Tron Dreon ran breathlessly through the thick foliage of the dense wood

The First Vader Job

Tron Dreon ran breathlessly through the thick foliage of the dense wood. He didn't dare look back as he tripped and jogged heavily through the forest. He knew that if he made it to his ship, he would be safe. He knew that if he stopped...well, he wouldn't stop. Panic and fear quickened his pace as he continued the pace.

Tron felt the large droplets of sweat run into his shirt and soak his collar. He bled from the countless amounts of vines and bramble he had ran up against as he ran through the forest. His body stung and ached with a sour feeling he could feel even in the hollows of his bones. This planet of Havorken had so far proved to be a nightmarish disaster.

As he ran, Tron thought back to the whole ordeal that started this deadly journey to this planet. He had been on Tatooine, in a bar out near the Dune Sea when a band of dirty junkyard thieves had ridden in on a couple of swoop bikes. There were about twenty of them. They had said they were looking for help on a "big job." They had said that it paid well and because he needed the money, he thought it would be the perfect opportunity for the extra cash he needed.

Once Tron volunteered, he found out they were going to hit a local Imperial base used as a credit storing outpost. It was small, so they figured it probably wouldn't house too many troops. But it seemed their carelessness would result in their doom.

Once the whole band got there, breaking in was pretty easy. Didn't look like it had too many personnel. They threw in a couple of detonators and that took care of the entrance. Once inside, they found there were only a few stormtroopers, which they took out within a few minutes. It was a strange setup, no security fixtures could be seen nor droids or guards. That was the first thing that should have clued them in, but the members of this renegade bunch were reckless and took no heed to such details. They advanced inside quickly, finding that the building was built down into the ground. Moving swiftly down a transport shaft, a large open warehouse revealed an arsenal of classified troopers and cyborgs.

Lucky for Tron, he was standing in the back of the mob of thieves. When he saw the troops, he turned and hauled tail back up the facility and out the blasted door while the rest of his band were arrested and taken to interrogation. Unfortunately, the band was not very trustworthy and quickly told about their missing companion.
And that is what started this whole thing.

When Tron found out that the Empire had set out a bounty for him, he had fled to this stinking planet in the Outer Rim Territory. He had stumbled upon it in his star charts and found that it was uninhabited, but had a safe atmosphere to live in. He figured that he would wait it out here while this whole mess straightened out.

Tron didn't think anyone would find him there. Not just anyone did. He did. He had been filling his refresher with water from a small stream when he had heard a low rumble. Thinking it was probably the signs of another small storm he thought nothing of it. He looked up into the sky and saw not one cloud. Tron felt a prickle creep up his neck as he felt something. There was something terribly, terribly wrong with this. That's when he saw the unmistakable shape of that ship... Tron dropped the refresher and scrambled to his feet. That's when the run began.

Now Tron could feel his last amounts of energy leaving his broken body. He had been running for what seemed like hours. He knew that soon he would not be able to keep going. He summed up every ounce of nerve he had and finally looked over his shoulder into the darkness behind him. He stopped. Panting, he bent over and stared back. The only thing he could see for several miles was dense trees and various plants of different sizes.

Tron sat down heavily on the root of one of the larger trees. He smiled to himself and wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. "Finally...safe..." he breathed out.

"Not quite," a voice behind him commented harshly.

Tron felt the terror building within him. He knew whom it was that was standing behind him. He could feel the evil emanating from the figure he could not stand to see. His face turned a pasty white as he managed to glance at him, a wave of nausea hitting his stomach so hard that he felt he might be sick.

As he circled around, Tron saw the distinct Mandalorian armor, glistening with weaponry some never even knew existed. The T-shaped visor of the threatening helmet that hid the acute eyes he knew were staring icily into him. Boba Fett.

"You didn't think I wouldn't find you? The Empire is paying me well to bring your lousy carcass in," Fett said in a cold voice, flat and emotionless. There was no glint of pride nor victory in his voice. It was just another hunt to him. Another day. Nothing more.

Tron began backing up nervously. He reached to his side to retrieve his blaster. He knew it was hopeless to think he could beat Fett, but he thought that maybe he'd get lucky, not to say luck had been with him lately. He looked down. To his own horror, he found that he had dropped it! He had run up against something and broken it off from its holster! He quickly turned his back and ran again. His fright made him clumsy, though, and he tripped over a small plant and sprawled to the ground.

Fett walked up, calmly, smoothly. He was not rushed. Tron, on the other hand, crawled to his feet and broke into a slight jog. Fett felt a tug of annoyance. The chase had been good, but now it had to end. He lifted up his own blaster and fired two shots square in the man's back. He immediately fell to the ground in a smoking heap.
The hunter walked up to the body. Many times he had found employers who were insistent on having the body of the prey. Fett had never asked why, but then again, it wasn't his business to ask questions. Just to get the job done right and receive payment for it.

Fett regarded the body silently. He finally reached into a small pouch in his belt and pulled out a small comrecorder. He turned it on. "Termination of one Tron Breon for the crime of intrusion and deception to the Empire. Payment is two thousand credits to be received upon delivery."

Fett put the recorder back into the pouch and touched a small dial at the base of his helmet. "Come to my coordinates," he commanded. Within a few moments, his small hoverbike came crashing through the wood.

Boba Fett sat back in the small cockpit seat of the Slave I. He had placed Tron's body in a small med dome to keep the smell of his dead body from spreading throughout the ship. His legs and back burned intensely from the long run. He had rubbed balm into them to relax them before landing, but when the run started, the medicine had no affect on them.

Fett reached up and snapped off the fittings that kept his helmet on and slid it off. He balanced it on the control panel and leaned back against the seat. He ran his fingers through the sandy blackish mop that was his hair. The hair that no one had ever seen. In all truth, the face that no one had ever seen. And he hoped to keep it that way…people had no business seeing what he had left behind so long ago. Better to let dead identities remain so.

Small coolant fans washed cool jets of air over his face and neck. Fett closed his eyes, thinking of when everyone knew his face. Back on Concord Dawn. When people would come down the street and see the squadron of Protectors in their rugged outfits. Back when…he had a place to call home.

Fett's eyes jerked open. He didn't want to think back. It was a loss that could never be brought back. There was nothing to think about now. It was gone. Past. He looked about the small quarters of the ship. This was his home now. And this was how it would always be. The loneliness of space was his realm and he was the alpha, and so would it always remain.

No time to think of past doings, so he thought about where he was on his way to. His employer had said to meet him at a new outpost on the small planet of Yinchoor. This employer was a new one. What was his name? Vader? Something like that. Fett had heard from a few connections that this Vader character was some sort of Dark Jedi. "The Emperor's right-hand man," they had said. A tool of the Empire, by choice.

Fett had only encountered one other Jedi since he had taken up the business of bounty hunting. He had put up a good fight, Fett had to admit that. The lightsaber he had had cut straight through his jet-pack. But even a Jedi can't live through a close-up grenade explosion. Luckily Fett's armor had protected him from the blast, but his opponent wasn't as lucky. After the fight, he used the credits from it to buy a better pack-this one with smoke screen capabilities in which he could swoop down and blind his victim with smoke, catching them off guard before they even knew what hit them. It was quite a buy.

How long had it been since his last hunt? One month? Two? He had been able to keep himself busy, adjusting his new ship, the Slave I. Before he bought this great Firespray-class Starship, he had only been able to hop rides on freighters and use his hoverbike for covering terrain. He had lucked out again. His other bounty had been a security officer and had been using the ship as a Surveillance Vehicle. When he had turned the man in, he claimed the ship for himself.

Now, it was like him. A weapon of destruction. He had added a large section for prisoner bunks and a personal bunk for himself for the small amount of personal possessions he actually had. He also included an expensive sensor jammer, a long-range wave dish, a tractor beam, and many extra weapon systems he had been saving for a ship when he bought one. It was safe to say that every part had been worth every decicred.

There was a small beeping from the console and he found that he had come to the coordinates he had set a few hours ago. Fett watched as the streaking stars came back to their normal positions and he looked at the dusty brown planet in front of him. This should be simple, he thought to himself.

Boba Fett soon reached the small Imperial base on Yinchoor. It was a training facility, set aside for preparing young men for being Royal Guards to the Emperor. He had heard that these men were to be the best of the best. If they didn't pass the training, they usually ended up dead. They had to go through years of intense painstaking tests in which some were pitted against themselves, Vader, or, as the final test, one of the official Royal Guards.

Fett landed the Slave I in a small canyon a few miles away from the facility. He rode out on the small hoverbike, dragging the pod behind him. He had equipped it with hoverjets and it made a small hum as it went speeding behind him.

Fett soon reached the open facility. It had been rebuilt lately and was now in the form of an arena. It looked much like an open sport center, such as ones used for Galactic Duel Championships and other communal events. In the center was a pit with a platform shaped like the Imperial seal. Fett walked through one of the many small entrances and found himself on the main floor. He pushed the light pod in front of him as he walked slowly towards the bleacher seats of the stadium.

Fett looked up into the high seats. Standing at attention there were about twenty tall men, armed in traditional training armor. Their armor was much like Fett's, if it were totally stripped of all it's weaponry and the visor was taken out. They stood like statues, absolutely still, not seeming to breath or blink. They held only a small rod in their right hands. Fett had seen these often. They were spearstaffs. Once activated, both ends would shoot out foot-long spearheads. He had not been able to get one in his possession yet, but they were easy to get off the Intergalactic Market.

Fett stood there, staring back at them coldly. It was true, such a large amount of trained men would easily intimidate a normal hunter were Fett not as steel-nerved as he was. Suddenly, the center of the line parted and stepped aside. One man stepped through. Actually, he looked more like a droid than a man. He had on a large suit with some sort of console in front of his solar plexus. A flowing black cape dragged behind him as he walked forward. He wore a dark respiratory helmet and Fett could hear his labored breathing.

His voice boomed downward and echoed throughout the stadium. "I am Darth Vader."

Fett knew that man was trouble as soon as he saw him. Some sort of...evil...could be felt emanating from him. He could feel it in his gut. He had never seen an employer like him. Most of them were revenge-hungry moneygrubbers. This man knew what he was doing.

"I am the bounty hunter Boba Fett. I am here to collect the bounty on this man," he yelled back, gesturing to the pod.

"All in good time, bounty hunter. But first, a small test..." Vader turned to one side of the line and gestured to the men. Smoothly, they began to file down the steps. Fett stepped back, surprised. An employer had never tried to attack him before nor had someone else to do so. To say that he was in danger was an understatement as he sized up the situation. The men walked with a silent deadliness. Fett knew he might be outnumbered, maybe even outmatched, but this was his bounty. And he would receive his due payments.

As the trainees walked to the main floor, one taller one threw an extra rod, still not activated, to Fett's feet. He picked it up. How fair, he thought sardonically. They came down, forming a semicircle around Fett and the pod. Fett turned and pushed the pod to the side and it hit with a soft crack into the stone wall, stopping smoothly.
The first man walked up to Boba Fett. The Royal Guards were known to be trained to be efficient, not sloppy to come in all at once. So it seemed Fett would be fighting one at a time. This would probably be his most challenging test ever.

Fett pressed a small crystal button and felt as the rod became slightly heavier as two long spearheads came slicing through each end. He lowered his body into a deep crouching stance and awaited the man's attack. The man stepped in smoothly, slicing an arch toward Fett's shoulder. Fett blocked it easily.

The man came in again, this time thrusting the other end toward Fett's stomach. Fett sidestepped, and dealt a hard clip behind the man's ear. He fell to the ground, slightly dazed. That pause was enough for Fett. He came behind, preparing to slice the hamstring behind the guard's knee. But he was welcomed by a sharp kick and he felt himself reel even though it struck his helmet. There was definite power behind it.

The man turned, preparing for another attack. Fett knew a simple forward assault would not do much good, he would only block and parry the hit. He had to be tricky, and he quickly faked a swipe down toward the top of the man's head. As the opponent jumped back to avoid the strike, Fett embedded the tip into the ground and flipped behind him, pulling the blade as he did. He then thrust the blade full force into his back. There was a quick flash of blood and Fett could hear a shrill breath escape the guard's throat. He pulled the blade out with a sharp shuck and the man groaned and then slumped. There was a slight murmur around the group. Fett looked up at Vader, who stood hard as stone and silent.

This time, two came in. So much for fair play, Fett thought sarcastically. One swung at downward angle, aiming to slice Fett through the skull and the other stabbed more toward his gut's center. For an average fighter the duel would have been over right then, but Fett was not like others. He had been trained to handle situations as they came and this was that kind of situation. He broadened his stance slightly and formed a circular sweep with his spearstaff, blocking the upper strike off to the side and the lower one oppositely. The two opponents, who were knocked off balance by the tactic, tried to move forward, only succeeding in tripping more.

Fett cursed as they fell into him, forcing him down on his knees. Taking the opportunity for another double strike, both men struck down with their spears, pushing down on Fett's own as he pushed to block them. Fett felt his arms ache and collapse as their full body weight crushed them. Suddenly he noticed how close to the edge of the pit they actually were. There would only be one chance to try this trick…

He rolled to the ground suddenly and laid back on his rear. The two fell forward toward him and he promptly toe kicked them in the chest. With one heaving thrust, he flung them behind him with his legs. They flew a few feet and fell down the chasm in the center. He could here their screams as they fell...fell... and even Fett's hearing apparatus in his helmet couldn't catch them hitting the ground.

Fett flipped up expertly and turned to the line of men. He was literally exhausted now, that much was true enough and he didn't know how much more he could actually take before they eventually won. These trainees were exactly what he had expected…no, better. But he was in for another surprise that day. The crowd turned and just as smoothly as they came, they left. Boba Fett arose from his stance. He had heard how much hard training and strife the trainees from this training center had gone through. And they run away! Fett was shocked, and that was an understatement. He expected more from these professionals.

But there was still one more problem to worry about.

Boba Fett felt the surprise dissolve and become replaced with a strong anger. He turned and started to walk calmly up the steps, with the spearstaff still in hand, to where Vader stood, still motionless. No bounty was worth this, and he would make this filth pay for it. He swung the rod with all his might in a high arch to where it would connect with Vader's neck.

In a flash that even Fett couldn't see, Vader moved with the speed of a cat as he pulled out a lightsaber and chopped the spearhead off at the base. It fell to the ground with a soft clink. Fett dropped the other part of the staff and pulled up his blaster. But before he could even pull the trigger, he felt his throat constrict as if some invisible hand were strangling the life out of him. The Jedi even he had encountered never did anything like this!

Fett fell to the ground, gasping. He had never experienced this before. As he writhed and grabbed at his throat, trying to somehow find a way to get air, he could hear Vader above him. "You have defeated my best trainees. You have come here and fought even though you were against great odds. Very impressive, bounty hunter. I could use your skills in the future."

Fett suddenly felt his throat open and he began to breathe again. He heard him continue, "But remember, Boba Fett, always remember your position. For you may be skilled, but even you are no match for what I can do to you."

Darth Vader reached into his cloak and came out with a small datapad counter. He pressed a few numbers and handed it to Fett. "The payment has been transferred to your account. You may leave when you wish."

Fett walked down the stairs and began to leave the stadium. As he mounted his bike, he sat for a moment, letting what had happened sink in. That…man, with all his strength, spared his life. Did he now owe him for that? Or could he call that compensation for the trouble? After all, he had still paid him… And he had to respect his superior power.

He silently rode back to the Slave I and continued to think about what Vader had said. He had no doubt that he could probably destroy him with a gesture. As he lifted off the planet and began his trek into hyperspace, Boba Fett had no doubt whatsoever that he would see the Dark Jedi Darth Vader again. And then he would decide if he would allow him to use him as he wished.

It all depended on how much he would be paying.