Fett fell to his knees. The world seemed to dim around him as he spit out blood. It smeared on the faceplate of his helmet. He collapsed to the ground. Everything was dark now. He couldn't even see the sentient who had shot him lean over to see if he was dead.
He had often wondered when he would go, or who would do it, and this wasn't the first time he had been sure it was the end. Fett couldn't help but wonder what would happen if this time was the end. It seemed he had plenty of time to think. After all he could no longer feel anything that was going on around him.
He felt a pang at the thought of those few who cared about him. He was surprised to find that he would miss them, and annoyed that it hurt so much to think that they would be gone. He hadn't felt this much pain since his father' Fett brushed the thought away. He knew better than to follow that line of thought. Best to let the past lie. That made Fett laugh though it came out as a gasp. Soon he would be part of the past.
Some said there was a place for the dead; others said the dead never left. Fett had heard them all in his career, but nothing special had ever happened when he brought death to other sentients. The Jedi's bodies were said to disappear when they died, and Fett had seen that often enough, but there was nothing else. Personally Fett preferred the idea of sleep. He had seen enough and saw no purpose in existing in some 'other' world or haunting his enemies, even the one who killed him. That was the way of the universe.
Pain shot through Fett and he sucked in a breath, it momentarily recalled him to the world, but he soon retreated into darkness again. His grip loosened on his blaster. It toppled over. A strange sense of silence filled the room. Everything seemed to retreat to a distance, as if Fett was moving farther and farther from his body. It recalled to him his own words, 'Everyone dies''
He was a child again. His father's smooth armor was cold to touch as young Boba hugged him, ignoring the rain water soaking his blue tunic and dark hair. Jango laughed, scooping up the small five year old and carrying him into their apartment. One of the cloners walked by passively, but both humans ignored her.
Jango hugged the boy tightly again before setting him down. He pulled off his helmet. Boba took it and put it carefully in the storage room. Jango shrugged off his jetpack and his heavier armaments before reaching into one of the pouches on his belt, holding something gently between his cupped hands.
'What is it Father'' Boba came up to him as he kneeled down beside his small son.
'A present Boba.' The bounty hunter opened his hands and held out the delicate orb to his son. Boba's eyes widened in delight as he hesitantly touched the sphere. The glowing creatures inside lit the boy's face with a rainbow of colors, lighting the miniature world with their own glow.
Jango put his hand on his son's shoulder, 'They are your responsibility, Boba. They are much like our own universe, for many people it is just as closed. All closed in and their fine, but if it breaks open, all but the strongest die.' Jango's face darkened with memories again and his eyes were distant. Boba tugged on his sleeve, trying to bring his father out of his revere, seeing this had always bothered him. Jango shook his head smiling at his son and picked Boba up again.
'Are you going to stay for awhile' Will Zam come over'' the little boy bubbled over with questions. Jango laughed again as the unending questions interrupted his attempts to answer. Sometime later Boba would realize that only he and sometimes Zam saw this side of his father.
'I'll be staying, but Zam won't be able to come visit until later. How have you been'' Boba made a face as his father set him down and proceeded to take off the rest of his armor.
'Not bad,' his finger traced the edge of the metallic table as he dragged out the last word. Jango turned his back on his son, putting the dart launchers out of reach. Not that he didn't think Boba would use them some day, but training was necessary first.
'Have you been doing your lessons'' The dark curly head nodded enthusiastically.
'I got top marks on the last one!' The more basic education Boba received from their housekeeping droid. The more specialized instruction he got from Jango himself.
'So what's wrong'' Jango slumped into a chair. The last job had been tiring. Boba climbed up into his lap and regarded his father seriously.
'You're gone a lot.' Jango nodded, but remained silent, waiting for Boba to continue. He believed that to treat his son as an adult was the best course.
'You, you'll always come back right'' Jango sighed, so that was it. He had been dreading this question. He hesitated, considering, Boba was only five.
'As long as I can Boba.' He could see that the boy was thinking.
'And if you don't'' Jango carefully ignored the quaver in the end of the sentence.
'Then it will be up to you Boba. Then you'll take my place as a bounty hunter.'
'But not for a long time.' Boba stated it with a child's certainty as he hugged his father.
'I hope so Boba, I hope so.' Jango hugged his son back.
The image faded again. Somewhere distant Fett could feel a tear making its way down his face. So he had failed his father after all. He remembered when Jango hadn't been able to take him home, when his world had broken open. But he hadn't died then, only to die now, by some amateur. The fact shamed him, but he couldn't avoid it.
The next image that formed in his mind was of the same small boy crouched in the bloody sand of a battle arena, holding an empty helm. That boy mourned the man only he had known. He staggered to his feet, the weight of what had happened pressing down on him. A few tears ran down his face, but he wiped them off angrily. He would make his father proud of him.
Red dust from ships lifting off obscured the setting sun. Boba wiped the sweat off his forehead, leaving another smear of the red dirt. He shivered slightly as the cold wind swept of the desert. Here alone among the rocky bluffs not even the lizard like creatures of the world bother him.
It was some time before he was able to find the rest of what he searched for. What had once been the man who had loved him was now only an unmarked pile of dirt on a forgotten planet. Boba pushed the heavy rock over to the head of the grave. At least the Jedi wouldn't have him.
The Jedi. As he knelt in the dirt Boba promised himself that the Jedi would be brought to his justice. They had left him alone in the galaxy with no more concern than any of the other denizens of the smuggler worlds in the rim. The galaxy would discover that they were no better than any other his father had hunted and he would hunt.
He leaned against a rock, holding his father's helmet in his hands. Knowing the Jedi they would send others after him, maybe even other bounty hunters. He would have to fly the Slave 1 to a world where he would not be recognized.
Boba remembered a planet where Jango had had friends, he thought its name was'Concord Dawn. The boy frowned trying to remember the man who Jango had spoken of. There had been talk of the man owing Jango a 'favor'. Mereel, that was it. Boba would go there until he could wear his father's armor and remind the Jedi of what they had done.
The boy stood, walking away from the lonely spot among the rocks. Above him roared the Republic's ships and in the shadows crouched beasts that could tear a full grown man apart, but no one troubled the grieving boy as he stumbled down the path.
The memory faded again. This time Fett felt weary. That boy had grown up and he had avenged his father, but the path to reach that place had been long and hard. More than a few people had been left behind. Still more had died. Mereel, there was a name that carried much pain in itself.
This time the memory centered on a young man named Jaster, a journeyman proctor of Concord Dawn. His face tanned, darker than most of those who crowded into the room to see the judgment. His eyes were fierce as he looked at those who had come to see his fate decreed. The only person's eyes he couldn't meet were those of his adopted mother. The Mereel's had cared for the boy and hidden him from hunters sent by the Jedi counsel and others. It had become more than just to repay a debt. The boy had become family, he had become Jaster.
The room was well lit and the light reflected off the white walls. Jaster squinted after his dimly lit cell. An elderly man in a flowing robe took a seat before the gathered crowd. He held up a fist and they fell silent. Jaster's Pleader stepped forward.
'Well, what is his answer'' the judge asked, impatient. This was a highly publicized case and he wanted to make his decree.
'He'he pleads guilty, sir.' The Pleader seemed uneasy, but Jaster nodded firmly. Hushed whispering broke out in the crowd and the judge was forced to raise his fist again.
'Is this true Proctor Mereel' What do you have to say for yourself' Speak up.' Jaster stood, facing the crowd, not afraid even though by the laws of his world they could put him to death for taking the life of a fellow proctor.
'It's true.' More murmuring broke out and he could see tears in the eyes of his adopted mother. He couldn't avoid looking at her any longer. He held her eyes as he continued, 'Everyone Dies, It's the final and only lasting Justice. Evil exists; it is intelligence in the service of entropy. When the side of a mountain slides down to kill a village, this is not evil, for evil requires intent. Should a sentient being cause that landslide, there is evil; and requires Justice as a consequence, so that civilization can exist. There is no greater good then Justice; and only if law serves Justice is it a good law. It is said correctly that law exists not for the Just but for the unjust, for the Just carry the law in their hearts, and do not need to call it from afar. I bow to no one and I give service only for cause.' He sat again amid the exclamations and the judge's attempts to restore order. Jaster closed his eyes waiting.
'Jaster Mereel, for the killing of your fellow proctor I decree that you will be banished from Concord Dawn on the pain of death.' He brought the palm of his hand down on the table with a bang. Guards hauled Jaster from the room before he could say anything, even a goodbye.
Fett wished he could stop the memories pouring over him, but he could no more stop that, than the blood seeping out of his wounds. At least this way the pain was distant and he had no recollection of occurred. He never saw her again. When he returned to Concord Dawn at last he was again too late to say goodbye, but every year flowers were left on the grave of Alvira Mereel.
It had however allowed him to finally take his inheritance. He became Boba Fett, the bounty hunter most feared in the galaxy. He had also avenged his father, though the dark lord of the Sith had played a role in that. The purple bladed of the lightsaber wavered in the Jedi's weary grip. Fett's own blaster felt heavy after the long fight.
Boba Fett stood over the battered form of the Jedi who leaned against the rocks, only slightly more damaged than the young man on the outside of the cave.
'I know that, but the bounty on my head is not as high as some. Why follow me' For that matter why do you work so hard to hunt down the last of us''
'My cause is that of justice and there will be none in the galaxy until your kind are removed from it.'
'The Jedi protect justice. We protect the people.' The confused look on the Jedi's face inflamed the anger burning in Fett more than anything else.
'The Jedi are murderers!' he yelled cutting the man off. 'You killed the last of my father's people and then killed him.' And you tried to hunt down a small boy with bounty hunters and assassins Fett added silently.
'I don't judge Vader or his plans, but you I know and you deserve your fate, whatever it maybe.'
'The Jedi only kill those who threaten or are themselves unjust.' Boba's hand trembled at these words. The desire to pull the trigger was strong.
'Is it not enough that I'm bringing you to Vader' Do you want to die now''
The Jedi shook his head, smiled and charged the young bounty hunter. Boba lunged out of the way and fired, disintegrating the Jedi. Only after he realized that even having avenged Jango, the pain didn't leave, he doubted it ever would. His comlink beeped insistently and out of habit he turned it on.
'Fett' Do you have the Jedi'' Vader's harsh voice echoed in his helmet.
'I did, but he was' disintegrated.' Fett could feel the dark Jedi's anger, but Vader could sense something as well and didn't press the issue.
'Very well, I am sending you the information on your next target. Be more careful this time, lest you force me to deal with you.' The comlink deactivated leaving Fett alone with his grief and his memories.
Fett was left again in the darkness, though more distant than ever from the pain. There were brighter moments in his life though. It was these that left him coldest now, knowing that he would hurt these people. Those who he wanted to hurt the least.
Fett stood with her watching the sun come up over planet's ocean. It's light reflected off the waves shining up into his face, softening the hard lines drawn there by years of battles. He put his arm tentatively around the woman who stood beside him. This was one of the few worlds where they could have peace, at least for a short while. She smiled and leaned against him. They were quiet for some time before she spoke.
'Boba'' He responded by squeezing her hand. She smiled again, 'What about the future''
He sighed that was something he didn't want to consider, 'What about it'' She shifted so she could look him in the eye.
'Where do we go from here' The universe is dangerous for us both.'
Fett touched her gently and she held his hand. Forever was not something he could promise, not because of his choice, but because of one someone would make for him.
'It is I don't know how long it will be.'
She gripped his hand tightly, 'And I don't care.'
Fett smiled, 'Partners''
She laughed, reminding him of someone long ago, 'Is that a proposal Boba Fett'' She kissed his hand, 'If it is, I accept.' She leaned over and delicately kissed him as well. He returned it fully before she broke away smiling, still holding him closely.
'So things change for the mighty Boba Fett''
'Everything changes.' His voice was as rough as it had always been, but to her it didn't matter. She leaned in closely. He could feel her silk dress against his hands. This was one of the few times he had seen her in a dress. He was surprised to find he enjoyed it.
'No amount of time will be enough.' She whispered into his ear, her head resting on his shoulder.
'Then we will have to use the time we have as best we can.' He smiled slowly and drew her away from the ocean and back towards the house.
Fett coughed weakly, blood draining from the side of his mouth recalled him to something close to consciousness. Pain pushed it away again though. There was only one memory left. Though the last was what would hurt the most. The person who brought these had tiny hands and wispy dark curls framing her small face.
He remembered the first time they had put her in his arms. She had been a small baby, but from the first her eyes seemed to study him and small pink fingers curled around a larger one of his. Her pale blue eyes reminded him of her mother. He gently brushed back her curls, amazed at what he held. Now he understood some of what his father had felt.
He held her carefully, afraid he would harm her. She looked so fragile. He looked into the room where his daughter's mother was sleeping. Surprisingly she looked quite peaceful. Few would believe this of the woman people had become familiar with as Fett's partner. The baby's eyes seemed to be studying him; her mind perhaps deciding whether or not he measured up.
Fett shook his head. No crime lord or scum he had met in his long career had had a gaze that effective. He brushed back the curls causing her to reach for his hand again. Having caught the offending hand she pulled it down and settled in the blanket wrapped around her small form. The curious blue eyes slowly closed to sleep as if accepting the man as her father.
What he hated most was how few memories he would have of her now, she was still so little and he was leaving already. His hand tightened reflexively and he heard someone exclaim. Fett waited for the shot to finish it, to banish the memories, the pain and the joy, but it never came. Instead he heard the same voice that had promised forever to him on the ocean shore.
'Drop the blaster and step back.' There was the sound of metal striking the ground. She knelt next to him, 'Fett' You had better not be dead.'
'I'm'.not.' He managed to force it out and heard her gasp.
'You're lucky then. You won't have to deal with me.' She lifted him up, straining under the effort, but backing away slowly watching the other man. 'Don't move''
Fett caught a glimpse of the stunned expression on the faces of the remaining thugs. If he could have managed it he would have smiled beneath the helmet. She tended to have that sort of effect on people. There had been a time when he was at the wrong end of her blaster. Before the memories could pull him down again a stab of pain brought him back to reality.
The amateur who had nearly killed Boba Fett saw his chance at glory being plucked from his hands. He swept his blaster up from the floor having time to level it before a spray of blaster fire from the woman took him and his remaining companions down. He only managed a few wild shots before falling to the floor.
'We won't be worrying about him. And your reputation is safe. I've always told you that you needed me.' Fett could see her smile at him as she pulled him up, barely managing to support him as they left behind the room that had nearly witnessed the end of the galaxy's most feared bounty hunter.
Fett's next thought came when he was lying safely strapped down in the Slave 1. Maybe everyone dies someday, but not him, and not today.