Tron Dreon ran breathlessly through the thick foliage of the dense wood. He didn't dare look back as he tripped and jogged heavily through the forest. He knew that if he made it to his ship, he would be safe. He knew that if he stopped...well, he wouldn't stop.
Tron felt the large droplets of sweat run into his shirt and soak his collar. He bled from the countless amounts of vines and bramble he had ran up against as he ran through the forest. This planet of Havorken had so far proved to be a nightmarish disaster.
As he ran, Tron thought back to the whole ordeal that started this deadly journey to this planet. He had been on Tatooine, in a bar out near the Dune Sea when a band of dirty junkyard thieves had ridden in on a couple of swoop bikes. There were about twenty of them. They had said they were looking for help on a "big job." They had said that it paid well and because he needed the money, he thought it would be the perfect opportunity for some extra cash.
Once Tron volunteered, he found out they were going to hit a local Imperial base, actually a treasury type outpost. It was small, so they figured it probably wouldn't house too many troops. Boy, were they wrong!
Once the whole band got there, breaking in was pretty easy. Didn't look like it had too many personnel. They threw in a couple of detonators and it blew open the doors. Once inside, they found there were only a few stormtroopers, which they took out within a few minutes. They advanced inside, finding that the building was built down into the ground. What they didn't know was that the underground building was actually a recruitment facility for the heavily armed troops.
Lucky for Tron, he was standing in the back of the mob of thieves. When he saw the troops, he turned and hauled tail back up the facility and out the blasted door while the rest of his band were arrested and taken to interrogation. Unluckily, the band was not very trustworthy and quickly told about their missing companion.
And that is what started this whole thing.
When Tron found out that the Empire had set out a bounty for him, he had fled to this stinking planet in the Outer Rim Territory. He had stumbled upon it in his star charts and found that it was uninhabited, but had a safe atmosphere to live in. He figured that he would wait it out here while this whole mess straightened out.
Tron didn't think anyone would find him there. Not just anyone did. He did.
Now Tron could feel his last amounts of energy leaving his broken body. He had been running for what seemed like hours. He had been filling his refresher with water from a small stream when he had heard a low rumble. Thinking it was probably the signs of another small storm; he thought nothing of it. He looked up into the sky and saw not one cloud. Tron felt a prickle creep up his neck as he felt something. There was something terribly, terribly wrong with this. That's when he saw the unmistakable shape of that ship...
Tron dropped the refresher and scrambled to his feet. That's when the run began.
Now Tron could feel the energy leaving his broken body. He finally looked over his shoulder into the darkness behind him. He stopped. Panting, he bent over and stared back. The only thing he could see for several miles was dense trees and various plants of different sizes.
Tron sat down heavily on the root of one of the larger trees. "Finally... safe..." he breathed out.
"Not quite," a voice behind him muttered harshly.
Tron felt the terror building within him. He knew who it was that was standing behind him. He could feel the evil emanating from the figure he could not see. His face turned a pasty white as he turned, a wave of nausea hitting his stomach so hard that he felt he might be sick.
As he circled around, Tron saw the distinct Mandalorian armor, glistening with weaponry nobody could even think of. The T-shaped visor of the threatening helmet that he knew was staring icily into him. Boba Fett.
"You didn't think I wouldn't find you? The Empire is paying me well to bring your lousy carcass in," Fett said cruelly. His voice was flat, emotionless. There was no glint of pride in his voice. It was just another hunt. Nothing more.
Tron began backing up nervously. He reached to his side to retrieve his blaster. He knew it was hopeless to think he could beat Fett, but he thought that maybe he'd get lucky. He looked down. To his horror, he found that he had dropped it! He had run up against something and broken it off! He quickly turned his back and ran again. He was so frightened, though, that he tripped over a small plant and sprawled to the ground.
Fett walked up, calmly, smoothly. He was not rushed. Tron, on the other hand, crawled to his feet and broke into a slight jog. Fett became annoyed. The chase had been good, but now it had to end. He lifted up his blaster and fired two shots square in the man's back. He fell to the ground in a smoking heap.
The hunter walked up to the body. Many times he had found employers who were insistent on having the body of the prey. Fett had never asked why, but then again, it wasn't his business to ask questions. Just to get the job done right.
Fett regarded the body silently. He finally reached into a small pouch in his belt and pulled out a small comrecorder. He turned it on. "Termination of one Tron Breon for the crime of thievery and deception to the Empire. Payment is two thousand credits to be received upon delivery."
Fett put the recorder back into the pouch and touched a small dial at the base of his helmet. "Come to my coordinates," he said coldly. Within a few moments, his small hoverbike came crashing through the wood.
Boba Fett sat back in the small cockpit seat of the Slave I. He had placed Tron's body in a small med dome to keep the smell from spreading throughout the ship. His legs and back burned intensely from the long run. He had rubbed balm into them to relax them before landing, but when the run started, the medicine had no affect on them.
Fett reached up and snapped off the fittings that kept his helmet on and slid it off. He balanced it on the control panel and leaned back against the seat. He ran his fingers through the sandy blackish mop that was his hair. The hair that no one had ever seen. In fact, the face that no one had ever seen. And he hoped to keep it that way.
Small coolant fans washed cool jets of air over his head. Fett closed his eyes, thinking of when everyone knew his face. Back on Concord Dawn. When people would come down the street and see the squadron of Protectors in their rugged outfits. Back when... he had a place to call home.
Fett's eyes jerked open. He didn't want to think back. It was past. There was nothing to think about now. It was gone. Past. He looked about the small quarters of the ship. This was his home now. And this was how he liked it.
He thought about where he was on his way to. His employer had said to meet him at a new outpost on the small planet of Yinchoor. He had never been employed by him before. What was his name? Vader? Something like that. Fett had heard from a source that this Vader character was some sort of Dark Jedi. "The Emperor's right-hand man," they had said. Fett had only encountered one other Jedi since he began the business of bounty hunting. He had put up a good fight. The lightsaber he had had cut straight through his jet-pack. But even a Jedi can't live through a close-up grenade explosion. Luckily Fett's armor had protected him from the blast, but his opponent wasn't as lucky. After the fight, he used the credits from it to buy a better pack-this one with smoke screen capabilities in which he could swoop down and blind his victim with smoke, catching him before he even knew what hit him. It was quite a buy.
How long had it been since his last hunt? One month? Two? He had been able to keep himself busy, adjusting his new ship, the Slave I. Before he bought this great Firespray-class Starship, he had only been able to hop rides on freighters and use his hoverbike for covering terrain. He had lucked out again. His other bounty had been a security officer and had been using the ship as a Surveillance Vehicle. When he had turned the man in, he claimed the ship for himself.
Now, it was like him. A weapon of destruction. He had added a large section for prisoner bunks, a personal bunk for himself and the small amount of personal possessions he actually had, an expensive sensor jammer, a long range sensor dish, a tractor beam, and many extra weapon systems he had been saving for a ship when he bought one.
There was a small beeping came from the console and he found that he had come to the coordinates he had set a few hours ago. Fett watched as the streaking stars came back to the normal positions and he looked at the dusty brown planet in front of him. Well, here goes, he thought.
Boba Fett soon reached the small Imperial base on Yinchoor. It was a training facility, set aside for training young men for being Royal Guards to the Emperor. He had heard that these men were to be the best of the best. If they didn't pass the training, they usually ended up dead. They had to go through years of intense painstaking tests in which some were pitted against themselves, Vader, or, as the final test, one of the official Royal Guards.
Fett landed the Slave I in a small canyon a few miles away from the facility. He rode out on the small hoverbike, dragging the pod behind him. He had equipped it with hoverjets and it made a small hum as it went speeding behind him.
Fett soon reached the open facility. It had been updated and was now in the form of an arena. It looked much like an open sport center, such as ones used for Galactic Duel Championships and other events. In the center was a pit with a platform shaped like the Imperial seal. Fett walked through one of the many small entrances and found himself on the main floor. He pushed the light pod in front of him as he walked slowly towards the bleacher seats of the stadium.
Fett looked up into the high seats. Standing there were about twenty tall men, standing in training armor. Their armor was much like Fett's, if it were totally stripped of all it's weaponry and the visor was taken out. They stood like statues, absolutely still. They held only a small rod in one hand. Fett had seen these often. They were spearstaffs. Once activated, both ends would shoot out long spearheads. He had not been able to get one in his possession yet, but they were easy to get off the Intergalactic Market.
Fett stood there, staring at them coldly. Suddenly, the center of the line parted and stepped aside. One man stepped through. Actually, he looked more like a droid than a man. He had on a large suit with some sort of console in front of his solarplexus. A flowing black cape dragged behind him as he walked forward. He wore a dark respiratory helmet and Fett could hear his harsh breathing.
His voice boomed downward and echoed throughout the stadium. "I am Darth Vader."
Fett knew that man was trouble as soon as he saw him. Some sort of... evil... was emanating from him. He could feel it in his gut. He had never seen an employer like him. Most of them were revenge-hungry moneygrubbers. This man knew what he was doing.
"I am the bounty hunter Boba Fett. I am here to collect the bounty on this man," he yelled, gesturing to the pod.
"All in good time, bounty hunter. But first..." Vader turned to one side of him and gestured to the men. Smoothly, they began to file down the steps. Fett stepped back, surprised. An employer had never tried to attack him before nor had someone else to do so. This came as a somewhat shock.
The men walked with a silent deadliness. Fett knew he might be outnumbered, maybe even outmatched, but this was his bounty. And he would receive his due payments.
As the trainees walked to the main floor, one taller one threw an extra small rod, still not activated, to Fett's feet. He picked it up. How fair, he thought sarcastically.
They came down, forming a semicircle around Fett and the pod. Fett turned and pushed the pod to the side and it hit with a soft crack into the stone wall, stopping smoothly.
The first man walked up to Boba Fett. The Royal Guards were known to be trained to be efficient, not sloppy to come in all at once. So it seemed Fett would be fighting one at a time. This would probably be his most challenging test ever.
Fett pressed a small crystal button and felt as the rod became slightly heavier as two yard-long spearheads came slicing through each end. He lowered his body into a deep crouching stance and awaited the man's attack. The man stepped in smoothly, slicing an arch toward Fett's shoulder. Fett blocked it easily.
The man came in again, this time doing a thrust toward Fett's stomach. Fett sidestepped, and dealt a hard clip behind the man's ear. He fell to the ground, slightly dazed. That pause was enough for Fett. He came behind, cutting the hamstring behind his knee. As the man sprawled to the ground, he stabbed him in the back. The man groaned and then slumped. There was a slight murmur around the group. Fett looked up at Vader, who stood hard as stone and silent.
This time, two came in. Both swung downward, aiming to slice Fett through the skull. Fett easily and sharply turned the long side of the rod and blocked both from underneath. They tried to move forward, but Fett was ready. He rolled to the ground and thrust them behind him with his legs. They flew a few feet and fell down the chasm in the center. He could here their screams as they fell... fell...
Suddenly, there was a wave of whispers from the crowd. With his sound sensors, Fett could hear some of them. "He defeated Bork, Marso, and Treskan!" "They were the best!" "We can't beat him!"
The crowd turned and just as smoothly as they came, they left. Boba Fett stood in surprise. He had heard how much hard training and strife the trainees from this training center had gone through. And they run away! Fett was shocked. He expected more from these professionals. But there was still one more problem to worry about.
Boba Fett turned and started to walk calmly up the steps, with the spearstaff still in hand, to where Vader stood, still motionless. He swung the rod with all his might in a high arch to where it would connect with Vader's neck.
In a flash that even Fett couldn't see, Vader moved with the speed of a cat as he pulled out a lightsaber and chopped the spearhead off at the base. It fell to the ground with a soft clink. Fett dropped the other part of the staff and pulled up his blaster. But before he could even pull the trigger, he felt his throat constrict as if some invisible hand were strangling the life out of him.
Fett fell to the ground, gasping. He had never experienced this before. As he writhed, trying to somehow find a way to get air, he could hear Vader above him. "You have defeated my best trainees. You have come here and fought even though you were against great odds. Very impressive, bounty hunter. I could use you in the future."
Fett suddenly felt his throat open and he began to breathe again. "But remember, Boba Fett, always remember your position. For you may be skilled, but even you are no match for what I can do to you."
Darth Vader reached into his cloak and came out with a small datapad counter. He pressed a few numbers and handed it to Fett. "The payment has been transferred to your account. You may leave when you wish."
Fett walked down the stairs and began to leave the stadium. As he mounted his bike and rode back to the Slave I, he thought about what Vader had said. He had no doubt that he could probably destroy him with a gesture. As he lifted off the planet and began his trek into hyperspace, Boba Fett had no doubt whatsoever that he would see the Dark Jedi Darth Vader again. Someday.
The End... for now