The journey away from the Orian system had been long and full of challenges. Although several agents had been dispatched by the Summit, very few had any new information to share in the past several weeks. While most had nothing left to investigate, a single individual forged ahead on a long distance pursuit until arriving at Ambria in the Inner Rim. No matter where the soldier had stopped to resupply the same word was uttered amongst a half dozen different species to describe the destination planet.
Xuner Holst truly understood the meaning from the moment he first set eyes on it. To the uninformed, this absolutely boring ball of arid desert was simply that. A boring ball of sand with mindless animals serving no purpose other than that which is simply natural to them. There was scarce water and vegetation in most regions. Violent wind storms swept chaotically across the dry landscape. To a select few, it was a place of great adventure. Legends spoke of hidden treasures of terrible creatures guarding the lakes. He had compiled notes of what he had heard but only in the context of his mission.
Once he had arrived in a small but fast vessel it took more than a day of travel on foot to locate them. Xuner’s trek into the mountains ended along a wide, rocky passage where he sat for hours with nothing but wind and dust to keep him company. In the midst of a growing storm, he held his ground against a large boulder and trained his eyes to look through the cascading dust and debris. Just when he was about to give up and seek shelter, several shouts rose from out of the chaos. The weather disturbances had offered him some much needed concealment but he realised far too late that this was a double edged sword. The raised voices began to fade out against the background before he could gain a visual. Refusing to lose track of them, Holst drew his blaster and sprinted toward the source of the noise.
After 20 meters Xuner spotted four humanoid silhouettes struggling to move through the harsh elements. The tallest of the group laboured under the weight of an ornate, rectangular trunk. It bore the symbol of House Shar Dakhan.
It had cost Xuner a great deal of frustration and the remaining portion of his stipend to discover the whereabouts of the Collective mercenaries. As far as Shar Dakhan was aware, they were the only remaining survivors of the assault on the Temple of Sorrows. The precious cargo they held had been taken from the ruins and nothing short of death itself would keep the House from recovering their stolen property.
Moving like a swift shadow, the Dakhani journeyman closed the distance and coiled an arm around the neck of the closest enemy from behind with as much force as he could muster. Time seemed to slow down. He took a few steps back, forcing the human he was grappling with to become off balance. Xuner then raised his free hand to aim his blaster at another mercenary. The monotonous, howling winds were broken by the sound of small arms fire. There was little room for error but at close range his targets were easy to hit. A cybernetically enhanced twi’lek dropped to the ground. The others turned with weapons drawn and returned fire only to hit their engaged companion by mistake. With a sadistic smile Xuner continued to fire rapidly and dropped another two combatants. The last and tallest of the group was slow to react as he had hoped. As soon as the valuables were cast aside he too was dispatched with a couple of well-placed shots.
Xuner let go of his lifeless shield and searched the bodies for water and rations. Gathering what he could, he took hold of the crate and made haste to return to his ship. With all the excitement of combat he had lost his sense of direction in the debilitating storm. Shelter became an absolute necessity as the violent, sandy winds started to tear at his exposed flesh. With survival in mind, he chose a general path and soon found himself at the mouth of a rocky cave. Despite the unknown risks he used what little energy he had left to rush inside and collapse against a rocky wall to catch his breath. His blue eyes adjusted to the darkness and he noticed a small outcrop of transparent crystals jutting out from the ceiling and floor toward the back of the cave. Once he had recovered some stamina he rose and followed the crystals into a narrow passage. The path ended abruptly at a steep, rocky ledge. With the storm in full effect it was impossible to see beyond. There was nowhere else to go. The soldier returned to the main part of the cave and waited for the winds to settle. In the darkness there was a faint glow coming from the trunk that had been recovered. He slowly removed the latch and opened the container. Soft light emanated from a set of ancient holocrons. Xuner wasn’t sure how long he gazed at them but when his concentration was finally broken the storm had subsided.
What had happened?
The answer was unclear. He remembered seeing a light surrounding the holocrons however they were not completely inert. Closing the trunk uneasily, he took it by the handles and returned to the mysterious ledge at the back of the cave. The view came to him as a complete shock to him. Massive crystals protruded along a winding river, twisting off into the unknown. He had never seen anything like it.
“Stars’ end, I need to get back!”
As soon as Xuner had left the cave he found a high vantage point to climb so that he could get his bearings. He then journeyed back to the ship as fast as he possibly could. An encrypted holo message was sent out into space to alert the other agents to his discovery. A few days later it was relayed back to the new Shar Dakhan fleet and a convoy was sent in to build a new outpost and explore the planet’s surface.