By Brubek Coltrane
The first things that come to most creatures’ minds when they think of Talabar prime, are the shearing winds, and massive storms that rock the planet’s surface. But the ferocious, miles-wide storms that leave the landscape scarred and weathered are only part of Talabar Prime’s extremities. In order to survive these winds, the Talabaran sought to construct a society highly based around survival-whatever the cost. As a result, the Talabaran evolved quicker by eradicating all weak or deadweight members. Brutal as it seems, all Talabaran have a strong sense of who they are, so even those chosen to be eradicated see it as a necessary part of keeping Talabar alive. Their massive, self-moving cities are the stuff of legends, able to fit into the smallest crevice, wait out a storm, and then adapt onto the highest rock-face in order to accumulate more power. But what most don’t know, is just how significant the entire system really is.
Deep in the eye of the malevolent, centuries-old storm of Val-than and miles from the ground, a lone craft hurtled downwards. One might have even mistaken it for a meteor. Except for the fact that a meteoroid of that size could never withstand the friction of Talabar Prime’s incredibly tough and unforgiving atmosphere. The craft itself, held four occupants; creatures from various worlds, all complete strangers to the Talabaran.
Raze gazed with wide eyes at the rocky surface of a world she hadn’t even heard of until a few hours ago. She tightened her grip on the joystick of the Crasher, and pressed buttons frantically in an effort to pull out of the deadly stall. The viewport offered an extensive view of the surrounding storm, gaping gorges and rock-ranges miles below. And maybe, Raze thought in the back of her mind, though fought to deny it, the end. In the three other seats a Trevian, a Randoran, and a Grodan all sat, pinned to their seats.
Beside Raze, Ka’rl was strapped in, and calculating approach vectors and possible break-stalls. The Trevian’s glittering scales and lizard-like appearance made him stand out on most worlds. As their homeworld of Treveris is a swampy marshland which is very humid and extremely hot, Ka’rl didn’t feel as much of the heat as the other crew members. The Trevian’s only downside, was the inability to speak galactic trade common, the trade language of the better part of more than three quarters of the known universe. Though he could understand it, his biological distinctiveness restricted him from speaking it. As a result, everyone on board could speak Trevian.
“Bearing march 2.6 at 1.2 Gs!” Shouted Taurol, the furry, horned creature in the back seat.
The entire ship rocked and ricocheted violently, speeding ever closer to the ground. While all this played out, the ‘furry horned creature in the back seat’ who happened to be part of one of the most technologically advanced races in the known universe, scanned all around for signs of an opening in the storm. Taurol was the senior science specialist on board. Though most Grothan are especially deadly in hand-to-hand combat, their positions in command of space operations is all but a rare sight. Aggression has long been a stereotypical aspect of the Grothan. Although this is true for the deeply warlike Grothan, this is not as much the case for Grothan who do not devotedly follow Grothan interests, and who do not reside in Grothan space.
“We are closing at 1 march 127 to the planet’s surface!” Taurol stated. “Scans have so far deemed unsuccessful.”
“Continue scanning Taurol,” Raze shouted, pressing but not panicked. “Ka’rl, get me a vector reading!”
The Trevian pointed to the display screen, and hissed and clicked to give back an answer. His tongue rattling like a snake. His lizard eyes darted back to his controls immediately.
“That’s damn near impossible!” Raze said. “At least not without an opening in the storm.”
“I think you might have one!” Taurol said. “There is an opening forming directly behind us, down approximately 4.2 miles.”
“That’s cutting it awfully close, but all things considered, I don’t see any other options.” Raze exclaimed. “Wolfe, what do you figure?” Raze asked.
Wolfe sat in the very back of the vessel, in operations controls. He stared into the targeting scope, silent for the time being. Then spoke up.
“That opening is not stable enough for us to get through in one piece, however there is another opening thirty seconds to the portside, ninety degrees.” He said. “It leads directly to the surface, and the angle should bring us out of stall.” He said.
It was in situations like these, where Wolfe would assess situations, letting others seemingly take command, only to suddenly order something that had hatched in his head the entire time. Wolfe was a human from the planet Tarthaus, a planet whose surface was melted to the core at the end of the last arc war. Wolfe never faltered in that battle, having no family or otherwise to care about, and nothing to lose. Soon after the battle though, and having not much other choice, he was forced into a life in space. One he had grown to enjoy.
“20 seconds to storm-wall breach.” Taurol said. “I suggest we act soon, as our altitude is rapidly dropping at 3.9 miles above the Talabaran surface.”
“Alright,” Raze said. “Switching to computer override.” She pressed a few buttons, then said. “Alright, course laid in. This is it!”
“5 seconds,” Taurol said.
Ka’rl gave out a nervous hiss, his scales shifting.
“2 seconds.” Taurol said.
“Punch it!” Wolfe yelled.
The craft rolled into a dive, and soared towards the opening. Everyone in the craft was pinned to the backs of their seats, from the sheer Gs of the speed.
“Here we go!” Raze said.
The craft soared out of the calm eye, and into the very storm itself. The narrow path down the storm’s breach left little room for error. Now all the crew could do, was hope that they hadn’t made an error.
Through the viewport, the crew could see not very much, for the storm whipped up heavy gases that were the complete opposite of translucent.
The crew’s breath was out of them, as they neared the surface.
Ka’rl hissed that they were less than a mile off the ground.
“The tunnel’s path leads directly to the surface, once we are approximately 200 meters off the ground, our engines should be able to achieve thrust against the winds.” Taurol said.
All of a sudden, the crew felt a jarring impact to the side. The craft tumbled a few meters to the right, as the shaken crew recalibrated.
“Report!” Wolfe barked out.
“Navicomputer offline, our portside has sustained severe damage.” Taurol said.
Ka’rl hissed that they were less than 600 meters to the ground.
“I’m switching to manual controls.” Raze said.
“Switching to manual controls will leave you flying blind.” Taurol said.
“Everyone hold on!” Raze yelled.
The vessel flew through the last few hundred meters to the ground with pinpoint precision, leaving a trail of gas behind.
“Almost there.” Raze said.
The small vessel flew forwards, shaking ferociously. If the vessel took just one more error, it would be incinerated. But Raze flew it through, and the last few meters passed.
“We have reached the surface.” Taurol reported.
“Bring us down, Raze” Wolfe said.
Raze was covered in sweat, as well as Wolfe. Taurol seemed very hot as well, but if it was bothering him, he didn’t show it.
Ka’rl exclaimed that there was a small crater directly ahead, and that that crater was out of the storms wrath, enough so that they could walk the surface.
The vessel slowed, and came down gently to the planet’s surface. Although it was safe to walk, the storms churned up gas that was poisonous to everyone but Ka’rl. At last, the ship came to a complete stop, with one last bump as the landing gears touched down. The crew unstrapped, and went to the back of the craft. Taurol, Raze, and Wolfe all put on their life-masks, and proceeded to the doorway.
The doors slid open with a hiss, letting in the gases to the airlock. The desolate landscape of Talabar soon came into view, though only to be seen to just the other side of the crater. The four took off, knowing their objectives well.
“Alright, let’s get to work.” Wolfe said.
“Captain Wolfe” Taurol sad abruptly.
“Taurol?” Wolfe answered.
“I am picking up several life forms on the edges of the crater, and they are approaching.”
“Get back to the shuttle, I don’t think we’re alone.”
The group ran back, and into the airlock. The red soil and rocks of Talabar Prime sifting as they did so. The orange, stormy skies were an unfriendly reminder of the harshness of the plane once most of them had gotten inside, Taurol spoke
“Wolfe” Taurol said. “Raze isn’t here.”
“Ready your weapons.” Wolfe said very seriously. “We’re not alone, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.”