Disclaimer: All things Star Wars belong to George Lucas and the quote below belongs to the author of Last Man Standing in Tales of the Bounty Hunters. Only Karineli is mine.
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.
- Jaster Mereel
Fett grabbed the Slave 1's throttle and jerked it over to the left. Behind him Karineli's head appeared from the hold. Her dark hair reached slightly below her shoulders, but was now pulled out of her way so she could work on repairing their shields. She was a pretty good mechanic for someone who was only thirteen.
"What's going on?" she asked. Fett pulled it back as red lasers streaked over the transparasteel; he didn't bother to glance back at his daughter. A warning siren began to sound as his opponent scored a direct hit. "An old friend." He pulled the throttle, the Slave 1 shot over the other ship as he shot of a blast of lasers of his own. The other ship shuddered under the impact and Fett nodded. By this time Karineli was at the controls too. The second ship flipped around and came back at them, or at least where he thought they would be, but by that time they were around behind him. Karineli hit the blasters as red fire shot out and covered the other ship. Fett slowed and opened up a comlink to the other ship.
"Come on out, Xerix, I think we need to talk."
"F-f-fett, you can't get me, I've got help!" he heard the synthesized voice of the Rodairain over the intercom. It was another one of those who were "following in Greedo's footsteps." He never understood them, if they wanted a hero, why not at least pick one who was good at what he did and didn't get himself killed? Not that it mattered. It was their choice. The tractor beam pulled the ship closer and Fett extended the docking port.
"Now we get to meet our friend." Karineli smiled. Fett actually smiled back, under his helmet. Karineli was one of the few people who could actually get him to do that. She was short for her age, but he wasn't exactly tall either, with calm icy blue eyes. He hit the access hatch and the door slid open revealing a small opening. Fett motioned Karineli back and stepped in. The hallway was very dim. It must have knocked out the power cell in the last burst of laser fire. At the end of the passage it opened up into a cockpit. Xerix must be in there. Karineli stepped in behind him, but he motioned her back, this wasn't the first time he had met one of these. She blended into the shadows with her navy tunic and dark gray leggings, even her light colored armor faded into the darkness.
He could see the Rodariain when he stepped into the cockpit. Fett reached for his blaster, but he was too late.
"This time I win F-fett!" he stammered and tried to look impressive. The Rodariain hit a button on one side and a liquid shot out of the wall behind him. Fett ducked and rolled to one side, snapping up his blaster and catching Xerix with a stun shot. Xerix crumpled to the floor. Fett glanced at his arm where the liquid had splashed him. It was eating through his dart launcher. He pulled it off and his glove, but it was too late, it had already gotten to his arm.
His sleeve had disintegrated; it must have been an acid. Karineli stepped up behind him. "I thought I told you to wait."
"Who says I have to listen? You need my help anyway." She reached up and took his arm in her hands spraying a sealer on it. "You say I'm not careful." Fett turned back and picked up Xerix, throwing him over his shoulder. The ship suddenly shuddered from an impact. Fett and Karineli staggered against the side of the docking port. "Let's get going." Karineli ran ahead of him and detached the small fighter ship to begin evasive maneuvers. Fett dropped Xerix in a holding cell. Karineli flipped the Slave 1 around. "He was right about one thing, he's got help, there are two ships closing behind us. I think we should go, our shields are low and it's two against one."
"You're right. Head to Dantooine, it's close." He entered the coordinates and the stars streaked into hyperspace. Boba Fett leaned back in his chair and relaxed. Karineli glanced over at him, "What was that about? We don't even have any merchandise." Boba Fett shrugged, "They think Greedo's a hero, who knows." Karineli just looked at him, and he shrugged before turning around and reaching behind him for the medkit. Karineli shrugged back. She was annoyed, but this was normal in her life.
"I think I can do it better than you can." She took the medkit away and began to bandage his arm. "Why are we going to Dantooine? Is there a new job?" He shook his head, "We're going to meet someone." Karineli frowned, "Who?"
"You'll see when we get there," Boba Fett stood up slowly flexing his hand, which luckily wasn't too badly injured, "We need to interrogate our prisoner. He's not really worth anything as merchandise." Karineli shook her head. The Roadarian was still unconscious when they reached the cage. Boba Fett opened the door and walked in, shaking him awake. He moaned once before coming to completely.
"What? What's going on? Fett!" Boba Fett just stared at him as he began to sweat. "I haven't done anything. Please, I didn't mean anything by it!"
"I think you did, and I want to know who sent you." Fett was getting tired of having conversations with this deluded being.
"I-I can't say! I'll be killed!"
"If you don't say something, I think I can arrange that." The Roadarian swallowed hard.
"I don't know, I think it was a male human, but I can't say for sure. It could be anything about that size." Fett shook his head and turned towards Karineli. She nodded. This was all they were going to get from him. Fett grabbed him. "What's going on? Where are we going?" he screeched. "Please don't kill me! I'll give you whatever you want."
"You're leaving." He shoved the trembling alien into an escape pod.
"Wait, don't do this! He'll kill me!" Xerix scrabbled for Fett's blaster, shoving Karineli out of the way. She jumped up hitting him in the back of the neck. Boba Fett had his blaster out now and shot him. Xerix slumped to the floor. Karineli looked up, "Stun?" Fett shook his head, "He switched it, killed himself."
Boba Fett leaned back in his chair and looked at his hand. This wasn't the first time, and this time it wasn't about merchandise. It was getting too close. If he hadn't moved he would have been liquefied. And if it had been Karineli? It was time for him to put an end to this, but first he had to find a safe place for her. There was only one option, he may not like it, but it was the only choice.
Fett had known for some time his daughter had inherited her mother's abilities. He had also known that eventually it would be best to find some training for her. The problem was that training in the ways of the force came only from one source, the Jedi. He supposed there were still sith roaming the galaxy somewhere, but he had no interest in entrusting his daughter to them. Not only would they destroy any sense of justice she had, but they might destroy her as well.
Karineli stood up, "I'm going to go check our supplies and see if we need any help with repairs."
Fett slammed his fist against the wall. He felt trapped. Either he gave his daughter into the care of someone he considered an enemy, or he put her at risk every moment she was with him. Jedi had killed his father, and responsible for many other deaths. They didn't protect justice, they destroyed it and he was giving his daughter to them! A voice in his head just kept repeating that he didn't have a choice. He had to concede that it was true. Her mother was in the same position as he was, the center of the target. He had always known it was a dangerous job, but that was part of life. Now though they were hunting him. He couldn't allow her to be caught in the crossfire. At least with Skywalker he knew the man's almost obsessive need to do 'good' would prevent him from harming Fett's daughter or allowing any harm to come to her. This Jedi knew little of those who had gone before him; maybe he was different. At least he would keep her safe until Fett could retrieve her. Finally, it came back to the main reason; there simply was no other option. He nodded to himself, having reached a decision and hit the comlink. "Skywalker?"
There was a little static, but the voice was recognizable. "What do you want? I don't think that I'm merchandise right now, at least not anything valuable."
"I have a student for you."
"Are you going to sell me a student? I think I could find a cheaper way of retrieving whoever it is."
"No, not this time, I only go after those who are defiantly worth something to me and to justice."
"Fine, who is it then?"
"Meet me and I'll show you. You should be able to tell who she is. Follow her, she will lead you to me."
"Where will I find her?"
"Dantooine, Rakan City, West Street. In six hours."
"I'll think about it." Boba Fett cut off the transmission. It was done now. All that was left would be to see her reaction. He had just received a landing code from the city of Rakan. He wasn't worried about the Jedi refusing. He knew him better than that.
"Who were you talking to?" Karineli asked as they landed.
"Someone you're going to meet." He wasn't about to tell her yet. She didn't like the Jedi any better than he did, but she did have some sort of power. He had gotten it checked years ago when they caught an old woman with some sort of talent in that area.
This was a way to get her out of this. This fight was decades old, and it wasn't hers. Not to mention the fact that it had been getting much more dangerous lately. He looked at his hand and shook his head.
"We need parts. We're not going to get far with shields like these."
"Where are we going to go on Dantooine? It's not like there are a lot of great mechanics on that dirt ball." Karineli didn't think much of rim worlds. Though she understood their value. She had lived most of her life on planets like this one or on the Slave 1. Something was wrong though. Being one of the few living people in the galaxy who could claim to know Boba Fett well, she knew he was concerned about something. This bothered her. Boba Fett almost never worried. It must have had something to do with whomever he was talking too, but she had no way of knowing who it was. If he didn't want her to know something, it was very easy for him to hide it. It was something he was good at.
On Yavin 4 Luke was getting ready to leave. "Tinone, I'm going to need you to teach tomorrow, I've got to meet someone."
"You're going to meet a bounty hunter, one who captured your friends once. I don't think this is a good idea."
"It's not as bad as you think, he has someone who's strong in the force. He wants them to come here as a student. It's strange, but I've got to see who this is. They're powerful."
Tinone looked at him when he said that and knew there was no arguing with him. She frowned worriedly. "Just don't get killed, how will I ever explain to Han that I let you go alone to meet Boba Fett?" Luke smiled and waved as he climbed into his old X-wing, he didn't use it often, but it was still best for solo missions.
Back on Dantooine, Boba Fett was finishing up rewiring the shield. "How are they now?" He asked Karineli where she sat at the controls.
"Almost one hundred percent, we could do better, but our parts are scrap and these new ones are junk." She held up one of the fused pieces of metal they had pulled out of the Slave 1's systems. Boba Fett looked at the count down he had set on his helmet's upper corner.
"I need you to go to West Street, there's a store there with parts. Also if anyone comes up to you and asks you about me, bring them here." Karineli looked at him with satisfaction, this must be the person he had been talking to. She wasn't worried about the person being dangerous, or anything like that. She had met Hutts, Trandoshans, and other beings of that class, this couldn't be worse.
It only took Karineli a few minutes to get to the street. It took a little longer to find the store, but she was taking her time, she wanted to know who the contact was going to be. When she finally saw someone following her, she was so shocked she nearly stopped walking. It was Luke Skywalker. What could that Jedi have to do with them? Did it have to do with the stupid Rodarian who had attacked them? She bought the parts they needed, being careful not to lose Skywalker and then headed back to the Slave 1. He must be the contact, even if he hadn't approached her, and if he wasn't, her father could take care of him.
She walked slowly back to the Slave 1. Boba Fett stood in the doorway, the dim light reflecting off his Mandolorian armor. The bandage on his hand looked out of place. Skywalker was still behind her. She looked up at him and he nodded almost imperceptibly. They almost always knew what the other wanted to say, she was glad of it this time, it was a relief to know that her father had been expecting the Jedi. She climbed the gangplank up into the Slave 1 and stood in front of her father as they watched Skywalker approach.
Luke knew that he couldn't sneak up on them, so he didn't even bother trying. He couldn't help but wonder who the girl was who was standing in front of Fett. She was strong in the force. He couldn't even begin to imagine how she had gotten mixed up with a bounty hunter like Fett. His hand tightened momentarily on his lightsaber. He let it go though, he might be able to fight his way out if this was a trap, but it wouldn't be easy.
Fett watched the Jedi walk up to the end of the ramp. "You know what I mean now?"
"Yes, but who are you?" Luke addressed the last to Karineli where she stood at her father's side.
She looked at him with the same emotionless face as the man who stood behind her. The resemblance was enough to send a shiver down Luke's spine. Could she be…? No, he didn't think that Fett would ever have a relationship with anyone. It just didn't seem possible.
"I am Karineli Fett." Luke looked at her; he would never have believed it was possible. Boba Fett had a daughter, and one that was very strong in the force. He shook his head, but why did Fett want him to train her? He wasn't exactly fond of the Jedi. There had to be something else.
Fett watched as the emotions ran across Luke's face. The Jedi was smart, he had to give him that, but that wasn't what he was concerned about. Luke would be able to protect Karineli and they would never look for her with him. Fett had no doubts about Luke's ability to defend himself. He had defeated Vader after all, but could he trust him? It wasn't as if he had a choice.
"I want you to train Karineli."
"What? Father, why…?" Karineli burst out, but subsided when he turned and looked at her.
"The galaxy just got a lot more dangerous, and I need to deal with it. He can protect you and train you. The force can only make you a better bounty hunter." He shrugged. As before, he couldn't explain it all to her yet, later, but not now. Karineli looked troubled, but nodded. He put his hand on her shoulder and she looked at him.
"I think I agree. You're strong in the force. I would like to have you on Yavin 4." Luke said stepping forward.
"But what about the other students? I…I don't think I'll do well in a place full of… Jedi." she looked quickly from one face to the other. Her voice made the word sound almost dirty.
"You will be fine." Her father made the statement into a command. She wiped her emotions from her face. He was being very insistent about this and there must be a reason. If only he would tell her. This time though, not even she could get information from him. She might as well accept it.
"I'll go." She looked back at her father and swallowed hard. This would be the first time she'd left him for any true length of time since he'd rescued her on Garix.
"I'll return to my ship. We should leave now."
Boba Fett reached for a panel on the Slave 1's control board. "Don't bother, while we were talking you've had some visitors to your ship. I don't think it's going to fly very well."
Skywalker frowned, "Did you have anything to do with this?" Boba Fett shook his head. "I don't know how I'm going to get home." Luke sighed.
Boba Fett looked irritated, but relented after a moment, "We can tow your ship."
Skywalker looked at him, shaking his head, "This is going to be an interesting trip home."
Karineli stood up and descended the ladder into the hold. "How are we going to pick the X-wing up?" she called from below.
"Same way we picked up the Roadian vessel." He leaned over the console and pulled a lever. "Strap down, we're leaving." He sat down in the pilot's chair as Luke strapped himself in. They lifted off and picked up the X-wing on the way with a modified tractor beam and careful maneuvering, later if the hyperdrive was functioning they would slave it to their navicomputer. The Slave 1 slowly rose into the air and headed out of the atmosphere as Fett calculated the jump to Yavin 4, where he would do something he would never have thought he would even consider.
Luckily for them, their pursuers seemed to have lost them. Even so, Fett was still edgy. Having Skywalker free on the Slave 1 didn't make him feel any better either. The Jedi stood behind him, watching as his fingers flew over the keyboard. "Are we heading straight to Yavin 4?" he surprised Fett with his question. Fett tensed, then nodded. He hoped he wasn't going to be expected to carry on a conversation for the next four hours. Skywalker though, wasn't about to give up yet. "Why are you doing this? You're the last person I would think of for a potential parent of a Jedi student." Fett glanced back at him. Luke stared at the helmeted face in front of him. He couldn't even touch the bounty hunter's thoughts. There was a kind of barrier. How Fett had gotten it there he didn't know, but he wasn't able to penetrate it.
They continued on in silence for some time. Finally, Fett released the controls and leaned back in the pilot's chair relaxing slightly.
"You will protect her?" it was almost a command rather than a question.
Luke turned around and looked again at the helmeted face and answered, "I will do all I can to protect her." Fett watched him a moment longer and then nodded slowly. "It must be enough, or I will deal with you should you fail." Luke stepped forward, watching the stars streak by. Fett wasn't the only one who was nervous. He was on a bounty hunter's ship, even a Jedi would have trouble leaving if Fett didn't want him to. Luke finally turned a way and walked back to the hold. Maybe Karineli was more of a conversationalist than her father, if not, this would be a long trip.
Karineli saw Luke descending down the ladder. She still couldn't believe she was actually seeing him on the Slave 1 and not in a holding cage. She couldn't believe where they were heading either. Jedi training? She didn't even know that she had that power. Living with the Jedi was going to be more difficult than anything she had ever done.
Luke tried to touch her, but her mind was a shielded as her father's. He shook his head ruefully, it was a good thing they weren't Sith, and that he would be able to teach her. If she went over to the dark side he didn't know if he could do anything for her. He couldn't even touch her.
"What are you doing?" he asked coming up behind her.
"Our shields took some damage. I'm repairing them." As lengthy a response as one could expect from a Fett. She turned around and looked at him. "What do you want?"
Luke crouched down beside her. "I want to get to know you. I need to know how powerful you are, and which side you are on." Karineli held his gaze, and he smiled, "I don't think I need to worry about that though." Karineli's face didn't change. They stayed down in the hold where Luke watched Karineli work. She was a good mechanic, reminding him of Han's daughter Jiana who loved machines. He smiled at the thought. Some time later Fett's voice came over the intercom, "We're leaving hyperspace. Strap down."
Fett disengaged the hyperdrive. The Slave 1 shuddered slightly, but that was because maneuverability was more important than comfort. He could see the green jungle moon of Yavin 4 below them. It made him want to whip the ship around and back out into space. After all couldn't he protect Karineli better than some Jedi? He knew that right now he was a danger to her. They wanted him and he had to get her out of the target area. He swallowed hard and flew towards the moon descending through the atmosphere.
Luke appeared from the hold. "Let me transmit landing codes. We've got a force field." Luke reached around and transmitted a string of numbers to other planet. Fett resisted the urge to reach for his blaster. They continued down, through the atmosphere and landed on one of the more remote landing pads.
Luke waited at the hatch. Fett was talking with Karineli. "Father please tell me why. I don't want to go, not with the Jedi." Fett shook his head.
"I have something I must take care of. I will come back for you afterwards. It won't be long and the training will help you." He ran his hand over her hair and reached into one of the pouches on his belt. "This was your mother's. It's also a transmitter. If you need me, you can contact me with it." He finished hurriedly; Karineli knew she wasn't the only one who didn't want to do this. He put a small necklace with a spherical blue and silver charm into her hand and closed it. She gripped his hand, before he stood and walked out of the Slave 1 and onto Yavin 4. Karineli followed.
"Let's go. I'll show you around, but first I have to tell Tionne that you haven't turned me in for a bounty." Luke smiled and led them inside. Fett paced along side of Karineli as they walked inside. This building made him feel threatened; it would be a struggle to leave Karineli here. The stone of the Massai temples towered around them. The sun was sinking below the horizon stretching the shadows across the jungle.
Luke returned with a tall woman. Long silvery hair flowed down her back, matching her silver eyes. This was Tionne. Fett recognized her as did Karineli. She didn't look pleased to see them. Fett regretted leaving his blaster rifle on the Slave 1. She didn't say anything though, just glared at him from behind Luke. Luke acted unaware of the entire proceedings.
"I'll find you a room first so you can put all of your things away." Luke led them off down the hallway. Fett followed Luke and Karineli scanning the walls as if watching for an attack. There were rooms all along the hall. At the moment they were empty. One had a boy in a strange tan tunic and leggings stood watching the doorway. His face didn't change but his eyes widened when he saw Fett stalking down the hallway. Fett just glanced at him before continuing after Luke. He wondered if he needed to worry about it, he didn't think so.
Luke stopped at a small room; setting down the box he was carrying. Karineli set down hers as well. Tionne came up and said something softly to Luke he nodded and turned following her back the way they had come. Fett walked into the room with Karineli. He sat in the chair wincing slightly. Even now his knees sometimes still hurt him, a small memento from the sarlacc, even after medical treatment. Karineli smiled at him, taking some of her few possessions and putting them away.
Boba Fett scanned the room with his helmet's sensors, checking for hidden listening devices, but finding none. She set her few possessions down and turned back to her father. She gripped his hands strongly. Fett tightened his hands then released her and turned to leave. He didn't trust himself to stay longer. He walked quickly from the room. He was afraid he might not be able to leave her here if he didn't go. Karineli followed him to the hallway. He turned, "After I have taken care of this I will return. If the Jedi…if anything happens, contact me." He held her gaze for a moment longer before walking quickly off down to the landing pad.
Karineli held herself for a moment, until he turned and she couldn't see him. She started forward, hurrying down towards the Slave 1. She wasn't sure if she just wanted to see him leave or try to make him take her with him. When she finally got to the doorway leading out of the temple she saw the Slave 1 begin to take off. The thrusters fired and she could almost feel the heat. Her eyes burned, but she ignored it, trying to put it down to the heat.
She watched until the ship had faded so far that she couldn't see it. Karineli looked down for a moment hoping her eyes would stop burning. When she did so though she saw something move behind her. Karineli heard a boot scrap against the temple's stone. She spun around hooking her foot behind where she believed the unseen attacker was standing. Her foot connected and the person fell. Before he could move Karineli was on top of him. She pressed her knee onto his chest and her arm across his throat.
"Who are you and what are you doing?" Karineli said low and dangerous. The person was the boy she'd seen in the room. She recognized his tan clothes. He smiled, but she pressed her arm down further. He choked and coughed. She leaned back slightly and he took a breath. He coughed once then answered her question.
"My name is Merik. I'm a student here." He smiled again. Karineli's face didn't change and she pushed her arm down again.
"What were you doing?" she asked again. She waited a moment to lean back. This time the boy, Merik, gasped.
"You don't wait do you? I just wanted to see that ship take off! Do you know which ship that is? That's the Slave 1 and…and," he looked to the side to see if anyone was listening then whispered to her, "I think I saw Boba Fett in the hallway!" Karineli blinked. She couldn't figure out what was wrong with this boy. He peered up at her, "You were there." He frowned, "Do you know anything about him?"
"I know…little about him."
Merik attempted to shrug, but it reminded him of his position. "Is that enough? It's starting to hurt staying like this." He smiled tentatively as if afraid she would push her arm back down. He wasn't a threat that she could see. Karineli stood up leaving him on the ground. Merik scrambled up after her, rubbing his throat and chest. "Where did you learn that?"
"From my father."
"My father can fight, but not like that. My family lives on a dry world. Not like that rim world Tatooine, but nothing like here! It's all wet and plant covered. Not like the mountains…" His voice trailed off and he looked back at her. "It isn't a bad world. Where's your homeworld?"
She sighed, she might as well talk to him. He wasn't likely to stop no matter what she did. "I don't have one."
"You've been spacer all your life? Wow, I thought everyone was from somewhere. What do your parents do?" Karineli didn't say anything for a moment.
"My family is not your concern."
He shrugged and continued, "I understand. I'm not especially interested in talking about home either. Maybe we can talk about here." Merik sat down on the grass and looked at Karineli, a question in his eyes. Karineli held his gaze then sat down on the grass.
She looked up at the sky, "What about this place?"
"Finally! You're an excellent conversationalist, did you know that?" Karineli almost smiled, that was a family trait. "When did you find out about…all of this?" She looked at him
"Amazing. Not a lot of warning huh? I found out a week before coming here. We're in a newly renovated part of the temples. It's why it's so quiet." Karineli could understand why she was away from the others, but Merik? She dropped it.
"What are we going to do here?"
"Learn I think. I heard tomorrow we get to begin with hand to hand, not that you'll have a problem." He looked up at her from his position on the grass.
"Then we had better go inside. It would be best to be prepared for tomorrow." Karineli stood up and turned back to Merik. She offered him a hand. He smiled and took it. Karineli pulled him up.
"Maybe this won't be so bad after all." He grinned.