The Hunter stared into the abyss, and when he felt it staring back at him there was nothing he could do but shudder.
The Sarlacc Pit gazed at him greedily. Its teeth seemed to glitter in the light of the Tatooine suns and even though he was a good few feet away Boba could still smell the toxic acids that were bubbling deep in the beast’s stomach. Those acids were currently trying to eat him alive and he’d already be dead if it weren’t for his armour, the Mandalorian armour that had helped make him the man he was today. Steam was slowly rising from his chest plate as the Sarlacc’s acid attempted to tear through his protection to get at his unprotected flesh, it would be a matter of minutes until it finally tore through. Yet as Boba clambered up onto a firm piece of ground he began the next part of his survival and began to quickly remove any pieces of his armour that was covered in the contents of the Sarlacc’s stomach.
It had been the armour that saved Fett’s life once he’d been knocked into the pit. It had, however, been the destruction of Jabba the Hutt’s Sail Barge that had set him free. The floating metal boats had crashed into the Dune Sea’s sands and exploded with enough force to shake the heavens. A good chunk of the Barge’s metal debris had also managed to wedge itself into the Sarlacc’s gaping maw and the beast had been forced to vomit up the debris that was choking it, Boba had simply come along for the ride.
It took the Bounty Hunter several minutes to remove the scarred armour. The green colours of his suit had turned a sickly pale as it was slowly destroyed, and he was forced to be careful so as to avoid his hands being similarly burned. In the end, all he was left with were the garments he’d worn beneath his suit, his helmet (though a portion of it had also been damaged), his blaster rifle and finally, his jetpack. Although, after the events of the last few hours Boba doubted, he’d ever trust such a device again and wound up chucking the pack into the pit along with the rest of his damaged armour.
It was better then letting the scavengers get it, and he found himself hoping deeply that the Great Pit of Carkoon (as Jabba had called it) would wind up choking on it.
Though his time in the Sarlacc had felt an eternity it truly seemed only a few hours had passed since Han Solo and his friends had decided to ruin a perfectly good business venture. That being said, the twin suns of Tatooine had been replaced by the planet’s several moons and the Dune Sea was a treacherous place at night, even more so than the day. It would be a long journey to get to safety, and in order to prepare for the long walk ahead Boba decided to search the wreckage.
The Sea’s scavengers had been quick on the job. There was very little left of value among the corpses and seemingly infinite pieces of metal. The only useable item Fett ended up finding was a vial of rare Muunanian sparkling water. He gulped part of it down like it was any old slop and hooked the vial to the makeshift belt he’d quickly fashioned out of his cape, he’d need the water for later… for the journey.
The closest sanctuary was Jabba’s Palace, undoubtedly in the midst of being looted and ransacked. Although, Jabba’s body hadn’t actually been amongst the wreckage, so it was entirely possible the fat slug had survived. It was more likely however that the Hutt Cartel had already arrived to claim the corpse of their fallen brother, so the Hunter didn’t give it anymore thought following this.
As the moons creeped slowly into the sky, the Hunter continued to walk. Soon he left the bodies and blood behind and found himself alone amidst the dunes. In the heat he struggled to remember if the Dune Sea had any native ‘Sand Critters’, giant worms that travelled beneath the sands and devoured unsuspecting prey whole. If it did, he concluded, he would have certainly remembered it. Despite the solitude of the dunes, however, he couldn’t help but know in his gut that he was being watched. Years of experience had granted him a sense when someone was staring at him, a tingling of the spine that he couldn’t ignore.
Groggily he gripped the EE-3 blaster slung across his back and checked his surroundings, he whirled around in a circular motion to cover all his points and when he saw nothing he yelled out a warning to the phantoms surrounding him.
The Hunter growled something which he didn't hear, his throat aching terribly with each word said. He refused to acknowledge this pain in any way. His weary eyes scanned the horizon for any sign of the potential threat, and just when Fett thought he had lost his mind he saw the sand begin to shift and pulled the EE-3’s trigger.
The explosion that resulted emanated from the end of Boba’s blaster. An earlier encounter with a crazed Jedi had resulted in it being sawed clean through with the boy’s lightsaber, and in the following mess Boba had completely forgotten about it. The resulting misfire was the result of that.
Fett was thrown to the ground; the front of his body was badly scorched by the detonation and there was a terrible ache in the Hunter’s left hand that refused to go away. From the ground he surveyed what damage had been done and found with some dull surprise that his fingers had been blown clean off.
In the grip of shock, Boba began to scream. It was a luxury he only afforded himself the once, and when his vocal cords were shredded and he could scream no longer Fett began to get back up, sheer will the only thing driving him.
Sheer will… and revenge on the ones who had done this to him.
The shifting sands that had caused him to fire in the first place had merely been the wind and nothing more. Although, he supposed it was better to learn his blaster had malfunctioned outside of combat rather then when he was in the midst of it. He felt a touch of remorse for his ruined hand, anger at the shattered water vial that had smashed when he’d been blown back, and embarrassment for the whole situation. He noticed a lump of metal sticking from the sand, the sole remains of his beloved blaster. For the sake of self-defence, he took the weapon in his good right hand and reluctantly continued to walk.
It was daylight when he saw another living being - other than the vultures circling above him. He hadn’t stopped walking for a very long time so he felt some relief when he was knocked to the ground for the second time that day. The sniper shot had been a good one. Despite what people liked to say, the Tusken Raiders of the Dune Sea were quite accurate when they wanted to be. The fired blaster bolt struck the Hunter directly in the face causing his visor to shatter.
Had he been wearing lesser armour he most certainly would have died, but he wasn’t, so he didn’t. In his heap upon the ground he waited, pretending to be dead as he waited for his attacker to appear. His father had given the tactic a name. He called it “Playing Bothan.” He kept his head down in the sand, his right hand gripping the charred remains of his weapon which was now more useful then it had ever been before. After a few short minutes the sound of footsteps filled the Mandalorian’s ears. He heard the alien garble of one of Tatooine’s savage inhabitants, along with the animalistic sounds of a Bantha, a reliable living transport across these dangerous wastes.
Boba waited till he heard the Raider dismount the beast and then braced himself. He had not heard any sign of a second Raider so would just have to hope his attacker was alone. It occurred to him that the Tusken had been talking to his mount in an affectionate manner, an oddly human thing to do. When the Raider turned its ‘kill’ over, Boba sprang up like a viper. He clubbed the Raider across the skull with his makeshift weapon and smiled at the familiar sound of cracking bone.
The Raider stood no chance. It fell to the ground allowing Fett to continue his assault. He staggered towards the convulsing native and landed blow after blow after blow upon the creature’s skull until his right hand was just as broken and useless as his left. The Bounty Hunter fell back to the ground, this time of his own volition. He felt truly unable to continue and became sure that this desert was to be his grave.
That certainty faded as a name flashed through his mind. It was the name of the one who’d done this to him. The name flashed across his lips and he clambered to his feet, strength renewed.
The Raider’s Bantha hadn’t strayed too far during the brief scuffle and Boba climbed atop it with little trouble. Its saddle was beautiful, knitted by the Sand People and sporting mysterious symbols of their culture. Boba didn’t care, he got his mount moving across the wastes and didn’t look back at the corpse he had left behind.
The suns had almost set again by the time the Hunter reached safety. Jabba’s Palace had once seemed ugly but as it loomed in the distance, Fett decided he could live with its appearance. For the moment it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. The Bantha slowly approached the great gate that blocked the Palace’s entrance, yet as it slowly opened the Hunter disembarked his mount and wearily began to approach the building.
From the Palace’s shadowy interior several figures ran out to help the injured stranger. They weren’t the typical guard that protected the place however, and in angered state Boba waved them away. He removed his broken helmet and cast it aside as he took his final steps inside the building.
The Palace’s guards stared in a strange sort of awe as Boba Fett fell to his knees in triumph before collapsing.
His ordeal was complete.