You can tell that Prince Xizor isn’t being entirely honest about his plan to break up the Bounty Hunter’s Guild when you look at the results of said plan: the Guild splits along age lines, and Bossk is still alive and growling as one faction’s leader. Right away, that's a red flag because Bossk isn’t even capable of putting his shoes on in the morning (note: he’s never wearing any) much less running a group of petty, backstabbing mercenaries.
Xizor does the only thing that makes sense in his current situation: he admits that he screwed the bantha on this one, but he’ll fix it!
So he puts out a mega-bounty on an Imperial stormtrooper.
The thought behind Xizor’s plan is to make a very nasty stormtrooper look like he’s gone renegade, killed a bunch of fellow officers, and sold Empire secrets to people. Then he puts a bounty on the guy’s head that’s so large, no hunter will be able to resist. Greed, Xizor figures, is what makes these bounty hunters really gross. He can use it against them, and get them to rip themselves to pieces even better than before. Then his awesome plan to flush out all the specialists will totally work. Vader’s buying this even less now, but the Emperor is having fun playing favorites, and there’s nothing for it.
So this stormtrooper is named Trhin Voss’on’t (the ‘h’ is silent… or something) and he has one of largest bounties ever put on his head, and everybody wants in on this action just like Xizor predicted. Fett is smart enough to realize that all the competition for this bounty makes it a two-man job, just to keep things smooth. So he tells Bossk, “No hard feelings, bro! Be my gunslinging partner?” And Bossk is all, “Sure!”
Well, actually, first Bossk is all like “Hells no, you almost got me killed last time,” and then he comes around to it because those credit chit signs are blinking big in his eyes. They also rope Zuckuss in probably because Bossk enjoys feeling better than someone, and Fett makes it really hard for him to do that by being significantly better at everything he does. Really, Xizor can read these guys like books. Well, not books, since the Star Wars galaxy does not appear to have any. Like holoscreens or holocrons or maybe holo-whiteboards.
In the flash-forward section, Dengar—who has a far less developed sense of self-preservation than Bossk—tells Fett that he wants to work with him. We can assume that this is partly because Dengar is curious about why everyone wants to kill them, but also because Fett makes money and he’d like to make some too so he can retire soon and live a happily married life with Manaroo on some lazy backwater planet where no one will ask him why he’s wrapped up in toilet paper. Oh, and Neelah’s coming too. Because she sort of insisted and Fett doesn’t argue.
Huh? Fett doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do. Neelah’s smart enough to know that about him, and figures that she plays into whatever he’s got planned. She’s not wrong, but it’s interesting to note Fett’s rapport with her—he has a way with women that I wouldn’t call gentlemanly per se, but he’s far less antagonistic and short with them in general. (See: that time Jabba the Hutt shoved Princess Leia into his room at night to “entertain” him, and they spent it in polite political conversation until Fett got pissed at her for comparing him to Han, then promptly sat in the corner and fell asleep after giving her the bed. Yes, that actually happened. It might be one of my favorite things that occurred in the Expanded Universe.)
Fett steals Bossk’s ship because Bossk is very conveniently on Tatooine just then, and it’s a good thing too, because you can’t pretend to be dead using your very recognizable ship, and Dengar’s is in use getting Manaroo out of the blast zone. It’s just nice to have an excuse to infuriate Bossk some more, really. Boba begins investigating various elements of this mystery in that entirely effective way of his, and starts getting to the bottom of things quickly. But not too quickly because then the story would be over too fast. Neelah asks Dengar for more information on Fett’s recent doings in hopes that it will shed some light on her situation, so Dengar starts telling her all about that Voss’on’t job….
The plan is for Bossk to act like he’s going to be Voss’on’t's buddy after appearing to have killed Zuckuss and Fett. And surprisingly, Bossk manages to sell that angle for a while. Voss’on’t is one nasty dude, though, and eventually he sees through the plan and tries to get the bounty hunters killed. Fett and Bossk manage to capture him, but not before the stormtrooper sets off a crust-piercing thingamabob that causes an earthquake. Everyone is wounded and grumpy. Kind of like the last job they pulled together. You’d think the other guys would have learned better from last time, but Zuckuss is too trusting and Bossk is too much of an egomaniac.
And in the background, Kuat of Kuat quietly ruminates on how everything has gotten to this terrible point. Xizor is approached by one of Kud’ar Mub’at’s nodes, Balancesheet, who is all too keen to kill his predecessor and become king of the castle. It’s a journey that oddly mirrors Bossk’s relationship with his father except, in this case, we find a situation where the progeny taking over is a smart move—Balancesheet is far more effective at the job of Assembler, though that also means he’s more cutthroat and even less trustworthy. Something to keep in mind for next time….
So that’s the middle chapter! In the final book there will be: Answers! Plots! Explosions! Probably more of Bossk looking a fool! Isn’t that all we’re really here for?
Emily Asher-Perrin just wants to have a polite political discussion with Boba Fett some time. She has written essays for the newly released Doctor Who and Race and Queers Dig Time Lords. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.