- "One of the worst was an insect creature named Cypher Bos, a mercenary, as vile and selfcentered as they come."
- ―Han Solo, to Jacen Solo
Cypher Bos was a notorious Nalrithian bounty hunter active during the Galactic Civil War. He worked predominantly for the Galactic Empire, but also for Jabba Desilijic Tiure, building up a reputation as a violent and capable hunter.
In 3 ABY, Cypher tracked down his eggmate, Phoedris Bos, hoping to kill and impersonate him in order to infiltrate the Alliance to Restore the Republic. He had heard of an impending mission involving Phoedris and Han Solo, and believed that in one swoop he could ruin the Alliance and capture Solo's bounty. Cypher and Phoedris faced off on Ord Mantell; after using the mental link they shared—which existed because the two had hatched from the same egg—to learn many secret Rebel codes, Cypher killed his brother.
Solo arrived several weeks later, and Cypher was ordered to take him and his companion to an Imperial computer terminal so that they could hack into the system. When he realized that Solo's companion was in fact Leia Organa, Cypher ended his charade and held the two hostage. Solo was able to disarm him, though, and after a brief exchange of blaster shots, the Nalrithian bounty hunter was killed.
- "The more successful hunters—Fett, Valance, Cypher—they're usually the ones with the fearsome reputations and getups. All they have to do is walk into a room and people tell them whatever they want."
- ―Lando Calrissian
Cypher Bos was an insectoid Nalrithian, one of four eggmates born simultaneously. An uncouth being hungry for wealth, he shared a mental link with his four siblings, which allowed them to share memories and detect each other's presence from around a dozen meters away. Additionally, the four Nalrithians shared pain when they were in each other's vicinity; but this did not stop them hurting each other, and at some point in his life, Cypher hunted down and killed two of his eggmates. The third, Phoedris Bos, was considerably stronger than the two Cypher had killed, so Cypher was more reluctant to engage Phoedris in combat.
Cypher became a bounty hunter, building up a reputation as being both capable and dishonorable. He was in the same league as the likes of Boba Fett, Skorr, and Beilert Valance, feared and respected by most beings he encountered. Nalrithians were feared by most throughout the galaxy, Cypher particularly so, and his mere presence was enough to send most sentients scurrying. He worked predominantly for the Galactic Empire, though also for the Hutts, including Jabba Desilijic Tiure; he allied himself with whoever could provide him with the most income. The Nalrithian often operated out of the Bright Jewel Cluster, along with other notorious bounty hunters such as Skorr, Gribbet, Giles Durane, and Beilert Valance. Cypher considered trying to recruit Phoedris to work alongside him and form a bounty hunting team, but Phoedris, feeling guilty at having a brother who sided with the Empire, joined the Alliance to Restore the Republic.
- "I hope you understand, brother, that your death will serve a greater cause. The Rebel dogs will never suspect that I have taken your place among them."
- ―Cypher, to Phoedris, moments before the latter's death
When he heard Phoedris mention Han Solo—an Alliance member with a hefty bounty on his head—Cypher realized that much profit could be made by taking advantage of Phoedris's position in the Rebellion and impersonating him, and believed that he would be able to take down the Rebel Alliance from within. Cypher had cybernetic implants placed inside his body, which would ensure that the pain he would share with Phoedris during their inevitable confrontation would not cause himself any lasting harm. The Nalrithian arranged to meet with Baajik, a Chadra-Fan working as a double agent for both the Rebels and the Hutts, who would be able to provide him with Phoedris's location. Cypher met with the Chadra-Fan in the Drunken Bantha, speaking to him in the cantina's shadiest corner. Phoedris had learned of his brother's arrival on Ord Mantell, and had followed him to the cantina, using all his effort and concentration to block their mental link. However, when Phoedris noticed Baajik—whom he believed was a loyal agent of the Rebellion—his concentration broke for a moment, and Cypher was able to sense his presence. Realizing this, Phoedris fled the cantina, though Cypher pursued his brother.
Sensing his sibling's fear, Cypher tracked him outside, eventually taking up a position in the shadows and firing a single blaster bolt at his eggmate's shoulder. With Phoedris injured, Cypher tackled him to the ground, telepathically announcing his intentions to impersonate his brother and infiltrate the Rebel Alliance. The two continued to wrestle, and although Phoedris's pain at his wound was transferred to Cypher's body, his cybernetic implants allowed him to bear the discomfort. After absorbing any potentially lucrative memories from his brother, Cypher pinned him down as he bled to death. From Phoedris's memories he was able to learn some of the specifics about a planned Imperial shipment of credits that the Rebels hoped to raid to pay for their base on Hoth.
Cypher took his brother's clothes and made for the secret Rebel headquarters on Ord Mantell, the location of which he had taken from his late eggmate. He relayed the specifics of the impending mission that only Phoedris had known to the other Rebels hiding in the headquarters, maintaining that he was in fact Phoedris; as Nalrithians all looked the same to Humans, they did not suspect his true identity. However, when Baajik entered the base, he immediately realized who he was looking at, drawing a blaster and preparing to shoot the bounty hunter. Cypher was too quick for the Chadra-Fan, however, launching himself at Baajik; the sheer force and strength of Cypher's lunge killed the tiny Chadra-Fan. Baajik attempted to warn the others, telling them that he was Cypher Bos, and not Phoedris, but he died before he could fully explain. Maintaining his charade, the Nalrithian told the other Rebels that Cypher had ambushed him, but the bounty hunter had been killed. The Rebels believed him, and Cypher stayed on Ord Mantell, waiting for an opportunity to reveal his true identity.
Kidnapping Solo and Organa
- "Hurry it up will you, Artoo, not much time left before we—"
"You haven't got any time left at all, Solo."
- ―Han Solo and Cypher Bos, just prior to revealing his true identity
Some time later, Han Solo arrived on Ord Mantell with the Millennium Falcon. Cypher was ordered to escort Solo, along with another female Rebel and an astromech droid, to an Imperial base on the planet so that they could hack into the facility's system. The details of the mission were kept from the Nalrithian bounty hunter, so he listened intently for any hints as to what exactly the Rebels were planning. They broke into the Imperial facility, and Cypher took Solo, his companion, and R2-D2 to the computer terminal. The droid began to infiltrate the system; while it worked, Solo referred to the other Rebel as "your royalness." Cypher realized that the female was in fact Princess Leia Organa, who was wanted by the Empire. Although he knew that Jabba would pay handsomely for Solo, and the Empire for Organa, Cypher waited before making his move, so that he could learn more about the Rebel mission.
After Solo spoke with another Rebel located elsewhere, Cypher was able to put the pieces together and realized that they were going to steal the Imperial credit shipment. After Solo ended his comlink conversation with the other Rebel, Cypher acted: he pulled a blaster pistol on Solo and Organa, ordered them to drop their weapons and disengage the droid, and announced his true identity. Organa began to plead with Cypher, telling him that the Rebellion would pay him more money than the Empire or the Hutts; Cypher was not taken in by Organa's offers, though, knowing that the Rebellion was low on funds itself.
Solo began stalling after Cypher ordered him to hand over his comlink and gunbelt, remaining calm in an attempt to irritate the Nalrithian. Solo threw his gunbelt at Cypher, knocking the bounty hunter's blaster out of his hands and leaving them both disarmed. Cypher was impressed at Solo's trickery, though he was confident that the Human would not be able to reach his blaster before he reached his own. Solo did not heed Cypher's warnings, though; the two made simultaneous lunges for their weapons, reaching them at the same time. Solo was able to evade the Narithian's blaster shots and killed Cypher, and he, Organa, and R2-D2 escaped with the Imperial funds. Over twenty years later, in 24 ABY, Han Solo told the story of his encounter with Cypher Bos to his son, Jacen Solo.
Personality and traits
- "No one has ever disarmed Cypher before."
- ―Cypher Bos
Described as vile and self-centered, Cypher Bos cared only for himself. His desire lay only in profit, and he could never understand other beings' comparative lack of interest in money. Cypher reveled in the way other beings reacted to him—with great fear—and it often gave him amusement to watch other sentients attempt to hide themselves when they saw him. While many thought of him as just a simple thug, Cypher was in fact very intelligent, and planned his infiltration of the Rebel Alliance very carefully.
Cypher Bos was extremely confident in his abilities, believing himself to be one of the best bounty hunters of his era. Because of his high success rate, he was taken by surprise when someone managed to get a foothold on him in any conflicts, such as when Han Solo threw his gun-belt at the Nalrithian. Cypher's overconfidence eventually proved to be his downfall; he did not believe it possible that Han Solo's reactions were quicker than his own, though he was mistaken.
Cypher possessed a Corellian YT-1300 light freighter transport, and also carried with him at least one blaster, a vibroblade, and several hellfire grenades, which erupted into flames when triggered. He favored his modified heavy blaster pistol—which included additional custom settings and a secret compartment in its handle—though Cypher was also proficient at unarmed combat. He wore a suit of custom body armor, and had special cybernetic pain inhibitors implanted along his spine, which drastically reduced the amount of pain he felt when injured. Like each member of his species, Cypher had heightened senses, and he used the scents of other beings to recognize what species they belonged to.
Behind the scenes
- "Well, the bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell changed my mind."
- ―Han Solo's line in The Empire Strikes Back, which inspired Cypher's story
Cypher Bos was created by the late Brian Daley in 1984, as part of Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell, a radio dramatization intended to document "the bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell" mentioned by Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. However, several years before, Archie Goodwin's The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell implied that another bounty hunter, Skorr, was the one to whom Solo was referring. The official StarWars.com Databank confirms that it was Skorr, because his story was told first.
Cypher went unreferenced for over ten years until Michael Mikaelian penned Double Cross on Ord Mantell, a short story published in Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 5. Illustrated by Walter McDaniels and Shawn Martinbrough, it acts as a prelude of sorts for Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell. Cypher was later mentioned in Crimson Bounty in 1997 and Young Jedi Knights: Return to Ord Mantell in 1998. Another ten years on, Cypher was briefly mentioned in Rich Handley's short story Lando Calrissian: Idiot's Array, exclusive to Starwars.com's Hyperspace section.
- (Mentioned only)
- "Crimson Bounty"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 14 (Mentioned only)
- "Double Cross on Ord Mantell"—Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 5 (First identified as Bos)
- Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell (First appearance)
- Young Jedi Knights: Return to Ord Mantell (Mentioned only)
- Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back, Second Edition
- "The Unseen Planets of Star Wars"—Star Wars Insider 36
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- "A Certain Point of View: Expanding Empire: How The Empire Strikes Back Rocks the EU"—Star Wars Insider 132
- The Essential Reader's Companion