Author's Warning: If you're a crazed fangirl like me, you might find this mildly disturbing and/or extraordinarily depressing. This is NOT a parody like everything else I've written. It is a stream-of-consciousness story on just how tragic the history of the Fett family really is.

The idea for this story stems from the unproven theory that after a beheading, it takes a person thirty seconds to die.

Thirty Seconds to Live

He ignited his jetpack and waited for the liftoff, just like always. But this time, nothing happened, except for a hiss of sparks.

His stomach twisted, and he began to fire wildly with his 34s, desperately hoping to buy himself time to think of something else. He backed up as he fired, slowly but steadily.

The Jedi began to run, swinging his saber. He felt himself studying the expression on the Jedi's face. Was it determination? Regret? Nervousness?

He realized that there was no time. No time to think of a way out, no time to escape. No time left to him for anything.

The words he had often spoken to his son came back to him with startling clarity. If you must die, do so with valor. He remembered the time when the words had first occurred to him.

"I'm sorry, Jaster. I should've had your back." He reached out with a gloved hand and touched his mentor's face, felt the cold skin trembling beneath his hands.

Mereel couldn't respond; he looked up at his adopted son silently and helplessly, a soft gurgle escaping from his throat—

There was a brilliant flash of violet that seem to blind out all memories and suns, and then the world went to darkness.

"Myles!" he screamed. What remained of the Mandalorian warrior tumbled to the ground, a bloody heap of sizzling flesh. Beside him, another one of his companions fell, then another. He struggled to save them, save even one, but it was hopeless. One by one, they were all slaughtered.

His vision didn't return, but he could begin to hear somewhat. The sounds of battle echoed all around him, cries of pain just like those on Galidran so long ago. That was the only sensation left to him; he couldn't feel anything.

He realized what had happened.

He tiptoed through the dark apartment, his breathing soft and quiet. Stepping into the bedroom, he brightened the light a few notches, just enough to see the form lying in the bed. He crept to the side of the bed and lowered himself to his knees, on eye level with the slumbering figure.

The small stomach was rising up and down peacefully, the tiny hands buried in the sheets, gripping them tightly. The boy's lips were partially open, and the tip of one of the dark brown curls had fallen into the edge of his mouth. His father reached out and slowly pulled it back, running his hands through the thick curls.

The boy awoke at the touch, the chocolate eyes fluttering open, and he looked up at his father and smiled. "Daddy. You're back."

"Of course I'm back," he said. "Did you think I would leave you?"

But he was preparing to do just that.

Dreaming of his son, worth more to him than anything else in the universe, brought back the thought of training. What had he taught Boba? Everything was growing cloudy, it was hard to remember.

"When you accept a mission. . ." he heard himself saying, ". . . it is all that matters. . . .

"In battle, there can be no mercy."

"Get him, Dad, get him! Fire!"

He heard the familiar hum of the Slave 1, saw himself blasting the Jedi's ship, heard his son laughing happily. "Life is hard," Boba said, "for the small and weak."

Jango was taken aback. "What was that, son?"

"I said, good shooting, Dad!"

He saw the regret on Boba's face as they rocketed away from what was left of the anarchist's camp, heard the boy cry, "Why, Father?"

Why? Jango asked himself. Why?

And then, the heartless laughter that had overtaken his son as the Jedi's ship disappeared—

He understood now what he had done. The constant hours spent drilling mercilessness into his son's head, the codes and rules, the slogans. . . . They would enable the boy to survive on his own, Jango was sure of that.

But his spirit? His soul? What of that?

No, he thought, the truth sinking in. No. . . ! What have I done?

The boy was too young to have the proper judgement. True, mercy was usually something to be avoided in the trade, but there were times when it was good to have a soul. . . . Times when one needed to be human.

Boba would never understand that, not after the senseless propaganda Jango had been pounding into his head for the past five years.

He'll be destroyed, Jango thought. He'll be heartless. He won't be human, no, not after what I've done to him. I've ruined him.

He'll never have a normal life. He'll never really live; he'll go through the motions, yes, but he won't live.

He'll never know what it is to feel joy, to know friendship, never understand what it was I felt when I first held him in my arms. Every time I held him in my arms. After today, he'll never know love again. . . .

A dark wave of despair washed over him, drowning him in its cruelty. Oh, my poor, poor son!

Better that he be dead, than have to live like that.

If only, Jango thought desperately, if only I could tell him right now, that I didn't really mean the things I told him. If only I could take back all those lessons, teach him the right way to live!

He'll be a monster!

If only I hadn't been such a fool, if only I had known! I taught him of honor and loyalty, but spoke little to him of more important things. Friendship and laughter and joy. Love. . . .

He doesn't know these things, but for the love I show him. And rarely have I shown it, for all the time I've spent teaching him to drown out his emotions.

If only I could reach him now, tell him the truth! If only I could start all over! If only—

***

In the stands, the raven-haired boy leaned forward, his mouth opening in what would have quickly become a scream for any normal child, for any human child. It was only his father's teaching that kept him from shedding a tear.