Science Fiction, star wars

STAR WARS: BEFORE THE FALL, Pt. 2 — “He’s No Good to Me Dead”

On the bridge of an Imperial Star Destroyer halfway between Bespin and Tatooine, two men argue over money.

“Due to the circumstances of Captain Solo’s capture, the Empire must deduct a small portion of your pay.”

“That is not what I consider small.”

“It’s more than reasonable for the loss of five of my best men.”

He rests his palm on his blaster. “I don’t pay for the Empire’s losses, Lord Vader.”

“Today, I’m afraid, you do.”

Only Darth Vader has the nerve to short Boba Fett by 100,000 credits. Only Boba Fett has the nerve to threaten Vader’s life over it. Vader has more than a little respect for the bounty hunter and offers something of a justification for ripping him off.

“Your arrival at Bespin was ostentatious and sloppy in the extreme. I expected a subtler approach from the great Boba Fett. There’s reason to believe that city guardians were preparing their counter strike before we revealed our presence.”

“That’s preposterous.”

“Make of it what you will. You’re earning much more than any of your peers charge. Frankly, I think you were overpriced.”

That does it. Boba Fett draws his blaster and shoots off several rounds having switched to automatic rapid-fire without Vader noticing. Vader deflects each shot with his arm, leaving minor scars on his armor. Vader attempts to draw the blaster towards him but Boba Fett ups the ante tremendously by engaging his jetpack and shooting himself out of the window overhead.

The bridge’s two helmsmen are sucked out into the vacuum of space immediately. Using every ounce of concentration he possesses, Vader keeps his footing and peers out of the gash in the window towards a seemingly patient Boba Fett. Having deployed two magnetic grapplers on his palm, Boba Fett hugs the hull on all fours like a stalking animal ready to pounce. It’s not the best vantage point but he can see Vader pushing his apprehension of the Force to its limit, attempting to maintain his position. Surprisingly, he kneels onto the floor as the blast gates of the ship begin to close above him. Effortlessly, with one upraised hand, Lord Vader locks them in place before they shut, a stream of precious oxygen and useless particulate continuing to gust out of the bridge.

Spellbound, Boba Fett watches from his perch, his heart beating in his throat. For a fleeting moment, the thought crosses his mind that challenging Darth Vader may have been a foolish idea. He squashes this notion instantly and reloads. He has about five minutes of oxygen left in this suit and he gathers Vader may have a little more if he doesn’t exhaust himself by resisting vacuum, that is.

Too late Boba Fett realizes that passively waiting for his seemingly incapacitated foe is improper. In one fluid motion, Vader casts his head down and lets his body fly out through the gash, tearing it open wider and knocking Bobba Fett back from his spy’s perch. The bounty hunter quickly regains his bearings, catching the edge of the next higher tier along the hull. He scans in every direction for Vader, finding him nowhere. He gazes up at the starry firmament. The astonishing notion that he may have just defeated The Dark Lord of the Sith makes him chuckle. Not so overpriced now, he thinks.

At first, he assumes that his oxygen supply is low. He can hardly catch his breath. A glance at his meter reveals a full three minutes remaining. The thought that that can’t make any sense is abruptly interrupted by an intense constriction about his throat. His airways shut and he presses his helmet against the side of the hull. He doesn’t believe in The Force, he never did; but if it does exist, he thinks, he’d like to formally beg it for mercy right now.

That thought barely escapes his mind when he sees a familiar black boot step before his visor. He looks up and Lord Vader, standing with clenched fist, brushes him away with one hand hurtling back through the open blast gates. Boba Fett’s jetpack hits the bridge floor with such force it rattles his teeth. The blast gates immediately seal shut and oxygen and gravity return to the bridge floor. Boba Fett, still supine on the deck, looks about him at the dark abandoned bridge, a single red alert siren bleating and flashing to illuminate the darkness. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the regal gentleman warrior of the Empire approach, walking slowly as if there is no hurry, and indeed, there is not; not when you’re accustomed to thinking several steps ahead of your opponent, calculating outcomes and possibilities, measuring energies and intentions, all with the inevitability of victory in mind. Nothing happens to Vader, the bounty hunter thinks, that he doesn’t expressly wish to happen.

There is never a moment when he is not in control.

Boba Fett’s jetpack is now empty of fuel. He lost his blaster during one of the upheavals on the ship’s exterior, and he now has barely two minutes of oxygen remaining. There is no upper hand to be had right now and he waits for Lord Vader to approach him, seemingly slower than before, and issue a judgment. The Lord of the Sith glances around him at the carnage and damage left by this stunt and throws the promised amount, minus 100,000 credits as he’d insisted, by the bounty hunter’s feet.

“I did not deduct any more from your compensation. You’ve pointed out to me the folly in having any kind of override for our blast gates. Consider your survival and my agreement to the previous terms as a form of grace.”

Vader turns his back on Boba Fett who wouldn’t dare retaliate at this point.

“I trust you have faith in the power of the force now.” Vader exits the bridge and this is the last interaction between these two men, arguing over money.