Monday, 16 September 2013
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! #49
The Child Catcher is the employee of Baron Bomburst. His purpose is to snatch children from the streets of Vulgaria. The Baron and Baroness really do not like children, though they have chosen to be pro-active about it rather than just put up with the little shits like the rest of us do. He features in the film and stage version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The Child Catcher is a cunning beast, but resolutely non-lethal. His apparatus is designed to instil fear, oppression, and pain into his captives. He is capable of a jovial (if creepy) facade in order to lure victims away from their homes and into his sinister kidnapping caravan.
It sounds worse than it is.
Boba Fett wears scavenged armour and carries a conspicuous blaster pistol with him. While he is capable of defending himself, he normally only kills after receiving a huge fee.
Thus, Boba Fett wins, if only because it's more likely that someone will pay him to kill the Child Catcher than it is for the Child Catcher to kill Boba Fett by asking him if he wants some lollipops.
The Child Catcher is backed by the tyranny of Baron and Baroness Bomburst, and the armed forces of the barony of Vulgaria. An oppressive regime that rules by fear, and reduces Benny Hill's lecherous avarice to the disposition of a kindly toymaker, it baulks at adhering to Germanic stereotypes by being quite slapdash and clumsy.
They have a network of spies, but no inventors. Thus, their espionage agents have no handy gadgets with which to extricate themselves from tricky situations.
Boba is a lone wolf, more akin to the classic violent yet righteous loner beloved of the Western genre. He has done business with Jabba the Hut and faced down Darth Vader. The latter isn't that impressive when you consider that a young Boba saw the whiny, wooden arsehole version of Darth Vader.
On stage, Wikipedia lists the Child Catcher as being played by Richard O'Brien and Wayne Sleep. It does not state if they did this at the same time, though we can but hope.
Boba Fett first appeared the Star Wars Holiday Special, the first of many teats to be milked by the club-brained Nietzsche-Ewok that is George Lucas.
Someone has paid Boba Fett – the ancient bounty hunter - an awful lot of money to despatch his latest target: a strangely Semitic (ah, the past, you were slightly more racist than the present) faux-Dickensian ravager of the lies your parents tell you to make you feel safe. It wasn't that he objected to a man being a tool of state oppression, but imprisoning children on that scale is not only wrong, it's impractical.
He is hiding in the mountain ranges of this world, still kidnapping children through nothing more than force of habit. He dresses in strange, colourful, oversized garments and plays alluring music with his alpenhorn. So go the rumours. Thus, Boba Fett follows the mellifluous bellow and the trail of distraught parents along the villages of the hillside, hoping to track down his quarry.
Resting in an inn, he insists on paying for his lodgings after they are offered to him for nothing. The peoples of the mountainside have heard of his quest, and are grateful to the man who seeks to return their children to them.
'I have no wish to return your children,' says Fett, 'I merely seek to kill the man I am being paid to kill.'
He insists on paying his way. He turns down the men and women who offer themselves in both gratitude and sheer lust. This is not why he is here on this planet, in this universe.
On the fifth day of his journeying, after four villages, a dwindling scent, and one dead bear, Boba Fett hears the drone of the horn nearby, and freezes against the rock surface. He carefully aims his laser at the edge of the rockface, readies himself, and waits.
A tall, gangly human shape shudders into sight, a clipped trilogy of laughter escaping from it like an erratic deckchair. Fett fires, and the figure gasps. He's caught it across the throat, opening and cauterising so all it can do is gasp uselessly as it tumbles down. The knees gone, it folds over, and then pitches forward over the ledge.
The oversized red cape make it look like a bird that has decided to end it all. Fett adjusts his laser and takes aim. The body stops falling, and the laser juts forward. Fett takes the strain, and reels in the catch. The inhabitants of this planet would regard it as fishing, he supposes, though there's a bit more to it when you've got a hand-held tractor beam instead of a rod and twine.
The body retrieved, he sends a signal to his employer, and sits back to wait for the shuttlecraft.
After chewing on salted bear-meat, Boba Fett hears a new sound.
Somewhere close by, a child is crying.
He has seen the grief from their absence. He has seen their kin suggest their flesh in barter. There is a gap in their lives that can only be filled when their children are returned to them.
Boba Fett has some time before the shuttle is due to collect. By the time the children return to their villages, he will be gone.
As the sun falls below the foothills, and the sky is swathed in all the shades of blue nature can provide, Boba Fett finds a cavity in the rockface that echoes with the sound of children's cries. He follows it through to a torch-lit chamber. There are wooden cages, and children in rags working at some kind of mechanism. Their heads turn as they become aware of the newcomer.
'Who are you?' they ask.
'That's not important,' Boba Fett says, 'Go now. You are free.'
'Where is the Childcatcher?' they ask.
'He is dead.'
The cries he heard earlier return. A small girl, muddy blonde hair exploding outwards from her head, is weeping.
'Return to your parents,' says Boba Fett. 'The Childcatcher will not trouble you anymore.'
The girl wails. Something is not right.
'You killed it!' she yells, 'We worked so hard, and you killed it! Why?'
A scraping behind him, and the Child Catcher is dragged in by some older children. They look maybe ten, twelve years old.
The Child Catcher's cowl is open. His face is young. He is, at most, twenty.
The eldest girl looks at Boba Fett sternly.
'Did you do this?' she demands.
'Yes,' he says.
She thinks for a moment, and then issues and instruction.
Boba Fett is dragged to his knees by the ensuing ruck. His helmet is removed. A hammer connects with his head, and he blacks out.
The blonde haired girl is examining the Child Catcher, wiping tears and snot away from her face.
'It's no use,' she whines, 'The stem is damaged. I can't fix it. Jorg is dead.'
'Sssh, now, Bretta. It's okay, we have a new vessel. Strip out the workings and place them into this man's body. As long as you can keep the mechanisms working, we will always have a Childcatcher.'
'But Jorg is-'
'Your brother, I know. But he wanted to go home Bretta, and we can't allow that. Fix him up, and we'll start on the new one.'
'But this man killed Jorg!'
'Bretta, Bretta, Bretta...'
The older girl's voice is calming, but her smile is full of mischief.
'I want you to strip Jorg of the mechanisms, and then place them into the body of his murderer...
...don't feel the need to use anaesthetic.'
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