Companion chapter to RebornKenya Starflight
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For those who thought Boba Fett's story wasn't properly concluded in "Recompense" (and you all know who you are…), here's a "missing scene" – Boba's discussion with his father.
This is the first time I've written Jango's character (I don't really count his cameo in "Eye of the Storm," because there wasn't much interaction there), so if there are inaccuracies, I apologize.
It was perhaps the most difficult thing he'd ever done – standing up to the very man who'd slaughtered his father. But a fierce sense of triumph still burned in his breast as the courtroom emptied, Anakin Skywalker's trial over. He had finally faced down Master Windu, and he'd come out victorious, even if it was only a battle of words and not of weapons. He had finally brought the proud Jedi Order down a few pegs.
But he was now facing another confrontation, and this one he wasn't so sure about. If anything, it filled him with more dread than any other encounter in his life, even if this man intended no harm but simply wanted an explanation.
In the doorway of the courtroom, as if not daring to cross the threshold, was Jango Fett, silver armor gleaming, arms hanging loosely at his sides.
Boba groped his way forward through the crowd to reach the man. "Father…"
Jango raised a hand to silence him. "Follow me," was all he said.
Boba shut his mouth and obeyed, his guts taut with apprehension.
Outside the courtroom he'd expected to see just about anything but what met his eyes – the drenched waterscape of Kamino. Rain poured down and blurred his sight, slicking every available surface to a mirror-like polish. The sweeping curves and domes of the cloners' city surrounded them, though no other soul seemed to stir. It was as if he and his father were the only beings here.
"What?" he breathed, the painful stirrings of homesickness rising in his throat.
"The realm of the Force is whatever you make of it," Jango replied, not turning to face his son. He strode forward to a familiar oblong ship – the Slave. Not the battered ship of his bounty hunting days, nor the black-and-chrome death machine from his Sith years, but his father's vehicle, still as sleek and well-cared-for as ever.
"We're going for a flight," Jango told him.
Boba followed Jango to the ship, nostalgia sweeping over him. How many times had he flown with his father, begging to be given a chance to take the controls, cheering the elder Fett on whenever they chased down an enemy? A thousand images crowded his mind, a thousand pictures of a simpler time… before his father's death… before the Emperor's manipulative promises… before the darkness.
Neither of them spoke as the Slave powered up and ascended. Boba watched the rivulets of rain streak the viewscreen, waiting to be lectured. How many times had his father cautioned him to not get involved with Force-users, no matter what was at stake? They were cunning, they were ruthless, they were untrustworthy… and Jango should know, for it had been through the treachery of both the Jedi and the Sith that he had met his death.
"What happened, Boba?" was all Jango asked.
Boba leaned back in the passenger seat, a place he had not occupied for decades. "You know already," he shot back. His father had always had a knack for figuring out Boba's latest prank or trouble making, no matter how hard he tried to keep it hidden.
Jango set the ship to autopilot, then turned to face his son. "I want to hear it from you."
Boba closed his eyes. This was damnably unfair. Why should he have to go through this? Why should he have to relive this all over again?
Reluctantly, irritably, he related the whole horrible tale – his capture on Ord Mantell, his repeated interviews with the Emperor, the monarch's back-handed tactics to anger him and get him to pledge his loyalty to the Sith. He told his father how he'd agreed to the procedure to become Force-sensitive, how he'd faced down the Skywalkers in battle and vowed to destroy them… and how he'd plotted his perverse revenge on the Jedi by attempting to kill Anakin Skywalker in front of Luke. In his mind he had justified the action as payback for seeing his own father murdered at a Jedi's hand, but now…
Finished with the story, he turned away from his father's prying gaze and glared out the viewport, waiting for some sort of scolding remark. He felt like a child again, a child awaiting punishment for some breach of the rules…
"Boba," Jango said quietly, "I need to know. What made you do it?"
He turned back to face his father. "You know. I told you. I wanted to avenge your death."
"I did it for you, Father," he went on. "All of it. I promised myself that no child would ever have to go through what I went through ever again. And I vowed to use the Force to ensure that."
Jango didn't reply, only carefully watched his son.
"Palpatine told me… he told me I could use the Force for so much good… that I could avenge your death once and for all… and that I could crush the last of the Order… prevent them from retaking the galaxy…"
Those black eyes seemed to bore into him, seeking more answers.
"I vowed to destroy the Jedi! I vowed to kill Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker! I did it for you! Don't you appreciate that at all? The madness, the pain, the betrayal… I did it for you, Father! I would have destroyed Vader for you, destroyed him before his own son, blood for blood…"
He collapsed on himself, choking on his emotion. "Stars, what have I done?" he moaned. "Am I no better than Master Windu was? Am I no better than the Emperor?"
A hand clasped on his shoulder. "My son…"
"Oh, my father… I'm so sorry…"
"My son." Jango pulled off Boba's battered helmet, studied the face that was so like his own, ruffled the jet-black hair as he had done so when his son was a boy. "I forgive you. I love you. You are my son, and nothing can change that."
Boba couldn't bring himself to meet Jango's gaze. "I'm not the son you wanted… I've done nothing to make you proud of me…"
"I am… disappointed," Jango replied. "But that doesn't change the fact that you are my flesh and blood."
"How can you love me? I committed atrocities, I killed innocents, I let the Emperor use me, I dragged your name through the mud…"
Jango chuckled. "Do you truly think someone can simply stop loving their child after so many years?"
Boba wanted to say that he wouldn't know, he'd never had children, but he kept his mouth shut.
"All those years ago, when I was asked to donate my genetic sample for the creation of a clone army, my first demand for repayment was for a clone of myself. I had no intention of being a father – I simply thought I needed a protégé, someone to carry on in my stead when I became too old to chase down targets. I wanted no genetic tampering, no age acceleration – I only wanted someone who could follow in my footsteps.
"But everything changed when Taun We lifted you out of the embryonic chamber and placed you, screaming fit to shake the stars, into my arms. Something stirred inside me that day – the love a father feels for a son. I had never dreamed of raising a child, of starting a family. And to tell the truth, it scared the poodoo out of me.
"You were my greatest joy, my son, and my greatest sorrow. You were my strength, and yet you were my weakness. You were foremost in my mind whenever I departed on a hunt – a talisman of sorts, something to draw encouragement from. You were a source of pride, for in you I could see myself, what I once was, and envision a better future for you. And yet you were my greatest fear, greater than any foe I could encounter. For how could I be sure I was an adequate father? How could I be sure I wouldn't make some stupid mistake that could flaw you forever?
"After my death, you were scared and lonely. You thought I had left you. But I hadn't, my son. I was always there. I shared your pain. I witnessed your struggles, your triumphs and failures. I whispered encouragement in your trials, rejoiced with you in your victories, wept with you in your losses. I saw you grow into a young man, a cunning warrior.
"And the night the Emperor turned you to his cause, the first time you called him Master, I thought my heart would break."
Boba felt shameful moisture on his cheeks. How could he have been so blind? He had always felt his father near, even in his darkest hours. How could he have missed his presence?
"When you turned, I couldn't go near you. The dark side was like a repelling aura, keeping me from touching you. I could only watch as you took a path I could not follow you down." He inhaled deeply, struggling to keep his own emotions under control. "That has to be the most difficult challenge of all – having to watch your offspring make mistakes, without being there to help them through or pick up the pieces afterward."
The hands on his shoulders tightened. "Oh my son, I would have rather died a thousand horrible deaths than seen you suffer like that."
"It was hell…" Boba said in a tight whisper, agony dripping from every word. "The darkness… it smothered me… it chained me… the pain… the pain…"
"And had it been in my power, I would have freed you," Jango replied. "But it had to be your decision to break free, your decision to renounce the dark side." He took Boba's chin in his hand and forced him to make eye contact. "When you helped Luke in the Archives, you defied the dark side. The Jedi might not consider what you did absolution, but in my eyes, you were redeemed. And in that moment, I felt nothing but pride for you."
Boba smiled, something he hadn't done in so long.
"Boba Fett," Jango told him, "I don't care what the Jedi decide when you finally go to trial. You are my son. You are not Darth Kain, but Boba Fett, the son of Jango Fett. You are a bounty hunter who strayed into the dark paths for a season but, in the end, accomplished more good than anyone could have thought possible. You are my son, my greatest treasure, and don't let anyone try to tell you otherwise."
"Father," murmured Boba. "I love you. I missed you so much. And I will do all in my power to restore honor to our family's name. I promise you that."
"My son," Jango beamed.
"My father," Boba replied.
And father embraced son, the younger leaning against the older as if he had become a child again.