Bounty on the Hunter
En route to Yavin where Erikson maintains a secondary emergency base of operations, his crew began to get a bit irritated with one another being crammed into the Mantis for nearly three days. Hyperspace travel was fast, but it never seemed fast enough when traveling across the galaxy directly. And the puzzles of the data acquired on Tatooine made things even more frustrating.
Mako and Blizz both prided themselves on being fairly cunning and adept at problem solving. The fact that nothing could be found on the holo-web crawled under Mako’s skin. Blizz was slower to anger only because the joy of finding something new took longer to wear off for him than others.
2V on the other hand continued to be cheerful and delightful to a point of making the others want to turn him into a bedpan. “Master Erikson, I believe I may have found something.”
That announcement made all of them jump up immediately, save for Skadge. Intellectual pursuits were not his forte. Bashing heads and causing general destruction was. “Okay, 2V, you better have something or you’re being recycled,” Erikson growled being a little testy.
“Sir, I recognized this symbol. It appears to have many similarities to the modern Czerka Corporation logo. I’ve processed all of the known Czerka Corporation logos and the earliest known logo only affects three minor changes from the logo on the last of these recently acquired data files. Please see here.” 2V pointed to the earliest known Czerka Corp. logo on the projected holo-image.
“Okay. I’m listening,” Erikson encouraged 2V to continue explaining.
“Sir, I have concluded that there is enough evidence to suggest that these files may now be the oldest known files of Czerka Corporation to exist. Also I suggest you bring your attention to the top of this letterhead. Notice if you will that there appears to be an acronym. The Last symbol matches the second symbol you enquired about after we departed Tatooine. It is speculated that Czerka used to be an acronym and now we have evidence to support that rumor. I’ve been trying to compare the oldest known pronunciations of basic and their associated written variants and have come up with this list here,” 2V followed up and handed a physical document to Erikson.
“So are you suggesting that this language the data is recorded in is an even more ancient form of basic? You’re not saying it’s the root language of Aurebesh are you,” Erikson asked.
“I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, sir. But that does appear to be the case. Although I will have to reevaluate the data and continue to compare samples of the new data,” 2V continued. “At this point, sir, I am inclined to suggest that your assessment is correct. What I have deciphered so far is that the original acronym was this: Computer Zero-point Electronic Kryptonian Applications. These words match with the tests I’ve run so far and match with an eighty-seven percentile.”
Mako walked toward the holo-projector, “that makes sense considering that Kryptonian based fuel cells were phased out of production by Czerka Corp. before it split apart.” “That’s correct, ma’am. Czerka Corporation was sundered shortly after the formation of the Republic. Kryptonian based fuel supplies were banned due to their toxicity to many sentient species the fledgling Republic was trying to appeal to. Czerka Corporation was certainly willing to oblige this request since it recently, during the formation of the Republic, had an accident that irradiated an entire planet, so the rumors go. The damage was so bad that the only way to correct the issue was to salvage what could be on the planet and evacuate,” 2V added.
Sitting on a crate by the stairs to the main deck Torian chimed in, “2V, that’s not the planet that was hurled into its star that cause the star to separate is it?”
“I’ve heard that tale too. I thought it was only that. You don’t think Tatoo was the original star our kind originated from, do you Torian,” Erikson interrupted 2V to ask?
“Sir, if I may add…”
Torian cut off 2V, “It could be. But I’d have thought that would have been discovered long ago. Although, before the Sith demanded Mandalorian allegiance from us we often told stories about the first world and how various groups broke apart from that world’s governments. They free lanced themselves out to any who would hire them. They prided themselves on combat. We were told as children that they eventually parted ways after some kind of demonic invasion that slaughtered many of them in horrific battles. Those left went into hiding and founded a new home after rebuilding their code; the code that would become the Mandalorian code. This was well before Czerka Corp. existed. At least I think so. But if not it might have been part of an organization called Skynet. It was responsible for the creation of cybernetic implants for an ancient government military operation. I all I know is that the tech from that organization found its way into the first who would set the foundation for Mandalorians.”
With the silence 2V took the opportunity to relay his thoughts, “sir, you bring up an excellent point about Skynet operations. The Jedi archives Master Erikson and I infiltrated a few weeks back yielded many excellent pieces of information. While not in any Republic databases, Jedi databases are kept separate with good reason. At least three thousand years before the founding of the Republic the recorded history of the galaxy was maintained by a council of member states on a world that was once called Autarchic. Since then that world has changed greatly. Today we know it as Coruscant. The archives were moved to a new location that is now considered the home world of the Jedi order, Tyhon. In those data banks are these secrets. The Jedi do not wish this knowledge to be made public for what will be obvious reasons. The first of which is that the Jedi predecessors, the Je’Daii…”
Blizz, with sudden excitement, broken in, “Ubatto minni tikka tikkae tikata rubatta untina!” 2V began to translate and expand, “That’s correct. The foundation of the order of Je’Daii was eventually built around their successes in the defeat of an organization once known as Skynet. Skynet was a massive cybernetic production and research and development entity in addition to being a military supplier. It had intentions of its own and turned on sentient biological creatures; particularly those with abilities that eventually came to be the founders of an elite group of warriors who in turn would create the order of the Je’Daii. Also lesser known, according to Jedi records, is that Skynet was founded by non force based abilities on the premise of waging war against telepaths on an ancient world that no longer exists, Earteh; a planet located in the outer rim. This was Skynet’s first task before the demon wars. It is written in Jedi data banks that Earteh was the source world for Human life. However, other data conflicts with that stating Human life began on another world nearer the core of the galaxy; a world that has also been lost to time. It should be mentioned that there are rumors suggesting that Skynet sentience still exists on the manufacturing world of Mekis III. However, I do not have access to any data confirming those rumors.”
“Wait! Wait! What does this have to do with Tatooine and that planet with the red description, 2V,” Erikson asked?
“Well, sir, Jedi records also indicate that the star system Earteh belonged to held at least eight celestial bodies. Two were unable to be terraformed while one became the foundation for gas minding on gas giant type planets we use currently. In that system was a planet that supposedly once harbored life, the red planet. No one knows for certain the fate of the planet or why it was suddenly made barren; but what is known is that it was eventually terraformed and the occupants of Earteh began calling it home also. That red planet is the one that matches the description of Tatooine that Blizz noticed two days ago. That would make the Tatoo star system a good candidate for being one of the two original star systems Human life may have originated on. If evidence could be found that Tatooine is that red planet terraformed over multiple times then what other information might we find there, sir?”
There was a moment of silence. Everyone had said their piece that cared to except for Gault. That was strange considering Gault always had something to say about schemes and plans that involved anything to make a fast credit. Erikson had known Gault long enough to ask, “What do you know, Gault?”
“I can’t say I actually know anything about any of this. I’m just surprised that I had been stuck on the dry ball of heat for so long that I never discovered any of this. It’s actually shameful given my reputation for finding secrets and treasures.” Erikson wasn’t convinced that was entirely true but let Gault slump back against the wall in comfort just the same.
“2V what else do those Jedi records say,” Erikson asked. “I’m afraid not much else, sir. There is a record of Skynet collapsing as a legitimate business. And there is evidence to suggest that Skynet may have survived but under a different name. There were also records of what appears to be Weyland Enterprises that was a spawn of Skynet operations during those ‘demon’ wars previously mentioned. Unfortunately, sir, Weyland Enterprises also collapsed. The only connection available now is the reintroduction of cybernetic organisms that were first developed by Skynet, refined beneath Weyland Enterprises, and reintroduced under the Utani Corporation. This is where Czerka Corporation enters the picture. By this time the Utani Corporation, according to Jedi records, was restructured after an industrial accident on an outer rim world irradiating the entire planet. The planet had to be destroyed. Whatever the Utani Corporation did to that planet set off some kind of core meltdown on the world. After that all mention of the Utani Corporation seems to have been replaced with the Czerka Corporation. Also, a small number-eleven to be exact-of Jedi records have similar symbols in their recordings to those recently recovered by your heroics on Tatooine, Master.”
Mako couldn’t contain her response, “Earteh was the planet hurled into its star?!”
“That would appear to be the case, ma’am. The ensuing blast of the exploding planet was enough to disrupt the stars stability and caused it to sunder in a violent explosion that ripped apart its system leaving being a few asteroid fields, a dead molten planet, and a new binary star system…,” 2V stopped short as if having an epiphany. “I believe that I may have misinterpreted the acronym of Czerka Corporation. The first word is not computer but Cyberdyne. That matches phonetically with language in the Jedi data banks.”
“Hold on a moment there,” Erikson blurted out with alarm. “How is this information useful to us?”
Stepping forward Gault realized he could make contribution, “I think I might have the information. Years before you blasted off my horn I ran into an informant who was obsessed with Czerka Corp. She always went babbling on about files they supposedly had that linked our universe with another. There was a civilization called the Quella or something similar. These Quella weren’t originally from here. I don’t just mean our galaxy but from our universe. Allegedly they were the creators of our universe, at least that what she rambled on about. Anyway, Czerka Corp. is supposed to have on file hidden away in one of its facilities data to reconstruct every known life form to have existed on the original Human home world; as well as all other species of life known at the time before shutting down that program because of some kind of war. So she goes on to explain Czerka Corp. made so many advancements because they had access to a higher form of life, to more complex genetic material to decode. Genetic material they could create whenever they needed to in order to engineer new things.”
“Are you saying that Czerka Corp. has genetic data files on life that is not only outside of our galaxy but outside of our universe,” Erikson exclaimed!?
“Sure seems that way, boss.”
“This may be the most important rediscovery of our time. We have to finish decoding that data and…” Erikson was interrupted by Skadge, “You gotta see ‘dis boss!” Erikson, Mako, and Gault headed for the cockpit. Blizz and Torian to the engine room.
Skadge was easing the Mantis out of light speed. They were back in the Yavin Star system but something wasn’t right at all. Imperial cruisers were everywhere. “Boss, wer’ bein’ hail’d,” Skadge said.
Erikson flipped a switch on his stations console. A message from Darth Malgus, the Empire’s Figure head, began to play.
“Hunter, your service to the Empire has not gone without notice. But do not think you can hide secrets from me. I was there when your family was slaughtered. I know well of your plans of retribution against me. Sith trained or not, you know well our ways; and had you been sent to Korriban you would have been trained and standing by my side right now. Yet you not and even so will find me not so easy of prey. Surrender and you will be awarded fair compensation for your secrets. We know you found something on Tatooine and it is of the most vital importance to the Empire’s war effort. Do not attempt to run. This fleet is far greater than the bounty you collected on Captain Duma.”
Malgus was right about one thing. This Imperial Fleet was larger than Duma’s ambush; but Duma’s men were better trained. Erikson punched the blue glowing button on his console. There was a brief hum from the Mantis’ engines before a bright blue pulse was emitted from it.
Erikson began the jump into hyperspace. Mako, Gault, and Skadge all stationed at the ready to open fire on any followers. The only thing they noticed was the decloaking of unfamiliar ships hit with the Mantis’ EMP. 2V was in the cockpit in time to notice that as well. “Lord Revan seems to have made a return. That surely will not go well for the Imperial fleet today,” 2V remarked.
The stars streaked into blurred white and blue lines as the Mantis escaped narrowly. Once in hyperspace Erikson had a moment to think. “Malgus wasn’t part of that fleet. I didn’t feel his presence there. I don’t know where he is but now we have another problem. There are a few things you guys should know about me and this is as good a time as any to let you know what we’re in for.”
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