Batman: Dark Side 2 – Dark Prince

Batman: Dark Side 2 – Dark Prince

Castle of Emperor Palpatine, Imperial City, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

"Rise, Prince Xizor, so that I may address you properly," came the withered and raspy voice of Emperor Palpatine.

Prince Xizor raised slowly, the rise of his chin coinciding with that of his body as he stood to face the supreme master of the known galaxy. The Emperor was the only sentient in the entire universe that could ever have the head of Black Sun kneel before him. However, for all of his ability and power, Xizor was sure that Palpatine had no idea of what his true position in the galaxy was. To the Emperor, he was simply a member of one of the royal families of the Falleen; a family that was loyal to the Empire. "What is it that you would have of me, my lord," Xizor said, adding sincerity to his tone.

It was not a total lie, for he indeed had placed himself at the discretion of the Emperor, but for far different reasons that the old man suspected, Xizor reasoned. Political power was nothing to Xizor; like Palpatine, he ruled Black Sun, the largest criminal organization in the galaxy, with ruthless efficiency. He fancied the possibility that he may one day succeed Palpatine, but whether he did or not was of no matter. Placating the Emperor allowed him to know what was happening in the government, and then he could plan Black Sun activities just so that they escaped notice from the military. This ensured his power would remain intact.

There were other reasons as well…

"Tell me, Prince Xizor," the Emperor began as they walked side-by-side down the main passageway. Two Crimson Guardsman in front and back of them, plus several hidden Noghri provided escort. "Do you believe that being a Sith makes you invincible?"

The Emperor referred to the dark order that both he and the accursed Darth Vader belonged to. It was an ancient society, founded on principles relating to something called the "Dark Side of the Force". Xizor knew that the Force was an energy field that seemed to be possessed by all sentient beings and that some beings could even harness its power. The Sith had done so for personal glory; the now-extinct Jedi had used it for more mundane reasons. Those mundane reasons had made them susceptible to the power of the Sith and it was why they had fallen. "I am sure, my lord, that one such as I, who has not the ability required or the knowledge required to even begin to debate such an issue. I only have you and Lord Vader to provide me with an example of the power of the Force."

The Emperor clapped his hands. "Spoken like a true diplomat, Prince Xizor! If only the other members of my court were so eloquent in their responses."

Xizor bowed his head at the compliment. "May I ask why such a question is being posed to me, my lord?"

They stopped and the Emperor turned to the Crimson Guardsmen. "Leave us, now!" he cackled.

Obedient to a fault, the Guardsman immediately marched out of the hall, closing the massive door behind them. The Emperor closed his eyes and Xizor noticed his lips moving, as if he were chanting something. Suddenly, the Emperor's eyes popped open and he smiled a vile grin. "I had to ensure we were totally alone; even my Noghri are gone, so I must beware if you were to attack me…"

Xizor bowed his head to the Emperor. "I would sooner cut the throat of my own child as raise even a finger against my sworn liege."

The Emperor nodded approval. "You're species, though reptilian, is quite close to human, Prince, but I still cannot make out your thoughts…but I sense that there is truth in your words. You have much anger in you…"

"My anger is directed at those who would try to keep order from controlling the galaxy. Though I am not old enough to remember it clearly, I do know that the Old Republic was chaotic and corrupt; roaming bands of mercenary Jedi enforcing law at will…"

The Emperor shook a finger at Xizor. "Exactly as I have tried to tell the people of the Empire…to keep them from falling in with this rebel riff-raff." There was a twinkle in the Emperor's eye. Both men were fencing a duel of words, letting nothing slip by, but knowing full well what the intended strike by their opponent would be. It was a game that many powerful figures had played throughout history and it was a game both of these men were skilled at. "You heard, of course, about our defeat at Yavin?"

"Yes, a lucky strike, my lord, a fluke…"

"Maybe so, maybe no," the Emperor interrupted. He knew more than he was letting on and that bothered Xizor. Information concerning the destruction of the Death Star was scarce, especially since the only survivor had been Lord Vader, and he and the Dark Lord were certainly not on speaking terms. How a lone starfighter had managed to destroy a battle station 120 kilometers in diameter was beyond him. The first thought that had run its course through Black Sun was that the rebels had obtained a secret weapon, but nothing certain had been obtained. Xizor was hoping to find out the answer from the Emperor personally, but it appeared that information would have to wait. "You heard that Lord Vader survived?"

"Yes, my lord; I was quite relieved," he lied, trying to keep his anger in check. "I was saddened by the loss of Grand Moff Tarkin." Another lie. Tarkin had been a rival for the Emperor's favor and his demise opened many doors for the prince.

The Emperor paused. "Yes. Tarkin's loss has greatly affected the Empire, but that is not why we are talking right now. Lord Vader's near escape from destruction has gotten me thinking. There may come a time when Vader may no longer be with us…"

Xizor got the message quite clearly through the innocent statement. While stating concern for the Dark Lord of the Sith, the Emperor was also hinting that without Tarkin, the Emperor was running out of ways to keep Vader in line. Vader's obedience to his master had always seemed absolute and obviously, Xizor deduced, something had occurred at Yavin to give the Emperor pause. "Please, tell your humble servant what he may do to alleviate your concerns."

"I once had another apprentice. Lord Maul," the Emperor began, a sound almost like nostalgia in his voice. "He was a true Sith, not a turned Jedi like Vader. I raised him in the ways of the Dark Side, fed him the Force from my very hands. He was magnificent."

Xizor nodded, but began organizing his thoughts. Darth Maul had been responsible for effectively shutting down Black Sun just prior to the Invasion of Naboo by the Trade Federation. It was because of Darth Maul that the opportunities that led to his eventual leadership of Black Sun had been possible. Up until now, he only suspected that Maul had been the Emperor's apprentice. "His name is familiar, but I may be thinking of someone else…"

The Emperor started walking again, as he always did during these private conversations, pacing the halls of an empty castle. It reminded Xizor of fairy tale his mother had told him as a child. He stepped in with the Emperor as he began to speak again. "You see, the Sith are not invincible, as was demonstrated by Lord Maul's death at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He was one of two individuals to ever hold their own against Maul. Do you know whom the other was, Prince Xizor?"

For the first time in what seemed forever, the Dark prince actually had no clue. He was aware that Maul had killed many people in his short life, including Qui-Gon Jinn, considered by many to be a fierce Jedi warrior. "I'm afraid you have the advantage over me, my lord."

"At the time, I thought my apprentice was experiencing a dream of some sort; he spoke of another world controlled by Jedi who manifested the Force in most unusual ways. There was one, however, that had no Jedi ability and he was able to hold his own in combat with my apprentice. I know this because Lord Maul's mind was open to me at all times and I picked the memories from his brain."

It was an intriguing idea; a human who could battle Sith to a standstill. "Surely this man must be dead by now, my lord?"

"The thought had occurred to me…but what if there was another? What if this warrior had an apprentice?"

Xizor began to see where the Emperor was going with this conversation. He decided to act. "If it would please you, I have access to certain…operatives that may be able to get you information concerning this…I'm sorry, what was the individual's name?"

The Emperor smiled. "He called himself Batman, the Dark Knight."

"Batman?" Xizor repeated. "Odd name to be sure, my lord." Odd indeed for the prince had never encountered such a title. "If I could have only a few days…"

The Emperor laid a cold hand on Xizor's shoulder. He would be bathing for a week now, he lamented. "Do this for me, Xizor, and I promise you that your standing in the royal court will be elevated beyond your widest dreams."

Xizor was sure that Emperor had no idea how far his dreams went, but he accepted the blessing, bowed and excused himself. Once outside the hallway, he was met by an attractive blonde-haired human wearing a blue and gold flight suit. 'You heard?" he asked as they walked towards the waiting air shuttle.

"I did. Incredible if you believe it. Darth Maul devastated Black Sun; he defeated every single bodyguard that was employed at the time, including a Dathomir Witch. It took two Jedi Knights to finally bring him down."

"One, actually, but we know from history that Obi-Wan Kenobi was an exceptional Jedi Knight." They passed two men in scarlet blaster armor, who fell in behind them. "Contact all of our operatives; I want any and all information on this Batman. I also want the Emperor's files on the subject so get a good slicer on it immediately."

Guri nodded and began punching the orders into her datapad as they entered the hanger bay. Standing there, supervising repairs on a personal fighter was a young woman with red hair. The prince stopped before her. "Good day to you, Mara Jade." Normally, such an attractive woman would prompt Xizor to produce pheromones. The scent of a male Falleen was enough to seduce any normal human female. Mara Jade, however, was far from being normal by any standard. She was one of the Emperor's personal assassins, trained in the ways of the Force he had heard.

Mara Jade nodded to the prince. "You seem to have my master's confidences today, Prince Xizor, I pray that his trust in you is worthwhile…"

Xizor smiled and tipped his head to the woman before moving on to his private shuttle. "I'd kill her if I could," he whispered to Guri.

"Not a good idea, the Emperor fawns over her like a doting father. Be cautious; she may be on a mission to watch you…"

He hadn't considered that. The Emperor would probably be very interested in finding out how Xizor acquired his information. "We'll resort to Plan B, I suppose. Contact Boba Fett and tell him to meet me at our usual location."

As they entered the shuttle, they failed to see Mara Jade watching their moves very carefully.

3 standard days later, Prince Xizor's castle, Coruscant…

"It's a complex situation, one that calls for discretion…your style of discretion," Xizor said, his back to his guest. He sniffed the beverage in his glass, a vintage of the late planet of Alderaan. The bottle it came from had gone up over 500% in value since the destruction of the planet by Grand Moff Tarkin. It mattered little to Xizor, money was a consideration for lesser beings. Xizor measured wealth, like an ancient devil, in the souls he and Black Sun possessed. His guest, the fearsome bounty hunter known as Boba Fett, was a being he knew he would never control. Fett was a force of nature at times, wild and unpredictable, and yet there was a beauty to his methods, much like a storm in the summer. "The fee is whatever you name."

The man behind the Maladorian armor betrayed no emotions at the offer, his voice mechanical as it was filtered through his helmet's speaker. "Why don't you put a contract through the Guild?"

Xizor laughed. The Bounty Hunter's Guild was supposed to be the resource of the best of the best; both he and Fett knew it was a lie. Boba Fett's association with the Guild, even at times he decided to work with it, was strained. "As I said, this is a complex situation. This involves matters of the highest secrecy; I know from your reputation, Hunter Fett, that you'll die before revealing any of the information from our conversation."

It seemed to satisfy the bounty hunter. He remained unmoving, his wookie braids, souvenirs of previous bounties, flittered in the air currents from the ventilation system. Fett scanned the room, noting the presence of the android Guri in the far corner. The mechanical being had cost over 5 million credits, according to Fett's sources and she was the best of her kind. She was obviously here to protect the prince, though he had nothing to fear from Boba Fett. While there were several bounties on the leader of Black Sun, none were worth the loss of business that would ensue with the Falleen's death. "What's the bounty?"

Xizor turned, his green skin taking on a warmer hue as the beverage worked its way through his system. Tonight, he was in a festive mood as his broad smile demonstrated. "Tell me, Hunter Fett, are you familiar with non-linear hyperspace physics? Specifically something called a Tarrat Nexus?"

Fett nodded. "A Devronian scientist named Arlat Tarrat developed the theory about two centuries ago. It very complicated, but the heart of it is that he believed that objects don't actually move through hyperspace, they move through time. His theory was disproved, of course, but it did open the door for other schools of thought."

Xizor bowed his head in respect. "You are quite correct, bounty hunter. One of those schools of thought states that objects don't actually move through hyperspace, they actually move through different dimensions, at interspatial defects in quantum fields. There have been recorded occurrences of this phenomenon occurring near black holes. Some theorize that the famed Katana Fleet actually slipped into another dimension and was unable to return."

"Interesting theories, but that doesn't answer my question. Who do you want brought in?"

Xizor moved over to his favorite couch and sat down. He held up his glass and Guri moved from the shadows, clad in a shear gown of the finest silk, carrying the bottle of wine. "A human. I don't know his name specifically; I don't even know if he exists."

Fett shook his head. "I don't go on wild bantha chases."

Xizor waited for Guri to finish filling his glass and then sent her back to her corner. "Oh, this is no folly or fool's gamble, my dear Boba Fett; it is the bounty of a lifetime. You will be sent into another dimension, you will seek out the apprentice of a Dark Knight, and bring them back to me."

"I'll pass," Fett said, turning around to leave.

Xizor expected as much and pressed a small button on the arm of his couch. Instantly, an inhibitor field surrounded every exit from the apartment. Fett slowly turned around and drew his blaster rifle. He aimed it at Xizor. "I wouldn't do this, prince," Fett said.

Xizor nodded to Guri, who stepped up to Fett. They stared at each other for long moments and Fett added up the odds of beating the android in hand-to-hand combat.

He lowered the weapon. She smiled and stepped back. "It seems I am your prisoner," Fett said sarcastically. He knew he could easily fire the rocket from his jet pack and put a hole through the ceiling and fly out. He was also confident that he could kill Xizor very easily, but he didn't have the information necessary to ascertain how much damage Guri could take.

"Not at all, I understand your apprehension. Many things need to be explained, but I'm afraid that I cannot allow you to refuse this. It's that important to me."

That was as close as Prince Xizor got to begging for help and Boba Fett added up the numbers in his head. He could only benefit from helping Black Sun on this. "Okay, but I want full details on everything. Oh, and you supply the ship for the dimensional jump…I'm not putting any of your equipment on my ship."

Xizor sat back and smiled, swirling the wine in the glass. "Of course. Guri will provide you all of the background on the world you are going to. It's called Earth."

The sound of the name reminded Fett of a Gammorean breaking wind. "Not a very imposing name."

"No, and the inhabitants, humans mostly, are for the most part weak and self-indulgent. However, reports from 30 years ago indicate a high number of Jedi Knights protecting the world."

"Jedi could be a small problem. You said thirty years ago?"

Clearing his throat, Xizor took a sip before beginning. "Indeed. It seems the Emperor himself had an…operative scout the world."

"How did this operative know about the world? How do we know it's in another dimension?"

"Let's just assume that it is for now; the truth is that all of this is theory. Maybe it's another dimension, maybe the Emperor's operative traveled through time? That is unimportant. What is important is that there was a great warrior on that planet protecting a place called Gotham City; he called himself Batman, the public called him the Dark Knight."

Fett paused for a moment. "Was he a Sith? That presents an even bigger problem…"

"No Force-ability at all," Xizor said, smiling.

"Thirty years is a long time for humans," Fett said, referring specifically to the prince. Though he tried to make it seem he was only 30 standard years of age, the truth was the Xizor was well past 100. "This Dark Knight is probably dead, dying or decomposed."

"The Batman had a mate, a woman of great beauty and foul tongue I am told. I believe that Batman may have had an apprentice, a Padawan Learner if you will. That is who I want."

"And I can name any price?" Fett said, eyeing Guri. The android actually took a step back.

"Any."

That cinched it for Bona Fett; if Xizor were willing to part with his most precious possession for this apprentice of the Batman fro another dimension, then Fett would be a fool not to take this bounty. He had no interest in the android, but he had heard rumors of certain equipment that Xizor had access to. He wanted that equipment. "Payment on delivery. You try anything funny, I'll vape the apprentice and anyone else," he nodded again to Guri, "who gets in my way."

After Fett had been let out to examine the ships in the prince's personal hanger bay, Guri came over to sit down next to her master. Xizor was starting to take on an even warmer tone of color and her android brain began running her seduction protocols. It was not a difficult task, as that was originally what her series had been designed for: perfect mates for rich aristocrats. "Should I kill him when it's over, to ensure his silence?" she asked, kissing the prince on the neck.

"No. Boba Fett, whether he admits it or not, is one of us. He has the inner strength to fight his way to the top of the food chain. No, my dear, better to keep him as an ally then ever attempt to make him an enemy. At least not now. There is much to do if I am going to ever get my revenge on Darth Vader."

There was no reply as the two fell into a lover's embrace. Across the wide expanse from the castle to the next building, a red-haired woman brought down the macrobinoculars she had been using to observe the meeting. Mara Jade had no interest in watching the alien prince with his toy, the thought of it making her feel unclean. She had recognized Boba Fett, but that wasn't anything new. The rich and powerful of the galaxy were the only ones who could afford the bounty hunter.

Mara Jade was sure, though, that Prince Xizor was not the political flunky that he wanted to appear to be, but her efforts to sniff out any skeletons from his closet had bore no fruit. He was as slippery as his reptilian ancestors, but Mara Jade was not about to give up.

New York City, Earth, present day…

Roy Harper's head hurt and he rubbed it, hoping that the touch of his hand would make the pain go away. His favorite glasses had been broken and he had three lumps on his skull from the pounding he had received at the hands of Deathstroke, the Terminator. That was the foe the Titans were currently engaging, and he was by far the one with most history with the team.

It was hard to judge Slade Wilson, the man behind the half orange/half black mask of Deathstroke. There were times when he had actually been ally of the Titans; his own son had served on the team. But then, he would always go back to his mercenary ways and even though he was not a great success at battling super-heroes, he was always able to find employers that would give him tons of money to beat up on Roy and his teammates.

Roy started to try and get back up from where he had landed when Deathstroke had landed a roundhouse kick on him, when he saw a red and yellow blur pass by him. Jessie Quick, the resident speedster of the Titans, was trying to move in for the "killing blow", by running faster that the human eye could perceive. She wasn't feeling good today and her speed was down; Roy shouldn't have even caught the blur.

As she moved in to try and knock him out with a single super-speed punch, Deathstroke whipped his battle stave around and caught her right on the forehead. Her momentum caused her to veer to the right, where she slammed into Garth, their fellow Titan named Tempest. Garth was a big man, strong and muscular, but Jessie's speeding form hit him like a freight train and both went tumbling over a hill and down into a construction yard. Deathstroke dodged and attack from Nightwing, the leader of the team. "You're getting slow in your old age, Grayson," Deathstroke laughed.

Roy shook his head; this battle was getting them nowhere. The reason for it was still lost to the former partner of Green Arrow and he sighed at the futility. "Whatever happened to the good old days of master plans and world domination? Now, everybody with spandex wants to kick someone else's ass just for kicks."

"Little help here, Roy!" Nightwing called as Deathstroke landed a solid punch to his stomach.

Roy reached down and picked up a rock and tossed it. The rock, guided by his uncanny aim, smacked the super-powered mercenary in the forehead. "Arsenal!" Deathstroke roared at Roy. "You little snot! I've had it with you!"

Nightwing took advantage of the momentary reprieve and backed up. He needed to buy a little time so that Jessie and Garth could get back to the scene of the battle. The Terminator was a powerful and highly skilled enemy. He had gone after Tempest, who was attending a local function in his role as the Atlantean Ambassador to the United Nations. A political murder-for-hire. Unfortunately for the Terminator, he seemed to forget that Tempest had quite a few friends.

"Bite me, Wilson! You're nothing more than a cheap hit man!" Arsenal called back, stepping in a little closer. He knew that Deathstroke was using this time to gather his strength as well. Slade Wilson was a metahuman, his body enhanced with strength, speed and endurance. He had the skills of both Arsenal and Nightwing, but not to their degree of mastery. Sure, Roy could outshoot him, but while he was doing that, Deathstroke would just slap him down with martial arts. He would go hand-to-hand with Nightwing, and then shoot him. It was a catch-22 situation that never seemed to go away. "I am so sick of your wrinkly old butt strolling down here to New York and picking fights with us."

Deathstroke sneered behind his mask. "After I kill you here, Harper, I'm going after your girlfriend Cheshire…"

Roy rolled his eyes, keeping his attention while Nightwing stepped slowly to the left. It was just like they had practiced. The problem was, they knew that Deathstroke was aware of their moves. They had to be fast to do this. "She's the mother of my daughter…not my girlfriend…"

"And then, I'm going to waste your daughter…."

Roy launched himself at Deathstroke immediately, while Nightwing moved in to pull Wilson away. A primal snarl erupted from Arsenal's throat. "Don't you ever threaten my daughter!" he cried, landing a solid punch on Deathstroke's jaw.

Nightwing knew that if he didn't break them up, one of them was going to get killed. Wilson had guessed their plan and had goaded Roy into messing up their timing. It was times like this that Dick Grayson, the man behind the Nightwing mask, wished he had other teammates. Roy wouldn't last five minutes working for Batman, he thought.

The two heroes and villains were so enthralled with either causing or preventing death, that they failed to notice the brief glint of sunlight of the helmet of someone watching them. On the rook of a four-story building, Boba Fett watched with interest the battle below. He had been on this world for 5 standard days and he was sick of it already. It made no sense to him. In certain areas, there was technology that was unrivaled, yet most of the planet was in a state of poverty. They had relations with other worlds, places with names like Rann, Thanagar and Daxam, yet most of the population refused to believe in life on other planets. Fett was convinced that fools inhabited this planet for the most part.

Xizor's computers in the Virago Ultra, a custom space craft, had managed to tap into the world's information system, called the internet, and special enhancement devices in his helmet had allowed him to learn a few of the languages of the world. He had also accessed several databases on the history of the planet, including the rise of the Jedi-like beings called metahumans. Several displayed abilities that were easily explained by mutation, Force-talent or technological enhancement; but there were others that simply baffled the mind. One in particular, called Green Lantern, especially intrigued the bounty hunter. This warrior represented a fallen army, much in the same manner that Fett did by wearing Maladorian armor. What was so fascinating was the choice of weapon, a simple ring that manifested energy in physical form.

Boba Fett had seen much of the known galaxy and had never encountered such a thing. The rumors were that the ring was powered by will alone. If he were to obtain this…

Not today, he thought. No, he was here to finish a job. Perhaps he would be able to come back here and pursue more personal interests, but not today. The internet had several references to the so-called Batman, even digital images of him. It occurred to Fett that perhaps this Batman was a Sith, able to use the Force to retard the aging process much like the Emperor. However, as he viewed footage of the Dark Knight, he began to notice some things. There were several persons calling themselves Batman, one even wearing armor. There was no way to be sure if the Batman that was supposedly in Gotham City was the one who had fought the Emperor's operative, or if it was someone else entirely.

"The Emperor's operative," Fett said silently. Were he someone else, he would have taken offense at Xizor's arrogance; as if he would not know about the infamous Darth Maul! Boba Fett knew about anyone who might be a potential threat, and that was his main reason for finally taking this mission. He needed to size up this Batman's apprentice, to see if Xizor was planning to use him to take down anyone he deemed a danger to his power base. Oh, he knew that the apprentice would eventually be delivered to the Emperor, and Fett could care less why, but what happened before that time was of great interest to the bounty hunter.

Though the reports on the Batman were conflicting, the reports on his apprentice were not. Where the Dark Knight shunned the populace, his apprentice appeared to take delight in being out in the open. For years, he had led these "Jedi", for lack of a better term, in a war against the so-called forces of evil. Fett had decided long ago that there was no such thing as evil, only power. When someone coveted your power, you called them evil; when someone protected your power, you called them good. Boba Fett had little time for semantics.

The warrior in the blue chain armor, with the half-black mask interested Fett. They were kindred spirits he felt. He sensed the determination of the one called Deathstroke and even possibly considered taking him in as well. Though it wasn't something he did all of the time, Fett could see where this Deathstroke might make a good partner for a time. He finally dismissed the thought, sure that it would end up with Fett killing him.

Fett brought up the stun rifle and aimed at the three combatants. It was so easy, dealing with these primitives, that he almost felt sorry. He dismissed that thought as well as he pulled the trigger.

A blue light field emitted from the rifle and spread out towards the ground below. Some law enforcement people were caught in it and they immediately fell. When the field struck the combatants, they jumped apart. The red-haired one, who was fighting like Hutt over a meal, immediately fell back, moaning. Fett realized that the clothing the other two were wearing was protecting them. Activating his jet pack, Fett leapt into the air and then began his descent to the ground below. The one called Nightwing, his quarry, turned to look at his fallen teammate. Deathstroke turned to face Fett.

Had he the time, Fett would have engaged him physically. He had studied Deathstroke's moves and found him to be lacking in properly defending his upper left quadrant. As Fett landed, he pulled out his blaster pistol and shot at Deathstroke. The mercenary dodged, but just barely, and rolled to a crouch. Fett saw him moving the firing end of his battle stave; a practical weapon Fett was sure, but with a limited power supply. He had estimated that Deathstroke only had two more shots at best out of it.

Deathstroke fired, yelling something that went too fast for Fett to comprehend. His jet back raised him in the air and he immediately fired his grappling line at his attacker. Deathstroke brought up the battle stave and caught the line, causing it to wrap around it. Fett hit the release on his end of the line, just as Deathstroke started to pull. With no weight on the other end, the Terminator was momentarily off balance. A knee dart, filled with a mild sedative, launched from the bounty hunter and struck the mercenary high on the left shoulder. From behind his mask, Deathstroke eye began to roll and he fell back almost immediately.

Fett landed and faced Nightwing, who was standing straight and assuming a fighting stance. "I don't know who you are, but you're going to hurt innocent people, shooting around like that," the hero said.

Fett spoke slowly, his mouth forming the strange words. "You will come with me. Resist and you will die."

"I don't think so, pal; look behind you," Nightwing said, slowly crossing his arms across his chest.

Fett didn't bother. He was aware already of the apprentice's allies to his rear. The female, quite beautiful Fett had to admit, appeared to be the greatest danger. "Final warning."

He saw a slight twitch in his adversary's jaw and whirled. He unslung the stun rifle and shot Tempest and Jessie. Both fell immediately. He ran over to them, hearing the footsteps of his pursuer behind him. Just as he got to the female, he twisted again, firing the stun rifle at Nightwing.

The hero, already shaken by the first blast, succumbed to the second. Small blue whirls of electricity danced on his body. It had been too easy, but then Fett wasn't here to fight. That could always wait for another day. He moved slowly over to the fallen body of Nightwing and activated the slave rigging of his craft. Soon, he would be home.