted out by the time we reached Mos Eisley. I would, in exchange for my life and my freedom, use the information I had gleaned about the new Death Star to the rebellionâs advantage. It was decided that Boba Fett should be âdeadâ for awhile. Once the second Death Star was destroyed, I could go my own way.
âMany Bothans died for this information.â
I ground my teeth in frustration. âMany Bothansâ, indeed. I was the one risked my neck for that holo! The only thing that makes working for the rebels tolerable is Ara. And the chance to redeem my ship, once this war is over. The rebels are âholdingâ Slave I for me back on Tatooine. I can only get it back as Fett, and I cannot be Fett until this work is done.
I see the way Solo looks at me, when he thinks I am not watching him. He expects me to produce weapons out of the air, I suppose. It would be laughable, if it wer not for the fact that they keep me in the simplest clothing possible, and daily search my person and my quarters. Did, until Ara found out and stopped them. They still do not understand the connection between us. It is neither love nor friendship, but a mutual respect. And a sometimes passion.
They have won. The battle culminated on and above the forest moon of Endor. I hear the word that Emperor Palpatine was dead spread quickly throughout the galaxy.
They have become so used to my face that I am able to slip away through the dancers. Everyone here is celebrating; I even saw one of the X-wing pilots cavorting with an Ewok. Ara has left a message with R2D2, stating her intentions to leave with me and reclaim Boba Fett and Slave I. She may return to her parentâs moisture farm; some small part of me thinks she may come with me. She would be a good huntress, and I have grown used to her company.
Again, NO! I have always hunted alone. Even if her skills were as mine, she would only end up being a rival for bounties. And I cannot see Solo being so âgenerousâ as to let me live, once my usefullness to him had expired. No. Better that she be far from here, and not listening to my thoughts.
I wonder if she escapedâ¦
She managed to grab my leg, as Solo struck me with the lance. The screams I heard were hers and mine, as we tumbled into the pit. Tentacles twined us close together, the creature feeding off us both it stripped away our mental defenses with our clothing. My armour kept the acid of the Sarlaacâs stomach off us for but a little while; soon, we were wearing next to nothing.
Surprisingly, the acid bath stopped, and we felt a more solid footing beneath us. We walked towards a distant glow, coming out into an area that held seemingly hundreds of beings. They turned towards us for a moment, their dull eyes looking over just another pair of newcomers.
âWhere are we?â Ara whispered.
âThe belly of the beast,â I said, not knowing exactly what she meant.
âNo,â she muttered, nudging me forward. âLook around. Does this seem like such an awful place?â
I suddenly noticedâ¦music?! Where was it coming from? We walked through that crowd of beings. And came uponâ¦
âItâs a cantina! Like the one in Mos Eisley!â Ara exclaimed, tightening her grip on my arm, as if she were afraid I would vanish. âThis canât be realâ¦â
And it is not. The Sarlaac appears to feed on our fantasies, keeping our flesh for when we are no longerâ¦amusing.
So I have obliged it, these long years. Always with an eye to escaping, we (Ara, and I) now manage the cantina, naming it the Sarlaac Bar, in dubious honour of our host. We have kept it very amused; it seems to like the antics of the staff and band we haveâ¦accumulated. It also seems to appreciate the efforts we have gone to on its behalf, and has lured many more souls to us by sending out enticing images and smells to the world above.
I am constructing several small incendiary devices, which I think will give the beast enough âindigestionâ that we may be able to finally leave. I have learnt to keep my thoughts elsewhere, so it will not see what I am truly doing. Ara helps accomplish this by wearing revealing clothing and distracting the creature from me.
Unfortunately, this can also be distracting for me.
âLast callâ¦drink up, lads. Time I got âhomeâ to my wife.â
I grow weary of these games. I must fight harder to get free of the Sarlaac.
I can hear her, in my mind. She calls out for me.
Or is it just another dream?