En route to Corellia, the crew of the Mantis took a few moments to breathe and consider the events that just happened.
2V was continuously going on about Revan and blurting out possibilities of a new galactic government to work beneath. That wasn’t sitting well with Mako. “Oh! Come on! Just switch off already!”
2V-R8 took the hint and descended to the main cargo bay. Turning to Gault, Mako asked, “What do you know about Revan?”
“Well, I know he’s back now. I mean, I came across a number of Revanite artifacts in my travels but I can’t really say I know a lot except what the value is of those things I found. When we reach Corellia I can get a hold of a contact if you want?” It was clear in Gault’s voice that he didn’t know anything. And what he did know scared him. There was good reason for that too.
Erikson swiveled his chair around to face the interior of the cockpit. “You don’t have to say anything Gault. I know all about Revan. My parents were Revanites and tried to hide from everyone before the Empire returned. I was a possible candidate for Jedi training and my parents knew that the moment I was born.”
Mako sat forward. “Did they try to send you to the Academy,” she asked?
“No. They didn’t want me trained because I would have been conditioned and taken away from them. More importantly they felt I would be better off trained naturally by the Force. We’ve been together as a crew of five plus 2V for a few years now. I know you’ve all noticed I’m able to do a few things that don’t seem possible. Well, now you know the why. Here’s the how.” Erikson shifted in his seat and sat forward.
“I trained briefly beneath other students of Revan. What my parents couldn’t teach me I learned from the rest of the community. I wasn’t the brightest student or the fastest learner. My Force sensitivity was relatively low in comparison. I had to work hard to learn even the basic lessons. What I felt was a disability would become an incredible ally. I would learn that before I was ten. Republic troops raided the compound we called home. Our leadership was set up and blamed for crimes against the Republic. It was something about Mandalorians selling secrets. I don’t really know. What I do know is that Jedi protectors accompanied the republic troops to sniff out any force sensitive Revanites. They missed me completely.” Erikson paused for a few moments.
Mako took the opportunity to interject a thought. “Well, that explains why you were allowed into the Revanite camp on Dromand Kaas.”
Erikson continued. “Yeah. I wanted to tell you before but I couldn’t risk it. I thought it was strange that Imperial intelligence would send me into a camp they could have easily obliterated with regulars. Not one of my smarter moves, no. Although, I doubt the Revanites there recognized me. I am fairly certain that I recognized at least two faces there but don’t know anything about them.”
“If the Jedi couldn’t pick up on your abilities what makes you so sure the Revanites on Dromand Kass would be able too,” Gault asked.
“I don’t know. But I’m certain someone knew otherwise it’s not likely that I would have been sent there. Now that I know Malgus knows who I am…well, connect the dots for us Gault. So after Republic forces raided that camp they sent me to an orphanage. I bounced between a few homes before being sent to Republic training facilities. I read as many articles as I could find about Jedi training and focusing exercises. All of which I practiced in my spare time when not running training courses and out of sight. By the time I was eighteen I was prepared to graduate and be shipped off to another educational facility and would have been offered a position in the Republic Military. I bolted in search of my parents.” Erikson shifted again in his chair; and once more before deciding to stand up.
He walked across the cockpit to the doorway turning back to speak again. “That’s when I ran into a bounty hunter on my way to Corellia. I purchased a fair and my transport was caught in the cross hairs of a pursuing hunter. I took the controls of the ship after the pilot was knocked unconscious and made for the nearest station. Alderaan it was. I couldn’t stay long as I was now a fugitive of the Republic. I hid on Alderaan for a short time picking up jobs from the warring nobles and beneath the Republic’s nose until one day a smuggler made me a deal I couldn’t refuse. He was nearly drunk and belligerent but that didn’t stop the Alderaanian nobles from enforcing contracts of sporting entertainment. The smuggler challenged me to a duel. I didn’t want to but he pushed the issue and I saw an opportunity. We both fired. He missed in his stupor and I didn’t. I shot him in the leg. He collapsed and attempted to shoot again. I shot his blasting hand and he reached for a side arm. I shot him again in the chest. He stopped moving.”
Erikson hung his head for a moment before continuing. “I collected his ship and was now the owner of his cargo. I made good on his deliveries and credited the smuggler’s account with all the credits minus fuel so any of his surviving heirs wouldn’t be completely broke. Smuggling was my life for a few years afterwards until another Republic raid. They didn’t I.D. for being a runaway but did hold me for possession of unrefined spice I was transporting. I didn’t have the property permits for such transporting jobs but it really was a legitimate run. I earned nearly thirty percent because I was fast and the buyers were sick of Republic red tape.”
Torian came to stand behind him coming up from the communications room. “I thought I recognized you. That was you on Ord Mantell. You were the spice runner for group that would eventually change moral directions and become outright terrorists.”
Erikson turned to Torian. “I was. The Republic confiscated my ship and attempted to put me into holding until a trial. I wasn’t going to have any of that. The mess on Ord Mantell was their fault for over regulation and people were dying. I never reclaimed my ship but I did learn while I was in Republic custody during that time that Sith had attecked a Republic world. They attacked a facility where Revanite followers were held in internment camps…where my parents were held.”
Gault stood up. “I’m sorry about that, boss. I don’t remember much about my folks. Lost them when I was young. But I’ve had good friends killed by Imperials. You’ve done me a great number of favors. Just say the word and I’m with you.”
Erikson looked up at Gault. “Thanks. It wasn’t long after that when I made another escape attempt. A group of us took control of the transport vessel and made for rebel territory on Ord Mantel. We bought passage off world and were tricked into being dumped on Trandosha. We were sold as gladiatorial tributes. I had to fight like never before to get of that world. And when I did I had to agree to enter some kind of contest that started for me on Nal Hutta. I think Mako can fill you in on the rest. From there I found each one of you and now here we are.”
Skadge’s ears had opened up intently and absorb this new information about his captain. “Ahhh! You don told me everyting I needed ta know. Where do I sign up for dis skull crushing? I wanna piece ‘o dis Sif lord!”
Erikson extended an arm towards Skadge. Skadge met Erikson’s arm in an arm grasp to show an accord had just been made as per Skadge’s custom. None of the others were to be left out either. “Honey, where you go, I go,” Mako reminded her beau.
Torian stepped closer. “Pokkad, for everything. My turn to serve you.” And of course Blizz crept into the mix from the engine room and naturally heard everything, being the tech genius he was with his gadgets. “Ehotemi matta bettea pitta utinnni!”
2V also listening in couldn’t help but to offer his services. “Well, sir, if you insist upon having Master Blizz along to ‘make the bad people pay’ as he says then I shall accompany you as well. I am thankful that you acquired me, Master. That Trandosian who previously owned this vessel was cruel in ways Sith cannot match.”
Erikson stood up a little straighter feeling better about the turn of events. With still several hours to go before reaching Corellia there was much work to be done. Copies of the data from Tatooine had to be made which kept 2V busy. Mako began prepping for potential contacts with Gault. Skadge went about in an eager hustle preparing his gear for a fight. Torian and Erikson descended to the cargo deck for lessons from Blizz, who eagerly explained his latest devices to them.
When they had plans that needed to be prepped for there never seemed to be enough time. Ship sensors alerted the crew to their approach of Corellia. Corellia was a world occupied by Republic and Imperial forces. War did ravage this planet but it was also quickly repaired by the forces of industry and two cartels, the Hutts and a lesser known faction, the Consortium.
Hutt territory was the safe bet. Even though Mako found multiple contracts out for Erikson listed on both Imperial and Republic channels, no independent hunters would attempt such given Erikson’s reputation. Champion of the Great Hunt was not the intimidating title. It was ‘the Merciful’ that stayed most hands.
Erikson was indeed such. The fact that his crew was still with him entirely after nearly half a decade was proof of high quality of character and honor. Hutt territory was the safe bet.
The Mantis docked quietly in a private port free of bureaucracy filled customs. Corellian space during this war tended to yield to the ample number of mercenaries and smugglers without much questioning. It was them who enabled the cease fire in this system and enabled the peace to be more than tenuous.
Multiple Hutts worked this area of Corellia. One in particular, Rioogoo the Hutt, was actively seeking the attention of Erikson. Seemed like a logical choice or trap. But as Mako was owed two separate favors by Rioogoo, it was the logical choice considering one of the favors was the saving of Rioogoo’s life before her adopted father Braden was killed by Tarro Blood on Nal Hutta.
Rioogoo met them with much fanfare. He didn’t realize that Mako was his partner now, both in business and pleasure. To Erikson he extended additional courtesies and praise. Hutts don’t typically do such things, but Mako proved to be an extremely valuable ally to Rioogoo after saving his life. She also recovered a hundred and forty percent of his fortune. Two favors performed and the bidding of a Hutt for life.
Rioogoo had information for Erikson that he wanted to exchange for a job. With his savior on Erikson’s arm, he simply gave up the information freely. Supposedly unknown to Republic and Imperial intelligence, Darth Revan is looking for Erikson because they know of his partial abilities. The Empire is seeking Erikson also. However, they know he has information from Tatooine but they do not know what it is. And the Empire also wants to interrogate Erikson for information as to why Master Revan wants him alive.
Erikson stood calmly for a moment considering this new information Rioogoo presented. “Rioogoo, I thank you. I will take care of your runner if I come across him. It’s a job worth doing considering I wouldn’t want to be stolen from either. If I find ‘em, I’ll send him back in carbonite and holo you the details. No charge of course!”
They retired from Rioogoo’s court for the evening. No sooner than did they arrive at their reserved suite than alarms started blaring.
Turbo laser fire was raining down on the Hutt’s defensive cannons. Unlike Republic and Imperial STA cannons, Hutt tech was heavily shielded on this world to ensure the protection of their industrial investments. Their STA cannons returned fire and then some.
Smaller craft akin to Imperial fighters and transports began descending. None of the aggressors were allowed anywhere near the spaceport; but if the defending ground forces failed then those Revanite forces would cut off Erikson from his preferred method of transportation off Corellia.
As they ran for the spaceport, the ground to their east began to shake. A thunderous roar bellowed out of the ground and following it was a B class frigate. Its guns were blazing continuous streams of destructive power towards the attacking destroyers. Few transports made it to the ground allowing Erikson and his crew to reach their ship.
Once inside the Mantis they were prepared to life off in moments. And then their window of opportunity was gone. Now they’d have to create a new one right through the Imperial starship hovering above the space port and wailing on the Revanite destroyers.
That might be bad karma but if they stay there then the Empire would be able to can then like black market rancor meat. Then there was an opening. Revanite ships returned fire on the Imperial destroyer causing it to break formation giving the Mantis room to scrape by.
Erikson piloted his ship knocking into the destroyer above them just enough to clear the spaceport walls. Then they were off. Shields at maximum and dodging cannon fire, the Mantis flanked the Imperial ships and removed the Revanite’s line of sight. Now Republic ships were entering the mix. It seemed both Imperial and Republic forces were working to protect the manufacturing facilities.
Whoever Revan really was or is has gotten both governments at least concerned if they are going to join forces to combat him. But the crew didn’t have time to think about that. Blizz was on the intercom wailing about a foreign signal coming from the outer hull of the Mantis. Blizz flew up the stairs from the cargo bay and engine deck of the ship wearing magnetic grappling equipment and a breather.
Erikson touched the controls on his console and a hatch opened up in the room behind the cockpit. Blizz scurried up the ladder and scoured the hull of the Mantis for several intense moments. He found the tiny device and capped it in one of his many shielded containers before returning inside.
With that problem solved Erikson closed the hatch and swung around to face the ensuing battle. Multiple Hutt frigates were now blasting away at Revanite forces side by side with Imperial and Republic forces. In the chaos Erikson blasted of Corellia but not before receiving a coded transmission, that was written in the same language 2V decoded with information from the Jedi archives, from the Revanite fleet.
2V decoded the message in moments as the Mantis cleared the atmosphere of Corellia and leapt back into hyperspace.
“Hunter, you must surrender and cease your bounty. You are entangling yourself with forces you do not understand. Uncovering this secret will not yield the desired profit you believe it contains. Jedi and Sith alike will forever hunt you. There is no turning back if you don’t surrender to us. Cyberdyne systems must not be reactivated. You must contact us.”
Previous Chapter- Bounty on the Hunter
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