‘Star Wars’: Get under Boba Fett’s helmet in exclusive ‘From a Certain Point of View’ excerpt

Boba Fett was the essence of cool when he first blasted onto the big screen in 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back,” getting summoned aboard an Imperial starship and receiving a grave order from Darth Vader when hunting the Rebel heroes: “No disintegrations.” But what was going on under the “Star Wars” fan favorite’s helmet in that moment?

That’s the short story told by author Zoraida Córdova (of the “Brooklyn Brujas” series) in “From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back” (Del Rey Books, out Nov. 10), the second collection of tales in which writers — 40 for the 40th anniversary of “Empire” — illuminate a memorable scene from “Star Wars” from the perspective of a supporting character. (Paul Dini wrote the Fett story in 2017’s first “From a Certain Point of View” book.) 

Córdova re-creates the memorable “Empire” sequence where Vader brings in a host of bounty hunters to track down the Millennium Falcon: “What’s going through their minds while they’re essentially waiting for their chance? It’s a very shoot-your-shot kind of moment — in Boba’s mind at least. What kind of reputation do you have to garner that Darth Vader singles you out and tells you not to turn someone to ashes?”

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"From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back" features 40 re-creating iconic scenes from a supporting character's perspective.

When she was a kid, Córdova memorized all of Luke Skywalker’s dialogue, and as a teen found Han Solo “dreamy.” “But Boba Fett was just cool in a way other characters weren’t,” Córdova says. His anonymity always made him intriguing, and she dug the Mandalorian armor, yet it wasn’t until she got more backstory in the “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” animated series “that I truly fell in love with Boba Fett. His life is consumed by revenge first and survival second. That shapes him into the most infamous bounty hunter in the galaxy.”

Córdova enjoys “fictional characters that have some sort of an emotional bruise,” she adds. “Boba witnesses his father’s murder and then is raised by the worst scum of the galaxy. He’s scrappy and full of rage. And so I wanted to glimpse into that a bit.”

USA TODAY has an exclusive excerpt from Córdova’s “Wait for It” as well as audiobook narration by Jon Hamm. “Boba doesn’t say a lot in the movies, but I bet he’s thinking a lot, and to me, that thought process has to have a certain confidence and swagger,” she says. Hamm’s interpretation “captures that observant but short-tempered bravado, which is really awesome.”

Boba Fett pursues the Millennium Falcon in "The Empire Strikes Back."

Read below (or listen) to an exclusive excerpt from “Wait for It,” by Zoraida Cordova (“From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back”):

Boba Fett had many skills, but only a single virtue. Patience wasn’t it.

After being summoned by Darth Vader with the lure of a new bounty, Fett made the impossible decision to drop everything he was doing, and that included a job. He didn’t want anyone to think he was going soft, that he couldn’t handle a mark, no matter how small. The bounty in question was a squirmy little Sullustan with floppy jowls who’d broken a contract with Jabba the Hutt. The galaxy was lousy with idiots. But where there was an idiot, there was a case of credits Fett could collect.

Or he would have if the holo of Vader’s likeness hadn’t come through with instructions that sounded more like an order. He didn’t take orders from nobody, but he knew better than to say no to the Sith Lord. Not that he was scared of him, or anything. Not exactly. But Lord Huff and Puff was preferable as an ally rather than an enemy. And so Fett tossed his job to a rookie on Jabba’s payroll wanting to make a name for himself. No one could say ol’ Fett didn’t throw a dog a bone from time to time. 

As he waited for the coordinates in the quiet of his ship, Fett caught sight of his reflection. He had the passing thought that he needed to shave, when his sensors lit up with a transmission. He set his course and hauled Slave I to—an asteroid field. Barely dodged a hunk of rock hurtling at his cockpit. Nothing he couldn’t handle, but a heads-up would’ve been appreciated. After transmitting his clearance code, he docked in the Executor’s hangar bay only to be instructed to wait. Wait. He could have delivered his bounty to Jabba, maybe even pounded a cold brew at Chalmun’s, and still been here with time to spare. 

Fett took a deep breath, ran a hand across the buzzed scruff of his hair, then secured his helmet, checked his blaster, and disembarked. Vader’s Star Dreadnought was pretty impressive, he’d admit to that. Sleek and metallic in a way that made the murder of docked bounty hunters’ ships look like a Jawa scrap heap. Stormtroopers and clusters of Imperial officers moved quickly. He caught several sneers lobbed his way. Even heard his name whispered on the lips of a pinch-faced redhead. Boba Fett

He got the feeling his presence wasn’t welcome, and neither were the other five hunters milling about. He nodded at Bossk and Dengar. The other three looked familiar, but most hunters blurred together in his mind. Two droids and a Gand with a circular respirator that looked like it would make the perfect bull’s-eye. Boba Fett said nothing, he simply waited with the others.

Zoraida Córdova writes about Boba Fett in "From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back."

“Boba,” Bossk hissed in greeting. 

How many times was he supposed to tell the old Trandoshan that it was Fett or Boba Fett. He wasn’t no little kid anymore. Sure, they had history. Probably would be the closest thing he had to a friend, if he’d actually wanted a friend. 

Before Fett could reply, one of the black-clad officers marched over. “You lot. Follow me.” 

You lot. Were they threatened Vader’d brought them in to do their jobs for them? Boba Fett scoffed. Typical Imperials. 

The sentinel and protocol druids-turned-bounty-hunters clipped at the officer’s heels, and he followed along the bright corridors, the clank of metal and stomp of their boots beating a steady rhythm. 

On his left, he could smell Dengar before he sidled up beside him, resting his Valken-38 blaster rifle against his chest. The guy practically spent half his credits buying this rare Felucian incense that clung to that dusty scarf he wore all the time. Back when they’d worked jobs together, Fett had never seen the Corellian do laundry. Not that hygiene came with the territory. Fett rubbed at a crusty brown spot on his gauntlet and didn’t guess at what the substance might have been. 

“Any idea what the job is?” Dengar asked. His voice was huskier than Fett recalled. 

He looked up and down the corridors. Officers hurried this way and that. He could feel the slightest tilt, like the Executor was making a hard turn in pursuit of something. Someone. 

“Bet you twenty credits it’s the Millennium Falcon.” 

“I’ll take that action.” Dengar grinned. 

Bossk grumbled, falling into step beside them. “I dropped another score for this. It’ll be worth it when I add that Wookiee’s pelt to my collection.” 

“The Empire wants them,” Dengar mused, “Jabba wants them.

How’d a scumrat like Solo wind up with the most wanted ship in the galaxy?”

“Between him and the Wookiee they’ve got half a brain to have joined up with the Rebellion,” said Bossk.

Dengar shrugged. “Can’t figure out how they keep getting away in that scrap heap of a ship.”

Darth Vader (left) uses Boba Fett for his nefarious plans in "The Empire Strikes Back."

“Lucky is all,” Fett assured them. But his gut told him that there was more to this chase. That had always been Bossk and Dengar’s mistake. They went after their marks, but they never got inside their heads. There were rebels scattered all over the place, waiting, regrouping. Vader was obsessed with that ship and the crew aboard it. He remembered the last job he’d worked for the Sith Lord, hunting down the pilot that had blown up the Death Star into a million worthless pieces. Then they’d met on the scalding dunes of Tatooine, the air thick with scorched Tusken Raider. Fett had never seen someone bask in a kill the same way. He considered himself a blast ’em and leave ’em kind of hunter, but Vader—Vader was something else. He was living breathing vengeance. Fett had done one thing right. He’d gathered a name—Skywalker—and then he’d gotten out. He’d heard of what Darth Vader did when he was disappointed. But that name had bought Fett a few more years. Perhaps he’d been just as lucky as the rebel scum.

The Imperial officer leading the bounty hunters glanced back, unable to rid the sneer from his pale freckled face. If he looked at Fett like that one more time, he’d make that ugly mug permanent.

A series of turns down halls that were so identical, it was like the entire ship was designed to make you feel like there was no way out.

Finally, they were deposited at the bridge. They filed in across the walkway, and guess what? They waited some more. Boba Fett watched the commotion of men in black uniforms, each one paler and more terrified than the next. From the tension in the air, it was clear that someone had recently failed at their job, and it was all hands on deck.

“Wait here,” the officer told them, then turned on his heel and ran off. Sure, sure. Where the blazing dewbacks were they supposed to go? Help the junior officers learn how to press the go button? Work on their typing skills?

Fett sized up the other hunters. The assassin droid was an IG model with red blinking photoreceptors for eyes. Then there was a rusty protocol droid that looked like it had given itself a new head. The Gand male kept close to the droid’s side; long tubes attached to his face gave off the scent of ammonia. Looked barely capable of tying his own boot.

This was what Vader was working with? He wasn’t sure if he should feel confident or insulted to be counted among them.

It was then that Boba Fett felt the shift on the bridge. The way every button-pusher hunched over screens, gathered to watch the beacons of TIE fighters blink as they returned to the flagship. Vader was coming.

His pressurized breath was the loudest sound on the walkway, as every officer focused on a task. Yeah, go and look busy to not draw attention to yourselves, ya cowards.

Vader stood in front of Dengar and then the assassin droid, like he was taking their measure. It was impossible to know what Vader thought or felt. Did he even feel anything other than rage? Maybe Fett could relate to that. How many times had he been taunted at some cantina or outpost to take off his helmet? “Look me in the face, Boba Fett. Not so brave without your little mask on.” The fear of anonymity was, well, delightful.

Then he heard it. Didn’t they realize their little pit echoed their voices? Some son of a Hutt saying, “Bounty hunters, we don’t need their scum.” Yeah, well, if the Empire didn’t need bounty hunters, then why was the guild loaded with Imperial credits? Why did Vader need their help when a starship, a ganking Dreadnought full of toy soldiers, couldn’t do the job Boba Fett could do?

That familiar spark of anger shot up through his entire body. Bossk muttered something in his native Dosh as Vader kept walking, his cape swishing at his back like a shadow.

“There will be a substantial reward for the one who finds the Millennium Falcon. You are free to use any methods necessary,” he said, and Boba Fett felt a quirk at his lips. Then it vanished as Vader stopped in front of him. “But I want them alive.” He jabbed a finger in Fett’s direction. “No disintegrations.”

“As you wish,” Fett replied. What else was he supposed to say? You fry a couple of heads once, purely by accident, and people will never let you forget.

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