Chapter One


“Oh no,” Han breathed.

He knew it had been a mistake to come back to these bars - particularly with Luke and Leia - but the sight of that stupid green and grey armour in this particular one was just the last straw. The bar was almost serpentine in shape, and it was only after they had sat down he had glimpsed the familiar dull, armoured, gleam, and menacing air that could only below to one person. Boba Fett. The fact that he recognised the person sitting with Fett would in ordinary circumstances have been a cause for pleasure, but, again, not with Leia in tow. He took a slurp of his drink, trying to act casual, hoping his companions wouldn’t notice, and thought back to the last time he had seen Boba Fett. A smirk creased his face, although he felt relieved that Fett’s companion had not been there on that occasion, as she would have probably been killed just like Fett. But, Fett was sitting there, looking as, well, metallic as ever, just a bit more worn around the edges.

He was obviously not dead.

Leia elbowed him in the ribs and stage-whispered, “isn’t that Boba Fett? I thought he was dead. How did he get out of that thing alive?”

Several heads turned. Han sat back and began to play to his audience.

“Probably spat him out -” he got no further.

Luke, sitting up out of the hunched, concentrated pose he had been in, exclaimed excitedly, “there are two people in here in whom the force is really strong. We could use them.”

Han knew, that with his usual luck, he could guess who the two people were.

“Han! Han Solo!!”

All eyes turned towards Han, even Fett turned around, though he turned away quickly, and Leia glared right at him, which was far worse.

The woman with Boba Fett waved maniacally at him, crying, “Han, you bastard - get over here right now!”

Han got over there very quickly, before Leia could get there first, and so he could not see her pursed lips and irritated eyes. He grinned like a madman, thinking, better make the most of it, I suppose.

“Arla Gen!” he said, holding out his arms as she flew at him, “What a wonderful surprise!”

Arla kissed him enthusiastically on the lips, and pushed the hair away from his face, peering closely at him with her large green eyes.

“Hmm,” she said, “You look older. And don’t lie; you’re thinking - oh no, how embarrassing, here I am with my woman, and there’s Arla Gen, please make her go away. Well, I won’t, and,” turning to Leia, “you must be Princess Leia - and you, Luke Skywalker -” giving him a cursory nod before turning back to Leia, “oh, don’t worry dear, Han and I haven’t slept together for years, and though he’s still cute, I’m just not interested. Boba Fett, you are being rude - I know you’ve taken a contract for him, but can’t you at least say hello?”

Fett sighed.

“Han Solo.” he said, nodding at the man, and he turned to look at the bar again.

“Hi, Boba Fett, didn’t the Sarlacc like the taste of you, then?”


“Oh, Boba Fett, don’t be such a bore (don’t worry Han, he wouldn’t tell me either, though obviously I’m consumed (excuse my little joke there) with curiosity, but he won’t say). Ah, Han, I’m glad to see you, it’s been a long time. I’ve missed seeing you around -”

“Han,” came Leia’s voice, small and tight, from beside him, “would you like to introduce me to your friend.” Then as an afterthought, “She just said that he’s after you . . .”

Fett stood up,

“Arla Gen, that is old news. There is no contract. It was not worth it. Goodbye.”, and he walked off, without giving them a second glance.

“Sometimes I think he doesn’t like me, you know,” said Arla Gen, her eyes following him. Then she laughed, “but, of course, how can he not.”

Han looked at the ceiling, the walls, the bar for any means of escape, and so, like Arla, he saw Luke slip off in pursuit of the bounty hunter. His suspicions were then confirmed; he groaned.

“Leia,” he began, “this is Arla Gen. She’s a bounty hunter too. I’ve known her for years, and yes, before you say anything, we were lovers once, but not for a few years now.” He stopped, realising she was obviously not paying attention.

“Where did Luke go?” she said, looking about for him.

Arla said, “He went after Boba Fett, the ninety gods alone know why.” She paused, then turned and took Leia’s hands in her own. “I’m sorry, your Highness, I didn’t mean to be rude, it was just so nice to see Han - especially after bumping into Boba Fett as well, that I got a bit carried away, and,” turning back to Han again, “I know I shouldn’t tease him, you’ve told me before, but I live in hope of getting a reaction (something, anyway), but he’s a cold fish, that one.”

“Arla,” said Han, urgently, feeling the eyes of the whole bar on them, and not liking it one bit, “it is good to see you, but lets go somewhere more private to talk - I want to see what that idiot is doing with Fett.” and he in turn strode out of the room.


Luke, when he first walked into the room, couldn’t believe his luck. The aura of the Force was so strong in this room. It seemed that his scheme was paying off. The young ones he had gathered in the last couple of years since his father’s death to become Jedi were all doing well, but they were still children really, none even out of their teens, and he had wanted more mature people to train. It was he who had persuaded Han to come to some of his old haunts to look among the bounty hunters and smugglers his friend had known so well. Luke reasoned to himself that Han - an exceptional guy, thought Luke, and a little smile quirked his face, although he doesn’t have the Force - had been found in such a place, so might another like him. He had had little luck with the aristocracy he was forced to deal with at the moment; Luke was inclined to dismiss them as doddering fools (even the young ones) who only respected him as the son of Darth Vader, although he knew that really that wasn’t strictly true, and he was just being over twitchy. Slowly, he become aware that there were two people, which was fabulous. And to find them so quickly, he had thought he was on the right track at long last. Then he had looked to see who they were, and was horrified to see that one was Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who had captured Han, and who, indeed, should be being digested right now in the belly of the Sarlacc, but obviously wasn’t.

The woman would have been more promising, but she was obviously completely mad. No, that was unkind, she was simply very pleased to see Han again. However, she couldn’t really be for the Light side of the Force, as she was obviously friendly with Fett, and from her dress, she was another bounty hunter. She was nearly as covered up as Fett, though you could see her lovely green eyes under her helmet rim, and her mouth was left free. Her array of weaponry rivalled that of Fett’s as well, even down to similar rocket launchers. It was obvious why she was sitting with Fett, though, as he was not the kind of man to interrupt her flow of conversation - ever.

When Fett got up and left the group, Luke decided that he would have to try, and followed him out of the bar. Fett walked quickly, looking at no one; everyone seemed to get of his way as he passed, much as they did when Luke passed through moments later, although he was not aware of this. Fett ducked through a side door, and seconds later, Luke did the same, and walked straight into the end of Fett’s rifle.

“I mean no harm,” began Luke, slowly raising his hands, “I just wanted to ask you a question.”

“Ask, then.” The rifle did not move, but neither did Fett. Luke found himself at a loss for words. He couldn’t just say, Boba Fett, would you like to be a Jedi Knight, when, quite obviously, the man wouldn’t like it one bit. However, he felt the pressure of the rifle dig a little deeper into his ribs, and so felt it might be wise to say something.

“Um, well, when I came into that bar just now, I immediately noticed that there were two people in whom the Force was very strong. One was you, so I was wondering . . . I mean, I - the new Republic needs more Jedi - we would pay, of course. If you wanted to stop this - what you do, and join us.” And that, thought Luke, was the stupidest speech you have ever made in your whole life. Perhaps I should try coercion, he thought, as he could feel the Force so strongly standing this close to Fett, it was unnerving. It was wasn’t exactly the Dark side he felt either, not quite, for there was, well, Luke couldn’t really describe it, but an negation of desire. No feelings at all. He snapped out of his reverie as the gun was lowered and Fett began to speak.

“This,” he said, indicating his armour, “is Mandalore battle armour. Do you know what that means? If I wear this, do you expect me to become a Jedi?”

Luke was puzzled. Ben had fought in the Clone Wars against the Mandalore warriors, but could Fett really be that old, to have fought against the Jedi forty years ago? He didn’t move like an old man, and didn’t act like one either, really. He shrugged, what mattered was that Fett had said no. Maybe the Gen woman would be ready to listen to him.

“I’m sorry to have bothered you.” he said, and turned to go.

“Wait,” said Fett, “who was the other?”

Now Luke stared at him in surprise, could it be the man was actually curious? He felt an obscure rush of hope as he said, without turning back, “Your friend, Arla Gen.”


Fett managed to get as far as Slave I before he allowed himself to laugh.


Looking around the cabin with a certain distaste, Arla Gen settled back against the headrest of her new bed and sighed. It was very small, which was not right, and too warm, also not right. She was a renowned hunter - not in Boba Fett’s league, of course, but getting there, getting there - and could have bought many of these ships without it really touching her purse; not that she would have bothered, liking her own small craft, Vert III, a lot better. She would have preferred to rest in it, there being plenty of room to lie down and move about, unlike on this narrow little effort that called itself a bed. Mind you, she thought, it would be pretty useless if I couldn’t move about on it, after all. Still, she could not have refused the offer of the final cabin from her old friend, even if it was not up to her standards. She picked up her brush and began the nightly ordeal of brushing out the tangled mess of her waist length, curly (dammit), red hair. She thought, as she thought nearly every night, I must get this cut - right off. She knew she never would. Although the hair made her hot and sweaty under the helmet, she knew it could be used to good advantage, particularly while she was hunting. She smiled, then winced as the brush caught a knot.

Sitting there on Han Solo’s ship, knowing she was going to get herself into trouble through the fit of curiosity that had occurred on hearing the Skywalker boy’s strange offer, she thought back to her early years as a bounty hunter, when she had first known Han, and, indeed, Boba Fett.

She had met Han Solo at exactly the same time she had begun to be a successful bounty hunter. About two hours after she had collected her first bounty, in fact. Three hours of drinking later, and she had a new lover. Not a very good one, admittedly, not that night, but she had only been eighteen at the time and hadn’t really known much better. And that night, she hadn’t cared. At that point she had been a bounty hunter, so she liked to think, for just under a year, staying alive by fighting and learning how to get by on very little indeed. But this bounty had been easy, and after that long miserable year in which she had doubted her decision at every turn, she felt she needed one night off, and the cute smuggler had seemed easy pickings. What she had not expected was to be with him still, some three or, oh dear, nearly four months later. He already had the Wookie as a bodyguard, but her training and knowledge helped him - her upbringing was useful for some things, and she knew where all the rotten, corrupted ports and Customs were. He had taught her how to go about repairing her little ship, Vert I and had helped, mostly inadvertently, towards several small but influential bounties.

Ironically, it had been Tatooine where she had first seen Boba Fett. She was lolling around in some bar with Han, drinking little, and watching for someone she knew would be coming there within the next six or seven hours, when this figure had walked in, looked around once, and sat down at the table opposite her. Her skin had prickled, for it was easy to see that this was another bounty hunter, one who had been around a lot longer than she had. She had recognised his armour, though, that of the Mandalore warriors, and then, a chill running down her spine, the Wookie hair braids he wore over one shoulder. It was the helmet that was most chilling, though, for she could see no hint of his face, something usually associated with Imperial guards and stormtroopers. But not only that, for even from his body language she could read nothing at all. He was simply sitting; no tension, no anticipation, he wasn’t even drinking, nothing. Aware that Han had sat up slightly when the man came in, she turned to him and hissed, “Who’s that?”

Han span her around to face him, so that she was sitting on his lap; he looked at her for a long time, then said, “Why do you want to know? Do you fancy him or something?”, and smirked.

Arla glanced across at the hunter again, and saw a nervous looking man with pale brown hair and clothes slide into the seat in front of the man, thus obscuring her view. The man begun to talk quickly in a dialect she half recognised but didn’t understand, leaning forward, almost begging. The hunter seemed, well, bored.

“Because he’s a bounty hunter, silly,” she’d said, not taking her eyes off the man for a second.

Han gave in.

“He’s called Boba Fett. I don’t know where he comes from, but you’re right, he is a bounty hunter -”

“He’s Boba Fett? Oh, ninety gods!”

“You’ve heard of him, then?” Han smiled, and shifted her slightly on his knee, so she faced away from Fett.

“He’s famous! And rich, no doubt.”

“No doubt. He seems only to spend his money on new weaponry, and his ship, Slave I. He must have piles of it somewhere. All I really know is that he is supposed to be quite young, even though he’s been around for ages. He hasn’t any vices - none anyone sees, anyway. Doesn’t drink, doesn’t do any substances at all - not even spice, doesn’t seem that interested in woman - though he occasionally sleeps with some of the girls I know (never takes the helmet off though, weirdo) -”

She stopped, saying in a tart voice, “I assume you mean prostitutes?”

Han was unfazed.

“Um? Oh, yes. Anyway, he just does his job, gets paid - or kills the person who tries to cheat him. Everyone knows him, no one likes him, or even gets to talk with him, much. No loss, though. He’s so stuck up, a bit of a prat, really.”

“Whoa. Enough! He interests you, doesn’t he?”

“I guess. You have to be wary of him. Don’t take on a bounty he’s after, not yet. He’d kill you.” He hugged her tight to him, but only said, “Doesn’t matter now, he’s going.”

Arla turned around at that, only to find that Boba Fett appeared to be looking straight at her. Her mouth went dry, and she looked away. When she looked back, Fett had left the room. She struggled out of Han’s grip and followed him out of the bar, and out to the landing bay, where he was just climbing into his little ship.

“Boba Fett!” she called.

He stopped, and looked down at her.


As many had been before her, and would be after her, she was suddenly at a loss for words. Fett continued to fiddle about with his ship, not seeming particularly interested, or bothered, by her presence.

“Um, well, I just wanted to introduce myself - I’m Arla Gen, and I’m a bounty hunter, too. I just thought that, well, I don’t know really, we could be friends, or something.”

Fett laughed, a short, harsh sound. Arla was not to know that it was the first time he had laughed aloud in company for well over a year.

“Was that a proposition? I don’t think your boyfriend would be impressed.” he said, then, seeming to lose interest, “Go away, little girl; if you think bounty hunters can be friends, then you will be dead within the year. Go home to your daddy, and get him to buy you something better to play with.”

She was also not to know that this was one of the longest conversations he had had in an equally long time. Arla felt like he had just spat at her, and the blood rose to her face.

What! How dare you say such a thing to me! You bastard!”

He ignored her outburst, and climbed into the ship. Arla thought he was just going to fly off, when he paused, and looked out again.

“Trust no one, Arla Gen.” he said. The obvious thing to say, but somehow she was strangely touched.

“Thank you,” she said, smiling up at him, “I won’t.”

The ship shot into the air and out of her sight. She stood watching for a good few minutes, though.

Someone walked past the cabin, feet crunching on something outside. Arla broke out of her reverie, her rifle at the ready. Silence. She smiled, there were only three others on the ship besides her, and none of them would do her harm. A nice, if unusual, feeling. Feeling wakeful, she tugged on her trousers and under tunic and detached the night sight part of her helmet. She clipped it round her head, and let herself out of the cabin, setting off towards the bridge area. The bridge was empty; the slave circuits, glinting and flashing, were the only light, but Arla could see easily with her night vision headset. She wasn’t interested in the gadgetry of Skywalker’s ship, however, and just stared dreamily out into space.

After a while, she got bored, and was just turning to go back to her bed when she felt a prickle of unease, as if she was being watched. Not from inside the ship, but from out there, where there was nothing except the lights of different stars. She flicked a switch on her headset, and a new lens clicked into place. She gasped, “No,” and squinted further into the darkness, but there was no mistake.

She laughed.

“What do you see?” came voice from behind her. Skywalker.

Somehow she couldn’t stop laughing; pulling off her headset and handing it to Skywalker, she sputtered, “Look and see!”

Luke put the headset on, he blinked.


Slave I was following them.


Inside his ship, Fett was thinking along the same lines as Arla had been half an hour beforehand. He wasn’t really sure why he was following them, but now he had started on this course, he thought he might as well see it out. Things had not been the same since the Sarlacc. He wasn’t surprised people didn’t know he was alive, for it had taken him a long time to recover; not physically, for he had acted too fast to be permanently damaged, but a bounty hunter with a horror of enclosed, dark places was no longer viable. He had forced himself to be in such places until it was natural again, but he still felt better watching the void in front of him, even now.

Meeting Arla had been, as usual, an unexpected pleasure. She was someone he didn’t really think about from one year to the next if he didn’t see her, but he was always glad to see or hear that she was still alive. Fett had not thought that the girl would last five minutes when he had seen her first, and realised she was a bounty hunter, and he had told her so. He had noticed her the moment he had walked into the bar to arrange the collecting of a young woman who had stolen some imperial codes, and was, more embarrassingly, carrying a prominent imperial’s child. Well, he was to collect the codes anyway. The woman was surplus to her controller’s requirements. Fett had thought the greasy haired young man unpleasant, and had said but one word throughout the whole interview, which had been “no” when asked if he would do the work. Later that day he had collected the controller himself for a far better fee.

The girl had been sprawled all over her boyfriend, a man Fett recognised, but failed to put a name to for a few minutes. Perhaps that was because the girl was distractingly pretty, with her long red curls (only half way down her back then) and clear, green eyes. At first, he had thought her a prostitute and had thought he might use her later when the various deals were locked up, and paid. He had dismissed the thought on realising she was not dressed as a prostitute, but in haphazard bits of body armour, a rough green tunic and trousers. Then he was finally able to put a name to her boyfriend. It was the smuggler, Han Solo; he never had a shortage of girlfriends.

She had made herself even more noticeable by staring at him constantly until Solo had flipped her about to face himself, and glared at Fett for a moment. This had amused Fett considerably, as Solo was known as a jealous lover - it was nice to see it proven. He had been even more amused when the girl had followed him to his ship, and - of all things - asked to be friends, like a child on her first day at school. That was when he had realised she would not survive, and had told her so. He had been obscurely pleased to find himself proved wrong on that one about ten or eleven months later, when she had enthusiastically bounced up to him one day and told him what she thought of his theories. It seemed she was being quite successful. But, she had asked him, actually asked him whether he would train her to be “the best”. That made him laugh - not out loud this time, but he laughed nonetheless, and also gave her some advice. She took it, for next he heard of her, she had netted a very important bounty simply by fucking her way into the man’s affections. The oldest way ever, but still the most effective. The next time saw her, she was in full body armour, and had grown her hair - the plaits snaked in and out of her helmet, but the eyes hadn’t changed, and nor had her enthusiastic greeting. This time had been no exception, he had been greeted with the same mad hug as Solo, only he had not accepted it, which had made her cross for moment; but, obviously he could do no wrong in her eyes, and she was fine in a little while.

He felt somewhat disturbed at his reaction on seeing Solo, and his friends. Perhaps the Sarlacc really had changed him, for he had simply wanted them to go away, and he had never felt that way about potential bounty before. Arla had been right, he did have a contract with the Hutts to capture Han Solo, and Princess Leia - and the Skywalker boy would have been a bonus, though Fett would have been wary of him, even before his mad offer, as he almost believed in that Jedi nonsense. Almost. But, when he had seen them, any anger he had felt towards them had just dissipated - not that there had been much; it was, really, his own fault he had ended up in the Sarlacc - and he had thought that he really could not be bothered with it. He shivered slightly. Was he losing his touch?

“Slave I. Do you read me?”

Fett jumped. He didn’t move, but inside, he jumped. Frowning, he flicked a couple of switches to bring up a visual link with the frequency, if there was one. He nodded slightly to himself as a blurred image of Skywalker’s features, looking somewhat grim and serious, winked open in front of him.

“I repeat. Slave I, do you read me?”

For a moment, Fett considered letting them wait a little longer before contact, just to make them sweat. The thought was dismissed instantly, as a waste of time and energy. He opened up his own link, and, unlike the Skywalker boy, he observed the correct protocol,

“This is Slave I. I read you, Skywalker.”


Even across the ship link, Fett’s voice sounded harsh and cold. Luke concentrated on sending out feelings of friendship to the other ship, difficult though it was, even with his Jedi training, to be friendly to one such as Fett. “Think about the potential, Luke”, he muttered under his breath. He composed his thoughts, and opened up the vis-link, instantly regretting it as the implacable grey helmet came into view. Aware that Fett could probably see him at the other end, Luke did not let himself show any of the distaste or unease he felt about being confronted with a mask, and not a face.

“Why are you following us?” he asked, thinking, Fett does not waste words or actions, so nor should I. If I can win his respect, then it will not be through hedging the issue. A small part of him answered back, that perhaps he did not want to win the bounty hunters respect at all, but Luke quickly suppressed the thought.

There was a pause, and the vis-link appeared frozen in time as Fett did not move at all, then the man nodded, briefly, and said,

“New skills are always useful.”

Only the very tightest control kept Luke’s mouth from dropping open; he could not believe it. Surely it couldn’t be that easy.

Fett turned off the link, set it to non-receiving, settled back and closed his eyes. In two minutes he was asleep. The circuits that most people thought Slave I was named for continued tracking and following Skywalker’s ship as he slept.


Luke pressed the link button one last time and, as with the last two times, got the persistent drone of a link set not to receive. He felt totally out of control of the situation; and the other bounty hunter staring outside at the ship and laughing was not helping. He was embarrassed even to admit it to himself, but the fact she was so lovely, and that he was making a complete fool of himself in front of her, was not helping either. He took a deep breath - even though a Jedi knight now, he found it difficult to suppress his feelings - and said, “I’d better wake Han and Leia; they might have some idea about what he’s doing, if you haven’t.”

But the woman wasn’t listening, she just stared off into space, where he could now see nothing since he had given her the headset back. Now she was frowning a little as she watched the ship that only she could see; she obviously hadn’t heard him. Luke wondered what her connection to Fett was, or had been. Had they . . ? He put the thought from his mind, it had nothing to do with the current situation, he hoped.

“Arla Gen?” he tried again.

“Hmm? Oh - sorry.” Arla pulled herself back to the world again with difficulty, “uh, yes. Best wake them. I’m sure they’ll be really pleased when they find out.” She chuckled then, “Yes, I think that Han might be a little bit worried . .”

Luke shot her a confused glance, and went to rouse the others.

Neither Han nor Leia was asleep, though both were pretending to be as they lay tense back to tense back. Both were running over the argument that had preceded their retiring, though neither was calling it an argument in their minds - at least not on their side, anyway. So, both were almost relieved when Luke started banging on the cabin door.

“Wha?” said Han, blearily “Was’ happening?”

“Probably that - woman - asking to borrow you.” muttered Leia, curling into a tighter ball.

“Leia, don’t be stupid. I -” he gripped her arms and quickly rolled her over. They glared at each other.

“Get up! What are you doing in there - wait, don’t answer that. I need you on the bridge, now. We have a problem.”

Han and Leia looked at each other a moment longer, then laughed. Han reached down and kissed her.

“I’m sorry,” said Leia quietly, then louder “alright Luke, we’ll be there in a moment.”


“What!” cried Han, “No, he can’t be - look, he’s not there - he’s too small to cloak.” he scanned the area frantically.

“No. My Vert III can cloak, and it’s smaller again. Bounty hunters - successful ones, that is, are the people by whom you mark technology. Han, you know that.” Arla smiled, “I think he’s there because of my charm.”

Han glanced at her, and raised an eyebrow.

“We have to change course,” he said, “and go into hyperspace - he can’t follow us then.”

Enjoying the thrill of a ship that did as he bid it, Han pressed firmly down on the hyperdrive lever, and the sky became white before them. He pulled out quickly, read the maps, and shot off in another direction.

“Well.” said Arla, “That was clever. Han, you’ve surpassed yourself, you’ve completely lost him. I’m impressed.”

He groaned.

“He’s still there, isn’t he?”


“And where exactly are we now?” asked Leia, with some exasperation. She felt suddenly very tired.

“Well, Princess, we are considerably closer than we were, just approaching from another direction,” snapped Han.

Luke also suddenly felt tired. He didn’t feel anything from Fett’s ship, no intention at all, and he felt, now, much less urgency about it. “Oh stop it, both of you. We’ll find out when we get there. He’s not doing anything!” he said.

Not doing anything?” exploded Han, “that man is after my hide!”

Arla sighed, a short, impatient sound.

“Look, my Vert III is just as fast as his ship - or it was the last time I came into contact with him. He can’t have been hunting anyway, else he’d be in the new ship I saw the last time I saw him a few months ago (it’s lovely, I’d love to get my hands on it) - so I could go out and catch him.”

Three voices immediately shot her down.

“No - you could get hurt -”

“We don’t want to -”

“No battles - please -”

She smiled.

“Tough, I’m going - and don’t think you can stop me by locking the bay in which my ship is kept - it can do that for itself.”, then, “Han, he said there was no contract any more. Can’t you trust him?”

“You trust him?”

“Well, no. Not really; but I don’t think he’d actually lie.”

They all looked out into the nothingness that contained Fett’s ship.

“Well,” said Arla, with a small laugh, “as Luke says, he isn’t doing anything.”


The panel in front of him lit up and beeped. Fett opened his eyes, pressed the button in his helmet that made it fully operational. He stopped seeing with his eyes after that. He looked at his maps and frowned, operating a scan of the area as he did so. There was another ship in his space. He ran check-ups on it and almost smiled. Vert III was speeding towards him, slowing only when it came right alongside him. She opened the link. Fett felt faintly surprised, he had the technology to force open a link, but he had not expected her to have it. He thought, next time I’m near that ship on the ground, I need to find out what it does. He didn’t have time to think for long, as Arla had opened a visual link; she looked cross.

“Boba Fett. What are you playing at?” she said, then “dammit, open your visual to me - I want to see that bloody helmet of yours, much good it’ll do me, mind, but just do it. Now.”

Behind the helmet, Fett smiled, and, as he was intrigued, he opened the link.

Arla’s expression cleared somewhat.

“Good - well, did you lie? Have you still got the contract for Han? I told you I would never speak to you again if you did anything else to hurt Han the last time we met.”

“That is of no consequence.”

Her eyes went wide with anger - possibly with hurt too, but Fett wasn’t looking for that. She ground out the next words.

“Have you actually lied to me, you bastard.”

Fett yawned, he had slept longer than he had intended.

“No.” he said, “I didn’t lie. There is no contract. I rescinded it before I left.”

“Then why, Boba Fett? Why are you following them?”

“New skills are always useful.”

She shook her head,

“No, that’s not it I’m sure.” She appeared to think for a moment, and her eyes lit up “Wait, I know! It’s me, isn’t it? You can’t bear the thought that I, the little girl you thought wouldn’t last a year, could be better than you - that’s it, isn’t it. Hah! You are a very sad man, Boba Fett.”

She shut off the link and Fett watched her ship shot off back to the larger vessel and be taken inside.

He shut of the slave circuits and took over control of his ship again, but did not alter his course. He had his reasons, they were becoming clearer all the time, and that was not one of them, he thought.


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