Tournament of Death

Jarmo Dorak and Tashana Oyan sat in a dark cell, deep in the heart of the X’tarec city on Venus. It had been one month since they discovered the sunken palace on Neptune, but they had no idea how they ended up here. Tashana was an amphibionid, a race of beings that lived in the depths of the oceans on various planets, including Neptune, but Jarmo was just an ordinary human.

Jarmo could hear the sounds of the jungle outside the cell. It was a strange world with strange creatures. The X’tarec were humanoid, but they were also alien. They looked like humans, but their skin was scaly, and their eyes were a bright green.

Suddenly, the door to the cell opened, and two X’tarec guards entered. They ordered Jarmo and Tashana to follow them. They took them through a maze of corridors until they reached a large courtroom.

The courtroom was filled with X’tarec dignitaries, including the Great Ruler himself. They were all dressed in elaborate robes and headdresses. In the center of the room was a raised platform, and on it stood a High Priest of the X’tarec.

The High Priest looked at Jarmo and Tashana with disdain. “You have been accused of helping thieves steal treasures from the Sunken Palace on Neptune,” he said in a deep voice. “What do you have to say for yourselves?”

Jarmo stood up and tried to explain why they were searching through the palace, but the High Priest was not interested in his explanations. “Silence!” he boomed. “You will be judged in the Tournament of Death.”

Jarmo and Tashana looked at each other in horror. The Tournament of Death was a brutal competition where teams played a game called Ulohmy, a ball sport, where the losing team would be sentenced to death. The X’tarec had adapted the game to their own culture, making it more violent and dangerous. Jarmo and Tashana had no choice but to participate.

They were separated into different teams, and Jarmo found himself playing against Tashana. The game was played on a field surrounded by a high wall, and the ball was made of a heavy but also bouncy material.

Jarmo’s team quickly took the lead, but Tashana’s team fought back fiercely. The game was brutal, with players tackling each other to get the ball. Jarmo was a good player, but he was no match for Tashana. She was fast and agile, and she moved like she was underwater. Jarmo watched in amazement as she scored goal after goal for her team.

The game was neck and neck, but in the end, Tashana scored the winning point, securing her team’s victory. The X’tarec spectators cheered and applauded.

The Great Ruler himself came down from his throne to congratulate Tashana. “You have earned my respect,” he said. “And the respect of my people. That’s why we’re doing something that we never do otherwise: You and your companion are free to go.”

Jarmo and Tashana left the X’tarec city, relieved to be alive. They had learned a valuable lesson about exploring strange planets and cultures. They knew that they had to be careful in the future and that they could never let their guard down.

As they walked back to their ship, Jarmo couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude towards Tashana. He had never met anyone like her, and he knew that he could trust her with his life. They may have been from different worlds, but they were united in their love of exploration and discovery. And that was all that mattered to them.

As they lifted off from Venus, Tashana turned to Jarmo and said, “That was close. I’m glad we made it out alive.”

“Me too,” Jarmo replied. “But I have to admit, you were amazing out there. I had no idea you were such a great athlete.”

Tashana grinned. “It’s in my blood. Amphibionids have always been known for our agility and speed. We can swim like fish and run like cheetahs.”

“I can see that now,” Jarmo said with a chuckle.

They flew back to one of the island on Neptune and spent the next few days on their ship, resting and recuperating from their ordeal. Jarmo spent a lot of time studying the data they had collected from the sunken palace. He was fascinated by the technology and architecture of the ancient civilization that had built it. They had come to Venus because there was a hint to a jungle planet and the cultures of Venus and Neptune overlapped. Jarmo had assumed that the beings who built Oogramosh’s Palace were somehow related to the X’tarec. That was probably not the case.

Tashana, on the other hand, spent her time exploring the depths of the nearby oceans. She would disappear for hours at a time, using her amphibious abilities to swim and explore the underwater world.

One day, while Tashana was out exploring, Jarmo received a message from an unknown source. It was an invitation to visit a planet called Tarsus. The message was vague and mysterious, but Jarmo had a feeling that it was important. He decided to take the risk and accept the invitation. He knew that Tashana would be hesitant, but he also knew that she trusted him. He would have to convince her to go along with him.

When Tashana returned to the ship, Jarmo told her about the message he had received. She was understandably wary. “Who sent this message?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Jarmo admitted. “But I have a feeling it’s important. We have to go.”

Tashana thought about it for a moment. She knew that Jarmo was a skilled explorer and that he had a knack for discovering new and exciting things. She trusted him, but she was also cautious. “Okay,” she said finally. “But we need to be careful. We don’t know what we’re walking into.”

Jarmo nodded in agreement. They set a course for Tarsus, a planet that was known for its lush forests and exotic wildlife. As they flew closer, they could see that the planet was covered in a thick layer of mist. It was eerie and foreboding, but Jarmo was determined to press on. As they landed their ship on the surface, they were greeted by a group of beings that looked like giant insects. They were friendly and welcoming, and they led Jarmo and Tashana to a large temple.

Inside the temple, they were met by a group of scholars who were studying an ancient artifact. It was a glowing crystal that pulsed with energy. Jarmo was immediately intrigued. He had never seen anything like it before. The scholars explained that the crystal was a key to an ancient technology that had been lost for centuries. They believed that Jarmo and Tashana were the ones who could unlock its secrets.

Jarmo and Tashana spent the next few days studying the crystal and deciphering its code. They worked tirelessly, trying to unravel its secrets.

Finally, after days of work, they were able to unlock the crystal’s power. The scholars were ecstatic. They thanked Jarmo and Tashana for their help and rewarded them with a small token of their appreciation.

As they left the temple and headed back to their ship, Jarmo couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. He had discovered something new and exciting.

Together, they boarded their ship and took off from Tarsus. Jarmo couldn’t wait to explore the secrets of the crystal. He knew that their work would revolutionize the way people thought about ancient technology.

As they traveled through space, Tashana turned to Jarmo and said, “I’m glad we came here. It was risky, but it was worth it.”

Jarmo smiled. “I agree. It’s always worth taking a risk when there’s a chance for discovery.”

Photo by JJ Jordan on Unsplash