Janine looked into the mirror and wonder what her true origin was. Her form was humanoid but she had features that distinguished her from other beings and not yet had she found another that resembled her. Her hair was long, straight and black as the night of a cloud-filled sky. Her skin was slightly tinted with orange; her eyes held slit pupils of a feline and were a deep green.
Her fingertips were gifted with talons that retracted at her will. These claws seemed to penetrate any surface they came in contact with. She also had a small tail that hung to mid-thigh length. She concealed her tail beneath a loose black kilt that touched the top of her knees.
Janine's toes also held razor sharp talons. To keep them at her disposal she wore toeless black boots that reached the middle of her calf muscles.
The rest of her appeared to be as human as any average Corellian, and that was fine, she was on Corellia after all.
With all these assets at her disposal, Janine had found she made an excellent thief. However she was very naive to the world of criminals in which she had become intertwined. Janine lacked a past. No matter how hard she tried, she could never remember anything beyond her trip to Corellia.
Janine looked into the mirror and gazed at her reflection, "Who are you?" she questioned it. As always it only spoke or acted when she did. Janine shook her head and walked away, picking up a backpack as she left for work.
Silence was a virtue on Slave I. The man beneath the Mandalorian armour sat poised in his own thoughts. He was deciding which of his listed bounties he was going to pursue. His ship was empty of merchandise and his credit account had grown by an extremely attractive amount.
Boba Fett had made his decision and was about to enter the coordinates to Kuat when a transmission beckoned his attention. He pressed a gloved finger on a button and a small image of an elderly man appeared before him.
"Is this Boba Fett?" He asked in a feeble voice.
Fett merely nodded once, knowing his image would be sent in return.
"Ah, excellent. I have a proposition for you. However I cannot give it to you through this transmission. It's not a safe line; anyone can tap into it. Damn slicers should be shot I say . . . anyway I'm getting away from the point. I am offering a large reward for the capture of a . . . friend of mine. I want you to come to Sullust, I'll send you the coordinates to my laboratory."
"Wait," said Fett, "It will cost you to have me listen to your proposition. I expect a toll for my benefit, especially if the bounty is not to my liking."
"How much exactly?" The old man asked with little enthusiasm.
"Five thousand credits." Boba Fett's voice stated in a clearly ânot negotiable' tone.
"I may as well hire Bossk or someone . . ."
"Go ahead, if you're willing to settle for seconds, so be it. I am the best and I always finish the job."
"I have heard this about you. Fine then, have it your way. Oh, my name's Glint Gusto. I thought you should know." The old man stated.
Boba Fett gave a single nod, "Fett out."
Janine scaled the wall with ease. Her talons held her firmly to the side of the building that she climbed. Her ivy body-glove camouflaged her against the building's exterior. As she reached the fourteenth floor she perused an ideal spot to enter the floor.
A balcony held the perfect entrance, a small doorway allowed for access outside. Janine positioned herself above the door in case security passed by.
As she clung to the wall, she eased her right hand from it and used the claws on her thumb and index finger to cut a rough circle in the transparent surface. Once the circle was complete she gave it a light push sending it to the carpeted floor below. She then reached through the opening and pushed the âWindow Release' button. The door opened with a quiet hiss.
Janine dangled above the doorway for a moment before she lowered herself down enough to see through the doorway. Her black hair hung towards the ground while she remained upside-down. When she was certain all was clear she retracted the claws in her toes and let her body swing down, controlling the speed with the muscles in her arms. Once her feet were dangling a short distance from the floor she released her grip with her hands and landed silently on the pads of her feet.
She crept into the dark office. The sound of distant footsteps was as audible as a pin dropping to a human but to Janine it was an irritating noise with the rhythm of a loud clock pendulum. This did not deter her for long.
The feline eyes adjusted to the dim surroundings quickly. Janine quickly scrutinised the room. It was the wrong office. She reached into one of the pockets of her backpack and withdrew a pair of black leather gloves. Slipping them over her muscular fingers, she went to the doorway that led into the heart of the fourteenth floor.
The darkness was deeper in the centre of the complex. Janine gracefully continued her search for a certain artefact. The âEye of the Sith' to be exact. It was a stone that was said to contain the secrets of great power to those who were versed in the black arts of the Force. Janine did not believe in such a thing as the Force, she did not have enough experience to know if it existed or not. All she cared about was the amount of credits she receive and how much food and shelter it would buy.
As she reached the eighth office she found what she was looking for. On the mantle of an elaborately decorated room she found the stone. It shone at her like the eye of a demon. It's potent power drawing her closer.
Janine's hand touched the stone and the seductive taunt it had sent her ceased. She picked it up in her gloved hand and brought it closer for inspection. An alarm echoed through the stillness. The rhythm of the footsteps became quicker and louder.
With speed that defied the laws of genetics, Janine bolted for the office from which she had entered the fourteenth floor. A looming shadow warned her of the guard about the emerged from the room. Janine slid underneath a desk and waited.
The shadow passed and Janine crawled along the floor. She made it to the balcony when a voice shouted, "STOP!" Janine took the balcony rail in two strong hands and swung herself under the obstruction to the building's streamlined surface. Her momentum sent her feet colliding into the balcony's base. Her taloned toes latched onto the rough exterior and held her.
In an elegantly executed flip, her hands disposed of their grip on the railing sending her body backward while her feet remained safely secured. Her talons protruded from her leather gloves and jammed into the structure behind her before her head hit the solid mass. She remained still and listened to the voices above.
"She must have jumped! No one would live unless they had a jetpack on." A husky male voice said in educated Basic.
"Yah, I fink you right." Said another voice, less intelligible than the first.
"I say we just report the break-in and let the authorities handle it. We don't get paid enough to risk our own hides." Said the first. His companion agreed and Janine listened to their echoing footsteps die away.
A sigh escaped her moist lips. Janine felt her arms straining at the unusual position she was hanging in. Her blood was flooding to her head and a wave of dizziness washed over her for a moment. She dropped her left foot from its hold and prepared to lower herself into a more comfortable position for her descent.
Janine stared down at the streetlights below and wished she owned a jetpack.
The Slave I landed on its designated platform. The brilliant glare from its powerful engines was blinding as it was capped beneath the bulk of the heavily modified fire-spray classed vessel. As the moaning engines died, a single figure emanated from the ship. Adorned with various weapons with a variety of functions, but a singular goal in mind.
A grey haired man greeted the warrior. "Welcome Boba Fett!" A credit chip was clutched in his hand and Fett noticed its value was of what he was owed.
"I am here to listen to your proposition. Speak, my time is limited." Fett stated not willing to hear an old man babble about irrelevant matters.
"You must follow me to my lab to understand the brunt of what it is you are pursuing my friend. This quarry I wish you to seek out is a creature created for evasion and murder. Come with me and I will show you." The old man told as he slipped the credit chip into Fett's hand. The old man's dirty nametag read the identical name that he had given to Fett, Glint Gusto with âProfessor' in front of it.
Boba Fett trailed the Professor, uncertain of the wisdom in doing so. The Professor brought the bounty hunter into a spartan laboratory and went to a holo-vid projector and activated it. "Watch, Fett. This will give you the answers."
Fett raised an eyebrow beneath the black T-shaped visor; This man is not sane. The hunter thought to himself before turning his attention to the holo-vid.
The Professor appeared, he was slightly younger and cleaner in appearance. He spoke of experimenting with various DNA from many different species of creatures, all of them from a variety of worlds.
"We were instructed to create a creature that would be genetically enhanced in the skills of battle, theft, stealth and loyalty to the Emperor's needs. After much trial and error we have made a being capable of the Emperor's desires." The Professor proclaimed.
A holo of their creation appeared and the Professor went through naming it's attributes. "With this we have also made a limited memory capacity of three standard months. Every three months the memory becomes blank except for basic knowledge of speech and various bodily functions."
Boba Fett studied the female and imprinted her image into the databanks of his helmet's long-term memory. He had never seen a being quite like her. She was indeed a mixture of many creatures. Her body resembled the lithe form of a Twi'lek, her tail was similar to a Dewback's and her skin was hard like a Weequay's.
When the holo-vid came to an end Boba Fett turned to the Professor, "Where would she go?"
"I have no idea. When she escaped she had sixty days of memory. She would have lost her memories when she was on the transport ship." The Professor cooed.
"What transport?" Fett said in his usual dry tone.
"Oh, she escaped on the Vivid Dream, it was headed to Corellia, I think. Do you accept the bounty?" The Professor asked eagerly.
"It will cost you fifteen thousand credits," Boba Fett told as he stared down at the withered looking man.
The Professor caught his own reflection in the intimidating visor of the taller bounty hunter and couldn't conceal the shudder that ran down his spine. "I've been instructed to offer seventeen to insure you provide the return of the creature as soon as possible."
"I accept, I'll bring her back as soon as I have her." Fett answered as he left the laboratory to contact his personal spy network.
Janine presented the stone to a scarlet clad human. The robes hung to the ground in an elegant fashion. He was without his matching helmet that would distinguish him as one of the Emperor's royal guards; Janine had no idea who she was dealing with.
"You have completed the task with much skill, young Janine. Your reward shall be great." He stated grandly, making Janine bloom inwardly at the charming associate she had become favourable with only days before.
He handed her a credit chip, marked upon it was the value of two hundred. Janine gasped in awe, "Wow, I wasn't expecting so much!"
"You worked well, Janine. You deserve it. I'll contact you with the next task later. I'll need your address, Janine. Where are you staying?" He used a soothing tone that the Emperor himself had taught him. Mind manipulation, the Emperor had called it.
"I have no fixed address. But I do stay around the docks a lot. I like to see who and what has arrived." She told with the energy of child.
"I shall try and find you there when I have another job for you. Worry not, I have something in mind. I just have to check the details." He smiled, and anyone with a memory beyond three months would recognise the beginning of a smirk when they saw one. Yet Janine was blind to such things. She trotted off towards the docks.
Boba Fett felt his heart wrench as his ship gave a sick spluttering noise. Slave I was in need of its annual inspection and rejuvenation. It had a hard life and Fett knew it was only a matter of something simple to fix.
The Slave I was always in top condition but some things had to be monitored regularly to ensure smooth travel. He had been in a recent battle within an asteroid field with IG-88 and had sustained one decent bit of damage to the hull. A problem he had planned to get fixed at Kuat Drive Yards.
He hailed Corellia and gained permission to land. Boba Fett wondered if the Professor's creature had even heard of him or his reputation. He knew from experience that to presume she didn't have such knowledge could prove his loss of the prize, a fate he had suffered in the early days of his career and a mistake he had learnt from.
Once Slave I was docked, Fett disembarked and viewed the surroundings for a moment before he merged into the bustle of various species upon the planet.
Janine stared at the new arrival in amazement. Never had she seen such a lethal looking being. He was a walking arsenal. Bristling with weapons in clear view of anyone who looked in his direction. She watched as people parted fearfully from his approach.
A street urchin dropped to his knees as the arsenal advanced towards him. "Please, Fett, no, I deserve another chance I swear I'll never touch Bilgatta's sister again!" The arsenal's gaze bore down on the urchin for a moment before he continued by, leaving the urchin humiliated by his own paranoid illusion.
Janine smiled "Fett," she whispered to herself. He was what she wanted to be, feared and respected. She followed him at a distance, hoping to catch his attention. It didn't take long. Fett turned and stared straight at her, the blaster rifle in his hands moved and its muzzle pointed at her heart.
Janine swallowed and wondered if she had done the right thing. The arsenal approached her with an easy swagger of the self-assured. "Why are you following me?" He asked in a gravelly voice.
"I was amazed at the crowds' reaction to you. They part like tidal waves, clearing a path for you. I wondered if the same reaction could become possible for me." She stuttered.
The T-shaped visor with its battered scarlet outline dropped a degree and Janine knew he was staring down at her with contempt. "Vanity is not an asset. Why do you seek it?"
"It's not vanity I seek, it's respect." Janine said puffing out her chest with pride.
"Respect is not the reason beings make way for me. It is fear that drives them away. You have no idea who I am, do you." The last was not a question, it was a statement and Fett was given confirmation by her shame filled features.
"I confess, I do not know who you are. Does it matter?" Janine whispered.
"It does," Fett spoke as he realigned his aim with the blaster.
Janine laid her right hand on his left chest-plate, "I have assets that could help give me what I desire," she said as her retractable claws were unsheathed. She did not press them into the armour as she had presumed to do, there was an alarm bell going off at the back of her head as she considered doing so.
Fett looked down once, "Perhaps, but can you use them?" It was a taunt and Janine decide to give him a demonstration of her abilities.
"I can steal anything from this planet. Tell me what you want and I will get it for you." She proclaimed as she rose to her full height.
Fett was not amused, "Such low ethics, your wasting my time. I've toyed with you enough." A confused expression crossed Janine's features a moment before they were wiped clean by a stun shot from Boba Fett's blaster. Fett slung her over his shoulder and proceeded to his ship.
Slave I was well and truly into the depths of hyperspace when Janine woke. Boba Fett was in the galley; a feeding straw was lowered from the base of his helmet as he drank a clear liquid. As always, his 360 degree visuals allowed him to see his merchandise return to the land of the conscious. It was the visuals that had pinpointed Janine's position behind him at Corellia, and curiosity had stopped him from merely stunning her on sight.
Fett recalled his straw back into his helmet and pushed the glass aside. He went to the food dispenser and a blob of yellow goo was provided for the mutated creature in his holding cell.
Like so many times before, Boba Fett placed the tray on the ground and pushed it through the cage opening with the toe of his boot. However this time a jagged talon punctured the metal fibres of his toe prongs. "Why am I in a cage?" Janine demanded as her talon sank deeper.
"You are wanted by your former associates," Fett said without elaboration.
"Who? I have no former associates." Janine said as she tried to search her brain for the truth of the matter.
"You do, you just don't remember them." Boba Fett answered as he watched his prong snap in two, at that precise moment he backed off.
"You know . . ." she paused and looked at the armoured foe, "you could have told me I would have come with you."
Fett studied his foot; "I doubt it."
"Really, I would have. I don't even remember why I was on a transport to Corellia. All I knew when I landed was my name and that I had . . . skills." She pleaded.
"There is a reason for your loss of memory," Boba Fett informed, "Tell me, how long were you on Corellia for?"
Janine considered it, "About two months, a bit less probably. Why?"
Fett didn't answer, Slave I was calling for his attention. He turned and headed for the cockpit. A slamming noise diverted his gaze back to the holding cage. Janine's fingers were embedded into the ceiling and her feet slammed into the holding cage's door. The door buckled on the first ram and smashed onto the floor with the second.
Janine swung herself through the exit she had created and bounded towards Boba Fett. Fett brought his gauntlets into play, however Janine had him pinned against the ladder before he could fire a dart to put her into comatose. Her strong hands locked around his wrists and held them at his back. Her warm breath made his visor mist over slightly. "Why did you ask me that?"
Fett's mind ticked over. The simplest solution to his predicament was to give her the answer. "Because I was considering if it was worth telling you that you will lose your memory again at the end of a three month period."
"What? Why would this happen? Have I been drugged or something?" Janine asked, Fett noticed her grip ease slowly.
"No, you weren't drugged. It was the way you were made. To ensure you didn't get too smart and outlive your usefulness." Boba Fett told as he considered head-butting her.
"Made?" she said with shock, dropping her grip on Fett's wrists and stepping away as her mind reeled.
Slave I's demands became more insistent. "Look I have to land my ship, sit down. The answers will come soon." Janine sat and Boba Fett climbed up the ladder treads and into the cockpit. He guided Slave I out of hyperspace and down to Sullust below.
As Slave I descended through Sullust's atmosphere, Boba Fett knew he would be relieved when this job was complete. He would go to Kuat and get Slave I back into pristine shape before he went onto his next journey. Janine was silent below, which worried him. She may have found something to clobber him with when Slave I touched down.
Janine was silent. Her mind was in a torrent of turmoil. Made? What did he mean? And what usefulness? Perhaps I was a spy and they wiped my memory somehow, but made? Maybe he means trained. I don't know. And who is âthey'. She looked up at the cockpit. The leg of Boba Fett's grey flight suit was all she could see of the man. Who are you? She wondered. It had become apparent to her that he was a bounty hunter, the holding cages spelt it out.
The ship shook for a second and then Fett climbed down the ladder. He walked by her and opened the outer hatch. Janine could tell that he was waiting for her to follow him. She was reluctant. But then, what will it matter. I won't remember this in over a month's time.
Janine rose to her feet and trailed the bounty hunter. A large complex stood before her, familiarity screamed in her brain yet she could not identify it.
Something else caught Boba Fett's interest. An Imperial Landing Craft was docked nearby. But that was not what surprised him, it was the two guards dressed in scarlet that made his blood pressure rise, the Emperor's bodyguards.
Outside the Professor's laboratory were another pair of the Emperor's finest, flanked by six stormtroopers. As Fett led his quarry to the complex he was astonished that the guards did not ask his purpose of being there. They let him and his companion pass without a single word.
As Boba Fett and Janine stepped into the Professor's domain they found the Emperor in the Professor's company, surrounded by his scarlet robed guards. "Ah, Boba Fett. I see you have returned what is mine." The Emperor waved his hand and two stormtroopers took one of Janine's arms each. "Pay him," the Emperor instructed the Professor.
The Professor scurried to Boba Fett and got the details of the hunter's account and began the credit transfer.
The Emperor's yellow eyes gleamed beneath the black hood of his robe. "Bring her to me," he instructed the stormtroopers. Janine was dragged despite her struggling; the stormtroopers' loyalty and obedience outweighed her uncertain panic. She was positioned to stand at the Emperor's feet. He took one of her hands and pressed the end of her finger, this resulted in the contraction of her muscles and brought forth her talon for display. The Emperor twisted her hand for a better view, "This looks satisfactory Professor Gusto, but I want a demonstration of her skills."
The Professor was only too happy to comply. "I have droids programmed to show off her talents, I will get them."
As the Professor shuffled off the Emperor returned his attention to Boba Fett. "I want you to stay, bounty hunter. I may need your services again." Fett gave a single nod, his emotions kept in check by his sheer will. The Emperor peered at Boba Fett for a moment, despite his power of the Force he found it almost impossible to read the bounty hunter's thoughts. He silently growled, then found comfort in Janine's confusion and fear.
The return of the Professor meant the start of Janine's trials. She inwardly shuddered at the thought. Again that familiar air of her surroundings touched her. She had been here before she realised and as the droids came into view she knew she had seen these before too.
There was a total of four droids each individual but all very deadly. One was armed with various vibro-blades and axe; two of the others were covered with blasters and the fourth, which was of humanoid shape, held a lightsaber.
Janine felt bile rise to her throat. She dropped to all fours in a crouch as the blaster yielding droids shot at her. She decided they would be the first to go. Her courage was boosted by the presence of the bounty hunter, he was a skilled hunter and yet she had pinned him down easily. Droids should be effortless in comparison, she thought.
She crawled quickly along the floor with the skill of an active lizard. She slashed at the nearest droid's legs and brought it down. It fired at her with its blasters before her talons sunk into its power source. One down, three to go.
A sweep of a green lightsaber blade cut a wound into Janine's right shoulder, she hissed at the droid and her eyes narrowed. She kicked out at it with both legs, her talons protruding. She sliced the droid through its torso, but her claws weren't long enough to cut it in half. She knocked the lightsaber from its hands and slashed her fingers across its optical scanner, rendering it harmless.
The last two droids came at her as a team; she took a shot in her left thigh as she lashed out at the other droid. The droid yielding the vibro-blades and axe took a swing at her. Janine kicked the now dormant lightsaber into her hand and activated it, jarring it into the droid's head. Smoke rose from the new scrap metal.
Janine gained herself a vibro-axe. With one mighty swing she decapitated the last droid. Its head clanged on the floor a second before its body did.
"Excellent," the Emperor praised bringing his fingertips together while Janine caught her breath.
"You approve?" The Professor asked.
"Not yet, I have a final challenge for her." The Emperor's stare landed on Boba Fett. "How much will it cost me to have you fight my creation?"
Boba Fett was not pleased at the idea, "At least a million." Fett thought that would be a little too rich for the Emperor, especially when his project creation was in jeopardy.
"Done, a million credits you shall have if you succeed." the Emperor smirked. Boba Fett was about to speak but the Emperor answered his silent question, "If you lose, you will die. As shall she if you are the victor. Begin."
Janine and Fett circled one another. Janine's only weapons were the vibro-axe and the lightsaber. Her weapon of choice between them was the vibro-axe. As she readied it to slash her opponent, she found herself hesitate. Boba Fett did not. A single shot burst from Fett's blaster, searing her left collarbone.
Now Janine found herself with two weakened arms while her enemy remained unscathed. She dropped to her haunches, ignited the lightsaber and threw it at Fett. As he deflected it, she charged and brought down the vibro-axe on his helmeted head. The blade smashed down the side of his helmet breaking off the broad band antenna and revealing a lot more naked metal. The force of the blow sent Fett to the ground, his black visor was cracked and his left eye was visible to Janine.
Fett's body was jarred with agony. As Janine stared into his exposed eye he removed a thermal detonator from his utility belt. It was only small, but powerful enough to kill the being that opposed him. He set it to explode on impact, as he threw it Janine raised the vibro-axe for a fatal blow.
Boba Fett curled his body into a sideways roll as the thermal detonator found its mark. The explosion was deafening, especially since Fett's helmet was no longer fully sealed. Fett raised his head and saw Janine's body sprawled on the ground, he looked past her and to the Emperor who was sheltered behind his personal bodyguards. A piece of shrapnel had hit a stormtrooper in the throat and he lay in the throes of death.
Pushing himself up with his hands, Fett made his way to his feet. He felt himself swoon for an instant before he walked to Janine to check she was dead. Her eyes were open with shock, staring blankly at the ceiling. He was about to walk away when her hand lashed out and latched onto his ankle.
Janine's eyes turned to him; Boba Fett suddenly realised her talons were not digging into his flesh. "I'm sorry," she whispered then her body went limp and her hand fell free of his ankle. Happens all the time. Thought Fett as he staggered away to retrieve his blaster.
The Emperor held no emotions on his haggard features. "Well done, bounty hunter." He murmured as he signalled the commanding stormtrooper to pay Boba Fett. Once it was done Boba Fett left the building; as he passed through the last corridor he noticed it flash with the illumination of white-blue light. A scream echoed afterward, the Professor's scream.