By Brubek Coltrane
The Known Universe comprises of a corner of space where a half dozen or so galaxies came together around 5 billion years ago. After a series of events that led to the formation of the federation, the Soron Empire, Grethoran confederacy among several others, the galaxies were split apart. What many have come to know as the war of assertion, almost destroyed the entire known universe. The only thing that was able to save the Known Universe, was the Arc.
Wolfe scanned the edge of the crater, then gazed down at his feet. The soil was a bright red silt, crumbly and unstable. He trudged forwards, and motioned for Ka’rl and Taurol to follow. No words were spoken, as they raised their pulse energizers. They all had been through many a fight before, and on many a world. The edges of the crater were shrouded in an orange fog that hid whatever was lurking on the edges. Taurol was usually calm, in an effort to quell his natural aggression; however, in a fight, his emotions often gripped the better of him.
Uneasiness slowly crept up everyone’s nerves as they trod on the red soil. Wolfe, the leader, walked up ahead, flanked by the Trevian, and the Grethoran.
“Be alert. We have no idea what’s out there.” Wolfe said.
“Wolfe,” Taurol said, “The life scans show that the activity of the lifeforms up ahead is heightening. I believe they are plotting an ambush.”
Ka’rl clicked in conformation. Then turned to face the edges of the crater.
Suddenly, a massive explosion sent the unsteady soil erupting out of the ground, and flying in all directions. Another blast exploded a few feet away, then the whole crater was erupting with fire.
“Get to the edge of the crater!” Wolfe cried, and fired his energizer, letting loose searing green bolts of super-hot energy.
Taurol let loose his pulse rifle, a heavier version than Wolfe’s, which shot out blue, high-kinetic energy, which wrought destruction on those who found his mark. Taurol ran to the left of Wolfe, and dove through incoming fire, then hunkered down under an overhang at the edge of the crater. He saw Wolfe follow suite, and lay down cover-fire to suppress whoever it was that was firing.
Ka’rl ran towards the overhang, and was hit several times. Trevian, however have scales which absorb all but the strongest energy weaponry. A blast suddenly erupted in front of him, and he was gone from sight. Wolfe scanned the dust and looked for Ka’rl. He came bursting from the dust, and rolled to a stop. He propped himself up, and came to against the overhang.
The overhang in question was jutting out from a small rise in the crater floor, and a dip under it. There, they would be safe, but blind.
The three were cornered. They were being fired at from the front, and there was open ground in the back.
“Listen here.” Wolfe said. “We need to find the entrance.”
“According to our sources, it should be right ahead, where all the firing is coming from.” Taurol said.
“I thought this place was ancientand not inhabited.”
Ka’rl clicked, then hissed.
“I know, the weapons are definitely not ancient.” answered Wolfe. “Taurol, any sign of Raze?”
“There are several life-signs, but none seem to be Talabaran, nor native to Talabar for that matter.” Taurol said.
“Ka’rl,” Wolfe said. “Do you think you could reach the entrance from here?”
Ka’rl nodded, then went on his way.
Taurol and Wolfe watched from the sides of the overhang. The firing suddenly stopped as soon as he came out though, and Taurol and Wolfe instantly risked a glance. Up ahead, several figures emerged from the top of the crater wall.
“There’s eight of them, all armed.” Taurol said.
“Stand down,” Wolfe said “Clearly they want something.”
Ka’rl hissed in protest, but holstered his two pistols.
The group of eight approached them cautiously, and surrounded them with an almost militaristic diligentness.
“I don’t like the looks of this.” Wolfe said.
“Agreed.” Echoed Taurol.
“Keep an eye out for trouble.” Wolfe said.
Ka’rl let out a low growl, and padded his holstered pistol.
“Now, let’s meet our…hosts?” Wolfe mused.
The eight figures surrounded them, guns trained on them. They all wore dark garments, and their faces were hidden behind a black and grey breath masks. There was no apparent leader, until one of them spoke in a distinctive metallic voice.
“You are trespassing on our territory.” The figure spoke. “To whom do you answer to?”
“We answer to no one,” Wolfe spoke up. “The question is what right do you have to try to kill us?”
“We have every right.” The figure answered, then raised his weapon. “But you won’t need to concern yourself anymore with this.”
The figures around raised to fire, and prepared to shoot.
The figure spoke once more. “You are no longer welcome here, sta-”
The figure’s body suddenly rippled, then fell to the ground, lifeless.
Behind the sprawled body, above on the ridge of the crater, stood Raze holding her pistol.
“Split!” Wolfe yelled.
The four all ran in different directions, then lay waste to the remaining seven. Laser fire erupted, rocks and soil exploded this way and that. Taurol fired twice at one of the seven, and made it six. With the four all in different corners, they dispatched of the remaining bandits, or whatever these people were. Only one remained, though mortally wounded and beyond saving.
The four approached, breathing heavily from the encounter. The figure, whose hood was now drawn back, showed himself for what he was.
“Who are you?” Asked Taurol.
“I am…” The figure trailed off, losing consciousness.
“Who are you?” Wolfe shook the figure, then recoiled.
The figure slumped down, and instantly, its face changed from almost human to a horrifying, grey, scarred face. For a brief second, Wolfe was stunned.
“Sir?” Raze asked, the first to break out of the shock.
Wolfe looked around, then back at the figure, but it was gone. Vanished in thin air, whatever it was.
“I am unsure as to what that was.” Taurol said. “However, the life signs have all ceased.”
They all looked towards beyond the edge of the crater, and watched the Talabaran sun sink down behind the horizon.
“Damn, the sun’s gone down.” Wolfe said.
“It is unsafe to be outdoors at night on this planet.” Taurol said.
“Well, I guess we don’t have much say in that matter.” Raze finalized.
They all looked back, and saw that their ship was a far-ways off. This was going to be a long night, 52 hours to be exact.