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"Scape Goat"

Clureau Duntox finds himself in a bad situation, with the most unexpected help.

  • Story by Melinda McMahon
  • Estimated reading time: 9 minutes (1,901 words)
  • Updated January 26, 2008

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It was a humid night and the jungle hummed and buzzed with the sounds of insects. Clureau Duntox sat low in the foliage mulling over his thoughts. He had been betrayed in the worst way possible. His friend, Sarmu Oreema had abandoned him then passed on the blame to Clureau for his crimes.

Unfortunately Clureau had been too trusting and naive in nature. His frog-like mouth turned down in sadness, how could he have judged someone so badly?

Clureau was a simple human hybrid, he was a mistake by biological standards but that never stopped him from living life to the full. His human mother had been wooed by a strange alien from a passing army, when Clureau was born she had died shortly afterward leaving him to be raised by a Corellian family.

Now Clureau cursed the day Sarmu had befriended him.

Sarmu had been a small time drug runner who then had the opportunity to become a dealer. Clureau had no idea what business his friend was truly in until too late. Sarmu had become too cocky and made too many deals he could not keep. Things went sour from there and somehow Clureau had the blame shifted upon him.

Now Clureau was a hunted man. A bounty of 40,000 credits was upon his head and he somehow doubted that a bounty hunter would believe his story. No one ever believed a claim of innocence from a suspected criminal in this sector.

From a pocket in his backpack Clureau retrieved a Hoonid bar and chewed on it, ignoring it's sour flavour. He knew he was being tracked and he just didn't have the will to run anymore. Hunters had come and gone and somehow he'd managed to evade them, but Clureau had a feeling that his luck was about to run out.

As if to confirm his suspicions he watched as a figure emerged from the greenery around him. He knew who it was, no one could mistake the Mandalorian armour of Boba Fett. Clureau smiled faintly, "I somehow figured it would be you who would find me. Sarmu must have done some bad stuff to get such a price that you'd be bothered with the bounty."

"Indeed." Fett merely replied.

With wide eyes Clureau stared at Boba Fett, "You know it wasn't me who committed those crimes?"

Fett gave a single nod.

Clureau was confused, "How?"

Fett observed the creature before him, it was clear simply by the body language that this was no sly criminal. Besides Fett had seen the first posting of Sarmu Oreema's bounty, the picture had differed the next time he observed it. It had changed from a ratty-faced human to a green-skinned, wide-mouthed humanoid. Fett did his research and had found the true creature the bounty was for. Unfortunately the only clue to finding the real merchandise lay with Clureau.

"Sarmu is cleaver, but not as cleaver as he thinks. You know his haunts and hide-outs. You can help direct justice by telling me where Sarmu would go." Fett informed, his voice was starting to fade due to the extra use.

Clureau sat looking thoughtful as he searched his memory for the most likely place Sarmu would hide. It came to him and he stood up like a shot and grinned. "Tatooine, he always says that no one would ever visit that dust bowl. He has a hideout in Beggar's Canyon. I'll bet he's there."

Fett patted Clureau on the shoulder, it was an unusual gesture from him but then it was not often that he conversed with a law-abiding citizen.

The bounty hunter turned to leave.

"Wait!" Clureau shouted. Fett turned and waited.

"Can I help you in any way?" Clureau asked enthusiastically.

Fett lifted a brow beneath his helmet. "Perhaps you can." Then he turned and trudged back to Slave I that lay a few kilometres away. Clureau hurried along quickly behind him.

Sarmu finished unpacking his supplies and observed the cave around him. It was not where he wanted to be but rumour had it that Boba Fett was hunting him down. How the slimy bounty hunter had figured out the truth was beyond Sarmu but he wasn't about to hang around and ask him.

The narrow entrance to the cave look like a shadow on the rock-wall of the canyon and Sarmu bet his lucky cufflinks that not even Fett would pick it out. The only downside was the fact that the entrance was too small to fit his swoop through. Instead he had hidden it amongst some large boulders.

Now all Sarmu had to do was sit and wait for the time to pass. Eventually it would be safe for him to remerge. He had a new identity set up but he wasn't about to start living as Umvar Jue just yet.

The sound of engines rumbled down the canyon. Sarmu huddled back in his cave and listened as the ships passed his cover. He then crawled to the entrance and viewed the ships. There were three T-16s racing one another. Sarmu snorted, they'd been past earlier in the week. It was only some farmer's kids. Apparently racing the triangular T-16s down the canyon was the thing to do.

Sarmu crawled back inside his cave and tried to ignore the noisy natives.

Slave I hovered in Tatooine's orbit above Beggar's Canyon. The sleek warbird stayed in place with short thruster bursts. Fett sat at the controls running various scans of the area below, he had a few good leads to the whereabouts of the merchandise but the T-16s were disrupting his study.

Then Fett had an idea.

Clureau walked the hot sandy streets of Mos Aisley. He'd been on the planet for less than an hour and he was ready to go home. But he was on a mission now. He walked to the area of town that Fett had directed him to and found a speeder and swoop trader.

Twenty minutes later Clureau had haggled a good deal on a second hand swoop. He thumbed the ignition and headed off in the direction of the moisture farmers.

The first farm he came upon was owned by Lars Skywalker but the farmer was less than helpful. But Clureau noticed his young nephew Luke was eager for a challenge. The boy was probably only fifteen years old but Clureau had a feeling about the young chap.

When the binary suns sank low on the horizon Clureau met with Luke a short distance from the farm.

The young boy was all smiles and cheer. "So you want to race through Beggar's Canyon. We'll I'm the best pilot in these parts, of course my uncle will never admit to it."

Clureau patted the boy on the shoulder. "I want you to take me through the canyon slowly first, so I can observe the formations and understand the true skill it must take a pilot to navigate. Then we can speed through."

Luke grinned, "Sure not a problem. What time do you want to go?"

"Would now be too hasty?" Clureau asked.

Luke lifted a hand to shade his eyes as he looked over Tatooine's barren landscape. "We should be able to get back before sunset. Aunt Beru would have my head if I stayed out any longer." Luke added as an afterthought, "The Sandpeople are rather violent went it gets dark."

Clureau nodded, "Then we shall be back before dark."

The hot sand passed quickly beneath the T-16 Skyhopper. Clureau marvelled at the speed, his home planet had been a litter of trees which were too hard to negotiate at speed. His smile was answered by the adolescent beside him.

Within minutes they were at the canyon and Clureau reminded Luke to slow his pace. Then Clureau pulled a small thermo-reader from his pocket and switched it on. It took Luke a moment to notice it. "What's that for?"

"I'm interested in temperatures. This device reads how hot the canyon floor is. That way we know if we could sit on it comfortably or if it would burn our rumps to cinders." Clureau told.

Luke laughed then concentrated on flying. They were a third of the way through the canyon when Clureau noticed a large heat source. The rest of the landscape was dropping in temperature due to the coming night but a blob of human size was staying at a level temperature.

"What the?" Luke started as his controls told him he was about to collide with something. He pulled the ship out of the canyon just as Slave I came plummeting down. The ship fired at the canyon below.

Clureau watched Fett at work while Luke spun the ship around to observe the action below. "Wow, nothing this exciting ever happens to me. Do you know what's going on?"

Clureau turned his attention to Luke. "Retribution."

As Slave I left the canyon Boba Fett stood at the canyon floor. His ship had been programmed to lock onto the heat signal from Clureau's palm computer. The hunter had landed previously and made his way through the canyon. He now stood in the darkening shadows and watched as the merchandise scrambled from his now highly exposed cavern.

Sarmu ran in sheer panic, he had not taken the time to assess whether Slave I was about to make a second pass, he just ran. Fett had seen such stupidity time and time again. He simply raised his blaster rifle and took down Sarmu with a single stun shot. "Too easy." Fett croaked.

From the cockpit of the T16 Clureau watched as Boba Fett dragged Sarmu by his ankle along the sandy floor of the canyon. He smiled with relief.

"That was Boba Fett. Wow, I'll have to tell my friends about this." Luke chirped.

Clureau turned serious eyes on Luke, "You'd best keep this encounter to yourself. Boba Fett is a creature bound by secrecy. If he knew we were here he might kill us."

Luke nodded with bludging eyes.

"I think it best we return to the farm. Then I'll go my way." Clureau took one last look out the window but Fett had already disappeared into the twisted canyon corridor.

As Clureau climbed upon his swoop he handed the young Skywalker boy a pouch of credits. "Thank you for your kindness. I'm sure you will grow to be a great man." Clureau ruffled Luke's blonde hair then turned and left the moisture farmer to his family.

Returning to Beggar's Canyon Clureau found Fett's ship awaiting him. Fett walked down the ramp with a confident gait. He held out his hand. Clureau placed the Thermo-reader in Fett's gloved palm. "Thank you, bounty hunter."

"No thanks is required, my pay is sufficient." Fett told as he pocketed the Thermo-reader.

Clureau looked at Fett curiously. "So how much exactly is on Sarmu's head?"

"Close to half a million." Fett replied casually.

Clureau's eyes widened and he nearly fell over. He gasped for words.

Fett pulled something from a pouch on his belt. "Take this it will get you to safety." Without further explanation Fett entered his ship and Clureau was left to watch the hatch close.

Walking away Clureau went to his swoop and made some distance between himself and the Slave I. When he stopped he looked at the tickets in his hand a smile spread across his face. The shining tickets were to Peltaca, the planet where his father's species had belonged. It was a place for a fresh new start.

A wave of relief swamped Clureau, this night was his last as a hunted man. Tomorrow he was free to start a new beginning. He smiled as rode the swoop off towards Mos Aisley, hope was on the horizon.

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