In the Mos Eisley cantina ...
Hey, weary traveler, you look like you have come a long way. How about a drink? Here, this isn't a very nice place for someone like yourself, so no charge.
A refugee from Alderaan, huh? You don't say. I visited Alderaan, once. A long time ago. It was business, not pleasure. I had a small job to do. Not your kind of work, I can tell you. You wouldn't want to hear about it. You would? No, I probably shouldn't tell you. It's not a tale for a pacifist. Well, if you want to here it, all right, here we go ...
In case you don't know, I'm a hunt saboteur. Or ... well ... I was. I settled down from that after a few years of doing it. You know what that is? You don't huh? Well, do you know what a bounty hunter is?
Good. There's hope for you yet.
Okay, a hunt saboteur is sorta like an anti-bounty hunter. Instead of cashing creatures with bounties on their heads in, we protect them from the bounty hunters, ferrying them away from the creatures that are gunning for them.
It's a pretty dangerous occupation. Bounty hunters can be very vengeful â and very resourceful.
So anyway, there was this small Twi'lek with a bounty on her head, and a bounty hunter on her tail. Not any bounty hunter, mind you. The best of the best of the bounty hunters. She was on the run from the notorious Boba Fett.
I don't know what the hell she must have done to earn the bounty posted on her. I mean, I don't know all of the details. All I know is that she tried escaping from some Hutt's palace, and did all she could to regain her freedom. And a bounty was placed on her, because she either killed someone or stole something, to bring the wrath of the Hutts down upon her. Thirteen thousand, five hundred credits. A handsome amount. Anyway, over the atmosphere of Alderaan Fett's was pursuing us, he in his ship, Slave I, and me and the Twi'lek in mine, Rockwell.
Yup, I had dealt with 'em all. But it was strange that time. That time, I wasn't so sure I could outrun the bounty hunter pursuing me.
* * *
Boba Fett turned his ship to the left just a bit, aligning himself and his ship with the Rockwell. He had it in his sights.
I've got you now, he silently told the other ship. You've got nowhere to run, this time.
He had never chased down this particular hunt saboteur â he'd once gone for a saboteur named N'dru Suhlak, and succeeded, but this was a new saboteur to test his skills against. It was a challenge that he did not mind taking on, since he always knew what the final outcome would be.
The hunt saboteur dove downward, toward the planet Alderaan, then rocketed back up, maneuvering toward the right Fett swerved after him, mere hundred yards away from the ship. The ship shot down, and under Slave I.
Fett wasn't impressed. He'd seen this maneuver enough times. He banked left, and intercepted the Rockwell's path., diving downward.
I've got you now, he told the other ship and pilot silently.
You know that, don't you?
The other ship started firing madly, but Fett was too quick. And he was a much sharper marksman.
Two lasers shot toward the Rockwell, disabling it before the other ship could react.
You know now, don't you?
"Okay, okay," a defeated, weary voice said over the comm unit. "Come on over and get her. Just don't hurt my ship anymore, okay?"
"Agreed," Fett said. "And don't try anything funny. I'm coming over to get her myself."
* * *
Okay, right now I must seem like garbage to you, but it was all part of the plan.
You see, I thought that I could trick the bounty hunter. I thought that I could catch the bounty hunter off guard, since he thought he already had his prey. I thought everything would be all right. That he wouldn't suspect anything. I was too young to understand whom I was up against. Compared to Boba Fett, I was an amateur.
* * *
"What did you do?" she asked quietly. "You just gave up like that? Just stopped fighting?"
"No, no," I said quickly. "It's all part of the plan. Please, you have to trust meâ"
The hatchway slid open. I spun around, and leaned against the pilot seat. The Twi'lek, her name was Seen'sh, and I don't know a last name, was leaning against the far bulkhead.
"I make it a rule not to interfere with other creature's business," Fett said. He stood in the hatchway, not coming into the small space of the cockpit.
"Uh, right," I said. "She's right there. You can have her if that's all you're planning on taking."
I don't know if the bounty hunter found this amusing or not. Perhaps he did. But he did reply, "I'll be taking her anyway. Whether you like it or not. It'll just bring up the factor of whether you want to go on living if you don't comply."
"That's direct. Okay, take her. She wasn't paying me enough to get her outta here anyway."
"Traitor. That's betrayal," Seen'sh said, against the wall.
"That's business," I said harshly. "You must've done something like it to get in your current position, and it was all business to you then."
"But you told me ..."
"Look, there's nothing I can do, okay?"
Fett stepped forward. Right past me. And I saw in Seen'sh's eyes, that she did not believe that I was really on her side.
* * *
Well, you're probably wondering what happened. Well, I'll tell you, I almost let the bounty hunter take her, I didn't care that it would make me some coward. I wanted to remind myself that it was just business, like it had always been before. I'd been boarded by bounty hunters before. I knew the program. This was the law between the hunt saboteurs and bounty hunters. Almost our religion.
But I saw her eyes, and I flipped.
"Actually, there is something I can do," I said.
Boba Fett had grabbed Seen'sh by her arm, and hauled her halfway up to her feet. His Mandalorian battle helmet, with its narrow, T-shaped visor set in it, raised from where it had lain down looking at its prey, and looked into my own eyes. I shivered. But only slightly. And I didn't back down.
"What does that mean," he asked calmly, in a way that made you know it wasn't a question.
"It means that I don't want you taking her anywhere. I know what the Hutts, or whomever she double-crossed is going to do to her. They're gonna torture her big time, probably for a long time. And you know what? I suddenly realized that I don't want that. Because I know that what she did was not bad. And I don't want a decent creature like her to suffer because she wanted a little taste of freedom."
"So?" Fett countered. "What are you going to do about it?"
I grabbed the blaster at my hip, and I aimed. But not at Fett, mind you. No, that was insane. Besides, it wouldn't have worked. That barve would have somehow gotten the blaster away from me. So I did the only sensible thing. I aimed the blaster right at Seen'sh. "I'm gonna make her death nice and painless, right here, right now."
"If that were true, then why would I let you go on living?" Boba Fett shrugged. "kill her and I'll kill you."
"Yeah, whatever," I said.
"Here - " Fett let Seen'sh drop to the floor, and stepped away from her. "I'll make I easy for you. She's right there, all defenseless. If you are going to take her out, you have to do it now."
We stood there for a moment, Seen'sh between us. I could sense that the bounty hunter was using some kind of psychological tactics on me. Reverse psychology, or something. I don't know. But for some reason, I couldn't fire.
"Seen'sh, I â I am sorry, okay? "
She nodded. "Yeah. I forgive ... you."
Well, I couldn't fire, and Fett knew it. I was just bluffing. I guess I had been from the beginning. I cursed myself for a fool.
Boba Fett leaned down to grab Seen'sh, and my finger pressed against the firing stud. A bolt of crimson pierced Seen'sh's chest and she fell dead to the floor with a pained, grateful gasp.
* * *
Well, you probably want to know how it ends. I'll tell you.
That bounty hunter looked up at me, his cold visage aimed right in my eyes, and I really thought that he was going to kill me. I really did.
"That," he rasped, "was a mistake."
I nodded. "It was. But I'm still glad I did it."
And I lowered the blaster.
You know, the galaxy is a funny thing. Because Boba Fett didn't kill me. I don't really know why. Because of my nerve, maybe. Maybe because he hadn't really expected me to fire. I hadn't. I really don't know.
He left my ship, taking the body with him.
I couldn't take it. I had to ask, "Wait. Aren't you going to kill me?"
And he said simply, "No."
"Oh. Why not?"
He turned around to face me in the hatchway. "Because creatures like yourself are worth more alive than dead."
And then he left.
* * *
The bounty hunters have a saying. "The live ones are worth more than the dead ones." I guess Boba Fett figured that I should go on living. Maybe someday I would serve one of his purposes. Or something. Or maybe I had earned his respect, or maybe he just did not feel like killing me.
We hunt saboteurs have a saying as well. "Cut your losses and keep your skin intact."
It means, that when all else fails, give up your passenger to the bounty hunter that's hovering over you. Better it than you. But I didn't follow that little saying of ours. I guess I just wasn't cut out to be a hunt saboteur.
Well, after that, I got out of the trade, and settled down in Mos Eisley. Yeah, I know, nice early retirement place. I ain't even forty yet, but I'm retired, and in the worst place a creature could want to stay in. Mos Eisley. But I feel pretty safe here. I don't know why.
Yep, I started working as a bartender. Figured what the hell and got a freaking desk job, compared to my previous one. And you know? It ain't too bad.
What? Yeah, of course I still remember what I did. I feel guilty about it, yeah. But I can't feel really guilty, even though when I did someone a favor, I also stole someone else's credits, credits that he had rightfully earned, and I had still taken another creature's life.
So yeah, it runs through my mind quite a bit. But I talk to people a lot, and that takes my mind off it. But you are the first person I've told this to.
Do I really feel guilty about stealing Boba Fett's bounty. Sure. He had earned it. He'd done everything right to get his bounty, taken time, effort, and money, and you know, I have to respect that. So yeah, I think it's not okay with me that I cheated him. But hey, I also like that I got away with it. I don't know what my dominating emotion about that encounter is. Regret, fear, guilt, pride, what.
So, that's my story. That's pretty much the end. Never saw the bounty hunter again. Never want to either.
So, how 'bout you. What's your story? ...
“Whispers in the Cantina”
In the Mos Eisley cantina ...
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- Whispers in the Cantina
A strange tale is told of an encounter with a certain bounty hunter, and all that followed.
2,004 words (Estim. read time: 10 minutes)
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