Tatooine had been a desert world for as long as recorded history could tell. It wasn’t the first planet to be inhabited by a major civilization so far as the rest of the galaxy knew. Then again, the galaxy’s civilizations have lost entire records of sentient species over the last twenty thousand years.
With that in minds and no real Republic presence on Tatooine, Erikson felt reasonably comfortable. The only presence he had to worry about was Black Sun. The Huts paid well to know of his movements; and they pay far more to keep him as an ally. The Huts also pay well to keep his path clear. Erikson’s done more than just a handful of favors for a variety of Huts; earning him a very unique status in every Hut territory, save the Droogoos clan. Although, after Erikson killed several of their members upon being double crossed and set up multiple times, none stand in his way.
That made Black Sun’s presence on Tatooine not much to worry about. They wouldn’t be selling anything to the Republic. And the Empire has them on a short leash due to their failures on Coruscant in the recent years.
With a landing pad secured for several hours, the Mantis would be fine. Torrian and Skadge would be on board to keep guard and be ready to move if needed. Blizz, Gault, Mako, and 2V would be packing light and heading out. If Information Blizz deciphered was correct then Tatooine held others secrets than remnants of Czerka Corporation. At least that’s what he says an elusive tribe of Jawas has been chattering about for three days while everyone seems to be laughing them off for being on the brink of death.
In fact they’ve been attacked numerous times by a variety of desert beasts in a particular location that most avoid. To them this band of Jawas is just tempting death. Blizz doesn’t think so and Erikson is inclined to believe him. What makes this story so credible is the fact that members of that same Jawa clan were also trying to protect something on Hoth, where Erikson saved Blizz’s life and took him on as a member of the Mantis’ crew.
Whatever was out there in the Tatooine desert was going to bring a hefty payday; hopefully one that didn’t involve having to point a blaster very often.
It wasn’t long before the five of them were well into the desert. Not much to see there. Before long they stopped seeing even the occasional treasure hunter. According to the coordinates Mako was tracking they were close, maybe eight thousand meters.
“What’s that on the horizon there,” Erikson pointed out? Blizz raised his terrain scanner, “Uuutinni! Chabba so ribbi takka taaki siobbi.”
Puzzled and concerned Mako chimed in, “Are you sure? I’m not showing any known Czerka Corp. facilities in this sector.”
“Chabba so ribbi takka taaki siobibibae!”
“If Blizz says that Czerka Corp., then I am inclined to believe him. The Republic and Empire don’t know everything, Mako,” Erikson expressed. “Blizz, have you been here before?”
“Neuhya,” Blizz stated a little excitedly. Blizz had never been here before but it looked a lot like a site he was exploring on Hoth. “Bitta batta pito peeka pi.”
“Just like Hoth, huh,” Erikson rhetorically asked as Mako’s locator began to chirp letting them know they had arrived. Apart from the remnants of a Czerka Corp. facility jutting out from the sand there was not much else around here. A few dips in the sand where local beasts likely once laid in weight for something. A few broken down and very old speeders worn down by sand and time also.
“What do you think Blizz,” Erikson asked?
“Batto batta pito pee peta pi,” Blizz instructed.
“Make, let Torian and Skadge know to be on alert. We’re going into that facility. Have ‘em ready to come blast us out as a precaution,” Erikson instructed. This wasn’t the first Czerka facility Erikson had entered. Czerka was an organization older than the Republic itself. To his knowledge, Czerka was easily twice the age of the Republic and among the oldest entities known in present day history. No one really knows how old Czerka Corp. really is anymore. They’ve created so many facilities over the centuries, employed so many, and crafted so numerous of ideas that they’ve often been fought over by governments.
Erikson had a different idea. If the information Blizz uncovered was right then this facility might also be connected to their newest fortune; a fortune that could set them up for a hundred lifetimes and then some.
They stashed their speeder and covered it in a camouflaging sheet that also dubbed as an anchor in case of a sand storm. The five of them piled into the facilities where previous Jawa tracks existed.
Upon Mako and Gault’s eyes adjusting to the much dimmer interior conditions they were met with a shock. Dead Jawas. Dozens of them were strewn on the floor. Some had been here for a long time and were very ripe. Others seemed very recent; within the hour recent, which caused Erikson to pull his blaster. The others followed suit.
“I didn’t much like this place when you found me here. I still don’t’ like this place,” Gault complained. He knew well the horrors of Tatooine. Gault had been stranded here before, a couple of times. This particular facility was new to him though.
They followed the signals Mako gave from her holomap of the facility and began to descend into it. Maybe ten minutes tops at a slow very cautious pace and they were where they needed to be. The facility was still in decent condition for being more than nine hundred years old. Metallic floors, walls, and ceilings all perfectly preserved as well as the computer systems. And that puzzled Erikson. The other facilities that were part of Czerka Corp and out in the open like this were stripped of their tech; and most of the structure too! Something wasn’t right.
“This is it, right Mako,” Erikson asked? “Yeah, but I’m not seeing what I think we should be seeing! Some thing’s missing. A control panel,” she told him.
“2V what do you see in here,” Erikson question the droid. “Well, sir, it appears to be a hollow chamber designed to be reversed. My sensors indicate that there are four other hollow chambers surrounding this one. One opposite the entrance we came through, two on either side of us, and one with an entrance below. My sensors also indicate that all chambers hold decaying remnants of organic material accept the chamber below, sir,” 2V proudly stated.
With a mechanized and low mutter through his helmet, “of course, I’m standing on the door too,” Erikson said. He stepped aside and looked at the floor he was just standing on. Brushing away some sand he found a faint sliver of a crack. This door was sealed just like the one aboard the Draconia, an abandon and thought lost vessel belonging to Czerka Corp. that was responsible for carrying new battle droid tech to the previous incarnation of the present Sith Empire; tech that Erikson and Blizz utilized to upgrade 2V with, making him much more useful than a whining protocol droid; and also illegal by Republic law.
With a magnetic grip, Erikson turned the hidden lock and pulled the door up. Lighting in the descending shaft automatically lit up cascading downward revealing the organic empty room 2V mentioned. “Gault, you come with me. Mako, 2V, and Blizz you stay here and keep a watch out. Something is too easy here,” Erikson warned.
Once into the lower chamber Erikson found a console. It was booting up upon his approach. Erikson reached into a pouch on his belt and removed a data chip, placing it into a data socket on the now booted console. The language which appeared on the screen was a very old form of basic. Erikson had to read much slower to be sure to interpret it correctly.
This standard two to three minute job of data collection was turning into twenty minutes. That’s not a good sign by measure of his experiences. “Finally! I thought I’d never find the backup file data base,” Erikson said, relieved.
He downloaded the files to his data chip and ejected it from the console. Before he could turn around to leave, the screen changed colors. It switched from a standard black and green to a full blue with white characters on it. “Uh, that’s different,” Gault observed. “When does that ever happen?”
“I don’t know. Can you read that?”
“Sure can’t boss man.”
The screen read a warning in a very ancient language, English. With video recording active through his helmet Erikson made sure to get a good view of the screen. Then it changed again. There was a cycling of figures which began to diminish. That always means one thing. Erikson and Gault both looked at each other saying simultaneously, “RUN!”
Gault bolted up the ladder first yelling for the others to run. Erikson was right behind. Upon hearing those warnings from Gault, 2V alerted Torian and Skadge to pick them up.
The five made it out of the facility unharmed. They jumped in the speeder and began charging back towards the spaceport. Moments away from the facility the ground began to shake. The sand started jumping around like spattering oil in a hot frying pan as the Czerka Corp facility was being reclaimed by the desert. The Mantis began a decent and picked up the rest of its crew. They boarded the Mantis in time. Skadge screamed out something about an impact from the cockpit as he boosted power to the shields.
Then a blast shook the Mantis washing it over with a wave of sand forcing it to skim the sandy desert floor. When the dust cleared there was a giant hole in the desert floor revealing scorched bedrock and a small crater. “I think it’s time we left Tatooine,” Erikson relayed. They blasted off the planet’s surface and made for their secondary rally point.
While in hyperspace they had time to begin decoding the data. Blizz was a tech genius but had no idea what any of the symbols meant. Not even 2V knew them and he was programmed to know more than a million forms of communication.
There were seventy file banks in total. Each labeled in the same strange characters. One file in particular that had the most photos showed a red desert like planet. It was small and all of its measurements were eerily familiar. “Utiniiii! Utiniiiii! Mattak Beeka batta chu wamba titta tera kata!”
Erikson said nothing. He just starred at the photos until 2V said, “Blizz says that this planet shows the same measurements as Tatooine, adjusted for planetary drift and solar erosion of course.”
“I know what he said, 2V. I just want to know what these symbols are,” Erikson said pointing to four symbols drawn as M-A-R-S.
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